Thursday, December 14, 2006

Holidays in the States

So it's my first thanksgiving back in the states since 2001, and I actually got to be with family. It was good. I also went to Thanksgiving with my friend Stephan, but somehow managed not to get pictures of it.

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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Life in Columbus

So it's been a while since I've been bloging. Mainly due to the fact of Moving to Columbus, Starting School Moving again, Midterms, events, and now finals. But here are a few snapshots. . . note the comparison to Kol life.

My Flat

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Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Still Kermit. . . as if there was doubt

Kermit the Frog
You scored 62% Organization, 58% abstract, and 76% extroverted!
This test measured 3 variables.

First, this test measured how organized you are. Some muppets like Cookie Monster make big messes, while others like Bert are quite anal about things being clean.

Second, this test measured if you prefer a concrete or an abstract viewpoint. For the purposes of this test, concrete people are considered to gravitate more to mathematical and logical approaches, whereas abstract people are more the dreamers and artistic type.

Third, this test measured if you are more of an introvert or an extrovert. By definition, an introvert concentrates more on herself and an extrovert focuses more on others. In this test an introvert was somebody that either tends to spend more time alone or thinks more about herself.

You are mostly organized, both concrete and abstract, and more extroverted.

Here is why are you Kermit the Frog.

You are both somewhat organized. You have a good idea where you put things and you probably keep your place reasonably clean. You aren't totally obsessed with neatness though. Kermit is also reasonably tidy. He'll even dress up for interviews.

You both are sometimes concrete and sometimes abstract thinkers. Kermit spends a lot of his time as a reporter collecting facts, but he is also the author of the dreamy song "The Rainbow Connection." You have a good balance in your life. You know when to be logical at times, but you also aren't afraid to explore your dreams and desires... within limits of course.

You are both extroverts. Kermit gets along with everyone. Sure a few folks annoy him, but that's just because they are annoying. Kermit likes to meet new people when he does his job as a street reporter. You definitely enjoy the company of others, and you don't have problems meeting new people... in fact you probably look forward to it. You are willing to take charge when necessary or work as part of a team.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, Kermit starred on Sesame Street years before The Muppet Show.

The other possible characters are
Oscar the Grouch
Big Bird
Cookie Monster
The Count
Guy Smiley

If you enjoyed this test, I would love the feedback! Also if you want to tell me your favorite Sesame Street character, I can total them up and post them here. Perhaps your choice will win!

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on Organization

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on concrete-abstra

free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 99% on intro-extrovert
Link: The Your SESAME STREET Persona Test written by greencowsgomoo on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the 32-Type Dating Test

