Monday, December 31, 2007

A movie and a couple of books..

We caught up with some friends on Saturday, had lunch at Salaang Pass Restaurant on Fremont Blvd. and watched "Taare Zameen Par" later. I don't know which to write about first so will go with it chronologically. Salaang Pass turned out to be a gem of a restaurant, thanks to Prashee for introducing it to us. We used to watch movies regularly at the Park Theater right across the restaurant but never paid attention to it. The food turned out to be amazing and Subhash and I are sure to go there again. And again;)

Now to the movie. I was a little curious about what the movie would be like, being Aamir Khan's first directorial venture and went with no expectations or information about the movie whatsoever. And it turned out to be a real gem, I believe almost everyone in the hall cried at the climactic scenes, which I will not reveal here. Hats off to Aamir. I was never a great fan of his when he was the "chocolate-faced hero" type but now with every movie he seems to experiment more and improve with every one of them:) I am happy Bollywood is finally daring to experiment.

We spent the evening at Borders. For at least this past half year, we have found this a very nice thing to do on weekend evenings. Whenever we have the time and leisure for it, we visit the local Borders store and spend some 2-3 hours there browsing through books. I simply love going there with Subhash. We each pick out books, according to our own taste and browse through them, each at our own speed. Thanks to these Borders outings I have had glimpses of the JFK family portraits, spent a "Year with the Queen", admired the World Map countless times (;) ) read through the very many Jane Austenish books, caught a couple first chapters of very many Agatha Christies and so on and so forth. This weekend was a double bonus, we spent Saturday afternoon @ the Varsity Borders on Stanford's Campus in Palo Alto and Sunday evening at the one closer home. It was splendid!

Well, that was one weekend well spent :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007


We had to go to the friendly neighborhood USCIS office this afternoon for "having our biometrics taken". Which in other words means, we had to give our fingerprints (now we can't escape from a crime without being given away by our fingerprints;) )

We arrived, Subhash's appointment was @ 1PM and mine was @ 2. The guard tried to be a little nasty in asking me to wait one hour and saying he won't let me in @ 1 PM. Which was a little funny considering that the place was empty.

Well anyway, Subhash got done and it was my turn. After all the finger prints, it was the turn of the web camera. I had to get my picture taken. And the most unthinkable of things happened to me. The lady actually asked me to remove my "bottu" (which is another word for vermillion/tilak/bindi). I was infuriated. I asked her if I had to and she was like "yeah, you have to" with a type of I-cannot-help-it-I-am-so-sorry expression.

For a moment there, I had a good mind to walk right out of that place. But I didn't want to over-react. But maybe I wasn't? I have been here ~6.5 years and I have been stared at and asked funny questions (a lady at a Border's Store actually asked me if I was sick and why I was wearing the Tilak, I thought, what a stupid female, and I let it go at that) but I have never been asked to remove it. For me, (you can call me old-fashioned for this), it is an essential part of my attire. I will not lie and say I am the quintessential "Bharat Nari" or anything like that, but I have never gone out without wearing my bindi. If for nothing else, just the fact that I don't like the way I look without it. I have been wearing it for more than 2 decades now and I don't think I can get "un"-used to it at all.

That I had to do this today, infuriated me. Maybe I am over-reacting, but then maybe I am not. Whatever happened to freedom!

And the funniest part was, Subhash had one on his forehead too (a real tiny one) and she never asked him to remove that! Well, there seems to be no end to the weirdness in USCIS and its practices!

Monday, December 17, 2007

A (small?) misunderstanding

I was driving back to work from McCarthy Ranch the other day. I saw this Acura zipping criss cross on the street, ahead of me. We stopped at a light and the sticker on the bumper grabbed my attention. It said something along the lines of "If everyone wanted an eye for an eye, the whole world would be blind" But what was more fascinating is that it had a picture of Gandhi on it and read M.K. Gandhi.

Going by how this guy/gal was driving, it didn't seem like he/she would be anywhere close to "Gandhian". Recklessly and aggressively and even rudely cutting ahead of everyone on a local road that maxed at 40MPH. I was amused. Then I thought, maybe he/she misunderstood what the bumper sticker meant;) Instead of realizing that it was meant to prevent reaction from your own self, maybe this person assumed that it told the world not to react to whatever he/she did? ;)

So instead of learning not to react/honk/respond when someone else was driving bad, it seemed the person was telling everyone around to be Gandhian and not react to his/her "taking an eye".

Well, well.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Decided to take my Honda for a spin today. I knew this song was in its CD magazine somewhere. It had been a while since I listened to it. Another good one from Keeravani, a little less popular though. The movie (Aithe) and the song (the lone one in the movie) didn't receive as much kudos as they deserved is what I always felt:) SO much so that the Wikipedia database for Keeravani doesn't show this movie at all. Sigh! I am beginning to doubt if I was mistaken about the music composer for this song...

Anonymous just let me know this:

Kalyani Malik is the one who should be credited with this song.


Aaja Nachle

Caught up with some Bollywood after a loooong time with the girls a couple weeks back. Watched Aaja Nachle. Most of them thought the movie was OK. I thought, both the movie and Madhuri were good. Actually Madhuri was amazing. Her age showed though, but that is what made it all the more amazing. She seems to have lost a lot of weight and the agility with which she danced was mind blowing. Kiran will be really happy to hear this coming from me, but anyway, hats off to her! She was simply superb in the movie:)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Ohh California!

An article in Forbes:

Drivers in San Francisco enjoy views of the Golden Gate Bridge, with scenic stretches of the Pacific Coast Highway to the south and the rural shoreline to the north.

And they pay for it at the pump.

There, the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline reached $3.546 Wednesday, up from $2.524 a year ago.

Ten Most Expensive Places to Buy Gas
Rank City
1 San Francisco
2 San Jose
3 San Diego
4 Sacramento
5 Los Angeles
6 New York City
7 Buffalo
8 Seattle
9 Miami
10 Chicago

Top 5 cities of the top 10 in California? And why you ask? Read on...

What's more, the difference between, say, San Francisco and Houston is more pronounced this time of year since California requires cleaner fuel year round. Texas, like many Southern and Midwestern states, eases up on such requirements during the winter months when consumption slows. California's higher environmental standard increases refining costs, which get passed along to the consumer.

Huh. The price you pay for living here!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

What is latest?

Lot of things to write. They just kept piling up. Some significant events occurred past week, and I finally made time to pen them down!

Subhash's parents left last week. When they reached home back in Hyderabad, we heaved a sigh of relief. We were a little worried about their really long layover of 20 hours in Singapore. They made it in good shape, my parents informed me after they called on them. I am glad that their trip went off really well. I had been planning this for a year and a half and I am really happy it went as per schedule like clockwork, all that travel within the US and the weather (Can you believe it was 85 in Chicago/Madison when we were there in October?!!!!) et al :) But the house feels terribly empty now and I have been totally working round the clock this week and its just plain "routine" again :(

So what have I been up to. To begin with, taking a class for my CCIE. I should have done this a long time but never got around to it. Just too much work otherwise. But I figured I can never get away with that part, so decided to just do it, work or no work;) The first day was a shocker, instructor informed us that the class is indeed 9.30 AM to 9.30 PM (I thought it was a typo in that email, waa!!). I have been trying to get out by 7 PM at the most, but its just too much networking for one day. Routing and Switching and v4 and v6 and QoS and Multicast and all the good things! I am surprised I am not yet tired of it. Maybe I was made for a tech job after all ;) It is a good thing though, I am learning a lot :D

Other than that, well nothing much. Feels like this week has been split into neat pockets of time into which all my day-to-day tasks are fitting perfectly except there are no pockets left to do anything else;) Hopefully next week will be better.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


She was the last grandparent Subhash and I had. And we lost her last week.

My Ammamma. (Mom's mom) True to her nature, she was called Annapurna. (Goddess of agriculture/fertility) I have fond memories of her. But the memories I do not have of her are the ones for which I need to be most obliged. My mom tells me how much she did for me when I was a little infant of barely 1 month.

But I can truly cherish the ones I remember. When I was a kid, I used to insist on her listening to my A, B, C, D, E, F, G song and she always did so patiently. She used to have us pick all the Badams (Almond) from this huge tree in their yard and she would patiently extract the badam from each one and I always used to say she should do it faster because I was always the impatient glutton. She used to ask me to massage her feet with ghee and would offer me ghee as bribe if I did it. (I would never do it without the bribe). She was most interested in playing "Dayam" which is similar to the one Kauravas and Pandavas play in Mahabharata. We always used to try and not play with her, she was really good at it.

Subhash's parents visited her once when I was here and I remember how impressed his mom was at my Ammamma's Homoeopathy knowledge and how much she remembered at that fragile age.

