Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Bye 2014!! Hi 2015!!

It's been an eventful year - yet again.

Kids - Both kids reached major milestones this year. One turned 5 and the other turned 1! It was also Rohan's first year at a regular school out of Cisco. He adjusted remarkably well - right from hopping on the school bus on day ONE!

Fitness wise too, its been an awesome year - shed almost all of the weight from the second pregnancy - well, ALMOST! Some of it just refuses to go, thanks to two C-Sections.

Moved into the new house this year finally and enjoying all that extra space!

Made a long pending, and long overdue switch in teams at work. This will be my fourth innings in Cisco - hoping it will be a good and interesting one, as with the last three! I've had this team for the last four years though and will certainly miss them.

2015 will be a year full of the decade-long milestones - my stint at Cisco, Subhash's brothers wedding, our engagement and so on and so forth! Looking forward to them!

Really hoping 2015 lives up to all expectations we have from it!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Three years.

Today, it's been three years since we lost my mother-in-law. We had the day fall on Saturday according to the Indian calendar and did the usual rituals. Some last minute hiccups notwithstanding, it went off passably well.

Slowly, time heals. She becomes more and more of a memory as each day, month and year goes by. The pain and the shock has been numbed down considerably and it is not a reality check so much anymore. I just wish her end didn't have to be so painful for her :(

Yet, we miss her. Last evening we bought the older one a bigger bicycle, a gift from my father-in-law - and couldn't help remembering how my mother-in-law excitedly got him his first one when he was two years old for his birthday. She didn't live much longer after his birthday that year - an event which we can probably never get over, however less painful it gets year after year :(

A snippet from a blog she used to write when she was around, this was after one of those particularly painful hospital episodes. My brother-in-law had flown in from the US after we admitted her in Hyderabad and she was feeling grateful, happy and guilty at the same time. She did really love her sons to bits, my brother-in-law especially, meant everything and more to her, was a very special older son. Though they are very less vocal about it, I know both the brothers miss her quite a lot..

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Haider - not a review

I've read a lot of reviews of the movie Haider - more than I normally read for any movie. The thread is the same. It showcases the Indian Army as a villian, is totally anti-Indian in its sentiment, not a true depiction of the Kashmir problem at all, completely ignores the Kashmiri Pundits extermination from Kashmir and so on and so forth. Yet, in one or two reviews, folks have mentioned, that all that said, they would not call for a ban of the movie since it works against freedom of expression and/or the era of censorship is so outdated.

What most people seem to have missed (especially chest-thumping anti-BJP folks) is that this movie was let release and run in halls without any kind of state intervention and censorship from the government of any sort. And that, when a man hailed as the devil himself is at the helm of affairs in the country. Either we are too pathetic and don't care about any kind of nationalistic spirit or we are a tolerable species inherently. (It is no secret, Hinduism has time and again proven to be the most tolerant of all religions) More importantly, here is a state which is not into stifling freedom of speech/expression unlike what most people predicted and proclaimed it would be!

Sadly, most missed this point.

The wives and their cars

In most of the couples I know, the wife drives the better and bigger (by implication, more expensive) car. Wonder why. I was doing one of my stray thinking bouts when I happened to see one such couple I know driving past - the husband driving the car for a change, that it was the wife's car, she usually drives around in that. Then thoughts went to Rohan's friend's mom and dad, there too, wife drives the more expensive, bigger car. Then I started thinking about it and surely I noticed a pattern. It's not at all uncommon. Wonder what the deal is with guys buying their wives, or couples investing in bigger, more expensive cars for the woman.

Considering our thought process being that a woman is the weaker driver compared to a man, surely this doesn't fit in. Another thing to notice is that when the couple drive together, it is always the husband who drives the car when they take out the wife's. Again an infallible repetition.

Just an observation jotted down.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A dozen year romance - the Gym and I

It was a very wary 21 year old that walked in, completely in awe of the various pieces of equipment, free weights, trainers, people working out etc. It was overwhelming to say the least.

N, my then roomie, initiated me into Racquetball. There was a course offering the Spring of 2002 and she insisted I join. I was wondering if I have enough money to splurge on a Racquet and Ball and goggles, but I enrolled, bought everything that was needed and started. Both of us used to show up for classes in the mornings on the scheduled days. It was in SERF and that also housed a temperature controlled full fledged Swimming floor with a shallow and a deep pool, a complete indoor running track and a full fledged gym along with the Racquetball courts. (Check that link, will you?) I was drawn in. Little by little I started exploring the gym. See, I was just back from my Europe trip, and only when I met my cousins did they realize and consequently made me too, that I had bloated up like a balloon pumped with air. That too within a span of 5 months, they had seen me off in Hyderabad/Bangalore before I left for the US. Call it comfort eating or the irresistible Babcock flavours, (I mean, which university has a full department researching ice cream flavours?! That was nuts. But my favourite was half scoop mocha and half scoop peanut butter in a generous waffle cone. Darn, I have to go to Madison, like now!!) I bloated. Without ever realizing it! I had to do something to stop looking like a pumpkin.

That is how it all started. I still remember going religiously to SERF, SHELL and NAT. SHELL was probably my least favorite but that was because it was not really a full-fledged gym. The only reason I went to it in later years is because it was on a bus route and closest to me when I had to travel by bus since I was living a little after State Street. I remember walking in the snow, with just a light jacket and sneakers, to the bus stop, and taking the bus to SHELL because unlike when I was a student, I was now interning and had to get to work by 8.30 AM. So early AM workouts were the only thing that would work for me. Yes, even in freezing February! Since in the evening I used to do German classes and used to swim at SERF on days when I didn't have German classes. Boy! Did I keep myself busy or what.

