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9:45 a.m. - February 19, 2005
Jealousy: A trickle, not a torrent. Yet?
Ran into Ani at my assignment location yesterday and we hugged - she hugged me as is her style, a prolonged hug that is more grip than squeeze - and chatted, but not until she had berated me for never returning phone calls or emails. Ani is defending her dissertation in late early May and this pang of would-have-been struck soundly: I too would be defending my dissertation this year had I not gone and fucked up everything. Since Day One she was one of my most favorite people among my cohorts, as ruthless and motivated as everybody else, but retaining a certain dignity and grace that comes only when you know you are simply the best and will leave others to scrabble for the highest ranking. She reminds me of a yenta in the form of a petite, thoroughly-assimilated Indian (don't call me Indian, Jason, say I am a woman from Kerala! Indians do not accept Christians but Keralai do, remember that) who wags her finger in my face and says it is never too late for me to return and finish up.

We parted only after she extracted my personal email address (I've heard from others you have a tertiary system: Never respond to emails sent to this address; periodically respond to those sent to a second; a guaranteed response to those sent to the third. Write down this address here) and hugged again (Jason, you call this a hug? Try again!). One of my most favorite people I enjoy being around because she willingly - and unknowingly - violates all the little rules and protocols with which I keep my distance from people, always ready to tut-tut and say I am acting too American when I try to pull away or maintain that distance.

What I like most is that there is no veneer: What you see is what you get. If more people were like that, I'd feel infinitely more comfortable, but that also entails displacing my own. There is a certain luxury and safety in bluntness, isn't there? The need for guesswork is somewhat abated, none of the fakey-fakey social cues to interpret rightly or wrongly, no room for my mind to assume the worst of everything.

It's been a week of people and conversation, a good week.


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