I have been tagged by Lekhni to write 5 things that I hope to achieve by 60 and 5 things I miss. Thankfully the upper limit is 5. I hate it when it is 10 because if you have so many things to do and miss then boy you dont have a life!

5 things I hope to do by the time I turn 60 (scares me that am only 3 decades and some away from this number)
  1. I hope to be less paranoid about everyday happenings than I am today. I hope age brings my wisdom teeth with it.
  2. I hope to not have a single grey hair on my head. And also while I am there I hope to have lustrous long hair. Both of which needs to start now inorder to reverse the current process in the next 30 years. Is someone up there listening by the way?
  3. Simplicity in technology. This one is not for me but for the aliens who should do this so that earthlings can just take advantage of technology without having to bust their brains figuring it out. But I would like to see it happen by the time am 60.
  4. Participated in a reality show and won which would have also brought in atleast a crore rupees after tax cuts. I assume it would have the same value as ten lakhs now, 30 years later. Budhape ki insurance.
  5. Learnt from T eventually to be patient and tolerant. One could call this a frivolous thought but its not!
5 things I miss
  1. My wisdom teeth.
  2. Staring into nothing, no time (read as politically incorrect to admit doing this at office)
  3. The excitement of secret love. Always fun!

At this point I started thinking so hard that it seemed to me that whatever I write would be wishful missing. So I stop :)

Anyone is welcome to take this tag forward. Harish, would you want to?

Ajji Mane (Grandma's house)

That would be the response of most of my friends when encountered with the question of what they would do or where they would go for summer holidays. And mostly it meant one's mom's mom's house since it was almost always true that the dad's parents stayed with one.
This response was however never true for me. My ajji mane was right beside my other ajji's mane, even sharing a compound wall! So no one ever thought that we should go spend 2 months in the next house when we could as well have fun in both the houses without needing to pack. Every rule had an exception and there was one in our case too when during one holiday season in my 1st std, Shaani (mom's mom who we used to call with that name for short) invited me and my brother to stay over completely for a week. We were very excited. For me going to Shaani's house was always like going to wonderland. It was an old house with a high tiled roof and minimalistic interior but it was always a place I used to want to go to. The main reason was that it meant getting away from the mundane at our house and be pampered and not asked to do anything. Shaani was a wonderful loving person. Unfortunately I do not have too many memories of her except for the one week I stayed with her. Me and my brother did nothing and were treated like stars. Shaani used to cook yummy food and we would gorge on it. That was also the week when I learned to soap my own back while taking bath so it was productive despite laziness :). I also remember drying my hair over a jute basket under which glowered "Sambrani" an incense. One thing etched in my mind was my grandma's simple solution to constant bickering between me and my brother for the bath towel. We had the exact same looking towels and every morning there was an uproar of who had to use which. She simply stitched our initials into the towels using a running stitch and that drew the curtains on our sibling drama! I sat with her and observed how she stitched which actually became my inspiration to start embroidering five years later. Shaani was the most patient lady I have ever seen. I do remember being extremely shy with her and I cant fathom why. Cut to a few years later when Shaani was no more and her house was still the centre of all attention for us. I remember spending many dark and cloudy afternoons on my cousin's bed, sharing a rug with her as she narrated to me stories of Hindi movies complete with dialogues! I knew the stories of Kabhi Kabhi and some Rajesh Khanna movies much before I ever got to see them. Shaani's house has a long compound running all around it which became our activity center. A big team of guys could easily play cricket there and so they did. I stuck to playing badminton though. The way the compound was tunneled ensured that not much wind blew there making it ideal for good badminton matches. We even used to tie a jute string, from the old teak tree to a nail in the opposite wall, which served as the net. There were many occasions where the shuttlecock would end up on the roof and then we had to wait till a tall person could get it down for us. I learnt to cycle in that compound and in later years even learned to ride a two wheeler, neither of which I ever rode courageously outside that compound. Going to Shaani's house meant jumping over the wall for me. Very rarely till I reached engineering college did I ever take the gate to enter it. There was always a warmth and charisma to that place.
Today the house is lying forlorn and in shambles and not because nobody cares anymore. Time and life have overtaken what was once a very congenial peaceful existence. Change is always constant and in this hour of remorse and recollection, one should always look back at the character my ajji mane has given to each one of its occupants. Every person who has crossed its threshold has come on top of life with a positive attitude and a blessing for Shaani.


Taste of Bacteria

...is what makes water such a cool refreshing drink. You dont believe me? Just boil the water, kill the bacteria, cool it and drink and you will instantly taste the difference. Whoever said water doesnt have any taste was obviously drinking boiled cooled water.