So anyway, after all those days at those excellent UW-Mad rec facilities (really, what a shame it would have been to not make use of those sexy facilities!), my gyms' standards have continued to drop but those 2-3 years' practices have gone on and on to date where unless it is a weekend or a holiday or I am traveling - I do not miss a single day of gym/workout. I was telling friends the other day, its become an addicition I cannot do without. I feel all antsy the day I miss it. I feel upset and moody and what not.

That 21 year old would never, ever have thought that things would come to this after a few years!

Monday, October 06, 2014

Singapore & Legoland 2014

I am writing a travelogue after a long time! There is actually quite a few trivia I realized as well

1) After we moved back from the US to India, this is the first international flight I've taken - Subhash has been on a couple to the UK, but me, none. So it has taken 6.5 years for me to venture out after moving back. That is quite a long time. I never realized its been that long!
2) The older one matches Subhash in that his first flight ever was a domestic one and this one was his first international one. The younger one matches me, his first flight ever was an international one.
3) Coincidentally my first flight which was international was to Malaysia - about 13.5 years ago - which I visited this time too.
4) I also realized I have now been out of the US for as long as I was in there. I spent 6y 7.5m in the US in all and now it's been about 6.5 since we moved back. Time does indeed fly! Where, god knows!

So anyway, back to the travelogue - we spent a week in Singapore and made a single day journey to Johor, Malaysia to visit Legoland since Rohan turned 5 and we wanted to celebrate it by doing something he wanted. He got to choose between Disneyland and Legoland and he consistently picked Legoland over the past two years of questioning so Legoland it was.

There were two hitches in the trip - one, the sentencing of Jaya "amma" right the day before we were meant to travel. Our tickets were booked from Chennai (a bit more on that in some time), and we were planning to drive down and catch the flight. I had confirmed train tickets to and from Chennai which I canceled because driving seemed more comfortable and exciting. Only to discover that the time was just not right to drive through TN roads with a KA number plate. So we booked last-minute one-way flight tickets to Chennai which costed a bomb :( Oh well, at least we arrived in Chennai airport safe and got onto our flight.

Next at Singapore immigration, we discovered just me and Subhash had multiple journey visas. And the rest of the family, all 5 of them got single journey visas. In my mind, this was Ok, since it was one trip, so I never thought anything amiss till the immigration guy told us how no one will be able to come back from Legoland if we were to go. Oh god, as soon as I stepped out I was terribly disappointed - this whole trip was made for Legoland and if we couldn't go there, then what was the point. We explored a few options, pushing Legoland to the end and flying out of Malaysia or just requesting to convert the older one's visa to multiple journey. Finally ruled out everything else, after calling the ICA guys, decided the simplest and easiest thing to do was to re-apply for a visa. Again spoke to T who helped apply the visas the first time and applied for just the kids. Got their visas by the end of the day. Next day we were hoping to go to Legoland, but did not want to leave parents behind on their own in Singapore, so canceled that and instead applied for all of them again as well, and got all visas by end of our third day there. Again, many thanks to Singapore ICA guys. Truly, leading by example in how hassle-free an immigration processes should be.

After that was reasonably happy, in spite of the extra costs and headache and tension, finally we would be able to go to Legoland!

This was what we did -

Day 1 - Jurong Bird Park - very boring, it was. We were tired after our red-eye flight. So didn't enjoy it at all. I was terribly disappointed when Rohan said, let's go back to Bangalore tomorrow.

Day 2 - Singapore Duck Tours and Singapore Flyer. We went to Singapore Flyer as suggested by the hotel to catch one of the duck tours. Now, this Flyer thingy is new and was not there when I last visited Singapore (2007 July). We took the MRT which was a little tiring for everyone but we were at the Flyer at last. The Duck tours guy had a package for flyer which we bought after checking the speed of the flyer. It was so slow in rotation that we were sure even the parents would not mind it - it was not your typical giant wheel (the roller-coaster in India). Duck tour was standard. But the flyer experience was fantastic. Not for the views or anything but the car, the speed and the fact that we were to ourselves in the car. Kids monkeyed around, rolled on the car's floor and what not. Everyone had a fantastic time. After the disastrous day 1, this was getting good :) Till now, I have very fond memories of the Flyer - just for this one reason - it transformed our trip. Rohan said, I like this place I want to stay for a little longer :) I asked him if he wanted to go back to Bangalore the next day like he was asking earlier, and the answer was a firm no ;) Evening went to dinner with A and U by Boat Quay which was a lovely experience. Also it was just me and Subhash who went since kids were asleep by then and parents tired so we left them at the hotel and went.

Day 3- Sentosa. This was when we were originally planning to take the kids to Legoland and plan something for the parents in Singapore, later chucked the idea and swapped the Sentosa day with Legoland. Went by cable car (again, after a long MRT ride to Harbourfront). Sentosa was a nice, made-for-tourists island. We went directly to Resorts World Sentosa. It is an oversized mall housing a lot of stuff including Universal Studios, but we just went to the S.E.A Aquarium and were Ok with it. I mean, if we were water species enthusiasts I guess we would have enjoyed it more. The younger one was mightly excited - we were able to make out he would love aquariums on the Jurong Park trip when he was super happy to see Penguins in the glass case. So he had fun and we just roamed around, went to the Typhoon experience theatre - it was rather ordinary. Had lunch after hunting around for the most vegetarian friendly place and found one Bali Thai and had food there. Went to the casino and discovered there was no way they were going to let us in because we left our passports at the hotel (we forgot and realized but still wanted to try our luck, did not work out). So just came back, surely, richer for the savings ;) On the way back went to Mount Faber although I was not really keen. But I was happy Subhash insisted. It had some fabulous views :) Since it was late, went directly from Harbourfront to T's place and had dinner with T and family at their place - finally caught up in the middle of the trip.

