Thursday, December 25, 2008

Hmm..

Thanks to a slow economy, our next-to-non-existent share value and all other such calamities combined, we have been asked to shutdown for the last week of December. Its pretty normal for all Bay Area big-wigs but this is the first time Cisco is also toeing that line.

Well, as a result of this, I am finally at the beginning of a much needed break. After two months of pretty nasty days, work, renovation, cooking, cleaning, more work, late night calls, early morning reluctant wake-ups and so on and so forth, I was desperately looking forward to this.

I wished all my colleagues "Happy Holidays" just like I would in school before we were off for Dasara/Christmas vacations. Felt good. Of course, I have offered to work remotely on the condition that I get broadband in my new place when we move this weekend, but still, not having to physically go anywhere is a big relief. I think I have fed the auto-drivers in the city for them to last a year ;)

Now I am thinking, ohh no, I have to move. Pack, move and unpack. I HATE that routine so much, its unbelievable. I want to be done with it soon so that I can truly unwind.

But looking forward, now that I have a decent amount of time on my hands, I am not actually sure what to do with it. I am already wondering how to fill that time. Tell-tale signs of workaholism, damn!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Done at last!

With the housewarming that is. And with that whirlwind that people normally call one week.

First we were two, then we were four, Subhash's parents joined us. Then we were seven with K and P and my god-daughter Am. She was such a cutie! Totally fell in love with her.

Before K came, Subhash's brother's in-laws had come. We showed them the place and I think they liked it. Then I showed the place to K who also liked it. Subhash's parents liked what we did with the house as well, albeit were worrying about how tired we were looking at the end of this ordeal.

Then came Friday and 4 became 11. My parents, my sis, Subhash's aunt and both the purohiths (priests) arrived from Hyd. Friday we slept @ 11 PM and Saturday morning @ 4.55 AM was the housewarming muhurat. 3 hours of sleep and much sleep deprivation later we arrived at the house in time and started the function in time, and luckily all went well and quite smooth. We had quite the nice house-warming complete with the cow entering the house (which is considered auspicious) and the purohiths doing an excellent job with the proceedings. I was missing some family that couldn't make it, but otherwise we had a good 50-55 people turnout and luckily it passed off well without hiccups. One regrettable thing was that my sis and Subhash's cousin along with my mom had to share the entire burden of all the work, I am so thankful that they were around though, things could have easily gotten out of hand otherwise :)

I got two brand new sarees which have oil spots all over them now, result of day long pujas. One beatiful Mysore Silk Saree that my mom bought in Mysore (when you hold it, you can actually feel the crepes) and one Kanchi silk saree that Subhash's mom bought. The one saree that was spared was the one my mom bought for the second half, which I luckily was in no shape to change into, else it would have met with the same fate.

One of the JNTU gang girlfriends left this message on my Facebook Wall. I suppose that should sum it up ;)

sure babes...send them on!!! Pictures my fav !!!! hey btw...Very nicely arranged House warminmg ceromony...It was perfect.. no confusions abt lunch serving.. return gifts handling...just loved the positive vibes u all created on your special day..i as a guest totally had a goood traditional party...Hats off to ur Attha's who worked wonders after the puja...inspite thier age...i was sooo touched...God keep thier good health and high spirits...The silver tulsi plant is an awesome idea.. who's was it????

There now, go figure!

Now onto the finishing and moving house. I so hate moving. (In the last 7 years I probably moved houses at least 8 times, maximum frequency when I was a student @ Madison!)

Hopefully this one will be the last one for at least the next couple of years. Hopefully!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Some more good stuff

K is coming today! After she leaves, S comes in to Bangalore. She is one of my oldest and dearest friends and I am so glad she is here for the housewarming :) The only ditchy thing in this whole affair is that I will hardly get to spend any quality time with her, but that is ok, at least I get to see her :D Besides, we spent some good time when she visited me earlier this year ;)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Good stuff

-Went to see my parents off @ Majestic. I was able to barely make it in time, but it was good to see them nevertheless. My mom brought along some idlis and really yummy "allam pachadi" (Ginger chutney) which I ate like a pig, I was feeling nauseated for some reason after the cab ride. I should learn how my mom makes that allam pachadi, man!

-Today was marathon calls day. My phone has probably never been so inundated with incoming calls. Every 5 minutes I spent on the phone resulted in two missed calls and so on. You get the idea.

-Looks like I will get that Corelle set!!! Yay!!! The gang asked what I wanted for the housewarming and I told them that apart from the Corelle stuff and a water fountain we had not really planned on buying anything. Both S's loved the Corelle idea I think and decided to get us that :D

-Mom bought me some all and sundry for the new house. Some, part of the mandatory "parents should give" list and some she thought I would like. One of them was this beautiful huge brass lamps set which I totally love. The other is a betel leaves plant and considering how much I love pan, I am happy with that, except that I think she should come over and live with us and tend to the plants herself, I highly doubt how green my thumb is ;)

-Looks like Pakistan is finally shaking/ruffling some feathers. I wonder what motivated Congress? The upcoming elections? OK, will not be a spoil-sport, all is well that ends well. So long as we nail at least some of the jokers we are good.

-My best friend K is visiting. After long speculations, she finally decided to come over to Bangalore from Hyd taking time off her already short trip to India. I just booked her tickets this afternoon. Its been a while since I met her and most importantly I haven't seen her baby, my god-daughter, after she was born :D So I am all excited.


Now on to the last week before we are done with all the house work and prepare for more work on the housewarming. Wish me luck!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Right-only lanes finally!

I've seen them at least in a couple of junctions. One at the Wind Tunnel Road junction on Old Airport Road and the other at the Intel junction on Outer Ring Road. Small construction cones neatly lined up along one-car width from the meridian, indicating that if people should turn right, they ought to come in there.

How do they enforce this? @ Wind Tunnel Road jn, they simply line the cones along the lane and then continue them all the way to the opposite side meridian. Something like this













Brilliant idea! Considering that just drawing the line and saying it is right only won't help. No one is going to listen at all! Of course, this junction is unique since for people coming on the opposite side, there is no right turn possible, so it can be enforced this way. It cannot be done at all junctions.

@ the Intel Junction however, there is actually a moderately senior traffic cop who stands there and makes sure he abuses anyone who crosses the line and tries to take a right. Good for him I say.

Considering what a nightmare it is when you have to go straight and you have someone overtake you from the left and cut bang in front of you for a right turn (or even worse, 3/4th of the road filled with people waiting for a right-turn signal, blocking the road for people who have to go straight when they have a green), this is a life-saver. Bangalore's Traffic commissioner seems to be showing some initiative. And a lot of good sense.

Conspiracy theorists, you have been warned!

I have been seeing comments to this post, some even posting video links and "intelligently" musing about if there is some conspiracy theory behind the Mumbai blasts.

Beliefs are beliefs and if you choose to believe that the Mumbai blasts were perpetrated by Hindus/home-grown politicians with the sole purpose of eliminating ATS officers and/or to be used as an excuse to blame Pakistan, then please, spare this blog. Especially if you don't have enough spine to leave a name. Your comments will NOT be published. Period.

For one, I do not believe in any such bozo crap.

Why?

No great sense or logic needed there. The people who control and rule our country are simply not enterprising enough to hatch any kind of conspiracy. At least I do not believe so. I would like to see our netas and babus take charge, put on the cap of revenge, say enough is enough and send people under cover into Pakistan and silently start eliminating all the bloody terrorists and make it look like they died fighting each other. But alas! Our netas are too busy making money, some babus too are equally busy, and the rest of the babus who are not inclined to make money by corrupt means, are stalled by the political machinery and can't do much else to help the country out.

If we were the conspiring type, we would have hatched a conspiracy against our neighbors whenever they dared to come to war with us. Why, even if you forget all of the older history, just for the cheek that Musharraf showed during Kargil war, right after defeating them, we would have conspired and rooted them all out. But did we? No. Why? We are, as a nation, simply too inert. That is all. And the politicians are too busy working themselves up about how to stay in power and/or how to make more money that they have no time to think sensibly of ways (by hook or by crook) to clean up the filth on our borders.

I say again, the Pakistani media guys are bloody rogues. For instigating people and for putting forth some zombie theories. I will continue to think so. So before you give me any intelligent advice and wisecracks, you have been warned. If you attempt to do so, I shall mince no words of abuse.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mommy dear

While I was writing about my enterprising mom and how she made sure I stuck in the electoral rolls, I realized, yeah, she IS very enterprising. She is simply the pillar on which our entire family rests. I know that my Dad gets very restless very fast without her, I mean, without her its simply boring for the three of us sitting together :)

Subhash says she is one of the most practical people he has met. Given a situation, her reaction is usually very earthy. In her age and time (in her early twenties maybe), she stood by her dad and helped him support a family of 11, which I must say, is very admirable for the time in which it was done. Heck! Its admirable even for today's standards. But in her age, women even working was quite a thing.

She is also one of the strongest people I know. The strongest in constitution I mean. At 50 I think she is healthier than I might ever be :) Thanks to an iron-will to beat all odds.

She gave up a lot many things in life so she could stay at home and see us grow up. I made her happy in most things and disappointed her expectations in some. But I always hope to grow to be like her, outgoing, enterprising, daring and affectionate.

Have a happy life mom!