Female Muppets Positive, Negitive or just a Puppet

Abby Cadabby heads to the Street
Sesame Street's 37th season begins August 14 and will be highlighted by the debut of a new female Muppet
Courtesy of The New York TimesAugust 6, 2006
Liz Nealon, executive vice president and creative director of Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind “Sesame Street,” wasn’t sure exactly what she wanted in a new Muppet for the show’s 37th season, which starts on Aug. 14. But she did have one major goal: She wanted the creative team, at long last, to come up with a female Muppet star. The show did already have a number of female characters, including Zoe, a rambunctious, orange, furry friend of Elmo’s, and Rosita, an emerald-blue, bilingual Muppet with a sweet, friendly soul.
Abby Cadabby of “Sesame Street” has her own point of view and is “comfortable with the fact that she likes wearing a dress.” “We have our wacky, and we have our gentle,” Ms. Nealon said in a recent interview. “But we wanted a lead female character. If you think about ‘The Mary Tyler Moore Show,’ some girls relate to Rhoda, who’s our Zoe, and some girls really relate to Mary, who’s a girly girl. And we didn’t have that girl. We made a definite decision to sit down with the writers to figure out what this character might be.”
The feminist-minded parent might not only applaud the decision to make a more high-profile female character, but wonder why on earth it took so long. “Sesame Street,” created to help underprivileged kids prepare for kindergarten, has over the years gone out of its way to include images of children of every creed and color, and every level of physical ability and disability.
Yet its producers acknowledge it has never come up with a single female character with anything close to the name recognition of Big Bird or Cookie Monster or Ernie and Bert. (The closest that the Jim Henson Company, which designs Muppets for “Sesame Street,” has come is Miss Piggy. But she starred on “The Muppet Show,” not “Sesame Street,” and probably for good reason. You have to go back to “Dynasty” reruns to find a more jealous, vain and domineering female role model on television.)
Even bastions of liberal creativity like “Sesame Street” are apparently vulnerable to the realities of show business, including a disproportionately high ratio of male to female puppeteers, said Rosemary Truglio, executive vice president for education and research at Sesame Workshop. (Miss Piggy has always been played by male puppeteers, starting with Frank Oz.) And a show as politically sensitive as this one has an added challenge: finding female characters that make kids laugh, but not laugh at them as female stereotypes.
“If Cookie Monster was a female character,” said Carol-Lynn Parente, executive producer of the show, “she’d be accused of being anorexic or bulimic. There are a lot of things that come attached to female characters.” For example, said Deborah Aubert, associate director of national programs and training services at Girls, Inc., a nonprofit advocacy group. “It would be hard to have a female character with Elmo’s whimsy who didn’t also seem ditzy.”
But it’s not just a high-minded interest in gender equality that drove the search for a strong female character. The success of “Dora the Explorer,” a show built around a strong female lead, has not gone unnoticed by its competitors at “Sesame Street.” “ ‘Sesame Street’ is living in an increasingly competitive market,” Ms. Nealon said. “We used to be the only game in town, and now we’re having more conversations about where are all the points of appeal of our cast. We’re trying to be as absolutely broad-based as we can be.”
The feminist parent might also wonder whether “broad-based” will boil down to characters with predictable girly-girl looks and interests. But Ms. Nealon said she wasn’t worried. “I came of age during that 70’s generation when you just had to do everything you could do to be taken seriously,” she said. “But the world has changed since then. My daughter is comfortable with clothes and hair and makeup and totally embraces her femininity, but can still be strong and completely competitive in a world populated by men and women.”
The Muppet that after nine months of research was selected to embody those characteristics is not technically a girl: she is a 3-year-old fairy named Abby Cadabby. Neither monster like Zoe nor humanoid like Prairie Dawn, the calico-wearing blonde who first showed up in 1970, Abby is a purely magical creature, complete with tiny wings, a magic wand and sparkles in her hair.
There’s something suspiciously marketable, of course, about a new character who happens to be a fairy, just now in the midst of a girlish craze for tutus, tiaras and all things princessy, and as Disney prepares a big marketing push for its 2007 movie starring Tinker Bell. But the idea came not from some Mattel consultant but from a 30-year veteran of “Sesame Street, ” Tony Geiss, whose most significant previous creations were the Honkers, monsters who communicate by honking their noses.
One day the writers were tossing around the idea of a girl who was new in town, perhaps trying to fit into a new classroom. After the meeting broke up, Mr. Geiss approached the show’s head writer, Lou Berger, with the idea of making her the daughter of the fairy godmother, a character who is invoked but never seen.
Her origins in fairyland would provide plenty of story lines about difference, without the show “having consciously to introduce somebody from Indonesia or India,” Mr. Geiss said.
Mr. Berger and the team liked the idea and told Mr. Geiss to develop it further. A few days later he presented the full picture: a fairy in training, capable of hovering only when very happy, able to turn any object into a pumpkin but unable to change it back with any reliability. Her family had recently moved to Sesame Street for the schools, leaving behind Fairyside Gardens, an elves’ and fairies’ housing community in Queens (a bit of back story that’s mostly been dropped).
“When I did a little presentation, I was calling her Daisy,” Mr. Geiss said. “Everyone said, no, that’s not it, and then we sat around as if we were coming up with names for a new baby. Patsy, Dixie, Leonora. ...” Finally someone threw out Abby, and Mr. Berger followed that up with Abby Cadabby. “It had a vaguely magical sound to it,” Mr. Geiss said. The combination of “correctness and exhaustion” kicked in, he added, and Abby Cadabby she’s been ever since.
As a newcomer eager to learn, the writers knew, she would provide the perfect opportunity for explanatory lessons. She would also provide a way to talk about female friendships (including “What does it mean to bring a girl into the group?,” Ms. Truglio said, and to show healthy models by which girls could resolve conflict). The show had tried to introduce a character for just that purpose in 2000, the short-lived Lulu, a shy monster who “had a kind of quirky personality,” Ms. Truglio said. “She wasn’t that attractive.”
