Monday, March 31, 2008

R2I diaries - Day 5


Today is the day we move in. Woke up as usual. I notice these days without the use of any alarms I am awake by 6.30 max. Thank God! I remember those struggles with the alarm some days when I used to sleep late back in Sunnyvale.

We packed some milk (for the milk-boiling), some vermicelli and some jaggery, along with Y and S's Primus Cabson stove cylinder. Some water bottles. Subhash had asked Y's driver to arrange for a truck to pick up our luggage and take it to the new place. We were done loading and ready to go around 10 I think. We landed in the new place and got the keys to it and went in after a little adventure with the elevators where we got confused between one building's elevator and ours and finally, thanks to my Kannada speaking abilities (;)) we found the right one. (That is the one thing you notice in Bangalore, you hardly need to speak Kannada anymore. But I am insisting on speaking Kannada, to hone my skills. Afterall, its one-half of my descent:D )

Y and S were with us for the milk-boiling, we ate the Vermicelli (luckily we found the boxes and spoons I packed in one of those enormous suitcases) and then Y and S went off to see the Cisco campus, because S hadn't seen it yet. S really liked our place she said, so I was happy :) We got to unpacking. Subhash did most of it. I was amazed to see his enthusiasm and energy while he did it. Hopping from one room to another, one suitcase to another.

Y and S came back and we went to TOTAL Mall which is about a 10 minute car-ride from our place. Had lunch here (stupid fellow had a food joint but no tables, we had to eat on benches and it was highly uncomfortable I assure you). We then shopped for some absolute essentials (which was 6 bags full;) ) for the house like rice, pulses, dish-wahsing soaps, hand-washing soaps, and so on and so forth. Were pretty amazed at how expensive this whole settling in affair is becoming :( But I guess you have to bear the brunt of your choices ;)

We were going to meet SSK who was another friend of Subhash's in Engineering. Y and S were going to help us drop off our groceries at home and then drop us off at Koramangala where we were to meet SSK and his wife V. And then they were going to help us shop for our new fridge, microwave, washing machine and water purifier :D It sounds like we are these hapless kids who our friends are taking turns to take care of? Well, that is exactly how I feel and I feel thankful for these guys!

We shopped for a while in e-Zone. We liked some models in fridges. Likewise in Washing machines and Microwaves. We asked him when he could deliver and he said it would take 8 days. 8 days! In the heat of this city to have vegetables and milk out for 8 days was impossible. The enterprising shopper that Subhash is, he said OK, lets check out some other stores as well, and if they all say the same thing then we can see what to do. We went into Pai's which was just across e-Zone. So much for competing! We saw the same model in the fridge that we liked and we checked out some other models in washing machines as the one we saw there wasn't here. We finally narrowed down on everything we wanted to get. This guy said he would deliver on Monday evening itself so made an advance payment and got out.

SSK was hungry so we hopped into the nearby Sukh Sagar and I had Mosambi juice while the others had Badam Milk and Alu chat. I was having Mosambi juice for the second time that day (TOTAL Mall was the first) and the way this juice tasted both times, consistently, made me happy. Freshly squeezed and all. In the US I would get so tired of looking for freshly squeezed juices. Bah! Some menus were worse. They would say Freshly Squeezed and the fine print read "Tropicana Brand, no pulp". How that fits the definition of freshly squeezed only God knows! I am happy I am back home :) Now. For the juice. Yeah.

We went to Lifestyle next and shopped for some bath accessories like shower curtain etc and yet again complained about how expensive it was, concluded there was no way out till we knew which areas sold cheap stuff and got out;)

SSK and V dropped us home, checked our place out and said it was beautiful. Second compliment in that day and it made me happy. :D :D I made some Rice (Yay!!!! I have groceries now!!) and mixed it with MTR Puliyogare powder (that is always a life-saver), mixed up some soup and we had that soup and Puliyogare for dinner. Good :) Happy Stomach! :)

R2I diaries - Day Four


Today was pretty routine. Got to work as usual after that 1 hour commute. BTW, I must mention, the commute takes 1 hour because Y stays very far away from the campus. Hopefully once we move to our new place it will take much less time:)

Went to lunch with some of my new colleagues. Two women/girls. I prefer calling them girls ;) One of them relocated from the US too and so we got chatting about how it was etc. I bet the other one got either pretty bored or pretty amused;) And today would be the first time I have had Cisco's cafeteria food three days in a row;) My team back in San Jose would be very very shocked to hear this. I was very notrious for rejecting lunch invitations saying "I got my own lunch" I used to be very lazy to get up and go to the cafeteria;) I used to take my own lunch every single day. But hey, my kitchen is not setup yet, what can you expect guys!

Can't think of anything else that was significant in this day except for S's Bisi Bele Bath for dinner:) I can't wait to have my mom's/aunt's though. My aunt already promised she would make it for me when i went to their place :D :D

Friday, March 28, 2008

R2I diaries - Day Three


Another day. Another wonderful breakfast. Y again took the 7.30 shuttle to work. We again took the car. This time my stop at Cisco was the last and so instead of the usual one hour, I saw a two hour commute. But the upside to that was, I saw Koramangala, saw the Forum Mall, saw Indira Nagar and some other happening localities in Bangalore after a very very long time.