Sound of my Music

Arjun's post inspired me to write this.
Before returning to India I insisted that T take us to a Dwarakadisha temple in Parlin, NJ. The temple which is managed by Gujaratis has a live band or should I call it live solo performance of vocals along with the noise of harmonium. I have never seen much good with that noise. While we waited for the curtain to be raised and reveal God to us I had this uncontrollable urge to go and fiddle with the harmonium. T, unable to bear the haunted look in my eyes, encouraged me to run fast in front of all the wee toddlers who had thronged the temple and "koyon-koyon"-sify the instrument and come back but shyness took over me and I declined the tempting offer. I then proceeded to tell him the story behind the urge. Ho hum...but it did make waiting for God interesting!
Once upon a time, there lived me in Hyderabad in a house which had a long and narrow balcony where I spent most of the time hopping at top speed.(I am not sure I can categorise it as hopping. It was a skillfully developed mechanism of putting one foot way out sidewards, then getting the other foot close to it and then moving the first foot far again always moving sidewards and very fast.) So there I was hopping away gloriously till one fine day my parents decided that I should do something more useful in the evenings. Without so much as a look see at my vocal chords they got me enrolled into a music class. A music class is like the esteemed learning centre albeit as a hobby in many of the South Indian families. Only with the advent of so many music competition shows on tv that parents now are willing to forego studies of a child if it would mean fame on the music stage. I am not sure if my parents had any high hopes for me to become a proficient singer, I feel that my mom kinda knew they were wasting their money. So there I was at the ripe (old for music) age of 9 walking down the road to my jaunt with singing. My teacher was a rotund,yellowfied-from-too-much-turmeric-application middle-aged lady. I remember always hesitating in front of her house's door, thinking of some vague reason which one could give and escape the torture of an hour. But when I thought of all the explanations I would have to give her and my parents my practical mind always forced me to go the easy way, bray. Once I was inside though it was easy. I would hand over my big fat music notebook to the teacher who would look at her previous notes and write the next lesson(I dont remember the distinctions like varna,keerthana and all that). I did not know to read telugu and hence my song book is in Hindi. (I still have it with me). Then she would ask me to sing to her the previous day's lesson and I would oblige. She would make me sing the same thing over and over again with varied speed which I looked at as fun time. Sometimes there would even be a fast paced chorus. Like a DJ-mix. I never dared to look at the other pupils for fear of encountering aghast faces. The only friend I made was a Langa Dhavani clad tenth standard girl who never talked to me about music. For me, the most intriguing part of the music class was the harmonium. They say a singer uses the harmonium for Shruthi. I have never understood why given that her harmonium always made jarring loud noise. I hated it. I hated having to sing along with it with my teacher clapping out the Thala loudly. One couldnt make out which was worse. But I always wanted to play it just for the fun of it. I was always intrigued abt the flap which could generate such a hideous (according to me) sound. I got my chance one day when the teacher went to serve evening snacks to her son. I was the only pupil in the class and I worked up enough courage to go near the harmonium and just as I was about to fiddle with it my teacher's voice boomed out "what are you doing?". She always spoke to me in English. I was so taken aback that I did not even blabber a response but came and sat back in my seat scorching under her glare. That class we sang angrier than ever. In between all this was our visits to Bangalore where my uncle and aunt would make me sing! It was always Lambodhara and it was always sadly out of tune. To top it all I had to sing it right after a melodious rendition from my much accomplished cousing. I could only hang my head in shame even as my relatives clapped enthusiastically. From thenceforth music was my nemesis. (Please do not start psycho-analysing my personality) One day I learnt that we were to shift to Bangalore on a permanent basis. My joy knew no bounds only for one reason. I decided then and there to stop going to the music class. Never finding a reason to, I did not inform the teacher about my decision till one evening I heard the same booming voice calling my name from our gate. We lived on the first floor but the decibels were booming. When I went to the gate I was asked why I wasnt going to the class anymore. I remember shrugging and telling her about our move and therefore having no need to continue since it would get discontinued eventually anyway. Small me thought she might be understanding. In return I got one of the longest and loudest scolding of my entire life! The teacher spewed fire at me and I stood there going red with embarassment as the neighbours listened. She even finished off the tirade with a redundant "never come to my class again". That was the end of all pretensions about music for me and all the dreams of my parents. They could never again convince or force me to learn music ever again! (No you still are not allowed to judge me)

Nowadays I listen to the Morning Raaga version of "Mahaganapatim" and also whisperingly rendered Bhagyada Lakshmi Baramma in front of people at our housewarming!

Child labour

When I turn around in my seat I see a construction site in the distance where around 40% of the workers look like children to me. Playful, adventurous and having fun. And I am not talking only about toddlers playing with mud and stones in the scorching sun but also about the teenagers who are lugging around heavy stones,displacing mud, watering the newly built cement walls while carrying heavy pails of water.
Its a shame. This area is supposed to be the information industry belt. And people who work here are supposedly well educated. Yet when it comes to construction and hard labour matters they seem to turn the other way as these young adults strive hard. Even though it is against the law in India.
But if you see the other side of this coin, these kids are striving to improve their living by sacrificing their childhood and education. They are constantly trying to help run their household. There is nothing that will force them to go attend schools while their parents scrape a livelihood all day. Not even free food works in most of the blue plastic cover wrapped on-the-move communities. Some of them have circumstance beyond their control due to which they have to work in order to be able to eat. Some live alone. Who will look after them if they dont? Wouldnt they resort to begging? Or get lured into doing acts against society which dint care about them in the first place?
Five years back I sent a mail of objection to the CFO of my previous company regarding one of the cleaning staff being a kid who definitely did not look 18. Although he assured me that the administrative staff check the age records before hiring he did start another check. I felt good about my community spirit till the evening when I started despairing for the kid's family. What if he was the only breadwinner for them? I felt extremely miserable and guilty for the next few days. The next week however I ran into the kid again near the stairs and I was so happy to see him back that I gave him a huge smile to his astonishment. He might never know that I could have been the villain in his life. But I still dont know whether he used a fake age record.
Should we allow the children to choose to work while we think that they should be going to school?


Indian on a Chinese tour bus around America - 3B

T's Humour for the special occasion

Day 2
Las Vegas here we come! The day started with a lot of wishes and hugs to each other and from all our family for T and me. It was our second wedding anniversary. We made the day special by wearing new clothes. My brother made it even more special by gifting us a huuuge bar of chocolate. T is weird but I loove chocolate! We all then boarded a bus which would take us to Las vegas and Grand Canyon over the next three days. We made friends with a middle-aged couple from Zurich, I fondly refer to the husband as Asterix because of his moustache. Before reaching Vegas by around 5 PM we made a stopover for lunch and thats when I brought out my little surprise, a cake that I had baked for the occasion. T and me cut it rather shyly I must say! We reached the city of neon lights before they got switched on. It isnt as impressive in day light as it is by night. No bling! I expected to see mafia dons in long coats and hats with their entourage carrying suitcases of money. But I was a tad disappointed. All I saw was hollow faces all around me. Some who had lost money, some who were plain drunk. Once inside a casino though one is totally cut off from the outside world, the scent of money and smells of alcohol and ciggies of the casino overpower you.The first thing we saw was the MGM Grand where we just in time to see the Lion Show. Two slobby sleepy lions (they do sleep for around 18 hrs a day) were being prodded by a couple of trainers to show some interest in entertaining the folks who were standing all around the thick glass enclosure.
The trainers hand fed them and finally one of the lions got interested in playing "catch the ball" with the trainer. It was awesome to watch the burly creature cuddling up to the trainer or going after the ball like a little kitten! At one time he stood tall, on two legs, on our side of the glass to retrieve the ball and I can swear he must have been 12 feet high! The teeth could easily have been half a foot long!
We went to the hotel from there and after freshening up we ventured out into the sin city by night. The whole strip and downtown is well connected by buses which come by every five minutes, so getting around is no problem. You could do casino hopping by hopping in and out of the bus and not dispense with any of that precious energy you need at the roulette table. But we decided to walk.
Venetian too my breath away. The whole Venice atmosphere is recreated inside with houses on water and front and Gondolas rowing along with romantic couples in them. But the couples themselves look embarassed because there are a whole lot of people taking their photos just to get the Gondola (no romatic seclusion this)! The whole evening sky is done with a canopy and lights.
Some of the higher ceiling is painted and gilded in gold coveringand one gets the feeling of being in the Sistine Chapel. It never gets dark in there! We loitered through the Grand Canal Shoppes but did not blow away our money on the collectible items. We also got to peek at the entrance of the Tao Lounge, one most exclusive in the world.
We walked along the Mirage and Caesar's Palace which abounded with a look alike Fontana de Trevi and Colloseum.
We entered the Bellagio and the opulence of the place hit us immediately. I wondered how much the interior decorators make in this casino and how insecure their jobs might be. We walked along a glass lotus leaf roof towards a huge hall which was adorned with the theme of Autumn!
Everything orange and green and red. The only complaint I had was of low light. It made taking photos extremely difficult. I think thats the idea, dont capture moments and flood the web, everyone should come and see for themselves.
On the way to see the famous dancing fountain of Bellagio we decided to try our luck at gambling on our anniversary. There is something about a casino that gives me an adrenaline rush, as though I know I might regret this later but I cannot stop myself from doing it. Excitement! We headed to a roulette table and began. First round, we won. Second, we lost. Third, we lost again. Our whole family was gathered around the table since we were the only ones playing at that table. You cannot imagine how morally difficult it is to gamble with your parents looking on. Never to be tried again! We pulled out after the third round and I consoled myself that we had atleast won the first round. The magnificent dancing fountains made me forget my despair. Astounding harmony of water and music. In sync. It was beaiutiful. I am falling short of words to describe it. We have something similar at the Brindavan Gardens in Mysore, Karnataka with colours giving it a more glorious feel along with dance and music. By this time we were all hungry and tired and decided to call it a day. It was an anniversary we will always cherish!