Day 4 - Singapore Zoo - wanted to do this on the day we went to Flyer because I wanted to go late so we can cover the Night Safari but both U/A and T/R had suggested against it with kids, saying they might be scared so dropped it and went during the day instead. Zoo was better than the bird park. Still nothing spectacular. Did the tram ride multiple times and got back. Again kids were sleeping and so we left them at the hotel with parents and took a walk around Orchard (the heart of Singapore shopping district where our hotel was) and I had a Pretzel after a long long time and also Garrett's popcorn (after Chicago, this was the first time I was having it). So a happy tummy! :) Then dinner with A, my cousin and childhood pal :) Evening well spent :)

Day 5 - Legoland finally! Arrived at the coach office at the Flyer - was happy to be back :) Finished the journey and the immigrations without event and reached the park at 12 mid-day. It was so hot! and no shade to speak of in the park. I was keen on taking Rohan to the driving jaunt while he was fresh still and luckily it was at the entrance. The track for kids his age was too small for him. He finished his allotted two rounds while the other kids were still finishing the first one - we figured we should have taken him to the bigger track. Then we got him a "license" which he treasures a lot now ;) Finished about 75% of the park when it was time to get back. Got a souvenir shirt for both kids, some mandatory lego sets and some stickers and came back. Kids were tired and so were the parents. And we had to leave early the next day so finished dinner at an Indian fine diner in the Flyer itself and reached the hotel by 8.

All in all a great trip but a tad bit tiring with all the walking we needed to do. Hotel was nice, well worth it's #6 rating on TripAdvisor :)

More general observations about Singapore

1) Weather resembles Chennai - something I cannot tolerate. But somehow managed. Was happy to get back home :)
2) For the strength of the currency (1SGD =50 INR) the SGD didn't go very far in terms of what we could buy. Absolutely no purchasing power for the currency within the country. We were comparing to the USD, and both of us agreed that the USD went a lot further in buying power than the SGD within their own respective countries. We came back home to read that Singapore was just minted as the world's most expensive city - that explains it ;) Not surprised at all.
3) The city is forever in construction mode. And the traffic, oh, what a pain it is. In spite of the near-perfect infrastructure, and the world-class MRT, they have some stupendous traffic snarls! I learnt to appreciate Bangalore traffic which we can at least blame on the total lack of infrastructure. So I am complaining a lot less now. Let's see how long this lasts!
4) A lot of the tourist attractions are over-hyped. Some of the parks you find in India are much much better. All in the marketing I guess :)
5) Singapore is much much less vegetarian-friendly than what we were expecting. In fact I remember Kuala Lumpur about 14 years ago was far more evolved as far as this area is concerned. Singapore was definitely disappointing.

Chennai airport deserves special mention. It is what one would call a "fish market" in younger days at school. Major chaos everywhere, huge lines (which we luckily avoided thanks to traveling with an infant), absolutely bad facilities and so on and so forth! And the whole town was pasted with Amma come back posters. Phew! Now I know why tickets from Chennai were so much more cheaper, I bet the airport surcharges are an absolute low here - next time I am wondering if I would actually mind paying a lot more just to be able to fly out of Bangalore which is a far more evolved and better maintained airport!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Daddy Dear!

"I learnt to change the diaper today" my Dad announced last week. Feeling very happy, with a glint in his eye. I was overwhelmed.

Ever since they have moved here, my Dad has picked up so much of the baby duty, it is simply mind blowing. We can now leave the younger one with him all day without worrying. He figured out the formula mix, cereal mix, how to feed him, how to change him, how to clean him, and more importantly how to put him to sleep. None of us, in fact, can do it as well as he does. The younger one is an impatient little devil and the last thing he wants to do is sleep. Somehow my Dad manages, and beautifully well!

Not to mention, he manages the grocery shopping all by himself, baby essential shopping, and any other myriad shopping. In fact between him and my father in law, they manage most of the household shopping, so much so, that after many ages, Subhash and I went for groceries last weekend! And forgot 2-3 essential things, which my Dad promptly replenished the next day. Yeah, we have gotten so bad at it!

Can't thank the grannies enough. My mom, dad and father in law, truly the biggest treasures in our lives! Wish my mother in law was around too, healthy and happy, that would have completed the picture most awesomely. Like Rohan says from time to time, she went to God, I am missing her.

Big Five!

Today Rohan, my older one, turns five! No idea where the time went.

Happy birthday to simply the best son in town! :) Hands down! He taught me many things about life, parenting, being there for someone and on and on, the list is endless. He bore the hardship of having to go off to a daycare at 1 and took it in his stride and never ever cried! He is so brave and yet so vulnerable, he makes you proud and want to protect him at the same time! And so on and on.

Happy Birthday Rohan :) May god keep you safe, happy healthy and prosperous always!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Brown Deer, WI

I am sure I wrote very little about this place on this blog. Yes, such a place exists in the US! It is a suburb of the buzzing Milwaukee city. I happened to live here for a year. And it was undoubtedly the most turbulent time of my life!

I was with GE Healthcare then and what can I say - that one year in Brown Deer saw me go to the lowest point in my life back to the highest.

