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Why chai at six? Because growing up, my family and I would have chai every evening. Those moments of my youth are among my most favorite memories.

Who am I? A twentysomething working fulltime in Knoxville, Tenn.

Please note that all thoughts and comments described in this blog are purely my own and do not reflect the thoughts or attitudes of the company I work for.

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    chai at six
    It's Sunday afternoon going on to evening. In a couple of days it'll be July. It's a cliché but one has to wonder: Where does the time go? I mean it's been eight months since I moved to Knoxville. It's been a couple of months since I visited Philadelphia for my 21st birthday and it's been a week since I saw my bhajyu. I know I'll probably say the same thing when December rolls around.

    Enough of time whining. I want to tell those who haven't read "Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell, that you SHOULD. Especially if you're new to the South. It's a true classic with great storytelling, character development and history. I'd heard about the book for a while, but recently someone at work lent me it and two other Steinbeck novels. I liked the Steinbecks, but I just couldn't put down "Gone." I took it with me on the place when I visited Philadelphia. I was just too engrossed with Scarlett and Melanie and Rhett. Yes — the book does leave you calling the characters on a first name basis.

    Another reason I really enjoyed reading the book was it gave me a whole new look on the Civil War and Reconstruction and life on a plantation. I have to admit I now look at the Confederacy in a new light. I can't wait to watch the film now, although I know for sure it will even come close to great.

    I'm also hoping to read "The Wind Done Gone." I remember reading about the controversy it caused, since Margaret Mitchell's estate said it bordered on copyright infringement. I don't even know if its publication was banned. I should check that out.

    I've noticed I've been itching for reading now. I'm happy I'm back in this mode. I'm not online as much anymore at home, and the television spends more time off than on. I'm hungry to read. I don't know where the hunger came from, but I hope I never get full. I enjoy being famished. ha!

    Oh, I should mention last night. I met a friend from work for dinner. We went to a gay bar, where I had a really good drink - Abomination; very fruity and tropical. Then we went to this nightclub on Kingston Pike. And it was so much fun! It just totally reminded me of nightclubs back in Z. Where you get a really mixed crowd and people are drinking and dancing and having a good time, but not too good a time that it becomes sleazy. A lot of the music was R & B and there was some old skool songs there too, which made me think of parties back in Z. I just danced and had a brill time.

    Before I end, I'm just annoyed that this blog ain't archiving. I have no idea why. I've looked at the code and it seems cool. But if someone is reading this and knows why my archived blogs aren't showing up, please send me a note. Till the next time, then.

    Posted by Jigsha at 6/29/2003 05:47:00 PM | link to entry |

    My phone lines were down, thus the delay in writing.

    Went to Philadelphia last weekend and saw the most adorable member in my family. Being next to Kush is such a wonderful feeling. Seeing him sleep — so peacefully and calm and self assured of his place in the world — I couldn't help but just look at him in awe. He's growing bigger and stronger and smiles and tries to talk! ahhh.

    I've taken some pictures. I'm hoping this time I'll actually get them developed and post them here. Stay tuned for those.

    The main reason for the trip was to surprise Shiv on her birthday. I can't believe you're 16, Shiv. Remember what I said: "Just say NO!" It was so much fun being there and with family. And naturally there was lots of chai!

    OK, more later. I really enjoy keeping the blog and improving my writing skills. I wonder how many readers I have. I think less than five right now. If you're reading this, do let me know. I'd like a rough idea of who likes to sip chai!

    Posted by Jigsha at 6/27/2003 01:55:00 PM | link to entry |

    The table finally got its three coats of Bombay Mahogany and had its legs installed late Sunday night. It looks amatuerish but good. I'm very proud. It's currently sitting in my dining area and I've placed a sierra-red colored bowl on it with some apples. Very painter-like, as a colleague told me.

    And I finally bought a sofa!

    I can't believe it I plunged and went ahead with it. I still can't believe I bought it in Knoxville for less than $1,000! But yes, it's made by Rowe and I saw a picture of it in O.P. Jenkins furniture store. Since they're all made to order, I've requested lime green with a mahogany finish. Should be here in less than a month. Now people actually have a place to sit when they come visit me!

    A lot of fun things have been going on the past week for me:
    • had beer from the tap — I'm not a fan
    • attended a meetup — not what I expected
    • met someone from Digs — digsters are cool!
    • watched "Matrix Reloaded" — the action scenes were too computerized
    • went dancing (salsa too!) — fun fun fun
    • went bike riding — ass and thighs hurt, but still great fun

    The weather is getting hotter. I've got to get me a fan. I've noticed I'm talking more and more like a Southerner.

