December 31, 2007

Happy New Year

2008. This is undoubtedly going to be one of the most memorable years in my life. And it begins tomorrow. There's been a lot to cheer about 2007- the most memorable being that my nephew was born.. That apart also, 2007 was a predominantly pleasing year.. The defense.. the graduation.. the multiple jobs... the new places, new friends and what not. Of course I wish many things were different. I wish I hadn't lived such a nomadic life. But I found new places, made new friends, made more contacts and gained priceless experience and everything has a positive spin to it. I am not going to complain. For now, its soo good to be home with the family to celebrate yet another new year with the conventional celebrations. The cake.. the TV.. the family.. the 12'o clock wishes and maybe a latenight drive around the city. Exactly as it has always been and probably will be.

Happy New Year 2008!

The French Window

Well finally I am sort of done with collecting the trousseau (this word was reintroduced to me by M - the no. of times she's used it at me!). The trousseau - those price piece of clothes that belong just in my wardrobe and were undeniably created just for me. Ok ok.. enough bragging, I know. But my point is not even the saris, themselves. But moreso, the blouses. It looks like the man (or woman in my case) in the wedding is not the groom but the tailor who makes the seemingly boring 80 cm bits of cloth into fashion statements... something that offsets the traditional drapes of the sari with a sense of style(ing) and indeed is a big headache for all brides-to-be for the blouses can make or entirely break the "look".

After ample research, a few trial blouses and a lot of cribbing later, I did zone in upon a tailor suggested by my SIL-to-be.. And I went over with a bagfull of pattu (zari) blouses. As this is strictly traditional wear, I thought I had to make the blouses reasonably fashionable to make the attire chic, young and trendy. I pored over the many books that the tailor showed me for the back designs which is indeed the only place you'd dare to experiment. And I thought I was being very thoughful in choosing the designs pertinent to the occasion.. like a pooja demanded a simple, traditional, prim n proper blouse... while the nalangu was the ideal time to experiment with the jennal(window), kadhavu (door) so-to-speak of back designs for the blouses. And then I spotted the perfect one... the french window. I suspect there's no need to explain any further.

Having confidently pointed out what designs I wanted for what blouses, 10 days later now, I am a bit wary of what the end result is going to be. Nights have turned into nightmares where the french window is a bit too wide and the knots a bit too many.. Add to that the tension that I should remain the size I was when I last gave the blouses for stitching (it may seem like a weird concern.. For anyone who thinks so, please come home and savor the food that my house serves doused in ghee, accompanied with sweets , et al.) In retrospect I fear that I may have experimented a wee bit too much and blah blah.. Okay, I realize I am hyperventilating.

For now, Happy New Year.

December 23, 2007

Price Check

Chennai has changed. Since I left for the US the first time and even since I came back once. The prices have skyrocketed. And even for a 'US return' like me it's shocking. I am still not at the opposite conversion stage where I can go - Movie Tickets Rs 120 - aww thats cheap, just $3. And I probably will never be. Where movie tickets were Rs 50 for balcony tickets to a stage in a mere 3 years where Rs 120 is considered cheap... Where CCDs (Cafe Coffee Days for the unfamiliar few) peddle measly portioned coffees for a cool 50 bucks (I was tempted to ask if they put gold filings in their coffee mix) Chennai (and I bet all the metros) has changed. Its going to take me a while to digest that a tiffin for 4 at Saravana Bhavan will cost Rs 400 - enough for a sumptuous meal for 5-6, 3 years ago. Chennai has become all savvy... with new new hep shopping malls sprouting all over the place. The mood is young and the theme shows. I think the days when Chennai was famous for the oorghas and madisaars is slowly becoming extinct. The new generation is in and everything's changing. I haven't decided if I am particularly taking to this change. Time will tell.

December 22, 2007

Roach Rundown

I patted down the final 1-rupee stamp of the day on the invitation envelope. I marveled at the work me n my dad had done. Mom asked me to count them up. 76 invites. 1 hour. Not bad at all. My granny handed me the mug of my nightly milk which is a kind of a habit here in India. I stacked all the envelopes to my right and then proceeded to sip my milk. My dad was sitting right opposite me and suddenly I caught the movement and the fear that ensued in his eye. In an instant, I'd jumped up, spilt half the milk - half on the ground and half on the stack of envelopes and fled away to the bedroom and banged the door shut. That movement could only be caused by the flutter of what we called a muchad - the baleful, disgusting flying cockroach. People who know me enough know that I am absolutely terrified of cockroaches of most varieties when they are big and the fear multiplies when they can fly. I stayed in with my ears trained on what was going on outside. My dad who is as petrified as I am had fled some place with a view where he could guide my patti - the only heroine in the story - capable of catching the monster. I heard the shouts of "anga paarungo.. on the curtain.. on the kitchen door, ulla", etc. before I heard the clang of vessels from the kitchen. It was inside there now. A few minutes later I heard Patti's triumphant knock on the bedroom door to announce to me that yet again she had won.

I walked out and surveyed the damage that I had wreaked during my escape from the roach. 5-6 addressed invites completely ruined, 3-4 that required drying and 5 unaddressed new ones completely ruined. Of course they say, don't count your chickens before the eggs hatch.

December 12, 2007

The Lost Memories

Soon after I got home, I set about doing what I didn't have time to do my last trip - Cleaning out my old shelves. My parents who give away my clothes no sooner than I have departed the country have preserved shelves and shelves of my old stuff for posterity. As I sifted through the bottom shelf of my mom's cupboard (which belongs to me), it struck me like she'd preserved reminders of a lost child. Especially below stacks and stacks of neatly piled saris. None of the things I found on that shelf resembled anything I would own now. Colorful, new and unopened love-in-tokyos (for the unfamiliar few, its the old-fashioned hair clips), multicolored pearl necklaces, unused makeup kits (the fancy multi-storeyed drawer type goods with the eye shadows on one segment, the blushes on the other, etc.), plastic bangles, inexpensive stringy handbags, plastic watches, my vanity cases filled with loopy earrings, pearl chains, bizarre pendants, and a purse brimming with notes that we'd passed to one another through Engineering at HCE amongst other insignificant trinkets. My eyes wandered to the other half of the room - my open suitcase strewn with stuff I carried with me this time. Makeup from Dior, perfume from Guerlain, a couple of FastTrack watches, a Liz Clairborne handbag amongst a mixture of western and Indian clothes... all this for a girl who's certainly not brand conscious (anyone will vouch for that). The message between the two extremes was an easy one to read. The girl had grown up.

December 11, 2007

Crass or is it just me?

I came to India via Bahrain. And the Gulf is as most people know a big big Desi hub... much bigger than the US can ever be.. maybe coz of the magnitudes of the countries involved. My dad used to work in the Gulf till about 10 years ago.. I have lived in the Gulf, liked the stay there and even considered a part lost when I had to abruptly return during the Gulf War. Yet today when I came, I was rudely aware of the sheer crassness of the people there. I couldn't find a better word here to describe my feeling even if I wanted to. Seeing the ocean of Indian people around me in the Bahrain-Chennai flight made a twinge... sad. Was it that the US had changed me and my perceptions forever? Or was it that when I lived in and liked the Gulf, I was a little kid and barely knew what I liked. What did I like? Staying as a family there and going out shopping with dad? Buying toys? Watching movies? Pretty basic. But what I saw today awakened to me that I had changed. My expectations, perceptions and feeling towards things had changed. When I saw this ocean of crude Desis, bringing in 5-6 duty-free bags of goods each (where you are allowed 2 at most), drinking to heart's content just coz in-flight drinks are free, pulling the air hostess' arm to get her attention, shoving in 5 passports and the corresponding immigration forms to fill while I have my eyes closed and was attempting to sleep just coz they don't know English, throwing up from excessive drinking, not flushing the toilets- I visually cringed. The Gulf Air airbus was just that - a bus in the air. Filled to capacity, people spraying obviously cheap perfume before disembarking (which engulfs you in unpleasant scent as well) and the icing to the cake - this guy who thought that the front of the plane was my face. He was sitting in front of me (or was supposed to be), but was angled perpendicular - feet on the aisle - directly staring at me... and whenever I caught him, would pretend to look past me down the aisle. Though not the variety at all, I had had enough and complained to the flight attendant. Am I too Americani-ized or is this a bit much for anyone?

On an entirely different note, home sweet home. :)

November 21, 2007

The Great Indian Educational Reprieve

Note: This is a long one

I am an Engineer. Why? I have no actual idea. I took Engineering because I didn't get into Medicine and because my brother did it. Both reasons pretty lousy if you ask me. Why did I take Electronics? Brother dear of course... Why did he do Engineering? Actually, I'll ask him when I meet him tomorrow. But I think I've conveyed my point. From what I have discussed with friends, I have discovered that very few, if any, had any idea what they were getting into with engineering (or anything else for that matter)... everyone thought all you needed was to be fundamentally sound in Mathematics and Physics - both key components, but not the main ones. The important questions that needed to have been answered back then -

1. Was there passion? - Probably not back then.. We had no idea what we were going to be doing..
2. Motivation? - Would good money and a nice-sounding degree qualify?

