Friday, December 28, 2007

As the year winds down...

I am off to Seattle in a couple of hours. The paranoid person that I am, I have packed my entire collection of winter clothes (plus a collection of summer clothes to wear under them - more layers are better, no?) after hearing reports of snow there. When I looked at all the stuff I had gathered to be packed, I felt like I was packing to move out of my apartment :-)!

After the longest time, I actually have check-in baggage while traveling local. To think that all this drama is for a matter of four measly days - heheheh :-)!

See ya all next year! May the year 2008 be the bestest year of your life yet :-)!

Happy New Year folks :-D!

Be good and safe on New Year's eve!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Benefits of blogging - updated

Remember that tag I did sometime back? An "interview" about my blog? This one? Well, it had a question in it:
Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?
I gave some response at that time. But now I think I have the correct answer to the question: Blogging gets me homemade polis :-D!

Here is how:

A few days ago, conversation on gchat between fun blogger Rads and me went like this (English translation of Tamil phrases in italics):
Rads: oy
howdy do
i made polis ;)

me: Good good :-)
enakku venum :-( (I want some too)

Rads: bobbattus = bolis

me: can you fedex some over?
pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaseeeee

Rads: sure
address tha (give your address)

me: aiii nejamaava :-D? (yippeee, really?)

Rads: yes re
address give
yea

me: ooooooooh super cool
aiii (yippeeee)

Rads: give giev :)

me: wait me sending address immediately
**********
Sure enough, yesterday in my mail box, I found a USPS package with Rads' return address on it. In a super sweet gesture, Rads had actually sent the polis I had asked for :-)! I broke into a huge grin and opened it. Inside were nestled three delicious polis :-). They taste absolutely super-duper delicious. Thank you so much Rads :-D!

I tell ya, if blogging is indirectly giving me such yummy returns, I should seriously consider taking it up full time ;-D!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays folks :-)!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

That's odd

I have written 28 (20 + 8) specific things about myself on this blog already. But this tag which Joy passed on to me asked me to list weird things about myself. So in this time's exercise in narcissism, I shall list 7 weird things about myself (pretending that none of the other 28 things about myself were in anyway weird :-P).

1. Whenever I eat cereals/oatmeal, I *have* to wash the bowl as soon as I am done no matter how much of a hurry I am in. I will not leave the place till the bowl is clean and dripping on the dish rack. Note: this obsession only extends to cereal bowls.

2. Similarly, before I leave my room in the morning I always fold the blankets/comforter irrespective of how lazy or rushed I am. Everything else can be nowhere near tidy but seeing messy blankets/comforters irritates me a lot. By extension, I automatically fold any bed linen lying around when I visit other folks too.

3. Many of my most favorite (current and past) songs are melodious but sad. I can listen to them at anytime, regardless of my mood. Somehow I connect with sad songs in a way which leaves me feeling blissful (!?!) and at peace. Some songs which have been on the list: Engey enadhu kavidhai, Laakad jalke, You'll think of me, Poongatrile, Tadap tadap, Linger, Pesa madanthai ... The most recent addition is Jag soona soona from OSO - the song is just so beautiful.

4. Though the above point might have lead you to believe so, I am usually not a morose person. I am optimistic to a fault, trust almost everyone whether warranted or not and generally think the world is a beautiful place. Kinda like the kid who, when given a crate of worthless manure as a christmas present, starts digging through it enthusiastically, “Because there’s gotta be a pony in there somewhere!”. You can imagine how easily I can get conned :-)!

5. I love croutons. All my plans of having a healthy lunch by hitting the salad bar are nullified by me topping the salad off with a whole lot of croutons. I am pretty confident that I can happily finish a "salad" having nothing but croutons in them.

6. Sometimes, when I am really enjoying something at current time, I start dreaming and longing for the next time of such enjoyment. I know, duh! Some living in the moment I do!

7. I tend to worry about completely running out of essentials and so, like a boy scout, I am always prepared. At my house, you will always find at least two extra cans of salt, tubes of toothpaste, boxes of tea, bottles of moisturizer (ya, that is an "essential" according to me) etc. in addition to the currently used supply. In case of an emergency, I think the grocery store can come borrow from me :-)!

Done.

No, this time I am not passing the tag to anyone. Only one soul (you rock, SK :-)) I passed the last tag to did it and I am now hurted *pout* *sulk*. Okay, okay, pipe down the celebration, will ya!?!

Update: Just realized that this is post number 250. Yaay :-)! I am too lazy to hunt for dancing numbers this time.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Random weekend notes

- This kinda news might be getting old now, but I met another blogger friend past weekend :-D - Pratap (yeah that's The Kid). It was great to finally meet him in person - he is just like I thought he would be and it was super fun :-)! Seriously, it is awesome to meet people for the very first time and yet feel like you have known them forever. Viva la blogs (and la email, la gchat and la phone) :-)!

- I watched Ajith's Billa. Man, that guy needs some serious exercise - or at least should stop wearing fitting shirts when he has a gently protruding pot belly. He looked like a majestic temple elephant in the dance sequences - I presume his substantial girth precluded fast dancing. The movie itself was unintentionally hilarious - everyone in the theater was ROFL-ing even during many of the so called serious scenes!

- I put my hands on a Wii for the very first time. It is SO addictive - a whole bunch of hours went by without me noticing it till I realized with a start that it was past midnight. I am now actively encouraging the Wii-owning friend to invest in some more games - hehehehe ;-)!

- What is it with the Bay Area this December? A whole bunch of people I know are coming down visiting in the next few weeks! I was feeling sympathy for the poor sods who were going to come to California thinking it is going to be a tropical paradise - only to get a rude shock on encountering the cold weather here. That is, until the next point happened.

- Pratap (who is from the Midwest) showed up in a half-sleeved t-shirt. Ah, he must be thick skinned, I smugly thought. Then I met V and her family from Washington state. All of them, including her 3-year-old daughter, were dressed up like it was summer. V gushed, "Oh man, what awesome lovely weather you folks have here!" - while I gaped at her from my sweater-jeans-shoes attired self. Oh well, at least all of them conceded that night-time was "a bit" chilly.

- I caught up with V after a reallllllly long time. V is an old friend of mine and of course, it was great :-D.

- I am seriously short on sleep now. However a loooooooooong 4-day weekend is right around the corner. Eeeeeeehaaaaaw :-D!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Public Service Announcement

My dear friend Shilpa has resurrected her blog - yaaay! Just thought old readers of this blog who used to follow her blog too might be interested in the info.

Actually, the real reason is I thought I should do something constructive for her blog after pestering her so much to restart posting!

Welcome back, girl :-D!

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Poker

A while ago, I had gone to see the latest James Bond movie - Casino Royale. All through the opening credits, I wondered why so much animation based on playing cards was being shown. Sometime into the movie, casinos and playing cards came into the picture sporadically. I still did not make the connection. Finally, when James Bond and the villain started playing a high stakes poker game, it finally hit me - the casino in Casino Royale referred to a gambling casino (duh!) and the cards in the opening credits referred to the poker game (ya, I can be pretty slow that way).

Despite this flash of enlightenment, from that point onwards, I could no longer fully follow the movie. You see, though I have dabbled in a few card games (trump, rummy, judgement, literature, ass and so on) poker is a card game which, though I have heard a lot about, I have never actually played and hence could not follow.

