Thursday, December 17, 2009

Visit to the Ashram

Our office is organizing a fund raising program – the money will be used to gift toys and clothes to kids living in Ashrams. These ashrams have kids from poor families, some orphans, some abandoned by their parents or relatives. Some kids get to visit their families few times in a year, while others just wait for someone to come visit them.
As part of this program, I along with few colleagues visited few ashrams to collect the names of the kids and their wishes. Wishes varied from stuff toy to clothes to school bags and even umbrellas. Nothing fancy!

It was my first visit to an Ashram for kids. It was just great to see the enthusiasm of the kids and of course the volunteers. Most of the kids were from class 1, 2 and 3. Tiny hands with small fragile body frame but with hopeful eyes full of energy and excitement. Who doesn’t like gifts? Don’t we feel happy when we get a gift? The kids were pleased to see new people visiting them and when they were told that they could choose a gift, their happiness was unbound. The kids could only understand Kannada, the local language. But I was too excited not to talk. I started talking in Konkani hoping at least someone may know the language. And luckily, couple of kids did know and it helped. They followed what I spoke and explained to the rest of the kids in the group. It was a nice and a new experience for me.

After the session the kids were asked to leave and get back to whatever they were doing. We waved bye to them as I followed a few of them. Some of them were washing clothes, some cleaning the floor, some studying; all on a single table while a young 15 yrs old took their lessons, some were carrying big buckets of water, others helping in cooking. It touched me how they quickly geared themselves back to their chores – knowing the gifts and our visit session is just a few moments of fun and may be a little change from their routine life. 

Few days later I got to know that there were couple of Ashrams yet to be visited. I was free and decided to join the few others going there. I was told these ashrams were of HIV infected kids. Oh! I did not know what to expect when I walk into the shelter home. Would the children have some scars? Would they be looking at you as people from different planet or something? Will the place be clean or more like a hospital? How do HIV infected kids look like? Are they weak and fragile expecting death anytime? I did not know what to expect. May be I had some wrong notions about HIV infection or I was just ignorant. But there I was, yet again waiting to see the unexpected.

So, after almost 1-2 hrs drive we reached the Ashram. As we reached the gate, I could hear laughter; I saw a group of kids playing near the Father Superior’s office. Are those kids HIV infected? They looked just like any other kids. They laughed, played and were having a good time. They were very happy to see us and after we told them about the gifts, they were very excited. They were given a list with few items and asked to select one out of those. Only One? Asks one of the kids. J

We did what we had to do and headed back home. On our way back, I could not thank God enough for the great childhood I got. I only could laugh at myself for the petty things I cry about. Those are all too fancy; I thought to myself!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just the Same

I still remember the day I landed in Mangalore for the first time. Today it is almost 7 years, I have been in and away. But still – everything just the same. Only different version (you cannot expect software professionals to ‘not’ use these words. But you get the point don’t you).

I visit one of the old Malls in Mangalore.
And I STILL see bunch of idle idiots loitering all around only to stare every single girl entering in and out of the mall. The people walking in and out of the mall have changed and so are the eyes staring but still…

I go to a famous ice cream parlor with my friends.
The service is STILL slow and pathetic. The waiters may have changed and so have the customers but still…

I walk around some of the cubicles in office.
People STILL read forwards and IM with friends and colleagues all the time. The monitors have changed and so have the people using it and of course the content on the screen but still…

I see group of friends in office and outside.
One STILL making fun of the other. Or one still being cartoon of the club or a snob of the lot or one who just eats a lot. The people have changed and also may be the jokes or the food but still…

I go meet my managers.
I STILL go with my problems and they still have no solution but some high pitch talk. The problems have changed and so have the color of manager’s hair or even the managers but still…

I live in a shared accommodation.
Roommates STILL have attitudes, some still very friendly. The rooms have changed, and so have the mates but still…

Whatever it is – many things have changed (for good or for bad). And whatever it is – many things still the same (for good or for bad).

Friday, December 4, 2009

Death - do you worry?

What do you want to be remembered as after you die? Does it ever bother you that after you die, world will still go on the way it did and you will be just gone and forgotten?

Well, does it even matter? Anyways you will be dead and will never know what your family or friends are doing. J

Some people may remember and miss you; some may remember how good you made them feel; or how awful you made them feel. Your pictures may be hung on the walls in your homes. Or some rituals may be performed in your name. If you were rich enough, may be you would have bought your name print on a temple donation board and your family members may boast about it or neighbors envy it . May be you were a scholar and made some breakthroughs in some field of science. You may have become talk of the town if you had committed suicide or had an unnatural death or an untimely one.

But how would it matter to you after you are dead? Do you take responsibility towards family, friends, society even after you die?

Isn’t it ridiculous to worry about the time which does not even belong to you. Why care if someone will light a candle in your name or not. Why worry if your family will be miss you or not. Why do you even want to be remembered? People living in this world already have enough going on in their own lives; why add more.

Wouldn’t it be helpful, if instead you did things that made their life easy while you are alive. Take a moment to smile, to live that present moment. Help as many people you can. Be it financially, emotionally or intellectually. Instead of donating towards a gold crown for an idol in a temple, give that amount to an orphan.
We should be open to the thought of death; everyone will die one day or the other. Talk to your kids and family so that it makes them strong and they can learn to cope with the loss better after you die. Some things are not in your hands and death is definitely one of them. So stop worrying about it and about things after it. It will strike you whenever it has to and we cannot avoid it.

When I reached Mangalore office, I got to know one of our office employee died in an accident just a few days before I joined office. The person was just in his early twenties; looking at life with enthusiasm and so many possibilities. I was little disturbed to know about this loss but after a day or two forgot about the incident completely. I have been sitting in one place in one of the cubicles for last one and a half months. I always wondered who must have been using this system before me. I saw many medals and trophies around the place. I wondered if the person would even know or mind if I flicked one among those. Few days later I got to know that this place belonged to the same person who died in the accident.
Would he been thinking how his trophies would be left carelessly? Would he care who uses this system anymore? What would happen if death struck you all of a sudden like this? Have we done our bit in this world?

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Blessings

I am back from the DSN course. As expected, it was awesome and I have no regrets of taking the course… more so in Mangalore. Most of the course was in Kannada and though I don’t understand any of it, I could make out much of what was being spoken. It was a big class of 70 odd people. Old, young, mostly old J Some could not even understand English but I am happy to have got a chance to connect to them.

Anyway, I don’t want to write details of what DSN is all about but wanted to share one of the sessions that was held in DSN.
It goes like this – People stand in pairs looking straight into each other’s eyes. Then one bows down to the other. The bowing person bows right up to the feet of the other person; as you bow down you have to let go of  all the problems, tensions, thoughts in your mind. You do this act with full attention and trust. The other person should bow and bless you by putting their hands over your head with full heart. Then it was the other person’s turn to bow. Once the process is complete, you move to other person in the room and repeat the same process with new partner.

Seems like a simple process isn’t it? Yes, power lies in simple things J

So what would you expect out of this simple act?

It reminded me of the olden days when children bowed down to elders, elders gave them blessings. Some places in India we still practice this whereas in some places (like my own) it has become only some wedding day special scene or a major festival like Diwali.
Kids find odd to bow down – you may hear some old people go ‘aww, look at him; hasn’t lost his manners’ when a kid bows down. But do they even know why they do that? As far as I am concerned, I would bow down only cos it is meant to do so. I would think, are they God? I bow only before God.
Elders find odd to bless – Imagine you bow down before someone of your age group. Even before you bow, they would pull you up. I myself would find it awkward and embarrassed to see someone bow before you and like some super powered human bless others.

