Monday, April 28, 2008

T20 = Terrible Twenty

We went to the Bangalore Royal Challengers vs Rajasthan Royals IPL match. On Saturday night. 8 PM to 11 PM. Now this whole IPL thingy is not very appealing to me. If I had to vote either way, I would vote against it. What with the big shots and their over-fed cricket players. Its not like Vijay Mallya isn't rich enough that I should spend money and watch some crappy cricket and make him richer. But I went. To keep company. Subhash's IIM friends were going and this was one opportunity to meet all of them. So 4 couples, us counted, went on our way.

We went with K and his wife G. They live in the apartments next to ours. S and S also live in the same place. So all of us set out around the same time. We were going to park in STs office which was near MG Road. After everyone parked we started walking towards the stadium. Stopped at a place called Tavern Inn or something to eat a little bit and set off again. We reached the stadium a little after the laser show was over. Such a pity! At least that might have been worth watching.

Anyway, so the match began and we had something to eat again at the stadium (tickets came with complimentary dinner and beverages). Initial part of the match I was somewhat excited because I got to see Shane Warne :D One check mark done ;) Then the cheerleaders of course. I didn't particularly like the Royal Challengers' cheerleaders. I hated their outfits. I think cheerleaders should look cute. And I think they look cute in frilly short skirts. When they are wearing really tight and really short bottoms, they look needy. Not cute. But anyway, the Rajasthan Royals' cheerleaders looked much better, they were a sight to my eyes which went sore after I saw the RC cheerleaders ;)

The cheerleading part was a little awkward too. It was funny, one has to see it. The cheerleaders for RC would sit and laze and whenever someone hit a 4 or a 6, some loud and blaring music would start and that was like a whip to these cheeries and they would stand up as soon as they heard that music and start dancing. It was so artificial, it was funny.

The RC innings was OK. Not too great. But the Rajasthan Royals' innings was even more insipid. The RC team hardly put up a challenge. It was as if they saw where the batsmen were tending to hit the ball for a 4 and then removed all fielders from there. Absolutely no energy, no enthusiasm and no spirit. I saw Kumble bowling, which was another check mark done. But other than Shane Warne and Kumble, really it would have been just as well if I took that money and threw it down the drain. I really think, at least for the sake of their team's song, the RC guys should have shown a little more spirit. (What with "Khel nahin ye jung hain" and all that!) It was as if Vijay Mallya just took money and gave away the match. Damn!

After the match we had ice cream on the Kwality Walls cart and then later at a Kulfi corner. S and S drove us back and we called it a day.

A huge waste of effort, time and money. That is what my T20 experience was :( I think the Deccan Chargers match was a much better option, but they weren't playing it in Bangalore. I will cheer for Deccan Chargers any day. They belong to Hyderabad and their owner (Deccan Chronicle) is probably the least moneyed of all IPL big-shots ;)

Go Deccan Chargers!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The brand new airport

I saw it. That brand new Hyderabad airport. As we drove closer and closer, I realized I was actually excited to see what its like on the inside.

The first thing that strikes you as you exit the road and drive towards the airport is that there is no sight of it ;) You have to drive a good 6 KMS after taking the exit to reach the airport. So much to the inside. Hmm..things look good already.

I had to collect my new ticket (as I had postponed my trip back to Bangalore twice) from the Air India counter. Everything was shiny new. Of course it will wear. And I pray hard that they maintain this place well. I would hate to see it covered with pan stains a year from now. I say, they should execute whoever spits on this building, it was really that shiny.

Surprisingly no lines anywhere. Even Air India/Indian Airlines counters were well staffed and quite efficient. I went to this glass paneled counter, and noticed there was no opening for me to speak to the person on the other side. I was wondering how she would hear me, and then I saw it. A neat black round thing which sat quietly outside the glass and said "microphone" on it. I was impressed. I don't think I've seen such counters in any government run facility earlier.

I took my ticket and went in. The carts for the luggage were also brand new and I really had to hold the handle down to prevent it from braking ;) I went to the check-in counters and was generally looking around trying to take the sights in. Hmm..every counter equipped with an LCD monitor, attendants checking people in, airline staff giving directions. Seemed pretty normal. So what is the big deal. Why did they make such a noise about this airport? WAIT...this is not Singapore. This is not Kuala Lumpur. This is Hyderabad!!!!!! This is not NORMAL for Hyderabad. Yes, then I remembered that old Begumpet airport. Although it was one of the better Indian airports I have seen, it was a FAR CRY from what was in front of me. It was as if someone transported one of those world famous airports right into the city. When you have consistently seen good, great, amazing airports for over 5 years, you begin to undervalue it when you see an equally good one. So yes, this airport was amazing that way.

Added to the splendor of the airport itself, there is the Indian convenience. As soon as I got off the cab, someone came by asking if I had any luggage and needed any help. I saw a lot of people, some coming, some going, and in general everyone making noise. Every thing was written in English, followed by Hindi, followed by Telugu. Now I'd give a hand and tooth any day to see those two languages at a world-class airport :D

I went in to clear security after check-in and guess what, I was directed to the "last counter", I was wondering what it was all about. Yeah, if you already guessed, full points to your spontaneity. Of course, it was the "ladies" security post. Just for us gals ladies! Imagine that. Of course I never beep through the detector at any airport and I have been through quite a few over Europe, South East Asia and the US. But, I beeped at the Hyderabad airport. Better security detectors? Any one's guess. The lady checked me and sent me off on my way. Wow!

Then I went to the gate. I was a full two hours ahead of time so was looking forward to getting bored. The lounges are world-class too. I mean the ones at the gate. Very spacious, very well lit. 15 ft between any row's last chair and the nearest wall/glass/partition. Yeah, that spacious. I sat down for a bit, called a lot of people, then reverted back to watching the airport and the buzz.

I decided to grab something to eat. Just for the heck of "eating at the airport", before I left for the airport, I had curd rice you see;) So I went to the nearest "Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf". Yeah, there is more US in India than I would like to see :( I don't want to see the US here at all. I wanted to go away from it. Why don't we open our own brands and not just have Subways and other things like that! Well, I guess US is still the rage here. Or maybe its just the Subways and the KFCs getting really entrepreneurial and tapping the potential of the Indian food space. Whatever it is, I don't particularly like it.

I ordered a Veggie Pie (yeah, the brands are American but the food they sell is totally desi, if you eat a Veggie Delite from an Indian SUBWAY, you will know exactly what I mean;) Its way superior to the Veggie Delite you get in the US). The Veggie Pie costs INR 120!! Man, I don't think I will ever eat at the airport again. What it costs virtually gave me a stomach ache;)

I checked out the shops and the HUGE screen showing Indian ads and cricket news and a bunch of other potpourri. Cool! Then while I was coming back to the gate I realized that the glass between the lounge and the inside of the gates actually had things etched in it. Like a picture of Birla Mandir which said "Birla Mandir | Hyderabad", a picture of Vidhan Soudha which said "Vidhan Soudha | Bangalore", other ones like "Hussain Sagar | Hyderabad", "High Court | Bangalore" etc. But the best I saw was some letters etched in the glass which said "Tamil Script". This is something I haven't seen in any airports. Of course, they do have some shady pictures of the famous symbols in that city/country etc. But etched into glass with such precision, well, as far as I remember, I haven't seen it anywhere. Hurray!!

I was so engrossed in observing everything and just lazing around that I didn't realize the time till Subhash called and said it was 9.30. And my flight was at 9.40!! And the gate I was sitting at still showed the earlier flight and which still said delayed. I hurried out of my slumbered-daze and went to the nearest LCD monitor to check my gate. I heard an announcement for our flight just then and waited to confirm that this was the right gate and hurried down to that gate. Got into an Indian Airlines bus, got off at the plane and got into it. I was reading the AI magazine, I think it was called "Namaskar" and an article in it about our seasons, I found fascinating. Greeshma, Varsha, Sharad, Hemant, Shishir and Vasant all our seasons and festivals, fruits and activities associated with each of these seasons. The pictures were bright and colourful :) The air hostesses brought out Veggie brunches and man, was it amazing. Sandwiches, Veggie Spring Rolls, something that resembled a cutlet and a Veggie filled bun. Pineapple juice and water to go with it. Did I ever mention in my blog how I fly Air India where and when I can? I simple love their food. I hear a lot of grumpy people complain about it but excepting old aircraft and hostesses (both of which I don't particularly care about), I haven't had problems with their in-flight amenities. Always good food, timely luggage delivery and on-time flights. I am not so sure I care about the rest;) Personal TV screens they do have on some of their Boeing fleet, but hey, I sleep for as much time as I can on the flight so what do I care about that. In fact 80% of the time, I've flown Air India, and when I haven't, unless its Singapore airlines, I have almost ALWAYS had a problem with misplaced luggage.