Ill-fated that I am, when I landed at work at 11 AM finally, all the important people were standing around in the corridors chatting away. Boy, did I look sheepish coming in !!

Day was pretty routine. Y and I went for lunch again and this time we met two other people and I know two more people now ;) One of them asked him if he was my mentor and he said "No, she is my friend, was my junior in Engineering" and as an afterthought he added "She is also actually my friend's wife" ;) Ha ha ha!! Some associations are difficult to put a different thumb-tack to, I guess! ;)

Evening we were supposed to go and sign the lease for the apartment so I was looking forward to it. Other than that the day was pretty routine. Y and I took an auto (Yes! after so long, an Auto in Bangalore!!) to go to that place. (On Day two even going up until our apartments which is 4 KM from Cisco took us 50 mins, I was dreading it today, but luckily it didn't take that long). Like a typical auto routine, he asked for more and we didn't agree to it, we started walking, then he compromised and so did we and we finally took the auto. We went to that place, saw the apartment once more, felt happy again signed the lease and headed home. Poor Y has been going home later and later everyday thanks to us. Another dinner and some more Cisco gossip and some chunk of Rang De Basanti on Star Gold and we called it a day.

R2I diaries - Cisco San Jose vs Bangalore - Day Two


I thought the comaprison between my two work places deserved another post altogether so here goes.

I definitely think the Bangalore office, only the new campus I mean, is definitely much better than the San Jose buildings :) I haven't seen the other Cisco buildings here in Bangalore yet but the campus definitely stands out. I think except for my team I don't miss anything here. That said, there are some cons. And many pros. Let me try to re-cap them.

1) Much brighter buildings
2) Much better landscapes
3) Myriad office rooms, glass on both the front and back ends of the office rooms, they look quite funky ;)
4) More modern constructions, you can simply make the difference out.
5) Biscuits in the breakfast room. Especially ones I like. Good Day, Krackjack, Orange Cream ones and Marie!! Yay!! I am eating one Good Day a day, decided to stick to that routine till I started working out again;)
6) Stylish whiteboard in the cube.
7) Writeable glass-panelled cube wall strips. The top strip you can actually write on. Quite funky.
8) Amazing furnishings. Everywhere. In break-rooms, in the lobby. The shapes of chairs and the variety of furniture is mind-blowing.


1) Its way away from the city. A lot of people I met here actually don't prefer coming here and go to our DC or SA offices at least twice a week.
2) I have to enter a memo/log in a book in the mail room every time I take supplies, this didn't make me happy at all.
3) The cube structure itself is BAD. As in, the only place you can put your laptop on the desk is in such a way that everyone walking by can look at exactly what you are doing. Not that I am doing much other than work anyway, but it does make writing this blog for example a little challenging. Plus I am in a corner cube where people are always walking by and peeking. I saw a STAPLES store on Outer Ring Road the other day. And that 3M Privacy Screen has been inserted at the top in my to-shop list just above the Refrigerator ;)

One thing I definitely noticed in a large way is the number of service people you see here. I can see them moving in and out and around at all times. They are just everywhere. back in San Jose, if you saw the Janitor once in a day you were lucky. Here you just keep seeing these people and multitudes of them, at all times.

That is it for now. I am sure more will follow.

UPDATE - Not that anyone cares but I had mentioned security as a con in my original post because my OHP markers were missing this morning. I was wondering again and again about who would care to just take OHP markers when there is a bunch of other things here. Rightly so, I found them under the table in a corner and I have no idea how they got there. So I promptly edited my post but also thought I should write about it since it was a mistake on my end :)

R2I diaries - Day Two


Today both me and Subhash start work. We left as usual. Got in the whirlwind of traffic for an hour as usual. Y left home early at 7.30, he took Cisco's shuttle and left the car for us :D If not for Y and S, we probably would have had a nightmare trying to move around. Thanks to them both. Can't do it enough.

Reached work, and met most of the important people I had to meet. Went around with a colleague who I had met earlier at San Jose when she was there. Then that was it. back to business nose-dive. Started clearing things which had piled up at work over the weekend. Went for lunch with Y and met a couple of his friends, discussed some office politics with them and went back to work. I had a lot of work accumulated and it was painful clearing it. (That is why I didn't blog either ;) ) I managed about 20% ;) The rest I had to wait for my team in San Jose to clear somethings. But all in all, a good day's work done. We left late in the evening, got stuck in the traffic again (notice how routine this is getting;) ), picked S up from her work, went home, she made dinner with amazing speed and we had dinner and called it a day.

Subhash said his day went well. He was the lucky one unlike me, spent the day just meeting people ;)

R2I diaries - Day One

One of my friends suggested I write a diary of the initial days at least:) So here goes!