But that day, as I bowed down to others, I had a feeling of gratitude. Gratitude to nature and the God to have taken care of me all this while. I could sense my ego hide away somewhere in some corner of my mind as I looked forward to take blessings from both young and old. I got a sense of belongingness to the unknown people in the room. There was so much faith in every breath – everything will be taken care of I knew.
And when it was my turn to bless – my heart was joyful and giving. My hands moved forward with love and mind was at peace. I prayed that all their prayers get answered and all questions answered. As I closed my eyes, I felt a sense of responsibility towards people around me.

Now I don’t question the tradition of bowing down and taking blessings in Hindu culture. There is some weird sense of satisfaction for both people.

Btw, when I told Purwa (my sis) and Navin (my husband) about the blessing episode, both of them jumped with excitement. ‘So does it mean you can give blessings now? Give me; Give me’. Now how do I tell them it is not something you learn to do in a class. It has always been with you; with pure feeling of Faithfulness and of Giving anyone can give and take blessings.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Art of Living - DSN course

I still remember the uneasiness when I reached the Art of Living Part 2 course venue. It was not the fear of going into silence for 3 days – I had the inhibitions but at that moment it was something else. It was just one day before the course that I found out that my project ended and if I was not able to find new project, I had to leave US – that means further away from Navin (if 8 hours flight travel was bad, imagine a 20 hrs flight travel).  I was not even sure if I should go for the course or stay back home and look out for opportunities by talking to my managers. My AOL teachers suggested I go for the course. I complained that they don’t understand, in fact no one understands the seriousness of my situation; but still I listened to them and went for the spiritual transformation.
Read my old blogs (Before Part 2) and (After Part 2).

It is time for yet another meditation course J – this time I have enrolled myself for the DSN course. And is this a coincidence or what? Navin is in the US and I am in India. Last time when I was doing Part 2, distance between Chicago and California was too much. What should I say now? J Whether or not a situation is grave depends on how you perceive it. Anyways, the distance is not a bother this time.

The DSN course begins tomorrow (Thursday through Sunday). My visa stamping is scheduled for Monday and I need to take the flight from Mangalore to the consulate on Sunday evening. When I enquired with a teacher I know about the DSN course, she asked me to postpone my stamping appointment. You cannot attend half way through, she said.  
What? Are these people crazy? Do they give importance to anything other than Art of Living? Re-Schedule stamping appointment? How is that possible. Well, I tried my best to get the date moved but it meant I had to go through the entire application process again. So I tried asking the teacher if she could move the course dates :P. That was little too much to ask with so many people already registered. But what is the harm asking isn’t it? ;)

Nervously, I called the DSN teacher. I explained to him the problem and asked if I could leave half day on Sunday. He asked my flight timings and said that he will make sure I catch the flight on time. He said, “We will finish the course earlier that day. You just come.”

You just come! So here I am all set to attend the course tomorrow. I thought I will pen down my thoughts about the course before I go into it, so that I can share my experiences (good or bad).

DSN – from what I have heard from people, it is a fun course and helps one to attract positive energy. There will be lot of meditation of course! There will be some group activities too. I just read some information about DSN course – It says DSN helps to let go personal barriers and inhibitions and experience inner strength. I don’t know how successful I will be taking what the course has to offer but I am looking forward to some good teaching. The course will be in Kannada and English. I don’t understand Kannada; I hope the teacher gives equal attention to the non-Kannada speaking folks like me which I am sure will be in minority.

My time on Bench (yes, I have been on bench for last 1 month) will be over this week. My managers say they have given me enough time to decide whether I want to take up project in Mangalore or not. If nothing works out in next couple of days, I will be joining the Mangalore Team ( L ). I don’t know where I will head next week; but that will definitely decide whether or not Navin and I would meet sooner or after some time gap. Whatever it is I cannot wait to find out what DSN is all about and what it has in store for me.  

Monday, November 23, 2009

It happens only in India

I came across one video on YouTube which shows how people in India are different from the rest, especially in behavior, habits, religious beliefs. The video was hilarious but nostalgic and very true at the same time. It showed how people fight to pay party bills, women store anything that is made of plastic including plastic bags, take movies and cricket very seriously etc. etc.

After I returned from US in Oct this year I just could not deny the fact that I was indeed missing India a lot. More than friends and relatives, the very being in this place. I still cry and complaint about many things here; and I think many things will still never change like the huge crowd, pollution, low salary, corruption, nosy relatives J, love for gold, showing off one’s achievements. Everything comes in a package isn’t it?

In last couple of months I remember many instances where I feel – ah! India is different, I don’t ‘don’t like’ the people here, there is so much to experience here.

One day I was travelling from Goa to Mangalore by a late night train. I reached Mangalore station at 4:30 am; the bus services start only at 7:00 am; the only mode of transport at that hour are Autos (like cabs, just smaller in size and uncomfortable) and they charge double than usual at this time.
It was too dark to go on my own, so I decided to wait in the waiting room at the station. There was one family (mother, father and a 10 yr old kid). The kid had a fractured hand. I started talking to them and learnt that they were visiting a hospital for the kid and they were from Karwar. Karwar!? I asked; my in-laws are from that place. But they did not know whom I was talking about – for all I know Karwar is a big city where people mind their own business. Unlike Mapusa (from where I come) where everyone and anyone know each other; And why wouldn’t they? When their favorite time pass is gossiping!
Anyways. They were new to the station just like me and were not knowing the bus timings or the distance of the station from closest city. At about 6:30 am they were tired waiting for the bus and decided to take an auto. As they were leaving, the lady offered me a ride from the station to the city. I was amazed. I said, no – there is no space in the auto. With 3 people already, there was no place to fit another 150 pounds in there. To that she said, we will make husband or kid sit alongside the driver. What!? C’mon. I don’t even know them, just mentioned that I know their hometown. She offered me a ride, even more, risked her kid with a broken hand to sit in an open auto with no doors! And for those who may not know, the roads in Mangalore are real BAD.

Another time, I was again travelling by train. I was not sure if my station had already passed. I hurried from my place, gathered my bags and stood near the train exit door. One elderly guy decided to give me company. We talked about Infosys, how he thought Infosys was paying huge salary (and I corrected him of course), about world economy, Kerala (yes, he was from God’s own country). Then the conversation moved towards family. How many siblings, what parents do, what business blah blah. This happens in India. If you have a 20 minutes conversation with anyone, be sure you will be asked about your whole family. There is nothing more interesting to them than learning that you are the eldest or the youngest in family! These kind of questions are just obvious to ask.