I got off at Bangalore, took a pre-paid Karnataka Government taxi and went straight to Cisco. Feeling content and happy to be back home, to be back in India. To be surrounded by its sights and sounds and smells wherever I go. Not wanting to leave it again anytime soon:)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

A month already !

Today we finish a month. Since we moved back to India for good. Has it been a good month, has it been a bad month? Its difficult to put it all in one word, so some more words to torture you guys;)

I've literally seen it all in this one month. Right from taking RTC buses to haggling with Autowallahs, to learning back Kannada out of compulsion, to tending to my Dad in the hospital, to flying, to taking the train AC class, to taking the train Sleeper class, to visiting relatives, to attending a wedding, to eating mom's food, to eating Subhash's moms food, to setting up a place, to sweating hard by the sun, to sleeping by the moonlight, to eating berus, to eating sapotas, to drinking mosambi juice, to reading Tinkle, phew! Yes, I think I can say I done it all.

The best part has been of course that Subhash and I have been together for a month without apprehension of when he would have to leave for the next project, in the last two years. *TOUCH WOOD* I really have to say touch wood. Or maybe I should say "Buri Nazar Wale Tera Mooh Kala" lorry-style. Now that is a thing with my blog though. Whenever I write about something nice that happened, it seems to immediately manifest itself into something horrible. An example is when I wrote that post where I said I haven't done household chores for three days, the very same day, the water purifier got installed and the outlet pipe for dirty water slipped out of its place and the water was all over the living room. And I actually had to do repeated rounds of soaking it up with a cloth. And this mind you, I have never done in my life :( And the next day was worse, we went shopping and the thing slipped out again and this time it was like that for longer so I had the dining area and most of the sitting area as a bonus to clean, all this with a train to catch in two hours. Sigh!

Unlucky times maybe, or just people getting jealous, but whatever it is, I have seen more mishaps happen to me in the last one month than in the last three years put together. Small irritants like this, just ruining everything and tiring me out. Hopefully its a passing phase.

I really didn't think I would see my Dad unwell almost as soon as I got here. But I am glad that I was around. Long distance worries are even more killing. I really cannot bear to see my Dad helpless and being taken around in a wheel-chair in the hospital. It tears me apart, it makes me want to cry. It just kills something within me. But then to see it is better than to imagine it. At least when you see it, you know exactly what you are dealing with. When you are half way around the globe, its all left to your imagination and I can imagine really worse things really vividly. Plus I always mistrust information given to me over phone. That status is usually given with a "why worry the children, they are so far away, they anyway cannot do much" attitude and usually the situation is shown to be much nicer than it actually is. Or at least you always fear that. Plus I did what little I could to help my mom out. Which makes me feel much better than that time in 2002 when I couldn't do a thing to help my mom through my Dad's second heart stroke. I am a happier person both for being here and being around.

Work has been piling, I have been slashing it down, then it piles again, then I slash it down again and that saga continues as-is. Nothing much has changed. Its been good in a way. Same manager, same work, not much to adapt at work, no new learning than the ramp I already am on. Except for familiarizing myself with the place and meeting new people and adding on some more things to do locally, pretty much 70% of my work has remained the same old story.

All in all, both good and bad, both lucky and unlucky, but whatever it is, its been a very much "happening" month. California seems like a far away dream already. Was I ever in the US? That seems so so so distant. And I am happier because I moved. I am happy to see people like me around me (it wasn't that different in California but still, its not the same), I am happy to be meeting my aunts and cousins every now and then. I am happy to be with Subhash without having to depend on the phone to stay in touch. I am happy to be with my family.

I am just happy to be in India :)

A shiny new city

For those of you Hyderabadis, "old city" is a very familiar term. But today I witnessed the "new city" side to Hyderabad for the first time.

My dad was feeling much better and they said he could go home yesterday so I booked myself on a flight this morning. But unfortunately, they didn't let him go home last evening. I really wanted to come back only after my Dad was safe at home:( D proposes, hospital rejects. Damn! But my mom is around so I was a little less worried in coming back.

I called the cab at 6 AM although the flight was at 9.40 AM just to be safe. In case the cabbie is late etc. He arrived promptly at 5.45 AM. And I was the one that was late according to him now;) Left around 6.40 AM as per the plan and turned that left at JNTU.

This place has transformed. Completely. No, and I am not talking about JNTU, that the university transformed, I bore witness to in 2004 itself. I am talking about that back-road by the side of JNTU. Its now the new "path" to Hi-Tech city and the sole reason why Kukatpally's real estate has gone through the roof.

I saw them. Those hitherto unseen apartment multiplexes. People jogging. Newspaper boys delivering. Milk vans coming and going. Life. There is life in parts of Hyderabad now, that were not even Hyderabad once (BHEL guys used to actually say they were "going to the city" when they went to Kothi, to think that BHEL is well within the city limits now is simply unbelievable).

The traffic was a dream and so was the road. I keep telling people, if anything, in the last 7 years, Hyd's roads have improved overall. Of course there are bad roads, there are good roads, there are worse roads and there are just potholes disguising themselves as roads. But I am talking overall picture here. Its improved. Definitely. Way better.

It took me 50 mins to reach the airport and I was almost 2 hours ahead of time :( We took Kukatpally-JNTU-Hitec-City-Gachi Bowli-Mehdipatnam-NH7 to the airport. 40 KMs. 50 mins. I say, not bad at all. The infrastructure is at least good enough to allow faster vehicles to go faster. Of course the perils when there is traffic is a different story altogether but purely from an infrastructure point of view, this city has developed leaps and bounds and I am proud of it.

When you discover a new city, you don't expect anything ahead of time from it. You haven't seen it before, everything is new and there is something to learn in every corner. But when you have to re-discover your home, your city, it often comes with awe, wonder, surprise, shock and definitely a tinge of sadness. After all, change is hard to digest. And you have to first unlearn before you learn. You have to first let go before you embrace. Will I be able to do that with Hyderabad? Maybe yes, maybe no. But I love that city too much to give up without trying :) And thankfully, at least the areas of the city I associated with haven''t changed dramatically, I've seen the most dramatic changes happen in front of my eyes, the fly-overs. Excepting that, not that much has changed.

And that makes it easier to adapt back to it :)

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Dad feeling much better...

For those who have been following my blog, my Dad is doing much better today and will hopefully be home today. Thanks to all who asked :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Heat heat and more heat

The sun's been boiling with a vengeance. The Hyderabad summers I knew back in time were hot but not sweaty, they were usually dry. But now I take two steps and I am sweating. I was explaining it to someone how I feel like the sun is just sucking all the energy out of me when they mentioned that Glucon-D ad where they show a sun sipping out the water in your body with a straw. Ahh, yes. That was precisely how I felt! But there is Glucon-D to the rescue ;) I feel a lot better when I have a glass in the morning :D

A not so great weekend..

I was in Hyderabad. Landed Sunday morning. My cousin was getting married early hours of Monday so I wanted to come to attend that. (I used to feel really bad missing out on all these when I was in the US, so I didn't want to miss this one. Besides all my cousins excepting one were going to come so it was a good time to gang up).

I landed on Sunday morning only to find that my Dad had some serious cramps in his waist :( And he had started vomiting. We didn't think it was serious. We have him some pills etc. and were thinking he would get OK. We had to drop by Subhash's place in the afternoon so we left for the wedding intending to make that stop there. My dad was very half-hearted in coming, he said he didn't feel up to it at all but still we said lets go and see, we thought if he didn't feel well enough we could always head back.

At Subhash's place his mom gave him some medicines but that didn't seem to have any immediate effect. Plus my Dad now started insisting that he wanted to go home. So my mom took him back while i drove my sister to the wedding. Very half-hearted :( But my parents insisted that we go because someone should be there at the wedding as representation. So we went.

Apparently in the evening my Dad and Mom had to walk to the doctors because my Dad wasn't able to drive and I had a knot in my stomach because I wasn't there :( The doctor prescribed something and we were hoping all will be well.