While the movie progressed with lots of excitement (for the people on screen) when words like full house and flush cropped up, I was totally lost. The only full house I knew of was when I had a lot of guests over and flush was something I did whenever I used the restroom. This considered, I just decided to decipher the results of the game in the movie based on the reactions of the actors.

Once I got back home, I looked up poker on the ever-dependable Wikipedia. Of course, nothing made much sense. Nevertheless, I dutifully forwarded the article to my parents, who were going to watch Casino Royale the next day so that at least they could enjoy the movie better. And soon forgot all about learning to play poker.

Yesterday, I went over to visit some friends. They had a poker set and we decided to play. V and me were new to poker having never played before. R and S were three games old and being more experienced, were our instructors. They explained the basic rules of play. Then, to help us all with determining our hand, we opened the wiki page with the hand rank details and used it as reference.

To make it more interesting, the four of us decided to start off with a five-buck-a-person supply of chips. After a trial round which V promptly won ("Beginner's luck!" R and S said), we started proper play.

None of us being pros or even seasoned players, each of us settled into our own style of playing. R would keep raising for no special rhyme or reason - his strategy seemed to be based on blind luck rather than anything else. It did not help that his luck supply was running rather low yesterday :-). S would get super excited whenever she got a good hand and would bet very high early on and thus cause everyone else to panic and fold immediately :-). V would keep raising the stakes. When the time came for him to actually show his hand, he would frantically start looking for all permutations and combinations which might lead to a winning hand. I was playing conservatively. If I stayed long enough in a round, it usually meant that I had something to show for it.

Initially, other than poor R, the rest of us seemed to be doing decently. Then, much to R's and V's dismay, the chips started vanishing from their piles and reappearing on mine or S's. Still, there was a lot of good natured teasing, plotting and joking going on. All the while, the excellent homemade fudge and fudge topping made by S kept us company. It was so much fun and we played on for a really long time.

At the end of the day, I had won the most (yaaay!) followed closely by S. R and V had, of course, contributed everything of what S and I won :-D! I happily said that we should do this more often ;-). V declared that the next time I came over I would probably be reaching for the poker set even before I took off my footwear - hehehehe!

So now I am a poker pro (!?!) . Say "poker" and watch me talk with great proficiency about Straight Flushes, Two pairs and what not.

And yet another item on the list of things I have always wanted to learn checked :-).

Monday, December 03, 2007

A sad hairy tale

Last week, I got it into my head that I should definitely cut my hair before the end of next week (December 9). Why, you may ask? I just decided it should be so for no particular reason. So I called up the salon to make an appointment with my favorite hair stylist, N. It turned out that N was on vacation and would be back only on the 15th of December which was beyond my hair-cut deadline. So though I had misgivings (I really need to start listening to these nagging doubts) I scheduled an appointment with another stylist for last Saturday.

Saturday noon I set off with great enthusiasm to the salon - phew, after months of long (by my standards) hair, finally I was going to get a new look with shorter hair. The new stylist, S, was a very friendly lady. She chatted about general stuff with me and then asked what I wanted her to do with my hair. So I said "Please cut it to shoulder length, with layers around the face".

She was aghast at the amount of hair I wanted to chop off and literally wailed "But why? You have such beautiful hair!" I said I was bored of my long hair. She confirmed with me again before starting to cut, "Are you sure you want to cut this?"

When I confirmed with a "Yes" again, she said more to console herself than me "Oh well, it will grow back." Then the cutting began.

She seemed to be doing lots of "different" kind of cutting with her scissors. Though I was interested by this new style of cutting, I guess I must have unconsciously looked alarmed for S reassured me, "Don't worry, I am just giving you the layers." At that point, my hair was still wet and was looking funky and cool. "Nice!" I thought "Hmm, maybe I should make S my regular hairdresser instead of N."

Then the cutting was done and she started to blow-dry my hair. Which was when I looked at myself in the mirror again and thought "Okay, my hair looks weird now. But maybe it will look better when she is done." Then, after some more drying and styling, S declared she was done and added (I wonder how much effort it took for her to keep a straight face), "You look so beautiful now!"

I glanced at myself in the mirror. Right! I looked like a Roman gladiator with a hair helmet :-(! Finally, I could understand the concern S had before she began to cut my hair! Did S have a premonition of this butchery? There was nothing left to be said so I just tipped her and left.

So right now, I have the ignominy of having hair which has such a weird shape that I can't quite describe it in words. I cribbed about this flop show to L and V during lunch today. L was sweet and told me that it did not look too bad and anyways it would grow out. V gleefully chimed in and chortled, "But you do know that a bad haircut looks even worse when it is growing out. Ha ha!" Sigh!

Now I need to locate my supply of hair clips so that I can hold all the chopped bits of hair in place so that even if it looks dowdy it at least looks non funny :-(.

And in commemoration of this event, here is the famous sher from Maine Pyar Kiya:

Yeh zulfain hain tumhari,
Ya resham ke jaal!
Kitne khush-naseeb hain woh
Kitne khush-naseeb hain woh
Choohe
Jinhone katre tumhare baal

Sob :-(!

Lessons learnt:
* Listen to nagging doubts.
* Don't have stupid artificial deadlines.
* Wearing scarves/woollen caps when going out might be the way to go this winter.
* If I want to get my hair butchered, I should at least go to a place which will do it at a much lesser cost.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

L.A. Times - 1

This thanksgiving, the chosen vacation destination was Los Angeles. An undergrad friend's wedding at the Malibu Temple was the occassion.

Some highlights about the wedding:

- The wangled invitation which arrived about two months ago threw me into a fit of excitement - aiii, at long last, a chance to show off my saree :-D! I finished the accessory shopping immediately - I doubt even the bride was that prompt - heheheh! I later found that pretty much all the women folk had reacted with the same glee at the opportunity to show off desi clothes :-)!

- The wedding was one of the most fun ones I have ever been to. The crowd had a higher percentage of friends than relatives. The friends took the liberty of yelling out their observations right during the ceremony and the bride and groom reacted in real time :-). The entire atmosphere was relaxed and happy.

- The priest was a white guy complete with kudumi et al :-D. He chanted all the mantras in heavily accented Sanskrit followed by English translations. He conducted the ceremony pretty well.

- The wedding food was - WOW! Just like wedding food back in India. I think my friends and I were responsible for finishing up roughly half of the food in the buffet :-)!

- This being Amrikka and everything, the bride's and the groom's family had to pitch in together to decorate the mandapam, do the party favors etc. The end result was lovely and looked quite professional.

- All of us had a tough time digesting the fact that S was getting married. But the radiant bride and the happy groom were on stage for all to see :-).

- The wedding ceremony itself was an amalgam of customs from various parts of India. In fact there were some customs I have never seen before. For e.g., the couple did only four circles around the fire instead of the traditional seven. However, afterwards, the priest made seven small piles of rice on the floor. Each pile apparently represented some quality and the bride and the groom had to scatter the each pile together with their right feet (which part of India is this custom from?).