The other day, some friends at work decided to go out for a movie after work. It was a late night show and more importantly a Day Night cricket match was going. The score that India needed to score was a huge ask and all knew it was an easy win for Australia; we don’t like to see India lose a match; so decided the movie would be a good alternative to watch. I bought the tickets and everything was set for a fun evening. Indian team was chasing a score of 350 runs and with batsman getting out early on, it looked like a sure loss. But then Sachin Tendulkar (who is he? Don’t even ask this question in India. He is God – star player in Indian cricket team) was in good form and was playing innings on a lifetime. With just 10 minutes for the show to start we gathered at the theater hall. No one wanted to enter the hall. There was a TV in the corridors which was playing some hindi songs channel. One of my friends (a local resident from Mangalore) spoke to the gate watcher in Kannada and requested him to turn on the match. After a lot of persuation, he got him to play the match. And then that was it!!! The entire crowd gathered in the corridors to watch the match. Every ball bowled was cheered aloud. The match was at its critical point, Sachin was playing well, but wickets were falling, the runs to chase was not too high either. No one was ready to enter the hall.
The theater manager came in and looked at the crowd.  Some people were sitting in the movie hall waiting for the show to start. But outside was complete chaos. Lot of shouts, cheering, praying, fighting (girlfriends pulling boyfriends into the theater and boyfriends asking them to go ahead NOT knowing what was in store for later from angry gals :P but did not care until Sachin played well). The manager asked the guard to turn off the TV. But the crowd roared. He did not do what to do. For people in the hall, he played 2, 3 rounds of movie promotions to delay start of the movie and kept them busy. Later he ran out of movie trailers, and Sachin lost his wicket. India lost the match and everybody went in to watch the movie.

It was a busy afternoon in Bangalore with lot of traffic. Trucks and buses were blocking a crossroad and there was lot of chaos. One of the Auto walas walked out of his auto and was helping the Traffic police to clear the traffic. I should say, he was doing much better job than the traffic police J

This morning I was sitting in our office canteen for breakfast. I saw one of our top officials walk towards the canteen counter to order. The person selling the coupons stood up and issued the coupons to them. He was all smiles and stood with hands joined for Namaskara (Respectful Hello).
I have been at many US client locations. And none of the places I saw such gesture by anyone towards the Vice President, or CEO of the company.

This happens only in India!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Superstition

Do you believe in any superstitions. Lot of Indian Hindu superstitions are famous and many Hindu families do follow them till date. We do at our place, so I know many of you do as well J
Like for instance, don’t cut nails at night. Nowadays we get time to cut nails only at night, so what the hell. Another example is hiccups indicate someone is thinking of you.
Oh yeah! There is this other one. Itchy right eye is good luck… or was it left eye. Something of that sort.  

I have a strange superstition. Anyone may laugh if I tell what it is. But it has always been at the back of every situation, or a conversation, or an event or sometimes action I take. I know at the back of my mind that it is wrong to have such silly beliefs. But aadat se majboor.

So what it is? Well… I have this belief that if I say something (good or bad) it is not going to happen!!! :P Yeh… So I can might as well say something bad like world is going to end in 2012. Right? But it usually never happens the way I think it should. Any event takes its own coarse. But in my mind I feel what I said will just not be true. And it is not just what I say; it applies to what I think as well! Weird right? Yes, I know.

What can be the reason of me thinking like this? Am I very pessimistic that such thoughts cross my mind? Well, whatever it is. I want to remove this notion from my mind. Any idea how I can?


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Old Age

I tried hard not to think about her. But the moments when we met keeps wandering back…

During my last visit to Goa, I visited one of my distant relatives. She is now old, has faded memory and is hard of hearing. I wanted to meet her before I leave Goa in this visit, not knowing when I would be back again and get time for the visit.

‘Kakibai’ I called her. I knew she did not hear me (I knew of her hearing problem) and was concerned how I was going to communicate when we meet. She turned to me with an inquiring look. Her eyes I could make out was fading too. ‘Shreya go?’ (Is it Shreya?). I was seeing her after may be more than 3 years. She had always been old as far as I remember her.
She looked at me and gave a relieved look. She said ‘How long have you been away?’ I said 2 yrs; I told as loudly I could. ‘2 years? It seemed so long. Now that you have come, don’t go.’

For the time I was there, I must have just spoken only these couple of words. All the while I simply looked at her in amazement.

There was Kakibai, one of my favorite Grannies, though she is not closely related to me, I liked to spend time with her whenever she visited us or whenever we met. She was always the caring, loving granny who told interesting stories to grandchildren.
But now, she looked old and weary. She could barely hear or see. I wondered what must be going on in her mind all day. Cooking, looking after herself, sleeping and occasional talking to someone may be who had the patience to talk loud and hear her say the same things over and over again.
Does she worry about the change in weather? Does she long for people to visit her? Does she simply sit back and remember the good old days when she was able to do all things easily?
What do people want in life when you are that age I wondered. Are they satisfied with the time they spent, time spent mostly looking after kids and praying for their well being?
What would we want when we are of Kakibai’s age? Will we be looking forward to anything at all? We may not be able to watch and enjoy television like the way we do now, or read books, or visit places. How would it feel to be dependent on other people? Value of money or gold or diamonds would make no sense whatsoever. Would we still want our favorite political party to win elections? Would we worry if the economy went up or down?

Or would we get fed up of the situation and pray to God that we die now?

I don’t know when I will meet Kakibai again. Before leaving I hugged her and touched her face. She could not control her tears roll down her wrinkled face. Was she sad to say good bye again wondering would it be another 2 yrs until we meet again? I don’t know, but I felt sad to say good bye too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ray of Hope

It is almost end of 2009. Last year was very painful for Navin and me, especially when we had to stay miles apart because of work. At that time, we made a promise to ourselves that come what may – we will stay together. Work is not so important that we have to sacrifice our time for family (and when work brings no reward, that’s the last thing you decide will come between you and your loved ones).

Around same time last year, we were sailing in the same boat. Though I think we are in much better position right now; by position I refer to mental J, but we cannot deny the fact that the situation is still the same.

 

Are we complaining? No. – We know there is no point. He are trying hard to change things in our favor. But sometimes things are just not in control.
Are we sad? No. – What is there to be sad about. We miss each other but thankfully we both are occupied with other things that we find very less time to feel sorry for ourselves.
Could this situation be avoided? No. And Yes. – But we made a decision and we need to stick to it. In life we will make N decisions and not all may end up in favorable situations. When you don’t have choice, don’t complain and have hope.
Are we ready to fall in the same pit again? No. – We learn from experiences. Every pit is different – because even though the situation is the same, you have the strength and endurance the second time round.

Some of the positives of being in a shitty situation –
1. You tend to look for good things, you value the good times
2. There are many times you end up being outside your comfort zone; if you never fall in such situations, you will never really know if you are capable to face them
3. You make many friends – gives you the time and the need to depend on others more than you think you though you did – and most often you get help in return for every favor you ask; You learn to trust others;
4. Trust and faith in God shoots up – Every situation, every problem has a solution. If not immediate, somewhere down the line you come out of the mess. More and more mess only makes you realize this.
5. Learning Curve – Yes; you should see a big hike there. If there isn’t, you are only making yourself weak for the next  problem J (You cannot run away from problems)

That’s that for now. Got to run to the FC!

Friday, November 13, 2009

After a long break!

Hi,

 

It’s been a long time I posted anything. Lot of things to write and share.

 

Testing the blog via email feature. More later!

 

Love,

Shreya

Monday, August 10, 2009

Burnt Out

It sounded so simple... Cut the apricots into halves, cover with honey, add whipped egg white with almonds. Bake for ... for? Hmm I forgot how much time they had mentioned.
Well, actually I was skimming through the TV channels and landed on one interesting show showing low calorie deserts. Baked apricot! And it looked so yummy. And easy. And it was a baking dish. Did I say I have been addicted to baking for past few weeks? I have been baking cakes and last week I also
baked fish :)

Anyhow.

Simple procedure isn't it? I set the oven 375 F. 20 minutes? Seemed no change in the texture since what I started with. So I added 15, then another 20 and then another 30.