It was one place where I was truly lonely - and alone - in all senses of the words. I had no friends there with whom I could socialize so home-work-home was pretty much the standard routine. Thanks to this routine, my weight was at an all time low when I was in this place - lack of avenues to eat out - I hated eating out alone, then and now!

Work was turbulent too. I had my one and only experience of being handed the pink slip - and the six weeks that followed that - I can never forget. Thanks to this really awesome manager I had there who somehow struggled to find the budget to take me back in as a contracting employee - I was back in 6 weeks. But I was at my last cent and it was a step away from either debt or back to India if I had not got back in then, that very week.

Then the constant threat of another pink slip.

And the drama for a visa. My OPT was fast expiring and we needed an H-1. Neither the client nor the employer had a policy of sponsoring H1. So we had to do a sub-contracting arrangement to get the visa done. That was the worst nightmare in all of my USCIS turmoils. Thankfully it all went through fine.

Then the high - I interviewed and got into Cisco. Where I have been since then - 10 years now almost :) That was the inflection point from rock bottom and a true 180 degree turn. Never looked back since then. I remember when packing to move to California, I was stuffing some boxes into my Honda and by the time I was done, there was a neat 3 inches of snow on all of them. I muttered one final long curse on mid-west and its winters, all the while vengefully happy that I am getting out of Wisconsin,  and left to get some dinner, packed off the car to California the next morning and had lunch with a couple of close friends who came down from Chicago and just couldn't wait to get the cab to the airport and just get out of the place. I hated it so much.

And this one year saw Subhash and me transition from friends to more albeit at long distance :) For that - it will also be very close to my heart :) Enough said. :P

Today somehow I remembered it. What with my cousin moving to the US and Subhash and I discussing our long left behind US life, I remembered this very significant one year of my life and I looked it up in the maps. The apartment where I lived, the place where I worked, the freeways, the roads, the IHOP - I never ever imagined I would miss this place. And yet, today I did. And the significance of it hit me fully. This was a place that dealt me the biggest blow in life and also taught me how to fight it, get out of it and live it up!

And for that, it will always remain a very very special place.

If I go the US again - I definitely have the Chicago-Madison-Milwaukee triangle planned for a weekend. I really need to see those home-turfs once - just to remember the old life! I missed them all today! So much! I never thought this possible 10 years ago :)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Technology we make..

Needed to apply for a Singapore visa for all of us and also a Malaysian visa. Had very little time on hand plus the agents' exorbitant and random charges kind of put me off. I found that we had an option to apply online provided we knew a citizen or PR of Singapore and they had an account with which we could login. I checked with one of my very close friends who has been living there for a while and she said she did have an account. I asked her if she minded applying for us. I filled all forms electronically but I was reasonably sure there was no option to upload them. And I did not want her to labour alone over 7 forms. So I thought of an idea which involved a technology which we make and use daily, WebEx! I setup one with her, we collaborated over the bridge and voila! It was done. And by some chance, the first two visas I applied, were approved and we had e-visas within 2 hours!! The rest took about a day and a half to come, but all in all a very hassle free process. Minimal paperwork and not to mention the very reasonable price - just the official government fees!

Kudos to the Singapore government - truly showing the way in technology adoption. And a million thanks to my friend :)

Was particularly proud of the technology we make - without it, this would have been a little more complex to do :) It is always great to work for a place whose products you know make a difference and what more, you actually see them in action every single day - right from when browsing on the mobile to posting this blog! :)


Today my cousin left with her husband for California. It was a very mixed occasion. We were very happy for her as she starts a new journey into her marriage and in a new country and at the same time very sad to see her leave. Never thought such a day would come. I left everyone behind oh-so-many-years-ago but somehow being the person who is staying back is much more poignant than being a person who is embarking on a new journey. At least there is something new to look forward to which helps overcome home-sickness. For the people left behind, it is just the same routine with a big void.

Well, I was at least glad that the newly weds spent a good chunk of their time here with us in Bangalore. My aunt also came by with them and so it was a merry family for a week. We were also joined by her in-laws a little later and it was a good chance to get to know them - one knows how much we get to interact in our busy and noisy weddings! :)

Father in law is back tomorrow. Looking forward to that!

Otherwise, just the routine till the Dussehra vacation comes around.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back Home

Not home in Bangalore but in Hyd for the week. One of my baby cousins (well, once a baby, not anymore!) is getting married! So we got here a week ahead to increase the tempo of the festivities ;) Or so we like to think ;)

Somehow coming to Hyd is always special. The first day especially, the landing, the settling in with the kids etc, and then the surge of 21 years of memories. The familiar lanes, the familiar stations, the people, the language, the AP number plates, everything. It always makes me feel fresh as if I was just born and living the first 21 years of my life all over again. Places, faces, memories have so much power! You just need to be able to let it sink in and experience it, it is really incredible!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Oh my passport!

The first thing I did today when I got frustrated in the passport office was to search my blog for the post I wrote when I was frustrated earlier. To my surprise I found none. I think I was very forgiving the first time! So anyway, here goes.

The Bangalore Passport Office on Outer Ring Road (Devarabeesanahalli) is one painful place to visit. You are given an appointment time which is usually around a month later from the date you book. Compare that to Hyderabad where appointments are available the next day!

Then, the appointment time has no sanctity. You go there at the scheduled time, or earlier, or later (for it does not really matter) and then wait in line for about an hour to get a stupid token! I mean, what the hell? Why go through the whole appointment process?!?!