- In the after-the-wedding party at the bride's parents' place, it became obvious that the bride's family is super talented in the fine arts department. Everyone in their family seemed to know how to sing, play violin, keyboard, guitar - you name it! My friends and I were proud displayers of our clapping talent :-(. However, R in our group saved our collective (ahem) honor to some extent by playing the flute very well :-)!

- I ate so much food that day. The weirdest part was, I was bursting at the seams at the end of each meal time. And yet was ravenously hungry by the time four hours were up. My guilt was somewhat assuaged by the fact that everyone I met said I had become super thin - yaay :-D. (unfortunately this comment was later altered to "You look super thin in a saree. In jeans you don't look all that thin." - sigh)

- The wedding marks the first time I have attended any undergrad classmate's wedding. Finally - phew!

Finally, tip: Never ever try travelling long distance on the day before thanksgiving. It took us four hours to to get to a destination which is normally 2 hours or lesser away :-(!

Friday, November 16, 2007

Om Shanti Om

So this Diwali, the two big Hindi movie releases were Saawariya and Om Shanti Om. For some reason, Saawariya did not appeal to me at all at any time. Om Shanti Om (OSO) was slightly higher on the probability of watching scale inspite of the wariness I felt after seeing Shah Rukh Khan's "Though I may have six pack abs, I look like I am suffering from a terminal disease" OSO stills.


Yesterday, I finally watched OSO. Before going to the movie, I thought that at best OSO would be a brainless and logicless but entertaining movie. And boy, was I right! For a change, inspite of starring SRK in one of his more typical roles, the movie turned out to be total value for money entertainment-wise.

Some thoughts:

- Deepika Padukone looked stunningly beautiful in the first half of the movie. I hadn't been impressed much with her after seeing the movie preview stills and had slotted her into the plastic bimbette category. But turns out she can act as well!

- SRK's much talked about six pack abs did look great on screen. Man, he must have put in quite some effort to get into them into that rock-solid shape. However, one of the scenes in the "item" song featuring him had him dancing in a wet white shirt (!?!) with a seductive look on his face while buckets of water were being flung on him. I found it weird and totally hilarious. My friend V says that was meant to be a parody. Well...

- The Deewangi song featured pretty much the entire Bollywood film industry. It was more like a "Who's who" parade of Bollywood stars and starlets. I had an interesting time trying to recall who the various Ms. Watzisnames and Mr.Whosthats were :-)!



- I think they must have spent a total of 500 rupees on Deepika Padukone's costumes in the second half of the movie. The costumes mostly looked like a bunch of handkerchieves held together at strategic places. I was wondering about the number of safety pins it must have taken to keep those wispy clothes from falling off.

- Was "The Alchemist" credited anywhere in the movie? Some repeatedly used lines from the movie were totally taken from the book!

- This is one of the most ridiculous pieces of news I have read in a while. I can understand Manoj Kumar being upset at being caricatured in OSO. But how the heck did nationalism and patriotism come into the picture? I am going to use Manoj Kumar's logic now and I hereby declare I am a patriot. Henceforth, anyone who makes fun of me is unpatriotic and anti-national. You have been warned :-P!

- I really liked the ending credits where all the major contributors to the movie got to walk the red carpet for their fifteen seconds of fame :-).

Verdict: Can be watched once for sure. Just walk in expecting to watch an authentic masala movie complete with reincarnation, songs, mother sentiment et al :-)!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

In Person

Finally, it happened. After about two and a half years of fairly regular blogging, for the very first time yesterday, I met face to face a fellow-blogger whom I have come to know through blogging :-)! I guess it was only appropriate that the blogger was SK, one of the very first readers of my blog :-)!

After I met her, I realized just how familiar you can become with a person just by reading their blogs. After a single hello, we were chatting nineteen to a dozen just as if we had known each other for a very long time :-)! It was good fun to finally see in flesh and blood a person I have read about so often. A very nice experience altogether.

Which is why I am now looking forward to other such meetings :-)!

p.s. Actually there were three bloggers (including me) there - but I have known Spark from before, so he does not count. Even though he was the reason why the meeting with SK happened in the first place :-).

p.s.1. I met SK's other half, K, too - now I also know the person she writes about so often :-).

p.s.2. SK looks just like her Orkut profile pic and sounds just as sweet as she does on her audio posts :-)!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

How to easily get compliments

Simple! Wear desi clothes to work. Today is the first time I have worn a salwar-kameez to work. The occasion? Diwali, of course!

I have bumped into three people since morning. And I got "Oh, you look beautiful", "This is so nice", "You look so pretty". Heheheheh :-D!

Ah, the perks of working in a country where the salwar-kameez is not daily wear ;-)!

Oh yes, Happy Diwali folks :-D!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rumble in the Bay

When I said that I was going to be earning my Master's degree in California, the first reaction I got from most people was "Oh, but does California not experience many earthquakes?" In India, for some reason, people used to be quite familiar with news from California rather than from any other part of the US and the 1989 earthquake had still not faded from public consciousness. I said, "Er - yes. But apparently everything else is great about the place".

When I landed in Davis, I was not very surprised to see instructions on what to do in case of an earthquake in almost all rooms in my university. After all, sitting as California is, on a number of faults, it was not at all that outlandish a precautionary measure.

All my six years here so far have passed by quite unremarkably in terms of the number of earthquakes experienced. Ironically, in the meantime, the supposedly super-safe (earthquake-wise) Chennai from where I had left for California experienced a devastating tsunami! There were a few minor earthquakes in California in-between - but nothing big enough to even be noticed by imperturbable (or more accurately, thick-skinned) me.

And then, last week Tuesday evening, I was at my fitness class. After putting us through a gruelling set of moves, the instructor had finally (hallelujah) wound up and we were stretching on the floor. All of us were flat of our backs when I suddenly heard a loud rumbling sound. Almost simultaneously, the building started shaking pretty strongly.

For about two seconds I thought someone had turned on generator or some such thing. Then it struck me that no generator could cause a building to shake so much. And then it hit me - earthquake!!! Us being California residents, this conclusion was arrived at rather fast by all and we sprang to our feet yelling "Earthquake!"

By then, the shaking had stopped and all of us looked at each other, taking stock. One of the women said that any aftershock would have occured immediately and since we were not feeling any more vibrations, we were good at that point and the earthquake was done.

My fitness instructor, however, was still quite shaken (pun unintended) and she wondered what would be a safe place to be in. The lady who had come up with the theory about aftershocks said that standing under door frames was considered "safe". We all looked at the two small door frames and the fifteen or so of us. Then we shook our heads, laughing and just decided to head out of class.

What was my reaction you ask? Oh, I was so super-duper thrilled and excited :-D. A real earthquake! One in which I felt every second. Was it cool or what! Of course, the fact that no damage had occured in the immediate area contributed greatly to my hyper-positive frame of mind :-)!

But the weirdest reaction award should go the lady who started to put away her fitness equipment as soon as she sprang to her feet. While the rest of us stood discussing safety steps, this lady was calmly replacing her weights, mat, step and raisers!!!

The only out of ordinary event which occurred after that was my cell phone network being down for 15 minutes or so. And then being jammed with the busy signal for another 10 minutes or so. And of course, all the excitement among the bay area residents - we are still talking about it!