The next morning we finished the wedding and headed back home at 5AM. My mom told us that Dad felt it was better to get admitted into a hospital and it was not a good sign at all :( My dad doesn't say that often:( We were home, and my dad wasn't any better. We got ready, waited for a few more hours, and finally decided to take him to another doctor for a second opinion. He was consulting at a hospital in KPHB and he looked at my Dad and asked him to get admitted.

I was scheduled to fly back that evening and although my mom said she could manage, I didn't have the heart to leave them and go. I wouldn't be able to live peacefully back in Bangalore. So I called Subhash and his cousin and somehow amongst the three of us, we got my ticket pushed out to Wednesday. Thank God.

Then the ordeal at this hospital began. Very hot room. I did a bunch of rounds between the home and hospital for some myriad number of things we needed but till 7 PM no diagnosis came. Status Quo. My dad wasn't feeling any better, nor did he get any worse (thank god!). I was getting a little irked about how everyone was just leaving and we were stuck in the ward not knowing what the problem was. Subhash's Dad visited us in the hospital and stayed with us for about an hour. He left after we decided that if we didn't hear anything concrete we would change hospitals.

8 PM and I called up the doctor in-charge who asked my dad to get admitted and he started in a high-pitched voice which I didn't think was called for at all, about how I should be patient and not get impatient and how he has to observe my Dad for 48 more hours before he diagnosed what it was. Another 48 hours status quo, my dad wasn't eating anything, we won't know what is wrong with him and he won't get any better. And then the high-pitched doctor was getting even higher-pitched while I patiently answered in monosyllables. And he eventually suggested what I was going to ask him myself, that if I needed hourly care and input, I should shift my dad to a better hospital. And so I asked for the discharge papers. They took one god-damn hour to get those done and even after that there was nothing. So I actually had to go down to the Reception and stand right in front of them to get it done. One of my mom's student's mom had come to visit (more about this social fabric later) and she said there was an Apollo nearby and she knew where, so I was a little more confident getting my Dad discharged when I heard that. My aunt and uncle came over when I was at the reception and once everything was settled, I drove my Dad to that Apollo and got him admitted. At least, the room was much cooler thanks to the AC. One improvement.

Apollo doctors did some prelim observations, asked his to get admitted, we hanged around till they took him to the ward and my mom stayed overnight while me and my sis came back and I finished some household chores for my mom. One of my parents' Art of Living friends dropped by and he was around till we took my dad into the ward. My aunt and uncle left later too and so did the other lady who was so nice to have stayed with us through this.

We don't have any diagnosis till now but the doctor assured us my dad would be taken care of. Its the kind of assurance you need when you are in a crisis.

Some things stand out in this whole tw0-day journey..

1) The social fabric in India. I came back for it. And I was always in doubt about how much its deteriorated in the last 7 years. And I was happy there was no conceivable difference, at least to me :) A myriad host of people called when they knew my Dad wasn't well, a whole bunch of people helped us through it. My uncle (mom's brother) who lives close by was the one that took my dad over to the doctor got him admitted etc. he is waiting on my dad this morning while my mom took time off to come home and get some more essentials. When you have people around, you feel strong. It was such a relief to see my aunt (mom's sister) in the evening at that reception desk. You automatically feel that burden shifting over to people who are around and consequently you feel much stronger. Subhash's parents too kept calling and inquiring ever so often. It was just the amount of support I got. From everyone. My mom's student's mom didn't really have to stay with us. But not only did she do that (leaving her kid and husband at home) but she also apparently packet breakfast for all of us this morning and sent it to the hospital. Maybe I was living in some other part of the world, maybe it was just my society but back in the US, I have never seen this. Never. In 7 years. Not once. People tend to become so nucleic due to automation of just about everything, that even sharing a problem with family becomes a thing we don't want to really do. Why, when we can manage on our own. But the support that you get from fully automated systems at hospitals is just not the same as you get from 100 people :) Never the same. Whether or not they actually do something, just when they ask after you, you feel better. My aunt (dad's sister) is visiting her son in Hyderabad and she wanted to come today. My cousin was volunteering to stay the night so my mom could rest. Aunt was feeling really bad she wasn't able to help. At the end of the day although it was my mom who stayed the night, and although it was us who did everything, just having the knowledge that you can reach out to someone if you are not able to do it on your own is a big big plus.

2) The trauma. I really wonder how my mom gets through this. To see my Dad in any environment that closely resembles a hospital one is a real torture for me. It reminds me of that nasty time, 13 years ago, when he suffered his first heart stroke in Bangalore while we were in Hyd. That over-night journey, that tension, the worry, that trauma is not one I will easily forget. We heard it was serious. We were told till the morning there was no guarantee. And that bus journey was probably the longest I took in my life so far. Not knowing what state I would see my Dad in the next day. My mom's been brave through it. She is a fighter. She is a true survivor. I wasn't even around when he had his second stroke, I was spared that, but my mom and sis went through that as well :( Still my mom shows amazing resilience. I am truly proud of her when it comes to this. She is almost twice as old as me and she show twice as much strength as I do as well. Without her, we would all probably all be a lost cause.

3) I realized with a slightly sad twinge how the Indian health industry is going the US way :( Insurance. HMO, PPO, yeah they are all into that now. Its really predominant too. While its good in a way that you have covered your bases for when you are sick but its bad in the way the treatment differs between people who have insurance and those that do not. People who don't have insurance will soon be neglected the way I see it going, till everyone will be mandated to have insurance just like the god-damned US system. And since its still in the process of going widespread, it has all the evils associated with a business that people have just found a way to make money out of. Unnecessary ECGs and tests for people who have insurance. My dad had his ECG taken thrice since last night and he isn't even there for cardiac problems. Maybe I am a layman, maybe ECG was needed after all but my gut says he doesn't need it thrice in < 24 hours.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Some hope for democracy?

Everyday in the HINDU I see reports of how long people are having to wait in Bangalore to get their Voter ID cards from the Election Commission. While that in itself isn't something to feel proud about, what surprised me is that people are actually waiting to get them. Truly an inspiration. I didn't think people were that interested in our political system anymore.

But it does look like people still believe in exercising their vote. My parents always used to, every single election. Now that I am back, I want to exercise my franchise too. I need to find out how to get that Voter ID which never came although I applied for it that 7 years ago. I know what party to vote for. But I do wonder, can I vote in Bangalore and Hyderabad at the same time? Can I live in Bangalore and vote in AP's Legislative elections? Hmm..I need to find out :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Some change for the good..

and some change for the worse. Some become better to go worse, some go worse to become better. All in all life is getting better. Which at the end of the day matters most I suppose.

The maids came today. Again late. But they had a plausible explanation which didn't vary between yesterday and today. And that was that they are having to do some extra work at someone else's place since they are relocating to Dubai. Before she left she actually said that it was going to be like this till Sunday and asked me to please adjust. I couldn't agree easier. They did a much more earnest job and it left me happy. In that joy I ate a Perk(yeah, what an excuse;) ). This was the latest Cadbury creation I was so in love with before I left India. And I cannot express my joy at getting to eat it again on native land :) Some people express opinions on world events, discuss serious issues and what not on their blogs. Yet some more people waste away precious kilobytes of blog space writing about Cadbury's Perk. Yeah, that is me, what to do;)

Subhash and I have Rooh Afza every evening. I didn't know he liked it as much as I did. There is no counting how many glasses of Rooh Afza went into my system during those hot Hyderabad months. To be having it again, ah, sheer joy!! That too with someone who is equally enthusiastic about it, no words;)

I haven't done the dishes in three days straight! Ever since I left the cozy confines of that home which my mom ran extremely well, I haven't gone so long without doing them on a normal routine weekend. 7 years ;) Makes me so happy. No cleaning, no dish-washing, no nothing!! Yay!! I am actually reading the newspaper these days. And hoping that very soon, I will find enough time to get back to my Hindu crossword habit :D For now I am just working away while the maids are working away too. But soon I pledge to crossword my way through their chores. Yes.

