Sonalee Rau

Name: Sonalee Rau
Position: Online Staff Writer
Graduation Year: 2010
Sonalee (suh-NAH-lee) is a chipper Chipper and a would-be magnet junior. She spends a great deal of time playing tennis (Blair is red hot), doodling, reading, quoting famous people, quoting not-so-famous people and lamenting her inability to play the piano. She is also a big fan of the Food Network and Top Chef, and feels strongly that Paula Deen is being unfairly allowed to monopolize daytime cooking television. Her pet peeve is the misspelling of the word "psycho." If you ever need her, you can find her halfway around the world living vicariously through the rest of the Chips staff.

Stories (32)

BangaLore #29: Behind the silver screen

By Sonalee Rau | Nov. 19, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Each of the fifty American states has a state bird, a state flower, a state motto…now, what about a state film industry?

BangaLore #28: Call it crazy

By Sonalee Rau | Sept. 29, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

In a country where thousands have no food to eat and no roof over their heads, let alone electricity, it appears that there is one good which all consumers must possess regardless of their income bracket. Even the housemaids and the homeless have it. They call it, simply, the "mobile."

BangaLore #27: Live and learn

By Sonalee Rau | Sept. 13, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Remember Career Day in elementary school? We were told that we could each be whatever we wanted to be when we grew up, from an ice-cream vendor to the president of our nation.

BangaLore #26: Professing our appreciation

By Sonalee Rau | Sept. 7, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

On Friday, countless Indian Ph.D. students took time away from their classes, jobs and paid internships to applaud their professors and cut a cake for them.

BangaLore #25: If swine could fly

By Sonalee Rau | Sept. 4, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

It started when we arrived at Bengaluru International Airport and stumbled into the customs line at 4 a.m.

BangaLore #24: See you (mon)soon

By Sonalee Rau | June 17, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Dear Monsoon, It's over? So soon? I've been in India for a year, and I've thought about what to write in this blog for many months now. But how can one fit the salient features of a year-long experience into 300 words, when the lack of suitable clichés is the only cliché suited to a country like this?

BangaLore #23: All that glitters is gold

By Sonalee Rau | June 4, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Every country has its own, sometimes unrealistic, perceptions about what it is to be beautiful. India is no exception. In Bangalore, there is a long unwritten list of requirements for "beauty" – and it pushes people to their limits.

BangaLore #22: A midsummer day's reality

By Sonalee Rau | May 13, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

We're having an Indian summer in Bangalore right now.

BangaLore #21: IIT's "it"

By Sonalee Rau | May 2, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

The college craze: it's an inevitable part of life for high school students and graduate school applicants all over the world. To make matters more difficult, there's a stigma associated with not going to a great college in any country.

BangaLore #20: Tibet or not Tibet?

By Sonalee Rau | April 24, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

That is the question. The 50th anniversary of the Tibetan rebellion recently passed: March 10, 1959 marked the day when the uprising of Tibetans against the Chinese government officially began.

BangaLore #19: Why did the Bangalorean cross the road?

By Sonalee Rau | April 17, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Beats me, but it probably took him half an hour to get to the other side.

BangaLore #18: Train of thought

By Sonalee Rau | March 31, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

At a glance, you wouldn't recognize the Metro station in Bangalore as a Metro.

BangaLore #17: In the 'hood

By Sonalee Rau | March 22, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

At midnight if you listen out the window, you can hear the neighbors playing table tennis. During the Olympics, they celebrated every night with their television turned up to maximum volume. They're Chinese immigrants and they live next door in an apartment complex full of Buddhists. There's a statue of a Hindu idol outside the gate.

Bangalore #16: Screen time

By Sonalee Rau | March 16, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Indians aren't heavily into sports. In Bangalore, it's mainly just cricket, badminton...and surfing. Channel surfing, that is. Indian television is almost like American television, except sans WETA phone-a-thons and with a few twists.

BangaLore #15: Charity case

By Sonalee Rau | March 9, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Last month I saw a beggar woman sprinting down the street. She had stolen a businessman's laptop, hoping to make a quick buck by selling it - and he was at her heels. But not all lower-class Bangaloreans are thieves. Many are generous and charitable despite their financial situations. Random acts of kindness aren't extinct in Bangalore quite yet.

BangaLore #14: The fundamentals don't apply

By Sonalee Rau | March 1, 2009, 11:02 p.m. | In Lifestyle Blog »

In India, the regular rules of the universe don't seem to be in effect. Take, for example, the laws of time and space. Einstein stated unequivocally that they can't be bent, yet this country proves otherwise. "In a minute" to an Indian can mean anywhere from an hour to two days.

BangaLore #13: What not to wear

By Sonalee Rau | Feb. 23, 2009, 10:35 p.m. | In Lifestyle Blog »

What, really, is the dress code on Bangalorean streets? Well, when in Bangalore, do as the Bangaloreans do. For one thing, wearing "revealing" clothing like shorts above the knee is generally taboo. Yet sandals are a given for both men and women in Bangalore - whether on a walk in the park or at a formal gathering.