Day 3
We saw the Vegas strip again the next night. This time we headed to the Paris casino first. The outside is adorned with the Eiffel Tower and the inside was similar to Venetian but a little jazzier and not so classy I thought.
The reason could be that the casino was also right there under the lit canopy in the Paris whereas it was separated at the Venetian.
We went past the Excalibur which looks more like Disney Land. I wonder what was behind the name.
We entered the Luxor which has an Egyptian theme but there was nothing much to gape at apart from stiff bob-cut soldiers and good looking ladies in stone. There are very nice murals just like you would find in their palaces or pyramids maybe.
We got back to the hotel and T and me made a secret pact of going to the hotel Casino and trying our luck again. But as luck would have it, we did not have the inclination nor the charm to make us millionaires and we gave up.
I had blogged a year back about wanting to see vegas. I have fulfilled one dream in my life. Like so many others :)

Indian on a Chinese bus tour around America - 3A

This post is long due. Infact its a month overdue. I have been putting off writing about it for various reasons of laziness. Today in a burst of enthusiasm defying the rainy day greys I decided to finally bring our third tour to life. The packet of Lays Lightly Salted is also providing enough food for thought (ouch...cliched).

We love money especially the kind which converts to 38 of our country's. We do not like blowing it away on extravagance but we reckoned that this could be a once in a lifetime chance to just eat the cake with the whole family (T's parents and mine along with my brother) and not bother about the piggy bank.We upped and went on a 6 day tour headed towards western Amerikya, that haloed tourist attraction area.

Day 1

We all flew down to la la land Los Angeles from whence our bus tour would commence! Poetry...wah.

The first day was all about getting people together and since we reached in the afternoon (thanks to flying back in time), we had a whole afternoon and evening at our disposal. Unfortunately the hotel we were in was close to nowhere and we were holed up in the room without a car at our disposal. But fortunately there was one family friend who we were all eager to meet, since vice versa was true he came and took us all to explore the beach front of LA.

We went to the Venice beach as the sun was setting. It was a sight to behold the orange ball of fire on the fiery cold water. The Pacific Ocean was peaceful alright but it was freezing co-oh-ld.Two mins barefeet in the water and I got solid cramps.
We walked near the water's edge for some time and then went to see the Main Street in the town. It had a very European feel to it with the no vehicle cobbled street lined with trees strung with serial lights and a concert happening under a canopy right in the middle of it. Somehow the street dint look like it belonged to the very american LA.
The next stop was our friend's house which was very neatly kept surprising because it was inhabited by bachelors. Nice guys! We also felt rather proud to see the Indian tricolour hung on the wall, even if the reason was some Cricket World Cup. The next stop before getting back to the hotel was dinner. When Indians meet other Indians where do you think they would go to eat? At an Indian restaurant ofcourse! We went to Annapurna where we feasted on delicious food and downed it with Masala Chai. By the time we returned to our hotel room my parents and brother had arrived and had already gone to bed. After bidding them good night we retired, with bounding excitement for the next day. It would be T's and my second anniversary!


Festival of Lights - Light Stove, Camera On, Action!

I am noticing that these days a lot of google ads about self defense and spyware software are appearing on my blog, when I have never talked about anything apart from stabbing myself and I havent even mentioned about watching online dvd rip movies! Google ads has strange ways. Spooky more like it. It seems to be putting away in memory what all I do in virtual and real world!
Now that I got it out of my system (I have a pretty big fear of the spook), I can tell you about celebrating Diwali this year. You know how Diwali is all about spending someone else's money on flashy clothes, flashier crackers and flabbygetter sweets? Well this year was the same for me....except homespun money got replaced with greenbacks and all the crackers we heard was one hour of daam-doom-das-pus on GTalk. And I PREPARED the sin food for all 3 days. They turned out lip-smacking, if I may say so myself (and given that T doesnt blog so often I have to!). The preparation of sweets was all about excelling minimalistically. I did not have access to ghee, nuts (hyuck hyuck)..no really and all the dramatic spices we use back at home like kesar, cardamom blah blah, because of self imposed cost cutting. I have to blow my own trumpet again and tell you all what a fine job I did! Like an answer to my prayers, some of us Indian friends decided to throw a party to ourselves. Instead of burdening one hapless housewife we all decided to pitch and make it a potluck produce. Now I had the chance to show my cooking skills to "other" people, people who were not obliged or bullied into telling me what I make is good, ha ha ha! At the end of the day, after the gobble-click-lol-athon I stood vindicated that I am a budding good cook. Nobody is going to stand between me and my stove muhahahahaha. T....MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA



My food blog gets a new URL

For reasons of global understanding
(I had to explain to many people what Bendekayi = Lady's finger and Karimb = curry meant, that doesnt say a lot about clarity)
I have changed the url of my food blog to http://thebravecook.blogspot.com/
I request you to update all your favourite links and blogrolls to this new url (Yeah right, like I have that many visitors)
But Pleeeeze do update your links gang!