When we lost my grandfather, it was rather a big blow for her. Followed by my uncle (my mom's elder brother). Since then, she suffered various injuries which coupled with age, rendered her rather immobile the past couple years. Subhash never got a chance to meet her and we always feel that loss. I saw her back in July, and what I saw tore me apart. I am glad the suffering is over for her and she is relieved now.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Masala Vadas and miscellaneous

We had yet another Potluck @ work. This time the excuse was Thanksgiving. (OK, now you all know it we have too much fun here ;) ). This time was a first for me in that I didn't do anything for it, yet had something to take ;) Masala Vadas!! Thanks to Subhash's mom, she woke up early in the morning and made a bunch of Vadas for me to take to the Potluck. Very sweet! I didn't break any sweat this time, thanks to her :)

And needless to say they were a super hit! :) Gone clean in 10 mins! I told folks that his mom made them and they were asking for longer she is around and if they can expect some more. (Yeah we are all like that ;) ) Back home, I loved eating Masala Vadas (actually also Samosas and Idlis and anything else, any vendor cares to sell) on those long train journeys to Bangalore and the likes. That II class train journey experience is unbeatable :D

Another thing I noticed is our work culture. Except for some unusual work places, its more or less relaxed and laid back. I got a whiff of it when I first moved here. Everyone comes and goes at their own time. As long as you get your work done, no one cares when you come and go. Actually Subhash's bro is here with us for a week and he was saying he had to leave for work @ 7.30 ish just like he does back home. I was like, no one here goes to work at odd hours like that ;) We all go around 9, sometimes even 9 is too early;) True to the Bay Area spirit, he has been going later and later to work starting Monday;) I think today he broke his own record by going @ 9. Way to go!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

80! Yay!!

While my routers reload, I thought I'd take the time to express my happiness over the weather today. (Yeah, I am turning English, have nothing to talk about but the weather;) ) It was 72 when I got to work and was real nice and warm. Didn't need a jacket and considering its mid-November, that made me spring in joy! I am thinking of those Madison days, in 30s, freezing already, and here I am in Springtime clothes :)

Go California! ;)

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Medico and the Engineer

Of late I have been getting some comments from some person @ Harvard Med. Although this person doesn't reveal himself/herself, the comments, all of them, point well toward what I like to call the typical "we-are-superior-to-moron-programmers" syndrome.

I have noticed that in a lot of medicos. They share somewhere, to varying extents of course, this syndrome. Although I cannot speak for everyone on the globe, I can say that back home in India, we are orthogonal people right from when we leave High School. A lot of people I know begin with a choice, whether to choose Math or Bio. (No offense to people who do not choose either, I respect them more than I respect people who choose one of these. It takes some amount of courage to be away/different from stereotypical). Whoever chooses Math aspires to be an Engineer, whoever chooses Bio aspires to be a Medico. More often than not, the Engineering aspiration is fulfilled, one way or the other with those numerous Engineering colleges springing up all over the place. But the Medico ambition, no, not so easy. So the very few people who do manage to end up as Medicos, are undoubtedly brilliant.

But what I have noticed is that with this brilliance, comes vanity. And a disrespect for the orthogonal counterparts, which is the Engineers. Just because your dream was harder to realize, suddenly the other person looks like a moron.

Its interesting how the comments are. Not just from this anonymous medico at Harvard, but from some other real-life persons I have seen. Just because there seem to be so many engineers around, suddenly, engineering becomes a dumb profession for dim-witted people with half-brains. The comments I have had on my blog clearly show a lack of comprehension for what I have written, they look more like comments that have been made just for the sake of insulting "programmers". They always look like they were written after reading the blog in a rush and never show any understanding of the point I am trying to make. I take this up as a defense for Engineering as a profession, I am not a programmer.

I believe each profession is important, else you would not be paid to do it. If I didn't do my job the way I did it, this medico guy/gal would not have access to my blog like he/she does. We build the internet and whatever else goes with it. Similarly, any job. If you are being paid to do it, it carries some value with it. You can argue who is more important, but at the end, the only thing you achieve is undervaluing everyone else and thinking you are in the most supreme of professions. Ego. Never a good thing.

So I leave this post trailing. Just some food for thought:)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Delightful and precious

Subhash's Dad wanted to eat "garelu" for Diwali and asked me to make some:) "Garelu" are Vadas or "Lentil Donuts".

So I made some this morning and he paid me two very nice compliments which I shall always cherish. Now I know the items under question themselves were not so amazing, but that is what makes it all the more special. You feel the force of goodwill way more when you very well know that the praise has been exaggerated:)

He was talking to Subhash and telling him to eat the vadas while they were hot. Saying that he "will not get vadas like these ever in the US" and that "they were just melting in the mouth".

Happy happy me!

Friday, November 09, 2007


Tomorrow is Diwali. Counts as my favourite festival. I loved Diwali back home because of

1) Lights
2) Fire crackers
3) Food

not necessarily in that order;)

Each Diwali is painful thinking about how much I am missing. Last year was much better as I got to play with some firecrackers if not a whole bunch thanks to my very good friend Vandana :)

This time Subhash's parents are around. And the lazy me is relying on his mom to make all the goodies :D Yummmmmmmmmmmm!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Stupid ... if you know it

Whenever I post something on Craig's list, I invariably get emails like this:

I am interested in your item above, listed for sale on
Craigslist. I am willing to make an offer of $200 for it. Kindly get
back to me if it's still for sale, and it's present condition and pics
if you have any.

Maybe if I was a first timer, I would be duped but now, no. It is so obviously an attempt to (ph)fish out personal information from you. Actually the email above is not such a classic exhibit, when I re-post my latest item, I will put up some more classics (all the ones I got this time were deleted automatically before I could preserve the specimens, since I reported them as phishing attempts).

Interestingly most of the kith and kin of such sc(p)ammers seem to live in West Africa or some remote part of Africa or the other. Wonder why all these morons choose just Africa to go to ;) Once you know it, their plot seems so repetitive and stupid, most of the times I just laugh at them!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Living in a foreign land?

We had yet another party @ work. (Yes, I know what you are thinking, looks like they just party@ work?;) ) This time it was Halloween. We had all dressed up in whatever gear we could find.

Without digressing any further into the party (I can't stop if I start), let me come right to the point. We were served Samosas and Spring Rolls. Yet again. I remember the first time I saw Samosas @ an office party, for a release we just had, I was positively shocked. I was aghast at how Indian the Bay Area really is. But a bigger shock was in store for me. When John Chambers hosted a company meeting in the Santa Clara Convention Center, we were served Samosas yet again. Notwithstanding Chambers' admiration for India, this was a little too much for me to digest. All the top executives eating Samosas? I was overjoyed and shocked and palate-thrilled all at the same time. And not to mention, proud.

So the point? Are we really living in a foreign land? Almost everyone I know lives an Indian life. Not just in the Bay Area, (of course the Bay Area is beyond anything I have ever seen;) ) But even places as remote as Dubuque (Iowa). I have seen Indian stores and Indians just about everywhere.

We were having a discussion on this topic a couple nights ago, Subhash's parents and I. I was telling his dad how I thought his friends were the only ones that can truly take the credit of living in a foreign land and managing well. Because the whole of our generation just doesn't do it. We get up, we pray to our own Gods in temples, we buy groceries off Indian stores' shelves, eat our own food, socialize with fellow Indians (in the Bay Area you don't even have to go looking to make Indian friends) we just live an Indian life in a foreign land. In short, except for your postal address nothing changes. You live, breathe, eat, listen and what not else Indian. So much so, that the change/adjustment would probably be higher if some one from Chennai moves to Kolkata or Delhi. (all Indian cities)

So what is foreign about living anywhere in the US? Nothing. Zilch. Zero. We don't live any different here in the US than if we were in India. When someone tries to tell me how much US is better than India, there is the only one thing I want to tell them. If you love the US so much, live like an American. If you want to have the true experience of living in a foreign country and want to be away from Indian-ness so much, don't go anywhere close to that Indian Grocery store. Socialize with Americans and live like them. If you can't, at the very least, stop insulting your roots.

I know a lot of others don't share the same opinion. It is my perception and we all have our own perceptions. I am not saying that my way of thinking is right. But it is what I think, all the same :)

I used to think, maybe if I go to some remote country in Africa, I might have the experience of living in a foreign land. But my uncle recently moved to Nigeria and apparently they have temples and stores and everything all set already. And my aunt used to live in Tanzania way back in the 1970s and they had Indian friends there ;) At that time too :D

Actually makes me feel proud. About how we have spread our wings (and with it, our influence). We are everywhere, we have been everywhere. Yet, I long to be back. On that soil where I first set foot on this earth.

Talking of India, Subhash's Dad reminded me of this very beautiful four liner.

Ye Desamaegina
Yendu Kaledina
Pogadara Nee Thalli Bhumi Bharathi ni
Nilupara Nee Jaathi Nindu Gauravamu.

Roughly translates to:

Whataver country you go to
Wherever you set foot on
Praise your motherland, India
Keep up the dignity of your country.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Yes. I experienced it. Finally. The dreaded Bay Area earthquake. Always looms like a monster threat over everyone's minds here. We were sitting @ home, I was working and parents were watching TV. Suddenly it all shook. Usually when someone goes down/up the stairs we experience a slight shake so I assumed someone must have took a fall down the stairs because this was much much heavier shaking. But when it didn't stop I realized it might be a quake. Then started the scrambling. We ran down the stairs and only after going down I realized that I needed to pick up my documents bag in an emergency. Duh! What a waste! I should be better prepared.

I also realized we don't have earthquake insurance on the house, I guess I need to buy one. But I am pretty sure the insurance guys are equally scared and I will get the worst possible deal on this if I go ask them now;) What troubles. The price we pay for living in the revered Silicon Valley! Sigh!

