I used to wonder--
how would I know that I am in love?
--then when my eyes, my nose and my ears
perceive only that One,
my skin tingles with desire, and
my heart goes into overdrive
pumping crimson passion into my crumbling mind
--that same question became so foolishly trivial.
like the torrents that flood the banks
it came with force
unstoppable was its spearhead and left in a blink
relentless was its sacrifice
having abandoned in its wake
carved and molded
leaving in the sands
words etched with bewildered fingers
'how would I love again, if love isn't you?'
If Blogspot hadn't introduced this new Dynamic View feature, I wouldn't have looked at my older blog posts.
If I hadn't looked at my older blog posts, I wouldn't have realised that today, Oct 6 2011, marks the 1-year anniversary of my Exit Seminar.
Yes, one year ago I presented my Exit Seminar, and as far as I was concerned, that one hour of bla-bla-bla ended my Ph.D. career. From that day on, I started a new chapter, or as it turned out, new chapters.
Immediately after my exit seminar, I traveled across four States in the USA with my mom. We set eyes and feet on Grand Canyon, Columbia River Valley, Los Alamos and the Hot Air Balloon Fiesta at Albuquerque, Californian Redwood forests and the Xi Lai Temple in L.A. We filled our stomachs with cakes and pastries, salmon and chops, dimsum and what not.
I left my home away from home, and came back to my real home. Accepted a job offer, and on the third day of Chinese New Year, left for India alone. Till now, I still remember the face of that South-Asian lady who, like me, waited the whole night in Starbucks in the LCCT the night I boarded the plane for Chennai. I didn't muster the courage to talk to her, but she was definitely attractive enough that I wish I had.
Spent four weeks in Chennai and three weeks after traveling down south from Chennai. I visited the temples in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thanjavur, Chidambaram, Madurai and Ramesvaram. I went for two bharatanatyam performances (extremely world-class) and one Kathakali play (definitely top class!). I learned Tamil intensively for four weeks, at the end of which I could speak, write and read Tamil. If the locals go slow, I could understand them too [unfortunately since I left India my Tamil has deteriorated due to lack of practice....shame shame]. At Ramesvaram a priest bathed me in one of the holy wells (there were like >20 of them I think), and there I stood at the edge of the Indian Ocean in awe of her blue-turquoise beauty. At Thanjavur I fell in love with the majestic Periyar Kovil, and at Kanchipuram the simple yet indescribably elegant Kaisalanatha Kovil took a piece of my heart and claimed it since.
I escaped the heat of the lowlands by spending day up in the cool Kodaikanal hills west of Madurai, where the richer kids of the international boarding school there led lives so different from the uncountable poorer kids in the lowlands. I learned to love the sugar-loaded fruit juices of the Indian roadside, and in the backyard of my language institute I enjoyed twenty days of lunchtime among birds with funny headcrests. I saw a salt-farm for the first time in my life, and stepped on cow dung twice. I also finally set eyes on the bronze statue of Lord Nataraja in the Government Museum of Chennai. In many hot afternoons of Tamil Nadu March, I tried my best to run calmly across the baking-hot stone floor of temples, while locals walked and chatted as if they were walking on soft green grass. In Kanchipuram, I taught children in Tamil and English, and I entertained the teachers and the students with songs. I still remember her name--Indra. I wonder if she is still doing the morning rounds bringing children from their shacks to the school?
I can't count the number of friends I made in Tamil Nadu, including Matias and Alex who accompanied me during my one week stint in Kanchipuram. I truly miss all of them. I am still waiting for Sushil to send me a picture of him, his wife and their now 6-month old son.
Came back home again and started my working life immediately. Spent two months doing nothing much else but reading papers, writing proposals and preparing for my visit to Davis.
Went back to Davis almost without telling anyone. The first night I was back in that home away from home, I met up with my very good friend Hanayo, ate at my favourite restaurant in Davis, and untied a knot in my heart for good. The following two months were surreal--busy with my research yet enjoying all the luxuries I had before..Netflix, the library, board games, Amazon.com, a great housemate. A few days before I left for the Ecological Soc. America Meeting, our experiments produced unbelievably pleasing results! Had one of my best Meetings ever, and witnessed the largest bat colony in the world at Bracken Cave. Seeing Jay and his family again was a heartwarming moment for me.
Left Davis (this time much more reluctantly than last year) before I even had time to visit San Francisco, and once again I was back home. Went back to work immediately, and had been occupied since with preparing class materials for my course. Teaching it has been a ride so far (see previous blog post) but it's really enjoyable and rewarding. The students have warmed up to my style, and are now actively asking questions and answering and discussing questions in class. More than half of them now call me by my name instead of "Dr.", for which I am glad.
My friend passed her exam with flying colours, and with that, I have nothing left to worry about in Davis anymore.
There were somethings that I planned to do since graduation, but I haven't done. I haven't enrolled in a bharatanatyam course, and I haven't offered my services to teach at an orphanage yet. I haven't yet published another paper (still in review now...WTH). I have asked three girls out, one gave face and we stayed friends, one told me she was unavailable after a few weeks, and another is still...well....pending. So, the romance front is not exactly stale, but it's not blossoming either. Don't think I can enroll in a bharatanatyam course before Jan 2012, but I am hopeful about the others working out before the end of this year.