September 25, 2008

Receipt Rani

So, I am in Japan... Yoo hoo... And since we all hail from Asia, we don't probably right away see the exotic nature of the country, perhaps, mainly because the airport is located over an hour away from the city center. And I took the Narita Express (Nex for short) to a connecting station called Shinagawa and another train to Ōfuna where my hotel of the day is located. And the whole ordeal from start to finish including negligible connection times took over 2.5 hours. This, for a country that's not even that big.

And so I found the hotel (no biggie considering its facade is visible from the railway station exit) and was told that check-in wasn't for another 5 hours. I must've looked a sight because no sooner had I coaxed for an advancement and I was asked to come back in 90 minutes. Wearing an unnecessarily thick jacket for the humid climate outside, I was in no mood to lunge it around looking for a decent place to lunch, all the while wondering what all went into it's preparation. Just as I dreaded walking out into the heat with the backpack and the jacket, I spotted this cozy coffee shop that belonged to the hotel. Like all hotel-adjoined coffee shops, it was pricier than it should be (or maybe all the yens just seem like a large number). Be that as it may, I pointed out to the coffee of my choice on the menu card, having rapidly exhausted my Japanese vocabulary of 2 words (Konnuchiwa - Good day and Arigato - Thank you). And it was delicious. Instantly, I ordered one more and decided to kill the 90 minutes by reading Harry Potter yet again on my laptop. And that's when it occurred to me that the lady hadn't given me a receipt. I marched back and asked for one and was given it immediately. That's what prompted the title of the post. Having never really cared for any sort of receipt in the past I was amused at my own instantaneous reaction on a business trip. Guess that's what everyone does, huh?

More on Japan in subsequent posts. I want to lace them with iconic photos... but I happen to have left the USB transfer cable back home. So I guess that'll have to wait. Guess what's impressed me the most in Japan yet? Their technology. Even in toilets. Toilet technology. Yup, a post on that is due very soon. Sayonara! (I guess tht's my third word then!!)

September 21, 2008

Boxing Kangaroo

For the number of laughs that this video has offered me, it warranted a post. This is about the 'boxing kangaroo'... watch it here - . And this shows 2 things -

1. They are almost like people... trying to hold you down with the hands and kick you... (and I love the head vs the rest of it ratio - it's sooo funny)
2. Let the animals be.. why string a rope on them, throw the boxing gloves on them and then suffer the consequences??

And of course I thank my husband for introducing me to this video.
In conclusion, HA HA HA.

September 17, 2008

The comparison of the Eiffels...

France is the head of the EU council for the ongoing 6 months. To commemorate the occasion, the Eiffel Tower glows blue instead of it's usual gold. That apart, there's a circular arrangement of stars around the centre. Here's what they look like -

I was blown away when I saw the blue one recently. Its soo pleasant on the eye and stands totally apart from the other lights of the street, the other buildings etc., almost all of which are yellow/gold. And the stars on the centre that look drab by day look spectacular at night. Even better is the show of blinking lights every hour at the hour. It goes great with the blue. More of a contrast, than with the gold. Maybe its just that it's different and I am sure other people have other opinions. But personally, I hope they vouch for keeping the blue throughout. After all, it doesn't hurt to add one more reason to the Le Bleu tag on France's collar.

Tea for all

I opened up BBC News as usual and much to my delight I discovered that my habit of 3-4 cups of tea a day might actually pay off in the long run. Here's the entire news article - Go TEA!

September 15, 2008

French Food - The Gaulion way

So my bro was visiting us this past weekend and we wanted to make the trip as special and wholesome as possible. And so to the normal sightseeing that one does, we added an authentic expensive French dinner on the list. A French friend of ours who'd been there recommended the place and so the reservations were made and after a long exhausting day of sight-seeing we landed at the place. The first look was a cozy barn-type place. And a closer look revealed that the short tight spaces was intentional for the restaurant was very large in itself, being multistoreyed and furnished entirely in carved wood, from the walls to the furniture. And it wasn't very brightly lit, giving it a cavern-like atmosphere... So we settled in to our reserved table downstairs amidst loud crowds who were celebrating a Friday, perhaps. And first things first we're told all the food is unlimited as is the wine. The latter lights up the guys' faces... And the next thing we know, a very large basket of fresh raw vegetables was placed in front of us with a bowl of mayonnaise. This was the starters with large loaves of freshly baked bread...

And no, I wasn't kidding. See? And so we crunched like cows on the raw vegetables which went interestingly well with the red wine. We were given huge knives too, to cut through the larger vegetables and from what I saw, the collection included carrots, radishes, turnips, spring onions, onions, cabbages, capsicum, cauliflower, lettuce, cucumber, tomatoes and lemon. ALong with this, one had the option of going to the upstairs buffet and loading up on unlimited meat chunks and some veggie salad combos as well.

While we were crunching away, the waiter dude informed us that we could choose main course between duck, lamb and steak. While my eyebrows vanished into my hair, he quickly mentioned that they also served ratatouille for their vegetarian patrons. Relieved as I was, I could also finally try that authentic French dish. And that's what sold me on the place finally. The ratatouille was phenomenal. Essentially just a stew of vegetables made in a tomato sauce, it was very nice indeed. And for dessert, we could choose between chocolate chip and a lemon sorbée. No prizes for guessing which one I chose, the chocoholic that I was. Tipsy as everyone else was, some chose the sorbée to clear their heads but the chocochip was a no-brainer.