That was a sure shot scare for Halloween 2007. What an amazing prelude!

Another Halloween

Another Halloween is around the corner and as always, its pumpkin carving time!! This time I decided to go witchy. I was a witch for last year's Halloween so decided to inscribe me on a Pumpkin. Turned out quite cool. We have a contest tomorrow@work and I am hoping I will win something ;) Wish me luck!

A lot of people haven't been able to interpret this figurine completely/correctly. Its a witch standing in front of her cauldron holding her broomstick in one hand and doing incantations. Check out the fire under the cauldron and its little handle at the side;)

Almost done!

Some more work left;)

See me glow!

Show off!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

MBAs ;)

Sudhir had a baby girl last week and we were delighted for him:) They named her Annapurna and I was positively surprised. No one uses such good old fashioned names anymore!

I remember sometime back when he first knew about his to-come baby, we were chatting and he was telling me about the MBA programme. What does it mean you ask? "Make Babies American". True. So very true. Sudhir and I were joking about it. And he was wondering if he should do an MBA program;)

Well, looks like you did manage to get an MBA after all Sudhir ;)

Friday, October 19, 2007

So she runs away

So Chiranjeevi's second daughter ran away. With some fellow who is just out of Engineering (these days just about everyone is an engineer, sigh! Where is our exclusivity!)

So anyway, whatever she does with her life is her business, but the videos I saw this morning (yeah I am a day late can you believe it! I didn't check my very on-the-top-of-Tollywood friend's email yesterday) were appalling. Not only did they arrange the wedding furtively and then immediately open the sport to the media, shamelessly enough, she was also asking for Police protection because she feared Chiranjeevi and his family's outrage at this act. (Well naturally what do you expect him to do, sing praises of the glorious act!?!?!?!?)

Well whatever, consider this situation. Not only does your kid shamelessly parade around to the world that he/she has eloped (yeah they actually took the media for a bus tour, jeez!) but also asks for Police protection because you might be enraged. What has the world come to! What is next? Kids asking for Police protection because they are scared you would be angry with them for not doing their homework?

Looks like she thinks either the AP Police or the AP Government or both don't have any other job to do. And what do you know, they might just prove her right! Totally pathetic!

For the life and times of Chiranjeevi, and for his fame, I actually pity him what with each of his daughters putting him to such shame.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Of belief and something to hold onto

Too much steam at work, need to take a break and incidentally, this is the only blogging time left for me;)

Tinku and I were chatting the other day, somehow the topic veered onto sun signs and if I believe in it. I believe in them but I don't religiously follow them like some do. If someone says I am an Arian, so I will be this this and this and also that, I will say, yeah that is right, I am this and this but not that. I do believe I have some strong Arian traits, although I never understand how we can classify a planet-ful of population into 12 categories;)

We then discussed palmistry and he mentioned how he used to follow "Cheiro's Palmistry". I was like yeah, in those days we used to be crazy about that stuff. Then it struck me. (like it constantly does, these days, I don't like it, but I am getting too perceptive, tsk..tsk..tsk..where is the kid lost!)

Back then, we needed something to tell us that things would go the way we wanted. Sometimes, I would read astrological predictions hoping I would get that one thing I was really dying for that week. Or I would pick up a book of palmistry and try to see the future like I wanted it, in my hands. Sometimes it was curiosity about what would happen, sometimes it was hopeless anticipation, desperate for something I wanted, to happen. Either way, till my life took the decisive course it took, career-wise and personally, there were questions. And there were fears. And there were two-way forked paths. And I needed answers. Some of them I could manage on my own. For the rest I would look to stars and patterns for guidance. Sigh! Those days were both fun and terrifying.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Nutrition contd.

If you read my post on what you need to do in order to obtain Nutrition, this is the place where it all started. The picture was taken when we (Subhash and I) toured Chicago and Madison (where I finished my Masters) to show his parents around the place:) We had a great time and for me personally it was "coming home to Mad Town" like always :) His parents thought the place was great and I felt, well, proud! :)

Awesome! Simply!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Humbled..from time-to-time

I had a very highly embarrassing situation at work yesterday. And the fact that I could have prevented it by due diligence made it worse if not killing. In the chain of thoughts that followed through the evening (and that was a long chain), I came to that realization yet again. That from time to time I have these humbling experiences. Whenever I begin to feel like I know a lot, or that I can conquer anything (more on the egoistic end), something happens that crushes it all. And I have to start from scratch. I feel its a good thing for me. Keeps me from growing over-confident (if not cocky). And yet again, I thank God for small graces and helping maintain my balance in life :)

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Yes. I own to it. I watched it the first day (thanks to the gang again). And for my base expectations I was not disappointed at all. Chiranjeevi's son can dance, act and all the rest of the things he needs to do. He was not at all deplorable and I think with time he will improve. Well, at least he is much better than Bunny (Allu Arjun) and I think he has a good road ahead of him. Subhash liked him too which is kind of rare. I know Deepu disagrees (the Bunny vs Cherry debate, jeez I am talking like but I think he is good enough for today's industry standards if not better:)

Way to go!


Of late, I haven't been finding anything interesting to blog about. Its all the same routine. If any, I have some philosophical thoughts, which I don't want to bore people with.

But the other day I had a brilliant realization (or so I felt). So here goes (don't complain!)

There are at least a 100 ways to think of a given situation. The way you pick defines who you are. (Wah, wah)

For my part, recent times have seen me more thought-prone than I have ever been in my life. Thanks to Subhash's constant supervision;)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Aura Ammaka Chella

In a time when all hits in Telugu were from Ilayaraja, there came a refreshing original Telugu Music composer, a change called Keeravani, so we didn't have to live with the routine beats of Raj-Koti. Here is one of my all time favourites from this guy - Its a folklore-type song about Lord Krishna and is a melodious piece. I love this song. The movie is a master-piece from K. Viswanath called "Aapathbandhavudu". It also holds a special place for me, because part of the movie was shot in Ann's.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Touch all the wood

For CSCO stock. Its making me happier by the day ;) I wish I had bought some shares in the Employee stock purchase program way earlier except for the fact that back then I was broke;)

Now is the time to work a little harder and keep pushing it up, I am inspired to do quality work today;)

Way to go!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Hyderabad and the babus

I refrained from writing anything about the bomb blasts in Hyderabad a couple weeks back. I didn't think I would do it any justice. It was a terrible thing for us looking at our city being ripped like that. I hope whoever did it burns in hell.

Today was a fly-over collapse. Almost the same number of people dead. And this fly-over is not even built yet! Some of the gang were over at our place and we were discussing it. One of them was wondering how a yet-to-be-built bridge can collapse. The answer to me, is simple. A thing like that is a very obvious manifestation of corruption. I try not to get too political on my blog, but I will make this one exception. This was a terrible completely avoidable mishap. If only people acted a little more responsibly. But I guess money is heady and people are ready to do or forsake anything for it. Reminds me of a Telugu movie called Tagore, where they show how the lead actor turns against corruption because his family is killed when his apartment building collapses.

I hope this is the worst my city will ever see..

Of good grace..

I got my phone back!! Now I don't have to worry about all those numbers. Thanks to my brilliant guy, he not only reminded me that I might have left it in the laundry room but also suggested we put a note there, asking anyone who found it to call him. A couple days after we left the note, on Friday, a lady called from our opposite building and said she had found it. We went over and picked it up and boy was I happy :) I didn't realize how much depended on my having a mobile up until I lost it. So hopefully I will be a little more careful with it now on;)

Saturday, September 08, 2007

More "What's up"

Uhh..same story.

If I thought last week was crazy this week was craziest in my life. Working from 11 pm to 5 am..the less said about it, the better ;)

So I grossly am neglecting my other routines. I am constantly being pre-occupied, so much so, that I lost my cell phone this week. Now I know what life can be without it...I never valued it much when I had it, but now I know.

Till my new phone comes I am clueless about who is trying to reach me. And then that phone book, ohh, I think I had about 200 numbers in there :( How am I going to revive them all, gaaaaa!!

Nothing else happening. Except that we had a great weekend getaway to Bass Lake with the gang. For the first time every family could make it but 1. We had around 21 adults and two kids/infants and it was tremendous fun. Just the sheer number of people guaranteed it. Was really glad to have such a close-knit gang to hang out with:)

Planning on hogging Pani Puris at home this weekend..lets see how that comes about..

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Whats up?

Last couple days have been See--Aaaar---AAA---Zeeeeee at work. Literally. Haven't had much time to do anything else. I was like a zombie last evening, totally can't take any changes to my regular routine, sigh!

Haven't thought about any topics to blog about lately as well. Nothing much happening around me for me to take something out of it. Except wired-up colleagues trying to solve an evading issue. Which is not at all interesting to write about.

Got a breather this evening. Got to haul myself to work at 6.30 tomorrow morning so I better wind up soon. The gang is planning an outdoorsy thing to Bass Lake this weekend. To say good-bye to summer in style. And I haven't had the time to think about it. Hopefully this mess will sort itself out miraculously by EoB tomorrow (End of Business, duh!) and I will have time to make that much needed Pudina Chutney, sigh!