Stabbed! (Halloween Special)

That's what I was on Saturday in the wee hours. Bloody chocolate was the reason for the unfortunate incident. How does one solidify homemade chocolate? In the fridge or freezer? I did it in the latter, it got stuck to the plate it was on and I ended up stabbing my hand with the end of a sharp knife while trying to ebb the chocolate! So here I was with a bloody waterfall down my left hand and being held up only with the pain and sink tap before I went clattering to the floor in a hazy heap. The awful unmovable pain lasted for three full days before I went to the doctor. The doctor decided to tackle the problem in a different way. If you cant help you have to endure it is not what he said. What he did was to give me another pain so terrible that I would forget the original. He gave me an anti-tetanus injection! But the funny part was that he gave it to me on my already painful left hand so that the rest of my body parts could still function normally and could ignore my left hand as one would a cranky kid. So here I am typing out this post with one hand while the other one sits on the laptop rest and watches. This whole experience has left me with a question - how do antibiotic tablets know which part of the body needs its help? The doctor gave me tablets to speed skin augmentation but how does the tablet know which part of the skin is ripped? Any doctors or people with super-common sense reading my post who want to answer?


Indian on a Chinese tour bus around America -2

Niagara, the Taj Mahal of North America. At least with respect to popularity. Every Indian worth his/her salt needs to make this much cherished trip to THE FALLS. The first question any relative back home asks is “Did you see Niagara falls?”. And if your answer is “No, because we dint have time or money or a bat mobile or whatever” you will elicit a sympathetic cluck and a description of the falls so exact that you might think your relative was the “Indian” who architected the mighty fall. Oh and if you, continuing with the hypothetical conversation, answered “Yes” then you will be quizzed about every nook and cave of the winds that you might have perhaps experienced. It’s really big; the way Niagara Falls is adored.
We, as industrious as we are, decided to do the Niagara pilgrimage on a Chinese tour bus. There were two options for the tour. One was via Thousand Islands and the other included the Corning Glass Museum tour. One of the main attractions at Niagara is to see the Illumination of the falls in the night. After a lot of power debating, we decided against Thousand Islands since that meant no night halt at the falls. We set forth on the auspicious day and reached the large Chinatown in New York City. We were one of the first to arrive at the boarding point and hence (and obviously) were at unease if this was really where they would pick us up from. As we stayed on a huge crowd conglomerated there. There were Chinese families, European boy friends and girl friends, American couples and Indian family-groups, all waiting for the bus which would take them forth and had to continue doing so for a good two hours since the bus was late! Once we boarded the bus, our tour guide, an apologetic looking Chinese guy, informed us that the first stop would be Thousand Islands. I was apoplectic and jabbed T so hard that it sent him straight out of the seat to find out what was going on with the tour. But the guide graciously comforted us and explained that “Some people for Thousand Islands many people for Corning Museum so we doing both. Stay night yes in Niagara”. Thus rest assured I fell into an AC cold-induced numbness for the long drive to the Thousand Islands. I did not even have the motivation to eat too many chips. And so T knew that I was really unwell.
We arrived at Alexandria Bay which is upstate New York. The Thousand Islands is a pristine resort community surrounded by Lake Ontario, the Adirondack Mountains and the mighty St. Lawrence River.
It’s got a nice waterfront which is not overly touristy decked but still maintains store fronts attractive enough for tourists to stroll in for a look or make an occasional purchase. All we purchased in one such store with pirate masks in the front window was coffee. Vanilla coffee!! It’s nice if you also eat spicy chips along with it.
The next thing on our agenda was a cruise through St. Lawrence River and see some of the thousand and odd islands. On the way we found a nice apple tree and indulged in some farm antics of plucking fresh fruit stealthily and eating it.I kept myself busy by shooting evidence which could be used for some gamely blackmailing later on maybe? The river cruise was amazing. The main reason being the boat operator’s camaraderie with the people on board. It was so good that it felt like a personal guided tour through paradise. The single mansions on these islands looked no lesser than paradise to me.
The blue waters with the sun glinting off it, the calmness all around, the warmth from the sun and chill from the winds and one’s own island (whoever said no man is an island could be disproved here). We could see some proud Richie Richs lounging about on their islands. How quaintly charming is that!
I don’t fully remember all the names of the owners but I do remember looking around in wonder. When we got off the boat T and me chatted up with the boat guy and also expressed our appreciation. He was very happy that someone cared enough to let him know.
The next stop was Niagara Falls which we reached by 11 in the night. We all trooped down to the falls to see the illumination. We lost our way in the darkness and strayed towards a main road, walked along the flowing river before it plunged as the Niagara.
The illumination of the Niagara is like seeing a bride in white with strobe lights on. It’s beautiful. Although the view is great from the Canadian side, you can take great pictures up close from the American side, like the one we took right on top of the Bridal falls. The strobe lights are evidently on the Canadian side, and the rest of the Main Street on that side is also very visually appealing.
On the American side though there is a small park near the falls which is not of much consequence unless you have time enough to spend on the luscious greens. We were bang on time to see the illumination because apparently the lights are switched off at midnight.
On the way back to the hotel through the darkened deserted streets we got hopelessly lost or so we thought. Although we were five minutes walk away from the hotel panic struck and we started walking around in circles. Eventually we did find the hotel and we did get our much deserved sweet sleep. I must make a special mention of the hotel room’s bathroom. It was a man-made wonder not as huge as the Niagara but close enough in a different category. The area was approximately 5ft * 3ft and we had all the minimalist stuff that make up a decent bathroom including the bathtub. I remember one hotel in Heidelberg, Germany which was of similar dimensions but they had effectively spaced out the interiors by having a shower cubicle instead of an out of sorts bathtub. I thought that was neat because who would come to a low budget hotel (if not tourists who are trying to fit in a lot on minute timescale and budget) and want to spend one luxurious hour or more sitting in a bathtub? Maybe a gangster type who was using it as a hideaway. I like it when I ask the question and know the answer to it even though it kills the imagination of the reader. Hee haw haw haw.
Well, the next day we were in for a great shock. Although we hadn’t seen a single cloud the night before it was pouring the next day. And it was the irritating kind of rain which is not too fast and not too slow and comes down evenly as though through a giant sieve. Gloom descended in our shiny eyes. We weren’t very sure of enjoying the beauty of the place getting wet in the course. Yes, we had forgotten to bring umbrellas. We had no choice but to heave ho and see the cloudy grey sights. The first stop for the day was Goat Island. This is the place that separates the Bridal Falls (American Niagara as some would like to humor themselves) from the Horseshoe Falls (THE Niagara Falls). We got beautiful views of the top of the Horseshoe Falls.
The most amazing thing that we found on Goat Island was outside the tourist shop. Among the flowers that adorned the entrance of the shop were chilies! I have never ever seen that before. Maybe neither have you so here’s the picture
From Goat Island we were taken to ride the Maid of the Mist. While waiting in line to buy tickets for the rides we saw that many people had bought rain coats from the souvenir shops. After consultation amongst ourselves we came to the conclusion that we were so much soaked to the skin that the skin wouldn’t feel it any more and so there was no need for those. Once we bought the tickets we were taken to a landing from where we had to take a speedy lift which would take us twenty storeys down in two minutes, to board the boat. The landing was the best possible view point for the Horseshoe Falls. Many people were forsaking getting wet and damaging their camera lens to take that one perfect shot of the horseshoe. I have to tell you, it needs a lot of patience to photograph this world famous falls. The very simple reason being the mist that gets formed at the base of the falls due to the momentum of the water plunging some 160 feet below. This mist moves up and most of the times the middle portion of the horseshoe is hidden behind this. And if it is a cloudy day then its plain bad luck. It’s over misty. Hence, a trip to the Niagara is not complete without a ride in the Maid of the Mist because it takes you right where the action is. Before boarding the boat however everyone is given a poncho style long raincoat with a hood to prevent them from getting wet from the spray of the falls. In our case however it was kind of redundant. But we did struggle one pair of hands and legs and three pairs of helper hands to get into it. Once we were on board we rushed to grab a front seat errr railing. The rest of the boat journey was amazing. The boat takes us slowly very close to the falls.
You see the giant looming up against the sky and the spray from it comes at you non stop. I even got my skin cut from the force (delicate as a flower me *batting eyelids*). After going a certain distance the boat is stopped and remains in one place for everyone to soak in the magic. But due to the bobbing and motion of the water underneath one doesn’t realize the boat has stopped at all.
We also saw what we had missed, from the boat, for lack of time. The cave of the winds. This is basically a series of steps which leads people right up to the bridal falls. Makes for excellent romantic photo-op and a little care so as to not slip. On the Canadian side there is a “Journey behind the falls” which is a tunnel leading right behind the falls. I had seen it on my last trip to Canada which was in March and was not season yet for the Maid of the Mist to operate.
After the boat ride we were informed that we had to have lunch and reach the bus in a matter of 30 minutes. We went running around madly in the rain searching for Indian restaurants which abound the place but they were all slow starters. Not many serve anything to eat till 11:30. There was one particular joint in the Welcome center whose owner was so rude that he was putting India to shame. We did find a place where they served idli and dosa alongside channa batura etc. The most ill planned thing on these Chinese tours are the meal times and places. Plus he had not given us any option for breakfast that day. You have to be really well prepapred for their trips else you just starve.
We were happy enough to get back on board the bus and away from all the wetness. The next stop after a long drive was the Corning Glass Museum. We decided not to take the tour of the museum which included being allowed to make glass by ourselves. This was because of the ridiculous 15 minutes that we were given to spend at the museum before getting back to the bus. The reason for that according to the guide was that we delayed the whole thing by overstaying our lunch time! Bah!
As we found out later all that people could do on it was sit through a boring video about how glass was made. We effectively used the time gazing in awe at the colorful glass magic on sale in the souvenir shop which was the entire ground floor and buying much needed hot coffee!
From Corning it was straight back to NY and home. We were greeted by a sea of red lights in NY. We got a taste of traffic in New York in which we were stuck for a good hour and half. By the time we reached home we were tired and warm, me a little more than the rest. But it was a trip which we thoroughly enjoyed and one that also made us realize the importance of a humble umbrella!