That is the fundamental problem with the Indian educational system (please discount IIT and BITS - they're the only worthwhile undergraduate institutions for technical study in India). As I was discussing with GH just now, the high school education in India rocks.. when compared to most other countries... We beat China sheerly because most of our schools are English medium.. We beat all other countries hands down because we really don't need a calculator to do 5+4x9-7/6 (yeah it takes a few seconds.. but we're never completely lost) amongst other things.

The problems

1. Learning by the rote: I wonder why we need to know the derivation of E = mc2 when we can just as easily find it on the Internet or something - you may say that the Internet didn't exist back then, blah blah - but when technology has evolved, the educational system needs to have coped alongside for the most effective development. When I came here and was introduced to the concept of the "cheat sheet", I was initially flabbergasted. But the more I read into it, the more it made sense. Its the Sherlock Holmes logic. Why crowd your brain with information you can find in our case, a search query away?

2. Progressive Evaluation: While the high school I was in was known for its continuous evaluation which ensured most of my fundamentals were right (though I cursed it back then). Back in Engineering, I don't remember "learning" anything. It was 4 years of carefree fun, a few days of cramming before the semester exams, practically no homework, easygoing labs and just one final year project which many people ended up "buying". I wrote a post about our exams back then. While that was in light vein, on a serious note, it left us a little unprepared for a competitive educational system like that in the US. When I came here, I was amazed by the range of knowledge and practical experience that the senior students (our high school equivalents) had accumulated over a range of topics. Though I coped great with grad school, I couldn't help but feel cheated with the undergraduate system that left me quite unprepared for the future. This is not how it works in the BITS and the IITs and thats exactly how the rest of the colleges in India need to implement.

3. Autonomous Universities: Each University here in the US is just the equivalent of each of our colleges back in India which is affiliated to a University. But the system here is so sound that they have complete autonomy in all their distinction and no matter where you study it is deemed prestigious. While it is going to take a while in India for that to happen, I see no change with those restricted few colleges that have gained autonomous privileges (eg. whats different in Sathaybama from when they became autonomous to when they remained affiliated? - Nothing). The system slowly but surely has to change.

4. The Teachers: Yes - Mata, Pita, Guru, Deivam.. But you need to be able to respect the Guru. And there are exceptions to every generalization. We have seen our share of mentors back in India as well.. there have been some phenomenal motivators. But for every single one of them, we have 100 others who finish their education at one college and start teaching the next semester at the same college, with just a graduate degree. This could never ever happen in the US. Every professor has to have a PhD for a reputed institution. He/She has to bring in some grants/money and conduct research or lead academic discussions. They have a range of students from post docs to undergraduates working for them, expanding their ideas and their research. Its a whole pool. The kind of respect that you gain when you work under a professor, your advisor/mentor borders on reverence here.. something which I haven't been able to feel back in India. I will comment about the educational system in the Europe shortly.

5.The jobs: Every person who has an Engineering degree seems directly to be entitled to employment in the software industry. And frankly no one cares whether the degree is in Mechanical or Civil engineering. The pay is good and thats all that seems to matter. Pretty sad if you ask me. That goes back to there being no direction or passion in the study that one has entailed. The 4 year education was a stop over to making the money. I can actually understand that in some families where the whole family has made many sacrifices to educate the one stellar student in the hopes that the job he/she gets at the end of the education will uplift the financial situation of the entire family. Whats sad is that the availability of specific jobs as per fields of specialization pale in comparison with the abundant high-paying software jobs. Yes, the quality of living has improved for the recent generation in India and all is owed to these software giants.. but it is still unsettling.

And those are just some fundamental problems. The more I think about it, the more that there is. Personally, I am not surprised about the Brain Drain in the intial stages, i.e. say after a Bachelors degree, simply because the post graduate study in India leaves a lot to be desired for in terms of recognition and reward. But I take heart in that I see many people returning. After that initial stay abroad, after that first job after the education. It is happening slowly, but in larger numbers. And this I am proud of. I started this post so long ago that I can't remember what I wanted to conclude from it... But I suppose this is the bottomline. The educational minister of India and every teacher who cares needs to evaluate this system for what it is and make the necessary reforms to improve it.. to introduce the world class quality that is desired of it.. to make it a force to reckon with. After all, they don't say India is the next big super power for nothing, do they?

November 16, 2007

Om Shanti Om


Note: Spoilers ahead.

All I knew when we were going to go see OSO was that it was something to do with the 70s, that Deepika Padukone was supposed to be very very goodlooking and SRK had a new six-pack. All of these ideas were garnered through promos of the songs in SS's house. That was before SS was kind enough to tell me that the story involved reincarnation. Not that I expected anything from the movie, but when I heard the theme, I completely threw away every iota of expectation and logic in my head.

We underestimated the popularity of a SRK/Farah Khan/Bollywood movie and arrived fashionably late at 7:03 pm for a 7:00 show. Not bad, we told ourselves. That was before we stepped into the tiny theatre. It was packed and the noisy desi crowd was laughing, crunching popcorn and talking over the promos of many more movies to come. We waded our way all the way to the front, some 7 rows from the screen and looked up at the massive screen. At first, it took some getting used to... By the time my eyes scanned the length from the left of the screen to the right, the scene had changed. It was funny really. Us girls had subconsciously decided to throw the brains away and have a blast.

And a blast, we did have... The first half was amazingly funny and after Main Hoon Na and now Om Shanti Om, I can safely say that I like Farah Khan's style in direction. She is not afraid to make SRK look stupid and dress him up in red leather, in his skin or even the ridiculous wigs in the movie. And everything is soo obviously melodramatic and overexaggerated that the audience is left in peals of laughter. There is absolutely no logic as suspected and the spoofs of Manoj Kumar, Dharmendra, etc were also very entertaining. While SRK plays the comic relief with his sidekick, Iqbal fame - Shreyas Talpade, Deepika Padukone impresses with her elegant 70s do. She looks very refreshing and as the movie progressed, my opinion of her from "Ok what's so great about her" changed to "Wow.. she is very goodlooking". And not just that. She can act too! My favorite sequence in the first half is when SRK spoofs I am assuming Rajnikant in a flying-shooting-tiger fighting sequence with his funny "Enna rascala" and "Mind it.. Never mind it and Find it". It was hilarious and I was roaring so much that I had tears from laughing. Haha.

By the end of the first half, tragedy of unrequited love on either side and the heinous plans of the appreciable villainous producer played by Arjun Rampal have surfaced. And the intermission comes in when both lead characters die. And then comes the story of the reincarnation, past memories and what not. Completely unbelievable, unexpressibly tacky and way corny, the second half seems to drag a bit with a bhooth sentiment woven in the fabric. But the drag is lulled a bit by the appearance of the "star song" where all of Bollywood makes an appearance. I also especially liked the teeny cameos by Akshay and Abhishek. Conspicuous in her absence was Aishwarya. Frankly though, I have tired of seeing Rani/Kajol/Preity make an appearance in all these songs. As for SRK's six-pack, I must say that the man looks fabulous neck-down for his age. His face gives him away. The lack of proportionate arm muscle makes his body look too taut on his frame and not as natural as it is on say, Hrithik (sigh).

All in all, the movie is a complete entertainer, completely predictable, totally laughable and a sure watch if you don't have much to do. Its a certain time-pass and from what I have seen of some recent movies, (LCMD or Darling for example), a sure sound choice. I particularly liked SRK's goofiness (It was such a relief not to see him weep because of some idiotic ultrasentimental love story), the date song sequence and both the Om Shanti Om songs... Music's catchy if not phenomenal. To bolo Ommm Shanti Ommmmm.

November 15, 2007

Birthday Blues?

Note: To everyone, who called, mailed, sent ecards, scrapped, thank you very very much. You made the day that much extra-special. :)

My Birthday. Its over. And surprisingly, this time I didn't have that rush, that unbridled excitement that I used to have when I turned 16 or 18 or even 21. I guess thats what happens when you turn mid-twenty something (you didn't think I was going to reveal the numbers, did you?) I had a fantastically normal day, except for the cell phone jingling every few minutes all morning. It began with a super chocolate cake that SM had baked at night, lunch with a sweet colleague in the morning, and ended with the San Diego jing-bang for dinner, dessert and gang talk. Simple and sweet. None of the cake-on-your-face-and-hair business. Sort of the perfect end to the perfect stay at San Diego.