Bing Bing Bing! The timer went off. I looked through the oven glass. Well, not bad. Looked delicious still. I let it lay there for a little more. And went to watch a movie.
Pathetic movie! Something gonna give... or some nonsense like that. Never knew Jack Nicholson could give some movie this silly!


In an hour or two I thought I should see how my desert was doing. And what do I see???

Here! Huh.

Yeh I know :(

I never knew the oven would keep heating even after the timer died out.

This was what remained after I had to throw away the so called charred Apricots. And this oven tray still looks like this even after 2-3 days soaking in water. Any idea how to get rid of the unwanted hardened grease from the tray?

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Rotten Bananas

Navin and I both love bananas; so whenever we are at a food store to buy fruits, bananas will definitely be on the checkout list. In fact we were at Half Moon Bay last weekend for a barbecue. On our way back we stopped at the local road side organic fruit shop. There were tons of fruits on the table and we picked bananas! Luckily we saw 'butki keli' (short sweet bananas very similar to what we get in Goa) there and we both knew we had to HAVE it. :) We already had few at home and did not want to bring home more so just picked a couple to eat in the car :). Kevin and friends in the car joked about it but we enjoyed our 'butki keli'.

So as you see we always have bananas at home. And many times they rot and we have to throw them out. Today I decided I will make banana muffins simply because I did not want to throw those rotten bananas away. Well, well, you should see how it turned out. Simply superb!!! I don't like to praise my creations but this one is something I would want my friends to try too. It was really easy and since I had all the ingredients at home, within an hour the cake was ready. Here is the recipe Shreya's Food World. I keep a list of my favorite recipes on this blog.

I did not have muffin cups so baked it like a normal cake. In the past one month this is the third time I am baking a cake. No wonder Navin and I are putting on the extra pounds with no exercise whatsoever. Anyways, that is a different issue and we don't want to mix it with our eating habits :P

Last time we had called Navin's mom who is in Goa, she was amazed asking why is Shreya baking so many cakes? haha We cannot wait to call this weekend and tell her it was yet another day of cakes here!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It is not as hot as you think it is

One of the first things anyone said to be when I mentioned that I was moving to California from Chicago was, 'Wow, California? The weather there is so awesome. Enjoy the hot weather. People in Chicago will envy you.’

I was so happy and excited to finally move out of the cold windy State and knowing that California is going to be hot, I was thrilled. May be not as hot as Florida I thought. But definitely better than where I was all this while.

Having experienced two winters in Illinois in the past 1.5 years, I was so looking forward to a winter-jacket free, sweater free, flu free, running nose free, cough and cold free place. I was so done of the cold weather.

My iGoogle desktop always had the weather forecast of Hoffman Estates. This was the suburbs where I lived. When I moved to south SF last month, I added San Bruno to the weather widget. I purposefully did not remove Hoffman Estates. I wanted to still feel the cold for my friends back there. So that’s what I thought. But you will not believe this. Every single day in the past one month, there has never been a time in the day when the temperature of my new California place has gone higher than that in my old Illinois place.

Higher would be an exaggeration; the temperature here has not even dared be anywhere close to that in Hoffman Estates. Here is a screenshot of what I usually see every single day on my iGoogle.

Considering that there is a gap of 2 hours between the two places, I have tried looking at the difference in temperature at the peak time in San Bruno when it is the hottest. But still Hoffman has ruled the charts.

I am so waiting for fall season and early winters when Hoffman states will go in negatives and I will have something to cheer about. But that too I guess I can only conclude when it actually happens. I am sure summers here are so cold, how bad the winters will be.

So all those people who think California is a warm place? Please understand which part of California you are referring to. And also what is the comparison made against.

Btw, the sweaters, the flu, the cough and colds are still living in harmony with me in the new place.


Oct - 2

Wohoooooooooooo!Now look who is laughing :)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Humans v/s ... humans?

Does discrimination bother you? How do you feel when you are discriminated because of your color or race? It is very obvious isn't it. There would be a swirl of rage. We would fight till death for freedom and equality. You would look for any help whatsoever to protect yourself through justice and law.

Some of the dangers that one would have to face that I can imagine are inequality, embarrassment, injustice, less wages, less opportunities, no food and shelter, what else? Can it get worse than this?

Today I came across a story of the discrimination against Albinos in Tanzania. Albinos are people born with skin pigment deficiency. The skin is white and many blind or with very little vision.

In Tanzania, the Albinos are targeted by people in their region who kill them for lucky charms for prosperity in life. Albino kids are killed and their body mutated to be sold and kept as luck potion by those seeking wealth and good fortune. Businessmen keep body parts of Albinos for prosperity in business circles. Fishermen weave albino hair in heir nets for a big catch. Miners soil the body parts in lure of diamonds whereas others keep Albino limbs and body organs to please the Gods.

Source : http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/07/stories_from_israel_tanzania_a.html#story2

The pictures posted by BigPicture on Boston.com were very touching and has left me wondering. How can humans act so cowardly? How can humans be killed in the name of superstition and lame beliefs. Superstition I can understand is being blind in some faith, but killing a mankind for prosperity of mankind? Weird!

There was one picture of an elderly person safeguarding the grave of his five year old grandchild who was an Albino and murdered and mutilated in the same house. There are robbers who dig up the graves for bones of Albino kids.
Being born with a different color was not the child's choice at birth. But ever since it came to this earth, the kid has to hide from human predators who are after their lives. I wonder what kind of life they must be living? Do they blame God for this life? Do they even grow big enough to know what life is?

We are in the 21st century; the world is becoming smaller and closer. More and more of world's population is getting educated, government is being put up to bring law and order, blind faiths and superstitions are getting unfolded and exposed. Then you come across a story like this. And it makes you wonder...
Are we human enough?

Mission Patio

Today I spent all morning cleaning our patio. The plants in there were dying and it was high time they got the right attention. This was the state when I started off.

Cobwebs, dried branches, fallen leaves, dust! I wonder how I did not care for those living plants for last one month. Today I had some time and I knew that it was now or never. I did not know from where to begin. I started from one section of the patio. Looks like the plants somehow hanged on to their lives for this long. I don't know when was the last time anyone cared for them.
It was a very tiring morning cleaning the place. I moved all the pots. Cleared the place of all dried leaves. There were more pots than plants in there. I added water and mixed the mud and made sure the roots of the plants were firmly attached. Sweeping the floor seemed the most difficult with all the mud and dead shoots lying everywhere.

It took a good two hours to clean and organize the place. Here are some pictures of the patio after I cleaned it. The place still looks dull with the plants almost dying but hopefully I will not ignore them and take good take of them that they come back to life green and fresh.



1-Aug-2009
Yes yes dear. Our garden is becoming greener... in fact colorful too :) Look at the picture of our new flower!

8-Aug-2009 - And now more buds


5-Sept-2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Doze as you Drive

Today I had to travel to our other office in downtown for a meeting at 10. There is a 9 o'clock shuttle that takes off daily from my office.

I was right on time but the shuttle bus took a while to get there. There is one driver for the shuttle at that time but today unusually there was another driver. 'Hello' I said as I got in. But the driver seemed to be least interested in greeting anyone this morning. I sat in one of the front seats; I could see him through the mirror above the driver's seat.

As we took a turn to get out of the office, I noticed the driver started blabbering. Must be having a stressful life I thought. But that kept me interested and I kept an eye on him through the mirror.