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Some things

Saturday was majorly upsetting. My uncle who had long been suffering passed away :( And my parents would no longer be able to make it to the housewarming. So we had it postponed. We were already extremely tired from going the length and breadth of the city (Outer Ring Road to Chickpet to Horamavu and back home), and this extra mental burden of bad news didn't help. It was probably one of the worst days in the recent past. Till I was clear that my parents would be able to make it and we had an alternate date I was in BAD shape.

Monday and Tuesday got better. Beginning on an upward ramp at work yet again. I am hoping it will be a slow ramp since traveling out and about for the renovation work is not leaving me much time for work outside work hours.

And the drama over the bomb blasts and our serious joker-politicians bumbling even further by referring to dogs continues. Saw some shocking Pakistani media coverage and examples of how they instigate people, incense them and drive them towards violence. Bloody rogues! Period.

Cisco has started sniffing all cars entering campus. Better watch out your back, no government is going to help. A lesson well learnt. I heard about some 49-O vote type thingy. Thanks to my enterprising mom, I think I can now vote, at least in Hyd. She made sure we were stuck in the lists. I will vote, if for nothing else, at least to uproot Mr. I-will-not-even-open-my-eyes-if-Sonia-says-I-shouldn't Singh from his PM-giri.

As a best example of "Cisco working for Cisco" I took a chance to see my ex-boss on TelePresence. It was good. This TelePresence thingy does make a huge difference to the experience. Go Cisco!

A load of crap!

A conversation overheard @ Pizza Hut on Inner Ring Road, Koramangala yesterday while we were having pizzas (I love desi Pizzas!)

Three guys come in. My reactions in (parentheses)

Guy 1 (Lets call him SN1): Water, no ice. (Uh-oh, potential blogging material, what with all that accent)
Both chelas (presumably younger aspiring engineers) : Listening and listening..
SN1: In the US, if you say "Water without ice" they don't understand, you have to say "Water, no ice" (Yeah right you moron but this is not the US)
Chelas: Listening
SN1: (After a lot more "Ohh in the US its like this" conversation): In the US, you don't eat Pizza without Coke, you should order Coke. (Well you idiot, they make perfectly marvelous Masala Lemonade here, but dumbs like you do NOT deserve to have that.
Chelas: Hmm..listening
SN1: In the US, you only get bland food, I want to have something spicy.
Chelas: Still listening
Waiter: May I take your order sir.
SN1: I want to order X-Y-Z. See, I always have bland pizzas in the US, I want to order something spicy, can I get X-Y-Z?

Goddammit man! Get a life.

If you boast with the poor chelas I can understand. How can you be so desperately seeking attention from everyone including the waiters?! I don't even want to tell you what a laughing stock you become.

Friday, November 28, 2008

I want to vote..

the (dumb, idiotic and very much eunuch-y) Congress-I government out of power. I found this resolve getting more and more steely with every passing hour last two days. Alternative? BJP? JD? I don't know. Not the Congress. Not this time. Since we do not have the luxury of an iconic leader, if we have to settle for less worse alternatives, so be it. But I can't bear to see these eunuchs running this country.

But can I vote? Subhash and I were brainstorming this morning. We are not in the voter-lists here in Bangalore. Neither are we in Hyd. We have just been away so long that our names have gone off the list (well, his parents' names went off the list even while they were very much here, so ours is a case to not even consider). Anyways, I want to vote. Can I vote please?

Apparently not. I have to be in the "Voter's list". Which was developed to prevent fraud. But no thought being spared for working professionals who might not be home while the friendly-neighborhood Election Commission (EC) officers stop by. One of my colleagues actually could not vote in spite of having a voters ID because her name was not in the "list".

I ask, why can I not vote if I present my very much valid Indian Passport at the booth? What else do I need to prove that I am an Indian citizen? Fine, you want to prevent me from using the passport again and again? Just like we have the black mark, go on and stamp my passport saying I have already voted. Done. Right?

Of course I can have fraudulent passports and vote multiple times, but hey, passport fraud is an even worse danger than voting fraud. You better check that before you try to check voting fraud.

But then Subhash says, you have to vote in your constituency and your constituency only. Please, can we not make that irrelevant for the national elections? Can we please find a way where I can vote no matter where as long as I vote just once.

For us to apply for a voter ID now, we need to have residence proof, since we are renting our place now and will move into our new house soon, we can vote neither here nor there :( We cannot register there now (since we don't live there now) and we cannot vote here then (since we won't be living here anymore). Maybe we can still take the second route since I think on election day no one checks to see if you are still living at the same address. Good. But hey, what about getting into the voters list?

I've heard people being removed from the list simply because they were not home when the EC officials came by. And then even if you have your Voters ID, its useless trying to tell that to the polling booth officials. Happened to both Subhash's parents and some colleagues. So? At least tell me when you will stop by and I will make sure I am home to give my name and enter this list.

I am trying the www.jagore.com route. Lets see how much success I have.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

The blasts .. no..the budding cricket star

I was going to write about the blasts as I saw them relayed last night on TV. But more and more incidents kept coming in and I didn't know what to say or write. I think this whole terror attack thing has stopped terrorizing anyone in this country anymore. Except those that get killed unnecessarily and their family :( The few good police guys we are left with are martyred in these incidents. Lets all go to the dogs now. When the whole thing has become such a circus, I think the terrorists need to realize that the "terror" part is so not working and find something else to do. Reams and reams have been written about the blasts and reams more will be. I have nothing new to add so I choose to focus on something else instead.

This morning a cousin of mine forwarded an article on another cousin of mine that appeared in Eenadu. (For the uninitiated, Eenadu is the largest selling Telugu daily newspaper) It was about his cricketing prowess :) He is a budding cricket aspirant and plays for his college Loyola in Hyd. And apparently he took 6 wickets yielding just 2 runs and scored 38 in his batting innings. And I felt so proud of him. I never managed to appear in any paper myself, so I am glad I can associate myself with some brilliance this way at least :)

Congrats to my cousin Ramakanth! We always used to say he would play in the national team one day and then we would all show off thanks to him ;) I wish today that this wish of mine comes true. Along with my prayer this morning that peace should reign in this country forever.

Amen!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Nice try!

Someone tried to phish me, the morons' cheek! It would have been easier for them in life to start cracking the password by brute-force than trying this. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Do they even know who I am?!!?!?!?! I am, ...never mind ;)

Of course I immediately reported the message as Phishing. You should do it too if you get one like this.

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subjectOrkut Password Protection
mailed-bygmail.com

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Monday, November 24, 2008

The FM and the Volvo

The driver of the Volvo bus I took back home (I was lucky to get one) today played "Aaja Shaam Hone Aayi" (Maine Pyaar Kiya) and for some reason I felt happy listening to that song. I never particularly had the digs for it, but somehow listening to it after a long time felt good.

And I love how noiseless and comfortable the Volvos are. If there is one thing that BMTC did right, it was to get these Volvo fleets. In spite of bad roads and hopeless traffic, when you are in the bus, its literally "smooth sailing". There is also a small monitor where you can watch ads and "Tom and Jerry" cartoons (if you get lucky;) ).

The fare is twice as expensive (10Rs. instead of 5Rs.) but hey, I don't mind that so much. Better than paying 30Rs for the auto and enduring all that pollution anyway ;)

I have to mention the music mania here. All buses normally play some FM channel or another, if not for an on-dash music system. And you will find at least 25% of the people in the bus listening to their own songs on their mobile phone (with headphones). So much music was hitherto unseen or unheard of (in 1990s India it was not seen at all I suppose!)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

R2I: Monthly affairs

Subhash had suggested a few months ago that I do a post on how much it costs to live in India. As a working semi-IT couple. I thought it might not be of any use to anyone, and kept putting it off. Now I've had at least three requests asking for the same data so I decided to do it after all. Husband knows best, yeah yeah, ok!

Disclaimer: Monthly expenses is highly individual. They vary greatly based on attitude and how free you are with your purse strings, so I will try to keep this as generic as possible.

We live in a proper IT-professionals-infested area. Close to major IT companies, and most of the couples in and around us are like us. Twenty-somethings to thirty-somethings, DINK ones. Its easier to get to work for me this way, but if you live a little far off maybe you will end up saving rent.

Without much further ado, here goes

Rent - 16K
This is the average for our area. You will end up in the +/-3K bracket. For a 2BHK apartment. 3BHKs go up to 22K.

Electricity - 1K
+/-100

Gas - 500
We take private gas, which is twice as expensive as government ones like Indane, so you can cut that in half if you have an Indane/HP cylinder access.

Petrol - 11K
Subhash drives 14KM one way to work. Plus ours is a 6 year old car, not a stalwart for fuel efficiency. If you live closer to work, this comes down. My expenses are about Rs.100 per month (quite negligible) since I travel by BMTC bus ;)

Trips to TOTAL/Nilgiris/Other places - 9K
Total is where we shop for groceries, toiletteries, creams, deos etc etc etc, THIS will be your huge variable. You can be like me in the past spending strictly what is absolutely needed and not be extravagant and you will chop off a few Ks from this figure. But as is, we are not extremely extravagant or anything, so for a decently liberal spend, you will arrive at around maybe 6-7K. (Sometimes, we buy our comfort zone gora stuff like Honey Bunches of Oats, Banana Nut Crunch, Ragu Pasta Sauce and what not, which are nearly thrice as expensive as lets say a locally made Kellogg's cereal brand. So sometimes it is more expensive than others.)