First day in Bangalore. We had breakfast. Now I have to digress to mention Y's wife S who runs the house amazingly well. Back in the US I used to cook twice a day everyday and used to think that it was a big deal and that I was achieving something great. After I have seen her, I think I need to change my benchmarks ;) She is amazing. Simply amazing. Each evening when we come home, she immediately gives us water followed by juice (for me, its coffee for Y and Subhash) etc. She makes breakfast for us with amazing rapidity every morning. Now I have some work to do! Emulating is not easy;)

We left home in Y's car and thank god he had a driver. I saw that much dreaded and highly infamous 1-1.5 hr Bangalore commute. Luckily I was not driving and I spent all that time taking in the sights and the sounds of this city. We dropped off S at her work place and we got off at the first apartment we were going to check out. We were in for a shock here. The apartment is on the 10th floor and the power was out. The broker who came to show us the place said it matter-of-fact-ly that we should take the stairs and so began out 10 floor journey up! That was probably it. I decided not to take the place. That same broker took us around some more (Y's car was back with us after dropping him off at Cisco) and we saw some 4-5 apartments. We liked one. I was OK with taking it. We both had to start work from the next day and I really wanted to finalize a place on Day1. Subhash said lets look a little more. Without reaching a conclusion either way, we went to buy a pre-paid Airtel card (they buy our routers, come on, I have to go with Airtel!) for Subhash's mobile and headed back to the Cisco campus in Marathahalli to pick Y up for lunch.

He was already done so I took a guest badge for Subhash and our driver and we finished lunch in Cisco's cafeteria. I avoided going to my building because it was not a very auspicious day to start work you see:) I would go there tomorrow :P

After lunch since Y had a meeting, we lounged around in the neighboring building. Taking in the campus and the sights. Definitely better buildings here than in San Jose. We asked Subhash's cousin in Infy to send us some more pointers to apartments near Cisco from his Infy Bulletin board. We checked email narrowed down on one place we wanted to see, picked up Y after his meeting and went along with him to the place.

Apartment was amazing. This guy got an interior designer to do the interiors for him and it showed. He was planning on living in it so a lot of thought went into modeling the apartment, but unfortunately by the time it was done, he was going to move to Mumbai, so we get to rent it! Yay!! The best part about the apartment however is the ventilation in it. Hands down! Two huge balconies spanning all the four rooms in the place. Amazing. They also have a lake view, except for the lake is Bellandur Lake ;)

So we decided we would take it. We had to wait for the guy to return from work. His Dad showed us the place. So we got back to Cisco and waited till maybe 6.30 in the evening. (So much for not going to work at least one day after the move, we spent virtually the entire day at Cisco;) ) Went to their place. The guy's wife was an amazingly resourceful lady. And she offered some hajjar tips which I am still struggling to remember :P And she made me some cool lemonade soda because I didn't drink coffee/tea. All in all a good day's work done. We headed home, and took yet another hour long commute. I slept happily, only woke when we reached home. S made dinner and I ate and slept again :)

So that was Day 1 in Bangalore :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Finally here!

We landed safe and sound in Des after a very pleasant journey late Monday night.

The see-off at San Francisco by the gang was nothing short of stupendous. I came down from my apartment my mind rambling through a 100 different things. Did I do this, did I do that etc. I actually don't even know who locked that place :P Then I saw it. 6 cars lined up with emergency lights turned on, loading the suitcases. It was then that it hit me. This was a big deal. This move was a big one. All of the gang was at the airport, they drove all that 30 miles and saw us off. I felt immensely sad to leave them, and immensely proud of having had such a close knit circle of friends to see you through everything., and immensely happy that they were all there when we left. All at the same time, so much so, it made me cry. Almost ;)

Subhash's friend Y came to the airport to take us home and he was a good 1.5 hours late in coming thanks to Subhash's superior planning. He had a half an hour buffer built into each process from landing to going home like Immigration, Customs, Baggage claim etc. But not only did the pilot of that Singapore Airlines flight beat his estimate by an hour in landing early, so did all the officers along the way. Immigration, Customs and Baggage claim were all over in half an hour flat. His superior planning came in handy because we could spend time with my parents at least.

A long time ago when I moved to the US, after my first night in Madison, I woke up to the realization that this was no vacation. And I was going to spend a good chunk of time in this place without seeing my home or my parents or my sister or anyone else again for a long long time. And it made my stomach churn. And I didn't want to wake up to that morning. I was wondering if I would feel the same after my first night in Bangalore knowing that this was no vacation. Luckily for me, I didn't feel the same way this time around. Good.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

An Amazing Coincidence

Alright! I have this thing with dates. So you have to bear the brunt of it.

Three years ago I joined Cisco. Thinking "I can go back to Cisco Bangalore after working for three years here". I joined Cisco on 21 March, 2005 and my last official day here @ San Jose was 20 March 2008:)

And how is that for a coincidence eh? The power of thoughts? :D

Saturday, March 22, 2008

What a day!

The last but one day in the US. And was it hectic! My God!!!

Started off with packing (I should say stuffing) the rest of our worldly remains into a suitcase. We decided we need to add another suitcase, so we went for a late breakfast at 11 and bought a suitcase. There was a guy who was interested in buying my Honda, the last of the thins I had to sell. I was to meet some people at work besides my team so I had to go to work at 2. We came back home, I stuffed the second suitcase as well and we headed off. Since then its been one whirlwind till now.