On one of my neighboring seats was a Chinese lady who had just returned from her trip back home and was showing off her vacation pictures to her colleague. For a moment my attention moved to their conversation. The colleague was an Indian guy and he was saying, 'I would have asked you to get me sweaters if I knew you were going to China'. 'Sweater? Why? Chinese people don't use sweaters there. Why would I get sweaters from there?'. 'Oh I thought sweaters are cheap there and this time of the year we need some here'. Oh this Desi I thought! I was now getting irritated rather than entertained with the conversation.

Suddenly I heard the driver opening the window glasses. We were on the freeway and the outside sound became too loud. I could barely hear the two talk anymore. I was relieved. But I think the two stopped talking too as the sound was so loud that they could barely hear what they spoke themselves. Maybe the driver did not like them talk I thought. They were right behind his seat.

But the driver was uncomfortable I noticed. He opened the window; then in seconds closed it. Opened and closed again. Now I could not stop staring him through the mirror. For a moment I hoped no one was staring me staring at him :P

While we drove, a car passed right by from a different lane to take an exit right in front of us. That was close I thought. Didn't the driver see the car? Whats happening here? The driver was struggling to keep his eyes open. Seems like he had a sleepless night or something. But he was trying everything possible to keep awake. He started changing the radio stations. That did not work either.

At one time I saw the shuttle was going on in a straight lane for sometime and the driver's eyes were almost closed. I thought he was sleeping but soon we had to take an exit and he did turn the steering at the right time. As we entered the city, we stopped at the red signal. I waited for what could be next. The signal was long.. long enough for the driver to doze off. Signal turned green but our bus did not move. All the people in the bus were surprised and there was some buzz amongst each other. With that the driver woke up. The Chinese lady right behind his seat exclaimed 'driver dozed off'.

It was very embarrassing for him I am sure. We had almost reached the destination but the bus was supposed to go to another from there. The Chinese lady got off with me at this stop. We both were happy to get out of the bus and prayed that the driver manages to take the people safely till the next point.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Web

I am one hour early for my meeting at a client location. Thought I should put down my thoughts while I wait. These days I feel I am too short of topics to write about. No new interesting incidences to tell, no interesting observations. I think I have become too lazy or less observant. There are times these days when I want to post a blog but just don't know what to write. I wonder if people even read my blog. Writing for myself is not keeping me motivated enough. Huh! How boring can I think.

Readers - If you don't enjoy what you read here, come back later for more. I know I can do better :)

Ok. Web -

Lot of things have changed in IT since I started working. More and more focus has moved to web technologies than anything else in last 10 years of IT. The HTML and web scripts that awed us then, seem so trivial now. Web has evolved at a pace that anyone could have imagined.

I got introduced to the Retail business world by my company and fortunately continued in the same line of business. 2001 saw the beginning of the web world and the web technologies. Retail companies that got adapted to the new trend then, took advantage of the new channel of media and customer interaction. The biggies like Amazon, eBay and the likes were the names to reckon with in web commerce and business. Other Retail companies invested in e-commerce to make profit and nearly all were successful. Customers on the other hand started seeing the advantage of shopping online compared to going to malls. Everyone slowly started learning the power of web. As Internet became more common and one of the basic amenities in every household, Retailers were not far behind to use this fact to their advantage.

E-commerce in India is not as prominent compared to other countries. And I think that is also understandable considering the fact that only 2-3 percent of the population had access to the Internet say 10 years back. And those that did, most of it was used for emails, or looking for information (sometimes). I would never have imagined buying stuff online. One, who trusts this new thing? And secondly, it would take me hours to get the whole web page loaded; I would rather go down the street and look at the things in the shop. I still believe back home in India, people still believe in real life interaction than virtual web interaction. Specially for commerce. May be those in IT companies and media companies had the privilege of being connected to Internet for most of the time in the day and were the only people interested in web trends.

But today web is all about social networking. It is more of communication and interaction rather than information browsing. Social networking sites like face book, orkut, myspace has taken over the world like a storm. If you don't have a profile on FB you are out dated. These sites not only help people to stay connected but are the top contenders as entertainers and information providers. And all content is user generated. Gone are the days when a Company or news agency was the real source of information. Today it is more about people content which serves as the source of entertainment and information.

Would you look for information posted by a retailer or information posted by people about the retailer. If you want real information, you will look at the later. And what confirms that that information is legitimate? The support of majority of the social crowd. Web is now by the people, for the people and of the people. Everything out there will be evaluated. The companies (retailers, media companies, political parties etc) should just be more cautious of what they post and what they say.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

MJ

I reached early from work and was browsing for MJ videos on YouTube. I watched videos of MJ as a kid, his life story, siblings, family, his interview defending himself, his interview with Oprah where he was asked questions like 'are you a virgin' and 'why do you hold your crotch'.

In all the videos I could see his innocence and his sensitivity. He always did what he felt deeply in his heart. Be it doing a music video, or getting surgeries, marriages, or making babies or anything else.

He himself was a kid in the body of a big man. He liked what he did. He had his own style and personality. Tabloids messed up his life by picking on all the not normal things he did in life.
He was under tremendous stress from media, child abuse allegations, court hearings. But he loved life too much and held on strong.

He always wore makeup even when he was sleeping. Now that is his personal choice. He raised money for charity. When on tours he visited hospitals and spent time with children. Did he do this for publicity? He was already such a big public figure; why would he need more publicity.

MJ name I remember I was a little kid. I heard of him when television trend had just started in India. He was a name which every human being knew. He was such a big name. It is difficult to even comprehend that he is dead. But c'mon, is he really dead? MJ still lives in the hearts and minds of people. For tons of generations ahead, MJ will still be known and remembered as sweetly as he is now or years back. Stars don't die. MJ will live on.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Accident ho gaya Rabba Rabba

It happened last weekend; Sunday 7/4.

It was the Guru Poornima weekend in Chicago. I was already feeling the pinch of not being able to attend any of the Guru Poornima events. To add to that, it was a long weekend and Navin was supposed to work on Saturday. But he got a call from office and had to work on Friday as well.


We had a car rental for the entire week, but we were there sitting at home. Frankly speaking we did not mind, but would have been happier if we went out instead of sitting at home for two continuous days.

Mehul and Minal were in SF; they are our friends from Chicago. We had planned to meet on one of the days when Navin would be free over the long weekend. Sunday being the only day Navin was available, we decided to meet on Sunday. Ananth and Hima joined us too and we planned for a trip to the Golden gate and Point Reyers.


The trip was really awesome. It was a big group and we had lots of fun. We talked, walked, did total bhangas (crazy stuff), clicked pictures, ate oysters, teased Hima (she is a great sport and fun to be with), drove through the winding roads, put our hands out of moving car to feel the high speed winds near point Reyers, made fun of Navin (he is a target most of the times; he is fun and funny too), Ananth was ready with smart comments as always. Mehul, Minal were ready with romantic poses for picture shooting which was so much fun too. We used to click picture of them including the person who was clicking pics of them. It is funny to see those pics! Will share if Mehul Minal don't mind.


In all this drama, we forgot that our car was short of gas. We were about 15-20 miles away from the city and returning from Point Reyes. The reserve gas alarm rang indicating that the car needed gas right away. We must have drove for 10 miles with the indicator ON. Navin was driving and he just had one thing on mind - to get to a gas station by Hook or Crook.