    Today was as special too, since I talked to one of my friends who I attended first grade with. It was her birthday today, so I decided to call, after a long long time. Blame is on my part — a shy away too much to call people. It's really good to catch up with people you haven't heard from in a while. She gets married next year, which is so awesome and so surreal. Someone from my age group is settling down.

    Also spoke to two of my best girlfriends in the U.S. The night was full of laughs.

    Now let me continue with "Gone with the Wind," before I softly sleep.

    Posted by Jigsha at 6/18/2003 12:48:00 AM | link to entry |

    Small grocery stores are gems to a community. Despite the convenience of a larger grocery store that stocks every brand you need, the smaller stores are more specialized, human and just offer something more. I saw this four times today visiting four food stores near my neighborhood.

    My trips to the stores happened by chance. I wanted to visit a furniture store, but it had closed by the time I got there so I looked around and saw a Middle Eastern store. I wondered what it would be like inside.

    It was like the stores back in Z. A little dark, bad fluorescent lighting, sunlight streaming in through the windows. Cans and boxes and packets of food lined the shelves. The products were mostly Arabic/Middle Eastern. Grape leaves, stuffed peppers, fig jams etc. I think it was my first time in a Middle Eastern-exclusive store. Interestingly, I found some Indian "Chirag" brand products sitting among the pastes and stuffed peppers.

    I also saw some items I hardly see in stores here: Marie biscuits, coffee found outside of America, Nutella and Bounty chocolate among other things that fail my memory now. It felt super cool to discover this little nook in my neighborhood.

    So I bought me some garlic/ginger paste of the "Chirag" brand, a chocolate bar, cheese made of sheep's milk and the item I had been craving for a while — the chocolate lover's passion, Nutella.

    The next stop was at a Southern, red neck-type food store, where I saw a lady who had something like a tumor in her cheek/jaw. A Pakistani food store owned by a man called Shaheed was my next stop. The store reminded me of the typical Indian store with packets of papad and chevdo. I got a packaged Mirch Masala (they're good!) meal and spent a couple of minutes talking with him about life here. We agreed — money becomes your family in America. Back home, you were tight with family, but here, you lose that and become alone and an individual.

    The final international stop on my journey of international groceries was at an Asian store, I think owned by Japanese people. This store was jam packed with cutlery, noodles, and lots of other things I don't know. I like a lot of their chinaware, but found the prices too expensive. I got to get me to a Chinatown where I'll be sure to find peachy/red glassware at a deal rate. I also saw frozen anchovies, which reminded me a lot of kapenta. Maybe they are the same thing.

    What was the coolest thing though was seeing four different cultures all in a mile. Is this Knoxville for real?

    When I got home, I carted my culinary delights into my kitchen and immediately took out one jar. I twisted off the lid and tore off the wrapping covering its freshness. I dug a knife in the jar, gingerly scooped up some chocolate and spread it thickly on my slice of bread. Then I took one sniff, then a bite and gorged on the delicious taste of Nutella.

    As I look back now, it's kind of silly that I go to four culturally unique stores but in the end, devour upon spreadable chocolate on bread.

    Posted by Jigsha at 6/10/2003 10:05:00 PM | link to entry |

    I really shouldn't be writing this. I need to be at work early tomorrow, despite having worked a night shift tonight. I will be getting by on three and a half hours of sleep. I've got an appointment tomorrow at 2, so have taken half the day off. How is it that sometimes I have all the time in the world to while away and other times, I'm struggling to schedule!

    Aside from my ramblings on time, which I think is a rather interesting topic, let me give a brief update on my DIY projects (see previous posts if you're lost).

    My square mission-style teak table has been coated twice with a stain called Bombay Mahogany. It looks fuckin' great! When I would first put the stain on, it would be too dark and shiny, but after I would come back from work and see the stain seeped into the wood, it looks really different. If I had a digital camera, I would have posted some pictures to share, but don't have one, so you will have to imagine. The color is so rich and dark, yet has as a colorful streak with red tones. So my first DIY major project is starting to be a success!

    Now all I need to do is add one or two more coats of stain to darken it more, maybe add a satin varnish/polyurethene to protect from water marks, and screw the table together. Doesn't seem to bad.

    Stay tuned for more of [start television music] Jigsha's DIY stories!

    Posted by Jigsha at 6/09/2003 04:57:00 AM | link to entry |

    There are times when having a male figure around is helpful. This is one of those times for me.

    I'm undertaking all thse DIY projects: staining a dining table, adding stains to patches of an older chest of drawers and replacing knobs, painting the walls (yes, quite possibly), hanging things. Now granted I am pretty independent and tend to read the instructions of technical gadgets before I buy them, I really could have used some trustworthy advice as I stood in Home Depot and Lowes today for half an hour at a time wondering if the nails I had in my hand were long enough and thick enough to hang a mirror and also my clock.