I met my team and it was a sad, very sad farewell. Last evening I was almost in tears driving back from work because I knew it was the last day I would be doing this. I remember that first day I was doing it, going to work looking at those green hills and just happy to have a job finally that wasn't so much on the edge. I never realized how much I fell in love with Cisco (it was always my dream company/job) and my team in general. I will miss them!

We met the guy who was going to buy the car and finally after weeks of negotiating that went through! Yes! I got to keep my Honda to the very last day. Although I was pained to have to sell it so cheap, at least I didn't have to have others sell it for me, I saw it off myself :)

Then we had to meet friends who patiently waited for us to finish with Cisco and the car for almost two hours and we spent some time with them. The first three hours in the last three weeks that I have spent in one place not running around.

I now have a hundred things going through my head still. That change of address forms, that IRS research, how do I change my address with them, that release of liability on the Honda, that call to AT&T to cancel service, that last check to deposit, that call to Comcast to cancel service, that change of address with the banks. Ohh god. So many more things to do and so little time. Plus meet friends around here for one last time, spend time with the gang, call my friends and say bye-bye and so on and so forth. I think this blog post will overflow ;)

So anyway, one of my friends said I should keep a diary of the things I think and the things I have to do and post it in R2I so its useful for others like me. And Subhash has been volunteering my blogging time left and right to anyone who asks him to keep track of things so they can use his notes saying "Ohh, she will blog about it" so its more pressure now ;) But lets see. I might still find some time off the crazy hours to jot down daily occurrences and experiences:)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The promptness

I have noticed, increasingly so, that whenever people go the couple way from being single, they are amazingly prompt in changing their "relationship status" on Orkut. I have seen "n" number of brides changing their status just days after the wedding. In all that rush and confusion, what drives people to think about Orkut and changing the status there, I wonder:) Maybe its that fuzzy feeling, eh? But its very cool all the same, keeps me updated on who is up to what ;)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Closer and closer..

As our move gets closer and closer, I feel it more and more. To begin with, I am not keeping that well :( I am OK one day, sick the next day. But no time to recuperate. And there is so much to do! Bah! I just want this "moving" phase to get over and be done with...

Then there is selling stuff. I am hating the fact that I have to undervalue all my possessions. We are in a time crunch to sell what we plan not to take with us and that in turn had forces us to agree to whatever price a decent buyer asks for. So we ended up selling most of our stuff at unbelievably low rates :( But more than the financial loss, I feel sorry to have to under-rate my worldly possessions to such an extent. Its been a realization of sorts, how you grow to think of your household stuff as part of your family.

Everyone asks, are you excited, where will you stay, when will you visit Hyd etc etc etc. For now, I am drawing a blank on all of them. All I can think of is sell that last piece, sell that car, pack that last bag, should I take or leave my hand blender (too many US electrical items you know voltage problems and all that) and so on and so forth, you get the picture.

When will I go home?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Strike - Two

The gang wanted to go to LaserQuest to have a party and see us off, but I am down with a violent cold and we had some people come over and pick up some stuff at home, so we totally made a disaster of those plans:( By the time we were finally ready to go anywhere it was evening, so we decided to go to Strike, for me it was two days in a row. I went with my team on Friday:) Overall it was a good evening, I didn't bowl in form, my right hand was aching from all that Air hockey we played on Friday. Plus I couldn't relish the French Fries because of my cold, and I think that was the biggest disappointment for me;) But did I stop eating. No, of course not, now, come on..;)

It will be sad to part with the gang. And the only consolation will be that one of them is also moving back a month after us :) So it won't be that bad :D

A comment and its reply - Destination Des

I got this comment, rightly critical, this morning. I thought I'd share it on a separate post so it doesn't go unread:)

Anonymous said...

Let me guess -

(1) The job offer you got in "Des" was too good to be true, especially when compared with what you ended up saving at the end of the month wherever you are.

(2) Can't afford a house wherever you are.

(3) Following the herd - moving to india is hip these days, especially because of (1) and (2) above.

(4) If not any of the above, welcome to India. And oh yeah, please leave the "oh-i-have-lived-in-the-US-pollution
-dirt-annoys me" attitude at whichever airport you depart from.

Sat Mar 15, 11:43:00 AM PDT

Blogger DivSu said...

Hi Anonymous

1) The job is exactly the same. I will probably save nothing in India when compared to what I save here. If you are willing to believe it, I am taking a hit financially because I am moving to India. So (1) does not apply.

2) I can afford a place here in California. The only reason we haven't bought one since three years is because we knew we didn't want to live here. So (2) doesn't apply as well.

3) Moving to India is hep? Didn't know that. I can still see scores of people willing to kill for a US Visa :) So I don't believe I am following any herd. (3) doesn't apply.