Happy Days

(All the actors are talent search contest winners)

This weekend we went back in time via T's nostalgia to his college days. We went and saw a Telugu movie called "Happy Days" written and directed by Sekhar Kammula. An excellent movie for the simple reason that it could have been any of our college stories. A nice fun filled motion picture which brought back vivid memories to T. He was drawing parallels between many situations in the movie to things that actually happened to him and his friends in their college.

Unfortunately it did nothing great to me. I could see it almost like another fairy tale. My college days, am sad to say, were not that much fun as one would usually have. I had a few good friends and one lovely soul-sister but it dint lead me to any "paradis enchanté"! I had a sub-normal four years of engineering college spent mainly in class and in day dreaming. Every morning would be filled with self-pity for having to go and "waste" my time listening to lecturers who I never learnt much from. Every evening I was more than happy to come back home. The highlight of my collge life was the time R and I would chat unceasingly, for hours together, in front of my gate every evening after getting back from college. One might wonder what we had to talk so much about. Trust me, so did we. But we found topics as varied as college romance (other people's ofcourse) and rocket science to talk about. I am not exactly sure what brought us together but we stuck fast from day 1 in that college. Spotting us separate (apart from practical exam time) was almost like finding a lone penguin in Antartica. We might have had some name calling behind our backs but did we care! I did go to engineering college with the fond hope that I would find my life's direction but after four years of electronics I still find it difficult to fathom the direction of electricity.

