July 6, 2002

meeting my (asian) neighbours in europe

i remember as a child, growing very close to the 10 or 12 cousins (both paternal and maternal) around me. what is most unique among us cousins is perhaps what also binds us all together: our roots.

born to mothers coming from the same iyengar family, our fathers belong to the different corners in india…shoranur (kerala), surendranagar (gujarat), baadmer (rajasthan) and tripunithura (ernakulam). of course, the circle was almost complete with my mama (mother’s brother) marrying someone from aamchi mumbai (in maharashtra) where most of us grew up. little wonder then, that my father lovingly teases my granny by calling her bharat mata (mother india), and a small joke that always played in my head when i thought of our rather nationally-integrated family… was the regret that my grandmother did not have another child, to cover the eastern part of the country.

from such diversity and strong roots comes a background culture-rich and emotionally bound, be it tradition, food, issues, relations (that’s how praveen and i met, but i’ll save the story for another journal entry), and so on. and the noise that our happy families create when we get-together…i guess i’ll leave it to your imagination. of course, there are the little sparks among the elders sometimes, but then, what is life without fireworks, right?

life goes on though, children grow up, and then they leave. for further education, for jobs, or after marriage with their partners. being one of the eight first-generation-children of this family and from here, i can almost see the domino-effect to unfold over the years. with us cousins to help by choosing our own spouses, we are on our way to house a mini-india. my paternal cousin and i are malayalees for example; while my bhabhi (brother’s wife) is of punjabi origin, but i am married to a tamilian, and his cousin recently married a maharashtrian…as for the rest of my unwed brothers and sisters,deepu, prem, preeti, meenu, guddu, hemu and jyoti i’d rather wait for their wedding cards to be despatched, before i risk an early death-by-murder by announcing the geographical territories they’re likely to conquer 😉

touch wood. i can see that the farther we go, the more attached we are to each other, and to our roots. perhaps this is a common feature in most families in 21st-century india. if not, perhaps it should be encouraged. perhaps that’s why we are unable to decide whether we should be un-comfortably numb (excuse the cliche), or acutely alert and over-reactive to the tensions at the borders. because our families have taught us to be open-minded enough to learn what’s good for us, and that love knows no borders, or boundaries…

in a city as culturally diverse as london, i cannot help being curious about every new community i see. i love the intense culture-pots of leicester square, camden market and covent garden. praveen often is surprised at how easily (and how much!) i can talk to a stranger. in fact, on one such occasion (before our easter-break in amsterdam), i was happily engaged in conversation with a gentleman from n ireland, and as we were discussing some of the comparable cultural traits of our homelands, the visa office i was to report to, closed down for the day!

sometimes i get so engrossed in the conversation that i even forget to ask where the person comes from. like the day i was at southall. this rather populated town is a major conglomeration of asians, especially south-indians, punjabis and sri lankans. not suprisingly, you will come across every personality triat that you would accept as ‘typically’ indian, as easily you will find every indian ingredient in any of the shops.

honking on the streets, not giving way to screaming police cars or the ambulance, loud impolite language, and suspicious don’t-you-get-in-my-way glances from the people here make southall almost distinctly detached from its other very ‘propah’ united kingdom cities.

it is in one such asian-owned unisex beauty parlour that i grabbed the opportunity to display my bridal-mehandi design skills on a freelance basis, and was one saturday applying mehandi to my first ‘client’. very tall and beautiful, i knew she was asian rightaway. for the 45 minutes that the design flowed from the mehandi cone on to her fair palms, our conversation ranged from one topic to another, with brief intervals of playful babytalk with her 18-month-daughter.

i realised how comfortable i was talking to her, and how common threads between two entirely different communities brought them so close it was hard to tell the difference. i owed it then at that moment to my upbringing, and the diversity of cultures i was exposed to from a young age.

perhaps you too would understand why, if you, like the untainted henna in my design-cone, brought joy to the life of a woman…from neighbouring pakistan.

July 5, 2002

with at least two prospective

with at least two prospective buyers for our home each day, my role in housekeeping suddenly seems so much more rewarding.

July 4, 2002

mmmm…right now, i’m enjoying a

mmmm…right now, i’m enjoying a hot cup of adrak-masala chai with my chitti, so what if she’s 4477 miles away 🙂 chitti, happy birthday!

July 3, 2002

remembered this clever line from

remembered this clever line from an advt when my bus passed by a school: children walk to school, children run home.

July 2, 2002

for two whole days, praveen’s

for two whole days, praveen‘s away at switzerland, without me.
this means i’m entitled for a little gift 😉

July 1, 2002

entelechy: exploring the potential to be…

en.tel.e.chy. i fell in love with this word the moment my colleague introduced it to me three or four years ago, (thanks, raghu) and i knew it right then that it would mean a lot more to me in the future.

my favourite analogy for ‘entelechy’ is the earth (read, ceres). the process of entelechy is always unfolding…that ceramic piece on your desktop for example is nothing but clay (which comes from the earth) that is treated. it has the potential to take the shape of any form your hands decide…be it a vase, a pot, a dish, a creative piece or art, whatever.

we come across many turns in life. some of us look at them as hurdles, some choose to ignore them, while some view them as opportunities. what you choose to do with the situations in your life, decides your entelechy.

the process of entelechy will never end, and that’s why i chose this name…

over the plus-two years that i am on an online journal, i guess i’ve grown out of the spontaneous posts — a common initial habit with most new bloggers. my entries, though irregular, have always been sincere and, often extend into lengthy prose or (attempted) poetry. the two redesigns that my journal has gone through, both almost overnight by my friend mahesh, have proved that nothing can be more motivating for a blogger than a new design to toy with. this, i’m sure most of you’ll agree.

with mahesh away in mumbai, and me here in london, this time i was left to do the design(s) myself, but that was not half as difficult as having to convince praveen that he could convert them into real html codes or basic javascripts. and that my ideas, on paper and microsoft’s powerpoint, were not really as ambitious as they seemed to him. (of course, i knew he could do it all along 😉 and so, five months into the purchase of this domain name, and three to four attempts in designing, re-designing, dropping something here or adding something there, the mega-journal-project is finally online.

my three main objectives through radhikapraveen.com are also the most obvious:

a) little things make me happy or sad, though i don’t necessarily hold on to it. just being aware of the moment makes it go by so quickly i hate to let it go unnoticed. but however hard i tried, my conscience would just not permit me to write a one-line account of what made my day. i just have to plan, draft, research, edit and then let the words flow to fill a picnic, an adventure, or an event.

with my new space in blogger, i have the flexibility to keep both me and my conscience happy.

b) confession: there’s something very ‘earthy’ about a manual slr, and i still miss the metallic “khachack” of my father‘s yashica fx3. but i also have to admit: as an amateur photographer, i shoot a lot of pictures even with my digital camera, and i’m not being fair if i don’t share my photo albums online, right? well, this new design takes care of that too.

i’ve tried to maintain a chronological order for the images, with the most recent ones being on top, but i’ve also tried to make the albums and the pictures in it as simple and user-friendly and, in the process, shuffled some of the pictures accordingly. as i mentioned before, there are many pictures, and you’ll see a lot more albums soon. for now though, you might also see a new image when you refresh the page.

c) thirdly, the design. suddenly there seems to be so much activity on my journal, and with a practical white background i’ve hoped to keep the clutter off the eye, with only #ff6633 to provide the necessary contrast.

i guess that’s that for now. go ahead, explore my space and send me your comments and suggestions. after all, the process of entelechy never ends…

it’s just like that 😉

oh boy! a brand new

oh boy! a brand new journal!!

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