November 12, 2007

Help!!!

I am in desparate need of help.. I am leaving this country. And as I pack, I realize that I have accumulated more stuff than I could've possibly imagined! I am making my bro bring one of my suitcases and even then, I am left with at least 3 suitcasefuls of luggage... Thats coz I am lugging humungous books and I cannot leave them behind. And I came with 3 in place of 2 s most people did.. And though I threw away as many clothes as I possibly could, I am still left with sooo many things. Crap! One excess baggage costs $110. There has got to be a better way to this... Is there some form of international freight shipping that I am missing out on? I don't know. But if someone does, please please leave me a comment. On the other hand, if one of you friends of mine is coming to India soon and has space for some stuff, lemme know as well... I will happily give you something to carry. I appreciate any form of assistance. :) Thank you.

November 6, 2007

Happy Diwali!

First up, here's wishing all of you and your families a very Happy and Safe Diwali!!


I gave it a lot of thought, but my sentiments remain unchanged from last year. Read my Diwali post here. Have a fabulous Diwali and a colorful year ahead. I know I will ;)

November 5, 2007

The USA Memoirs

Note: Another one of those USA Nostalgia posts...

The Miss list

1. Cincinnati - Its the place I've spent most of my USA life.. over 2/3rds of it anyways.. It holds my fondest memories. So it comes down to the mile radius that I existed in... with no car, with 4 of us crammed into a single-bedroom apartment hauling groceries to our basement apartment, the walk in the snow to school, the many many seminar rooms and classrooms that I have been couped up in writing my thesis, the Mainstreet Mart which was my personal Felix Felicis provider of Chai Tea, importantly my last 6 months in Cincinnati ever since S got his Solara and became the 5th roommate almost literally.. Even as he moved away from campus, he moved closer to us and we saw the real Cincinnati through the Solara that he had... The umpteen restaurants, the late Friday nights as we flopped with all of our laptops, did all our theses work and ran a parallel vein of conversations well into the night with the TV blaring some nonsense.. the evening chais at the Morgens verandahs, the latenight Clue with the roomies... crazy, unprecendented, irrepeatable fun.

2. San Diego - Just when I thought I had had the most of living a student life back in Cinci and had left my days back there, I moved in with SM and literally right in the middle of her friend's circle. And work life couldn't have been more fun... As a new gang that got together with multitude connections interwoven around us, it seemed like we couldn't get enough of each other. We meet almost every night.. for a movie... for dinner.. for dessert...for gym... for meeting. We're all professionals and we're all a wee bit crazy in the evenings when we get together. Be it cycling, be it just eating out, this gang has ensured that my last few days in the US are truly memorable. Thanks SM.

3. Few good friends - Some of my most cherished friendships were grounded here. You guys know who you are. I am glad I found you guys here.. Life really wouldn't have been the same without all those bitching sessions, nightouts and the solid support system that you guys formed around me. This also includes my handful of friends from India who are here as well.. Together, this network was my backbone in the US. And I want each one of you at the wedding. :)

4. The seasons - I have been spoiled by the East Coast.. I have seen 4 distinct seasons each year. And it's been brilliant. I have thoroughly enjoyed the brilliant colors of Fall, the flakes of snow in Winter, the sticky Summers and pleasantly rainy Springs. Fabulous!

5. The cuisines - Well, it all has to come down to food, doesn't it? Hailing from the country of spices, most of us Indians find it unsettling here in the US where steak and red meat rule, especially if you are vegetarian like me. But the varied cuisine is something I could've experienced just here... maybe to hunt for something veggie in any cuisine, maybe out of sheer interest. I have now developed for a whole bunch of cuisines, Italian, Mediterranean, Greek, Mexican, you name it. Technically the land I am headed to is very likely to have just as many cuisines, but this is where I fell in love with food. Before the US, I was never really hungry. My Patti took care of that.. feeding me at periodic intervals, hungry or not.

6. The malls - Yes, I have been in the Gulf. And I have seen the vast vast malls or soukhs as they are called out there. So yes I wasn't daunted by the huge Walmarts and Targets here the way some others have. But in the Gulf, Appa bought us everything we ever wanted. Out here, I had my money, my needs and my discretion to buy stuff. And I enjoyed it. I splurged sometimes, scrimped some others and had a blast overall..

7. The deals - Money rules... when you save it. Before the US I have probably not realized the value of electronics or the importance perhaps. Here I have been spoiled by the deals.. by the variety of things and the greed of requiring things... I have bought my famed camera, umpteen memory supplements, and the thirst hasn't been half-quenched. But then, it never will.

Three years of my life... A lifetime of memories. Fully worth it.

November 2, 2007

Bye Bye USA

Note: These set of blogs are going to be doused in nostalgia, sprinkled with inconsistency and sprayed with fond memories. This is a part of my USA memoirs.

As I near the end of my stay in the US, with less than a month away, what am I feeling?

Its one of those complex questions and merely by not thinking about it, I have successfully avoided answering it. But its a big question and its been creeping in a little by little as the days come to an end. And living each day for it's merit is slowly drawing to a close. As I was consolidating my stuff and trying to pack everything, it hit me. This is it. I don't know when I am ever coming back again. If I am ever coming back again. As a professional? As a tourist? As a dependent? Ever? No clue. And that riles me. When we all left India to pursue our dreams in this Land of Opportunity, we were never really leaving India. We would always go back. Our roots were there and every vacation began with the Indian dream. But this is entirely different. What does it mean to leave a country where your personal identity was established? Where you first figured what being independent was? First lived away from home, paid your own bills, made ends meet, tried your hand at cooking, woke up to an alarm? Maybe all of this means nothing to someone who has had the "hostel" experience back home too. But for me it was all a first. And most of it was exhilarating. I was completely free to do as I liked. I could come and go as I pleased to wherever with whoever and I was free to choose my activities and everything about my life. Having been raised by very liberal parents, I have little reason to complain. But that was still different. We had to tell Amma we would be late coming home. And late still meant before 11:30 at night. Even as I leave the country to fall into stride with my matrimonial plans, with my future academic plans, my life is yet again entwined with at least one more individual's if not more. My decisions will now impact more than just me. I have grown up. And I have grown past the famed single phase as well. Did I make the most of it while it lasted? Looking back, I think I did. I made some of my closest associations with people over here... Gained a few precious friends, made many business contacts, saw many famed places out here (I haven't seen the Grand Canyon - it's going to have to wait for later), etc. etc. Its a mixed emotion. Maybe coz what I have to look forward to is soo exciting, I tend to believe I won't miss the US much (I bet I will miss the "deals" mainly on electronics - but what are friends for?)

Are they any regrets? Honestly - No. I have realized a place is only as good as what you make of it. With the right company, even a place like Ames seemed fun. I have been fortunate to find joy in the loneliest quarters. I will miss being a cell-phone call away from many many dear friends... But I am sure we'll all find a way to communicate just as well all the same. For now, I look forward to what has got to be the best chapter(s) in my life.

October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Traditionally (over the past 3 years), I haven't been a major celebrator of Halloween... As in, I haven't dressed up, trick-or-treated or anything. This year's different. K has gone all out to celebrate Halloween as indeed they do every year... There are pumpkin-carving contests, Dress-up-your-boss contests, pie-eating contests, a parade and prizes for best costume, etc. Such fun! I think the best part is that we spend all morning preparing for the festivities that last all afternoon! Curious about Halloween? I was too... Read all about it here. Happy Halloween!

Update! - Metallized (my group) rocks - We won the best-dressed-group and the Dress-up-your-boss competitions! Yeaay! Here, check out what we did to the group (I was one of the dress-ers and not the dress-ees)

And here's one of my bosses competing in the pie-eating...


And last, the victorious group.....

October 29, 2007

Drag day

I'm sure this has happened to each one of you. Its happened to me too but it's my turn again today. The day isn't ending! I've forgotten to wear my watch and my eyes remain glued to the clock on the wall 30 feet to my right. And each time I look at it, I marvel as to how the minimal possible time I've imagined has passed by. Maybe coz its a Monday after a usual busy weekend, or coz I am sleepy as hell or coz I have tonnes to do but the machine's occupied and mostly because the Diana book I am reading right now isn't engaging at all, I find myself rendered utterly completely bored. As is usual in such situations, I am wiki-ing away to glory. So far I have read snippets about Nehru and Lady Mountbatten, Britney' run-in with the cops, global warming, the So-Cal fire update, Gandhiji, The Bronte sisters, and all about Capri - just to mention very few; apart from attempting a nap in the library from which I jostled out in such an abrupt fashion on hearing footsteps that it gave me a head ache! And still the day drags on. Gosh! An hour to go!