Medicines etc - 2K
For us major spends are contact lenses and related stuff AND my Dabur Chyawanprash ;)

Travel - 3K
If you count second class fare by Indian Railways to Hyd, you can estimate about 1500 per trip; Bangalore-Hyderabad including autos etc. AC will obviously be higher. Some of our friends travel much more often to Hyd than we do, so this is way higher for them. We are relatively sedentary beings, and we are not doing much travel to Hyd or otherwise this year, so this is below normal for us this year. If you want a holiday to Europe once in a year, you can add about 6K per month per person on an average to this for a decent 15-day long trip. Starting point.

Eating Out - 10K

If you visit a decent upscale restaurant twice a week, (we are doing that now because of this house renovation thingy, no time to come home and cook in the night :( )

Other staple items - 2500 (+2 to 5K Phone)

Cable - 200;Car cleaning - 300; Newspaper - 150; Maid - 1000; Milk - 500 (we spend less than that, not a very milk consuming household, we ;) ) (UPDATED: Landline phone + Mobile (*2) + Internet : 2-5K)

Other Miscellaneous spends - VARIABLE
That TITAN watch, this pair of slippers, that new T-shirt, this new sneakers every now and then. On an average maybe ours comes to 5K a month, MAX.

So a MAXIMUM of 60K per month, if you are living an extremely comfortable and upper-middle-class life and don't want to think before spending on anything.

If you add one travel abroad every year, your expenses will go up to maybe 65K per month on an average, minimum.

Figures do not include investments you make. If you have taken a housing loan, you should add EMI. For a 25 Lakhs loan @ current interest rates, you will shell about 30K per month in EMI.

So plan on your India moves people!