Experienced the first power cut after dark today. It actually made me happy. Insane? No, just crazy;) US power cut furores used to make me chuckle at how well we handle the way we have to go without power. But anyway, I was eager to light that nice-smelling Lladro candle before the generator kicks in so I can deal with the power cut like old times. With a candle. But by the time I took the torch and pulled the candle out of it box, the lights and fan came on again. Damn! If the generator was not a life-saver otherwise, I would have surely kicked it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

General rants

So I finally hired a maid. And they started coming from yesterday. Already, I am getting a little frustrated ;) Its just me maybe. Yesterday they didn't do the clothes as it was the first day and they were getting late. Today they (its actually two people) said they would come early so they could do everything, but they came late today as well, and well, I had to really remind them to do everything they had to. At the end I asked the lady who did the clothes to dry up the bathroom floor (at least half a dozen times). But by the time its close to 7, they start getting panicky and leave things in a hurry, often half finished. So my bathroom wasn't dry and as a bonus the bedroom floor was a little wet as well :( I actually dried it myself ! Tomorrow I got to give them a hearing. And my Kannada is not yet that good that I can be stern in it! Alas! My troubles ;) I was thinking, although they appeared like they were over charging, I really didn't mind it so long as they did a good job. But maybe they are doing a good job? (To their credit, kitchen is very well done indeed, dishes usually sparkle :) )Maybe its just me? I knew I would make a very bad supervisor, I knew it. But then maybe its not altogether my fault either. Or maybe I just need to get used to lower standards when I am not doing something myself. Lets see. But didn't I say this was going to happen:) Ah, fate!

Just when I was about to complain how bad the IRCTC's online system is (the whole day its damn servers were down, really, in 2004 this website was way better, I've used it back then to book tickets) I found a blessing in Cisco's concierge service. I went up to them, gave them the train number (Going to Hyd you see;) ) and she asked me to pay for it tomorrow and collect the ticket in the evening. You can ask them to do almost anything from paying Electricity bills to buying flight tickets for you. They charge a nominal 10 Rs for said services. I don't think I mind paying so much :) If it works out and indeed I get a ticket tomorrow, I will praise them no end. They did seem an efficient lot.

Work work work and more work. Bah! The more I do, the more I seem to get. But then I do it because I like it so I shouldn't be really complaining. Now that I have moved away from the "centre of the earth" (that is what one of the managers told me as parting words when I was leaving San Jose), I am regularly doing calls around 10PM to midnight. Catching up with the team kind of meetings are cool, but the rest not so much. I haven't yet reached a stage when I really start to curse them, so lets wait till that happens. And I shall curse in a post then ;)

Taking bus rides back home still. I am sure it will also follow a progression of laziness eventually like everything before it has, but so far so good :D

Going to Hyd for a cousin's wedding!! Yay!! I didn't think my dream of attending weddings, meeting up with cousins etc would come true so soon. Good. Keep it going!

Need to re-hone my telephone skills. I used to be an avid "keep-in-touch-through-making-calls" kind of person. But now my inertia to physically lift anything that remotely resembles a phone has lead me to be a completely online person. Yeah, best way to get in touch is email/chat types. But now that I am surrounded with relatives, elders etc, I better get back to my phone and start calling. I called one of my Dad's mamas today and one of my Dad's brothers. Good job. Some more tomorrow. And yet some more the next day. I need to get into the habit of being a "mobile" person.

Enough ranting.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Today we had our first formal visitor since we moved to our new place. Subhash's mama was visiting from Kolkata to meet someone. His son (Subhash's cousin) lives in Bangalore and he had come over on Friday night (he got me a book as a gift, so sweet!) and he told us over dinner that his dad was coming on Sunday. So we asked him to get mama along for lunch on Sunday.

So for the first time since we moved, I made an elaborate lunch. Lunch itself was not so elaborate, potato fry and tomato dal but I made Biryani which is an elaborate preparation. All that spices shopping at Nilgiris and Reliance came in useful :) They were at home for about 2-3 hours around lunch time and then left.

Evening we went with SSK and V to check out his friend's place which was up for sale. Didn't like it all that much. I think this apartment that we are now renting has set our standards so high that I am scared now if we would like any other place ;) (Really, its not just me, the pictures of this place were a hit with everyone who saw it :D :D )

SSK and V came home and I gave them some Biryani to taste. Like always, the spice had settled well into the rice by then so it was way spicier than it was in the afternoon and V couldn't really have much:( They sat for a while and then left.

On an average the door bell rings at least twice a day:) Which makes me happy. I like it when I have visitors. I like to visit people. Maybe my social life is on its way to going through the roof now ;) I keep telling the gang back in San Jose that I haven't yet made friends at the apartments itself. Once that happens, then, well, it will just be like old times :D

To get or not to get..

...a maid. That is the question. Its been three weeks since we are here and I am still trying to solve this question.


1) I don't have to do that much work. It will make me lazy, but that is in the long term.
2) I get to spend more time devising ways of improving this blog ;)
3) Can get the place washed everyday. It will be much cleaner and I will be much happier.
4) Even if that model of Washing Machine is going to be a month late in coming, at least I don't have to wash the clothes etc.
5) When parents come over, both my mom and his mom always do most of the stuff at home. Making food is enjoyable, doing the dishes is not. And they don't leave it for me to come and do. No matter how much I tell them, they are the ones that do everything. And I don't like to strictly impose rules because when they don't feel free at home, they don't like to stay for long. The only option to get the best of both paths is to have someone help do the non-enjoyable jobs.


1) I have never been used to having a maid. My mom never had one. When I think of how much she used to do, I am amazed. Almost everyone I knew had helpers at home. My mom never did. She managed on her own and I can't even completely comprehend how she used to do it. A huge hats off to her! So anyway, point is, I am not used to having a maid, my mom and my consequent stay in the US have ensured that ;)
2) It will make me lazy. And once I have a maid and I am used to it, I have to face it, if she ditches me one day, I will panic. Because now I am simply no longer capable of helping myself :(
3) Another person at home, especially one that comes and goes everyday no matter how good he/she is and how many years you have known him/her, you can just never feel free to throw things around at home. And I am sort of used to not having anyone but family at home. I keep things here and there. Now when I can't find something I know it has to be somewhere at home because it simply can't have gone anywhere. But when I have a maid, it will be different. That will be the first point of suspicion and if he/she turns out to be guilt-less, that will be a guilt-trip for me. Too much morality to think of here ;)
4) Maids any day are known to shirk work at least once in a while. That notwithstanding, I am a bad supervisor. When someone is doing something I expect them to do it at least as well as I do. And maids will never be that way. If someone does a job imperfectly, I tend to have a nervous breakdown usually. So if today she cleans the floor and I get to find a bad spot after that, I will be raving mad, and I know it. Same with dishes.
5) When I meet friends here and I hear them talking endlessly of their maid-woes, I go "Do I want to have something to contribute to this conversation?".

Subhash asks me everyday if I have inquired about a maid yet. And everyday I say no. And every day he says "Why don't you get one I don't want you to do all this work". And every day it remains a question. But I think I will get a maid soon, like Subhash says, if I don't like what she does, I can always do it over. That way house is definitely much better run that if it was just me doing everything.

The better shopping experience

Last evening we decided to get out and check the neighborhood now that we have the car and since we were at home all day waiting for that Aqua-guard fellow to show up and install it (he never turned up and its already three weeks since we bought it).

So we got out around 8.45. We first decided to check out "Home Town" which is like your Home Depot + Corelle Store + Farberware store + Mattress Store + Drapes Store and god knows what other stores. We realized we were a tad late as it was going to close at 9.30 itself. But still we managed to look at half a floor. Mainly saw dining sets. I was amazed at how expensive Corelle was at this store. Almost twice as much. I neatly slotted that under the items I need to buy when I go back to the US whenever that happens. (This time any shopping for bringing back to India was impossible to do. Too much stuff overflowing everywhere already, sigh!)

Then we went to friendly neighborhood Nilgiris and bought groceries. Getting thoroughly amused and disappointed with how expensive everything is. Every time we step out, I almost have a panic attack when I see the bill ;) But I had to get some higher level shopping done for the kitchen, I just had the bare minimum at home like salt, sambar powder etc.

This morning we went to Reliance Fresh and bought some more stuff for what else, the kitchen. I was really happy with both my Nilgiris and the Reliance Fresh shipping experience because they accepted Sodehxo coupons!! Yay!! 30% automatically saved because these coupons are paid for pre-tax. (At least that is what I was told. I am just hoping its not the other way around;) )And actually at the Reliance store there was an offer that if you crossed a 1000, you got a cutting board set free. (Cutting board + Knife + Lighter). And that made me almost ecstatic. The cutting board was one thing I wanted to buy ever since but every time I go shopping I forget. The knife was the style I was exactly looking for and Subhash had been asking me to get a lighter for the stove because one of the burners' electrical ignition system was not working, and I kept pushing it out. Just the three things I wanted. And the set that we got free was advertised as being worth 300. Another 30% yay!! So I came out happy although I spent a fortune because I imagined that I saved 60%. I think we have this underlying psychology thing amongst us. We don't really feel bad about spending so long as we have the satisfaction that we saved significantly over MRP (remember, Maximum Retail Price?). And clever as the people behind the counter are, they make sure we come out feeling we have saved a lot. Happy customer, happy shop-wallah!