At the token counter, today especially, BWSSB bill is rejected on the basis that it is an e-bill. Really? Are we hi-tech or what? I called Subhash and he came to deliver a paper bill, which (drum-roll!) is exactly the same as the e-bill but in colour! I told the guy at the counter - that they should really stop being ridiculous - and stop wasting our time. He said that is because e-bill can be modified by anyone. Really! That was news to me!! Phew.

Then there is three counters. A, B, and C. A is presumably TCS-staffed, 20 counters, reasonably fast and out. Then starts the struggle. All the 20 counters lead to 4 B counters. Which are staffed by government guys. This takes forever to get to. After waiting for about an hour, your turn comes. You go, he checks all the documents and signs off.

Then comes C. This is easily the worst part. All A and B counter folks crowding the very narrow space - and C has 4 counters but both times I went there, there was just one or two that were manned. So naturally, one more bottleneck leads to one more congestion. Not to mention by this time all kids are cranky, sleepy, hungry and what not. And after waiting for an hour or two to be seen by the counter C lords, all you get is about 30s of their time, that too while being pre-occupied with something else, talking to someone else on the phone, etc, they take a barely cursory glance at your documents, nod to their sub-ordinate (yeah they have a secretary) and ask you to go. I mean, is it worth two hours? I just do NOT get it. And to me, there is absolutely no difference in what B and C do, so consequently why there should be two entities there except for that the government wants to provide more employment to needless folks is just beyond my comprehension.

I hear appointments in Hyderabad hardly take 15 minutes. Why the hell does it take so long here? is it just this centre or is the story same everywhere in Bangalore? God only knows.

When I went for the younger one's passport, he was sleepy and cranky and I had to carry him all the while, imagine carrying a very active infant in your arms for about 4 hours - yes, you guessed it, sheer torture. He just wouldn't let me sit, I had to stand and carry him all the time.

Today was much better, older ones passport renewal. Simply because I did not have to carry him. But the guy doesn't eat anything outside, so he went 6 hours straight without a meal, and that was another kind of torture. He was hungry and sleepy by the time we were done - but thank god for him being a well behaved child - at least he didn't throw a fit or pester me about being bored!

I had called ahead of time and asked if minors really need to show up for applying - they said yes. And so all parents endure the torture of trying to hold their kids back in a government building for a few hours!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The cynicism kicks in when you are in your 30s ;)

It's been too long since I blogged. Cousins and friends have started asking :)

I had quite a few things to write about - incidents, feelings, milestones and what not. But the cynicism is to blame. Who cares anyway? How is writing about something going to change it? Etc etc. And also the overdrive thought process about writing diplomatically.

Well, whatever. Let me write now!

First let's get the pet peeve out of the way - parenting.

I was at the park a month or so (or perhaps even more) ago - there was this kid who starting bringing in sand from the sand pit by the handfuls and dumping it in Rohan's cycle basket. I told him very nicely, smiling, acting surprised, and in various other styles that he should not do that. He persisted for about 5 times before I said, well, this is not correct, let's clean it up now. Clean, the magic word. From thin air appeared a woman. Presumably his mom. And she asked me what he did. I said he's been dumping sand in the cycle. And she began to rant about how he is just a baby and he won't understand if I tell him and that she has been watching what I have been saying to him (really?!?!) , that I should not ask a baby to clean up and so on and so forth. First of all, the kid was no baby - he was a good 3 years old or more. And woman, what were you doing watching him repeatedly put sand in someone else's bike? I mean, what? And only when I asked him gently to come "clean" did you appear? I say, it is not the kid's fault at all. With a mom like that - he can't help but being a menace. What?

Then yesterday. In walks another mom - with two kids. Both presumably only half-Indian - they had blond hair. Father in law and I were sitting on a bench and chatting and watching some kids being rowdy, some quietly playing, some running around, some just being outright nasty etc etc. Then one of the lady's kids starts jumping up and down in a pair-swing on which he was standing - the mom went to enquire and turns out he wet his pants. All the way down to a small puddle on the swing. Thanks to the perforated pedestal of the swing, there was no much left on it but enough to get onto other kids shoes. The mom asks him how it happened, quietly consoled him, even let him talk to the other ladies with whom she was chatting and then just prepared to leave. I was watching for a full 10 minutes in the hope that she would clean up after her son. But no. I almost told her to please clean up, but thought the better of it - didn't want to sound rude and further alienate one more super-senstitive mom (really, what is with being so sensitive?). But I did what was next best - set an example to my own kid. Got up, took the bottle of drinking water I had (ouch, hate wasting drinking water, but was too lazy to go to the rest room at the other end and fetch some water), poured it over the swing pedestal till it was clean. Rohan asked me why I was doing that (he knows I hate wasting water, I never let him do it too), and I told him the kid peed, and his mom didn't clean up but we don't want other kids to soil their shoes/feet, so let's clean up. Done.

What is with us as a people and not cleaning up after ourselves? Really, dog-shit is a menace in our layout - in spite of many folks asking people to clean up after their pets, I have seen just one or two do it dutifully. We just think public property us ours and our pets to pee and shit on - no wonder our streets and public spots are in such a sorry state usually! Well, if there is one thing that annoys me endlessly, it is the so called educated, elite folks, behaving like absolute ruddy bumpkins. Spitting everywhere, peeing everywhere, trashing out of cars and what not.

There, I got it all out! Did it make a difference to anyone's life? Yet?