October 26, 2007

jBook

When Apple makes a product, they prefix the i. When I make one, I am going to use j. This is it. Today's the day that I have officially decided that for my own cheap satisfaction (no, its not inexpensive) that I am going to write a book. My close friends will tell you that I have written books (and no - not short stories; actual long long books) in the past. Unfortunately I don't seem to have been prudent with the manuscripts and can't seem to find them at all. But now for all the maturity that I have (or so I think), I plan to write my first scream-out-loud book. Please tell me you will buy it once I publish. All of you.

Coming soon - jBook.

Glow - Part II

When I lugged the huge box from Amazon.com yesterday afternoon from the downstairs mailbox to the apartment on the second floor, I was apparently confused. I was at the first floor (someone had gotten in at the first floor and I'd assumed the elevator was where I wanted it to be) and was fervently jamming my duplicated key into the wrong apartment. Thankfully before being pepper-sprayed or anything equivalent, I fled the place and wormed up to our own apartment. I opened the door - or to phrase it precisely, I turned the lock and yet the door wouldn't budge. Flustered with the heavy package, the useless key and unrelenting door, I whipped out my cell phone to ask S to open the door. Once in, the package really confused me. With the San Diegan fires, I thought I forgot about something I must've ordered a while ago. I ripped it open in anticipation... and my mouth dropped open. There they were... 4 brand new books, each from a different genre, right out of my amazon wishlist, something I don't remember creating now. An early birthday present I guessed. But from which blessed soul? Then I found the receipt and the note. It made my day as nothing else could have. Thanks V. For the books and the choice of the books.

October 24, 2007

A city on fire

What is considered one of the most beautiful cities in the United States to live in - San Diego, has been burning these past couple of days. A series of no less than 10-15 major wildfires ignited the path all the way from LA to San Diego wreaking destruction in its path. If you don't know about this at all, click here - http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&rls=DVXA%2CDVXA%3A2005-22%2CDVXA%3Aen&q=san+diego+fires. It's surreal being part of a national emergency. Where the roads to the north, east and south are blocked because of all the fires and whats on the west is the ocean. Where you're asked to sit tight at home to await a reverse 911 call to make you evacuate. Where so many of your friends have evacuated and come to your houses in the hopes of avoiding another evacuation and where 10-15 of you are bundled up in a single home with all the important documents to leave at a moment's notice. Where the TV is tuned to CNN as you watch homes burn and yet the 15 of you play Pictionary, watch Mouna Raagam or do something to keep yourselves occupied with no work to report to. It may seem funny.. But everyone has their possessions to guard - be it new clothes (my new winter wardrobe in my case), the exclusive salwar kameez wardrobe, the ghagras or a few precious pictures. But when you see multimillion dollar homes burn down to the ground on TV (though insurance will cover a lot of it) and a parked Benz burn away, you can't help but feel sorry for every single person whose material losses exceed anything you've imagined. What I need to appreciate here is the precautious efficiency with which the evacuations were conducted so as to restrict the casualties to a bare minimum.. and that the animals were given shelter as well. The air's acrid but the spirits are up. In this case, the city, quite literally will rise from the ashes.

October 17, 2007

Glow girl

Yes... I have been glowing since morning... I can feel the warmth in me, I can't stop smiling and people can see it on my face. In the world of academics, we all know of recommendations. Who's ever heard of a personally delivered recommendation? And across continents? Never mind the conference... It was a very very touching gesture. And its left me feeling content and very happy. Thanks, Dr. P. :)

October 10, 2007

A matter of perspective..

You know its just not your day when...

1. The coffee machine takes you for a ride once again (if you're wondering what I'm talking about, read this post)
2. The SEM needs nitrogen just when you have to use it
3. When you have hunger pangs at 11:00 though you had breakfast
4. When you buy a snack mix at the vending machine and it stops millimeters from the edge and doesn't fall..
5. When you kick the vending machine in frustration to make it fall and then you realize your legs are aching from KettleBells... but hey, the snack mix did drop
6. When you're soo hungry that you tear it open haphazardly.. and everything but 3 pieces spill on the floor
7. When the kind cleaning lady tsk-tsks at your clumsiness..
8. When you decide to quench your thirst rather than hunger and settle down with the water bottle at your desk and forget that you haven't "clicked" the spout.. and when it decides to gush down when you knock it over momentarily in a flurry of activity...
and..... big pause...
9. When your superboss asks for your blog address as he catches sight of this post.
10. And its only 12:00 pm.. The day's only just begun

-10 minutes later -

And then just like that.. when I walked out, I saw the poor bug I'd seen crawling an hour ago, lying squashed and lifeless in a corner. That put things in perspective.

Celebrity driving test

This one was funny: http://autos.msn.com/advice/article.aspx?contentid=4025103

Especially the actual test itself. Lol.

October 9, 2007

Above the influence?

Not quite. Unrelatedly, I started thinking about how as we meld with different people, we all tend to pick up certain phrases, expressions from their vocabulary... It's happened so much through college that everyone including our families thought we Kadalais all sounded the same. Even though me n S sound soo different, more often than not if someone who hasn't known us long picks up the phone, they're confused as to who's talking (especially if I take S's call or vice versa). Some famous words have stood the test of time - "Duh", "Aumaaaans", "Galeej", - to name a few. I even picked up P's hai hai which I tend to use with a Hindi-friendly population.. Back in UC, we roomies pretty much had the same expressions for similar situations.. I think that kind of thing just tends to happen. And I can't recall if I have been the trend-setter more than a couple of times. Apparently, I am easily influenced! With the move to San Diego, came some newbies... particularly what we picked from S' - "Orshthuuuu" (a huge play on the word, "Worst"). Now with more new friends, I've identified their three mostly used words - "Bugger", "Sala" (hindi) and "Rascal". Personally, I think I am unlikely to pick up any of these... But time will tell..

October 3, 2007

Television Overload

With the decline of constructive things I do back home, I have a TV line-up for Wednesday that beats anything that mid-week has seen in the past. Thank goodness for S's DVR and I can record all these shows.. So whats in for the night?
1. America's Next Top Model
2. Gossip Girl
3. Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares... and adding a final one to the sequence
4. Pushing Daisies and oh maybe even Private Practice

And all of these are hour-long shows. Gulp.

K-prize..

With all my K headers, I feel like I am some sort of K-Fed propoganza (sic).. Hmph.. But this is good news.. There was an essay contest at K a week after I joined and in the sheer boredom of having nothing to do, I penned in a few pages and submitted it. And guess what? I actually won a prize! No.. not the first couple of prizes .. Just some honorary mention but nevertheless I get some goodies! When I got the 'congratulatory' email yesterday it took me a few minutes to realize what they were talking about... But who cares.. Yoo Hoo!

October 1, 2007

More on Tea...


As a tea maniac and specially one who likes to experiment, I have zeroed in on Celestial Seasonings as my favorite brand. And I tried their Tension Tamer tea just yesterday and boy.. was it good or what. Recently, I have started believing that I may have RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome). It maybe that I do have RLS or it maybe that seeing so many ads about it make me wanna wriggle my legs even more. The temptation to jig-wig them is maximum when trying to fall asleep. But believe me, this tea helped distinctly. I felt this soothing calm around me and this blanket of peace surround me. I can't vouch for its "tension taming" capabilities because I wasn't really tensed. But with ingredients like peppermint, cinnamon and lemon, ginger and chamomile, the worst that can happen is to have good herbs in your system! Mostly I believe that these teas work more on philosophy than anything else. In that, when you read the blurb that claims these fabulous things, you will for them to happen and end up realizing that they do.

Amongst others, I tried CS's Lemon Zinger, and this tea oozes red because it has hibiscus... It was supposed to startle you into freshness.. But maybe because of the tangy flavour, or maybe it was 3:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, I was little more sleepy than awake.

But as I already proclaimed... whats the worst thing that could happen? Extra antioxidants in the system? Nice herbs and a refreshing sugar-free drink? More heart-friendly and cancer-fighting capabilities? I'm game.

Sweat-er

Now I know why they call it a "sweater". Not because you sweat in it, but because you sweat over it! With San Diego mornings and evenings getting chill and with my winter wear stuck in transit, I had no choice but to buy a sweatshirt at least. And so I went shopping.. After checking out everything sweater-y at Charlotte Russe and for a change not finding anything I liked (I was very particular that it should'nt be an overhead variety but more the zip-up style), I ended up in F-21. I was pleasantly surprised at first to see a large variety there. On closer inspection however, they were all mostly thin, and rough and crazily patterned like 21-year-olds liked I assumed. Displeased, I looked at every sweater the shop housed and finally found the perfect one. It was black, sheer and zip-up. I tried it on.. It fit well and was very very comfortable and soft. $22.50 - Not bad at all.. I took it immediately (and a trench coat which looked very flattering).