Besides that, unfortunately for me, after I wrote that post about Reliance, it gave up on me last evening:( It was Puts birthday and I tried desperately for over four hours to call her, but Reliance wouldn't budge. Kept giving me that annoying "Lines are busy" message :( Adding to my frustration of not having time to do anything and hurriedly having to make and eat dinner, this was too much, gaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! I finally called her Cingular-direct and wished her briefly. I better call over the weekend and make up for it!!

Well that pretty much sums it all up.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Reliance India Call

I still remember those days. Awful calling cards. That struggle with (Wonder why they named it that!) Those long pins to dial from And all for nothing. Every time you called, whether or not you got through you still got pelted with charges. Whether or not you heard them or they heard you, the call still got recorded (Of course! What do you expect!Duh!)

Well anyway, then came Reliance. Way higher charges than any of those other guys. 13c a minute (as opposed to 3-4c) . Still we moved to it. Why? Because it was incomparable. Unbelievable. Incredulous even. Not a single dropped call. Crystal clear voice. Every time.

13c a minute! Every time I re-charged it, my heart skipped a beat. Yet, I stuck with it. Subhash was shelling out his entire paycheck on long-distance calls at that time (he was back in India then) so I didn't have to. Despite that, it came to a lot. Compared to 9278 at least;) Yet, I preferred it. Just because it was peace of mind. I knew that if I called, I would be able to talk.

I still remember their first website. So primitive and simple. Their biggest highlight was PINless dialing and needless to say it attracted a lot of people.

Once they got a strong base here, they grew. We could re-charge on the phone and what not. (You don't want to guess how many times I have used the phone re-charge option;) Its one too many) Then from not covering some states in the US, they grew to covering other countries as well. You could now call countries like New Zealand and Australia with the same account. Then I think it got two way. Now (apparently from their website) you can also use Reliance if you are in any of the other countries to call India and everyone else in the network?

The website is a lot more complicated now. Lots more bells and whistles. Lot more buttons to click to simply recharge. But I am not complaining. They have got their price down and I am one happy customer:)

I know they have enough clout and money to pull such a thing off, but still I feel good about it. Feel good that I finally don't have to worry about calling home. Yeah I know Reliance-antagonists have a lot of things to say but well, I guess that is not the point here!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The iPhone and me

We checked out the iPhone for real last evening @ the Apple Store in Valley Fair. For me, it lived up to all the expectations that the advertisements generate. It is really a cool piece of technology. But I am resisting buying it. Just for the fact that he doesn't let you change SIM cards in it. (Yeah, Cingular is the winner all the way here, you can't own an iPhone without being a Cingular person, oops sorry, the "new AT&T" person). I am already with Cingular, but I still don't like the rigidity of it.

In more ways than one, I don't like this theory of Apple's. They make every teeny weeny bit proprietary, it is so difficult to find stuff for their pieces of hardware, that all the feeling of exclusivity is lost in the desperation to find decent accessory software for their products.

Plus, what is with the SIM monopoly, sigh! I know I am not buying an iPhone till I can have the freedom to choose which carrier I want to lavish my money on. I can't let Apple dictate what I do, no, not yet..

Saturday, August 18, 2007

English lo yenneno padalaloo...

As is typical when I have a lot of work to do and do not want to be disturbed, I spent yet another Friday down in the lab. I used to hate the place because of all the noise when I was new here. But now this is my escape haven when I need some quiet!!

So anyway, as is customary when I am in the lab, I was listening to stuff on my iPod accompanied with occasional bouts of loud singing;) I was at "Aadi" (Blush! Yeah I listen to Aadi songs) The songs in the movie are good, although the hero is debate-able. (Ohh, come on, you don't know who played hero in "Aadi"? Junior NTR of course;) ) There was this time in 2001 just before I left for the US to test my wings, when his first movie was released.. And I used to wonder why the people of Tollywood were hell bent on traumatizing unsuspecting Hyderabad citizens. Huh! He looked attrocious to say the least. And the posters- giant-sized always. It was nauseating! Anywhere I drove to in the city, there it was, another repulsive poster, yuck!

Well, that is that. Some trauma that was. As if that was not enough, one of my Junior-NTR-loving friends (yeah, he has fans too! Gosh!) insisted that I watch Aadi and left the DVD at my place back in Madison. I took 11 iterations watching it in 10-15 minute intervals as I could not take anymore of him than 15 minutes at a stretch.

That was when I first heard the songs. They are actually good. The music I mean. A good listen anyday. But the lyrics are downright humorous. Especially from a song that goes "Pattu Okato Sari" (Catch the first time) Yeah, NOW you can guess how the rest of it goes ;)

Here are some excerpts from this classic song (Boy! This is so funny, I can spend the rest of my blogging time simply translating some of the modern day lyrics from Tollywood and still wouldn't run out of humour)

Pattu Okato Sari (Catch the First Time)
Nasa Pettu Rendo Sari (Nag the second time)

Bla bla bla..never mind with the rest of the the things they say about third fourth and fifth times..

Gundelu GuNinchu O Sari (Add hearts once) (Me: Ok?)
Siggulu Bhaginchu O Sari (Divide shyness once) (Me: Hmm...ok..)
Lovvulu Lekhkinchu O Sari (Count love once) (Me: Huh? ...ok......)
Aa Pai Andistha Oo Pattu Saree (After that I will present you a Silk Saree (Me: What the hell?!?!)

Next come the verses:

Ammayee nee andam samudrame (Girl, your beauty is the sea) (Me: :-?)
Andulo na manase aNige maNige muNige (In that my heart succumbed and drowned) (Me: More :-?:-?:-?)

Abbayee nee vegam vimaaname (Boy, your speed is the airplane) (Me: What??? Junior NTR??!?)
Anduke na sogase vaNike JhaNike beNike (Me: That is why my beauty shivered and got sprained) (What??????)

Never mind with the translation of the rest of the first CharaNam (Verse). I cannot do it, beyond me!

Here comes the second charaNam:

English lo yennenno padaalalo (In the many words in English)
Ee moode nachinavi: Riveru Floweru Loveru (Just these three pleased me: River, Flower, Lover) (My God!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Lokam lo yennenno bandhaalalo (In all the relations in the world)
Ee moode telisinavi: Motheru, Fatheru, Tamaru ( Just these three are known to me: Mother, Father, Respected You) (WTH!?!?!?!?!?!?)

Nenu ippudu Brahmacharini (I am now a Brahma-follower = bachelor (single guy) ) (Me: Ok, decent)
Nuvvu korinappudu ayipotha BhamaCharini (When you desire I shall become lady-follower) (Me: Whatever!)

Nenu ippudu andagathe ni (I am now a beauty)
Nuvvu takinappudu ayipotha Agarubathini (With your touch, I shall become an Agarbathi (Incense stick) ) (Me: Tearing my brains out!!)

So anyway, now you can guess it. If you know Telugu, you can listen to the song here;)

Pattu Okato Sari

I think translations it is for me ;) There is another song from "Boys" that I would love to translate, but I've already laughed too much for a day. I will do it very soon though.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Old Friends and New Fancies

No. Not a fancy name for my post. It is just the name of the book I finished reading last night. After two 24 hour long flight journeys and post dinner half-hour reading slots, I finally finished it :D

It is an imaginary sequel for Jane Austen's novels. Her Pride and Prejudice leaves you wanting more. More about what happens after Lizzy and Darcy marry? How do they live? How does she adjust in the family.

I was contemplating which of the numerous imaginary sequels to pick up as a start. I am glad I chose this book. It is an easy read. And Sybil Brinton, stays as close to Jane Austen as possible. I didn't feel like I was reading an imaginary sequel. She has done a good job. Apparently this was the first sequel written for any Jane Austen novel and it doesn't disappoint. Must read if you claim to be a Jane Austen fan! I don't want to spoil the plot by revealing it, but it picks and chooses a few characters from all of Jane Austen's half-a-dozen novels and beautifully intertwines the characters in an after-life of their own novels.

I think I will start Darcy's diaries next.

Next I need to catch "Becoming Jane". This weekend, yes.

You are in test? Huh! That is easy..

That is what a lot of people seem to think. QA/Test engineering is an easy/mundane/boring job. Or all three. I agree, it could be a little easier than developing, but there ends my agreement.

Yes, testing is a less hassled job than development, because after all it is easier to catch faults than to correct them;) But, it cannot be a peanut-butter spread. It is not the same in all industries. I beg to differ.

Where I work, in Cisco, the only people who get to do end-to-end networking are Test. The only people who KNOW networking end-to-end are Test. I always try really hard to explain to new hires, how fancying a development job when your real interest is Networking, is a big mistake. BIG mistake!

Today, one of our Senior Directors was making a remark about how Test is doing an excellent job front-ending with customers. Yeah, you heard it right. The only people who face the customers from our Engineering is Test. That is simply because we are the only people who can do that. We are the only people who (can) make sure our routers behave themselves and work like they are supposed to.

So next time you think QA is easy, think again:) Not every QA job is mundane. Not every QA job is boring. Mine is perfect for me and I love doing it :)

Happy Independence Day!

August 15, 2007, India completes 60 years as an independent nation. (And I still believe the Kohinoor should be brought back;) )

God Bless India! I wonder why no one ever says that. I remember back in school, Independence Day meant a holiday and a special school uniform (aka the "Coloured Games Uniform).