UPDATE:
~~~~~~~

After all the comments, I noticed some things that I have to mention

1) This piece was not to encourage/discourage moves, just to give a perspective :D
This is for a luxurious living. In the same apartment complex, we also have single income families with one or two kids. And they employ maids for looking after kids. (I don't know the cost for this). So they balance it out elsewhere I am guessing.

2) Hyderabad is probably 70-80% as expensive as Bangalore but not a whole lot chepaer. If you live in traditional Hyd which is where we all probably grew up, you will pay only 5-7K on an average as rent. But I must say, if you live close to the Hi-Tec city areas (which is roughly equivalent of where we live in Bangalore) you are also looking at 12K+ rents even in Hyderabad. So rejoice not too soon ;) If you live in traditional Hyd, then you have to allow 2-3 hours for travel but then Hyd has MMTS which Bangalore doesn't. So commute is slightly easier in Hyd than it is in Bangalore.

3) If you are a DINK or a DISK couple, with a good 6-7 average work-exp, you are probably earning about 1.25L on an average in a month in take home (strictly IT industry, but then this whole expense worksheet is ONLY for IT or semi-IT couples:) ). So after spending 60K, whatever is left, you can invest, save, put aside for medical emergencies for parents etc. It is common for parents to have pre-existing conditions these days which most insurance companies do not cover. So you will have to plan for that.

4) I forgot to add Maintenance. We don't pay maintenance right now since brand-new first-occupancy apartments don't incur Maintenance charges. So you are off the hook for about a year to a year-and-a-half. After that, maintenance will be about Re. 1 to Rs. 1.50 per sq foot of your apartment area. So in all this could come to about 1-2K.

5) If you want to enrol at a fitness club, that might be an extra 1-2K per month.

(4 and 5 are reflected above now)

Shoot on anymore questions! :)

Ohh no!

I never thought I'd do this but I have a BAD restaurant review. Hotel in question, "Urban Nawab" on Outer Ring Road near the Marathahalli Staples store. Food: Forgettable.

We went last weekend, Saturday night, with S and V. We asked for Khus Sharbat and we got Sprite. In extra green. We asked what the relation between Sprite and Khus Sharbat was and he changed it from Sprite to Water with Khus flavouring. And since we had made the mistake of pointing out the Sprite, he added extra Khus flavour making it a deep deep green and nauseatingly sweet as a result.

Rest of the food, I don't even want to mention. Suffice to say I had an upset for the next two days.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

A mesh of thoughts

(Disclaimer: Too much self-praise, nausea possible!)

Some events trigger some thoughts. Which spin more thoughts. Which spin some more thoughts. Today was one such.

After experiencing a sudden spiraling down of work load, I was getting rather itchy. I had gotten so used to working 15 hour days that 8 hour days were making me edgy. I needed to feel more useful. I needed to feel more capable. Working 8 hour days was not making me feel so capable anymore.

Today I did a couple of things (actually three) which made me feel a sense of achievement of some sorts. One of them was local work. And it earned me some email kudos. Nothing big. Nothing spectacular. Definitely not one of the bigger ones I've earned to date. But it felt good. So I was thinking about it. Was it because it was the first real kudos after moving to India @ work? So far 8 months have gone off just riding on past glory. I was doing my San Jose work, and coaching people out here, helping engineers with their queries and so on, but all that was based on what I did in the past. Nothing new was happening here. Nothing that made people here say "Good".

So I realized that this "feeling of success" needs to constantly fed and fueled. Its definitely not a one-timer event. You achieve success and you are done. No sirree.

The other thing that stemmed out of this is that maybe it felt good because the past few days I did a lot of "gap pointing". In the culture. In the system. In the process. In the inefficiency. (I am a hater for inefficiency in anything). And I was unhappy. Unhappy that I was pointing out gaps. If you've known me for a while, you know that I normally never complain. About anything. So I was unhappy that I was not seeing paradise around me like I normally do. Then I decided to do something about one of the problems (this was at least in my power to make a difference to), instead of just complaining. It was tough. I had some support but it was tough. And I did it. And I felt good. So I realized. Just complaining about things not working makes me feel even more agitated than the stuff that doesn't work. Either I do something to fix it or I don't complain. Period.

I also remembered something that my English lecturer in Francis' wrote in my autograph book. I always remember that whenever I try to get a perspective of where I am. She had said "You always do the best with what you have. You never worry about what you don't have. Keep this up, it will make you successful". Or something to that effect. I felt she was too effusive. I didn't realize till then that I had always tried to do my best with what was given to me. She sort of showed me a me I had not known. This got me thinking.

So long as I didn't know what I was worth, I was good to go. I always worked hard, I always just did what I had to without expecting much. The moment I felt I was doing something extra-ordinary, things changed. And I suddenly started "expecting results". So I feel that the biggest challenge to achieving success is to keep a level head and to continue working just as hard even while keeping in complete perspective the greatness of things you've already done. This is more tricky than it sounds. And I live in constant dread of not being able to achieve this balance. My move to India was a challenge. I came with a lot of baggage. Good baggage, but baggage all the same. "Ohh she knows everything" baggage. Suddenly, I realized, ohh people think I am good. And that threatened to change things. Only my dread of becoming a monster kept me sane. I've regained some balance and learnt to put all that kind of baggage safely stashed in one corner of my brain now. But I should practice this lesson constantly.

I should, if I want to be a successful me :)

All in an evening walk

Boy 1: My building is bigger than yours
Boy 2: My building has 10 floors
Boy 1: But my building is bigger
Boy 2: Where show? See, my building has 10 floors too.

.--walk on--

Boy 1: Hey so stop!
Boy 2: What?
Boy 1: So will you play with those boys?
Boy2: !?
Boy 1: ?????
Boy2: See, if we are not doing anything and they are not doing anything wrong, why should we not play with them?

.--walk on--

Little girl: Hey, get up
Maid : repeat
Littler girl: Smiling like an angel while sitting duck pose
Little girl: She will do poo-poo like that only if you don't make her get up (said to maid)

All some snippets of conversations heard on the way back from work.

My apartment complex has it all. Pregnant moms walking, new moms walking with smaaaaaaaaall kids, 1-2 year olds, 2-3 year olds, 3-4 year olds and so on all the way till 10-15 year olds. Each in their own gang and playing their own games. And if I am lucky to get home by 6 during these removation days, I catch a glimpse of them all! Its truly quite entertaining. I can hardly feel the thakaan of that walk :)

Friday, November 14, 2008

How? Why? What?

Totally random subject. Not related to the post in anyway. Those have been my GTalk statuses last few days. Generally. Just like that.

So the last two weeks have been spent at work and at the new house. Every evening Subhash and I make a site-visit to check on things and make sure work is going ok. In the dark that is. No lights in the house yet since we are getting electrical stuff re-wired as well.

So to get to the house, I take an auto from work. And my relationship with Bangalore auto drivers is not new to you if you've been regular to my blog ;)

So far it goes this way

-Between 1-2 pm - Walk 1 km to get an auto
-Between 3-5 pm- Walk 3/4th KM to get an auto
-After 6 pm- Walk 2.5 KM to get an auto AND pay 20 extra if you are lucky ;) (basically pay the auto driver for the distance that you've walked ;) )

So anyways normally I fall in the after 6 bracket if I've gone to the gym to workout. So its a 2km bonus cool down for me when I do that. Today was one such. But then the auto driver was chatty and the conversation followed along like this

Auto Driver (AD) - Yenu madam Kannada channagi maataadthaidira, neevu Kannada avara?
Me: Haudu Kannada, nanna appa avarudu Mysuru.
AD: Ade ankothaidini, illi yaaru Kannada maathadode illa madam
Me: Haudu yellaru horaginda bandavare alva
AD: Kannada yeshtu easy kariyodu, yaaru kariyode illa
Me: Kannada kariyodu avasara illa alva, English Hindi bandidre sakaagathe. Yellaru office hogodu, manege barodu asthe kelsa, yelli kareethare..

And so on we went to discuss the erstwhile Kemp Fort's status and he opined that this guy would have opened a mall on the new airport road. He wouldn't lose his business so easily you know and all that. And how auto fellows are not allowed into the new airport and how much money he could make if they were ;)

So anyways, I think people, that I can now pass off as a Kannada native, yay!!! for that ;)

Friday, November 07, 2008

What a personality?!

Took a cue from Laksh to take this test ;) You can check it out too ..

The Castle Personality Test
You are a bit tentative when it comes to new experiences. You have to push yourself to try new things, but once you do, you love the adventure.

You don't spend a lot of time thinking about how people see you. You're kind of scared to know what they think.

You are a very romantic person. You can't help but see the world as it should be.

Right now, you feel like the whole world is open to you. You see lots of possibilities.

Overall, your life is calm and steady. Not much stirs you, and each day is full of joy.

You feel like the fate of the future partially rests in your hands. You believe you need to help make the world a better place.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

India's own Obama?

So finally he has done it. America sees its first African-American President. It was a tough choice for a conservative belt. If you want democrats, you either take the first woman President or the first African-American one. I am glad they showed some intellect and voted Obama.

My take on this whole election and the post-election euphoria is that people saw a true leader. At least one that seemed remotely honest and didn't come with that "political manipulation" image. Someone that truly mobilized people and motivated them to get up and take charge if they wanted to change their lives. Youth. I really believe that for the United States to have a Black President, the young and not-so-conservative Americans had to do it, not those conservative very mid-west type people.

When you see the parties after the election results and the enthusiasm of people and the real hope they exude that this will change the course of a failing country, it almost feels like a super-charged game that has been won by the under-dogs.

When did we see such an election in India last? I don't know. With every election, its the same mundane stuff that happens. You vote, you don't vote, people get elected, people don't get elected, life goes on as usual. The only people that celebrate are political party workers and it feels like nobody's business.

Really now, not taking the time to vote or being too lazy to vote is one thing. Not having anyone to vote for is another. If we had a charismatic leader who got us charged about the future of the country being better, who showed an honesty of purpose, who showed that he/she is really interested in doing something good for the country, why wouldn't we vote? And why wouldn't we celebrate his/her victory? But alas, for us, often times the only choice is to vote for the lesser of two evils.

So what I think is that we need a political leader who can generate the same euphoria that, lets say, Sachin Tendulkar used to generate some years ago when he came onto field. I am sure just as people would take any amount of pain to go watch him live, so would they go and vote. And then we will celebrate just like we celebrate a victory over Aussies ;)

When will we have our own Obama?

What?!

What is with Indian students being murdered in the US? So many instances these days :(

And the latest is this (video). A friend had left me a message on GTalk last night with this link. Now Prof. Jinaga was Head of Department for ECE (Electronics and Communication Engineering, which is the department I graduated out of) when Subhash was beginning engineering in JNTU and when I joined JNTU, he was Vice-Principal. A much-respected man. So many of his students have gone abroad and done well under his eye in JNTU. I know for sure that at least 90% of his class students migrated to the US, every year, for an MS and a job later on. And when his daughter did the same, this is what happened? It must be really sad for him and his family :( Normally when you hear these things you feel sad and sympathetic for the family. But when you hear that it happened to someone you know, its just that much more personally hurting :( I pray that the Prof and his family have enough strength to tide over this absolute tragedy [-o<