As night fell over our (Me, S and V) boisterous dinner @ Bandar and dessert @ Extraordinary desserts, I wore the new sweater. Warm and well comforted, I was very at home in it and we were playing Dumb-C while waiting to be seated and I snuggled my hands into the pockets.. or where they were a few moments ago! I glanced down and to my horror, the right pocket hung straight down. The fabulous sweater had ripped.. in 2 short hours! And past then, I couldn't think straight. I considered it a major misfortune. Yes, I had the receipt. But did I have the tag? While V and S were talking about something, my brain retraced my actions and I decided I'd ripped the tag and put it into the cover.. which meant it might still be there. And the conversation had veered to the poor-little-kid-and-the-vulture-waiting-to-eat-him photograph. As I snapped on to it, insanely unrelated as it was, I felt sorry for myself having picked the devious loser in a storeful of probables.

This afternoon, I was over at F-21, armed with the receipt and the tag (which was in the bag as I'd surmised). To my chagrin and indignation, they actually created a minor fuss about the exchange because the tag was not still attached to the garment! What was I to do? Wear every damn thing for days on the end with the tag on just to see if it tore? I explained my infallible logic to them and with a few other curious customers watching, they didn't want to risk bad publicity and quickly approved my exchange. I picked a more normal-looking replacement (only after tugging it here and there.. but of course) ;)

September 25, 2007

Conspirational Coffee


Yesterday was one of those bleary-eyed days at work where I'd not slept a wink the previous night due to a variety of factors - one of which was YEAAY - India are the World T20 Champions!! But cutting to the chase, I wanted to sleep a couple of hours before getting to work. But I was too pumped up after the Indian victory and I knew fatigue was a while away. I cajoled myself into leaving for work. And I tried out a different bus combination and so I didn't have my usual coffee at the transit center.

So I arrive at work around 10 and the canteen has shut down for the usual breakfast-lunch interim. It won't be open for another hour at least. With my eyelids growing heavy every second, I ambled to the the coffee machine.. one that looks like the picture above (its not that same brand so don't sue me).. dug out my 60 cents.. fed it the money and punched in 1-H-3 which was the combination for my usual non-sweet French vanilla. I shut my eyes while I heard the perfunctory cup-dispensing sound. But it was a wee bit different from usual. I half opened one lid and imagine my horror when there was no cup! The machine however happily displayed "Dispensing" and spat out the 5 cents of change as it poured the coffee literally into the drain with no cup in between. I actually yelled "WAIT!" at the machine when I frantically looked around for an empty cup. None. I donno if the coffee would've woken me up as well as my temper against the coffee machine did. Either way - mission accomplished. I was awake. For the next 2 hours at any rate.

September 23, 2007

Space and Time

How I wish this post was on Physics as you may have expected of me.. But it's not. Its about the world we are in, the time differences and how relationships strive to thrive amongst everything. I read this post a long time back: http://topgunw.blogspot.com/2007/06/conversation.html and it almost precisely summarizes a part of my weekends. Just make that time difference 9 hours and you have more variables in the story... How its lunch for you when its dinner for them.. how they rise as you crash... How you work as they relax.. How you're bursting with energy (coz the day's just begun) when they're ready to crash for that Monday morning... and how everything is soo different..

On a positive note.. its not for long.. :)

And on an entirely different note, JD turns 2 tomorrow.. Happy Birthday JD (or Kittadri as I called him)

September 20, 2007

Bloody Murphy

Murphy's Law: What can go wrong will go wrong

Its my 200th post and I take the opportune moment to discuss Murphy's Law with you folks. I bet almost every person who knows of Murphy's Law has experienced it and knows that it does hold good in the best of situations..

Today was one of those days I cursed it... I got up 30 minutes past what I wanted to, having given myself the luxury to sleep more after a late night... I decided I would take the 7:30 am bus. On an average I require about 16 minutes to briskly walk the distance from home to the bus stop. Today I had 12. I ran at full-speed, jogged and power-walked till I reached the bus stop all huffing and puffing.

7:29am - Yoo hoo.. I'd beaten the clock; the bus hadn't come early -> hence I beat Murphy's Law. Or so I thought.

Now lemme explain the situation. At the transfer point where I take the next bus, I have two options - Route 120 - once every 30 minutes- a bus that leaves right after the first one reaches, and takes a half hour to get to work or Route 20A - once every 30 minutes- a bus that leaves 15 minutes after the first one reaches and reaches in 10 minutes to work - which reaches me faster and gives me time for a morning coffee. I usually skip the former bus in preference to the latter.

7:56am - The bus reaches my transfer point. Its 4 minutes ahead of time. 120 (the slower one) hasn't even come yet.. I head for coffee. 120 arrives. As I pay for coffee, it leaves. So what? I still have 12 minutes before 20A.

8:15am - I gulp down the last of the coffee - No sign of 20A - no frustration just yet.
8:20am - Usually 20A has come by now and we're halfway to work. Not today.
8:25am - What's going on?
8:30am - 120 (the next 120) arrives. What the helllllll..... I climb in.

Bloody Murphy.

September 19, 2007

Fall in Love

I love Fall - Autumn, whatever you call it. Its my favorite season of the year in the US. The temperature is perfect, the weather great.. the colors vibrant and the scenary brilliant. At times like I this, I miss being on the East Coast. Back in Cincinatti, I was able to observe the 4 seasons with clear distinctions and loved them for what they were worth (okay - you did tire of winter in 3 months) I am not so sure about that in Southern California. Will wait n watch. Meanwhile for a true riot of color, check this presentation out -

http://travel.msn.com/Guides/MSNTravelSlideShow.aspx?destinationid=&cp-documentid=380088

September 18, 2007

Spot-o-meter

I had this crazy dream last night.. and its right up J.K. Rowling's alley. I dreamt that there was a way to tell if people were good or bad... merely by looking at them. I am sure it was inspired by the character of Marietta in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. But my dream extended it a few feet further. So people who had these ugly pustules on their faces were the bad ones. But the degree, intensity and number of pustules varied according to the deed itself. For example, a murderer might break out all over while a kid who stole a pencil might barely entail a blemish. Once I got up, I sat day-dreaming if such a system could exist in hypothetical world. Wouldn't life have been so much simpler? That way people might've been afraid to commit these crimes.. at least at the very beginning when they were risking their pure faces and characters.. And everyone could see. It wasn't hidden. Maybe then the good people wouldn't sit and waste their time with the incorrigible ones. Maybe the people with the pustules didn't care and as long as that was all that happened, they would commit more and more errors. I also went on to wonder if there had to be a reverse effect as well. For example if the kid realized his mistake and returned the pencil either anonymously (so as to not take the blame) or with an apology - an indication of a true lesson learnt, the blemish would heal. That would be nice. It would encourage people to definitely change. For the better. But all of this has a simple, very realistic problem (apart from the fact that sprouting pustules on the billions of people according to each deed is Mission Impossible) was that there would have to be an upper governing body that certified an action/deed right or wrong. And this is entirely subject to variation of people's perspectives, the situation, yada yada.. And that's where the plot caves. People's morals differ from person to person... While there are some who look at the big picture - what affects a nation, there are others who look at the narrowest slice of reference - themselves. And thats when I realized that the system would be a monumental failure (apart from the gazillion loop holes in between)

September 17, 2007

SoP story

Yeah.. another whole sob story.. Almost four years after writing my first and up until now last SoP, I am back at it again. And for the writer that I want to become, I am drawing a large and a complete blank. After looking through a bunch of samples sent by illustrious colleagues, I have started finally. Three paragraphs down, I am critiquing already. I just hope I am done in a couple of days. For someone who can write a trillion blogs a day, its taking so many whole days to pull my own achievments together.. Gosh!

September 16, 2007

The Brave One


Ok.. I am not going to waste too many words on the movie.. The movie's tag line reads 'How many wrongs make it right'. Instead they should have said 'How being near death makes you a serial killer'. That would've been more precise and to-the-point. The only credit to the movie was Jodie Foster herself who's delivered another flabbergastingly realistic performance. You can smell and feel her fear and she has conveyed every emotion to perfection. But that's all that there is on the movie. It drags on for over 2 hours with the audience dying for the movie to get over.

The bottom line:
See it if you are big Foster fan... Otherwise, you ain't missing much.

September 12, 2007

Finger cots?