The earthquake did not make it to too many headlines outside of the Bay Area though the magnitude was 5.6 on the Ritcher scale. Which was good in way 'coz I got tell this story all over again to each non-bay-area person I talked to ;-)!

After all the initial euphoria however, too much news/facts reading has brought back my self-preservation instincts. And I am now planning to invest in a earthquake survival kit. Hopefully, I will never need to use it. Really, last week's earthquake is about all the excitement I am willing to take!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sculpture

It's that time of the year again. Pumpkin carving time. It is pretty easy to figure out which day the carving needs to be done. The residence neighborhood looks black & orangey, the candy availability in the office reaches epic proportions and I am saddled with a pumpkin when I am exhausted and ready to hit the bed. Yeah, it happens every year without fail.

So last night was the night. When I finally found the time to carve, it was already past 10.30pm. I started to debate whether the carving effort was worth it and then realized: who was I kidding? Since I had already bought the pumpkin, I would wind up doing it anyways - else I would feel guilty!

Mercifully, this year I had printed out some stencils (yes, my original Halloween stencil book has disappeared forever - sigh). So I did not have to do any amateur stencil-art myself. Also, after my treasure hunt of last year, I had learnt my lesson and had put the carving tools in safe place I still remembered. All I had to do was carve. I was set!

At the end of a well-breaked hour and a half, this is what I had:

Does this help?

I won second place at the pumpkin-carving contest at work :-D! More than the winning, I was thrilled that I had managed to take the pumpkin to work and back without breaking the carved pattern off (believe me, if there is a way to screw up something, I can manage it).

Then this happened in the evening: I was showing off my pumpkin to my friend K. He looked at the pumpkin and said "Oh, a ghost?" and then, interested in a closer look, touched it. The next moment, there was a loud snapping sound and my poor ghost's legs (do ghosts have legs - what is the bottom portion called?) had broken away from the frame. So much for all my careful handling. K was highly embarrassed and apologized profusely. But I was too busy laughing. Looks like I am not the only one who is adept at messing up :-D!

It's almost gone. Still, Happy Halloween. And here's to a couple more months of uninhibited bingeing :-)!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

General Stuff

So there was another jujutsu class yesterday. This class focussed on how to free yourself if an assailant grabbed you from the front or from behind. The first self-defense step we learnt in case someone grabbed us from behind was how to hold our arms so to give ourselves breathing space even as we are being crushed.

The 6'3" TA was in attendance. He held us all by turns in a big crush from behind so that we could practise our move. He grabbed the first student from behind and lifted him slightly off the ground before letting him go as the student managed to twist his arms to hold it in the correct position.

Then it was my turn. The moment he grabbed me from behind, I felt all the air in my lungs coming out in one big gasp. And then, he lifted me right off the ground as I stood mummified unable to move any part of my upper body try as I might. The TA looked extremely amused and effortlessly carried the mummified me a few feet before putting me back on terra firma.

Sigh - at 5' 7" I have always
thought of myself as a big person, and here was someone who happily lifted me as easily as though I was a feather. It was a rather eye-opening experience. In spite of all my posturing of learning jujutsu, I wonder just of how much use it would be in real-life if I actually have a well-built assailant attacking me. I really need to say goodbye to all the gentleness and instead start kicking and jabbing "like I mean it".

*****
One of my cousins has this rather strange habit. Whenever S is angry or stressed out, she starts cleaning up the house. The more angry she is, the greater the number of places which get cleaned up. Her mom used to tell us, only half-jokingly, "Whenever the house begins to look dirty, I rile up S just a bit!"

Spotting some convoluted connection, I recalled that story today. Today was not the best as days go. I managed to wake up after some five hours of sleep and then was not able to get back to sleep - aaaargh! So I got in to work at some unearthly hour and only had a cup of coffee to fuel me till lunch time. And guess what, I worked like a woman on fire. So, in order to achieve maximum productivity, I need to be stressed out, with only five hours of sleep and be running on a single cup of coffee. Hmm...

****
Update on the bowling story: Our HR manager helpfully put up everyone's scores from the bowling game right outside the kitchen where it is highly visible.My lowest score was THE lowest :-(! However, my highest score was higher than the highest scores of at least a few other people. Which was why I stopped myself from whiting out my scores from that display :-P!

****
I have said it before and I say it again. My friends rock! Whenever I think I am down and out, I just need to talk to them. And then I feel almost on top of the world again :-)!

****
The moon has been looking very pretty the past two days. Especially today - I think it is full moon tonight. Stick your head out of the window if it dark right now. :-)!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bowl baby bowl - 2nd edition

It had to happen sometime. And that sometime happened to be today. This time's fun-event at work was scheduled to be bowling. Oh dear lord!

To top it all, our HR manager cheerfully announced before we got ready to leave, "Oh by the way, all your names have been randomly keyed in at the lanes we are playing in. So find your team by looking at the screen. Have fun!"

Oh no! So not only would I get to bask in my bowling glory, I would probably get to do it in a team filled with people I might not even be that familiar with. Great!

No wonder, just before leaving for the bowling alley, I went to my friend P's cube and whined, "Can I please just go home? I don't want to go bowling in a team filled with unfamiliar people!" P asked me to be a good sport and come. And then asked me how it mattered if I was in a team filled with unfamiliar people. I crossly said, "Duh, because, I can't ask them to shut up if they start giving me bowling instructions?"

Anyways, resiging myself to an afternoon of humiliation, I set off. My randomly picked team of five had exactly one person I knew fairly well. Great!

When we started off, as I had predicted, my bowling ball invariably found kinship with the gutter and set off towards it with great delight as soon as I let the ball go. After a bunch of abysmal throws interspersed with some fluke good throws, I realized something. While my team-mates hi-fived and cheered me for the good throws, no one said *anything* about the bad ones, and what's more, did not even have any kind of look of commiseration or pity!

At that point, I realized that everyone was just out to have a good time and I too should just let go and stop worrying about my game so much. So I decided instead to focus on enjoying it :-)! The rest, as they say, was history!

Ah, not really. But I managed a couple of strikes (yes!!!) and once went through an entire game without throwing a single gutter ball. You are probably scoffing at this point and thinking what's the big deal. But then, you don't know that on some previous bowling outing, I have gone through an entire game where every throw of mine except the first two throws went into the gutter!

Ya my score was still trailing along the bottom of the score cards - but I played for the entire duration for which the lanes were booked and did play much better than before. More importantly, I had a good time :-D!

I guess I have finally made my peace with the bowling Gods!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Zzzzzz, yawn and such

To the four or so people (did I tell you, you ROCK :-)?) who still check my blog for updates: apologies for the even more infrequent posting of late. Believe it or not, I am currently on the infrequent-posting mode because I am sorely lacking on sleep :-(!

It all started off with my preparation to go to Boston about two weeks ago. I wound up with five and a half hours of sleep on the night before I left - what with the packing, prepping and everything. Turned out that would be the most amount of sleep I would get on any one night for the next five days. But the Boston trip was PLENTY of fun :-D! Which made it all the more awful when I returned to the bay on Sunday night and realized I would have to go back to work on Monday.

