Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sad sad day

My parents were visiting this weekend. When they left for my cousins' place this evening, I felt really sad. I wished they would stay longer. But more than that, I felt heavy because both my mom and dad are beginning to show their age. I want to keep them with me always so I can see them around me and rest assured that all is well. What would I not give to see them young and "pink" again! But age is something we all have to come to terms with. Meanwhile Subhash's mom is not keeping well at all and has had immense trouble this last week with her teeth. All this makes me feel angry. Why should anyone suffer? Why? Tsk..I feel sad. So I got thinking about an ideal life for me at this point. My parents and Subhash's parents living with us and we being one big family.

Just when I was drifting off in thoughts like this, Subhash called from the middle of his Squash game telling me to check the news for the Ahmedabad blasts. What?! Blasts in another town now? I was not sure how to react to the Bangalore blasts to begin with. And there was news of one being diffused just today @ the Forum Mall, which we go by very often:( The first of the blasts yesterday was pretty close to our place @ Madiwala. Should I be sad? Should I be angry? Should I fear for my life now? Should I avoid crowded places? What the bloody hell am I supposed to feel?

And I cannot believe the ineptitude of the people in control. As usual Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi issued generic statements. But really has this useless Congress-run alliance done anything better/other than condemning? Stupid morons. I wish someone would blow Sonia's house so then all the jokers in Congress would wake up and try to catch the culprits for once instead of issuing statements written and dictated by someone else. I usually don't like to swear but I want to use the choicest of abuse in honour of our esteemed politicians. The last month I have seen extreme callousness from them. First the J&K riots. Now this.

What really surprises me is that every one around in the news is talking about people being vigilant. Mumbai is on high-alert. Hyderabad is on high-alert. OK. I am vigilant. I find someone carrying something suspicious and leave it at some crowded place. I immediately want to inform the authorities. But who should I call on an emergency basis? I am not so sure our 100 numbers work so well. Why don't the stupid people in-charge create some hotlines and use this omni-present media to advertise it so I know who to call when I am vigilant and actually see something suspicious. Now that would make the media also more useful for once wouldn't it? But no, everyone talks of investigations and being vigilant and all the standard crap, but I don't see anything being done to facilitate such vigilance. Sigh! I usually hate ineptitude but now I feel sad about it. I am hoping that no one else dies anywhere else. That is all I can do for now.

[Choicest abuses again]

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A lesson in compassion

So we went house-hunting last evening. This was probably the first time we did it during a week-day. We found this AD for a property which was quite far away from both our work places yet the description was so alluring that we were tempted to give it a look. It was priced a little on the higher side for where it was located so I thought maybe it would really blow me away. You get the picture, high expectations.

We reached the place after a lot of bad roads and a lot of hard time for our poor Palio. When we were going there, we thought, even if this house is excellent, its not worth the pot holes. So we had mentally prepared for a tough choice which was saying no to an amazing home.

We met the owner close to the property and as soon as I saw him I thought he was an agent. He didn't look like an owner. I was about to ask him if he was an agent when he said "my house" is nearby. So naturally I refrained. We are trained to treat people equally based on their inner worth but end of the day I am human. I tended to form an opinion based on how this guy looked. Mistake.

So we proceeded to this house. We stopped in front of this really beautiful manor and I was already beginning to think of my tough choice getting tougher when he said it was the house next to it that was his. First disappointment. Then we went in. Usually I have the habit of looking all around the house on my own while Subhash is talking politely to the person showing it etc. So I went around. And what I saw didn't impress me. The house was spacious and simple and neat but nowhere close to what the expectation in my mind was based on what I read.

Then I started paying attention to what the guy was saying. Because I was getting impatient. My tough choice just got very very easy. I knew I didn't want to take this place so far away from work for sure and I wanted to go home because it was getting late and I had to cook and had calls and so on and so forth. And the guy was painstakingly going over every detail. And I mean detail. Like here is the place to keep towels, here are hooks attached to the door to hang clothes, here is a light and such.

I was wondering how Subhash was going through it all. To me it looked like some guy building a house, then claiming it to be extra-ordinary and out of this world and charging a premium for it. If you have been in the house-hunt business for as long as I have, you will see many such people simply irritating your psyche by asking for the earth and the moon in return for a piece of land.

Subhash asked this guy why he was selling this house and he said he ran into some losses in the stock market and so he had a liquidation problem and he needs to sell this house to get out of it. I quickly made a mental note of it, justified that as a reason for his asking for a premium for it and moved on.