It was not considered important to go to school just for the March Past. (Of course, we always ended up going). Any guesses why? Subhash believes that this is because our parents' generation didn't have the time for patriotism. After Independence, life had become a struggle for everyone in the country that it was of utmost importance to first survive. And usually people tended to blame the system, worse, the country for their troubles (which is partly justified, if you think about it). So patriotism, was never a first. Nor was there time to remember what sacrifices had gone into making India what it is today.

Now that our generation is a little more cocooned in comforts than our parents' generation was, I hope we will remember to be patriotic :) And cherish being part of that immensely invaluable land!

Jai Hind!

Breaking the shell!

I was making eggs for dinner, when I remembered how my mom used to amuse me when I was a kid by letting me wrap all those egg shells in a thick newspaper and crush them. I used to love it. So I wrapped all the shells from the eggs in a Bounty and crushed them with my hand.

And just like that, I was happy!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

A song for every mood

Growing up in India, I was primarily fed on Bollywood and Tollywood Music. At a time when all hit songs came from Ilayaraja, there used to be that special one or two massive hit movies of his during the year, whose songs everyone knew and crooned. Later on, this became Rahman's forte, but well, all the same. One or two massive musical successes during a calendar year:)

So anyway, there was one (sometimes a couple) movie a year, whose songs we relentlessly pursued till we knew every one of them by-heart and crooned them over and over again. Not to mention the abuse those cassettes (yeah, that was the time of the tape players!) suffered by repeated playing in the tape-recorder.

So much did I listen to those songs faithfully over and over again until there was the next big thing, that now when I listen to those songs, each of them reminds me of a particular age/era/time.

Like when I listen to Geetanjali's songs, I am immediately back in my Standard IV. Or when I listen to Roja, I am back in time to when I was in Standard VIII. Or when I listen to Rangeela, I am in Francis' slogging through the first year of Intermediate;)

So much so, that sometimes when I want to re-live some specific moments in my past, I just pop on my headphones and listen to a song that I used to hear day in and day out back in that specific time:) And it works!

Every time.

Also see: Jallantha Kavvintha...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Right or Wrong?

I recently remembered a living-room conversation we had back in Madison a while back. My friends and I were discussing world politics and India's stand in it. Whether we were being too soft, or too tolerant. The discussion went on and on and eventually we were arguing over each others' opinions of right and wrong. One of them took a stand that right and wrong is all relative, and the others were trying to say that not everything can be relative. There has to be some guideline for right and wrong. There has to be some basic stuff that is definitely wrong and some basic stuff that is definitely right.

Well, that was that. Today, if you ask me what is right or wrong, I would just say, my only indication is, whatever I do that doesn't hurt or harm anyone else, is right enough for me. That which I do, because of which someone else gets upset, whether or not I intended it, whether or not I know it, is wrong. To do it knowing that it is going to cause some hurt, is vicious.

That is my theory on it for now. We'll see how it goes;)

CNN, bah!

Sick and tired of the one-sided news channels in the US, Subhash recently subscribed to BBC World. Watching the same crap on CNN for six years, I had forgotten what news channels are supposed to be like.

Only when I started watching BBC World did I realize the stark contrast between a responsible news channel to a frog-in-the-well one.

CNN. America's undisputedly top news channel. What they show, disappointing. Sickeningly pro-US stuff. Forget about pro-US stuff, what they show is ONLY US news. And even in that, you see the same thing over and over again so many times during the day, that towards the end of it, you know it all by-heart! The obtuse between CNN and a responsible news channel hits you in the face when you watch BBC World. They take you all over the world, cover different countries (and mind you! Not just the ones where you have to prove a point that they are right/better), show different things. You really feel you are getting a glimpse of what is happening around the world. A snapshot of the entire place. Whereas on CNN, the maximum importance news is that of the Presidential Elections. Or even worse, at times for lack of other things happening in the US, it was Anna Nicole Smith and Paris Hilton. Crap!

Yes, the CNN does show stuff outside of the US. But only when it has a vested interest. Or wherever the US can be shown as a huge victim of cruelty in the world. They never want to take a neutral stand. It is always: How right we are, how much others are doing wrong by us. Sickeningly self-important. Tsk..tsk..tsk..

You could say that I am not justified in comparing BBC "World" with CNN-US. Or that CNN also has other news channels around the world where they do show better stuff. But the comparison is only to bring out the stark difference between self-absorbed and all-imbibing news. CNN-US is just self-absorbed. To the hilt.

Enough is enough!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Parents (-in-law??)

Although in the women's lib era, a lot of feminists might deny it, but for a woman, a major part of what she becomes in life depends on the family she marries into. I do not want to be too country-specific and say, at least in India. I believe the same holds wherever. Only in India it matters more if you are a woman. Probably.

I for one, am really thankful that I married where I did. Somewhere a question came up about why I am proud to be a part of Subhash's family. The first thing I could think of was his parents. Sensible and broad-minded, the first impression I had of them was of being very approachable. I eventually grew to appreciate what they did/did not do on various occasions. In the three+ years that I have known them, they have never once introduced us (me or his brother's wife) to anyone as their daughter-in-law, but always referred to us as their daughters. And they never shy-away or hold-back from showing us that they are proud of us. Which I believe is a lot more important. Not everyone does that. Issues.

What I am really glad about is that they are very perceptive. Perceptive to the changing times, perceptive to the demands we need to fulfil, perceptive of the tough times we face, and perceptive to what we might be thinking/feeling in any given situation. They take the trouble to think in our shoes, and really, they don't have to. And because of this, it becomes that much more easy to talk to them about any problem, not to mention those innumerable occasions when they understand everything at the slightest hint, saving me the trouble of putting complex/difficult issues into words.

I am really glad to be what I am to them. It will go a long way in making me a better person. There is so much to learn from them, not only in parenting but also as a couple. To be able to share such a great rapport with his parents, I think its quite awesome:) I hope to be able to do as much for them as they have done for us.

It's been a terribly gauche and clumsy post for what I set out to write and imagined writing. I try to write about them, but I can't seem to find the right words, at least not worthy enough to justify what they have done for me thus far. So I will simply say: Subhash always used to say, if anything, when we got married, I would have two sets of parents, and I knew, even long before we did get married, that he was absolutely right!! Not one such set of parents-in-law have I seen in all the circle I know. So I refuse to refer to them as parents-in-law:) Never!

Pilot Pen!!

I remember those days. In Standard IV.

K. Shilpa (yeah, we had 4 Shilpa s in our class) used to bring a Pilot pen to write. In St. Ann's we were allowed to write with a pen starting from IV standard. I remember how excited I was about my first fountain pen. Used to fill it with that "Camel" fountain pen ink so carefully and cherished every moment of writing with it. But the Pilot pen did it. Turned me away from my old faithful fountain pen.

Shilpa and I used to sit next to each other. We also traveled by the same school bus from Kacheguda. I used to like her Pilot pen so much, that I made unending prayers to God to put it in my parents mind that they should let me have one. But my Dad resisted. He was a staunch fountain pen supporter. Quite clever.

I finally got my Pilot pen in VI. By some weird twists in the cosmos, my Dad decided I could get one after all. (In those days, my parents would litigate all of my wishes to standing first in the class, which never seemed possible, and finally happened only when I was in IX, so thank god! not everything waited that long, except for my Allwyn Trendy watch!)

So anyway, my yearning for a Pilot Pen was finally done away with when I was in VI. But that two years' wait had such a deep impression on my mind, that even today, the sight of a Pilot pen makes my heart flutter. So I finally gave in and promptly picked up a couple the other day at Walgreens! Now I write with my Pilot pen, yet again!

Six Years!!

Decided to finally take some time off from my crazy day to pen down a milestone:) I was a little too late though ;) Well, anyway, on 10th August, 2001, I arrived, nervous, anxious, excited and sad in O'Hare, Chicago. It has been six years and a lot has happened in that time. Went out to dinner with the gang. Turns out Deepu also landed the same day a year later in the very same O'Hare. That was some coincidence:)

I should say in the half a dozen years, the first quarter dozen were probably the worst in my life and the second quarter dozen were, beyond a shred of doubt, the best. So that does kind of even out;)

But needless to say, the land has taught me a lot, it has been a ride to cherish and there have been lessons worth remembering!


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Check this out;)

Yeah, so?

Ok, so now comes the amusing post.

We had to go get a medical done at the doctors for applying to become PRs with the USCIS. And the tests included a TB check, HIV check, and vaccinations. The doctor was telling us that the US is really worried about TB because it is so contagious.

Subhash was quickly saying "Isn't it a little too late to be concerned?;)" and we, the doctor and us, had a good laugh.

Yeah, so? What if they found that someone applying for a PR does have TB. The concern does seem a little ridiculous when you think of it. (Not to mention the sharp ache in my hand from the tetanus vaccine:( ) If I am applying for a PR, I would have already been here at least a couple years? If someone had to spread TB, it would have been done a looooooooooooooong time back;) It is not like they are going to wait till they become PRs to start spreading it. Whatever!

Amusing! But very typical all the same;)

100 Yay!!

I was going to write something amusing when I noticed that this was my 100th post. So I thought, why not mark it. As a reminder to do a better job. 100 posts in two years? Yuck! But heck! Its 100 either way;)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Street smart or simply smart?