I'd never heard of or seen finger cots till I joined K. Here they don't use hand gloves. Instead they use finger cots. For more information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Finger_cot. It seemed a ludicrous substitute to the conventional latex-free, purple nitrile gloves which I considered academic/industry standard. And its likeness to a male condom is uncanny. No wonder when I wiki-ed it, it confirmed my own comparisons and I felt good that I wasn't a pervert- yeay! Obviously you have to wear one on each finger (atleast I do - most people wear them only on the thumb, index and middle fingers of each hand - lo behold - you've saved 4 finger cots!!) At first I found it unsettling, icky and creepy even. Now I am used to it. Yet I wonder.. its more time-consuming, icky and tends to come off easily.. and it isn't even that much inexpensive than the traditional gloves. And people tend to unroll them off of their fingers and reuse them.. That's the limit, if you ask me. Eew.

September 11, 2007

A sliver of hope.. and then no scope!

Like I'd mentioned K had banned most websites at work. So when they upgraded my comp to XP and handed it back to me, I recklessly decided to try out some site, mostly GMail. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that they'd either omitted the Firewall or its tough fabric had torn! For 6 long hours, I was the proud browser of all my email clients, Orkut, etc. But I didn't misuse my rights. I promptly checked email/scraps etc and logged off.. more out of gratitude than ethic I think. And I say 6 hours because, right after coffee break when I exercise my right.. it was gone! They'd sewn the stupid Firewall back. Hmph.

September 10, 2007

Walking Wounded

Ouch... In today's aerobics class, I managed to sulikify ("catch") my back! :( Its uncomfortable, painful and hurts everytime I twist. Moreover, my food's feeling heavy in my tummy and I have the feeling that the back has something to do with this. All this upon the non-ergonomic chair that K has isn't any good. I have to slouch a bit.. the chair doesn't let me sit straight up.. I have to bend down a bit.. the chair doesn't let me lower it.. And every sip of my beloved water shoots sparks of pain down my back! What does one do for backpain relief? And quick? Any suggestions? Boo Hoo.

September 7, 2007

Rated 'i'

Ever noticed how no matter what you do, there's at least one person who is not happy with what you did? It maybe work you did, a report you wrote or something as simple as what you told a friend. Everything comes under the high-powered microscope of society you didn't know existed till it smacks you on the face. Do things really have to be this complicated? Especially when you thought the world was simple. Leaves you feeling i-rate, doesn't it?

September 5, 2007

Kidney Bazaar

Read this:http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2007/09/05/345490.aspx

And Pakistan is just one of those countries where there are no laws governing organ sales. Here are the policies in some other key countries: http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0609/p12s02-wogi.html. And in spite of everything, the laws, the sentences, everything, who's to say that there's not a flourishing black market for this kind of stuff? Like someone had commented to one of the articles, it is better having a hospital hygienically remove it rather than having a butcher shop cutting you out and damaging God-knows-what. These days with laproscopy, I wonder why minimally invasive surgery is not an option. Its the rich guys who buy the kidneys anyways and there should be a provision where they'd have to pay for the best kind of surgery and care for the donors. I am not sure any of this is the right thing to do at all. I think Robin Cook's Coma was just one of the books inthe 70s to explore the ever-increasing and appalling organ black market. Whats the solution to this whole thing? Introducing a legal documentation system the way US has and matching willing donors blah blah or trying to rescue 2 sides of the coin - the healthy man with no wealth and a family to support AND the rich dying man?

September 4, 2007

Unshruggables

Unshruggables (N): People you can't seem to get rid off

I met one today.. I was getting back from the airport by bus and he chanced to sit next to me. He seemed plain friendly at first and then went on to trying being pally. He rambled on for the 25 minutes that the first connection from the airport took. Believe me when I tell, you I was answering in monosyllables and said no more than 10 words. I was in no mood to fraternize with overly friendly strangers. He got off at the same stop as I did and waited for the same connection bus I did. I have never had a longer 45 minutes in my life. And it wasn't like he was talking about the weather. He was probing about me.. what I did.. where was I from.. how long was I here... I even went so far as to tell him, "I don't think I need to answer any of these questions." And finally I managed to shrug him off by getting off a stop later than I wanted to. The things one has to do... Whats the politest way of being rude? Any suggestions to deal with such situations?

August 31, 2007

Five too many..

This is the fifth post since morning (and the 25th for the month)! Just shows what work goes on at office when you are hours away from the Long weekend. I amaze myself.. I just wanted to wish everyone a happy and safe Labor Day... with fireworks or not.. with family or not.. with friends or not.. With tonnes of fun and relaxation. I myself am looking forward to hell of a weekend with The Tarun Talkies. :D

Have fun.. Ciao!

Mommy's naivette

Yesterday on the nightly phone conversation..

Amma: Enga poyirunde? (Where were you?)
Me: I had gone for a musical
Amma: Oh.. Sandhya nanna padinala? (Oh.. did Sandhya sing well?)

Lol.

My glorious India

Forbes listed 25 top destinations in India which are criminally underrated. I couldn't agree more. And no, it doesn't list the Taj Mahal. Being a staunch Indian myself, I have barely visited 8 of those 25. Check them out here: http://www.forbestraveler.com/2007/08/07082901_slide_1.html?partner=msnbc

State Quarter Collections

Like me, I am sure many of you must've noticed that many quarters we have as change here in the US, bear state names on the "heads" side. I was mildly interested when back in Iowa most quarters I had with state names bore Iowa's name. I don't know if the distribution of quarters is made partially to the respective state. And suddenly I had this motivation to collect all 50 state quarters. Its pretty worthless if you think about it.. just $12.50.. And also, maybe there's a place where you can buy everything all at once. But that would be boring. Collecting is fun. And so I began. But in time, I would always run out of cash for buses and I had to use my precious State quarters. Hmph. So today when I tricked a vending machine into accepting my $5 bill and giving me quarters in change without any purchases, imagine my surprise when 14/20 quarters it spewed were State Quarters and all different! And so my collection's begun again... And this time, I will save those quarters coz from tomorrow I am using a bus pass! :D

Note: All 50 states have not been "minted" yet. Read this for more information: http://www.usmint.gov/kids/coinNews/50sq/

Mamma Mia!


It was my first ever Broadway musical and I thought it was tooo expensive at $80 each. That is, till I saw the show. I was a little reluctant to go in the beginning but am I glad I went or what.. It was incredible to say the least. And anyone who has any preconceived notions that one had to know all the songs before they went for the show, I have to strongly emphasize that as far as this one was concerned, that isn't true! It was extremely engaging, the performances absolutely stupendous and mannn, they can sing!!

The show with the intermission was just over 2 hours and 30 minutes comprising 22 hits from ABBA's collection. The songs were so tastefully placed with relevance to the story and everything gelled dramatically well. What amazed me most among many things were the performers themselves. Not only was their singing out of this world, they all look nice and danced great and acted brilliantly.. Bundles of talent! The lead performer, actress-singer-dancer Mary Jayne Raleigh was nothing short of brilliant. The story was simple and choreography seamlessly wove over 30 performers at the same time into a fantabulous fusion of music, color, costumes and performances... What I loved most was how these people were saying these dialogues and all of a sudden broke into songs and it wasn't the least bit odd. It wasn't odd when the other unrelated 20 people popped onto stage to dance and melted away towards the end of the song leaving the stage intact as before they'd entered. It was sort of analogous to a flashback in movies.. only that here its all happening in front of your eyes. The last part was my favorite. The encores, the curtain calls, the applauses... It felt entirely exhilarating at the end of the show and I was sure I could watch it all over again immediately if I could.

We had great seats for the price that we paid (Thanks Sandy for booking the tickets) and I enjoyed it enormously. Here's the official site for the musical: http://www.mamma-mia.com/default.asp and I must urge each one of you to definitely go and see for yourself what I am talking about. No wonder this one's a global smash hit...

August 29, 2007

Link In

How many of you are a part of LinkedIn? Never heard of it? How many of you are a part of Orkut/Myspace, etc? Hmm... LinkedIn is a professional networking site where orkut is a social site. LinkedIn can be used for connecting with former colleagues, finding new jobs or helping others find jobs. Its very useful and if you're not a member already, I think it's high time you became one. Professional contacts count in future. Trust me.

Spiderman - a faroff reality

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6967474.stm

Thanks, Ganesh

August 27, 2007

The R rip-offs

No prizes for guessing what "R" is when I am talking about a very popular phone service mainly to call India from the United States. Sometime R introduced a new toll-free number for calling countries other than India. And I use this service a helluva lot for obvious reasons. Except that the service is sooo darned horrible that I plan to find new plans that would not just rip me off rate-wise but will most certainly not rip off minutes even though the call's not connected. What's been happening is that the automated voice says "Please stay on the line...." and it fades away into oblivion before getting cut, even. And then when you call back, the minutes have reduced. When its a cell phone number that you are calling, you get a measly 27 minutes or something per 5 bucks. And each time you call and it does'nt connect you lose a minute. And I have lost at least a 100 such minutes. And then what? I email Customer Service saying that they are cheating me. And they respond asking me to take it up with my credit card company. Not only do they not charge my friend taxes, which they charge me religiously each time I make a purchase, once I replied to their lousy email saying it was their fault all the way, they responded with a "good-will gesture" by crediting my account by................. $0.328. What the &%$&^)!(*$^ is that? Thats even lesser than the taxes I pay per 5 dollars! I have never felt more insulted. R's just losing my ~$50 a month service. Not that they care.