On our way back, I was laughing over how ridiculous this guy was going over bath towel hangers and lights and all that. And was telling him how I wasn't impressed with the house at all. Then what Subhash said is what I will remember hopefully for the rest of my life.

He said "I sincerely hope this man wins some jackpot and gets to keep his house. For where he comes from this house is the house of his dreams. Its the grandest thing he has seen and he has painstakingly built it with as much luxury as he is aware of. And he must be in such pain to have to sell this dream of his for money and because he is in a financial crunch. I sincerely hope he gets enough money from somewhere so he can keep this house and stay in it"

And I said, what is so grand about this house? If he had not described it like he did, we wouldn't have taken the trouble to come all this way to see it right? And he said "Your idea of grandeur comes from where and what you were born and brought up with and what you want to graduate to. So whatever is your idea of grandeur is now, for people who were born in that, they will look to the next level of luxury and that we will have no idea about. Its the same with this guy. For what he was born into, and where he comes from, this is extremely grand for him, and to have to sell this accomplishment, and something this close to his heart, it must pain him so much."

And then I thought about it. Yeah, if I were to give shape to what I think is grand and describe it, and if someone was born into that kind of an environment and is used to all that and is looking at the next level, which I have no idea about, I think they would feel that I was equally stupid and ridiculous in thinking that my dream was so great.

That made me feel so guilty in retrospection that I had a knot in my stomach. And it showed me how much more I have to grow. As it is, I am forced into being nicer and nicer every day and a far cry from my own boisterous self some 4 years back. And now this, just when I was thinking I was improving. It showed me how two people's take on a subject can be at the opposite ends of a spectrum. How where one feels compassion, one can deride.

And more importantly, it showed me how much this man I married, deserves to be happy just for the greatness of mind he shows :)


I almost forgot this.

Last Friday we went with the IIM gang to this quaint Konkani restaurant off Sarjapur road. Since I am not at all familiar with Konkani cuisine except for "Neer Dosa" which I know thanks to my sister-in-law's grandparents, I don't know what the others ordered and what I ate, except for this one Neer Dosa ;)

We had some egg fry with a yumm masala. And bottle gourd wrapped/stuffed mashed potato. So it was mashed potato stuffed into a bottle gourd and then cut into thin slices I think. That was amazing too. We also had some super nice banana bajjis. And I got sugarcane juice to drink while some others had tender coconut water.

For the main course I was too full with the starters. So I just had a couple of neer dosas and curd rice. I think the others ordered some pumpkin curry and dal and some other dish, I was too far away from that end of the table so I don't even remember what else was kept there :D

I also had jackfruit leaf wrapped idlis which were a super hit.

All in all, since I am not at all good with those names, I will just say the starters were amazing and very filling.

The ambience itself was quaint. I even saw double doors which closed with a latch after a long long time for the rest room :D It was on the top-most floor with thatched roof and all. Even the light switches were those old fashioned black ones with the switch in between.

I think this review would do more justice to the restaurant than me ;)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sisters at work?

Talking of the team here, we have this set of people who have lunch together. Lets call them the "lunch group". I was lucky enough to get started with this set of people when I was new here. (thanks to H, who was the only person I knew well enough by face before I got here, since she had made a trip to San Jose sometime ago) Man! They are just the kind of guys anyone would dream of hanging out with. Anyone with my temperament I mean :) Of course a lot of people have apparently not been able to sustain around the spontaneity and the intellectual capacity that this group possesses. Many have been intimidated by it. Luckily for me, I fit right in! And now I look forward to having lunch every day (I used to look forward to having lunch even before, just because its lunch, duh! but more so now, for the company). I used to always eat at my desk back in San Jose. When anyone from my old team spotted me in the cafeteria they would have an expression of disbelief that I can't aptly describe here. So this news is definitely going to blow their minds ;)

And one of the lunch group, SH, is a Sankethi. When she told me she was a Sankethi, I was damn sure we were related in some way. So I asked my master database, my aunt, when I visited her this Saturday. I just gave her the name and lo! it was like using a keyword to access a database of information. That my aunt wouldn't disappoint with information I knew, but that she would beat my already-high expecattions I didn't dream of. She told me exactly how this girl was related to me, where she did her Masters, who she married even! It so happens that I am related to SH through this very aunt of mine;) So today I told SH about it at lunch and we were extremely happy to discover that we were sisters by relation;) Its a small world, rather a very small community ;)

Nett summary: Work is fun and outside work is even more fun. And so all in all, just like I expected and more than that, hoped, I am loving life here more and more with every passing day. We finish 4 months of moving back to India in a couple of days and I am already saying "I'd rather live here than anywhere else!"