4) I have lived in the US yes. I have traveled to India every 6 months on an average. I have seen it going from polluted to more polluted to even more polluted:) Since I am fully aware of what I am getting into, I guess you can acquit me of (4) as well :)

The other 50% of my timing was to make sure I moved to India when I was at a peak here in my career and at the same time not at such a peak that a move to India would work out unbelievably profitable for me. That way I am not fooling myself into believing that I am moving for the sake of moving when the real reason is an underlying advantage. Now I can confidently say, I am moving just for the love of my country and because I think that is my home. And I feel that "apnapan" towards it.

Thanks for your comment. It made for a good retrospection :)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My Team @ Cisco-San Jose

I know I have never mentioned my entire team together in my blog before. Today they gave me a farewell lunch and I was trying really hard not to get emotional. Three years ago, when my manager first became one, it was just me and a few others with him. Then we went on and hired some more people and formed our team. Since then people in other teams came and went but we never changed in composition. Its been a long time and I never thought I would be the first one to break this close-knit circle:( I am sure people think I am exaggerating but when I think about my move, the only thing I really feel I will miss is my team at work. Cisco has in general been a harbinger for all good things that have happened to me here in the US, and I associate my team very strongly with it because apart from all that interesting work, it was our chemistry that made it really fun to be here. We were the best in our Org and at the same time we were the most fun-loving as well. I have always been very proud of us. And I will miss all of them. Very sorely. Here is hoping that everyone in my team goes on to achieve great things and never loses that fun streak:) Here is wishing each one of them the very best!

Friday, March 14, 2008

The geek attracts more geeks ;)

Subhash was saying how my post on Math attracted more comments than any. And its so true, I was wondering about the very same. And to think we were the only two who used Math/Physics for fire-side discussions! I guess my audience is as geeky as me. Maybe its a case of the geek attracts more geeks? ;)

I am happy to see so many like-minded people :D :D

Thursday, March 13, 2008

A little Math for the soul

At the risk of sounding geeky/nerdy let me make a confession. But this needs a little introduction. (wow those two lines were poetic;) )

I was a very bookish person, given a chance I would still be. Whatever I read back in school/college, I read with the sole purpose of cleanly slicing my exams.(You can call me a person with a single-minded determination, that would be most welcome and it definitely sounds much better!) Subhash on the other hand is a concepts guy. He never used to read for exams instead grasped the concepts and built on them. So every now and then, he starts shooting random questions in Math and Physics at me. And suddenly I freeze in my tracks. What was that one equation? What was Bernouli's principle? I have to rake my brains sometimes, and I feel terribly dumb after that, but we won't concentrate on that dumb part now.

This morning we started off in Geometry. Equation of a line. Equation for a circle (in case you are also scrambling for the nearest math book, it is x-square +y-square=c). Etc. I didn't get any of them, I simply didn't remember till he told me. Then we went off to Trigonometry. Sin and Cos and Tan and so on. And I successfully remembered that sin-square-theta + cos-square-theta is 1. And also managed to prove it using Pythagoras theorem. It was refreshing and reminded me all over again how much I love Math. And made me feel really awful about how much I have forgotten. I almost feel motivated to pick up my Intermediate Math text book (that was the best out there, believe it or not, it even helped me in my GRE though the GRE exam was not challenging enough to be worth that Math text book) and refresh everything.

So what is geeky about it? How many couples you know use Math as a way of spending time? Eh?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Another reason, probably the most important one is that when I have kids, I want to be prepared for this generation's trends in India.

I cannot bring up kids while I am still taking my own childhood as an example. And worse still, raise them in the US while doing that. First of all I am not prepared for what their generation is up to. Because the only examples of kids I have seen is back home and back in my age. My friends are slowly having kids one after the other and maybe if I hang around enough, I will learn what to expect from kids these days growing in the US. Even if I am prepared for it at that point, can I accept my kids being even partly American? No. And is it fair to the kids to expect them to be Indian while being brought up in a culture that is so extremely diagonal to everything Indian? No. A big NO. And I don't like to give my kids the raw end of the deal. A lot of people think, ohh kids will be Indian enough. Its up to the parents to bring them up properly. And I ask, what is proper? Dichotomizing kids? Sorry, that is in no way acceptable. We are off the hook. We imbibed everything from our environment in our formative years. To expect kids to be as Indian as we are, while they are surrounded by an extremely different environment is highly unfair to them. There is a reason why the Indian-origin kids here get labeled ABCDs. And so I will move. If I want them to be Indian, I will raise them in India. I cannot tolerate them even being partly American, so they will not spend their childhood here.

Destination Des

Yes. We are moving back to India. And I get a lot of Wows. Followed by a bunch of questions. Coupled with exclamations about why so suddenly. People who know me well and/or are in regular touch with me knew this was coming. Today or tomorrow. Or the day after. The rest think its pretty sudden. So to answer it all. Yes. We are moving. And yes. It was part of a long term plan.

A plan that I painted before I even got to the US. I gave myself five years to make or break it:) I am a little over my original budget by a couple of years almost, but hey, delays in schedules, and slips in dates are all part of the project (sorry life!) right?!

Why am I moving? Well, lots of reasons. Probably one that sticks out most is because I want to live in my own land.