I tell you, last week was the longest of my entire life. I swear time halted for a few hours everyday. By Tuesday evening I already felt like I had been in the same week for more than 2 years. I desperately longed for the weekend so I could catch up on some much needed shut eye. On the brighter side, every night last week, I fell faaaaast asleep about 5 seconds after my head hit the pillow :-). When Friday evening finally came I was giddy with excitement, disbelief and relief. Yaay, the whole weekend to sleep!

Well - man proposes and God laughs. While Saturday went by with a mega overdose of lounging around, Sunday again turned out to be one of those fun but hectic days. Net result, I had to threaten myself (all over again :-() to get out of bed this morning even as my eyes stubbornly stayed shut.

I need another weekend stat. Any help, anyone?

Ya, I am done with the cribbing now. Ya, maybe not posting anything would have been a better idea probably :-).

Monday, October 15, 2007

An Autumn in New England

On our way
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The Cog railway tracks - heading up to Mt. Washington
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Icicled grass - below freezing temperatures already on Mt. Washington!
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Mt. Kailash might look like this :-D!
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At the base - first proper stop to gape at the colors
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A canopy and a carpet of leaves
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Color palette
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Green foliage
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Red foliage
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Rays of the sun
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Dew drops
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Kancamagus pass
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The return journey
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Monday, October 08, 2007

Blue Angels

The past weekend was super hectic but fun. I had family: my uncle and aunt, parents of my cousin in the East Coast, visiting me. As I was supposedly the seasoned West Coaster, my cousin had entrusted the task of showing them around the various sights and sounds of California (or how much ever sighting and sounding is possible in two days) to me.

I was all up for entertaining them. However I was not too thrilled at the thought of yet another visit to San Francisco's Pier 39 with a ride around the SF bay on the "bay cruise adventure" ship thrown in. However, it is cruelty to send away first time visitors to the Bay Area without showing them the famous Golden Gate bridge and the famous Pier 39. So I put my chin up - besides, simply being in San Francisco is so energizing!

So on Saturday morning, we all set out for San Francisco on the Caltrain (I would rather be sitting on a hot stove than be forced to parallel park my car on a slanting slope in San Francisco :-)). The Caltrain was unusually crowded. In fact, as we approached San Francisco, owing to lack of sitting space, people were standing in the aisles and squatting on the floor near the seats. I thought the crowd was due to some baseball game.

Then we took the bus to Pier 39. Once again, the bus became slowly crowded and was soon filled to bursting point. Which was when my aunt pointed out, "Hey! Look at those planes in the sky! They are doing all kinds of maneuvers!" Sure enough, two planes were flying in close formation. Then they split and rose vertically. And did beautiful vertical spins. I watched spell bound.
Watching the thrilling antics performed by the planes kept us entertained all the way up to Pier 39. Meanwhile I wondered what airshow this was. As soon as we landed at Pier 39 we found that this was the air show performed by the famous Blue Angels - about which I had heard announcements the previous week on radio.

The crowd on Pier 39 was to be seen to be believed. It would have put Ranganathan street to shame. People lined the dock, lined all elevated points, filled the interior spots and milled around. Everyone was watching the show. And during especially difficult-looking maneuvers everyone applauded.

We bought tickets for the bay cruise adventure. My uncle and aunt understood completely when I said I would wait for them on the dock instead of going on the boat-ride for the 11th or so time! After seeing them off on the one-hour boat-cruise (from which the airshow views were apparently even more awesome), I settled myself down at a vantage point and focused completely on the airshow.

It was, to describe in one word: amazing. I wondered just how much amount of practice it must have taken to fly so perfectly. At some point two planes traced out a gigantic heart in the sky while a third one went through the center of the heart like an arrow - so cute! The planes made huge loops and spirals in the sky. Two, four and six planes flew in close formation and executed various patterns in the sky.
At some point four planes took off in close formation from a place close to where I was sitting. As the planes thundered past overhead, I saw just how huge they were. The sheer majesty of that scene took my breath away. I watched open-mouthed.

After some more time I saw the planes make the Fleur de lis (I found out just this morning that that probably was what I had seen) pattern. After that, after a few more maneuvers the show was over. My uncle and aunt returned from the cruise around the same time and we spent some more time in Pier 39.
All of us were thoroughly excited at having the airshow added as an unexpected bonus to our San Francisco visit. It totally made up for the 2 hour ride (which usually takes around 35 minutes) in the almost non-moving traffic from Pier 39 back to the Caltrain station and the ride back home in the uber-crowded Caltrain.

Blue Angels rock :-D!

p.s. I also found that some girls are capable of talking loudly to their companions without a single pause for one and a half hours straight. Yeah, I am sure about this - we had one such specimen accompany us right beside our seats on both the onward and the return journey. Talk about being lucky :-(!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Since I wanted to try

Recently I noticed that my 2007 collection of doing "things I have always wanted to do/try" was rather on the low side. So when I browsed through my local community center's course catalog, the word "karate" seemed to leap out at me. You see, just like learning French and learning to play the keyboard, learning karate has long been on my list of "things I want to try my hand at at least once".

With nervous excitement, I ran my finger down the timings list to see if any of the karate classes were being held at a convenient time. My excitement turned to disappointment when I realized that the only Karate classes were in the mornings. Sigh!

Then my glance fell on the word Jujutsu. Hmm, why not learn jujutsu instead? Another scan showed that jujutsu classes were held on Wednesday evenings. Ah, perfect! So I quickly signed up for the jujutsu class. A friend also told me that jujutsu was more elegant than karate. Yup, grace personified me (yeah, right) was going to go for jujutsu classes alright!

Last week was the first class. I landed outside the class and was pleased to see a crowd of adults waiting outside - ah, jujutsu is popular! Inside, the children's jujutsu session was just getting over. As soon as the kids came out, they ran towards various adults (who were parents I realized then) and soon the entire crowd dispersed, leaving just me and another guy.

I stepped into the class to see an instructor and a teaching assistant (TA) dressed in Gi (the white uniform). The instructor looked at the course attendance list and said "You must be Ar-chaaana." I was just concluding that the list probably had only one Indian sounding name which was why they identified me so accurately when the instructor grinned and said, "You are the only student registered for this session."

What!?! The instructor then proceeded to tell me that while they would teach me something that day, in case no more students registered for the session, it was quite possible that the class would be cancelled. So much for my jujutsu learning dreams :-(!

And then the other guy who had been waiting outside with me stepped in. He wanted to give a trial shot at the class. Phew - at least I had company for that class! We initially had a bunch of warm up exercises which I managed to go through fairly okay.

Then we went onto actual jujutsu. It is a form of self defense and focusses mainly on what to do if someone attacks you. In the first few minutes of the class, two things became extremely clear. The other student, H, was simply raring to try out the defense moves with as much punch as he could muster. On the other hand, I was trying to do everything as gently as possible to ensure that I did not accidentally hurt anyone. The instructor was trying to point out that I needed to put in more energy into my moves so that they would actually have some effect on the opponent bad guy.

At some point, we learnt a move to push the opponent to the ground. The TA for the class was this 6'4" guy and he was my "opponent". In the process of pushing him, I involuntarily lost my balance and landed on my knees beside him. At which point, the instructor looked at me with amusement and said, "Listen, you have not pushed him to the ground so that you can sit beside him, chat with him and enquire about his family. He is the bad guy!!!" Grinning sheepishly, I hastily pulled myself up into a more alert pose.

