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.

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


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


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


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.