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Back and following

Back from Tirupathi. EMI paying lord, still burdened under his loan, I say! TTD guys swindle so much money making him gold plated gopurams and gold laden stuff that none of that dearie monies is going back to Kuber. And so the loan becomes more and more sub-prime and the EMIs just keep growing in spite of growing donations (donations directly proportional to growing sins and growing populus)

We climbed the hill by foot for the first time and managed to scrape through decently :) Darshan was the best we've ever had. A full minute maybe, thanks to V's bro-in-law and his high recommendation ;) But really, nothing works in Tirumala these days without recommendation. I wonder how people without recommendation manage :( Even as late as 2004, me and my mom managed to go without any recos and even found accommodation impromptu which has become unheard of these days.

Anyways, back and busy now. Tiles, wall tiles, demolition, cement, paint, wood, doors, windows etc, discussions follow in not necessarily the same order. Managing ok so far since work load is not imposing, yet. Thank God! Else, the stress was going to kill me.

Following the US election. Yeah, US election means the media assumes that the whole world is interested, so no point cribbing how the TV is full of it. I am hoping the American populace is not dumb enough this time around to put McCain in the hot seat. When Bush won in 2004, I was literally shocked at the stupidity of those American citizens. But then maybe it wasn't such a free and fair election after all. And also I mainly blame Kerry for Bush's win. He just wasn't a strong enough or charismatic enough opponent. Even I would find it tough to decide between Bush and Kerry, and THAT is saying something;) Anyways, my entire 7 years in the US was spent singularly under Bush's rule. (2001 to 2008) So much so that Subhash calls him my favourite Prezzy. Yeah, of course, why not. No one hates him more than I do. Joker, saala.

And the next time I go to the US, I am hoping to go under Democratic rule. Enough of hopping in and out of Bush's America. Now I want to hop in and out of Obama's America :D ;)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Off finally!

To Tirupathi. After months of pushing it out. After 5 excruciating hours of wait at the Malleswaram office (in rain that too!) we finally are going this weekend. With S and his wife V. Driving down. Looking forward to it. Should be fun. This is the first non-Hyd trip we are making together after the move. And not for any emergency, aha, life is good! :)

Miss me, my lovelies! Updates from the EMI-paying lord will follow on Monday ;)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A heart-breaking experience

Subhash had some work @ Tarang which is this Indian arts and crafts store in Jayanagar. He told me a lot about it and thought I'd like it, so he took me along warning me that it was going to be an hour long meeting and I might get bored. Now, I am one to find something or the other to pass time, so I am usually not worried about getting bored and so I tagged along.

We ended up spending more than 2 hours there. And its near impossible to describe the beauty of most of the creations we saw there. I felt proud for being born here, in India, I also felt ashamed for abounding in ignorance about the so many different things that are great about Indian art, both at the same time. Confused? Yeah. Tanjore paintings, Kalamkari work, Brass artefacts, Bronze artefacts, paintings done on this marble slabs, paintings that looked life-like, the list is endless. How to describe so much beauty?

Well, but that is not the point of this post. Here is what we bought at the store, three sets, one for me, one for my mom and one for Subhash's mom :)



















What do you think those are? Coasters? Yes, thank you. And how do you think they are made?













Now, I challenge you to guess.


No? You give up?









Well, here goes..


That is right! All the colours in that painting are got from real gem-stones, powdered to fill the space as a colour. The thing is so small that the amount of detailing in it is mind-boggling.

OK. So what is heart-breaking about that you ask?

Can you guess how much it cost? Labeled MRP was INR 300. THREE HUNDRED ONLY!!!

The way we undervalue our artists is what broke my heart. Now I am guessing, this guy is at least the second middle-man between the artist and us. So how much could the artist have gotten for this?! 20 INR per piece is a higher side estimate that I can make.

I felt crestfallen. People with such talent. And working for a mere pittance. Why do we undervalue our own art so much? Apparently the same set gets sold at the Bengaluru airport for 1600 INR. Yet, the money really doesn't go to the artist. It goes to the shopkeeper in the airport (well, considering he has to pay unbelievable amounts of rent in the airport, he probably needs profits of that scale, but hey!), who has done nothing but buy it off the shelf at Tarang.

What needs to be done is pretty clear. We need to create a market for Indian art, different kinds of art, and there are plenty. Need to make it that "desired" thing which people will pride on possessing. AND will be willing to pay a price for, if not a premium.

Whenever I go into public service, I know what I can do and whom I can do it for. Till then I am determined to encourage such masterpieces in whatever little way I can. Either buy it for myself or get them as gifts for friends.

So next time you are in a fix about what to gift someone, try this. Or this. Maybe even this?

And chuck that bouquet :)

So cute!

One of my cousins, my mama's son, works for IBM. Apparently he is out of PTO (Paid Time-Off, Cisco slang for "leave"). And I had invited them for the house-warming in December. So he is now doing extra work, taking on another shift, so that he can earn an extra day of PTO by then. All, so that he can make it to the house-warming.

Ain't that cute :) Needless to say, I am all floored and feeling great! To have cousins like this and an extended family like the one I have, is truly something. They add that bounce to life you know!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

And after 8 years..

..here it is. A Deepavali in India. Of course, I can't seem to get back the same excitement and enthusiasm as I once had (well, I had to come to work today, so what else do you expect!?) but still, its something. I really wish I was in Hyd, but hey, at least I am in India, Hyd can be made to happen next year :D

We bought the usual, flower pots, sparklers, rockets, pencils bhuchakkars etc. Conspicuously missing were the Lakshmi and Hydrogen bombs. Actually even as a kid/adoloscent I never found much for the bombs. They were solely bought for the purpose of entertaining cousins when they came over to burst crakers. Even if I ever entertained the thought of liking those, it was gone for a toss when this Lakshmi bomb once burst unexpectedly even before I could move away leaving that slight beep in the ear. I thought I lost my hearing that day! And that was it, no bombs for me after that ;) The "sivatapakayas" were the only sort of "bursty" crackers I ever handled.

Apartment had some rules about bursting crackers, saying everyone should do it in one designated spot etc. We started off with sparklers in our balcony for a shagun and then took the rest down and bursted all of them. Then spent some 15 minutes watching everyone else and walked back home, content.

We had on off on Monday because in Karnataka its Monday. Whereas for us Telugu folks its on Tuesday. So today I wore new clothes, a new watch, new slippers etc ;) Office is empty and wears a haunted house look and I wouldn't have come here today if it was not for Subhash's "I have to go to work today" majboori. What to do alone at home, better off at work, at least will meet a few souls around here ;)

Happy Deepavali to all of you! May the coming year bring in loads of happiness.

(Please to wish me back the same ;) )

Monday, October 27, 2008

And that is final

One gloomy post (a trough) deserves a lighter one (a crest). After all we are a sine wave, no? (Its all in the name, duh!)

We went to Forum Mall yesterday. The first time we went after the move was when Subhash's parents were here. We went to watch the movie "Chinthakayala Ravi". Movie was decent and I think his parents also enjoyed it.

I digress, the point is not the movie. Nor is it Forum. The point is the Transit Food Lounge IN Forum. Ohh ma! It makes me mad. So many things to choose from. I almost instantaneously suffer from lack of appetite resulting from a failure to decide what to eat. So I think, "one at a time Divs, one at a time".

So we tried the "Khandani Rajdhani" counter. Again the same loss of appetite. So much to choose from, how to decide what to eat? Bah! Ok, that Puran Poli looks good and so does the Khastha Kachori. So we went for it. We only wanted to snack and have dinner later, but the food, the sight of the food, and so much to eat, changed my decision, we are having dinner at 7 pm!

Puran Poli was served with pickle and potato curry which was strange, I am used to eating it as dessert :P Khastha Kachori was strewn with lightly sweetened yoghurt which was good the first two bites but got excessively sweet as I ate it. I wonder how the Gujjus and the Rajasthani and of course our Bengalis eat so much sweet! The Puran Poli was smashingly ravaging. Yumm. Yumm. Yumm. Although I was feeling a bout of nausea coming from eating so much sweet, I felt happy. And satisfied.

So you see, I can't help it. I decide one day to start eating "well" by which I mean, not hog. And the next day, as if to test my very resolve, destiny places so much variety of food in front of me, that I begin to eat and mentally go " To hell with restraint, I got to eat when I still can". Forget that excess weight, forget that bulge, I will eat.

And so that is final. I can NOT eat modestly when so much good food is awaiting for me to eat it :D :D My India move is not working out well in just this one over-weight problem! Hmm..

PS: We went to Umerkot yet again. Had their Karari Bhindi Chat which was beyond expectations type of good and the "Subz something something" (can't recollect the name and the thing is not in their online menu). Basically it was a veggie biryani sort of thing. And it was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Distinct flavours and yet all blended subtly. The guy who waited on us, recognized us and took extra special care of us saying we were coming after a long time and all. Actually the last time we went he wasn't around. He asked how we liked the Bhindi thing and if it was spicy and that he would adjust the spice of the biryani according to it. Yeah, THAT good service. I also got my standard Fresh lime soda-half-sweet-half-salty and as usual it was good. (Did I tell you I moved over from my standard Iced tea which I always had in US restaurants to this life-saver?) This restaurant never disappoints. They even gave us free paan in the end this time. Maybe the festive season special :D Our team was planning a lunch and I was going to suggest this place and I was immensely happy when someone else suggested it. So another round of Umerkot next week is in order :D

Worried at many layers

Personal level -- EMIs have started. And so has the panic. This is the first loan we've taken in our lives, and I feel the effects of having a huge liability. I am hoping I will get used to it and tide over it.

Family -- Dad is not keeping well. He is under a reel of a bad cough spell. I am hoping it nothing major. Added to that he is worrying himself over things he cannot change and I am quite unsure of how to stop him from doing that :(

Then the world beyond.

I see riots in the name of religion. People seem to be getting more and more polarized. I am not sure, I never saw this when I was a kid. Maybe they were always there, the poles, maybe they've just surfaced now. Not sure. But it makes me sad. And increasingly, talking about Hinduism or taking a stand as a Hindu seems to be getting one the tag of being fundamentalist or extremist. Why is it so wrong for me to respect my religion just because the religion happens to be Hinduism? I believe that Hinduism is an extremely mature religion, and that all its rites and rituals always have a logic and (even better) a science behind them. Yeah, it has been the butt of abuse for the past how-many-ever centuries, but that doesn't make the religion bad. If I take pride in being Hindu, why must I be labeled an extremist. Only if I silently allow for extermination of my religion and its beliefs will I be even considered for the "intellectual" tag. And its immensely sad and disturbing. And the worst part is that I just cannot figure out what the hell to do about it. I went to a Christian Missionary run school. I know enough about Christianity than probably even the Christians do. I've always co-existed peacefully with my Christian friends. I never had any problems with my Muslim friends either. When I make friends, I don't make them looking at if they are Hindu or not. So just because I happen to be a Hindu who is passionate about Hinduism doesn't make me extremist, thank you. And I grew up believing that the rest of the country was full of people like me. Who took pride in what they are without deriding what others believed in. It is possible you know. Yet, I see and hear disturbing things and I wonder. Is it that the people of this country have changed or is it just the god-damned media and an even more damnable-political-fabric of the country.