    Alas, my independent streak doesn't like asking for too much advice. I hate to feel stupid, and I'm sure many of the men in the DIY warehouses wondered what the hell I was trying to do.

    I did end up settling on stain though for my table. It's this lovely Bombay Mahogany. It's as luscious as its name: a rich dark brown satin stain with red highlights. I've envisioned the finished table — a modern square piece of furniture made more beautiful by the grain of the teak highlighted through the stain. Yet as I sat down in my living area and gazed at my DIY supplies I wondered if I had enough stain, if this would actually work, and if it would look good.

    The stain I got to supposedly match my chest of drawers doesn't seem to match. It could just be my hasty jump to conclusions though. I really should be more patient and give the dresser more coats of the stain gel. There is still debate about my selection of the knobs.

    Regarding my other projects, I haven't even figured out how I will reach the top most corners of my walls if I do decide to paint. The ever important task of color selection will be another hurdle to cross. Nor\t one I'm ready for yet.

    Artson Masambo, where are you when I need you? As our handyman/driver/employee/member of the family and more, Artson would have known exactly what to do. If only we could have handymen here like we did in Z.

    By the way, three straight posts! I rock!

    Posted by Jigsha at 6/04/2003 02:23:00 AM | link to entry |

    Today evening was another special one in the company of Zambian-Indians. Ask any Zambian-Indian and they will tell you they have the best of times with other Indians from Zambia. It's some mwenye connection we have.

    So after paying my rent, I drove on Westland Drive to the farthest end of West Knoxville. At their house, I helped cut mangoes and chop dhaniya. And around 6 I had chai. I couldn't believe my luck. I actually looked at my watch to confirm.

    Then we went to watch one of the guy's play indoor football in Lenoir City. It was my first time seeing football being played indoors. It was pretty cool. I wonder how it must be inside the 'area/field,' as it's surrounded by sturdy plexiglass and netting.

    Back at their home we had shaash and khichdi on the deck. It was such a nice evening and perfect to dine outdoors.

    This summer looks promising in so many ways.

    Posted by Jigsha at 6/03/2003 12:22:00 AM | link to entry |

    The rather bland "occasional updates" has been renamed to "chai at six". As I thought about my afternoon today and remembered chai and chevro at six, it made me happy. I like being happy, and this page should reflect that. That's it.

    Posted by Jigsha at 6/01/2003 11:53:00 PM | link to entry |

    Today was just one of those perfect days. The sun was shining (makes me think of that Bob Marley song!), I woke up feeling super. I read the paper and watched the news. I drew my blinds, looked outside and felt a slight breeze.

    I wish I could have these days more often. When everything makes sense. When I'm in a great fuckin mood and am listening to really good music as I drive really fast to an actual destination. When I feel the sun on my face and the wind in my hair as I loudly sing along to the radio. When I see Z3s and Boxsters zooming down Kingston Pike. When I feel confident as hell. Yeah!

    Damn — I got me a rush. I guess having a more social weekend does that. Yesterday afternoon I watched "Finding Nemo." Totally recommend it. Then at night at a friend's place, I sat on a log near a fire and looked up at the stars and remembered again how beautiful this world is. I laughed with good people and heard stories and had a slight buzz.

    And today again I met some family friends and we talked about people we know and made more connections. It's always nice to go to someone's home and feel transported back to your childhood where it's warm outside but you feel a fan blowing near you. And there's CNN playing in the background. And you talk nonstop about people you know and things you do. And you have chai and nasto at 6 o'clock. And you remember how great it is to be an Anavil-Zambian and how being social has more advantages than being alone.

    Later on I met some friends at an Indian restaurant. That was really cool. We joked and teased and it was just good times. Of course the glass of white chianti helped some too.

    After I got back home, I went for a walk around my block and for nanoseconds at a time had a glimpse of peoples' lives as I walked past their buildings. It's always fascinating to know how everyone has a life. They have their own world, their own web of people and contacts, their own worries and concerns. And yet somehow — as a counselor once mentioned — the webs are all inter-connected.

    Dharmisha called me today. We're hoping to makes lots of plans for the summer. Nisha will be visit the U.S. this summer, and then there's the Anavil Convention. And of course there'll be countless trips inbetween.

    I'm high spirited now. Inspired to do really cool things. It's a good thing I'm off tomorrow so I'll have the rush to go out and feel good again.

    Posted by Jigsha at 6/01/2003 10:54:00 PM | link to entry |