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The whole Chennai experience

1) Chennai is as hot and sweaty as usual. The whole earth might be cold but Chennai will be hot. And sweaty. Damn the nasty weather, I so hate it.
2) It was 8 years since I was on an Indian campus (other than informal visits to JNTU). And I loved every minute of it. The energy levels are so high!
3) Students carry around their student IDs in dog-belts. Sigh! Even before joining tech companies. I used to carry my college ID in a bag. And I hate the dog-belts, so I still carry my ID around on my pocket and never around my neck ;)
4) Since we were at Anna University, we saw the proverbial "creme de la creme". It was good to see what stuff state toppers and entrance exam toppers are made of. Some of them are very much down to earth where some of them very conspicuously have that academic-brilliance-generated haughtiness. Had I not been a decade older than them, I would have felt weird interviewing these brilliant guys, my own teen state ranks notwithstanding;)
5) Like always you feel guilty. We had a set limit on how many people we could hire. And a couple of girls who just missed the mark were wholly deserving as well. I felt immensely bad that we couldn't make them an offer.
6) I met one of my JNTU friends after 3 years. Although it was 12 by the time I was done with dinner, he and his wife had come around to the hotel and we spent some good quality time chatting and getting up to speed on where everyone was, who is getting married, who got married, who is about to have kids, who had kids recently and the likes. And we went to a nearby ice cream shop, but I was too busy chatting to enjoy my ice cream properly. It was 1.30 AM by the time they left, I felt happy that they hanged around for so long.
7) We had dinner at the in-house restaurant in the hotel. A Chinese one called "Shanghai". Food was awesome and although I was too tired and too sleep-deprived, I relished every bit of it:) We had deep fried Lotus stems, I had some good clear Lemon flavoured soup and some yummy pickled-veggies fried rice. Restaurants in Chennai never disappoint I say! :)

All in all, I loved the whole experience. And it was definitely made much more enjoyable because of the team I was traveling with. Plus the whole system of recruitment here is entirely different simply because of the scale. We had to deal with 30 students or so in Madison where we were dealing with 300 students here. We were usually part of one layer of filtering, at the most two, back in San Jose, where here we ended the process with making offers so it was a start-to-finish deal. It made me feel old, but all the same I loved feeling old this way ;)

I think I have finally stopped missing my San Jose team. I love the people I hang out with at work here, its an awesome crowd. A lot more laughs and a lot more energy!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

And I present to you a masterpiece

So I am back from Chennai and here is a master-piece that I collected on my flight back. This was no ordinary water and so I had to post it here. (Use your browser zoom to see it larger after you click on it)

Since I couldn't get a bigger resolution, let me put the extracts of that text here. Along with my expressions of course! Those come for free.

I am so pure

I make a cliche like "pure" seem new again (hain?!). So removed, the only things I've been in contact with before you (yuck yuck!) are sun, wind, earth and snow (what the hell?!?). I am one of the purest thing (Wren and Martin double somersaulting in their graves) you've laid your hands on (Corny, corny, corny). I hope you're thirsty. (What ?!?!)

Live Natural

God! Did you see a more cornier ad for water ever?

I was so taken by it, I had to post it.

And no wonder the water tasted BAD.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Off recruiting again :)

I signed up for going to campuses to recruit since I didn't want to get out of that habit. And I go to Chennai tomorrow for my first one this season @ Anna University. Unlike my Madison experience, this is a relatively short notice. There, I would know exactly when I am going months in advance, here I was told yesterday and I leave tomorrow. But I am looking forward to it. I always loved going recruiting, it always made me feel extra responsible for Cisco :)

I think the recruiting experience here is going to be quite different from back in Madison. We deal with a lot and a lot more inexperienced students. If our engineering days are anything to go by, I should hardly expect anything technical out of them. We used to be that bad;)

And I also have to convince them that test is an equally challenging and interesting occupation. So lets see how I can fare here!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Umerkot and more Flambe

Friday night we re-visited Flambe. Last time we were too busy conversing to concentrate on what we were eating. This time around we did a better job.

We had the roti basket with Dal Makhani (I have tried Dal Makhani at just about every place around here, and none of them have disappointed) and Hyderabadi Subz (yeah all restaurants use the Z now, no more the Subzi;) ) Both of them were yumm.

We went to Umerkot in Koramangala on Saturday night. Ambience was good. We were right by the door which was a little inconvenient but the food soon made us forget it all;)

We got Mathri with dipping complimentary. It was zesty.