I see people who really work hard to earn a living. Like this man in his forties maybe, looking very respectable, smartly dressed, trying to eke a living out of selling ball-point pens at a traffic light. There is a lot of self-respect and yet there is innate hardship. I see him and a lot of uncomfortable feelings arise. I feel guilty for sitting inside an air-conditioned car while a man much older than me has to walk the streets to earn a living. I feel sad, thinking about how much he can make and how he will sustain his family. Yet, I am filled also, with pride and wonder. For the sheer resilience of the Indian fabric. Like I wrote earlier, all kinds of people live and survive and what is more, manage to be happy here. If I were someone from one of these omnipresent and annoying media-channels/newspapers, I would write about the sorry state of this country and its poverty and its wretchedness. But I am a blogger, so I will look at the better side of things. After all I believe this country is not a lost cause. I believe in its greatness to heal itself and move on in spite of taking in alarming amounts of abuse from inside and out. And I pray we will become truly "sujalam and suphalam" some day. Once again.

You know you are renovating when..

--Vitrified, semi-vitrified, marble effect and other such hitherto unbeknown terms become uncomfortably familiar.

--You go to the restroom in an upscale restaurant you lookout for what designs they've used for the WC, floor tiles, wall tiles etc, to find the fine distinction between what is commercial and residential as it still beats you ;)

--You suddenly begin to spot all the hardware stores in town, earlier your eyes would have glossed over them and your mind would have never registered their existence.

--You know the difference between a diverter and a basin mixer.

--Suddenly you think colour. And think space-colour. And think effect-space-colour.

--You see the shower in the gym and think, "Ahh, that series in Jaguar" or look at the restroom wash basins and go "Hmm..definitely non-sensor series for the home" ;)

--You see the mason peeling off the skirting (knowing what a skirting is also comes as a package deal) and a part of your brick wall going with it and it rips your heart.

--After a day of shopping for plumbing pipes, you begin to see T-joints and elbow joints in the bus number display on the bus ahead of you when driving.

--You know precisely the exact functionality of hinges, telescopic channels, tower bolts, mortise locks and the likes after spending a day in Chikpet doing nothing but hardware shopping. (Phew! This was the most boring of all)

--You notice, for the first time in the eight months you've been living in your apartment, that the door patterns are all the same. Till then you don't even realize the inner doors in the apartment have a pattern to begin with.

--You realize that a 5-burner hob just cannot do with a 2ft chimney where till date you wouldn't have even known hob-chimney sizes.

--You can accurately tell how much a foot length is, no matter what surface you are looking at.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Many things ;)

One more porridge post. Please to excuse. I try to patch up many different things when I don't have any single thing to talk about at length ;)

We got dry fruits for Diwali. One neatly packaged gold paper box with Raisins, Kaju, Apricot (I think), Figs, Pista and Badam. It feels good, the festive spirit is amazing :)

I sorely miss going to Hyd for the festival. I was hoping to be able to make it. Its my first Diwali in India after 8 devilishly long years. But we can't, no vacation available :( And all our friends are already leaving for Hyd, so we will probably be all alone! Sigh! At least, we are together, two is better than one I say.

House-warming date almost decided. Although I am too stormed to think about planning for it, my mom and Subhash's mom have collaborated and fixed on the cook for the day preceding and following the event and the purohit as well. Sure makes my life easier ;)

Something nice happened this evening. I had to walk as usual to the gate of our campus to catch an auto when this auto guy was coming out, he asked me where I had to go, I told him and he said he can't go. Then he said he'd drop me till the gate. I almost got into the auto when I asked him how much he'd take for it (sheepish grin, yeah I know, I am paranoid like that!). He said, its Ok anyway he is going in the same direction. And I felt so nice. After all those nasty haggling experiences with auto fellows in Bangalore, this was a pleasant surprise.

Spending more and more time mentoring the young blood in the team. Made an impromptu presentation today for some of them. All those new college hires. It makes me feel damn old! Especially when they introduce me saying she's been around for donkey's years :( Sigh! but new hires are always exciting. Their conviction and energy can be contagious most of the times :)

Well, let me sign off now. More tidbits later ;)

Monday, October 20, 2008

L and the rehab

After spending more than a week in rehab, my very close ally (lets call this ally L) is finally back in business. I sure missed L. No one can match L's speed of thought or rapidity of function. Of course in stylish looks, L is at the top.

Partly I felt guilty about L spending time in re-hab since I believe it is continuous abuse from me which drove L into it in the first place.


I am glad L is back, I sorely missed the monkeys ;)


Here are some pictures of L

Picture1
Picture2

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Two very busy days

This week was very eventful. So much so I don't know where to start and end. So I will leave it at that ;)

I need to be in the US next week but I am not sure if I will be able to make it. Some formalities of the house we recently bought are left and so I can't see a good two weeks chunk in between where I can fit in a US ka trip. Lets see. If I do go though I want to bring back that Corelle set and some other miscellaneous stuff that I want (like Bounty kitchen paper rolls, if anyone asked me what I missed about the US, I'd say Bounty;) )

We went to dine at BonSouth in Koramangala on Friday. I must say, at least for having spent so much on the ads, it was an extremely admirable restaurant. Menu was simple (Andhra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala in separate sections, non-veg and veg sub-headers and two to three dishes under them). We tried the "Arati Poovu Bajjilu" which were yummy if you called them Masala Vadas rather. I didn't find the arati poovulu in those (arati=plantain, poovu=flower). We had some Kerala dish (I can't pronounce nor remember the name) which resembled the "gojju" we make in Karnataka and "Maavidikaya Pappu" (Raw Mango Dal). Both were yumm. Above allm this restaurant scored the maximum points for its a) Virgin Pina Colada and b) Its decor and ambience. Simply superb both of them. I only liked the Virgin Pina Colada that Valley Fair's Cheesecake Factory made so far but the one in this restaurant has now replaced it as the newest number one on my list :)

Most of today was spent in discussing renovation for the house. To do this or not to do this. To do that or not to do that. Budget, space, colours, look, ambience, shelves, closets, beds, entertainment centre and all that stuff. Its just day one and its already tired the hell out of us. I am not sure if having a house is such a good thing anymore;) It sure is a damn lot of work, bah!

We wanted to go to Tirupati (yeah that famous commercial, all powerful god happens to be my favourite) ever since we moved back. But its been more than 6 months now and we've still not made it. So today we went to this local TTD office in Malleswaram to get Darshan for next week. And what do you think? Their printer was broken and so they made us wait for 2 hours (the people who came ahead of us were waiting for more than 3 hours already) in the line and still no signs of anything working. Tired, we just walked out. Got to try our luck again tomorrow. I am hoping we get it. Its not a good sign usually to come back like that. Like the gods are angry with you or something. And THAT is not a very re-assuring thought, I tell ya!

Tonight's dinner was at Gramin. We've (rather I) always wanted to try it but it never happened so far. Subhash told me once that it was a good place to eat. We went early like 7.25 and so we didn't have to wait. Ambience was delightful. Nice villagish setting (true to the name). I had the Soda Mirchi (yeah, what else do you expect? ;)) and its just such a simple concept. Sweet soda water and break 3 green chillies in it. The chilli seeds add that spice and the soda water is sweet and overall its a pathaka drink. Subhash had that masala buttermilk, another hit with me :) We had the Bhindi Masala and Dal tamatar with Pudina Parathas, Garlic Kulchas and a stuffed kulcha. Very satisfying and extremely filling dinner. I recommend the restaurant to anyone who cares to listen :) Beware though! Go early. When we were getting out around 8, there were people sitting outside and browsing menus, just trying to get in and eat:)

All in all a very busy Friday and Saturday. Lets see what Sunday brings :)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A rainy adventure

Walking back home to catch the bus. Caught by an unexpected rain. Should have left 20 mins earlier, saw everyone who could potentially give me a ride leave while I was chatting with Y. What to do? Found a thatch which was empty by the service road. Waited a while. Didn't see any bus for a long long time, so was not feeling very guilty for having waited in the thatch. Saw a shiny Red Volvo go by. Very sad this, missing that bus. The mind thinks, maybe its not raining that hard. Walked a little bit. Steadily getting drenched. Caught sight of that shiny red Volvo stuck a little ahead in traffic. Legs picked up a running pace. Crossed that trench dividing the service road and the main road and started running. Only the bus is visible. Soon heard splosh-splash. Didn't look where I was running. Water all around. And that pair of khakhis has gone for a toss. Damn! Ran faster. Got into the bus. Already 15 mins since I left office. Bus still stuck. After 10 more minutes it starts to move. Slowly. No seat. Sat on the platform left out where the Volvo's huge tires are.

What is life without a little adventure eh? ;)

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A nice morning

Subhash's Dad had been telling us about this group of six or so guys who met at the park by Iblur lake and laughed their guts out. I was curious an so went along with him today to check out what they do.

It was disappointing since they decided to take off today :( However, we did walk and when his Dad sat down to do breathing exercises, I covered another round of the park taking in the pretty-ish kind of wilderness and came back. Then I sat on one of the four swings in the park which I had soon as I came in.

Swings. I love them. Swings at school were one of the first forms of adrenaline rush I had ever experienced since I was never the giant wheel type of person. I am sure it holds true for a lot of people. So even today I never miss an opportunity to swing along if I find one empty. You see, finding a swing empty was one of the biggest luxuries of childhood @ school.

There is a play area in our apartment complex itself but I usually walk by it when its full of kids. Not wanting to deny them the chance (read, look stupid) I usually don't swing on them ;) But once in a while, when we go by the area walking in the night, I do snatch a swing or two!!

We walked back home and it was quite peaceful. Saturday morning, the whole weekend ahead of you, the very thought gives you ample energy :D The quietness was only disturbed by some snippets of loud conversations on the higher floors of the apartment blocks, birds chirping, the watchmen talking animatedly etc. Some water birds walking on the Bellandur lake added to the serene picture. I should do more early-Saturday-morning walks from now on.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Yuck! Yuck!

What is with the damned global meltdown. Yuck! My portfolio has gone into negative digits now :(( Boo Hoo!! I am going to be extremely optimistic at this point and hope that it won't be akin to the Great Depression. But maybe it already is? Sigh!

And of course there is my CSCO stock. Even if someone sneezes or coughs it plunges.

As if being razed to the ground in investments is not enough, this is what my Orkut fortune is saying:

Profile views: Since Feb '06: 46,508, Last week: 116, Yesterday: 15
Today's fortune: The star of riches is shining upon you