Back to the rest of the reasons. Some of them formed way before I even got here. Some of them while I was here. When I sit down to jot this post, all of them come to me in a rush and the end result is a huge mess. So let me try to deal with them chronologically ;)

Years ago, even before I was in the US, I met this person at a conference I went to in Kuala Lumpur. He was born to Indian parents in Malaysia. He got asked if he was Indian a lot of times because of how obviously Indian he looked. And this was a multinational conference so it wasn't uncommon for someone to walk up to you and ask you which country you were from. And he would always say he is from Malaysia and that he is Malaysian. I never once heard him say he was Indian. Are you Indian? No, I am Malaysian. And that was probably it. It was perfectly understandable that he insisted on saying he was Malaysian. It isn't unreasonable for any person to love the land they were born into. I then sub-consciously decided, my kids would never say they are American or from any other country for that matter. They will be Indian. Because I am. To expect kids to be "Indian" just because you are while they are actually American just doesn't cut it, does it?

While I was in the US, a lot of things changed in my own land. When I go back now I get a culture-shock looking at those malls and the people in it. Although I have frequently gone back to India, sometimes as often as once in 6 months, every time I have noticed a change. Traffic has gotten worse. Pollution has increased. Affluence has gone up. But above all, the culture has changed. And I already feel out of sync. When I see this generation's kids there, I am shocked to see the contrast between my own childhood and theirs. So I didn't want to delay that decision to go back to India any further. Because while I am at learning and adapting here, I am moving further and further away from my own culture. My extended family is growing at the same time. My cousins are having kids and they don't even recognize me, and that rates very high in my "totally sad" situations.

Then there is parents. Feel that it is nice to hang around them and comfort them when they need you while not asking them to move away from their own world. But I never wanted to make my parents or Subhash's parents the only reason for going back. Because then you are in this mind-set where you think you are doing something for them. And invariably when you think you are doing something for someone, you start to feel they owe you gratitude for it, consciously or unconsciously. And no matter how much the other person does, a slight digression from nicety immediately puts you in that mode where you go "I did so much for them and this is what I get in the end".

So that was one thing I decided I would never do. Move back to India for someone. My parents and his are one big reason why we are moving (50% of the timing for our decision) but we are not moving for them. We are moving because I am now prepared for it. I know I am done here, I did what I wanted to do, I worked for as long as I wanted, that experience for which I set out is now complete. I have nothing else that I need to hang around here for. I can go back home. And I totally feel free from any condescension psychologically.

So much for the reasons. I think about my move and a lot of thoughts come into my mind. Everyday I am thinking of something different. I have helped my mom run a house. I have gone around doing chores for our place, I have driven around in traffic, but this time its different. I have never really run my own family in India. I was only offshoot to one. And so, I am excited. And curious about how its going to be. And really trying not to romanticize too much because I know its going to be a lot of work.

On a finishing note (just for this post!) Subhash moved to the US for me. Because 3 years ago I wasn't prepared to move yet. I was just getting started on that upward slope from the deepest and lowest fall in life I have ever seen, and I was not ready to end this chapter. Not yet. What I wanted from the US, I hadn't gotten. And like I said, I didn't want to move back for him. Feeling that I am giving up something for him. Because I knew my own weakness. I would always hold him to it. I did this for you. Its much worse with a spouse than it is with parents. So he moved for me (he obviously doesn't suffer from the same weakness, to date he has never held me to it once :D. Never!). And when I think about it, I feel thankful for it. Only because he was here, I had an anchor. When I was troubled, he rooted for me. And then I sailed strong.

And now my sail is heading home ... ... at last!!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

We see the world - Hawai'i

I wanted to do a cute little picture blog on our Hawai'i trip. But I very well knew, I would be eaten live by things happening around me and never get to it, so I used to jot down main points everyday while we were there. So finally that set of notes comes to the rescue.

There are some things I absolutely have to say about Hawai'i.

1) It was terribly sad seeing how tourist-oriented it was. We wanted to see some native habits etc, but all that we could do was settle with a Canoe Pageant at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

2) The one and only thing I absolutely loved about Hawai'i was its tropical weather. So much like India. Hot, and abound with life. Coconut vendors on streets and Guavas to pluck along the roads:) Smiling all the way!

3) Spotless scenic views. So much so, at the end of the day, we had a complete overdose of it. But it was fabulous and very much out of this world!

4) Hotel accommodations were extremely difficult to come by. I think I gained at least a dozen gray hairs while I was trying to get a hotel accommodation in Maui.


-Oakland Airport - had dinner at 360 World Burritos
-Honolulu @ 11 PM
-Alamo - We had to rent a car.

And if you are going to Hawai'i in peak season, the best way to get an upgrade is to rent from Alamo. They will definitely not have an Economy car, and will show you their fleet and ask you to pick which one you like. We had a convertible Beetle at the Honolulu location which we wanted to rent, but we found its tires were bad. We took the second one and found something else that was wrong with it mechanically. So we finally settled for a Sebring convertible. If there is one American car I am a little partial to, its the Sebring. It was my first rental vehicle ever. I remember I rented a Sebring in April 2003, to go to Wisconsin Rapids for an interview. The guy gave me a convertible in the middle of a snow storm and I was aghast as to what I was supposed to do with it;) But now we are in Hawai'i and I know exactly what to do with a Sebring convertible!!