We were almost near a gas station and GPS indicated left turn. Navin pulled the car on the left lane and suddenly he saw a Gas Station along the road on the right hand side. Without thinking or rather without looking right or left, Navin pulled the car on the right lane towards the gas station. There was a car right behind in the right lane. Bang! Our car banged into the car. Luckily the collision was very small and the car driver moved away from our car at the right time.

But the next couple of hours were bad. More for Navin :P. The other car driver was a lady and she had just one expression written all over her as she got out of her car. She was FURIOUS. She started yelling F words and we all just kept quite.

When she was a little cool and able to think, she asked for the DL. Navin had a out of state license. Now what? Are you from SF? Yes Mam, Navin nods. Show me some proof that you are. Show me your rental car papers. Oops. Navin looked at me. Where is your bag? Err... I left it at home. The bag had the rental papers and all the other stuff in the world. Navin always complained that I never find anything I want in that bag. So, I thought I will leave it at home. But now... we needed the bag!

Ok... then show me your insurance. Aah... we never carried insurance papers or id anytime. Wait a sec; Navin said 'I have it on my cell'. This must have been first words Navin spoke after the lady started talking. WHAT? Says the lady? Insurance? Cell? What?

Navin pulls out his cell phone waving to her that the insurance # is on the cell phone. Who on earth has # stored on their cell phone? What if the cell phone is dead? Well, the cell phone was dead! The lady yelled louder. She needed some assurance that damage to her car would be covered. Luckily she did not call the cops. Else we would have been in locker for inquiries.

Navin was shaken for sure. Less from the collision but from from the lady's abusive language. And with no proof of car insurance or rental car we were on the back foot. 'Do you realize what you did?' she was saying all the time. We realize now for sure. At that time our minds stopped thinking.


I have a motorola charger suggested Minal. Thank God. We got the cell charged in the store at the gas station. Once we got the number, we called Gieco, filed a case and gave the case # to the lady.

It was a horrific experience on a fun day. We were planning to go to Minal Mehul's hotel place and then plan dinner or something. But after this break, we headed straight home. Did not even have the courtesy to ask Hima and Ananth about dinner plans. We were just shaken by the whole experience.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What a coincidence

Today I had to go to another office for a 1-3 meeting. My colleagues were driving so I thought I might as well take a ride. When we reached the parking gate, I found out that the gate wouldn't open with our usual swipe in card. So my colleague dropped us at the front door of the building while he went out to find some parking place.

I did not carry my hand bag as I had to carry my laptop along and did not want to carry too many things. We entered the building, found the meeting room. Meeting started as planned and by 3 we were off. While we started getting ready to start back, I realized I did not have my wallet. I knew for sure that I was carrying it when we sat in the car. I looked everywhere. The meeting room, my laptop bag. But could not find it. I thought may be I left it in the car. So we all started walking to exit the building. As we walked towards the parking place, I was trying hard to remember whether or not I had carried the wallet in the first place. I think I did, I thought.

When we reached the car, I looked for the wallet. Looked everywhere but it was not there. Now what do I do? I don't know anyone in this office. Neither do I know how long it will be when I need to go back to the place again. I decided I will walk back to the meeting room to look for the wallet once again while others waited for me in the car.

I only crossed the road to walk towards the building, when I saw a group of people walking out towards the parking lot. As they looked at me, one of the gentleman seemed very pleased and surprised. He waved a wallet in his hands as he started pointing towards me while he talked to his friends. I was taken back. Is that my wallet in his hand? What is he doing with it? And how did he know it was mine?

As we got closer he said "By any chance are you looking for a lost wallet?"

Of course yes!

They all started explaining to me. One person said, someone found the wallet on the road. Another said, we called your library. The gentleman said excitedly, we recognized you by your picture on your license and library card. Another person said something else. And another something else. And my mind was barely trying to handle the excitement of having found the wallet and being amazed by the coincidence of meeting the folks who had found my wallet. It was all very quick and magical.

What were the chances that I walked back to look for the wallet again? I could have drove back thinking I never got the wallet with me. How did the people who found my wallet walk just by me while I was looking for it? More than the relief of finding the wallet safely I was just awed by the coincidence.

May be they had seen me walk that side and collected the wallet from the front desk who asked them to give it to me? May be, or may be not. May be I was just very lucky. I want to believe the later.


The friendly group told me that someone found my wallet on the road and seems like some cars may have passed over it. But the wallet seemed fine to me. My secure id however was crushed and is now unusable. But it will always remind me of the special moment.



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Close of yet another Chapter

What marks the beginning or end of a life's chapter? We would all agree it would be a change in something very significant in your life that changes your outlook towards life, changes your lifestyle, teaches you an important life lesson etc. Basically some significant change. It is funny how often we associate change in location to a beginning or close of a chapter.

I have been fortunate enough to have experienced this change many times already. Fortunate(?) to move, settle, move again, settle again you may ask. Moving means setting up a home, getting used to the new locality, going through the pain of packing/unpacking, basically starting from scratch each time, getting used to the weather, making new friends, being lonely at times. Yes! Every change comes with some uneasiness, some apprehensions, some pain.

But it also brings along lovely memories you keep for life, a rare chance to find a family amidst strangers, situations where you feel insecure and lost but come out strong in the end thus strengthening your faith in God, learning your own capabilities, rich experiences that you would otherwise not have. For me it was all of this and more; each time - but this time I am more aware of the gains than before.

Last week I moved out of Chicago to come and work in SFO area where my husband also lives. We had been away for almost an year because of work - recession had struck and we were caught. It was the most agonizing time of my life specially because we were staying away from each other. We had postponed our happiness till we got together. We will do this, do that, have fun, cook good food, have fun trips, party, engage ourselves with something, anything and everything - after we get together we thought. One month, two, three but nothing changed. Only thing that changed was the extent of grief, blame, cribbing and crying.

We both knew this will not last forever, but we were too eager to make things happen the way we want. And when things did not go the way we want, there was only pain - more arguments, self torture. But by God's grace we had each other. It was not the end of the world we used to tell each other. Things will change, for good. Don't allow the situation to get to you. Navin was working like crazy and barely had the time or the energy to feel the pinch. In one way, that helped.

Why are we here, why do we have to live like this? We were neither saving money nor living together. Why stay away from family, in some unknown place? What are we gaining? Such questions bothered too. But wait a minute... what was the guarantee that we would be happy when we were together? Now we were waiting for living together, later we would be waiting for something else. These were some important lessons we learned in this special chapter. We soon realized how our minds play with us. Any bad thought and we tried to reason it out with a positive thought. Of course this strategy did not work each time but now we were more aware. Faith that whatever happens, happens for good kept us going. Other times, we had each other to talk us through the negative feelings.

Why did we have to live separate?
Our reasoning - While I was in Chicago, I was able to help many people who were in bad situations. Would they have not got help if I was not there? Of course they would. But it gave me the opportunity to be there for someone and give them a sense of relief when it mattered the most. I would never have been able to do that if I was not in Chicago at those times.

Why are we spending so much money on travel, stay and everything else? When will we put an end to this?
Our Reasoning - Be happy that we are not spending on reasons of bad health or anything bad. There are so many people who go through so much pain. Expenditure is the not the worst thing in that comparison. Be happy that we are not compromising on meeting each other whenever possible.