The class was pretty interesting and soon we came to its end. All the moves I had learnt so far were swiftly flowing out of my head even as I picked up my bag to leave but I was keen to continue. The instructor said that if at least one other person signed up, the classes would continue. I looked at H and implored, "Please sign up too!"

Today was session 2. H has signed up too - yaay! So at least I don't have to drop my jujutsu-learning dreams. As expected, I had forgotten most of what I had learnt the previous week but it mercifully came back when we recapped.

The instructor said that I was doing things a bit more forcefully and it was a good sign. But this new image was slightly shattered when he asked to do a roundhouse punch to show me some move and I blinked at him. He asked,"You have never punched anyone, have you?" And I meekly said,"Er, no!" But ya, now I know what a roundhouse punch is too :-D!

We learnt a variety of ways in which to hurt someone. I was most impressed on learning just how much pain a simple knuckle punch on the hands can bestow. I also learnt 10 different ways to disorient (read, hurt enough to disorient) an opponent. And yup, am also learning how to be more vigorous with my moves.

All ye folks, you can now start thinking twice before saying mean things to me ;-P!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

C'est la vie

I am a firm believer of "try not to do more than what you absolutely you have to" especially when it means less work for me. Based on this philosophy, I have been postponing washing my car for the past three months. After all, one rain was all it would take to wash my car to a spanking new (okay, at least passable) condition.

However, after months of no rain, I began to feel sorrier and sorrier for my poor car as it slowly started changing color from its original royal black to a rather bedraggled beige. Then, last week, they said on radio that it was going to rain starting Wednesday - yaaay - moksha for my car finally!

I waited and waited. No rain on Wednesday morning. Or on Wednesday noon. Or on Wednesday evening. Thursday morning and afternoon continued to maintain the rain-free status (stupid weather.com of course continued to show cloud icons with cute little raindrops). Finally, I knew there was only one way to make it rain. Accepting defeat, on Thursday evening, I drove my car to the car-wash. My car came out looking brand new.

On Friday morning, as soon as I parked my car in the open space outside my office building, it started to rain. Yeah, it *always* rains the day after I wash my car. All those people who marry off donkeys/trees etc. in order to attract rain should simply give a wash to my car instead. The higher the chance of my car becoming totally muddy and getting back the same beige look as before the car wash as a result of the rain, the greater the probability of it raining becomes.

Such is life!

****

Today I was attending a technical presentation session at a techie conference happening out here. Some ten minutes into the presentation, someone's cell phone began to ring discreetly. I idly wondered why people could not have enough courtesy to turn off/silence their cell phones before coming to attend such events. And then smugly thought that I would not have to worry about silencing my phone as hardly anyone calls me during work hours.

I had not even stopped being smug when my cell phone started ringing. With the ring tone at a volume about 10 times higher than that of the earlier cell phone. I almost jumped out of my skin. As I fumbled with my phone to hit the silence button, about three-fourths of the room turned to stare at me. If only I could have dug a hole in the ground and jumped into it!

Talk about perfect timing! How do I always manage to get super bulbs whenever I begin to feel too smug?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why o why!

What's with this obsession of owning accessories which proudly display the initials of the designer label manufacturing it? Like LV, C etc. The initials are not in just one discrete place. No siree! The darn bag/purse/suitcase has those initials stamped all over it. Case in point, look at this ad I recently spotted on the back-cover of a magazine:

I was wondering why Gorbachev had a cheap-looking GRT look-alike bag beside him till I realized it was an ad for Louis Vuitton and that the lettering on the bag was not "GRT" but "LV". For those who don't know, GRT stands for G.R. Thangamaligai, a popular jewelery store in Chennai. Depending upon the amount of money you spend at their store, as a "compliment", they give away free bags/wallets/purses etc. which are boldly emblazoned with the store logo. These "compliments" are renowned for their uselessness since the prominent GRT logo on those products render them pretty ugly, thus putting them into the I-won't-be-caught-dead-in-a-ditch-with-it category.

Now, if only GRT were smarter, it would associate the letters GRT with some "designer" label. I bet there would then be a flourishing market for the "designer" stuff and people would willingly pay for it. So what if it looks super-duper ugly, now the whole world knows I can afford to buy a designer brand! Yaaay!

I just don't get the logic :-(! Do you?

Sunday, September 16, 2007

My interview with Newsweek

Ah no. Not really. But this tag Rads wanted me to do sure has questions like the kind Newsweek or some such magazine would ask a professional blogger (is there something like a professional blogger?). Assuming that at least one other person has time to kill, here goes:

Q1. Are you happy/ satisfied with your blog, with its content and look?

I spent some time putting together a somewhat customized template for my blog - and yup, I like it :-). Its been a while now though - maybe time to update?

I am mostly okay with the content - which is not to say that I sometimes don't feel utterly jealous of some other blogger's writing and wish I could write like that.

Q2. Does your family know about your blog?

Like I said here, yes.

Q3. Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?

No, I don't mind my friends knowing about my blog. Just that I have never actively tried to get them to visit my blog or posted the link anywhere. So it sometimes comes as a surprise when someone I know whom I haven't directly told about my blog tells me that they read it.

Q4. Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?

Hmm, maybe.

Q5. Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?

I hop like a rabbit all over the blog world :-D! Do not comment often though - my enthusiasm usually extends to just reading :-(!

Q6. What does visitors counter mean to you? Do you care about putting it in your blog?

Of course! In spite of all fundae about "I write for myself blah blah blah", it is nice to get reassurance that someone besides me visits my blog :-)! Besides, it is fun to see (most likely accidental) visits from totally unexpected locations like Israel, Barbados, Finland, South Africa etc. And of course, a total ego boost when someone lands on my blog and then spends a bunch of hours going over the archives :-D.

Q7. Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?

Yes - I am mighty curious that way! At some point my friend Shilpa (no longer blogging) and I were using Orkut to see if we could locate our regular visitors. No, neither of us have any stalking convictions :-P!

Q8. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?

I like interacting with fellow bloggers. I have made new friends through the blog world. My writing gets a slightly wider audience. Yeah - those are good enough benefits for me.

Q9. Do you think that bloggers’ society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?

Well, bloggers are real people usually writing about things from the real world. No isolation there.

Q10. Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it’s a normal thing?

I don't like flaming of any kind. I am okay with constructive criticism. But I usually write what might be considered "super safe" stuff. So I guess I really don't have to deal with it :-D (which is probably why I only write super safe stuff in the first place)!

Q11. Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them

Huh, fear? Why? Politics usually bores me - so I try to avoid related blogs.

Q12. Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?

If it is for a valid reason - well, a blogger is not a special entity. Arresting for the sake of intimidation is scary.

Q13. Did you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?

I am assuming someone will let you folks know so that you can add in your glowing tributes :-D! As for the blog itself, I suppose it will continue to be there as long as blogger does not delete it due to too many days of inactivity.

Q14. What do you like to hear? What’s the song you might like to put a link to, in your blog?

Something cheerful. Recently, this song has caught my fancy much. I sure hope my blog is at least 10% as cheerful as the song is!

******
Oooh, I answered 14 questions already? That did not seem like a lot. Hmm, I think I am beginning to like writing too much!!