BangaLore #12: Southern (Indian) hospitality

By Sonalee Rau | Feb. 10, 2009, 1:30 p.m. | In Lifestyle Blog »

Bangalorean dinner parties are seriously time consuming. If you've ever been to one, you know what I mean. Here's the basic schedule...

BangaLore #10: An unnatural limbo

By Sonalee Rau | Jan. 21, 2009, 10:13 p.m. | In Lifestyle Blog »

There are few places so totally in harmony with nature as Bangalore. South Indian parties and "functions" feature meals served on banana leaves, the perfect disposable plates. Cows roam the streets freely and motorists tend to give them the right of way.

BangaLore #9: How to talk first class

By Sonalee Rau | Jan. 10, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Well, since we're finally in 2009 (the year before the year of all years...ONE-OH) here's a little something from SCO to you: the official unofficial guide to talking like an Indian! Practice speaking with these "Indianisms" to be as hip as those "Slumdog Millionaire" characters.

BangaLore #8: Joe the rickshaw driver

By Sonalee Rau | Jan. 8, 2009, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

India is a kaleidoscope, a tapestry woven of 17 languages and a billion people. And it's people who give the country its color: the seemingly ordinary, unsung heroes of everyday life, the blue-collar workers.

BangaLore #7: Pass the ketchup

By Sonalee Rau | Dec. 23, 2008, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

"My, how THIN you've gotten! Come in and eat something!" Every Indian has heard this upon visiting the home of a long-lost relative. Whether or not one has actually lost weight is irrelevant. If someone asks you if you want more food at an Indian meal, it's a rhetorical question.

BangaLore #6: The price is right

By Sonalee Rau | Dec. 15, 2008, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Every day is Black Friday in Bangalore. Comic Russell Peters proudly proclaimed to the world on one of his shows that "all Indians are cheap." And while that's a bit of a blanket statement, most Indians are, truthfully, pretty frugal. It's part of the culture. Why go all the way to the grocery store when there are door-to-door vegetable vendors? It's easier than Peapod and more affordable, too.

BangaLore #5: Hot off the press

By Sonalee Rau | Dec. 8, 2008, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

When I entered the austere, white concrete reception hall at the Times of India (ToI) printing press in Bangalore, filled with plastic chairs, I stopped in my tracks for a moment. Could this press, I questioned, really be the largest facility of its kind in all South Asia?

BangaLore #4: India's 9/11

By Sonalee Rau | Nov. 30, 2008, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

The Indian metropolis of Mumbai is home to over 12 million people. This week, they bear witness to a terrorist attack that left 195 dead - including several police officers, American tourists and at least two journalists - and over 300 injured. On Nov. 25, terrorists disguised as students held victims hostage in two famous hotels, the Taj Mahal and the Oberoi, then set fire to the former. Shots were fired and explosives set off around several other Mumbai landmarks. The tragedy lasted for three days as captives remained trapped in the city and the death toll rose seemingly without end.

BangaLore #3: Check "IT" out

By Sonalee Rau | Nov. 26, 2008, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

This week I finally got to, and I'll never look at IT the same way again. There's been a lot of buzz about the information technology (IT) boom, call centers and outsourcing in India lately. I had heard a great deal about the India-based software and technology company Infosys in the past, but hadn't realized until now the extent to which companies like it are revolutionizing the face of India.

BangaLore #2: Seeking doctor groom

By Sonalee Rau | Nov. 12, 2008, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

Well, not me in particular, but a surprising number of people are. Allow me to explain. The other day I was reading an Indian magazine and two pages of tiny print after all of the main articles caught my eye. It appeared to be a classified ads section. Upon closer examination, I realized I had been right. The ads were all classifieds…for people.

BangaLore #1: 'Tis the season

By Sonalee Rau | Nov. 6, 2008, midnight | In Lifestyle Blog »

All the usual signs of the holiday season were visible in India last week. Fairy lights were strung along houses, roads were congested with seasonal traffic and ancient television specials were being aired over and over. The fire marshal limit had long since been exceeded in most gift shops. I almost believed it was December instead of the middle of autumn.

MCPS to hold Back-to-School Fair

By Sonalee Rau | Aug. 11, 2008, midnight | In Local »

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will be holding its first annual Back-to-School Fair on Saturday, August 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Carver Educational Services Center in Rockville. The rain date for the event is August 23.

Modified bus policy makes no cents

By Sonalee Rau | July 18, 2008, midnight | In Op/Ed »

For Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students, a new bus policy proposal means it may be time to get out the old walking shoes. Current MCPS bus policy states that high school students who live within two miles of their schools must find alternate transportation, as must middle school students who live within one and a half miles of their schools and elementary school students who live within one mile of their schools.