-Maile Sky Court - Since we only got two days at our Marriott, we had to stay at some hotel (ohh, those high-season combined with Valentine's Day week woes!) We paid for Parking and took our keys, took the stuff up to the room and slept.

-Check out, walk to iHop, breakfast, walk to Waikiki beach,
-Drive to Iolani Palace, get back, check-in at Mariott
-Buy glasses etc, go for lunch at Keoni
-Get back to room, get ready, go to Fossil
-New Watch!
General walk around the area, back to room


-Get an early start, plan is to go to the North shore of Oahu.
-Get on I-H1, pretty heavy traffic, decide to take a detour and go around the island
in a counter clockwise direction than the original planned clockwise direction.
-Take the Pali Highway, HI-61. Beautiful views, green lush mountains all around hiding their heads in clouds.
-First stop = Pali lookout. Historic significance. Beautiful views. Awesome. Back on highway 61.
-Drive around island along coast, stop at replica of old Japan temple. Beautiful location, quaint temple.
-Get back on Highway, stop at coconut vendor. Gift shop. Got corals and a beautiful red dress.
-Stop at Subway to pick up subs, starts to rain, get on the road immediately.
-Get to Polynesian center. Finish lunch and start. First canoe tour, next IMAX film, next Canoe pageant. Got shell garlands at welcome!! Yay!!
-Get back on road after four hours. Sunset beach. Hour and a half to sunset, lounge around, walk etc, take in sunset views and get back on road to Honolulu
-Just before getting on H1 from H2, cop stops. We talk our way out. Get away with just a warning. (71@55)
-Get back to hotel, freshen up and walk to Indian Hotel (Bombay) @ Ala Moana. Great food. Elixir for parched souls. Get some take out as well.


-Get a little late (getting used to Hawaii time zone now ;) ). Finish Bombay's food for breakfast, check out and get to Pearl Harbor.
-Finish Pearl Harbor and get to HNL airport for flight to Maui. Some interesting rushes, didn't find Alamo's return spot. I go ahead and check in while Subhash returns car. etc etc
-Maui's flight is half an hour! Like a taxi. Good views of Molokini crater and Maui from flight
-Maui much more beautiful than Oahu, even on first sights.
-Check in to room, after a good beautiful 45 minute drive from airport. Amazing room with ocean view. And Lanai.. Wow.
-Mulligatawny soup and Bisibele bath and Chinese fried rice for lunch. After sunset sit to write notes and go grocery shopping.
-Sit on pool chairs along ocean and talk :) (I remember we mostly talked about our impending India move. - 5 March, 2010)
-Boiled some eggs and had bread with Rajma :)


-Sunset sail to Lanai.
-Wake up early get ready attend orientation breakfast, get some useful info (island is Molokai'i and not Oahu;) ) and get to Lahaina Harbour.
-Sail well, watch whales, plenty of them. Stop within 100 yards whenever whale is sighted.
-See Sweetheart Rock.
-Get off at Lanai, take plantation tour. Had not known that Lanai was privately owned. Went from Plantation town to private town.
-Get back to beach, will snorkel.
-First attempt was disaster, both went together, I was very scared I came back. I got a thorn stuck in my toe and it took sometime away from the activity.
-I finally got back and asked Emily to help get on,went alone with her on the surfboard.
-Saw lots of coral!!
-Got back around 3, washed, had lunch, lounged around for sailboat to come back
-Saw some more whales. Conditions were good for sailing, so sailed. Had ice cream. Wind was beating and it was terribly cold!
-Got back to Lahaina Harbour around 7. Went back to room. Made omelettes and had them with rice and Dal Makhani.


-Had two options, to cover Haleakala or Hana. Decided to go to Haleakala. Drove up. Reached around 12. Beautiful views.
-Got back down around 2.30. Wanted to eat some place. (Had noodles for breakfast along with some cereal) Decided to go to Fresh Mint in Pa'ia. It came up as a result for Indian food. Went to Pa'ia around 3. Turns out restaurant opens only at 5. And it was a vegetarian restaurant. Such a pity!
-So walked back towards the car and saw a Moana Cafe which looked decent. Food was ok. I had a spicy Thai (astonished the waitress and the chef by ordering extra chilli paste for it) and Subhash had the Potato cakes (they were perfectly made cutlets;) ). Did some window shopping. Got going. Decided to cover the south side of Maui as well.
-Drove past Kihei and stopped at the Wailea shops. Very disappointed. Its just like Valley fair, where I was expecting something like Waikiki's shops. Walked to Wailea beach, its a very small one and had a snobbish air to it. Very wealthy neighborhood, built for totally upper class people. Didn't like it very much. Subhash got some coffee at Lappert's and we headed back.
-Got to the room. Had to check into a new one, it was 8 by the time we reached. We decided to go out for dinner after checking in but when we checked in we were too tired/lazy to get out of the room. So we had some Palak Dal with bread along with some fried rice.