The other kind..

Disclaimer: I have nothing against gay people. This is just my first real encounter with one such person.

Remember how when you see someone in a pink T-shirt, its become common to remark.. "Thats so g*y." But you know what? It doesn't hit you or atleast doesn't hit you hard enough when you finally meet someone like that. I have interacted with this guy for over 20 days without a clue till one day he happened to mention it in a off-handish conversation. And thats when I sat and put the pieces together. The colorful t-shirts (I had attributed it to te sunny weather) and the lime green cell phone (hey that could just be funky). No, its not weird or wrong or strange. Just having never met someone like that and heard all these remarks all along the way in the US, when I finally did meet someone, I didn't realize it. Just goes to show how we have been influenced to think so by society.

August 23, 2007

Mon Chat

If I have a cat, it'll be male and I'll call him Kittadhri. Miss you JD.

The Feynman Experiments

Ok.. pretty soon everyone's going to be overdosed about Richard Feynman. I am currently reading what is largely considered his biography, "Surely you are joking mr Feynman". In one of the anecdotes, he conducts an experiment of how the brain remains connected in his dreams. How it tries to make everything that happens in the dream seem logical, giving you the illusion of the dream being real. How the idle mind exists on a separate plan from that part of your brain desparately trying to stay awake. Having slept a measly 4 hours last night, I was in great position to verify whatever he was saying, especially at a status meeting at the opportune hour of 3:00 PM. As I sat dazed with coffee in front of me, I slowly felt my eyes slide out of focus. My brain knew this was wrong and was doing its best to get back to earth. Meanwhile on the secondary plane, my imagination had started working overtime. As I remained cross-eyed perhaps, I imagined that I was in the Sistine Chapel observing the brilliant ceiling painted by Michelangelo. It wasn't hard to understand why. Because I had wiki-ed it a few hours of course. The detail was magnificent in the dream and I have always dreamt in color and remembered very minute details from my dreams. I can in fact be so pompous as to claim that for certain my dreams held more details and I remembered all of them more than Feynman himself. My eyes slid back to focus and the room zoned in on me. I sloppily picked up my coffee. Its also amazing when your half-asleep brain responds to someone looking at you or calling your name - Its almost like they splashed cold water on you. You are wide awake and all responsive.... for exactly one minute after which no one's paying you any attention and you return no favors. So this was on n off and on n off and like Feynman, I couldn;t draw any fantabulous conclusions. Except one that is. I should sleep earlier at nights.

August 21, 2007

~Office Dares~

Got this in a forwarded e-mail back when I was with CTS, and thought it was funny enough to share (though I can only assume about everyone has seen it already) - In fact though I've read everything, each time I read it I am foolishly cracking up sitting in a cube surrounded by people. Lol. I have highlighted my favorite ones in blue.

ONE-POINT OFFICE DARES
1) Run one lap around the office at top speed.
2) Ignore the first five people who say 'good morning' to you.
3) Phone someone in the office you barely know, leave your name and say, "Just called to say I can't talk right now. Bye."
4) To signal the end of a conversation, clamp your hands over your ears and grimace.
5) Leave your zipper open for one hour. If anyone points it out, say, "Sorry, I really prefer it this way."
6) Walk sideways to the photocopier.
7) While riding in an elevator, gasp dramatically every time the doors open.

THREE-POINT DARES
1) Say to your boss, "I like your style" and shoot him with double-barreled fingers.
2) Babble incoherently at a fellow employee, and then ask, "Did you get all that, I don't want to have to repeat it."
3) Page yourself over the intercom (do not disguise your voice).
4) Kneel in front of the water cooler and drink directly from the nozzle (there must be a 'non-player' within sight).
5) Shout random numbers while someone is counting.

FIVE POINT DARES
1) At the end of a meeting, suggest that, for once, it would be nice to conclude with the singing of the national anthem (5 extra points if you actually launch into it yourself).
2) Walk into a very busy person's office and while they watch you with growing irritation, turn the light switch on/off 10 times.
3) For an hour, refer to everyone you speak to as "Bob."
4) Announce to everyone in a meeting that you "really have to go do a number two."
5) After every sentence, say 'Mon' in a really bad Jamaican accent. As in "The report's on your desk, Mon." Keep this up for 1 hour.
6) While an office mate is out, move their chair into the elevator.
7) In a meeting or crowded situation, slap your forehead repeatedly and mutter, "Shut up, all of you just shut up!"
8) At lunchtime, get down on your knees and announce, "As God as my witness, I'll never go hungry again."
9) In a colleague's DAY PLANNER, write in the 10am slot: "See how I look in tights."(5 Extra points if it is a male, 5 more if he is your boss)
10) Carry your keyboard over to your colleague and ask, "You wanna trade?"
11) Repeat the following conversation 10 times to the same person: "Do you hear that?" "What?" "Never mind, it's gone now."
12) Come to work in army fatigues and when asked why, say, "I can't talk about it."
13) Posing as a maitre d', call a colleague and tell him he's won a lunch for four at a local restaurant. Let him go.
14) Speak with an accent (French, German, Porky Pig, etc) during a very important conference call.
15) Find the vacuum and start vacuuming around your desk.
16) Hang a 2' long piece of toilet roll from the back of your pants and act genuinely surprised when someone points it out.
17) Present meeting attendees with a cup of coffee and biscuits, smashing each biscuit with your fist.
18) During the course of a meeting, slowly edge your chair towards the door.
19) Arrange toy figures on the table to represent each meeting attendee, move them according to the movements of their real-life counterparts.

And if that wasn't enough for you... How to keep a healthy level of insanity:
1) At lunchtime, sit in your parked car with sunglasses on and point a hair dryer at passing cars. See if they slow down.
2) Tell your children over dinner. "Due to the economy, we are going to have to let one of you go."
3) Every time someone asks you to do something, ask if they want fries with that.
4) Put your wastebasket on your desk and label it "IN".
5) Put decaf in the coffee maker for 3 weeks. Once everyone has gotten over his or her caffeine addictions, switch to espresso.
6) Finish all your sentences with "In accordance with the prophecy."
7) Dont use any punctuation
8) Use, too...much; punctuation!
9) As often as possible, skip rather than walk.
10) Ask people what sex they are. Laugh hysterically after they answer.
11) Specify that your drive-through order is "to go."
12) Sing along at the opera.
13) Go to a poetry recital and ask why the poems don't rhyme.
14) Put mosquito netting around your work area. Play a tape of jungle sounds all day.
15) Five days in advance tell your friends you can't attend their party because you're not in the mood.
16) Have your co-workers address you by your wrestling name, "Rock Hard."
17) When the money comes out of the ATM, scream "I Won! I Won! 3rd time this week!!!"
18) When leaving the zoo, start running towards the parking lot yelling, "Run for your lives, they're loose!"
And the final way to keep a healthy level of insanity....
19) Send this to everyone in your address book, even if they sent it to you or have asked you not to send them stuff like this.

Lost Segal

Back in India, Erich Segal used to be one of my favorite authors to read. Our Murugan lending library in Adyar had stocked all his books. Since then, I have never seen a comparable Erich Segal collection anywhere else. The US libraries and bookstores, place to place for some reason don't seem to stock up on his books. I wonder why. I have read most of his famous novels. I am perhaps missing one or two in the whole set. But even Amazon doesn't have them. There's no real good reason, really. I just wanna buy all these books to fulfill another one of my visions, the book shelf vision. I have always envisioned that in my home one room will have a whole wall dedicated to a mammoth bookshelf (if not the whole room) stocked with my favorites so that when I have kids, they will by default share my taste in books ;) Wicked moi. I also have a wishlist on Amazon which I will popularize close to my birthday. That way people can feel free to add books to my shelf.

Update: Oooooh, Look what I found on Alibris - Almost the entire collection! :)

Too late to rejoice?

Have you ever felt that? You wait for something to happen soooo long. It begins with nervous excitement, that headrush and had it happened right then, it would have resulted in exhilaration. But it didn't... Th excitement paves way for impatience (why isn't it happening?) to doubt (am I doing something wrong?) to worry (I am doing something wrong!).. As more time passes, you start losing hope but still try to keep your spirits high - hey it could still happen. And finally when it does, there's no joy, no excitement. Just pure unbridled relief that floods every pore of your existence. Ever felt that? That's how I feel today.