We then went to the TOTAL Mall by Sarjapur Road in the evening. Had to shop for some PearlPet jars etc. Subhash wanted to first get a case for his mobile (which happens to be the most pampered thing at our place after me, he is so in love with that thing! Guys and gadgets, phew!!) While we were at the store I saw this footwear shop, liked it. Hmm.. Then I turned around while he was cheking out yet some more accessories for that mobile and I saw a clothes shop. Looked good. Hmm.. (This, after I bought new clothes and footwear last week, the excuse being a festival and my birthday;), this time what is my excuse? Eh?)

So once we were out of the store we went into the footwear store and promptly bought a pair. I think I am returning to my normal self here. I used to have so many pairs of footwear when I was in India earlier that my Dad used to say I can open a shop;) In the US, I could search malls after malls till i was dead-tired and still not find a pair that I liked. So eventually I lost it with footwear. But I think I will very soon be back in action! Then we went to the clothes place. And the best way to describe it was "feast for the eyes" The colours and patterns and varieties in lengths and fashions. Endless. And all in a 700 sq foot shop. I was ecstatic (see how easy this is becoming?) and bought two tops"for the time being". It was amazing. It was like my search of all these years for good clothes is finally going to come to an end! I will go back. For sure.

All in all, our leisurely shopping was a much better and much more lively experience than what I have had in years. Yes, loving it!

Not something I lack anymore ;)

After my previous post about the things I feel are lacking in my kitchen, we have done some leisurely shopping. Instead of that "Here now, gone tomorrow" vegetables shopping, we properly checked out some stuff. I found some white onions but not the yellow ones. In my previous post I should have said yellow because those are the one I miss since I never used the white onions. But ever since he has read that post, Subhash has been eagerly showing me every white onion he comes across asking me if I want to buy those. I can give them a try but I need to finish these "messy, pink" ones that I already bought :(

So anyway back to my earlier post. I did find better onion when we actually went to a proper store. I did find a way to pack them in different bags and now I am a happy person because my Crisper looks so much better with vegetables all segregated :D

The best thing at "Reliance Fresh" was the neatly cut vegetables :D Who needs frozen stuff when fresh ones are available all well cut and sealed :D I even found that "Sambar mix" except for it was actually fresh! Yay!! I always took pride in how entrepreneurial my fellow country-men are, how we take something that is good and find a way to make it better, how as soon as there is a slightest need, there is immediately a way to cater to it. And today I was not disappointed. Oh no, not at all! :)

So that knocks off three of the things I thought I lacked. Can it get any better? :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

What I lack in a kitchen

Let me face it. My kitchen is the first and probably the only thing I extensively use in my home. So deficiencies if any shall be observed in the kitchen first before anywhere else. Some things I miss/wish I had

1) Trash compactor in the kitchen sink. Makes life so much simpler. No messy trash to deal with.
2) Big white onions.
3) Neatly segregated vegetables in separate bags of their own. Made storing in the fridge so much more easier. Now when I go shopping, the guy puts everything in one bag. I know I know, its more environment friendly but heck! My fridge and my vegetables no?
4) Frozen vegetables! My mixed frozen vegetables bag, my French-sliced green beans, those nice small onions for that perfect sambar, the frozen spinach, frozen Methi. Lazy me :D I even went to the extent of buying a "Sambar Mix Frozen vegetables" bag once. Just once though. Its excusable ;) I need to research and find out where I can get this stuff here. The vegetable vendor went crazy when he saw the quantity of beans I purchased today, he said "Itna kam hain to kaise tolega madam, 100g bhi nahi hai" ;) (How will I weigh if you buy so little, its not even 100g) and I looked really sheepishly at him. Bah! Have to re-learn those vegetable buying skills.
5) The convenience of a dish-washer as a storage unit. I suppose I can buy one here except for there is no place to put it in and for the fact that there is plenty of storage available in the kitchen as is ;)
6) Flat burners. With the burners on my stove here, dishes tend to do a sideway jig when they are not big enough to comfortably sit on the thing. And that somehow makes me very uneasy ;)

More things as I come across them .

Bus ride nostalgia

I was walking towards the bus stop back from work today when I kept repeatedly thinking of my very good friend K. We were in engineering together and consequently she and I have shared bus rides for four years. And they were a progression of laziness;) And also a very very extremely varied experience. From using our drafters as missiles during ragging in the bus to hijack then, and having Y slap a guy for saying something nasty to getting off running buses and last minute exam preparations, we have done it all!

Initially we used to get ready at 8.30 or so and try to catch that 50/31 that used to come to Tarnaka every morning at 9 because that bus was a direct bus to KPHB. Any other bus, we would have to actually change at the Secunderabad bus station and that was a pain. Because all the Tarnaka buses stopped at a different place from where the Kukatpally ones stopped and the walk was 1 KM easily. So if we missed 50/31, we missed the first class for sure. But this was first year. You actually attended all classes if for nothing but to escape ragging my friends ;)

Our homes itself were 1 KM walk inside Tarnaka's well closeted colonies. So we actually used to walk to the bus stop. Eventually, once we got more comfortable, we bribed a watchman at the HUDA complex and he would allow us to park in that lot so K and I would take turns driving everyday up until HUDA and then the bus stop was right there.

Then things slowly started to change. We got into second year. I moved to another branch and K was in EEE. Now EEE's professors were a sadistic lot. So my dear friends in EEE had to still attend classes every day, all day. ECE guys got off the hook very easily what with crappy professors who hardly knew what they were talking about. Except one good professor who was also HoD at that time, the rest could all be very conveniently ignored. So I started getting lazier and lazier and wouldn't get ready on time. We started missing 50/31. We thought there has to be a better way.

And a better way there was. Patny Centre :D We next bribed the watchman at the Vysya bank in Patny and used to park in that lot :D (Bribsters you are thinking eh? We call it personalized service, even Tirupathi is not free from it ;) ) And the Kukatpally buses used to stop right across the street from Vysya bank which was very very convenient. Not to mention Nan King and a plethora of other places where you could gorge on food after a long hard day of doing nothing in college but loaf around;) Plus for reasons we both know, there was a very convenient STD booth located right there besides the bank ;)

Today when I was walking to the bus stop, I was wishing K was with me. We could both walk and take the bus together and it would be just like old times. And I was actually hoping K would move back with Intel because their office is right next to Cisco's and that makes my plan all the more implementable :D

Day-dreaming eh? :) Who knows. Anything is possible :D

Those old pals...

Had my weekly 1-on-1 meeting with my manager last night. He usually does this once every two weeks. Normally that is strictly limited to the Outlook Calendar. At the time of the meeting he is usually not around so its not abnormal for us to have this once every month typically. He is a busy guy what to do. But he made this exception for me because he diagnosed me as suffering from "San Jose sickness". So we are doing one-on-one meetings weekly till I get over my sickness. I sent him an email a couple of weeks ago. Even as I was composing it, I could feel the vagueness and emptiness pouring forth and the sad undertone in it. Very confused. And very out of place in a new work environment.

So he took time to actually chat with me and said lets talk weekly. A very nice guy. I don't think I have ever admired another person professionally as much as I have admired my manager. Very brilliant guy. He has always been around telling me what to do, what not to do, what he did wrong, (actually its probably more appropriate to say, what didn't work for him, I don't think he is capable of doing anything wrong :D ) and how I should avoid all that so I can grow fast. Faster than it took him to be where he is today. And I owe whatever little popularity I enjoy in my entire team today to him and only him.

So anyway, after this 1-on-1 we usually have a learning channel meeting. My most accommodating team mates didn't mind moving a meeting from Wednesday evening to early morning on Thursday so I could continue attending it. And it makes me both very happy and very sad when Thursday night comes around. I get to talk to part of my team if not all of it, which is what I am usually excited about. At the same time, it does make me wish I was back in that room with them thrashing those fundamentals out, white-boarding, drawing topology diagrams, discussing entries and flags, technicalities, technicalities and more technicalities, and generally having a blast of a time.