We ordered the Tomato Dhaniya (and something else) soup and it was nice. We then got the Chilli Paratha and the Rumali roti along with the Achaari Baingan and (well, you guessed it) Dal Makhani ;) Yumm, yumm, yumm. Can't say better. Everything was cooked to perfect taste.

Even the saunf at the end was of three varieties and was cool. I had sweet pan on the way out and it was the perfect closure to an amazing dinner.


After 8 years, I had it again!! The Sitafal :D

I love mangoes, sapotas, jackfruit and seetafal. Of all of these probably Sitafal the most emotionally. I used to love to watch my grandmother eating it ;) Whenever I eat it I am reminded of her.

So anyway, I used to get jackfruit and sapotas in tins back in the US, not as good but well, something. Mangoes, I was in India summer of 2004 and I hogged. So Sitafal was the one fruit I haven't had since 2000. And I sorely missed it.

We went to TOTAL on Sarjapur Road and I saw Subhash suddenly rushing off with the cart. I didn't know where he was going till I looked around for him and found him near the fruits area picking Sitafals for me!!! So sweet. Yeah, he is like that :) If I want something, he'd do anything he can to get it for me, and with enthusiasm, and this makes all the difference :D

So today I finally had one. And was feeling fuzzy-happy about it :) So naturally it goes on the blog too ;)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

An incredible ad on RadioOne 94.3 FM

For all you Bangaloreans ;)

Girl: Hamare bedroom me ek bada sa cot hoga, soft pillows, neele rang ke parde, wardrobe bla bla bla
(In our bedroom we will have a huge cot, pillows, blue shades, wardrobe etc etc)

Boy:Arey pehle shaddi tho ho jaane do
(Arey, let the wedding happen first)

Ad man takes over:

Arey shadiyaan tho hoti rahengi, lekin bedroom banane ka time tho abhi hain.

(Arey, marriages will keep happening, but now is the time to build that dream bedroom)


Some Home Town's sale event's ad. What were they thinking?! They didn't find a better way to advertise their bedroom sale event?!

If they left it at the conversation between the girl and the boy, it would have probably still been ok.

But the message in the background totally makes it beyond believable. They are encouraging people to ignore the marriage part and focus on making up the bedroom:)) Gosh!

Truly some modern times we are in. I am surprised some moral policer hasn't caught it and gone on Dharna to have it off-air yet :))

Really now!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Bay Leaf

Forgot to add Bay Leaf (Koramangala) in that list of restaurants :)

It was Subhash's cousin's birthday so we went to Bay Leaf for dinner last week. Parking was a mess (what else do you expect in Koramangala?!) and we finally managed to get in after a huge drama what with the rain and lack of parking.

Food was good. Above average actually. We ordered Mulligatawny soup and I felt that the MTR ready to make version of this soup tastes much better. The roti basket was a treasure. Well kneaded and soft rotis. Curries were good too. Biryani was average. But then by the time I got to Biryani I was too damn full. We had Rasmalai for dessert and it was yumm!

All in all my culinary and shopping experiences have gotten much more satisfactory to the senses now that I am back :D

Independence Day Trivia

While checking something I realized that the Indian Independence Day (August 15) and the American Independence Day (July 4) will always fall on the same week day. So this year we will have a long weekend for Independence Day! Yippee!!

A battle or a mere sport?

It was an epic. Truly. I was too young to witness the 1980 war between McEnroe and Borg but they say this was the longest ever final in the history of Wimbledon, so that couldn't have been better.

I was cheering for Federer. Mainly because Nadal still has time. I was really wishing that for the maestro that Federer is, he would walk away with that record 6 straight Wimbledon titles. But it was not to be. Nadal was relentless, never let going of anything. But I am glad of just one thing. And that is that Nadal didn't win in straight sets. And Federer lost with immense dignity, even if it was a loss it went all the way into the night.

I noticed that the HINDU didn't print the results of the match. It was probably too late for them to follow it through to the end. It went on till 2AM. Never thought it would. And the rain definitely added to all that drama. I slept through the two sets that Federer won and only saw the last set but even then it was worth it. Or maybe not. I am still feeling very upset that Federer didn't win. (I probably shouldn't watch sports of any kind, I tend to take the results too personally :( )I was so wishing that he would although I wasn't very hopeful after seeing Nadal through the French Open season.

Now I really wish he goes over this game and comes up with new strategies to win back Wimbledon 2009. But then pressure does a lot of things to people. So I hope he sails through this defeat to come back a winner next year.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Some more restaurants

I tried a few more in Bangalore!