August 20, 2007

Turning a new leaf...


No no.. I didn't change anything in my lifestyle to merit this post. I merely have relapsed to an old habit - one that I loved and had no time to do while in grad school - reading! Yes, inspired by my dreams and other blogs, I have chosen 7 books to finish before the end of a month starting from today. 2 are chick books as I have termed them, 2 are 2 parts of Feynman's famed autobiographies, 1 - a Diana focus and 2 excellent novels recommended by fellow readers. I am looking forward to my solitary time with these books. I received a big package of my books yesterday and I haven't felt that new book thrill since Harry Potter 7. The sheer smell of the pages, the feel of the paperback one some and the crisp jackets on the others all makes for a very enjoyable experience. I look forward to completing all these books and succinctly summarizing the ones I will recommend. BTW, the picture above is that of a 4 leaf clover and it signifies immense luck. The sheer fact that I have relapsed to reading is lucky, don't you think? I do :)

August 18, 2007

Hurricane Names

Did you ever wonder who gave the Hurricanes their names? Like Katrina, Joyce or even Rose? I read a news item about a recent Hurricane Dean which had been moved to category II or something. So I googled this and found this site:http://www.fema.gov/kids/hunames3.htm which lists the Hurricane names for the past many years. So when I saw the listings, I thought every year they began with a name from 'A' and hoped there weren't in excess of 26 hurricanes per year as they juggled past the alphabet. And I naturally assumed that Dean was the 4th of the year and hence the name. But browse to the last column, they already have names upto W. So does that mean that Hurricane Wendy has already blown past? If so, why is Dean still lingering? Am I asking too many questions? But admit it.. its a point to ponder.

On further reading, I came across this site: http://kids.earth.nasa.gov/archive/hurricane/names.html which explains that hurricane names have an expiry date too! And they put it across surreally and call them retired.

August 15, 2007

Fine man?

Ever had recurring dreams? Yeah I know they are usually about falling off a cliff or following a long winding corridor or something of that sort. Off late though, I have been having dreams that Richard Feynman and I are in conversation about Physics. And that at the end of it, he gives me his set of books which are totally famous for lucidly explaining hard concepts in Physics. Going by the fact that his lecture, "There's plenty of room at the bottom" was one of the key inspirations to drive me into Nanotechnology, I didn't want to ignore the dream when it came for the third time last night. Maybe there's something in those books. For starters, I purchased his anecdotes and short essays sketching experiences from his own life, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! and What Do You Care What Other People Think? Can't wait for them to get to me so I can read between thelines for messages from the beyond! :)

iDay

Nope.. not an Apple Product. Happy Independence Day!!! (couldnt get the white visible.. hmph) Its been 60 glorious years and we are poised to be the next biggest world economy (well, next to China maybe.. but as long as we beat them at keeping a lower population :D).

GO INDIA!

August 14, 2007

The Bourne Ultimatum


Spoilers/Plot Details Ahead
Ever since I saw the "Bourne is back" trailers back in May, I have wanted to see this movie. It is what appears to be the last of the 3 books by Ludlum on his amnesiac CIA assassin, Jason Bourne, played to a hilt by Matt Damon and the rest... The movie picks up right where Supremacy left off, the car chase in which Bourne evades the Moscow police.
Succintly,
The greats...
1. The Photography/Cinematography/Blah Blah - The camera is literally on Matt Damon's shoulder and they've made no attempts to smooth over the bumps, the jitters as the character melds his way around throngs of people. The effect? Brilliant. Worth everything that they had to suffer through to bring it in.
2. Matt Damon - He looks tired and old (thats because he has a new born baby girl with whom he spent sleepless nights) but it blends beautifully to form the core of his character and he's done a brilliant job throughout the movie. With his versaltality, he is definitely one of Hollywood's major male actors to reckon with.
3. The series - It was a well-knit tapestry with few holes and none gaping. The whole trilogy made a lot of sense and came together extremely well. Flashbacks from previous movies have been used very effectively to jog the audiences' memory.
4. The stunts - Some seriously brilliant stuff in the movie, many of which were performed by Damon himself. There's this one sequence in Tangier where Bourne jumps from the terrace of one building into a very narrow window through a glass pane which is sure to draw gasps. This is one of those stunts Damon has done himself. Quite brilliant.

The not-so-greats
1. In and out a sequel - Like many other Hollywood sequels, this movie is definitely not a stand-alone movie. Anyone watching without a background in Bourne, let alone not having watche dthe preceding two will surely find himself lost in the maze of facts, old and new.

Thats all the bad I could think of. The movie was swift, very very fast paced, fluid and gelled excellently with its past. At the end of it, though I saw it a week after its release, it invoked feeble applause from a very appreciative audience. Far more than just a 'time-pass', this movie's a must see for anyone who has seen any of the Bourne movies.
Rating: 8.9/10.0

Opulence?

Opulence? Extravagance? Stinking rich? Call it what you may... But these properties cost more to rent than I make (in a year!!)

http://images.businessweek.com/ss/07/07/0725_expensive_rentals/source/1.htm

August 9, 2007

Crazy?

Has it ever happened to you? You try calling someone.. there's nothing major to talk... You reach their voicemail. You don't leave a message. Yet you keep trying them every few minutes even though somewhere in your head you are certain you'll reach the message. It happens to me enough for me to question it. What's that urge? Why do we do it? Is it just the curiosity or is it something more? After sometime, if I can't reach the person my frustration with them increases for no real fault of theirs. I guess somethings are just what you're born with.

Stolen!

Can you believe that my bro's Blogger account was hacked into and the URL stolen??!? What's with people? Its a blog site for God's sake!!

Phone-y

Ever noticed how when you like something a whole lot, its likely to let you down? Like when you parade about the greatness/goodness of something you've got, it most certainly will backfire within days if not hours of your quoting it.. Its almost taboo to offer praise to somethings. Its like some vague form of Murphy's Law. Thats what happened with my gorgeous slider phone from Samsung. I consider myself someone very careful with electronics and gadgets... Needless to say, I have immense luck with them too. My phones in the past have been subject to washing machines, toilet bowls and even dishwashers and they've come clean (not just clean-looking) but fully functional out of each of these ordeals. Thats why it was heartbreaking when my Samsung decided to attempt suicide. I was at the gym (maybe the rarity of the event scared my phone) and very intelligently I placed it atop a pretty high equipment next to the one I was using. I don't know how it happened or why, within moments it jumped off the top........ and shattered into 2 huge pieces.. the slider and the base. You would think that 2 such pieces must be easy to put back together. Thats what I told myself... that the phone fell on the carpet.. that the impact couldn't have been that bad.... that if I sat down with it, I might be able to put two and two together. I was wrong. I started by delicately trying to nudge the 2 pieces together. While one side glided so easily in the slot, the other refused to go in. The nudge became a push became a sizable amount of force became all the strength I had. And yet it lay innocently in 2 distinct pieces. I tried calling my service provider and they shrugged off responsibility. I called Samsung and claimed that one fine morning as I slid the slider up to punch some numbers, it came off the base. I know it didn't sound believable but it was worth a shot. And off it went in an envelope to the repair center. Boo Hoo. Now I am back to the pink Nokia that I love.. But its hard to adjust to this basic phone after having the jazzy, fully loaded one. Life is such. Things change.

August 8, 2007

Nano-Net

Alright... I am going to give everyone exactly 2 guesses on what this post is about. You have 5 seconds. Your time starts NOW... 5..4...3...2..1.. And you're wrong! All you over-imaginative folks, this isn't about any National Geographic's discovery of a spider spinning nanoscale nets.. nor is it about any pathbreaking research that I am conducting to evolve internet into some bizarre nano dimension.

Its about the internet options at K, the company I work for. They have disabled every conceivable website you might want to visit. I am amazed Blogger works. No GMail or any other email client except K-Mail (Not even email.uc.edu), no enterntainment news.. no Craigslist, of course no Orkut. Having had all the liberty in the world at BN, its but natural that I crib now. When I didn't have a computer assigned the first day of work, I complained to my boss a bit. When I got the opportunity to use his computer for a little while, I realized that it finally was down to a machine with immense potential, but something that could'nt be tapped, I lost interest and was even a wee bit disappointed that I got a system on the 3rd day. Talk about an anti-climax! That leaves us with a nano-sized niche of sites that can be browsed purely for business purposes. Hmph. Incidentally, the name of this post bears similarity to how our previous generations of relatives are called, (eg. Patti - Kollu Patti - Yellu Patti - Kadugu Patti - notice how the prefixes become consistently smaller! :D) So, the internet that we have here at K is like the ancestor of what most other firms have I suppose and hence, Nano-net! Anyone who needs to reach me at work, rely on K-Mail!