What I missed in college I gained at my first work place, Ivega. That place was more like my alma mater. Ivega instilled courage in me, a sense of purpose and got me acquainted with a very good set of people. I wont exaggerate to say I shone as an extrovert here but I did get out of my shell. I began to enjoy life. I looked forward to "office" everyday. I was part of a group of like minded people. We shared laughter, joy, sadness and tensions together. I could talk openly with these people and rest assured that they would not be judgemental about me. My dressing sense improved! (And for those from Ivega reading this, yes, you can imagine how much worse it should have been before.) The coffee/tea breaks on the terrace cafeteria were enough to drive our blues away. We poked fun at each other and others outside the group but conscience never reared its head! The bread-butter-jam and bread-omlettes were manna for our starvation. Looking back I feel we did eat a lot or was it just to spend some time together away from work? We complained and wailed about bosses and their tyranny but at the end of the day not one of us shirked away from responsibilities. Appraisals were always thought of as a magic trick. Now you see the money or promotion and now you dont. "Because according to our expectation from you, you had to do more than just our expectations." I never went to any of the office parties and there was atleast one person who missed me. I cried on the last day at Ivega. I still remember it more fondly than school or college. Ivega gave me gifts of love (literally), friendship, happiness, confidence, compassion, envy, anxiety, shame, and most importantly salary. Even today I thank my intuition for paving the way for me to join a startup like Ivega and not a company with a sea of people. R was the reason why I went to write the test at Ivega, a company I had never heard of before, and whaddaya know I met my T there! First day first batch and the first thing he told me was "(Hee hee hee) Err I think they are calling out your name wrong" and I had replied "(Grrrr) No, that is my name" and had thought "What a jerk!". Well its another story that we remain together now and for the rest of our lives ;)


Indian on a Chinese tour bus around America -1

That title reeks of globalization. You know what else it reeks of? Chinese opportunism and innovation. One of the most popular tour bus site for an America dekho is gotobus and this is manned totally by Chinese down to the pick up and drop spots. They are all centered around a China Town or a Chinese super market. They even stop at Chinese restaurants for lunch even if there is one Chinese lady tourist on the bus and the rest are all gullible Indians. The guides are bilingual (or so they like to believe). They speak Chinese and Chinglish and at least one of them says Pepsi instead of Cheese. Makes sense I say. I would prefer saying Paneer while posing for photos. The main reason why this tour company is so popular is because it fits into scanty leave and stingy wallet and still shows a lot. Who should know better than I who has taken two such trips and have another planned around the corner.
The first trip was the Phily-DC-Balti trip as I like to call it.
Somehow our tour guide was convinced that the only thing to see in Philadelphia was a huge un-ringable bell with a half inch crack running through its length. He might be right if he had said that’s the main thing to see.
It has a huge historic significance with respect to the American stands for independence, abolition of slavery and freedom. I was a little in awe when I actually saw how huge it was. I could also feel the emotions running high, among the American revolutionaries, to protect the symbol from falling into British hands.
Before we reached the bell museum, I got excited about spotting the offices of Rohm & Haas, a customer for one of the products we develop in my company. So while the family waited for a group photo, the photographer (me) had run away and was shooting this obscure building of a company they had never heard of.
After seeing the bell there was a lot of excitement as, is common among happy tourists, upon spotting horse drawn carriages! So we took a lot of happy pictures with those handsome steeds and some prettily done up mares as our backgrounds. Being in them would have meant a cool fifty dollar hole in the pocket.
Walked around the city hall and thats when we saw a duck tour which is very popular and a practical way to "see" a city. A "Duck" is a vehicle which acts as a bus on land and a boat in water. How cool is that? So you just hop onto it and go around a city, hop off at any place that you want to spend time at, hop on the next one and go on. It’s a pretty neat way to see a city (touristy parts) if you are really short on time. Philadelphia is a very good looking city and the people seem to be very friendly. At least I think so because a lady told me she loved the kurti top I was wearing. Well she did say it after I appreciated the braided tail of the horse which was pulling her carriage but nevertheless. The next stop was Washington DC. The capital city. My first impression - ho hum. Well manicured flat city. The only thing you keep spotting between buildings and trees is a white obelisk called the Washington Monument built to immortalize the first president of the States. Our first stop was the Smithsonian Institutions. There were two on our agenda and the first one was the National Air and Space Museum. The funniest part of this was the "Moon Rock" touching. The "rock" which was really a pebble was placed right at the entrance much like the Dwarapalakas in any temple, you take their Darshan and then go towards the God. I even saw some people close their eyes and pray/wish while they touched the pebble. The guide did tell us that there was a Chinese saying that touching it brings good luck.
Once inside the air and space museum all you see and read is about airplanes and satellites. There are a lot of airplanes suspended from the roof. It is a little nerve wracking if one’s mind goes on a trip of the cords loosening up and the planes crashing down.
There is also a lot of information about space shuttles, their training and simulators. We only had enough time to take a deep breath and glance around once. In the planet section we noted that Pluto has been banished. We saw space suits and fighter pilot gear in another section.
But the highlight for me was the Wright Brothers' room. I was excited to read all about how they started.
One of the four bicycles they designed and built is displayed there. A model of the aircraft they built is also displayed. And can you imagine the pilot had to lie down on his stomach to pilot that one. Orville and Wilbur Wright, geniuses.
From the air and space museum we went on to the Natural History Museum.
The first pit stop was at the Hope Diamond. This gorgeous big blue diamond set in a necklace of smaller diamonds was originally from India! Natural blue diamonds are rare and expensive.
I was in shock when I heard from my dad that my grandmother has it in her nose ring and was nearly dizzy when my mom said she had a couple, that her mother gave her, in her earrings. That’s a page of expensive family history!Suddenly, the 3-diamonds’ ring that T gave me for our last wedding anniversary looked pale. T did not have a clue why he got a dirty look from me and went on pulling me away from the rest of the glitterati spread which wouldn’t let my jaws close shut.
We went through the section of the quartz, crystal, gold, copper, opal and other natural materials that the earth throws up to us. We then went through the Dinosaur section which was so poorly lit that we couldn’t take any good pictures with our small digital cameras. I do remember squinting at the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Does light affect those old bones? We went through a section with a lot of animal models on display. My favorite was the lion perched near the roof, proud, very proud.I took my revenge on T by making him stand beside the giraffe and taking a picture. At the end of the hall we had a surprise awaiting us. There was a whole section dedicated to Sikh religion. Displays about the aspects of the religion including the five Ks that Sikh men always have to carry. Plus a beautiful model of the Golden Temple at Amritsar. But the star of the show is the huge mammoth in the entrance hall of the museum. I think he gets photographed the most!
By the time we finished with museums sunset was approaching fast. Our guide, ever the enthusiast, made us believe that that was the best time to photograph some monuments around DC.So our next stop was the Capitol, the seat of the US government for the Congress. This is where they decide to wage wars on or withhold grants to some country. We got a beautiful view of this pristine building and its grounds, in the setting sun's rays, giving it a very luscious cream tint.
Why I will always cherish this picture in my mind is because of the picture that we took in front of it, that looks like a lovely vintage eastman color photo.
Next stop was the White House. While it looked prim and propah it generally failed to impress me. It feels too small to be a presidential house, no? We got to see only the front view. Maybe its elongated? I have heard that the interior is more impressive but we did not know that we had to book a week in advance for an inside tour due to security reasons. The photo in front of the tall iron grill, which stood in between the White House and us, looks a little ugly too. Anyways the whole experience fell a little flat. What was more interesting was the protestors against war in front of democracy, way to go! And off we go to the Jefferson Memorial. By now the light was much faded and the monuments have such low lights that it became tough for us to take pictures. But the view from the memorial steps was breathtaking. The lake in front of the memorial glowing with the reflections of lights shining all around it was beautiful. Planes whizzing by, thanks to the nearby airport. Sitting there on the steps we spent some of the most relaxing moments on that trip. Cool breeze, breezy talk and wafting laughter. Precious! But, we had one eye always trained on the watch dial and it was soon to board the bus to take us to Lincoln memorial.
How majestic looks the statue of Abe Lincoln all in white against the low lit interiors of the memorial. We have all grown up hearing about his honesty stories and it was very humbling to even behold his larger than life statue. The view of the Washington Monument is best from the Lincoln memorial as it is right across.
We visited the Vietnam War Memorial. The names of all the American soldiers, who lost their lives for their country, are etched on a very long glass wall. The Korean War Memorial on the other hand has lifelike statues of soldiers in battle gear. A wall runs alongside with the photos of the soldiers who lost their lives in that war. With this our day also came to an end and we were taken on what would become a never ending search for a restaurant. Since it was late and all the restaurants were closed we were finally taken to an all-night convenience store where we couldn’t find anything apart from water and chips. Thankfully we were very resourceful in packing a lot of chapatis from home which lasted us through every meal of the journey. Chinese restaurant or Pizzeria it was no problem for us. Woo-hoo!
After a good night's rest we faced a day of long drives. We were off to Baltimore from DC. On the way we arrived at Shenandoah Caverns. The caverns were formed when water trickled through tiny cracks in the stone, dissolving the lime, enlarging the cracks. The cracks became crevices, then channels, and finally, tunnels (this is straight from the website). There are lots of formations to see and many to imagine. Like the crystal cascade. That’s just limestone and a lot of color lights focused on it.