Gonzalez, Dora

By Sonalee Rau | June 30, 2008, midnight | In Teacher Feature »

The foreign language academic support classroom is perpetually jam-packed during lunch as students filter in and out, looking for a teacher to help them. The environment seems chaotic – that is, until the commanding presence of Spanish teacher Dora Gonzalez enters the room. She hands each student the material that they need in a businesslike fashion. Then, noticing a former student complaining about his work, she addresses the classroom jocularly as her smile belies her seriousness. "If he had taken a class with me, he would have experienced a lot of fun," she says.

"Happening" happens to be intoxicatingly good

By Sonalee Rau | June 16, 2008, midnight | In Movies »

It's happening: M. Night Shyamalan has finally redeemed himself. From the filmmaker who has been in a recent slump (think 2006's muddy "Lady in the Water") comes "The Happening," a film that will pleasantly surprise Shyamalan skeptics and recalls his better earlier work, like "The Sixth Sense" and "Signs."

Images (19)

Photo: bangalore cell

By Sonalee Rau | Sept. 29, 2009, 10:04 a.m. | In ‎Latest »

An unidentified Bangalorean mobile user plays a game of cricket.

Photo: Bangalore 27

By Sonalee Rau | Sept. 13, 2009, 3:40 p.m. | In ‎Latest »

Student enthusiasm levels are high, but supplies and funding often run low at local public schools like the one shown above.

Photo: BangaLore #22

By Sonalee Rau | May 13, 2009, 7:29 p.m. | In ‎Latest »

Alas, these unsuspecting mangoes on a local tree seem destined to be the next victims of the neighborhood children.

Photo: Young monk

By Sonalee Rau | April 26, 2009, 9:06 a.m. | In ‎Latest »

...or a young monk shooting a toy gun at his playmates.

Photo: Monk in Crocs

By Sonalee Rau | April 26, 2009, 8:41 a.m. | In ‎Latest »

This was probably the last place one would have expected to see a monk wearing Crocs…

Photo: Buddhist deities

By Sonalee Rau | April 26, 2009, 8:35 a.m. | In ‎Latest »

The illustrations of Buddhist deities on the walls closely resembled Hindu idols seen most often in India.

Photo: Temple interior

By Sonalee Rau | April 26, 2009, 8:33 a.m. | In ‎Latest »

The view of the temple's interior was breathtaking.

Photo: His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

By Sonalee Rau | April 26, 2009, 8:28 a.m. | In ‎Latest »

Visitors surround a temple with a picture of Rinpoche mounted on its exterior.

Photo: Entrance to the Nyingmapa monastery

By Sonalee Rau | April 26, 2009, 8:22 a.m. | In ‎Latest »

The golden entrance gate to the Nyingmapa monastery outside of Bangalore transports one to a different world.

Photo: bangalore road

By Sonalee Rau | April 17, 2009, 1:56 p.m. | In ‎Latest »

Bangaloreans running evening errands attempt to make their way across a crowded road.

Photo: bangalore neighborhood

By Sonalee Rau | March 22, 2009, 11:02 p.m. | In ‎Latest »

It's all good in the 'hood - this neighborhood, from where I write these words, is comprised of people from myriad backgrounds who coexist peacefully and happily.

Photo: bangalore monkeys

By Sonalee Rau | March 1, 2009, 11:01 p.m. | In ‎Latest »

"Get off the sidewalk right now, son! And don't ever let me catch you using it again!"

Photo: indian barbie

By Sonalee Rau | Feb. 23, 2009, 10:34 p.m. | In ‎Latest »

The Barbie on the left models the Gujarati style of draping the sari, India's national garment, while the one on the right models the style most common in Bangalore.


By Sonalee Rau | Feb. 10, 2009, 1:29 p.m. | In ‎Latest »

Guests at an Indian dinner party get talking.

Photo: bangalore cow

By Sonalee Rau | Jan. 21, 2009, 10:10 p.m. | In ‎Latest »

A contradiction in terms: the cow trimming someone's lawn in this picture probably went on to eat someone else's non-biodegradable garbage immediately afterwards.

Photo: Flute Vendor

By Sonalee Rau | Jan. 7, 2009, midnight | In ‎Latest »

This flute vendor in front of the Mysore Zoo in Mysore, a city near Bangalore, tried to play English nursery rhyme tunes on his flute in order to sell us the product.

Photo: price haggling india

By Sonalee Rau | Dec. 15, 2008, midnight | In ‎Latest »

Bargains in India aren't always easy to find amongst highly specialized shops - this store, for example, deals only in embroidery, "fancy goods" and car decorations.


By Sonalee Rau | Nov. 6, 2008, midnight | In ‎Latest »

Small fireworks like this "chakra," or wheel, are a popular alternative to its larger, louder and more dangerous cousins: rockets.

Photo: gonzalez

By Sonalee Rau | June 30, 2008, midnight | In ‎Latest »

Gonzalez dispels the rumor that she is intimidating with a wide smile.