-Today was the day to do Hana our only chance because we are leaving tomorrow. I wanted to take the "shorter" way along the northwest coast of Maui, since we were now in Napili and I didn't want to drive all around on the same path along Lahaina to Kahului and then to Hana. So we researched a bit and read about the "Road Less Taken". How Hana got all the hype for being the tough road where this was much tougher. We read on the Hawaiian airlines website that the road was repaved and was not dangerous anymore as far as road conditions went. Subhash felt up to it and so we decided we would go with it. I never wanted to go all the way to Hana anyway, so we decided we would drive up to a certain point in time and get back.
-Subhash was the only driver on the car as I didn't drive at all in Honolulu and we decided not to waste money by adding an additional driver ;)
-We wanted to have the famed banana pancakes at the Gazebo restaurant in Napili Shores but the wait was 45 mins and we were already running late so we decided to try some other place for breakfast.
-Subway and Maui tacos. Packed subs for on the way and had Haiku in Maui Tacos finally in Maui! (Earlier had it only once in Minneapolis airport)
-We left around 11 and decided to get back by 5. So that meant, go further along till 2 and turn around at 2 wherever we were.
-Started on the Kahekili HWY. First stop we saw some whales in the ocean. Drove along, very beautiful views. Stopped at Julia's banana bread stall and at an art gallery. They were both amazing. Overall a well worth it drive. We got to Kahului around 1 PM.
-Since we had 4 hours to get back we decided to do Hana till 3 and turn around at 3 so we could still catch the sunset at Ka'anapali beach. Hana was beautiful too. But so hyped that we probably didn't appreciate it as much.
-Keane'e was where we hit 3 pm, we drove down to the peninsula and checked out the awesome views and turned back, keeping to our time ;)
-Found a cove between hills along the way decided to stop and check it out. Pulled over at a spot where we found a walkway further down, and just walked. It was quite exciting. As it was a rain"forest" I was scared of some wild animal rushing out :P
-We decided not to stop any further ( I guess we had an overdose of scenery and pretty spots;) )
-Plucked guavas and flowers on the way back and also saw a peacock on the way back.
-Reached home around 5.30 and changed and set out for Ka'anapali beach. This is the only decent beach we found, long and somewhat sandy. Walked around for a little bit, got back in the car and went to downtown Lahaina. Window shopped for an hour before having dinner at Longhi's and shopped for a little bit (Maui Rain was before dinner) after dinner. Got back to the room and hit the sack. We have to leave early tomorrow.


Last day...
-Got ready and packed up by 8 and left for the airport. We had a 10.30 flight into Honolulu which arrived at 11.10 and we had a 3 pm flight back to Oakland. We decided to have breakfast at the airport. Stopped at the airport got gas for the car and some coffee for my chauffeur;) I almost finished that yummy banana bread we got from Julia's.
-Flight delayed by half an hour. Spoke to Trilok in the airport. Finished the banana bread completely, now I didn't need any breakfast ;)
-Got to Honolulu on time took care of that Agricultural inspection, got some souvenirs for friends at the airport.
-Had a pizza at Pizza Hut and a Burger at Burger king for lunch and headed out to the gate. Waited for an hour and boarded the flight.

My dear friend..

We are off to India in a couple of weeks (another post on that later) and one of my very close friends wanted to see me before I left. We couldn't make it at all because we are going crazy packing and selling and saving and discarding. And she was buying a home. So it wasn't easy for her to come either.

And then she did something only she could do:) She is picking up the keys to her new home today and flying out tomorrow only to fly back on Sunday. For that 15 hours, and just so she can meet me, she is actually spanning the width of the West Coast:) And I haven't stopped smiling since I saw her itinerary last night. Not sure how much I deserve it, but all the same, glad to have made some really fast and thick and absolutely wonderful friends! :)

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Orkut fortune for the day

Sometimes I get funny ones, every time I think I should post it, but I forget. Well, here is today's:

Today's fortune: You are the center of every group's attention

Ohh, please, tell me something new ;)

Ha ha ha..

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Of our culture ...

Yours truly gave gyan to the land-lady the other day. I was telling her we wanted to move out and she asked if we would boil milk before leaving, just out of curiosity. Almost 80% of her tenancy is Indian so she knows, you see. I said no, you boil milk only when you enter the house and not when you leave it. And that you would do it only when you begin something new. She wanted to find out why we boil milk and was about to say something to the tune that she found it very silly when I told her that it wasn't about the milk. In older cultures and civilizations, when agriculture was the main profession, milk represented wealth. And boiling milk was symbolic to wishing that this wealth would overflow in your household. And then she didn't find it so silly anymore. She was also telling me how she had asked everyone else about it and they all just said they did it because their parents asked them to. And so she found it extremely funny that they should.

I find that this is a lot more prevalent problem than simple ignorance. We don't make an effort to understand why we do so many things that we do, but what is worse, making fun of it or sniggering at it is considered sensibility and one of the foremost qualifications of being modern. It is sad but true. If only we will take the time to understand them, a lot of the stuff we do makes total sense. But we don't take the time. Instead we jeer and boo and mock. And think we are being very wise.