We went to a birthday party on Saturday night - my first ever with lights and music and a dance floor - yeah, ever, in my life! ;) I had a good time just observing people and soaking it all in. Our hostess, one of the most elegant women I know, Subhash's friend, had done a splendid job with organizing it. It was a late night party so fed both the kids, put one to sleep, left the other with parents and went. Didn't feel guilty about it too! :) Such a blessing to have parents and father in law around - not a day goes by when I don't feel thankful for it :)

So, well, hopefully I can shake off some cynicism and laziness now..

Friday, May 30, 2014

Done with one, on to the next!

Today is Rohan's last day at Cisco's daycare. Its been a very emotional week for me. Today I can even find myself choking with emotion, the poignant last day. I still remember nervously bringing a 13 month old strapped in his car seat and leaving him here, worrying (almost obsessing) over what he is eating, whether his diapers are being changed, what sicknesses he is picking up, where he is falling and getting hurt and what not. And all fears did come true in different stages, he fell regularly sick, lost a lot of weight in the first year, picked up a lot of diaper rashes, had his chin gashed very deep once besides a lot of other minor injuries etc. But through it all, it has been a very memorable journey.

And my little brave man did it all for me! It was getting very stressful managing coming to work, shuttling times between mine and Subhash's (I used to come to work 8 to 12 and once I got home he would go to work), then taking calls and handling escalations from home while feeling horribly guilty about not giving an infant all attention that is due to him.

Was waiting for the day care to start and once it did, off he went from day ONE. He never cried, never threw a fit and never complained. But then he has been my perfect boy always, and made me enormously proud - always. There were mishaps, yes, but I think he bore them well.

Of course, he learnt a lot too, and I have to thank each and everyone of his teachers for all that he has built over the past 3 years.

Thanks to my employer and the excellent facility they build on campus, I was able to come back to work full time, focus on my work for a few hours everyday, get my career back on track and also manage logistics very easily, take him with me and bring him back with me. Cisco has that way been an amazing company to work for. Giving back in many more ways than just a monthly (or bi-weekly) paycheck.

He is one of the very few kids (probably less than five) who were around right from the beginning of the center, till they are forced to graduate out finally now :)

Incidentally my younger one will be exactly the same age in a week as when Rohan started going to the daycare. So his duration at this centre is exactly the same as the difference between him and his younger brother in age! The younger one has the luxury of three doting grandparents being around him all the time in the comfort of home. Plus a mom who isn't as obsessive as when she was with the older one. Thanks to a lot of learning between then and now ;) Again a shout-out to my parents and father in law. But for them, I would have to go on a lengthy guilt-trip again, putting the younger one in the daycare and feeling awful about it. Really, having parents around is such an awesome blessing in so many ways!

Also, I start going back to Cisco transport from next month. After nearly five years! I stopped just before I went off on my first maternity leave :) No more compulsion to drive to work and have a car on hand since the son is not connected with Cisco anymore. And so I can give up on driving after 3.8 years finally!  Till the younger one needs to be ferried back and forth. I am looking forward to it!

Here is a shout out to my boy today as he finishes a major phase and enters into a bigger one. I am actually nervous about two things - he is very shy and he still doesn't eat well and definitely not on his own. But all in good time I hope. School-bus, regular school, books, bags, shoes and what not. Here is wishing him a happy and fulfilling childhood, not too academically burdened and hope he has a lot of fun learning life's lessons.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Five months later, a weekend

Since we started remodeling our house nearly six months ago, there hasn't been a single relaxed weekend - thanks to us not being able to spend anytime together at the said house during weekdays. If it were not for parents around, especially mom, it would have been a disaster of epic proportions what with two kids and us having to be out on the streets/at site almost all of Saturday and Sunday.

But its nearly done now. Even since we moved in a month ago, its been a myriad set of workers coming in everyday, making the place a royal mess by evening and the younger one getting all dirty and dusty at the end of the day. Weekends continued to be spent setting up the place, shopping, cleaning and what not.

Finally this past weekend we were able to sit back a bit. First half of Saturday and Sunday were both relaxed. Saturday evening of course, again there was workers and mess and what not, but morning was just lazy which I loved. Sunday morning we also managed to go swimming. Thanks to Bangalore's climate-controlled climate, water in the pool was deliciously cool, not cold, not warm, the same temperature as the air and so very comfortable to get in and out. The younger one enjoyed splashing around in the water and the older one finally got into the pool and walked around. He always used to sit at the edge of the water, never once stepping inside all these years!

The weekend ended with the most unexpected surprise shoe purchase I have ever made in my life, so all is well :)

This evening, despite being a workday evening where I usually never step out, I took the older one to a local fair. He sees that every day on our way to work/school and back and yesterday we were running out of time for our dinner out so I promised him I'd take him today so off we went. He had his first real rides like the break dance one where the cars zip zap in every direction suddenly and I think he took it fairly well. Here is hoping he becomes a dare-devil where amusement park rides are concerned! :)

Overall, been back to a regular gym routine since my first one was born nearly five years ago. All these years, it was ad hoc workouts, aerobics, Kinect sports - whatever I could do. When I started going to the gym once we moved here, at the clubhouse, I felt the joy surging through me - I never realized I was missing a proper gym workout regime so much all along! That is a 14 year love affair one can hardly get out of the system I guess ;)

Finally, the satisfaction of seeing the house shape up (ever so slowly but still, shape up). With every passing day, it is more joyous to be living here and I am beginning to enjoy the house, it is like a slow and steady love, much like when you have kids! The happiness of having taken something and transformed it into something we wanted, how we wanted and just the way we wanted, while working within the challenges of an existing structure, and yet pushing the boundaries is really inexplicable :) This is the second time we've remodeled our house, and I think we are slowly getting to be pros at it ;) From the last time to now, we have seen how our tastes have refined, gotten better hopefully, but evolved for sure. Overall, a very satisfying experience, although it has drained us out completely - it is going to take at least a couple of months to recover I guess!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Get Set and Enter!