With the approval of Ms. Nealon and Ms. Parente, and the product and publishing divisions of “Sesame Street,” the production team decided to take the idea of Abby Cadabby to the Jim Henson Workshop. Various sketches and fabric swatches of the Muppet-to-be were circulated for input from the writers and executives on the show.
There was some retreading of what Mr. Geiss calls the big-nose versus small-nose debate. “Some people think the big nose is funnier,” he explained, but Abby’s is small, a nod toward the more feminine aesthetic for which the producers were hoping. Careful attention was paid too to how much eyelid would be visible; the more eyelid, the more vulnerable-looking the character. “Her eyes look up,” Mr. Geiss said. “They can look beseeching, and they can be sad as well as happy.”
Sherrie Rollins Westin, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Sesame Workshop, recalled seeing an early version that was a little too “bug-eyed” for her taste. One version had too much of a snout, rendering her worrisomely insectlike, given the wings in back, Ms. Truglio said. All versions featured various shades of pink- or lavender-toned skin, colors that would “work well next to Elmo,” who is red, Ms. Truglio said. “That was not up for discussion.”
Once they narrowed the sketches down to two images that they thought worked, they showed them to 77 children aged 2 to 5 and in one-on-one interviews asked them what they liked and didn’t like about Abby’s looks. The kids were particularly enamored of her turquoise dress; they also preferred a button nose to a flatter, more truncated version, and her hair in two pompoms, rather than in one big bunch atop her head.
Armed with that information, the team began to design the actual Muppet, a budget commitment of “tens of thousands of dollars,” said Ms. Parente, the show’s executive producer. They also began creating a 10-minute segment that they further tested on 53 3-year-olds.
The resulting confection is a Muppet with the pretty pastel aesthetic of an Easter egg, complete with pink skin (compared with Zoe’s orange), purple and pink sparkly pompoms (Zoe’s hair juts out from the sides of her face) and a Thumbelina-style petal-layered turquoise dress. (Zoe wears a tutu that’s charmingly incongruous on her bouncy little body.)
Abby Cadabby’s lashes are long and feminine, her voice pitched somewhere between Elmo’s dog-range high notes and Zoe’s scratchy old-womanish tones. In the first segment created, Abby played hide-and-seek, making ample, if not totally proficient use of her magic wand.
“The kids were pretty glued to the show,” Ms. Truglio said. “They loved that she could do magic,” she added. “But if you asked them how they imagined playing with Abby Cadabby, they mentioned regular kid stuff like playing catch. So we knew they liked her as a personality.”
For all the educational consultants and child psychologists the show could have enlisted, the success of the character seems to rely largely on the one simple quality no other Muppet can claim: she’s very, very pretty. As played by Leslie Carrara-Rudolph, a new Muppeteer, she’s enthusiastic, eager, occasionally bashful but never coy (and certainly never divalike along the lines of Tinker Bell).
“I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready!” she answers Baby Bear emphatically in one segment when he asks if she’s prepared for her first day of school.
In the past the show has bent over backward to counteract stereotypes, with the tomboyish Zoe or the highly opinionated Elizabeth. “But political correctness hampers creativity,” Ms. Nealon said. “Abby Cadabby owns her own point of view, but she’s also comfortable with the fact that she likes wearing a dress, and as we’d tried to model strong female models, we neglected that piece of being a girl.”
On the set the joke was about the new toy on the block, as opposed to the new Muppet character, a dig at the obvious marketability of the new pretty-in-pink creature. Some of the writers, Ms. Parente said, worried about moving away from the show’s merely surreal characters to one with a full-blown dependence on actual magic. Others were concerned about the character tipping over into a saccharine sweetness.
“What’s always been great about ‘Sesame Street,’ ” said Noel MacNeal, a longtime “Sesame Street” Muppeteer, “is that there was always a softness and gentleness to its characters, while still having enough edge. It wasn’t too cute. I just hope with Abby Cadabby, they’re not going to make a mistake they’ve made before when they tried to compete directly with ‘Barney,’ which was so cutesy.” (He was referring to his take on why the show added a new set in the early 90’s to give the street a clean new look. A few years later Ms. Parente reverted the set back to its old chipped-paint aesthetic.)
But for the most part the traditional “Sesame Street” team of performers and writers has rallied behind the character.
The producers’ hopes of course are pinned on the possibility that Abby Cadabby could be the female equivalent of Elmo, a huge money-maker for the nonprofit organization behind the show. First to roll out will be storybooks featuring Abby Cadabby; if they succeed, videos and toys will follow.
Maura Regan, vice president and general manager of global consumer products for Sesame Workshop, said she was confident about Abby Cadabby’s market readiness. She’ll be strong in spring, Ms. Regan theorized, because she has a “wood nymph quality,” and added that her pink coloring made her great for merchandising around Valentine’s Day and Christmas, when she will pair well with red Elmo. Then of course there’s the fall back-to-school theme of a new girl getting to know her classmates.
Ms. Regan’s team has already started working with the toy company Fisher-Price on a rough mockup of a doll. Most important, she said, is getting a cuddle-ready expression on the toy’s face; then there’s the challenge of capturing her feathery, fluffy, sparkly hair without creating a safety hazard.
“There are so many cute things out there,” she added, “but in order to make them want one doll over another, I think the real deciding factor is how much they’ve connected with the Muppet from the show. And you’ve got to be able to capture that.”
Could Abby’s sales rival those of the show’s marketing juggernaut, Elmo? Ms. Regan obviously hopes they can. But in an aside, as she demurred from making predictions, she gave a hint on just how much rides on the outcome. “I don’t want to jinx myself,” she whispered. “That would be terrible, terrible, terrible.”
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Thursday, August 10, 2006

