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


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"?