You do your best to help others, but when you need any help, people turn their back or are too busy to feel for you.
Our Reasoning - So what? Feel sorry for them because they are missing a golden opportunity to help. Now you know whom you can depend and whom you cannot. Everyone has their own priority in life; respect that. Ask for help when you want some, but don't expect anything from others. Thank those who behave wrong, because you are learning something new at their expense.

It is strange but true. Last 9 months have been the most precious time of my life. I learned meditation; this largely contributed to calm me most of the times. I started blogging more often; though I don't know if people even read my blogs, I feel happy to be able to pen down and keep up with one of my resolutions. Navin and I spent less time than usual together but that meant we were more eager to meet each other than before. We valued the little time that we did have. I joined the Art of Living group in Chicago where I met more people than I would have ever met in my lifetime.

Why me? Why me? Why me?
Our Reasoning - Why not you? You are God's chosen one :P :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sensitive huh?

Today a friend mentioned to me how he appreciates my hobbies, specially me writing a blog. I was happy to know that at least there is one more person other than me who reads my blog. (A small secret - I visit my blog very often even if I don't have anything to write. I can read the posts again and again.)

Then he says 'You seem to be very sensitive'.

In a way I think it is so true. If I have to describe me in one word, I would definitely say sensitive. I guess my blog portrays the same.

I am sensitive to kindness, friendship, passion, love, people. I am sensitive to insensitivity too. To rudeness, arrogance, selfishness, disrespect - I guess we all are.

I think sensitivity towards emotions is good as long as it doesn't have a negative influence on you. It helps you to understand people, empathize with others, appreciate others and their actions, you are always aware and learning, you become more approachable, more loving, helpful, more human. More creative and passionate too.

But it is so important to couple maturity and sensibility with sensitivity. Otherwise you can become football of other person's intentions. You may end up hurting yourself if it gets coupled with expectation and aggression.
There have been many instances when my sensitivity becomes a bottleneck and sometimes moves on to depression. But I learn with experience. Yoga/meditation does help me keep myself immune from such possibilities.

Monday, June 15, 2009

A smile is a curve that sets everything straight

On Friday I went out to downtown to give away Yogathon flyers to people on the streets around the Union station. Yogathon 2009 is a event to be held on July 7th in Chicago Hilton. The event is organized by the International Association for Human Values (IAHV) which is a non-profit organization which takes up community projects to serve people across the world.
Yogathon which is being held in Chicago is specifically raising money to have free stress relief programs for the veterans in Chicago and for public school students in Chicago.

We were just four of us with bunch of flyers in our hands, looking anxiously at the moving crowd. I thought it may be a good idea to have ourselves scattered at different entrances of the Union station - this way we may be able to cover more. That was my idea. So I headed towards one end whereas others went in opposite direction.

Frankly speaking, it was little awkward at first. I stood in one place and simply showed the flyers to people who moved by and as they approached handed one to each of them. Some people ignored me. Some simply waved in a gesture that they were not interested. Some showed that both their hands were full with stuff and so it was difficult to collect the flyer. Some were curious to know what I was giving away, whereas some thanked me after they picked one out of my hand.

I may have stood there for 10 minutes and I was not doing well. May have given away 10-20 flyers; only!; may be. I looked at my watch more often; I looked at my cell phone every minute. What was wrong, I thought. What can I do to pass on this message of Yogathon? Why were there no other volunteers to help? Why should only four have to do this work? The most difficult work? What does it take for the people to pick a flyer? Are they really in a hurry? Are they worried that a dark skinned foreigner is going to make them fall for something they don't support? I am standing there, wanting to help people of Chicago, and hey you Chicago folks running away? Help yourself! huh.
How will you know what it is all about if you don't care to find out? Or may be they did not want to find out! In that case you are irresponsible citizens, not grateful for people who fight for you, don't care for the youth, self centered, too busy in your own self.

I was tired - of standing all by myself. Angry - that people did not care. Embarrassed - when people ignored. Agitated - when people made silly reasons for not picking the flyer.

No, no; this is not what I should be thinking, I told myself. I walked across the street and saw one of the other volunteers trying to pass on the flyers. They were not doing any better. Now what? I walked to one of them and told her lets do it together. May be that should work. She turned to me and said, how does it feel when people don't take the flyer from you?

Well... Hmm... Bad? Yes. Bad because I feel I am trying to help you; I get nothing to do what I am doing but still I am helping. But you don't understand. When all this is for you!

But what was I getting from all these thoughts? I should have no intentions to do this task. I am helping for love of humanity and love should be unconditional. If people want to know about Yogathon, pass on the flyers. That is your work. Pass on the word. People act or don't act is not your responsibility. If someone is not willing to take the flyer from you, its okay. Pass it on to someone who is. Don't get bogged down by some ignorant people, they have their own stress to deal with. Think how you can make the best of the time you are there.

Then it was a different experience all together. I was in a different mind set. I decided I will give the best smile to whoever that walks down that entrance. That was the only good thing I could do. It is not the time to judge anyone. If they don't look at you or want to ignore, that is also fine. Just give it your best shot; because that is all you can do. So that is just what I did. And the response was awesome. People smiled back too. They were more eager to know what I was giving away. I could even hear few say, 'ah.. sure.. I can take it from you!'. Some people inquired what was Yogathon all about. Some people told me that they would not be around July 7 and I would say, then pass it on to someone who may be around. Some people had their hands full with bags and stuff but still walked by to pick up the flyer off their free finger tips. I must have given away 500 or more flyers in no time. It felt great!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Do you fake smile?

You are walking by down the street and there is an eye contact to some stranger. What do you do? Or- you push the door to open and someone walks from opposite direction. What do you do?

Yes - Obviously we smile. But have you noticed anytime the way people smile? You see a BIG smile on their face and suddenly its gone. You know, like a trained robot? You see someone, then you see a smile and then whoosh, its gone.

This is something I have failed to understand. Why do people smile half halfheartedly? Courtesy sake? People are taught in school/home to do that?

What use is a smile if it is followed by a stern face or a frown? Meaningless! What does it take to keep it on for a few seconds more? Till someone to whom it is intended even realizes you smiled?

C'mon people, don't be in a hurry and leave things incomplete. Smile with all your heart; it could brighten someone's day. It could be one of the best things the other person has seen all day. Don't ruin it by making it mechanical.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Super Mom!

Its about time I write about my Mom. And I know if I start, I would need to dedicate an entire blog for her. And sooner or later I think I may even end up doing that. Until then, here is a recent anecdote.

My Mom has definitely been a very influential person; not only to me but many more people I can imagine. She is involved into social activities, loves to help others, always... and I mean it always has a positive attitude, is a great cook, is very enthusiastic and full of energy, very loving, and loved by everyone, straightforward, strong, very strong woman. I can go on listing tons of adjectives and will still fall short. She specially loves being with people. In all the get to gathers you will always see her talking to everyone, sharing stories, smiling, laughing and having a good time; also making sure others are having a good time. That is important too and that is why I think she is the best. You will be fond of her as soon as you meet her I am sure. Everybody does. See... I start talking about her and cannot stop praising.

But anyways, that is not something I want to write about today. Today's blog is about the new side of Mom I saw recently.

Last month Mom and Dad had been to a 15 day tour to the eastern countries covering Malaysia, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Thailand. My Mom in law also accompanied. This was the first time she was travelling outside of India. She was very excited. In fact my Mom, the over energised person that she is, made sure Mom in law has the best time ever. I am happy that they had each others company though. You will always see my Mom in law in a Saree and wearing a Chudidar may be a 'young' people's style for her. But during this tour, Mummy encouraged her to try new attire and she ended up stitching new clothes for herself. And I am so glad she did, mom in law looked at least 10 years younger in the chudidars. You could simply make out she was having great time. A good change for her. We owe it to Mummy; thanks Mom for taking good care of Mom in law.