BTW, since Rads has put it up on her post: I would like to renounce my claim to fame. Though my blog has been existence for five years, its been active only for the past 2 years or so :-(!

Ha, of course, I did not forget the tag-award ceremony. Folks, please experience the same joy that I did:

Archana - it is only fair that you get to do any tag I do :-D!
Pratap - nice "welcome back to the blog world after your break" gift, no ;-)?
SK - house-warming your new "home" :-D!
Shoonya - I know you have never done a tag - so your first one :-D!
Spark - Am helping increase the frequency of your posts :-D!

Yeah, I am actually smiling that much :-D!

p.s. Rads, long long ago, I had asked you to do a tag. I don't seem to remember you having done it. Just a gentle reminder *evil grin*.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Conspiracy

Last Friday, my colleagues T, P, C and me had gone out for lunch. We were talking about various topics when T said, "By the way, did you folks know that the wild fire at the Henry Coe state park was apparently started by some idiot?" T vacations often at Henry Coe and it is a place close to his heart.

P said, "Really? Oh man, so many acres of the park burned down."

Both C and me looked clueless and asked, "What park? What fire?"

T and P looked at us, genuinely surprised, "Oh you guys did not know? Its been in the news all over the place."

C and me shook our heads.

P then said, "Did you at least notice the hazy sky in the bay all of yesterday?"

At that point, realization dawned and I heaved a huge sigh of relief. Grinning broadly, I said, "Oh, thank God! It was a forest fire. I was so worried!"

D and P looked at me as though I had gone mad, "Why are you so happy about a forest being burned down?"

I continued grinning happily as I replied, "Oh you don't understand. I had thought someone was controlling the weather!"

What happened was this: the previous day, both during my drive to work and my evening drive to the fitness class, I had noticed the unnatural sepia tone of the sunlight. I could not see clouds or any other reason to explain this sudden change of color. So, in my infinite wisdom, I had concluded that someone was controlling the weather and was trying different shades for sunlight color as an initial trial run. Implausible as this scenario seemed, as I could not come up with anything else, it seemed to be a fairly reasonable albeit horrifying explanation to me. That's why, finding out that there was a "natural" reason made me feel so much better!

Of course, the moment I told my "someone controlling the weather" theory, my colleagues gave me a very strange look and then burst out laughing. Well, that was when my theory finally struck me as being way too outlandish :-(.

Note to self:
I really ought to stop reading conspiracy theory books like: Deception point, Are you afraid of the dark and State of Fear.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Childhood Stories - #4

I was just listening to this song and all of a sudden this incident popped into my head:

This happened around the time the music for the film Bombay had just gotten released. The songs from the movie were on everyone's lips. The song "Hamma hamma" was especially popular with kids.

My cousin K was around 10 years old at that time. One evening, his dad (my uncle C) was returning from work when he spotted K outside a neighbor's closed door saying what sounded like "Amma, amma". Uncle C looked extremely upset and asked K to return home immediately. As soon as uncle C and K entered the house, uncle C called out to my aunt S: "Do you know what K was doing today?"

Aunt S was puzzled and said, "No."

Uncle C said, "He was standing outside a neighbor's house and begging Amma, Amma*. Why do you let him do such things?"

At which point K indignantly burst out, "I was not begging! I was singing the Hamma, hamma song!! You have absolutely no knowledge of the latest Tamil music!"

Uncle C looked abashed for a moment and then grumpily said, "What nonsensical lyrics songs have these days!"

And of course, the story got added to the annals of our family history :-D!

* Amma, thayey (mother, mother in tamil) is a popular begging phrase in Tam-land.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just like family

Since the time I landed in the US, my identity of being an Indian has been even more reinforced. Thus, when I see fellow desis anywhere in the US, I tend to feel a strange kind of kinship towards them - hey, we are from the same country! I remember the first time I went to the Livermore temple from Davis: I was so thrilled to see the large desi congregation there (unlike the sparsely desi-populated Davis) that I actually clapped my hands in excitement. Of course, now that I live in a total desi hub, spotting desis is nowhere near exciting, but the feeling of kinship remains.

I have often noticed that I am not the only one who feels that way. In fact some people take the feeling of kinship to the next level: they treat you like family. Sample just a few of my experiences:

Incident #1:
Happened a few years ago when I had just moved to the bay. Those were my pre-car-owning days. In order to keep an appointment without requesting time off from work, I had to order a cab. When I got into the cab, the desi cabbie took one look at my outfit - jeans, t-shirt, sneakers and backpack (yeah, that was my work "look" for more than a year after joining work) and assumed I was a student.

Then he advised me in a kindly, paternal voice, "Next time you know, you should take public transportation. Cabs are expensive. It must be difficult for a student like you." Then, ignoring my protestations, he gave me a lecture on thrifty living all the way to my destination. After all, desis do not let other desis go broke due to taking cabs all the time!

Incident #2:
Happened beginning of this year. I had to go to a desi professional to get some tax-work done. This chappie looked at my tired face (I had headed out right in the middle of a hectic work day) and started off: "You are like a daughter to me" (Uh-huh, why do all my warning bells start pealing big time whenever I hear this ominous words? Turns out my warning bells were right though).

He continued, "So I hope you won't mind when I say this." (Yeah right!) "The next time you come, you should wear bangles on your hands." (Gosh darn it, that was just the advice I had been missing all these years!)

And then continued to add some more requirements - basically outlining the Ideal Indian Woman look as envisioned in the early 1900s. Since I was supposed to be "like a daughter" to him I somehow managed to have a plasticky Ash-Rai-ey grin on my face the entire time without snapping. So did the "like a father" guy offer any discount to his "like a daughter"? No way! I got free advice, no?

Incident #3:
Last weekend, in NYC. The desi cab driver was super thrilled to see desi passenger (i.e. me) get into the cab. Even before I had completely shut the door, he asked, "Are you from Delhi?" Within two minutes he had established that I was not from Delhi, I stay in California and I speak a smattering of Hindi. In the rest of the 45 minute ride to the JFK airport, we covered a significant amount of my life history in reverse chronological order. I think we were covering events from my third grade schooling when the airport arrived and the driver reluctantly dropped me off.

The funniest part was, the driver got a call on his cell phone in between. I thought the conversation was done and had happily slipped into my own reverie when I was jolted out of it with an insistent "Madam, madam, madam..." - the driver had finished his call and wanted to continue the conversation. Oh well, you can't ignore desi "family"!
****
Am I the only one who attracts "family"?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It is a firefly...


It is a flashing speck of dirt!

No, it is a TOTAL LUNAR ECLIPSE :-D!

Am up and awake to check out the eclipse. It looks awesome cool :-D! If you are in the americas/australia/eastern asia, go poke your head out of the window right now (exact details here).

Yeah, am sleepy now. Tata folks... zzzzzzzzzz!

p.s. Did you say my camera sucks at astronomy pictures? Yeah, I already know :-)!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

I wonder

...how I can pick enough hair strands off the carpet of my apartment every week to comfortably cover two adult-sized heads and still not go bald. Either my hair is regrowing at an astonishing rate while I sleep or there are a lot of spare hairs on my head I am not aware of (am not complaining either way).