Flambe - Around the corner from our place on outer ring road. Food was decent. We went with a big group so more on the conversation, less on the food, our focus I mean. They had good Pita bread with falafel.

Via Milano - An Italian place in Koramangala. Pizza was soft and Pasta was nice and spicy. The service was lousy, but I heard that was more an exception than the norm. We took 3 hours to finish dinner what with their mega serving times.

Golconda Chimney - Middle land between a Dhaba and a proper restaurant. On Whitefield road. Food was decent. Appetizers were good except the Veg kheema thingy. Lassi was way to sweet and artificial to be anything Mango.

Bharateeyam - A "no nonsense" place in HSR Layout. Your all cuisines in one olace. Chinese, Indian, snacks, chat, ice creams and what not. First time we went we had Dosa, Idli and the likes. Second time we went I had some Veg Fried Rice which was just made and piping hot. But the crown of this place is undoubtedly their "Mango Kulfi". I was simply amazed when I ordered it and the guy was taking it out to "serve" it. They actually hollow out mangoes and fill it with Mango kulfi and freeze it. When you order one, he cuts the mango and lays the pieces neatly on a plate and voila! you not only have the most sumptuous kulfi but also a deadly looking one. Mango slices topped with nice frozen kulfi. It was one too many slices for me to eat but when 3-4 people share it amongst themselves, its a winner all the way!

Beijing Bites - A good Chinese restaurant in HSR layout. Place was decent and clean. Appetizers were yumm although a little more on the salty side. Egg Fried Rice was amazing and the Hakka Noodles were nice! We didn't try any dessert since we were already too full.

Thursday, July 03, 2008


Everytime I have to throw a plastic bag out, I feel a knot in my stomach. Thinking where it might end up. In what ocean and what sea.

I found this very heartening article today. I must say I was quite unaware of this. This seems a rather devilishly genius idea. Mix plastic with tar while laying roads and they not only end up stronger but you also have en effective way of disposing off plastic.

Although it seems too good to be true, I really hope it is. I think they are still studying if this is completely safe for the environment or not. I hope they go on to find that it is. That would be simply fabulous don't you think?

What pains me acutely is that I haven't known about this at all thus far. That is the problem with the god-damned media. Focus on glamour, stupid reality shows, and chase celebrities. Cry hoarse over violence, inflation and god knows what else. Why not cover something productive like this. If they repeatedly aired this story 4 times in a day instead of updating the public on every small move that Harman Baweja is trying to make to save his film from Jaane Tu Ya Jaane na, I am sure a lot more people will take notice. Apparently these guys are having a tough time collecting all the plastic waste that Bengaluru generates, CNN and TV9 could surely help by airing this. I am sure a lot of the citizens are out looking for some substantial and serious news.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

R2I: Self help is still best help?

A lot of people ask me if I have adjusted well and settled down. And I usually tell them, I haven't "adjusted" to anything. I never felt like I was changing something or adjusting to a new environment. I left a Cisco building on Friday, I flew out and I started working in another Cisco building on a Tuesday, to me my move was just a long weekend ;) Other than that taking up a house etc, didn't feel much different than anywhere else. More importantly, now that we are back, we both never felt like we ever left. The US and California and everything else seems like a distant memory that happened a long long time ago!

Ok I am digressing. So the point is, have I adjusted yet? Though I claim to have completely settled in, I realized (actually I keep realizing these days) that I haven't adjusted/gotten used to some things, yet. Like not doing everything myself. In the US, you do everything yourself. You have to, you got no other option. I am so used to it, that I don't take help where I can. Nor do I realize I can delegate certain things which I would have had to do otherwise. Some people even find it very amusing that I do certain things.

Like for example, I had to go to my land-lady's place (they live in the same apartments) and hand over a month's electricity bill and receipt to her for something she needed to do. I was all set to go when my maid arrived. So I called A and said I'd come over after the maid left. Then Subhash came home. I told him I had to go to A's place and he simply said "Why don't you give it to the maid and ask her to give it there on her way out?" I was like whoa! dumb dumb me! So I wrote her a note, gave her both pieces of paper and she dropped them off on her way out. It was so simple really.

There was this other time in the gym when I was cleaning up after me picking up used papers etc, the attendant standing there was saying that she would take care of it and that I should leave it. I said its quite alright and did it anyway, so I must have looked like some weird person to her ;)

There is an attendant at work who switches on all the lights daily in the morning at work. Back in San Jose, I used to do it myself (on days when I was early enough, of course) ;)

Still got to get "adjusted" to these things I guess.