One of the gang recently got back from India...married! He hadn't been to India for a long time, 8 long years to be precise. We caught up with him over Bagel and Coffee at our galli ka Starbucks. Generally got to talking about his experiences this time.

One of the things we discussed was, about how people in India are naturally smarter. Is that true? Well, it certainly aligns with my theory of "survival". (Reading back, that post is quite "strong", maybe I have sobered down a bit since then, eh? Maybe I have become more tolerant after all;) Ahem, (wo)man is a hopeful being!) When everyday is a challenge, you have to meander your way through life on sheer brains sometimes. As small a thing as buying vegetables involves tremendous skill in bargaining with that vendor and deriving satisfaction out of a deal well made. might not really be true so much for all the Food World type chains, but the local sabzi-wale (vegetable vendors) aren't exactly extinct yet ;)

I believe that yes, in India you got to be smart to get through life. Not so much in the upper strata of society maybe, (again an undesirable side-effect of growing affluence) but definitely if you are middle-class. The guy was all praise for Indian middle class, wondering where they get that inspiration from, to move through life.

Completely agree!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

JNTU and the hidden gyan ;)

One of the very amusing pieces of "gyan" that we got from our seniors in JNTU was this.

When you sit in an exam, the rule is to not concern yourself at all with what is asked in the question paper. You just write all that you know.

It was a very great and amusing philosophy. One of the many we got from our seniors. (One other about exams being that it is a waste to read all year long. A flask full of "Chai" and a kilo of mixture the night before the exam should do it all;). Yeah, thanks Vijay!)

Well more recently, I was thinking about this in a more serious context. Oftentimes we are so absorbed in impressing the world with what we know that we forget what is actually required of us. Too serious eh? Well, of late I have been in one of my philosophical moods ;)

Did those JNTU pearls have so much wisdom in them? I wonder ;)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Pure Genius

Look what people do when the University's (UW-Madison) signature Lake Mendota freezes;)

Lady Liberty on Lake Mendota Feb. 1979, Lake Mendota, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Wisconsin Prank conducted by Jim Mallon and Leon Varjian of the "Pail and Shovel Party"

Source: Wikipedia

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Mom and Dad

Sometimes in life, you reflect. Back on your past, about who you really are, where you really belong and so on and so forth. I was never a deep thinker, but I did steal my moments of deep thought from time to time.

One thing I learnt over the past 6 years, with all my struggle and traumatic trysts with destiny, is that we tend to forget. Or maybe its just me. Years ago, I was in an accident when I thought I was killed. I almost saw it in my face. It was a swooping experience. (I did get out of it nearly unscathed!) All I could think in my head was, "Please God! Not here, not in this country, let me just live another two days, and then I don't mind dying" (I was going to India in a couple days)

After that moment, I thought, hereafter in life, I would be glad just to be alive. Glad to just be able to walk on the ground. But alas! No sooner had that shock worn off, I was back neck-deep in my life and its strifes and its struggles. Forgetting all about the sheer joy in just being alive. I usually never complain when things don't go right, but I think, if only I had thought about how I felt right after that accident, maybe my hardships wouldn't have seemed so hard upon me:) I would have been glad just to be able to face them:)

Well, anyway, I am trailing away. The point in the opening example is that we tend to forget. As new experiences shape our lives, we tend to forget the old ones which have made us into what we are already. As things change, as people around us change, after the initial shock of change as worn away and we accept stuff like it is, we begin to think that the world was like this since the day we were born. And yet it is not true. The world was different. We were once young and helpless.

There was once a time in my life when I totally depended on the two people that are my Mom and Dad, for everything. There was once a time, when I couldn't do anything on my own, when there was nothing that they didn't do for me. I always tried to keep this at the back of my mind as I was growing up. No matter what happened, I always owed them that care they showed in my earliest years.

Then came a time when I had to move out of that cocoon. Out of that closeted world into the one wide beyond. I still grin when I think of that times back in 2001, when I was in the habit of being the one-from-whom-everyone-sought-advice so much, that I thought I was totally mature and ready to handle anything life threw at me. Cocksure. Even headstrong. But it was not to be. Life teaches you in its own ways! Only when I had to entirely take my life in my own hands, did I realize how much more I had to learn (including how to file income tax returns! yeah believe me, that was the biggest deal for me back then;) ) It was only then that I realized (that much more) how much my parents had been a protection over me those 21 years of my life.

If I have to write about it, a single blog wouldn't suffice. So ..

Whatever else might have happened, there is one thing that I am thankful to them singularly for. Above everything else. That is, they let me shape my life like I wanted. I never once asked them if I could do what I wanted to do. I just used to tell them that this is what I planned and they would agree with it completely, trusting me to be capable of handling its consequences. Never questioned me. Had confidence in me. Which made me stronger. Whenever I ran into trouble in the path that I chose, if for nothing except that I should not let them down, I mowed on. I bulldozed, I made sure that the choice didn't go completely wrong. If I was a fighter, it was because they made me one by showing me that they trusted me to fight my own battle:)

Today, in a distant land, I think of them. So many things have happened. So much has changed since I left my closeted world. As I near completing six years in the US, I feel I owe a them deep thought once more. To the two people who made me what I am. Wherever I might stand today, they are the ones that gave me the foundation on which I have grown, built wings and now fly!

I hope I never forget this...

The coquetry of being a world wonder

Yeah, had to look in a Hindi-English dictionary to find an exact match for the word "Nakhre".

One of my cousins was saying that his friends were planning a trip to Machu Pichu and asked him to join. He was wailing. I asked him why and he said that the ticket was really expensive. Plus he had to pay the Peruvian government 900 bucks for the visa.

So much for becoming a world wonder;) This is like when Indians became "Miss Universe" in a row so that cosmetic companies could gain a foothold in the Indian market ;) Didn't quite get the comparison? Well, never mind;)

Are we hearing of an increase in the fees for an Indian Visa? ;)

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Something to learn

What do you do when you have an hour to wile away, waiting for something? And don't have anything else to do, not even a book handy to read? I observe people. I love to do it while I am waiting knowing it is going to be a long wait. Whether it be in a bus-stop where you know the bus isn't going to show up for another hour at least, or waiting for a boarding announcement to a flight when it is really late. Or at the doctors waiting for your turn.

Usually I see people. I like to observe them. What they do. How they go about their business in life. How they talk with people who accompany them. Sometimes it is the excited we-don't-care-who-hears-us chatter from teenagers (yeah, we used to do that too;) ), sometimes it is the silent conversation between an 80-year-odd couple. It could be anything, everything.

But I am trailing away. The point is that, I feel there is something you can learn from every person you meet and interact with. Either in the family or out or in your friends circle or a complete stranger. It could be a person you like or a person you loathe. It could be just anyone. But there is always something to learn. From people you admire, you learn how to do things, from people you don't admire so much, you learn how not to do things. And I continue to try and learn and grow, because, as they say, when you stop learning, you stop living. (Or maybe I am the one who said it;) )

Path to Happiness

One of those routine days when I was chatting with my cousin and discussing general cousins' network news, I was telling him, how I felt some people set up a lot of hurdles on their way to happiness.

I have noticed that in some cases, the path to happiness is really complex. If this happens and then, this happens, under such and such conditions, then I will be really happy. Though we don't realize it, each one of us has some pre-set conditions to happiness. I know happiness is a state of mind and to an extent the heart, and varies for different people, but it can be generalized to some extent for all men/women (we better keep men' and women' definitions of happiness separate there;) )

I, for one, can become really happy at small things. But in an aspect or two, my path to happiness is pretty complex. Occasionally, I need all things involved to fall in place in a certain style for me to feel that a job went well and to derive happiness out of it. I try to break it down and keep it from growing any more bushes in the way, but it is a challenge to feel happy when only some things go the way I imagine. Still practicing consciously. Hoping I would not have any complex paths to happiness eventually in my life....

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Missed Calls

Talking of the enterprising nature of fellow Bharateeyas, one cannot miss mentioning the concept of "Giving a missed call".

One of my friends' Dad always used to wonder, what "Giving a missed call" means. Literally it doesn't make sense;) You either give a call or you miss a call, but "give a missed call"? ;)

In a time when India was just beginning to see mobile evolution, incoming calls were charged. So were outgoing needless to say. So what would you do if you were enterprising enough? In case you made a plan with someone, involving needing to call that person at some point in the plan, you would "give a missed call", that way no one loses, neither the caller nor the called. (For those of you unaware of the concept of giving a missed call, it involves calling, letting the other phone ring a couple times and disconnecting. If both persons involved understand the concept, the callee doesn't answer when he/she sees the incoming call, clever;) )

It is used very commonly even today. "I will give you a missed call once I reach there" my aunt says to my mom and I grin:) Enterprising to the core!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Mission Accomplished!!!

After a year-long travail, Subhash's parents were here last week.

And I felt the complete satisfaction of a job well done:)

I remember applying for their visa, for the first time, a little past midnight on my birthday last year. The visa, the papers, the scramble. Their initial attempt at getting a visa was rejected, and that was a big blow for us. For them it was too, much more, they didn't feel up to re-applying immediately. Their next attempt was in December and this time it went through just fine!