I have slowly started getting into the run of things here in Bangalore. I have met new people, I now go out with the girls gang for lunch everyday, miss it when not everyone is around some days for lunch, I started giving presentations (aka gyan) to people here in what is now called my "expertise", and in general I am enjoying being wowed at and awed at ;) (You know that is a joke, don't you? ) I even have a scheduled slot for interviewing a person to recruit into the team already! I couldn't have dreamt of a faster or better absorption into the team here. But still, I miss my team back in San Jose. I miss joking around with people. I miss the corridor gossip, the pranks we played on our manager, giving a tough time to the 3 unmarried colleagues in the team etc. Whenever I think of it, it makes me terribly nostalgic. Every morning at least one person from that team is up late and we end up chatting for a while before they say good day and I say good night!

There was some possibility that I needed to go back to San Jose for a few days to wrap some formalities up. I was telling my manager I don't want to travel back to the US just yet as we are still settling in etc. He was saying the team would be really excited if I would make it. I was thinking, I would be extremely excited too! He said anytime I was ready to make a trip he would be most happy to arrange for it one way or the other. So maybe I will go back after all in 3-4 months, I will find a time when Subhash is really busy ;) And I am already thinking of how it would be to go back and meet those familiar faces. I am sure I would surprise them (see, it has to be done that way!), won't let them know ahead of time that I am coming (of course my manager would know, what can be done to help it, he is all pervasive ;) ) etc. We of course will have to have lunch at least once at Cheesecake Factory in Valley Fair (we went there as a team at least 100 times!). And naturally, I will insist on using my old cube while I am there, etc etc etc. The thoughts are endless :)

Till then I have to live in the here and now and somehow manage to alleviate my "San Jose Sickness".

Rambha.... Rambabu...

Sounds like that cheesy movie from Rajendra Prasad back in the 90s? Its actually the name of a comedy clips series on Hyderabad's 98.3 FM Radio Mirchi "Idi chala Hot Guru!" station. We enjoyed listening to this channel while we were in Hyd (and most of the drive back). My sis suggested it when we were driving around. FM has caught on big-time in India thanks to the growing number of cars. My association with the radio is not very strong. As a kid I used to listen to it but not regularly. We were fast shedding the radio cloak and donning the TV suit back then in the early and mid-eighties. In the US, bah! I hated all radio channels and the crap that came with them. I stuck to my iPod and its FM transmitter. Now that I am back here I actually have begun to pay some serious attention to this still-standing-and-still-very-strong wonder called Radio :)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A festival, a birthday and a road trip :)

We spent a very enjoyable extended weekend at Hyd. Came back tired, but all the same, two very happy people.

Saturday we generally lounged at home waiting for the driver who never showed up. By the time we gave up on him it was too late to go anywhere so we called it a day. Sunday we visited all the people in what we call our "first circle". My parents followed by my aunt and his aunt. We had dinner at his aunt's place and came back pretty late in the night. It was hectic. And I wasn't even driving;) Subhash is back in form as the "man in control behind the wheel". Initial hiccups with signal lights vs windshield wiper notwithstanding;)

Monday was Ugadi and for the first time in God-knows-how-many years, I had proper Ugadi pachadis. Both my mom's and Subhash's moms. Amazing. Just being here and having people around makes me feel so good. I got a bunch of new clothes what with the next day being my birthday and all ;) Spent most of Sunday doing "Shop till you drop" with Subhash my mom and my sis.

Tuesday was my birthday. Spent the morning with my parents and the evening with his. We stopped at the friendly neighborhood mechanic to get our car sanity-checked for the coming long drive. We had witnessed some low levels of coolant the previous day (and consequently a small burst in the coolant compartment cap when we were trying to open it to put water in it, totally filmy-like;) ) The experience with the mechanic is what I would call "completely orthogonal" to my experience in the US. They are willing to overlook small costs in the hope of making a long-term customer. He didn't charge us anything for what he checked. Refused to take any money for it and only took some when we absolutely insisted on it. In the US, damn those auto costs. Just to look under the hood costs you a 100 bucks at least! tsk..tsk..tsk..

I installed our old VoIP phone at his parents place so they can now talk to his brother more easily. Then we went out for dinner with the first circle. My aunt couldn't come and we missed her. My uncle was there with my cousin though. My mama (mom's brother) and his entire family, Subhash's aunt and her entire family, my parents, his parents and my sis. A big group and lots of conversation. We came back late at night. My parents gave me a present that morning (and also got this very yumm cake for me along with a "Dairy Milk Fruit and Nut" (Yay!!!) ). His parents got me another gift (along with yummy samosas and ras malai, yeah envy that ;) ). His aunt gave me a present too when we went for dinner!! All in all, although I didn't feel so excited about this day as I usually am (borders on being hyper, maybe I am growing old at last ?!) it was a much better birthday in a long time, just spending time with everyone :)

I caught a sore throat late Saturday evening and it nagged me through and through, stupid thing. We left this morning from Hyd to Bangalore. We were going to drive back ourselves, but his parents wouldn't hear of it :) So we took one of his mom's friends' driver along with us. Drove for 12 hours on NH-7 and arrived safe and sound in the evening. I have been on those NHs before but when I was young and I vaguely remember those experiences. But either way, the highway experience on India's NH was totally different from the bland US highway drives although it was much slower and sometimes very much "on the edge" ;) One thing I learnt : The AP Government is definitely spending much more time and energy and money on its highways. Roads are noticeably better so long as you are in Andhra. We got a chance to check out the new airports of these cities (both Hyd and Bangalore) and you can totally see how AP's planning around the Hyd airport is way better than the Karnataka Sarkara's. Stupid Gowda legacy.

It was a hot day and even the AC in the car wasn't really successful in keeping the sun at bay. So I have a slight head-ache now and so consequently not in the mood to post pictures we took over the weekend. Will do in another post :)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Bourbon!! Yay!!

I was in the mood for a biscuit. I went by to pick one up. I saw it. They replaced those Orange cream biscuits with Bourbon!!! Yay!! I just couldn't resist it so I picked up two instead of my regular one ;) And I think I am going to have a couple more before this day is out. I just love these ones. Always made everyone buy a packet for me on train/bus rides. Did I mention I am taking a train today which may lead to another TINKLE+Bourbon purchase? :D :D

PS: This is the first post which qualified for a "General" label after those long series of "India Move" ones ;) Finally the routine? :D

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Sunset Views

Some pictures I took of the sunset from our Balcony:) The pictures are hazy because in the evening you can actually see a cloud of dust settle over the horizon. Maybe I should call this "The good and the bad" ?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Rain Woes!

As if to try and live up to my expecations, there was a power outage on Wednesday by the time I got back home. Maybe a couple of hours. It rained very heavily and naturally a power-cut ensued. When I got home I also saw a puddle (actually I should call it a mini-pool) of water all over the kitchen. I was scared it might be the fridge. But it dawned on me eventually that it was actually the rain water that got inside thanks to the door. The door in the kitchen balcony is actually a little above the ground (very little) but nothing that a "gattu" (small elevated construction near doors) couldn't solve. But this house didn't have any. So I have that one more item on my list of to-do things ;) For the time being we put a manual barricade (one of our suitcases which was rendered useless after our move to India) in the balcony.

We are going to Hyd for the weekend! Yay!! I already have a charter to eat here, here and there (no I didn't forget linking the words here and there, they are just symbolic). Its the Telugu New Year on Monday followed by my birthday on Tuesday. An extended weekend getaway will do just fine for me for now :D

Back in form?!

Usually my routine is to walk back from work up until the campus's entrance and then take an auto from there. It rained pretty heavily today and it was all slushy. And to add to it I didn't find an auto so I continued my walk in the direction of our apartments. At the back of my mind I was slowly preparing myself for that 4KM walk. What if I don't find any autos? 4KMS is not that bad, I used to run 5 miles at one time back in history and so on and so forth, you get the picture. I walked up until a point where there is a gap in the median between the service road and the actual ORR. Over here I found a couple of people waiting. And then I saw a bus stopping. This was a sure sign of a bus stop (yeah no fancy bus shelters, this is the real thing;) ) I had spoken to my land lady last evening asking her about some bus service she was mentioning when we first met. And she told me the route number was 500. And the bus I saw was 500 :D But it was too late by the time I reached there, the bus was already gone. But, ..but :D there was one immediately after that. And I asked the conductor if he stopped at the junction where I live and he said yes. Wow. I got into the bus.