(Really now, this is called adding insult to injury)

Riches, my foot!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Domestic abuse and feministic pride

Beginning of last week my maid came home in the morning looking a little down. Not her usual cheerful self. I asked her what the matter was and she said that her husband had beat her the previous weekend.

She was going to her hometown and was off that weekend. Apparently she had asked her husband to be ready by the time she came home so that they can leave in the evening and come back the next day. But by the time she got home he was not ready and for whatever reason (I don't know what transpired between them) he beat her and told her that she can leave their almost-1-year-old daughter and go away from their house. I told her that everyone needs everyone else around them when you are in a family. I asked her to come stay with us for a couple of days and see how her husband manages. Basically tried to tell her not to worry because her husband needed her more than she needed him.

The next day she came to work, she was back to her normal self. I asked her how things were and she said that her husband had pacified her and smothered her. How? I asked. She told me how she said to her husband that she would stop going to work from the next day and how he had promised her that he would never beat her again and convinced her to go to work and assured her that he would take care of her very well from now on.

Now, I am not a big fan of women demanding respect because they "are now earning". Because somewhere that implicitly shows that they are fine with their spouses treating them like dirt when they don't earn, which is even more dangerously lacking in self-respect. However that maybe, in her case I was glad she showed at least some muscle. And probably something like self-respect and human dignity for women and all the other good stuff wouldn't have made much sense to her husband anyway ;)

All in all I am glad for her.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Doodhsagar Falls - A guest post

One of my colleagues recently visited DoodhSagar Falls, and she wanted to blog about it. So I offered to let her be my guest blogger, here goes --


By Anin

Doodhsagar – India’s second tallest waterfall - every trekker’s dream


We are a group of friends who love trekking. All kinds – jungle trails, hillocks, moderate rock climbing.. And it had been quite sometime since we last did something like that. The last few months had been pretty hectic for all of us, workwise. We hadn’t got a chance to go out anywhere to refresh our minds!

One morning, a friend forwarded a mail which had these beautiful snaps of the Doodhsagar Falls. That was enough to light our fire within. We started Googling for info regarding its location/ how to reach/ facilities available, etc.

Surprise !!! We had a lot of hits for our search. But none gave any good info on how to reach this place. We read through a lot of blogs, also went through the Goa Hiking Association links – but none of them elaborated enough on this place. Such a beautiful Waterfall, and hardly any info abt it on the net??? Well what a pity!

So, then we made up our minds – we bunk work for couple of days around the coming weekend and go checkout this lovely place by outself, and most importantly, when we return, we blog about it !!!

Doodhsagar Waterfalls is situated in the Western Ghats, in the state of Goa (Karnataka-Goa border actually). Its about 130 Km from Belgaum. About 80 Km from Panaji.

This is how we reached the Trail head –

We had to visit a friend in Belgaum. So we took the Rani Chennamma Express from Bangalore to Belgaum. The next day morning (September 5th), we boarded a Margoa bus at the Belgaum Bus Stand. The bus goes on the highway NH4A. Road is pretty good. Only in a few places it is a bit torn. It took us about 3 hours to reach this place called Molem. Molem – a small place - is located in the midst of the jungle. Very easy to miss this stop. So watch out! We got off at Molem. There are local mini buses which ply regularly between Molem and this another small village called Colem. We got into one of these and reached Colem. There is a railway station at Colem – but only for the goods trains. The foot of Doodhsagar Falls is 14 Kms from Colem. And the trail starts off from the Colem railway station.

From here there are two options –

1. Trek along the railway track for about 7 Kms in the direction of Doodhsagar. Then when you come to a tiny bridge – the railway track goes over a small stream beneath – get down to the stream, wade through the water, below the railway track and get onto the narrow muddy path. Just keep going along the path for the next 7 Kms. The path goes through thick jungle, sometimes gets steep. You will have to cross 4 more streams. Then you come to this moss covered Arch which says – Doodhsagar Waterfalls J. There is a security post and a restroom as you enter – but the jungle has grown over these and now its probably room for a few snakes.
2. There is an association of Bikers at Colem. They are about 20 – 30 of them. Each with a good pick-up & suspension bike. They can give you a ride for most of the distance and then take you till the foot of the falls. With one biker and one trekker on each bike, these guys drive just beside the railway track – on a 1.5 foot wide space. The stones of the railway track on one side and a 12 - 15 feet deep fall on the other side. It gets really scary balancing out there. But these guys are just too amazing – some of the best bikers we have seen. Then you get down and trek the rest of the distance to the falls. The bikers can accompany you, stay there as long as you wish, and then bring you back to Colem. Contact numbers of a couple of bikers - 9420768498 Jayendra, 9421244396 Daya. They will be happy to assist you!

Either way it is going to take a lot of nerve and energy. Be sure to have had some good food early morning.

From the Arch, it’s a good 2 Km trek again. But you know you are near to your destination, so its not so long. This is a pretty difficult stretch, lot of river crossing and climbing rocks. And finally you get to the foot of the waterfall, and you feel you have achieved something in your life. :)


It’s one of the most beautiful falls! You look up, you can see the railway track crossing across the falls hundreds or thousands of feet above you. Water in the fall looks just as white as milk – so you know how it gets its name. You can spend an hour or two there. Actually you don’t feel like leaving that pleace.. J But make it a point to reach Colem before it gets dark.


Carry lots of water. Beware of Leeches and Snakes. There are lots of them out there. You will be lucky if you don’t get a leech bite.

Other ways to reach this place –

Take a train to Castle Rock. From Castle Rock, get onto a goods train which goes to Doodhsagar. But in this case, there is no scope for trekking.

There is a Doodhsagar Resort, about a Km before Molem right by the side of NH4A. You can probably get in touch with them too. (their info is available on the net)

I think there are jeep drives from Colem between October and March. But don’t have much info about it.

If you have car/ bikes – its gonna be much easier. You can drive all the way upto Colem.

When you are searching for info on the net, you will find mention of Molem National Park being the seat of the Doodhsagar falls. Please ignore this. This National park is long closed and its very misleading.

I have trekked to Vyasa Guha in the Himalayas, Yosemite in California and the White Mountains in New Hampshire (apart from many small hills back in India). Of them Doodhsagar has been a special one.:) Its a great Trek! Go for it! We are happy we did!


Hyperlink Image Courtesy : Giri

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Another of those "What's up" posts

After a rather spooky Friday, spent a relatively quiet weekend.

Went out for dinner with friends Saturday night to Mugen again. Food was delectable but the total time spent there was painful, he took too long to serve the orders, phew! We were a big group, 8 people, but hey, not THAT big after all.

Felt bad a little but about leaving Subhash's parents home and going out for dinner. But they were saying that we should go. Sometimes I feel extremely lucky for having them around. His mom, after her bout of hospitalization, is being extra careful with her health mainly because she doesn't want us to stop whatever we are doing and attend on her. She doesn't want our routine to be disrupted because of her. How many people do I know who would think like that? Not many, I confess. Lucky? Lucky :)

Been clocking close to 13-14 hours of work everyday. I am waiting to see if it touches my previous record of about 16-18 hours everyday. I wouldn't have noticed it had it not been for Subhash's mention about me working round the clock once or twice. You see, when I set my previous record, I used to be all alone most of the time since he was traveling, and I would work simply because I had nothing better to do that would completely engross my mind and get rid of that feeling of loneliness. So I never realized it. Only in retrospection I knew what had happened ;) This time around since he has mentioned it, I've realized it much earlier and am feeling bad about it. Work-life balance is still there I'd like to imagine. I still stick to my routine, still work out, still make sure the house is in top order and all that but I feel bad for being such a workaholic. And I am also in a queer position. The team I am doing it for, is miles away and can't even see it. The local team couldn't care lesser about this work since its not in their plate. So I am working without even knowing if I'd be recognized for it. Thank god that the work in itself is mentally rewarding, else it would be a rather tough spot to be in. Anyways, I got to do what I got to do. So I am trying to finish this as soon as I can and get onto something locally. Hopefully this juggling will end soon and I'll get a break.

The coming week is something I am looking forward to. Dasara, a major festival, is on the 9th. My parents and sis are traveling to Bangalore from Hyd along with my uncle. And Subhash's parents are already here. The whole family together, everyone in one place, a festival and all its excitement :)

Have a good week ahead!

Friday, October 03, 2008

Spooky

Something rather spooky and scary happened today. I went in to work only to find a picture missing from its frame in my workspace. Now if whoever took it, would have taken the whole frame, I wouldn't have worried so much thinking that they took it for the frame (it is a really cute Disneyland frame). But no. The frame was right there but the picture was gone!

Scary. What would anyone want to do with a picture of me with Subhash taken in Disneyland. I don't want to think about it. Of course I escalated it and all that but still it surprises me. And I am thinking about it more than I expected I would. Why? Why is the question that keeps haunting my mind.

Its strange how some little things shake you up and make you alert. I am hoping this one will pass over.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

And what do you think, I am a CJ now :D

And what a day to start off, October 2, Gandhi Jayanthi. Me is thrilled :)

Moi article

PS: CJ=Citizen Journalist, sounds cool, no? ;)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Dip ye bloomin lights!

If you have driven at night in Bangalore you know what a pain it is. Even if don't drive in Bangalore you will know how much night traffic hurts. Your eyes that is.

In good old Bharat, we got half blackened headlights. Because a high-beam was painful and it was deemed best to cover the top half of the light in black paint so that everyone's eyes were spared.

But for whatever reason (if any of you know, please to write in) the dipped lights have gone! And what we are left with is a city-full of morons driving around in high-beam. And it hurts! Whether you are driving or sitting in the front or even sitting at the back, the glare emanating from all those high beams is painful. So much so that Subhash drives with his Oakley on at night. No kidding! Looking silly is way better than having a permanent eye damage, I agree.

So why do people drive on high beam in back to back traffic? Most of them probably think that unless you see that headlight symbol on in your dash, your headlight is not really on. Some bus-wallahs do it on purpose to get people out of their way (those bus-wallahs are a frustrated lot I tell ya, what else do you expect with all that driving day and night in mad city traffic). And I am guessing a majority of the rest just don't know that there are two forms of light in a vehicle. A low-beam for normal traffic/roads and a high beam for deserted ghat roads while going over a mountain.

So how can this mass be educated. I am not sure. I decided to start by posting it here. All those RJs who keep blabbering on and on during rush hour traffic can actually start to educate people on how to distinguish between these two lights and encourage people to drive on low-beam. I am sure if people drive on high-beam just because they are unaware, they will toe the line. I saw this very nice illustrative poster outside Secunderabad RTA (in Karkhana) which showed the difference between low-beam and high-beam and which one is the right one to use. (I am proud of Hyd man, did I already say that? :D) Sure, the Bangalore RTA guys can and should do something similar. But when was any damned Karanataka government agency so enterprising. I don't know, I never saw it in the whole course of my life, sigh!