Yesterday we finished the housewarming of our new home. It was a hectic event with nearly 125 guests! But we had fun every bit of it.

The biggest happiness was the fact that those most near and dear to us in our extended family were all there! Some of our uncles and aunts and cousins in fact traveled all the way from Hyderabad - on road/by train  for ~11 hours, just for the weekend, so they could spend some time with us and celebrate this event. I was most touched. And very, very happy! The best part was that in spite of the muhurat beint at the ungodly 1 AM, they ALL came, and then left for their homes only to come back next morning for the next set of pujas. How awesome is that! I cannot thank them enough! :)

We all missed my mother in law. She saw this place when we closed on buying it, she was very keen that we complete all formalities, albeit on a smaller scale before the Deepavali (of 2011). Sadly, the banks and the loan and the processes took too long, and almost as if she had an intuition, we had to admit her into the hospital on that very Deepavali :(

We also finished Rohit's first birthday celebration - it is shy by 13 days in the English calendar and by 2 days according to the Indian calendar. But didn't want to miss the chance to be able to celebrate with so many people, all under one roof, so that was also done!

It will be sad to move out of this home. It is nearly 5.5 years now since we moved in. It was in many ways a dream home, our very first home together. For our necessities at that time, it was just the right place. Close to two big hospitals - was very critical considering mother-in-law's dialysis visits, just a 3km commute to then Subhash's office, a very convenient commute to mine and so on. But we very soon outgrew the house. And it's now time for a new beginning. It will be with a heavy heart that I wil bid farewell to this home. Both our kids were born here, I don't think that experience can be repeated or replaced!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Yesterday I finished 9 years at Cisco! An eternity it feels like. Felt really stupid at having forgot it till someone congratulated on LinkedIn! Was wondering why date seems familiarly close to a milestone just the previous day. And last week I was thinking about how I finish 9 years next week. But yesterday I completely forgot. This was not just another date of joining for me. It was a transformation of my life in many senses. Financially, professionally, geographically and so on and so forth! Can't thank everyone who's made my life richer at the workplace enough! I have met some really cool, smart, nice people here and made some friends for life. Found people whom I can truly respect too! All in all, the past 9 years has been enriching, happy, enjoyable and extremely flexible. Work has adapted in ways like never before to my needs of peaks (married, yet single life in CA) and troughs (maternities). Can't be thankful enough :)

Next week on Monday, we finish 6 years of moving back to India. (Coincidentally also a Monday that year!) Yet again, a happy decision, but this year is extremely special because our ultimate dream of living together as a family with parents and in-laws under one roof with kids has come true! Hardly a day passes by when I don't feel happy for this blessed phase in life! Hope it lasts forever!! :)

Saturday, February 08, 2014

8 years!

That's how many we've been married for as of today:) This week in Feb always makes me very weak-in-the-knees for more reasons that just the wedding :)

I am thinking about my mother-in-law all the more today. This is already the third anniversary since she has passed away. I will never forget how she smuggled food to me before the muhurtam so I would not stay hungry. She didn't do that for her own son, too!

This year is also extra special since it marks 10 years since the decision to marry was made. Which also means its been 10 years since I've known my mother and father-in-law and also my brother-in-law and co-sister and then the rest of the first circle of family on the in-laws side a little later. Maybe that's why I remember my mother-in-law so much. I just cannot believe I only knew her for 8 years of her life! It feels like a lot more for sure, with so many experiences to cherish forever. I still vividly remember that first visit to Subhash's place with my mom and sister - how she cut a watermelon for us and how they showed me my to-be co-sister's picture since we were from the same school to ask if I knew her, and how I was scared to bits about their dog! In later years she told me that she knew that very evening that I was not just another of his friends, I was the first girl he ever took home in so many years and so it had to definitely be more! Clearly she knew her son very well - more than I did at that point at any rate :)

It's been a happy journey so far, and I hope it will continue to get better and better. 

Monday, January 27, 2014


In this day of ready made MTR Rice Sevai - it was most refreshing to see my granny's choma machine (choma is rice sevai in Sankethi)

I enjoyed working this machine to generate lumps of hot and fresh rice sevai early Sunday morning :) Bliss!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dude, are you mental?

(Just read about Sunanda Pushkar - most shocking!)

This morning Subhash was listening to some Prime Time News from last night about Somnath Bharti and his raid on a building suspecting prostitution.

Eventually someone asked about how there was full media presence if the raid was so spontaneous and if it was all actually staged. To which the AAP supporter's answer was stunning

"How can people who are responsible for Gujarat riots in 2002 even ask us this question?"

Dude, are you mental? How is that related to this in any way? Are you remotely suggesting that the entire Godhra riot episode was "stage-managed"?? And for what god-forsaken reason would anyone do that.

Really, I do not get people's love for Godhra 2002. And how ridiculously they infer that Modi ignores minorities based on that. My belief (which the SIT and the SC and the HC and myriad other courts and judges have ruled and ruled over and over again) is that at best Modi was caught unsuspecting as a fledgling administrator. And in spite of that he has done remarkably well bringing everyone to book, in the entire history of India, Godhra 2002 stands out as the only riot where a very high number of people have been nabbed and been given judgement for the atrocity. And in the past 12 years, it is the only state which has been riot-free (?). So what is the problem? I have seen well-read educated people make really dumb statements about the riots and him. I just don't understand.