When did I do this last? Maybe in Hyd I did it in 2005 on one of my innumerable trips back to India then. But in Bangalore? I don't even remember. Maybe 2000? 8 years back! I was so glad to be on that bus just taking in the fact that I was here. I paid the conductor 10 Rs. And he gave me a ticket for 5 and gave me back 5 in change :D Wow! So cheap compared to the Auto (at least 30 Rs.)

Of course, think of it in the USD and its a mere 12 cents!! Yay!! Although, it's extremely dangerous to reverse calculate Rs to USD when you are here, too dangerous;) Its OK if you convert USD to Rs when you are in the US, it keeps you from spending more thinking of the huge amount, but it causes the exact opposite effect when you do it here;)

But anyway, I got off at the bus stop and crossed the ORR and started walking home. I have been doing this "crossing the ORR" since a couple of days and its made me extremely happy. And the bus ride today made me jump in joy! :D I would have shocked my own self about 8 years back if I said that a bus ride made me happy. Going by buses and crossing busy streets (let alone highways) was never a happy event for me. I used to hate it. Going by car was always an aspirational thing. But a bus-ride was part of my being for 21 years. A car ride was dream. Today when I took the bus I felt overjoyed because it felt like reconnecting with my past. Not to mention the fact that I am finally convinced that I adapted back to my roots and adapted fast at that. I knew I would be able to. But there was some amount of doubt somewhere, maybe I have changed without my knowing.

Now I know.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

JNTU everywhere!

One of my JNTU seniors pinged me the other day. He got curious at my status on GTalk which goes "In Bangalore ...finally!". So I told him how I moved back and he was very surprised, asked me where I was etc. We discovered we worked right next to each other, in Intel and Cisco on ORR (short for Outer Ring Road in Bangalore). We then got talking and he was telling me that another senior of mine was working in a building right opposite to ours across the ORR. She had also moved back to India recently. I actually lost touch with her since maybe 2002 and I was glad to hear her whereabouts. I asked him to co-ordinate lunch and we agreed that we could go on Friday.

It seems that no matter where I go, my engineering relationships will follow:) I am so glad for it. When you are in engineering you know just about anyone and everyone and you will never have a place where you can't meet at least one acquaintance from back then ;) Maybe its true with other professions as well, but that is not for me to say. Engineering I can vouch for ;)

That Long Power Cut

So we got our new fridge. And that whole day there wasn't any power. But we hardly felt the pinch. This whole place has fully backed up generators for <15A usage plugs so our lights and fans were all doing well. As long as I don't sweat I don't mind a power cut;)

So I was going to do a blog about how this long power cut didn't matter at all except for the fact that I couldn't turn on my new fridge and microwave. But then we realized next morning that it wasn't a power cut after all;) The circuit had tripped and it had shut off power to the heavyweight lines;) I discovered later in the evening when I had the time to research it properly that it was the Voltage stabilizer that came with the fridge that was faulty. We returned it and asked the guy to send us another one (mind you, the guy comes to your place to take it and get you a new one, no going to the store ;) )

So why am I doing this post? Not really sure;) I was just happy that where I thought we had a fault in the infrastructure, we didn't really :)

The Auto Experience

Well, its a done thing. No matter where you are in India, you have to use the Auto-Rickshaw as a mode of transport at one point or another. And then, invariably its a very iffy transaction 90% of the time. Especially if you live in remote parts of the city like we do;)

Our Auto experience has been rich and varied thanks to the fact that we haven't gotten our car from Hyd yet. We take the auto to commute everyday. I always make it a point to check if those fellows are turning on the meter when I get in. Still you cannot avoid some mishaps like the one we had yesterday;) We took the same auto both on Monday and Tuesday. I get off at Cisco and Subhash goes on to Indira Nagar from there. Apparently on Monday this guy drove all around the place before taking him to work finally and overcharged (very normal I say;) ). And on Tuesday I pointed to Subhash that he hadn't turned on the meter. And when he asked the guy, he coolly responded by saying "Kal gaye the na saab utna hi dedo" (We went yesterday, pay me as much as you did yesterday) and Subhash was outraged. He argued saying you overcharged yesterday and I wont pay you as much today. With a lot of anger on either side the guy finally agreed to turn on the meter and we agreed to pay 10 extra for the distance he had covered without the meter which was hardly 0.5 KM.

Well, living here is truly a unique experience, you learn so much and you harden so much more over time :) Not to mention how smarter you become ;) It's like your entire senses are alive at all times ready to combat anything offensive;) I am loving it!

The first cultural mistake;)

When we went down to drink flavoured milk the other day, I finished that bottle by the time we walked to the grocery store to buy some vegetables. I immediately asked him on an impulse "Dust Bin hai kya?" (Do you have a dust bin?) and the little fellow actually took offense to it. "Idhar kyu rehta dust bin?" (Why would there be a dust bin here?) And I was a little surprised at his reaction.

Subhash later explained how this is entirely different between India and the US. A dust bin is not something you would keep in a grocery shop. And its not a very good thing to ask people if they have a dust bin around. Hmm..I have to unlearn this. I was wondering, what was my attitude towards dust bins 7 years ago? Did I expect every business/shop to have a dust bin. There was this supermarket near our place in Tarnaka. Did I expect that guy to have a dust bin back then? Hmm..I cannot remember, but all the same, I need to be extra conscious of what I ask and say from now on :)

That was my Lesson # 1

R2I diaries - Day 7 - Second Half

After lunch, I worked for a little while before I had to head home for the broadband guy to come and kick-start our internet connection. he was supposed to come by 4 but I guess thanks to the traffic he came at 5.30. In the meanwhile, I cleaned up the place and adjusted some more things in the house, and cleared up some more mess.

While the guy worked on that, I got a call from the interior designer's folks saying they were coming to take some stuff from the place to fix it and bring it back. The internet guy just finished when the other two came in. They worked some more. At the end of this ordeal I was a good deal tired. Then the appliances guy called, delivery van was starting.

Some phone calls and some more dead signals (did I mention Airtel is also pretty bad in our apartment:( ) later the guy finally came. I showed him in and yay!! I have my new fridge. :D :D And microwave and the water purifier as well. Its going to be a couple days before I can use them but all the same they are home now. Now I know that moving from here is going to be a pain, gosh!

Subhash came home later, got some yoghurt for dinner. Some other Airtel guys came to activate the broadband and now we have internet!! And it is a really broad band ;) 2 Mbps broad :D At the end of this, I was feeling very hungry so we went down to ..any guesses?..drink flavoured milk. :D :D And we were wondering why we never did this in the US? Maybe its the environment. Maybe we all adapt perfectly to the environment around us that we don't even notice. So anyway, I had my flavoured milk (this time it was elaichi flavour :D ) we bought some vegetables, came home had dinner and called it a day.

R2I diaries - Day 7 - First Half ;)


I thought I'd write a diary for the first week and then take individual experiences and incidents and get along with my blog. After all who wants to red a daily runt?;) So today is the last day. We landed late night last Monday. And today we finish a week.

Morning was pretty routine. We didn't get coupons for milk on Sunday so we went for yet another early morning walk (:D) to get some milk. After that we got ready and ate Chocos (:D :D :D) and left for work. Incidentally since we got married, this was the first normal day for us. Each going our way for work and coming back home in the evening. So we got off. Today is going to be a busy day. Our appliances were going to get delivered in the evening and so I thought it would be a busy day. If only I knew!

We took an auto outside the apartment complex (its like a mini city) and headed to work. Subhash gave me a list of things to do when people called because he was leaving the phone with me today, since I was going to go home early for the appliance delivery.

Now I have to mention my commute :D 10 minutes flat! 4 KMS. Thank God we moved closer to Cisco. Else those 1-1.5 hr commutes although exactly were not killing me, they were beginning to get weary;) We walked till the front of the apartment (maybe 0.5 KMS?) and then I got off at the entrance to the IT park where Cisco is and walked to the building. I was sweating so much by the time I got in that the AC felt good. And I wanted to drink cold water!! Yay!!! I am back to my old self. I used to love drinking cold stuff till I went to the US and anything that was not boiling hot used to make me shiver. Damn those winters and those cold nights! So long as you don't think I am insane you are free to assume that I came back for this heat :D

After I got to work, I got a call from the broadband guy saying they can install it today itself! Wow! I had heard that the turn-around times are around a week. This guy not only promised it to us in three days, he beat his own estimate and said he was going to give it to us the very next day?! I must be dreaming!! I told him I was at work and cannot come over immediately. I asked him to send the technicians over at 4PM.