It was Mom in law's birthday when they were on the tour. Mom organized a small celebration for her too. Here's a picture of both of them.
Their trip sounded so much fun, the way they tell their stories from the trip. They were a group of 15-20 people from different parts of India. My Mom must have made friends with all of them I am sure. They went sight seeing, visited the different temples of Bangkok, the markets of Hong Kong, water parks, bird sanctuary, went shopping, went for rides and much more.

But the most exciting and the reason of writing this post was the para sailing ride! All my life I have NEVER ever seen Mom even jog or run or try any strenuous activity. An Adventure sport? And my Mom? You must be kidding. Excitement to her (I thought) was cooking, meeting people, helping around and that was about it. Now, you have to understand the kind of lifestyle we have back in Goa. You cannot imagine a 60 year old, middle class hindu woman, mother of kids who are wedded off going bicycling say, or going swimming, or whatever! I am just trying to put across the fact that it is a BIG thing for someone from Mom's generation from my town to take up something like para sailing.

But once they returned from their tour, she told me this. WHAT? Mom and para sailing? I could never imagine her taking up any adventure sport EVER. And now she tells me she did para sailing, water park rides, etc. I need proof I told her :)

I had been since then waiting to see the pictures of her in the sky, hanging in that parachute with expressions dumbstruck! Today I got to see the pics finally. I am posting them here to share with the world.

I find the second picture a little funny; mom seems like a spider man ready to take off :P he he!

The expressions here are awesome too :)




I am proud of you Mom. Everyday I learn something new from you. You are a great combo of life, energy and zeal. My hero... Love ya!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Perfect Timing

I was at work till late. Some 'crazy' manager had scheduled a meeting from 5-6 pm. I was not feeling very happy of some of the things happening at work. So I thought how about going to temple on my way home?
So I turned my car on Irving Park road and started driving towards Hari Om temple. Off late, I have been going through lot of mood swings specially with things related to my work. Also had not been meditating regularly so had been missing some quiet time. So I thought, visit on a weekday to the temple would be perfect time off for myself. There will be less or may be no people and I will just sit in the auspicious smelling place.

As I entered the temple, I saw few others hurrying in too. I wondered if it was some festival or occasion. I prayed and sat for sometime. I was ready to get up; that time people started gathering in a small circle. The priest came by me and said 'We are having Hanuman Chalisa in 2 minutes. Don't go'. Don't go? hehe Sounds forceful isn't it? But I liked that he made sure I know what was going on; may be I looked confused. Also, he insisted I stayed; feels good to obey your elders right? Specially when they force you to do something that affects them in no way but benefits us.

Anyways, so I decided to stay for the chanting and the singing. It was great fun to sing aloud the Sanskrit scripts. There I was sitting with a bunch of strangers, swinging and clapping as I read the Chalisa from a file of assembled printouts. Though I did not know anyone, we all were connected by the tunes of 'Jai Sri Ram'.

As I stood for the Aartis, while the priests performed the pooja, I saw two 1 yr old playing with their Dad. The twins were so tiny and cute. One of them was in her Dad's arms and she looked at me and just opened her arms to come towards me. I don't know why she did that but I took her in my arms. Next thing she does is calmly puts her head on my shoulder like she knew me, like she was happy in the new arms; as if she was going to sleep. I felt so good; the experience of innocence, trust and calmness from the 1 yr old was very touching.

I am glad I went to the temple today. And thank God for the perfect timing!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Nightfall

Recently I picked this book "Nightfall" by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg from the library. I must have read 50 some pages only. But the story is very captivating so far. It is a fiction narration of a story on a planet with 4-5 or even more suns.


There is no night at all in this land with one or the other sun always shining in the sky. I can imagine how hot it must be for people living in a place like that. More interestingly, I find time to read only when I am in the Sauna. The temperature in there always shooting hundreds.
So it will not be wrong to say that I feel the story while I read it too.


More on it once I finish reading the book.




[June 9 '09] - Finished reading the book and I can definitely say that I am happy I came across this book and picked it up from the library. I remember I was looking for the book frantically for quite sometime and nearly gave up the thought of looking further. But somehow got drawn towards an aisle of books which was the SF section. And that was exactly what I was looking for.
The story is very well written; this is the only the second SF I have read after Michael Chrichton's Timeline. And I was completely drawn by its narration, the characters and ofcourse the story. The way a known, common fact of nightfall is made a devastation to the people who never saw darkness before is simply superb.

The story is about a civilization on a planet called Kalghash where there is no night. Every day there are 1-5 suns varying light beaming across the wide sky. People there have never known darkness; they go completely crazy when the planet experiences an eclipse and they see the stars for the very first time.
The characters in the story are interesting and while the authors narrates each of their stories separately, seamlessly they roll into the mainstream story line. Every character becomes alive in the mystic way.

I felt that the ending could have been extended. May be I felt this way cos I wanted to keep reading.

Thanks to people on Friendfeed; I picked the book from one of the 'best books' discussions.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Give others benefit of the doubt



Do you come across a situation in life where your problem seems the biggest one in the whole universe? You expect people around you to feel the tension for you but no one seems to understand how grave the situation is? You disagree to give up and do not let the situation take over you. You know things will work out and are positive all the while.


But that never meant that there is no botheration. You are strong but there are times when hope weakens and the tunnel seems endless? But that very moment someone feels sorry for you, sympathizes for you and that leaves you feeling shaky?


I have been in this situation; I would rather say I am in this situation right now. Since September 08, I have been staying away from my husband; we meet once or twice a month; spending most of our time traveling for hours feeling the hit on time, energy and of course our relationship.

Here I am doing all I can to be on top of the situation, but then comes a moment when I get affected by what people say or do. Some close friend feels sorry for me or someone whom I expect to help does not. The whole ‘why me’ and ‘how long will this take’ feeling takes over me.


Don’t feel sorry for me because I am not. Help me if you can.


I know it is up to me to get affected by remarks by people or just ignore them. May be they are weaker than me or they are just trying to be good by empathizing with me. And if someone does not want to help me, may be they are at loss themselves because they are missing out on an opportunity to serve and make a difference in somebody’s life. Or may be they just don’t feel for you and are too busy in their self-centered life.

More than the problem itself, what bothers more is dealing with emotions that arise as a result of such actions I don’t expect.


Today I approached a colleague to help me find out about my positioning in a project that would work out for me and Navin to be together. From my perspective, right now that is the biggest issue I need to solve. But I never realized that that very person, who acknowledges that I am in deep trouble, does not even offer to help in anyway.


Trouble is like a deep well, when you are in it, you feel that’s the world and cannot think out of it. And same thing is happening to me. I know those who show sympathy are my friends and want good for me. But somehow I am not able to control my energy which ends up as depression. Those who cannot help, I am sure they have their own reasons behind it. But somehow I am not able to control my energy which ends up as anger.


I am not doing justice to my spiritual self. My mind makes logical interpretations and always try to keep others at fault. But my conscience knows that you should always give others the benefit of the doubt. Like Sri Sri Ravi Shankar says, being aware of the problem is half the problem solved. I will try to be calm and aware next time and always give others the benefit of the doubt.