Forget everything for a moment. If the Congress, with all its money power and muscle power and media power, and in spite of relentlessly chasing this man for 12 years, has still not been able to lay its hands on him, I think that should be proof enough that there is really nothing he is hiding. Even if there was a small iota of error, I am sure, he would have been finished by now with so much hounding.

And then we read about how Zakia Jafri was "chosen" second after Teesta's first choice refused to file the petition :) And then we figure out how deep the conspiracy runs. The riots have been like an industry for many living off it and feeding off it.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Happy Sankranti!

Thanks to mom being around both last year and this, I get to devour my favourite - YeLLu. Yes, thanks to my Dad's Sankethi origins and my mom's willing adaptation into her in-laws customs as well as upholding hers, we got to enjoy both cuisines right from when we were kids!

So I leave you to drool, while I finish it off -

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Why I don't trust the AAP

One of my friends wrote "don't waste your vote in 2014" and it could not have been said any better! I see an exact repeat of what happened to Telugu Desam in 2009 because of Chiranjeevi and how that benefited the Congress, at the centre. Not to mention, how sad it was when the guy went and joined Congress!

The media of course has found the newest darling, now that Rahul Gandhi has proven beyond doubt that he cannot stop NaMo. Reluctantly they were beginning to follow NaMo and forced to cover him, when lo and behold! the Delhi electorate threw a nice alternative at them. AK, much better, much more educated, more "relate-able" arrived. And AAP was always the "flirting-with-media" types, giving them more than enough sound bytes. Every day a new story, every day a new controversy, every day a new referendum, what else can the media ask for!

But, I do not trust the AAP at all. Here is why. This post has been long in coming, more because I wanted to wait and watch and watch some more, but every further day is convincing me that my instinct might just be right. And also just to add, this distrust of Kejriwal has been even in pre-AAP days.

1) Anti-corruption plank - it has always been a) "one size fits all" solution, b) let's add one more power layer(Lokpal) to control all the existing layers, c) all politicians are corrupt, we're out to save the day kind of moral high-ground and many other unrealistic, even fanatic stands. Not practical, not workable.

2) Austerity - The UPA-2 also tried to be austere in 2009 - which resulted in a lot of "cattle class" guffaws. I read somewhere that forcing austerity upon oneself is like riding a tiger which you don't know how to dismount, you will be forced to ride on or risk being wiped out. I don't think as an ordinary citizen, I'd be bothered so much if AK lived in palatial mansions meant for the Chief Minister. They anyways have to be maintained, and won't be used for anything else. Rather than wasting many weeks looking for a new accommodation which will make everyone happy (which is not possible BTW), just get into the identified accommodation and move on, get on with the real work! But hey, how can you do that when you cursed every single person who did that before you, now you are forced to eat crow!

3) Populism - Almost all AAP's policies and promises are not just socialistic but very unrealistically so. I don't see any development based talk in any of their communication. It is all about adjusting money here and there. Save here, spend there, curb corruption here, divert funds somewhere else and in the worst case scenarios - which I think we are yet to "discover" - tax here, subsidize there. But at some point you have to start "creating" wealth and this seems to have completely missed the core think-tank of the party!

4) Penchant for drama - the less said about this the better. Too much tokeneism, drama and more theatrics in front of the media. I take an instant distrust to any public personality who courts the media so much. Anyone who does real work, justt does it and gets on. Does not go to the media every single evening with some drama or another.

5) Frequent flip-flops on everything - the biggest example does not even have to be spelt out - taking Congress support to form Delhi government and now being forced to lie low on chasing their corruption cases.

6) Referendum for everything - I firmly believe all of us should do what we are good at. I am good at my job, so I do that. I expect the leaders I vote to power to know basic governance and not come back to me to ask my advice about everything. How should we use these municipal funds, should we form a government with Congress, should we do this, should we do that, my foot! If the people have to tell you everything, what good are you getting paid for? Plus if you ask 1000 people, you will get at least 100 different opinions, and then how do you go about sorting that mess? And did you even see the latest mess - the Janata Darbar - total fiasco and ruin. That is what will happen, the sooner this party wakes up the better. And the sooner people remove those rose-tinted glasses, the better too!

7) Media projected "image" - Of course, many things are distorted in favour of AAP by the ever willing paid media so that NaMo is side-lined in the news. Anything to keep him at bay! Even if NaMo wins three successive elections in Gujarat, he is just good enough for Gujarat, not yet "evolved" to the national level. But AK just wins one election (that too did not "win" mind you, just turned up as "second largest" party, by what was a clearly undecided electorate) and he is automatically the saviour who has come to rescue India! Experience in governance can go to hell, who needs that?

Of course everyone also says, he is being scrutinized too harshly, he's just been in power for a few hours, few weeks, etc. But hey, he is the guy who set that expectation right? I will do everything in 48 hours, I will clean up everything with a broom in no time. They are all evil, I am the messiah!

All in all, I fear the worst - that Congress will gain a lucky hand in 2014, thanks to AAP. And that would be such an unmitigated disaster for the country. I do not understand how anyone can vote Congress or any party joining hands with the Congress (like the AAP did for the Delhi power) into power in 2014. But many of my educated and knowledgeable friends seem to be more than willing to throw their weight behind this party. Maybe I am missing something big-time, I am not sure.

But, I think, the 2014 victory will be all the more deserved for BJP if they manage to garner it in-spite of all of these. So more power to them and more support from me for sure!