I got to work. Then I got a bunch of calls thanks to keeping Subhash's phone with me. Then I got one call from some technician at LG saying he was going to come over in half an hour to install the washing machine. I was shocked. This cannot be. They said they were going to deliver at 6PM. How can things be faster than promised? I told him that I was at work and they were originally supposed to come at 6PM and he said he was around this area and that later he wouldn't be able to come all this way. So I had no option but to leave immediately. Thanks to my 4KM commute now, I was home in 15 mins.

I have to snippet a conversation with the auto driver. I was thinking I'd have to walk all the way to the gate of the campus to find an auto, but i found a guy right there. I said my thanks to god and asked him if he would go. He asked for 60 and this is how the conversation went

Auto: 60
Me: Yaake kod beku 60? 4KMS ide ashte alla?
Auto: 50
Me: Meter 30 uu aagalla.
Auto: 40 kodiri
Me: Meter yeshtagatto ashte kodtini.
Auto: Sari.

Basically means Auto guy asked for 60, thrn 50 then 40 then noticed I wouldn't pay and agreed to go by the meter. Wow! Me and my Kannada :D Its a proper mish-mash of Telugu works mixed in with some Telugu-ish accent. But hey! I am trying;)

The guy came well over 45 mins later. And he asked me to show him where he must install it. I showed it to him. Then he asked me "Ok, where is the machine". I went whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat? You said you were going to come and install it. He said he was just going to do the installation for a machine that already existed. So we decided he should come back tomorrow when the machine is finally here. Same time, same place. I called the broadband guy to see if he could send the technician over now as I was home anyway and he said he couldn't. So I got back to work (no internet at home => no work done there => have to go back to work) after unpacking the last clothes suitcase (yeah that guy took so long to come!). Rs. 75 gone for this exercise in autos. Plus the auto guy on the way back was nasty. I insisted on paying by the meter so he challenged me to pay by the meter, will you pay me whatever the meter shows? I said yeah, and he was in such a rage that I was pretty sure he was going to mess with the meter. I muttered to him "Kyon, meter bhagaoge kya?". Rightly so, his meter showed that my campus was 6KMS from where we started which was a good 2 KMS over the actual distance and I had to pay him 40 which is what the meter said, and I told him I knew how he messed with it. But what cannot be cured has got to be endured.

Since too may things happened today, I shall write another post on the second half of the day. I got back to work and went to lunch with a big group of women (girls) and generally got to know some more people. They looked like a fun group. Hopefully I won't stick out ;)

Breezy nights

W have huge French Windows in all the rooms in this apartment? And the owner very thoughtfully got Mosquito nets made for all those doors. So we are actually sleeping with the doors open :D And I simply love it. That night breeze plus the sound of that fan. Reminds me of my window-side sleeping arrangement back in our Tarnaka apartment which I missed so sorely the last 7 years.

R2I diaries - Day 6


Our first proper day in the new home. Woke up early (see how this is also becoming routine;) ). We decided to check out what we needed to do for newspaper deliver, milk, groceries etc. We went to the front of the apartment complex (this whole complex has some dozen buildings, and they are spaciously laid out, not cramped into a small area, and that floored both of us) and asked the security guy. He said there was a grocery store in Building#n and the milk store was in Building #m. While we were walking to the security, we noticed the newspaper-wallah in Building#n so we ordered delivery with him already.

We went to this store next. I wrote a post last year when I was in India about how enterprising our folks are. And was I happy to see this store. They rented an apartment in the ground floor (its been so long since I saw ground floor+ first floor etc as opposed to level 1 level 2 etc;) ) and setup shop there. Some 3-4 guys were moving around handing supplies billing, weighing etc. We went in and were surprised to no end. Everything you can imagine was crammed into that 400 sq foot living area/dining area of this apartment converted to a shop. We picked up some basic supplies like "Kelloggs Chocos" (Did I mention this was my favorite cereal brand before I left for the US? Was I disappointed to not find the exact same thing there or what?!), some bright bulbs (we hate yellow coloured lights) etc. These guys said that if we called them and told them what we need, they would deliver it to our apartment (happy happy happy :D :D)

We then went to the Milk Shop. I saw Nandini and I was happy. I love "Nandini Tuppa". I used to hog on it when I was a kid being pampered by all my aunts;) I badly wanted to drink flavoured milk (a ritual that my friend K and I used to regularly perform every evening in Hyd's summers coming back from college) so we got the Kesar flavoured one in a tin. We bought a packet of milk. The guy told us about the coupon system for milk. Just buy a booklet of coupons, hang a bag outside your door with coupons in it (as per how much you need) and lo and behold! in the morning the coupons are gone and the milk appears ;) Convenient? You bet! I remember painfully carrying those gallon cans of milk upstairs whenever I did groceries. Sigh!

I thoroughly enjoyed our little round-trip walk (little less than 1 KM) to the front of the apartments and back (ours is the last but one block). People were jogging/walking/taking kids for a stroll. In general chatting away when someone familiar came by. Boy! Did I not come back for these sights and sounds. Yes! I did!!

We came back and got back to unpacking. Subhash did the majority of it while I did some minor parts. We made Pongal and ate. We remembered we forgot to buy pickle while we were downstairs at the shop. So we called him and he brought us a Priya pickle jar and we paid him and that was it!! Didn't have to take out the car to go anywhere to buy it. Better still, didn't have to compromise and eat this stuff without any pickle! :D :D

We had to go to SSK's place for lunch. The Airtel guy was going to come over to pick up the application forms for Broadband at home. Not sure what we owe no-thanks to but he came at 1.30 PM instead of his promised 10.30 AM ;) And this caused a push out in all our plans. We were late in going to SSK's place for lunch. We had to take home a gas cylinder from their place (Subhash had this connection before he left for the US and he left it with them. When we met on Saturday, they mentioned they had it and that we should take it as they had one too many cylinders now;) And we were happy, because that one LPG gas cylinder seemed a problematic thing and a thing of distant future, but now we could have one!! And an almost full one at that! :) ) So we went to their place had lunch and I endlessly admired SSK's wife V's painting talents. She had some of them framed and they were amazing!! Wow! People have so much talent, I feel so deprived of any talent whatsoever.

We had to go to Metro to buy some things. This is a membership thingy like Costco and you buy in bulk. Membership is not easy to get and V had somehow managed one. So we went. And shopped for some things. Again cringed about how expensive it was and got ready to pay. But this guy only took cash. Alternate was pay with Citibank cards and pay 1.5% surcharge. We cringed and agreed. V was going to swipe her card since we didn't have one. Only to find that all his gateways were jammed and their calls wouldn't go through. We were kangaal, didn't have any cash. After innumberable attempts finally our payment went through but SSK and V's didn't. They had cash so they paid for theirs and we finally got out. A good half an hour spent just to pay for the things. Reminded me of those long lines in Walmart. Except for that here we didn't wait in the line, we waited at the counter ;)

V was going to pick up something close to Y's place and so we went along and then dropped by Y's place. We were actually going to take the cylinder and the stuff from METRO and head back home in an auto but we didn't find any so SSK had to drop us home yet again, so we thought might as well tag along with them wherever they went ;) So we also went to Y's place, I updated S on the happenings between yesterday and today and then the boys went off in their typical style to "The Lake" while we girls discussed interesting things;) Reminded me of the gang back in the Bay Area. Boys off to Starbucks or some place while girls stayed home and talked on endlessly about all kinds of things. We used to call ours the "PJ Party" and the boys felt threatened by this cult and so they used to go off to do their own thing and called it the "Lungi party". Boys, I tell you! ;)

SSK and V dropped us home after that good time in Y's place and I made dinner (Plain dal+Pickle(remember the one that was delivered?)). Simple dinner but all the same. We used our new cylinder and hence that nice Faber 4-burner stove in the kitchen this time instead of my single Primus Cabson one:D

I was thinking about writing this last night/today and it seemed so long ago. I could have bet it was a week ago or at least 4 days ago. But it only happened less than 2 days ago. And I am amazed at how slowly time moves. Our days are just filled with so many things that something that happened early morning yesterday seems like ages ago when you think of it tonight! Wow!