...why Shah Rukh Khan can't abandon acting in the K3Gs and KANKs of the world and instead act in more movies like Chak De India. Chak de... is a wonderful movie!

...why flight fares have the annoying habit of going up by at least $30 within the span of the 12 or so hours you need for further planning before you can actually buy them after first checking them out.

...how I persuaded myself to voluntarily re-watch I (heart) Huckabees, once in my list of the most terrible English movies I have ever seen. Now it is merely on the list of the weirdest movies I have ever seen. This poem from the movie has in fact made it to my list of favorite quotes:

Nobody sits like this rock sits.
You rock, rock.
The rock just sits and is.
You show us how to just sit here and that's what we need.

:-D!

...why some desis have this habit of wearing dressy Indian clothes when going to watch an Indian movie. I agree there are not too many occasions out here to flaunt the lovely clothes from India. But wearing a flashy ghagra with matching accessories especially to "celebrate" the occasion of watching Chak de India seems just a little bit weird.

...why the Greatest College Hits (from the 80s) cassette in my car has caught my fancy so much. It has been going on in a continuous loop in my car for more than two weeks now. I especially like listening to this song:



and this song:

Saturday, August 18, 2007

If at first you don't succeed, try try try again

This noon, at long last, I decided to give my car tires some TLC. I took my car to Sears for a long-overdue tire rotation and other what not. Only after I got there and stood in the line did I realize that I was not exactly sure what the other "what not" were called. Was it called balancing or alignment or some other term I had forgotten? And how foolish would I look if I accidentally used terms which are in no way connected to car tires?

A SOS call to a friend for help regarding terms resulted in failure - no one answered. Before I could think of other options, I was called to a counter. With as much confidence as I could muster, I said "I would like to rotate and balance the tires." The customer service rep (CSR) asked me if I had noticed any vibrations in the car. I said "Er, no." The CSR filled out my work order sheet and noticed that my customer info on the computer did not have the car VIN number in it.

As we walked to my car to get the VIN number, I hesitantly asked, "What are the maintenance things you usually do to car tires?" The CSR gave me a strange look (to his credit, he did not laugh) and realized that he was dealing with a newbie. So I got some basic car tires maintenance advice.

With the VIN number in hand, we walked back to the counter. Now, whoever wrote the brilliant software program for validating the car VIN number had somehow decided that a Honda Civic 1.6L 4 Cylinder is not equivalent to a Honda Civic. Na-huh. And my car was already registered in the system as a Honda Civic 1.6L 4 Cylinder. The VIN validation thus failed and try as the CSR might, he could not update the VIN details. He tried the same sequence of steps about a half-dozen times and each time did not meet success (obviously) before giving up and asking me to return in 2 hours to get my car back.

After more than an hour of browsing through the mall stores (did you know winter clothes are already on display?) , I got a call that my car was ready for pick up. By a stroke of chance, I got served by the same CSR again. The CSR brightly said, "I need to update VIN info for your car before ringing you up." I thought that some software update had been made in the interim one hour because of which the computer program no longer thought that a Honda Civic 1.6L 4 Cylinder and a Honda Civic are vastly different cars.

But no. The same screen popped up. And the same validation failure occured. At which point, the CSR hit the cancel button again and started all over again. And met the same error again. And he cancelled and started re-entering the info all over again. Only to be met with the same unsuccessful result. I watched in fascination. Did he really think that if he did the same sequence of steps again and again the program would somehow miraculously start working as expected?

After his 6th attempt, it took all I had to not burst into laughter. It was quite comical to see the hope writ large on his face at each "fresh" start and the subsequent disappointment at each failure. Finally, after attempt number 9 or so, the CSR finally came to terms with the fact that the program *might* not start working miraculously after all and told me "Something is wrong with the computer program. I don't think I will be able to update your customer info" and finally rang me up.

I walked out grinning. What the CSR had been doing was actually not very different from all the times I have, in desperation, repeatedly re-compiled and re-ran programs after ultra-minor changes in the fond hope that a bit of change in scene would somehow help it regain its senses :-). Only, my optimism has never lasted for more than a dozen times in a row!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Public service request

If anyone knows if Jyothika and Surya finally had their baby, please let me know. Quite a few people in the past two weeks seem to have landed on my blog hunting for "Jyothika+Surya+kid", "Did+Jyothika+have+baby" etc. etc. And they all landed on this post which obviously was of no help.

Seeing the amount of interest in a topic which ideally should be concerning Jyothika and Surya the most made me make up mind to have a more "informative" blog. Please help! Thank you.

p.s. I suppose I could google myself. But when there is an even easier way, why not use it :-P?

Update: Kuttichuvaru has added the important info in the comments section! Thank you, KC :-)!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

San Diego - 2007 edition

Revisited. Two weeks ago.

The yumm moment
Cafe 222 is alive and well. I re-realized all over again why I love that place so much. The coffee was very nice. The 30 minute wait did not seem unreasonable at all. The pecan waffle was wow. As were the eggs benedict and the french toast (yes, two of us ordered three main dishes. The waiter automatically closed his note-pad after writing down the first two orders. It was rather embarrassing to tell him we were not done ordering yet). BTW, Cafe 222's french toasts taste good as a cold leftover too :-)!

The patriotic moment
Balboa park has a bunch of international "houses" - each representing a country from the Pacific Relations alliance. Try as we might, we could not locate the "House of India". However, C spotted her country's house and had a patel picture taken there. As a consolation, I got a picture taken in front of a rose-bush with huge roses instead. Don't ask me how roses are related to India - when it comes to posing for pictures, something is better than nothing, no :-D?

The ah-ha moment
Happened when I walked into the sea at Mission Beach. When the first wave lapped at my feet, I felt like I had attained nirvana. I could feel myself grinning from ear to ear, euphoric and ready to burst with joy. Five minutes later, I still couldn't stop grinning.

In my head, I was jumping around like these kids:


In reality though, I managed to maintain a more dignified stance. But for the broad smile which remained etched on my face :-)!

The nostalgic moment
La Jolla - Same place, same beauty, same take-my-breath-away vistas.



This time around, the weather was awesome - quite unlike the clouds and rains of last year. Still, as I stood on the jetty, I terribly missed both S and A - my companions of last year's San Diego travel edition. We three make an unbeatable traveling trio. Their presence would have made San Diego even more awesome.



The self-appreciation moment
By the time we left San Diego, I had a pretty decent idea about where each place we went to was located w.r.t. the hotel/airport and the general direction to take to get there. I read maps with the confidence of a pro and I re-routed with the expertise of a Magellan. Go explorer :-D!

The funny moment
"The red bus goes to the various terminals". C and me read that sign and stood at the bus shelter in the San Diego airport, waiting for the arrival of the red bus. A red and blue colored bus appeared. But it was not going to the terminals. Ours was supposed to be a red bus. Then a completely white-colored bus appeared. "White? Naaah - our bus is supposed to be red in color". We both were about to turn away when we noticed the bold lettering on top of the bus: "RED BUS". We both collapsed into laughter as we boarded the bus. The next time my favorite white top is in the wash, I am going to wear another top and put a post-it note on it stating "Favorite white top." You reckon it would work :-P?

Yes folks, San Diego continues to rock. As always :-).

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Happy 60th Independence Day :-)))!