We wanted them to come in summer, but they had an engagement in India which they had to attend. So it got pushed out to June first and then July. I didn't want them to travel alone, and so did Subhash, so we decided that I would go and bring them, even while we were getting visa dates. Since that was fixed and I got myself a flight end of June. As July drew near, my apprehension grew. It was my first visit after the wedding and the deal with splitting time between them and my own parents, how everyone would react, how new it would be etc weighed really heavy on my mind. I didn't know it, but by the time I had to actually travel, I was quite the bundle of nerves;)

My trip came and went. All I can say about it, SMOOTH. I never expected it to go off without any hiccups. It exceeded all my own best estimates :D I realized that we had an excellent chemistry, his parents and me, which was totally mind-blowing :) So I didn't mind the fact that it was very busy and very hectic. Shopping for myself, shopping for Subhash (this was the more elaborate part;) ), shopping for items in general, helping his parents wrap up, going around with them for all odd jobs, copying, printing, meeting people, this that and more. So if all I say when you ask "How was the India trip" is "Hectic" don't be surprised. Then came the packing. It challenged even my expertise at stuffing;) Stuff overflowed so much, that on the day we were leaving, I had to open yet another bag and stuff every excess in. When I brought my parents here, it was another mad rush altogether (I beat all my previous records and went just for a week back then;) ), so the packing rush was not significant compared to everything else, but this time it was!

Then the flight. I was apprehensive of how his parents would be able to manage the long leg between HK and SFO. They had never been on a long flight before. We left Hyderabad, got off in Singapore. I let them sleep for a couple hours before we headed to Subhash's friend, Ashish's place. It was heavenly to have a shower and then we got out to explore Singapore. Took a duck tour and watched all the major spots in Singapore. It was a little rushed getting back to the airport, but we were all checked in through to SFO so it was ok. Had a hurried Indian meal and got onto the flight in Singapore for HK.

Got off at HK, break was really short. More around 50 minutes. I had some HK dollars left from my trip to Teju so I wanted to spend them. We left the luggage with his Dad and his mom and I went shopping ;) Only when we were coming back we realized it was time for boarding and that his Dad might be getting worried:P We somehow explained our transgression to him and got on;) This plane was challenging because we had gotten different seats. I had to convince another passenger to take my seat so I could sit with them. Singapore to HK was short so I didn't mind, but I wanted to stay together for the long haul.

Flight was ok. They slept well, and I was happy (I had some snoring moments myself;) ) Watched Guru for the nth time and finally managed to make it through. SFO came immigration, customs, luggage everything went smooth too. Subhash was waiting for us and we drove back home.

When my parents came back with me, things were different. I was not answerable to anyone at that time except to them, and they were traveling with me. I knew the responsibility of it, but it was not overpowering. I was used to it. I was used to them. They were used to me. I knew them so well, that I knew what to do and what not to do. This time it was different. It was a big deal and that is saying something. I had to learn and apply the learning at the same time. Ensure comfort but first learn what that comfort was. Had it not been his parents with all their support and adjusting nature (I will write a blog about them later;) ), I would not have been able to make it through, I am sure of it :)

When I think of it, it overwhelms me. Even now. And I am thankful to God that it was this smooth. Can't express that thankfulness enough. Truly a mission well accomplished, even though I say it myself :)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Taj and the wonder

We visited St. Ann's this year, before it was going to be partly demolished. One thing that striked us pretty big was a notice on the black board in one of the class-rooms saying SMS "TAJ" to some number or login to some website and vote for TAJ. The mission: Ensure that the "Taj Mahal" was voted as one of the world's seven wonders. (Rahman asked us to do that too, when we attended his concert a while ago)

We were surprised. Truly. So much more awareness in kids. And so much more access to things that can actually make a difference. SMS and website names on black-boards. Wow!

With a billion in population, and an increasing number of this population gaining awareness by the minute, what better chance does any other monument have (except of course the "Great Wall of China"), of becoming a world wonder. The greatest match-fixing of all times;)

Wah Taj!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Back home and full steam!!

Landed in Mera Bharat (Mahan) on Saturday, June 30, as planned. Journey went off super smooth, even the Hong Kong part (I will write another post about my Hong Kong sight-seeing travails, Teju to please have patience!;) ).

Its a good season to be here, not too hot, but yeah very humid. I have so many things to do this trip and so many people to meet, I actually make a time table every morning and what is more, I have actually managed to stick to it!!! Whoa!!!

I still have a bunch of shopping to do and the Harry Potter movie to catch, but going by my superb organizing skills so far, I think I will do it. Got to meet a couple more friends as well!!

Right now sitting in a cramped cubicle at an Internet centre. Came here because my laptop at home went completely bonkers and refused to start. One may ask, why do I need to write a blog post of all the things if I don't have any time to do the things in my schedule. Very valid. But the reason is obvious. I am overwhelmed when I come here. I need to say all I feel about this place. Right now I am overwhelmed by our enterprising Janta who have an internet cafe in every galli.

Been driving our new Alto like crazy all over the city. People said I would hate it, they also said I ain't seen nothing, also to add, that its changed a lot, not like old times. I thought, I pitch my tent here ever so often (sometimes its been once in 6 months too), it cannot be all that bad. True, traffic is horrible, pollution has taken grip, but it isn't that worse than when I left India last. Still managing to drive around 9-9;)(AM to PM I mean)

So long...more when I get back to the land of opportunities!!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Ann's and the great tragedy..

I spent a good chunk of my life in Ann's. 12 years, from 1983 to 1995. St. Ann's Girls High School on SD Road in Secunderabad. That was the place to be:)

Last year MCH (Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad) said that the school buildings on SD Road were causing a lot of traffic problems (Yeah right! Like this was the only thing that was causing that:( ) and that they were going to demolish the buildings and give us some land outside the city (Yuck!). And the only buildings they were going to ditch were SSC ones:(( Waaaaaaaaaa!! (Ann's has both state and ICSE syllabus instructions in the same campus) We spent all our major time from V std to X std in this part of school:(

So anyway, Vandana and I decided to catch up on school before they fell it completely and gather whatever was left of memories. Thanks to Orkut, I was wired to Kavitha too and so our plan was made. For the evening of 3 July. We met up in school camera in hand. My sis accompanied me, she was three years my junior in Ann's and so did my cousin, who just joined Ann's the year that I graduated, in 1995. (Its been two years since she left school too, time just flies! tch..tch..tch..)

We met at 5 pm, so there were just a couple students waiting for someone to pick them up (I guessed) and Miss Mable. She is still there and still the same. She said something about digging up the field (we used to call our playground, the "field".) Vandana and Kavitha had not yet arrived so me and my sisters walked towards the field. Only to see this:(

Where is that magnificent sports field? :((

So now the SSC and ICSE buildings will sit bang next to each other. Wonder where they will hold the assembly now.

Friday, June 29, 2007

And we take more..

Been seeing that Cisco board on the bunch of buildings across the street from our buildings. We leased 4 newer ones. Growth? Maybe;) Being 40 buildings-full and spanning over three towns length, just doesn't seem to be enough anymore;) Hummmmmmmmm...

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Boy! What a rush!!

Today and tomorrow are the last days before I take off on PTO (aka vacation) for a couple weeks, and I was choking at work. Not because I had some difficult tasks to do but because I had just so many simple/small tasks to finish. And I had to work in my lab which is kind of unusual, I am usually comfortably closeted in my cube and at peace. Today I had to walk up and down back and forth between meetings to the lab, to the cube, to someone else's cube etc etc etc. Talking to people, explaining stuff, going over what is happening, you know, the works! Ended up working even while walking in the corridor;) And I think for the first time before heading to a meeting at 4 pm, I was feeling hungry. I wondered why, when I realized, ahh, I forgot to have lunch in all this rush!! Phew! Hurriedly ate lunch (thank god I take my own lunch every single day;) ) in 10 mins and was 5 minutes late for the meeting;) Not too bad I'd say. And me is working even now, and tomorrow only promises to be worse, I just hope I get everything done before I leave. I hope....hope...hope...

I guess this was the first time its been like this before I took off on vacation. Just like I love to say "As you grow so you reap" ;) (Gee! Now that is too far fetched:P )

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Red and White

I was a black aficionado. Through and through. I loved wearing black anywhere and everywhere. My mom used to chide me and say its not the colour to wear to happy occasions, but I sneaked out in black as much as I could. Then I changed into wearing different colours. Minimized black altogether (though never losing that thing for black).

More recently I got into whites. In India, I would never wear whites because my mom never let me buy them. She would say its tough for her to launder those et al. Wild kids rolling in dust must not wear white etc;)

So anyway, till I got into whites I used to think Red and Black go very well together. Which is true even now, but after I matched up Red and White, pooh! Red and Black looks nothing like Red and White. Its quite a classy combination and I try to wear it at least once a couple weeks!

Sarcasm. Best form of Humour?

I notice more and more everyday that the amount of laughs sarcasm draws is not matched by anything else. In my reading ken, starting with Jane Austen all the way to Jay Leno, no one draws more audience than intelligent observers, who wittily provide sarcasm.

Sometimes, I think of turning to being sarcastic altogether, but really lack that talent. Some people possess enormous command over making sarcastic remarks which amuse everyone, but I can't. I just don't have that spontaneity.