Then there is the bacon formation which doesn’t make sense to us vegetarians. The highlight of the caverns is the Rainbow Lake. The formations are lit up with colorful lights and the reflection of this in the water, which always collects in that place, makes it amazing.
We had a lot of fun finding niches to take funky photographs in. Imagining a lot of the formations was also fun. From the caverns we drove to Baltimore and what awaited us there by 2 in the afternoon was a nice cutesy water front and a boat ride.The boat ride was pretty boring. It seemed like the announcer had had a bad day because he was so jaded in his speech that most of us did not register what he was saying or which piece of the surrounding he was referring to. It was extremely sunny nevertheless we enjoyed the breezy boat ride.
Most Indian couples were going for the Titanic pose pictures. What was I doing in the meanwhile? I was realizing that too many people on that boat wore clean stark white sports shoes! I think many of us also stared at the whizzing motor boats and their occupants with a tinge of jealousy.
I had imagined that we would be taken aboard a ship and would be allowed to look around. Hadn't bargained for this fare. Once we got off the boat we had to grab lunch and eat in a matter of one hour. The water front was full and by the time we got some subway sandwiches from the grumpy and arrogant girl at the counter it was nearly time to leave. Plus she wanted me to tell the name of the cheese I wanted. I would have but I got daunted with her attitude and told her that I would only point and not tell the name. Lame, I know. She also got her small revenge when she told me that the yoghurt that I wanted with the meal was over. Even now I think she had many in her fridge but was just too crazily angry to hand it over.
So after gobbling down lunch we were back on the bus and drove the long way back to New Jersey. Catching up on sleep was the main agenda apart from waiting for coffee breaks and endless chips. It was a fantastic trip. For me it was double the excitement because my parents, brother and sister-in-law came with us (T, his parents and me).


Ganesha Bandha Steamed Kadabu thinda

This year's happenings were totally unexpected. I did not expect to get a long vacation. My in-laws did not expect to see USA. T did not expect to have enough moolah to show us around a lot. But a lot of it has and is coming true. And who to thank but Lord Ganesha for it. And this year something unexpected happened for him too. A grand puja in the States for Him! In our house, a quiet small place became a bee hive of activity and festivity as he adorned the center stage on Ganesha Habba day on Saturday. We decorated him this time not with the usual Maavele et al but with local leaves and flowers. We also managed to tie a Thorana for him with leaves which could pass as betel leaf in one angle for the kalasha and a shortened version of Maavele in another angle for the Thorana. Apples substituted Coconuts for the kalasha. After all its the significance thats important. Gowri got made from mud and tied in a cloth to form a Mannu Gowri taking us back in time when the painted idols of today were not available in the market and the married women had to make their own Gowri and worship Her. Nice cheerful flowers adorned the whole landscape and He sat radiant amidst all the greenery. Going with the adage "When in Rome, be a Roman" our Ganesha was also made of the finest white wood and he resembled, in colour, to any of the white American folk. A foreign Ganapathi joked our guests and we had quite a few of them. Friends and family came to partake the Prasada and share in our lunch. The lunch itself was a veritable feast and unexpected since we did not have the paraphernalia to make it. But my m-i-l and I managed to get the show on the road (rather on to the dining table) with the limited resources. Having to use one medium sized cooker for everything from making rice to mixing curries and chitranna and ofcourse to also make dough for the kadabu. We also pulled alll available man power (f-i-l and T) to make the Kadabu. As is the tradition in most Kannada homes the Kadabu is not fried but steamed. Its much healthier eaten this way as it has no fat content. But I secretely did crave for my mom's Kayi Kadabu, those scintillating reddish tinged fried sweet kadabu! It was indeed a very joyous occasion with everyone sitting around our living room, joking, talking and some of us even acting like 5 yr olds to impress the 1 yr old toddler we had for company. The calm which pervaded over the whole situation is something which would have been tough to accomplish in Bangalore. There, the festivities tend to become bigger than the God Himself somehow. All in all a fun time with also many prayers going up to the cute God. The morning calm led to a chatty evening and when night finally descended f-i-l, T and me in turns happened to see the Moon (Chandra) which is considered inauspicious on that day. So we all had to read the Shloka which will prevent anything bad from happening to us. And my worried m-i-l went back to her Panchanga and deduced that seeing the american moon might not have the same bad effect as seeing it in India because the direction was different. But the fear did prevail and we did read the Parihara Shloka which strangely has no reference to Chandra or Ganesha but to the incident Lord Krishna had with the Syamantaka Jem as is present in the Ganesha Kathe (Story) that we read on that day. Strange aye?