A Quote to go on

As I was walking down a public corridor I heard someone say. "There should be a place where all the strange and wierd people can go and just, be together. Yeah there should be a place for all the strange people"

I overhearing him and having to say something respond. "There is It's called Peace Corps"

Sunday, July 30, 2006

At the Birthday Party

other stuff

So I'm back at Proctor & Gamble again working in Research & Development for the summer. Which is good. Paychecks are good. My birthday was great and included all the best things. Wine, Cheese Chocolate, good movies, and great friends. Well maybe not all the best things but one souldn't be greedy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Injuries, discoveries that people generally don't notice until after the fact.

  • People generally don't understand the word "loo" no matter how much I continue to use it.
  • I've gotten used to doing my date dd/mm/yr (which makes more sense, who wants to know what month it is before the day?) instead of the American mm/dd/yr
  • The 1st floor in the states is the ground floor everywhere else. So when someone at work told me to take something to the 3rd floor I ended up on the 4th.
  • Hitting the ground running (finding a flat in Columbus, getting a job etc. within the first 2 weeks) -though a good idea will leave one exhausted.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Here and There

Okay after spending a week at home I'm slightly more adjusted but only slighytly. Meanwhile here are a few other things I found interesting about here and there.

-There is an abusurd amount of water in the toilet bowls :-s
but there is always toilet paper :-)
-No one randomly offers you tea :-(
-People look at you strangely when you go to "visit the loo" Look for a "dust bin" or decide to take a "kip" :-s
-People also look at you strangely when you walk down the street with an umbrella because the sun is too bright :-(
-Guys actually check you out, nod in approval, or chat you up instead of just staring at you like you are an alien :-)

-No western toilet much less toilet paper :-(
but there is water which comes in handy even if there is paper there too :-)
-Chai wallas (sellers) :-)
-Peanut and veggie wallas selling increadbly cheap, fresh, and more organic veggies :-)
-More veggie food in general :-)
-More oily food in general :-(
-More technology :-s (TiVo, Blue tooth, WiFi, all of these things still moderately scare me)

Monday, July 10, 2006

Strange Americans

I've realized that there are many things I'm not used to from living in India for the last 10 months. Here are some of them.

  • Cars that actually stop when you cross the road, because they are afraid they might hit you. - I was crossing the street relatively close to a car and was shocked that it stopped. In Kolkata they would've just continued. As I've almost gotten hit by a bus, and have a scar from a rickshaw that drove too close to the corner where I was trying to cross
  • Money that is all the same color. Yes the 20 & 10 are all sorts of strange colors, but really it's all green. I had trouble paying for things a couple times because I thought my 10's were only 1's and ended up continually breaking 20's.
  • Americans are strange. They can be incredibly polite about standing in line (not just pushing to the front) or asking for a bite of food or drink of water (one of my friends was thirsty for longer than expected because she was waiting for me to offer water while I was used to people just taking it). But can also be very (unnecciarily in my opinon) rude when ordering, waiting on food or in line.
  • Americans are also generally supersized. . . uh fat.
  • There also a riddiculous amount of options
  • America is cold (compared to Kolkata with no Air Condintioning in most places)

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Top Ten Reasons to Go #1

I realize that I'm going back to the US with no sign of leaving it again and freak out at the prospect of living in the US for so long. Even though I do want to go home, still. . .

Oh and the stewardess on the plane asks me if I'm Indian when she sees me wearing my sari and complements me on it.


Top Ten Reasons to Go #2

I'm down to my last 800 . . . 750 . . . . 500 . . . 350 . . . . 100 Rs

I can't justify refilling the credit on my phone for less than 24 hours I'll be in the country.