A loud, long and interesting meal later, we all owed 41€ each, the menu price, more than a tad expensive but surely worthwhile for a once-a-time Gaulion experience. Oh and I didn't mention which restaurant, did I? Here it is...

September 8, 2008


Finally I feel content to say that we live in the age of love... where true love prevails... where so many of my friends have fallen in love and made unions of their choice and not through matrimonial services. I have been fortunate enough to witness inter-caste marriages, inter-lingual marriages and even inter-religious marriages and all of this within India... that is a huge deal. What's bigger is the consent of the older generation. Almost everything I've witnessed has been lovingly arranged by the families themselves... In the stories where there are 2 different traditions to choose from, both have been duly upheld causing no grief to anyone involved. It's all very feel-good. And importantly, I applaud the older generation for taking it in their stride and consenting to what their children think is best for them. Instead of the old-fashioned dramas that our Indian soaps never fail to portray... threats ranging from 'cutting off the will' to suicide. Futile and stupid. Finally the generation that is getting married are treated as adults and allowed to choose their partners, trust their judgements and plan their lives together. This face of India is almost unrecognizable from the days barely 20 years ago when the bride and groom 'met' at the mandap. At least the urban face of India. But even the rural part has come a long way in this regard. In comparison to the past of course. I know now, for instance that in my grandma's village the girl can turn down the proposal... that she is asked for consent before proceeding with the arranged alliance. At least that saves a lot of unnecessary bride burning and other mental trauma that goes with the territory. Lets hope India has more n more development to offer in many diverse areas in the years to come.

The Avalanche Effect

For 6 weeks, I sat as jobless as the yawning bench-hopper you saw in a park. And last week college reopened and all of a sudden there are a million things to be done... deadlines, presentations, papers, submissions, fabrication, cranking up the idea machine, planning conferences and trips and what not. The thing I am looking forward to the most is unsurprisingly my upcoming trip to Tokyo for a conference-workshop. It promises to be exciting and a fabulous opportunity to establish international contacts and importantly learn the MEMS game from the pioneers themselves.

Even as I fade away into the la-di-da world that is not yet to be, my huge checklist of things to do knocks me back into reality. High time I address those issues, most of which need closure before I board the plane. Wish me luck!

September 5, 2008

Bizarre News

A poor dog had eaten 13 golf balls over the course of over 7 months. Read that here -


For starters, read the title as written... Next, try to understand what I'm talking about. When it comes to falling asleep, I have many many pet peeves. Everything's got to be just right for the miracle of sleep to occur. And anything can be a disturbance. Ask my roommates at UC... whom I used to torture with my supersonic detection of the drip of the tap in the shower. Sometimes they swore that I heard it only because I strained to. And yes, sometimes that was true. I listened hard to see if I really wasn't hearing it and discovered that trying that hard, I could hear it faintly. And once I heard it, it sort of reverberated into this unbearably loud sound that didn't work wonders towards my sleeping. And it isn't like if everything is silent, I can sleep well. Nope. I need the sound of the fan. I've told myself that its not weird and many people have that in common with me. And in San Diego, it was the sound of the garbage truck. Loud and clear... only on Saturdays n Sundays because on other days we'd have left by then. But recently, thanks to my downing bottles n bottles of water, its the urge to pee. The worst part is that I would've peed just before bed and invariably an hour later or less, I would be overcome by this huge feeling that I needed to pee. It wasn't that I had to. but the chilly nights don't help. It was just that the thought that the urge would get stronger in a few hours when I would've managed to sleep well, that I would rather do it right then. I think I have more difficulty than others falling back to sleep once something's woken me up. Crazy, huh? Even crazier, I got the idea for this post from one of my short dreams - title, and all.

September 4, 2008

Family Matters

Well, yeah, I did lift off the title from Rohinton Mistry. But the story is my own. I was just chatting with a cousin over GTalk and he was lamenting his separation from his family with him being posted in Hyderabad, his brother studying in Chennai and his dad working in Delhi, with mom left home-alone most of the day. That forced me to recount my own story. We're a close-knit family but I have had more than my share of separation...

The timeline -

1983 - Dad left India for the Gulf when I was 1.
1985 - We joined him. The next 5 years was the only time that my immediate family, mom-dad-bro n I spent together.
1990 - The Gulf War. That meant dad went to our family home in Bombay to find temporary work while the Gulf War raged on. My mom-bro-I went to Madras where we set up a new educational base.
1991 - Dad returns to the Gulf. It is decided that we stay in India for the benefit of our education. My grannys close shop in Bombay and join us at Madras. This is our permanent base since.
1998 - After 7 years of my mom alternating 6 months with my dad and 6 months with us, my dad decides to return for good to Madras. Another few months of togetherness..
1999 - I start college. My brother finishes college and goes to the US to pursue his higher studies.
2004 - I leave to pursue my own higher studies.
2008- After nomading around the US with multiple bases, I get married and settle down with my husband in France.

Now, the family is spread across 3 continents. The saving grace in all of this has been that ours was a joint family with my grandmothers living with us and caring for us. And it is only now that I can appreciate the sacrifices that my parents made by enduring these prolonged separations - all for the greater good, for the betterment of our family and our lives. Thank you all.