I might look at something and think, "God, that is so wrong", but my perception stops at that. Or I might look at someone and think, "Whoa! That is so stupid", but that is it, I can't go further. I can't actually take that situation and make a witty point in it. Can't actually get my thoughts across the room with a sarcastic comment. And amuse everyone with it;)

Maybe I should cultivate this talent? Maybe...

But how do I do this without offending anyone? Hmm..

I know! I will pick some neutral grounds as to not infuriate anyone's sentiments. Maybe I can start with America-saves-the-world movies;)


I realized while scrubbing my posts (yeah I have to do that;) ) that I never wrote about the Rahman concert in Oakland at the top of the month (I like to say it like CNN yeah;) )

Needless to say it was crazy, frenzied and we all loved it very much. I will not describe the concert in full, you can read it here. But the highlights were

1) Oakland named June 2 (the day of the concert) as "AR Rahman Day". If you see Oakland, you will understand what an extra-ordinary thing this is. If it was Sunnyvale, maybe not, but Oakland yes. (I am actually surprised Sunnyvale doesn't have Indian street names already, but that is too forthcoming;) )

2) I was thoroughly disappointed in his concert for one thing. His claim-to-fame songs were not part of it at all, except Bombay's Humma Humma. I would have loved to see (hear, duh!) him starting with "Chinna Chinna Aasai" going to Donga Donga, & to Bombay & to Gentleman & to Rangeela's tunes to so many more. It was a huge disappointment for me! Sigh!

3) The display of torches (cell phone back lights, ingeniously converted) to his "Vande Mataram", by the audience, was impressive and the Arena folk had enough sense to turn off stadium lights so we could watch how well we were doing;) Thank God for common sense!

4) We met with Sivamani and took pictures with him and he actually said "Whaaat is this?" when I offered him my cheque-book to give me an autograph (Really now, I didn't have anything else handy, what was I to do?)

5) We saw Chitra and Sadhana Sargam while they were walking out. Chitra was feeling the Oakland chills @ 12 am ;)

6) We met Naresh Iyer and spoke with him briefly. He is really just a kid, I was so surprised to see him and just haven't been able to match his voice to his face ever since;)

Last but definitely not the least we saw the GOD! Rahman was out last and we were able to catch a brief glimpse up-close. What was sad was that everyone else was shuttled away in Mercs and Cadillacs and Hummer Limos (can you believe it? Desis are minting money here;) ) , the GOD was shuttled out in some stupid GMC truck (I have to start with my cars thingy even here??!?)

But anyway it was all worth it. Even listening to Hariharan badly damage some songs with his own personal touches to it, so typical of singers when they think they have done it all and get on stage. I personally never liked this man. Or enduring Sukhwinder Singh's badly timed show of excessive knowledge in Hindi lyrics and their background-slash-meanings. (Yuck! Yuck!)

When I was looking for the link above, I stumbled on the fact that Rahman is 41. He is 41?! Man!! He practically grew up in front of our eyes;)

Monday, June 25, 2007

If you want nutrition ...... on..

There is a store on State Street in Madison, WI. Its called "Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream" Est. 1962, it boasts of "Genuine Super-Premium Wisconsin Goodness".

In the four years that I was in Wisconsin, I might have gone to that store a dozen times. Even though they give generous quantities of ice cream for a couple bucks (very typical in Wisconsin) and eating it used to make me feel terribly guilty for a week thence, I could never resist it. Ice cream was yumm!

Their ice cream was so heavenly that the only thing that beat it, was it's Nutritional Information. This is what it reads:

Disclosure : The following content is taken from one of their ice cream cups which I carefully washed and preserved after I devoured its contents and got a couple with me all the way from Wisconsin to California when I moved, and plan to take them with me wherever life takes me next. Full copyrights to "Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream". It is true to every word on that cup, including the formatting in bold.

Nutritional Information:

Don't even ask. This is the best ice cream made in Wisconsin, and it tastes so good because it has gobs of rich Wisconsin cream, tons of real ingredients for boat-loads of luscious flavors. That means it's not low-fat, low-calorie or low-anything, and that's why everyone loves it.

You want nutrition, eat carrots.

Ha ha ha!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Butchu, my alarm!

Yet another lazy Sunday my Roomba (which I nick-named Butchu) woke me up! Last Sunday, we slept late after a long night watching Sivaji, and in the morning I was woken by some strange noise while I was in deep sleep. I was afraid someone had broken in;) When I reached shallower surfaces of sleep, I figured it was Butchu beginning his daily duty;)

Very obedient;)

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The "Velagiri" and the decade it started..

We were talking to Subhash's cousin the other day, and she is in what I like to call the "prime" phase of life, academic or career wise;) She is in between EAMCET (That is the engineering entrance test in the state of Andhra Pradesh, India) and the beginning of Engineering. We were telling her, this is her time and place. This is what she should utilize to the best possible extent as she would never get such time to waste ever again;) Thoroughly discouraged her from going to those C classes she is taking (Hoping her mom doesn't read this;) )

That reminded me of my own phase between EAMCET and Engineering. And also that its been a decade since then already! Phew! Growing old I suppose;) So as a tribute to that period I decided to write this post as a commemoration at the end of a decade;)

Just a little background to begin with. We were always the lucky batch! When we were in X, the SSC papers were leaked. Not one or two but three. I remember, Biology, Social Studies Paper -1 and Paper -2. They kicked out the schedule for these three exams by a month, well into May. Thanks to which, I did miserably in my NTSE finals (after doing brilliantly in the prelims, please!) and to this day can't forgive the state board for it. INR 6000 was a fortune back then, sigh!

Then there was the Intermediate fiasco. If we thought SSC was bad, this came as a cruel reminder that we ain't seen the worst yet! This time around Math Paper-1 had leaked. And much to my agony, not only did they postpone the exams we hadn't yet given, they actually made us re-write the exams that we already gave!! Waaaaa! And it was French and English. French I didn't mind at all, I loved it. But English? What? You got to be kidding me! That day after I first wrote that exam, I went and hid my English text book in the farthest possible corner in the shelf, I loathed it so much. And when I heard this news, I had to dig back into that shelf to look for this textbook, actually hoping to find it. Couldn't believe my fate! Bah!!

And this time they went all out. Exams into June. We had to send out results to BITS by June 30, Naidu had to order the Math stream evaluation to be done ahead of the Biology stream, put up tents in Mahboob College in Abids and distribute memos like "palli wrappers". Gosh!! As if this was not enough, it was released the day of BITS' deadline, I remember that hurried auto trip we took from Abids to Secunderabad GPO (Of course the memos were given out after the GPO in Abids was closed, what do you expect!)

I guess that was the only year in which we wrote EAMCET before Intermediate and smashed all previous records of corruptions;)

Got into BITS I did, but didn't take it. Decided it wasn't worth leaving home for 4 years and missing all the food and fun. I knew those would be the last 4 years that i would be home properly being pampered. Rest is going to be one big slog all the way (I was kinda wrong, now I get pampered even more;) ). So anyway, decided not to go to BITS. Boy! I went off tangent here:)

So didn't go to BITS and convinced Vamshi to also not go;) We were five of us and had nothing to do till Engineering classes started. Heck! We didn't even know where we would be admitted. And counseling seemed to be slipping by the month. We were so restless after two years of slogging and working so hard, that we were almost hyperactive;)

And what did we do? Well, for starters I will just say we even watched a movie called "Mohabbat" which starred Madhuri Dixit and Anil Kapoor's brother (I don't remember his name, just remember that my Dad used to say he looked like someone who failed X standard;) ). And he wore really purple suits in this movie. This should be enough hint, really now! We watched every god-forsaken movie in town, got scolded by watchmen in movie theatres all over Hyderabad. We ate at every possible junk place in the city and in general made a lot of noise.

One really funny incident was when we went to Abhiruchi in Paradise and ordered 1 fried rice and shared it among 6 of us, because we sudden;y decided to have chat and we couldn't get out of Abhiruchi without looking foolish for having come in and gone out without eating anything. So we decided to look even more foolish by just ordering 1 dish. That notwithstanding, we ordered the waiters around to get extra spoons, forks, you name it! And after that we got all split up in groups while heading to Anand Chat (I hear its shut down now), so Teju and Shruti who went ahead, decided to look for us. Teju came back looking for us and Shruti decided to go ahead and order so that by the time we got there we could just eat so we didn't have to be late for "Raja Hindustani" (My god!!) So she goes:

Shruti: Che Bhelpuri (6 bhelpuris, and the bhels were mighty huge mind you;))
Waiter: (Giving her really weird looks) Leke jane ke liye? (To take with you?)
Shruti: (Nahi yaha hi khane ke liye.. (No, to east here, poor thing she was pretty serious)
Waiter faints;)

Another one was when Vamshi's landlady came running downstairs to provide assistance n the situation that everyone was wailing about, and was so enraged that it was a pack of useless girls laughing their heads off over "Dumb Charades" ;)

Its been a decade now but whenever we think of those days, we can't help laughing all over again! the lukhagiri was amazing, and never again to be had. Sigh!

Subhash's cousin has said that she will spend all her time with me so I am making an agenda to actively make her lukha too;)