So to start things off, here is a post. I am hoping my few readers will pass it on and spread the word, and save the pain to many a night driver.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Now I think I know my goal

..and that is to foster a "we are a team, we are in this together" attitude whenever I get to lead a team. I think I now know exactly what made my manager back in San Jose, the stellar example that he is to me.

No matter what happened at levels above him, the politics, the dirtiness, the negativity, and whatever else crappy, he never let it trickle down to his engineers. If one of us got dinged on a negative feedback, he'd take the negativity, think about it for sometime and bring it down to us in the nicest way possible. When I was with him, all I had to do was give my work my best shot and not worry about who is stabbing whose back and whatever else :) Plus I always used to ask him, "are we the best kick-a$$ team around here" and he'd say "of course we are and you should be proud of it". And I was. I was very very proud of my team. I am not sure if the rest of them also felt the same way, but I felt that we were his army, out to win whatever battle we were fighting. And we were all in it together, end of the day everyone said, "Boy! that guy's team is roaring!"

And what do you think, sad as it is that I didn't witness it myself, my ex-manager has grown. Up the ladder now. And he is held in much awe by quite a few engineers here, and I feel extremely proud sometimes when I say I used to be his report once upon a time ;)

When and if I have a team, I would love to implement what I learnt from my boss back there. Because I've come to realize that for every damn thing that you do, if you have to worry about what your boss might think and what his boss might think, then you are spending most of your energy worrying about implications and the work-load is not going anywhere. The only thing that comes out of it is more stress, sigh! So I want to be one amongst them, lead from the back, lead along side, lead by example (he was so hard working and so honest we all found it difficult to match that guy, phew!) watch where they are going, take whatever crap in and let them simply do their job, encourage them to be better, and be honestly happy for them when they do. (I remember my boss was more excited than I was when I finally finished my CCIE;) )

My manager was all of this and more. And I am much better off today for that. And this is one corporate lesson I am not going to forget in a hurry :)

Curt or self-respecting?

I was coming back by the bus as usual this evening. Usually if I am late beyond 6 PM, I don't get a seat and it takes 40 minutes to cover the usual 4 KM journey in traffic (vs 10 minutes in no traffic, sigh! I remember my I-880 days sometimes, I so loathed that freeway;) )


There was this lady, very obviously quite old, in a nice fit red shirt and blue jeans. She was quite well dressed, had the perfect mane of white hair and was overall looking extremely fit for her age and very well independent. I was looking at her and thinking, if I can be like her when I am 55 I'd think I kept myself fit. Just as I was admiring her thus, there was this girl, young (probably still in college) and maybe twenty something who suddenly patted this woman on her back and asked her if she wanted to sit down. And this woman replied very curtly with a quick and angry-looking "no".

I was surprised. Maybe the woman felt she was ok standing and didn't need any sympathy or pity from anyone because she was old. Fine, good thing to think. But why be curt? Why can't she just say, "no thank you, I am fine". Why did she have to be rude. Or was she really rude, maybe I imagined it, but then it was unmistakable, I clearly saw it in her face, that disgust.

I am pretty sure this poor girl only meant to be respectful and felt guilty for being seated while an old lady was standing beside her. I am sure she deliberated long and hard before she asked because she asked right out of the blue, it was just like the thing I would do when I think long and hard and am having a serious "dharma-sandeham" if I may call it so.

I am on the side of the girl, whose side are you on? :)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Obstacle or variety?

I just realized this is my 300th post. Yay!!

The other day while I was busy getting things started for cooking lunch, the gas cylinder ran out of ..well..gas!

The brinjal I put in the pan had not even started to soften yet. The cooker had given out one or maybe two whistles, certainly not done and the milk I put on to boil was just getting warm. Phew! Problem, people!

I had to decide what to do. I didn't want to leave everything as is because they were sure to be spoilt by the evening. Then I looked at the microwave and had an idea. I put the milk to boil in the microwave, I gave the brinjal pieces to the maid (asked her to make something out of it when she got home) and I waited for the cooker to cool down. I checked later and voila! the rice was done and so was the dal except that the dal had mooli in it (I was going to make Mooli sambar). So I decided to make the best use of this situation and packed avakaya pickle plain dal sans mooli and curd rice for lunch. Sieving the moolis out of the dal was a fun exercise actually ;)

Subhash said he liked his lunch very much, which, needless to say made me extremely happy ;)

I don't normally complain when I lose some conveniences. That attitude came by handy and I actually enjoyed this unexpected obstacle in my daily morning routine!! It brought a variety into my otherwise very predictable mornings ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

..and then some more..

..mishaps that is..

Yours truly fell on the kitchen stairs at Hyd and scraped a knee, and the right one at that.
Added to the cold is a blister on the inside of my mouth which makes eating impossible.

On the plus side, I finally did get to taste the Lindt Excellence range, two flavours, the Chili and the Orange Intense. Chili was not as spicy as I would have hoped, and Orange was smash on the dot :)

I am saving some for the time when I am completely rid of my cold and I can indulge in the exact taste of all of these...

mmmmm..mmmmm...mmmmmmmmmmm

You know you are growing old when..

..a big majority of actresses on screen are actually way younger than you are!

Of course there are a lot of ways to figure you are growing old but this one is my latest discovery. Gone are the days when a Raveena Tandon or a Sushmita Sen or an Aishwarya Rai were women who you would call "didi" or even "aunty" in outside life. Now it is a Deepika Padukone, who would probably call YOU a "didi" in outside life.

What's next? Of course the next crop of actresses who might call you "aunty" in outside life. THAT would be when I am REALLY old ;)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ohh come on, not again!

Another bad bout of a disease called cold. Another family member in the hospital. What is with the world now?

I seem to be doomed to being surrounded by bad news :( And COLD! Every time I travel somewhere it comes back like its missing me so much. And this time its been so bad, I can't even call it the "common cold" anymore. Its drained out the energy completely off me and I feel like some empty bottle. I had to go to work last couple of days, so I did. How I managed to, I know not. Today was a meeting-free day so I stayed home. And slept through the morning like some desperate person who hasn't slept in years! Of course, one of my colleagues literally threatened me to not go to work today but that is a different matter :) She was most upset that I was still hanging around at work after she saw my face last evening ;) She is sweet like that usually :) Its always nice to have someone boss over you for good reasons. Subhash has been asking me every morning to work from home and I have been saying no, I got to go, for so and so meeting, for such and such interview and what not. Today I finally got my break.

And what kind of break. I can't eat anything because I can't taste it. I very honestly believe in not eating anything when I can't enjoy how it tastes ;) Why stuff all the calories in when you aren't even having fun doing it? Right? Well, sadly so. Another colleague (lets call him K Sir, since he is much senior and quite awesome) has just come back from Germany and brought me the "Lindt Orange Intense Excellence" chocolate that I so trained him to remember and get the name right. And today was the one day I was working from home. Sigh! Always the wrong time!

And the familial bad news. My mom's sister's husband passed away couple weeks ago. After I've come back to India, I've seen my Dad in the hospital and then Subhash's mom. And now this. And my Dad's brother has been in bad shape. We checked on him this last weekend and he was looking like there is hope for recovery, so I am sincerely wishing he does.

Other than this general mess in my life, there is the bomb blasts and people dying. And the natural disasters and people dying :( I am now beginning to hope that this is not some kind of sign that the world will be coming to an end soon.

And of course that I am rid of my cold for at least the next 2 months! Please, 2 months of cold-free life is all I want now. Not that great expectations, no?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

House hunting

I got this comment a while back and I was going to do a post on it but just didn't have the bandwidth.

So while my script chugs along, here goes some gyaaaaaaaaan..

>>>
Hi Div, since you've had some recent experience evaluating houses, can you also write reviews about some builders and share any need to know information about buying a flat in Bengaluru. Thanks
>>>

My experience and take on it

1) Apartments are ridiculously expensive in Bangalore, but independent houses are even more expensive so if you got to take the lesser of two evils, go for an apartment.

2) Mantri, Sobha, Brigade, Puravankara, Prestige -- Big names, supposedly great builders, but to be very honest I wasn't very impressed with any one of them. The more apartments I saw, the more I felt that the premium they charge is for the ambiance and the locale rather than the house itself. The apartments these guys make and sell are very expensive (there is one Mantri that will cost you 1.6Crores minimum for the smallest flat and just for the bare-bones structure) but the more I see them the more I don't get why.

3) I've seen many decent apartments from lesser known builders. They are even better than your Mantris and Sobhas. But they lack certain essential elements that you will want to have as basics, like a good approach road, a proper security gate and stuff like that.

4) Gated community Villas are the most ridiculous of all. I've seen ads for Adarsh Villas which say 5.5 crores for a lake-side villa. I have to confess I once wrote to the owner asking if she was kidding. If you are lake-facing 1) you probably run the risk of sinking when the lake bed decides to give way 2) You will probably die of malaria sooner than you imagined. I guess she wasn't too serious about selling it, or maybe she didn't know how many zeroes 5.5 crores had. But either way, she needed some serious sense-knock. But who knows, maybe I am the one that needs it ;)

So all in all -- if you want a place closer to work and god forbid if you work for an IT firm which is located in an SEZ area, you have to shell big monies if you want a good community and a decent society type of apartment. Else be prepared to face bad roads, bad neighbors, eve-teasers and what not on your way to and from work. Actually even the big names can't provide amenities beyond their boundaries. So it can turn out that as long as you are inside the apartment premises you feel like you are in some phoren land, but as soon as you get out of the gate (which is inevitable, my friend) you will be back in India :) So be prepared for it.

If you are considering a Mantri or a Sobha or a Purva or a Prestige, be prepared for the fact that more than 70% f the money you shell for it is just for the outside-the-house-within-the-gated-community amenities like Swimming pools, saunas, gyms, community halls, tennis courts, squash courts and what not, you name it. If you think you might not be using any of these even remotely once in a while, then spend more time in looking for a decent apartment minus the frills. You save a lot more money that way :)

Whatever it is, be sure of what you want from the house you want to buy. Just an investment purpose, you can probably even do it online. But if you are planning to buy a house to stay in it, my sincere advise is to go check it out yourself, go a couple to three times, make sure you know what you are getting into outside the apartment complex (rather than inside) before you decide.

Not sure if its been a great help, this post. But I think I've jotted down most of my observations :)