Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Odysseus Unbound as the Sirens Call

Here's a catch-all post, merely to record my weekend persona so a year from now, I can look back and see what triviality held me in its thrall in the last few days of June 2005.

Friday: Fairly laid back. I was craving a restaurant meal, and practically badgered S into taking me to Ambala Dhaba (actually I drove us there). It seems that Ambala has morphed into a sort of hangout for the UCLA desi students. When we walked in all I could see were groups of desi men. All men, and for a while I thought I and the servers were the only women there. But then I heard some feminine laughter from a corner and realised there was another woman sitting with a group of 5 other desi men. The sex ratio is utterly hopeless, for a desi woman looking to snare her kind, no better place than grad school. Every woman is fawned over and feted like she was the last of the female of the species. The food was very competent, as always.

As we walked out, I thought I saw a familiar frame, with his back turned to us, talking on the phone. I realised it was Steph, a French guy we knew from the European Students body. Steph's really sweet and polite, but for some peculiar reason, is way more attentive to me than S. Actually, this is a fairly common thing. Many women do this as well. They'd be utterly charming to S, but almost obliterate my existence out of their line of sight. Umm...hello, here I am, in flesh and blood, waving and smiling frantically to you, and you continue laughing and talking to S, ignoring me completely. Nowadays, I don't mind it at all, and think of it as a sort of hard-wiring. Even when there is no intention to proceed romantically, the instinctive response is to concentrate all energies on whatever gender you fancy.

And so of course, Steph was all adorable and warm to me, but five minutes into talking to me, turned to S and said, "Excuse me, have we met?". Duh.........zillions of times! I don't think Steph has ever met me without S being by my side. Selective memory :). So after talking to Steph, we returned home and called it a night.

Saturday: When it rains, it pours. So we had invitations to a BBQ, a party, a birthday dinner and made plans to see a movie with Urmi. Ultimately we realised that squeezing everything in would be impossible, since we had to run some chores as well. So the movie was postponed to Sunday (sorry Urmi!) and the BBQ was ditched. So then we went the birthday dinner of C where we met G and Beck and her Pumpky (that's what she calls her boyfriend). Em was also there. The dinner was at Olive Garden, my least favourite place to have a meal. I have no idea what the appeal of a place like Olive Garden is to my friends, when there are scores of great restaurants in this town. Actually there are so many great Italian restaurants, that going to Olive Garden is a freakin' shame.

So G & C told us all about their trip to Greece and Turkey. G & C are always taking trips together, and these are usually package trips with tour groups and all. Not my idea of a vacation, but they seem to be happy. Of course the joke is that they might be lovers, but I've known more than one woman take vacations with her best female friend, without anything sexual going on between them. The conversation was appropriately bleh, centred on work hours and vacation time. I guess when friends start working, the idea of a life of routine consumes them initially.

Anyway, post dinner we headed to the home of Ken, a friend of S, for a party. E-M was there as well, and so was Soto. It was a nice laid-back party, with lots of conversation, and some amusement, as one of Ken's roommate, very very obviously gay, tried to pick up Soto. The boy's a peach, very sweet and feminine, but I think he managed to freak Soto out with his attentiveness and affection. I think men are far more apprehensive about such things than women are. A few days ago a friend of E-M's a therapist was telling us about how some of her female patients try to ask her out. She didn't seem overly concerned about it. But for most straight men, even the slightest bit of gay flirting seems to ring alarm bells. Anyway, at some point we were treated to a great swing dance performance by two of the guests, after which we took off.

Sunday: A very lazy day. Got up late, had an elaborate meal at home, fish and assorted veggies Korean style, and then went and saw a movie with Urmi and her friend. Post movie, we ambled along on Third Street Promenade, and couldn't resist the siren call of Zara sale. Ah, the lure and lyre of consumerism is oh so sweet. Anyway, Zara did succeed in emptying Urmi and my pockets a bit, after which we walked over to the pier, which seemed way more crowded than usual. I guess it was the first real summer weekend, very sunny and pleasant, and everyone wanted to be at the beach. Sometimes I wonder when the transition happened. I spent an entire lifetime in a landlocked city, and now the sea calls me all the time, and I heed.


Blogger the still dancer said...

This is weird, but I have just started planning a rather major poem where odysseus (odiesseos?) and the sirens (in their figurative aspects) play a central role. In fact, was planning to correspond on points of greek mythology and psyche. Can so strongly identify with the significance the sea has for you, having also grown up in calcutta. I also seem to have this surreal obsession with it, especially the sea in its wrathfull aspect. Ah well, long comment. will respond to the post on Indian literature as well.

1:29 AM  
Blogger thalassa_mikra said...

Kaashypaeya, I think Odysseus would be the best transliteration, since it is spelt
Omicron-Delta-Ypsilon-Sigma-Sigma-Epsilon-Ypsilon-Sigma in Greek.

The poem sounds great. I wish you could get your hands on any of the two Jon Elster books, Ulysses Unbound and Ulysses and the Sirens. He uses the story in a figurative sense to discuss the concept of rationality and its bounds in human life. Very engaging. Try and see if you can get a gist of Elster's ideas online.

Oh you lucky one! To have such a wonderful organic relationship with the sea, even in its wrathful aspect. The swell of Ganga as it meets the ocean is fascinating and scary at the same time.

Eagerly awaiting comments on the lit post.

12:45 PM  
Blogger the still dancer said...

Hmmm..I muddled up my comment a bit, actually. Was trying to say I also have a connection with the sea, although I grew up in Cal, far from the Sea.
Yes, the Ganga is both mesmerising and terrifying where it melts into the Bay of Bengal. Which reminds me, I have been planning to write on the Hungry Tide for quite some time now.
Have been reading up on Elster online.

1:05 AM  
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11:51 PM  

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