Karan has declared I learned enough about style to buy things on my own now.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Top Ten Reasons to Go #3

After only having minor illnesses and no Delhi/Kolkata- belly (D) issues. I get just about everything at once (fever, chills, D, nausea etc) . Leaving me extremely weak through the ending conference for AIF.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Top 10 reasons I know it's time to go #4

Calcutta/Kolkata becomes more surreal . . . .
  • Neela comes out dancing with Nil, Dev, Sohini, & I until 2am in the middle of the week (looking really cute too).
  • I actually see blue sky (admis all the smog) and it starts raining daily and getting cooler.
  • I get served salmon (my favorite that I haven't eaten since I made it last summer) at Yvonick's goodbye dinner
  • Anirudh has become scruffy (though a studied scruffiness he says)
  • Ako :-)
  • I become insistant enough to demand that others get things done, and they actually do it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Harry Potter & The English

Tis a Silly place

Top Ten Reasons I know it's Time to Go #5

The cute little land lady and landlord. Who have been reasonably good about everything, declare that you owe them 3000 extra Rs for rent that you already paid (granted I forgot until Andy reminded me), 3900 extra for water and electric that has allegedly not been read in the last 3 months. And wait until Andy leaves (he was here this weekend) and ambush me as I come home from a late night at work 8:30pm. Call me a lair, declare I'm a terrible person and I should know better working for an NGO for trying pay my cleaning woman who has not come or not cleaned the floors (which is 1/2 of her job the other 1/2 is the dishes) 300Rs instead of 400Rs. Yell at me in English and in Bangla until I'm perfectly in hysterics and tears (it had been a long and frustrating day). Until I literally have to scream.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Things I see everyday Part 2

Here's more stuff I see walking down Gariahat. This is the main way I go to get to the ATM, my tailors, buy books off the street etc. I told you it wasn't that interesting.

More kids at the end of my block. They are cute.
Buy your clothes, bedsheets, towels, and shoes, right on the street.

One of the four views of Gariahat proper. I took shots from all 4 corners, but this has the most character I think.

Happy Book sellers. You can buy just about any book for 45-150 Rs (1-3 USD), but you will have to haggle a lot.

Yes they do walk the streets. Though I don't usually see them everyday.

Gol Park Roundabout.

The Ramkrishna Mission it's just opposite the side street that leads to CINI-ARC Office

Top Ten Reasons I know It's time to leave #6

I own a sari for every day of the work week and I don't even wear saris to work (most days anyway)

Friday, June 16, 2006

Top Ten Reasons I know It's time to Leave #7

When random people speak to me in fast Bengali (usually to get me out of their way, not do something, or being otherwise bad tempered), instead of listening (and figuring out what they are saying) and responding in my Bad Bengali or polite English. I start behaving in the manner of "the Bad American tourist" (a stereotype generally fight against) and respond in fast English.

I've also started cursing under my breath (and not so under my breath) those taxi drivers and auto-wallas who don't want to take me on my short rides or try to charge me overprice. (Like the taxi driver today who refused to drive me to the office with the parcel I was sending [a 20 Rs ride] and the other one who wanted 50 Rs because of my parcel)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Back Blog Lauren, Liz & Jen Visit

So Lauren, Liz and Jen came for a whirl-wind Kolkata visit. Unfortunately we were all together for only about 12 hours, but it was still fun. Liz and Lauren got to Kolkata Thursday evening, but as I had to work I couldn't join until Friday night. We met up at Forum had a great traditional Bengali Dinner at Kewpies. Then headed out to ShiSha for a cherry hookah and dancing. Saturday we shopped until Jen joined us at New Market then headed to Nil & Dev's studio where we spent all afternoon dressing in d's finest. Jen found more than she could carry home (easily) Lauren got sleeked out in some corsets, I found my new opera Dress, and even Liz bought a really nice jacket.

We then headed back to Lily's flat for showers, dressing to go out, and wine before we all went out to Roxy to dance the night away. Liz & Lauren's flight left at 5am, so we danced until 3:30, went to a Azad Hidin dhaba (The best place for late night food -essentially a diner) and set them off to get their flight at 4:00. The rest of us went home for a few hours sleep before Jen and I were up at 6am to meet the Sunday Hashers at 7 for a Vic Memorial walk, breakfast at Flurries, and a look at the marble palace.

Jen & I then went to the Kali Temple (my third attempt) and actually were able to get in and see her. I bought my shell bracelets and we went home for well deserved naps. There was a d barbecue with some of the best grilled veggies and the first chicken I actually enjoyed in months. Just about everyone was there and there was music dancing and the trying on of clothes & shoes. A great ending to a fabulous weekend. Jen managed to get all of her purchases in a bag and caught a taxi out as I went to work 9am Monday.

Victoria Reflections

Yvonick & Jen contomplating at Victoria's feet

The Marble Palace (mansion more like it, 2 floors, a garden and a mini zoo of greek and roman(esque) statues, paintings from several different schools and eras, and antiques. (no pictures are alowed inside)

d. Barbeque (and Nil is an amazing cook) I ment to get one in his d. appron but couldn't.
Seema saried out and my new opera dress.