And this is how he was seated that day :


Murder I saw

This makes more sense in my food blog but it is so not vegetarian that I have to put it here!
I learnt how to kill a lobster.
Lobster is supposed to be eaten while it is still fresh and what better way to eat the freshest than kill it yourself minutes before you eat it? Yuck! Anyways.
You bring a live lobster home and stick it in the freezer for a few minutes. Like 10 minutes. This puts the lobster into a deep sleep. A sleep so deep that they wont protest to what you do next. You get the lobster out of the freezer and stick right into a pot of boiling water. It dies (hold your breath) in 30 secs. Cruel cruel cruel.
Enjoy your meal people (who eat it).


Lead India Intiative

In the time of reality shows how can Indian politics be left far behind? After all, isn't the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha sessions the oldest, biggest and most entertaining reality show ever? We get to see all the action on Doordarshan live day after day. The fists banging against the benches and once in a while against someone's face. The pouring down of screaming leaders into the pit of the Sabha. Walk-outs, talk-outs and shout-outs. Its got humour, thrill, chill and gut spill.

Now Times of India Group has launched an initiative which is set to take the reality in Indian politics one step further. Called Lead India, this program is set to bring out leaders for our public governance sphere which is lacking right now. A lot of babudom, red tapism and pulling-carpet-from-under-other's-legs are hindering a lot of development opportunities.

If you ask me the status of a Developing Nation is far better than a Developed Nation because it opens up a lot of spheres for betterment and will not allow us to sit on our past laurels. There is so much more to do and that brings in the excitement of being an Indian.

Lead India is a nationwide campaign, very like Indian Idol and the ilk, to search for a future leader. There will be a lot of elimination ofcourse in the course of the quest. What remains to be seen is whether there will be a practical touch to the competition or it will be based on a lot of blah blah by competitors. Whatever the case maybe, I am excited to see the process.

I myself am a backbencher-critic (hanging my head in shame).
If you are interested to know more or participate please visit http://www.lead.timesofindia.com/.
I urge all you willing people there to come out of your shell and participate in this.


Passage to a Vacation

I stared at the the blank space on my new post space for a long time. And then began to fill it. There is so much to tell. Where am I going to start? I am on a vacation out of India right now but it was the toughest travel to achieve in all these years. First there was this whole process of getting a darned visa. Forms to fill, mistakes to correct and never knowing if everything was there in the right place. What would the visa officers at the hot (no pun intended puhleese) Chennai US Consulate ask me? I had no clue. I have travelled quite a bit on work and on vacation before but here I was with cold feet and moist hands waiting for my minutes of wham at the interview window. For all the hullaballoo all I get to stand in front of is a counter? No chair to sit, no coffee to sip. Just a long queue in front of a counter. The visa officer was an extremely chirpy person and had had a good morning I guess because she was being nice to everyone approaching her. She was extremely nice to me and said Aye to my visa request. So I said Yay. This was the easy part. The tough part was to get my passport back on time for my flight which was 3 working days away. Believe me, my life became a tale of two cities. I would wake up and go to sleep in Bangalore but the rest of the day I spent in Chennai! 4 days out of a week.
On one of the flights I came upon an irony. Captain Gopinath (MD of Air Deccan) was in the seat in front of me in a Paramount Airways flight to Chennai!! He was very intrigued about the fact that in a small airliner Paramount offered Business Class seats as well. I could hear (without over hearing) the conversation he was having with the gentleman who boarded with him, about it. They also kept repeatedly counting the number of seats they were offering in Business class and it amused them somehow that it was 16. All this intrigued me as well. As we, the other "normal" people on th flight would wonder later, after we got out of the plane and he was met and escorted by his Air Deccan henchmen, had he missed an AD flight or it had got delayed as usual or cancelled as is also the practice? I do remember laughing out loud. What an irony!
As luck would have it, I did not get it till the day I left. My flight to NJ was in the night and in the morning I called from Bangalore to confirm if my passport would reach at all that day. To my delight I found out that it would, and I took the next flight out to Chennai. I got my passport and got back to my city 2 hours before I took off for the phoren shores. A lot of last minute rush and a lot of airport waits later I was snoring in my seat on a plane with a pilot extra ordinaire. Kudos to Jet Airways for their staff selection and pilots! There was a point when I dozed off just before the plane taxied and when I woke up I was in the clouds and hadnt felt inertia at all!
But you know what? It was all worth the effort because on the other side of the ocean there was a beaming smile and a warm hug that was waiting for me. I felt like I had just found my favourite teddy bear that I had lost. Ok, it was notches above that feeling really :)
Here I am now in suburbia whiling away my time and not having an iota of guilt about it. I have lot of time on hand to think about my life and goals. I have come to realise life beyond the workplace and am glad about getting this break.
Life is also about making our dreams come true. They dont miraculously happen all the time.


Iaf gone gooofy

For the first time in my life "I" am on summer vacation. Its not like the school is closed for summer so I get summer vacation. No siree, I decided this time and took off for 3 months. Yes, go ahead and turn purple because its not going to affect pink and yellow me! Yay! 3 months of luxurious lazy vacation. No people, I am not sitting sweating it out under a noisy fan in a suburb of Bangalore. I am sitting sweating it out without a noisy fan in a suburb of New Jersey.
In the land of outsourced opportunities lies a quiet little suburb teeming with Indians.
Where the senior citizens walk and the junior citizens squeal and anyone in between works.
Except me! Ofcourse! I am on vacation. And not only out of office but out of the country too!
I came here with a glorious vision. I would write a lot of blogs and become famous in bloggery. But as weather would have it I can only sit on the settee and want to sleep. The days slip by too fast. It doesnt leave me enough time to write!
As soon as I can collect my wits and wisdom teeth I will get back to posting some sensible (really?) ones. Ciao.


Faith - my spirituality

I am not one of the greatest devotees of Sai Baba but he is my greatest God along with Ganesha.
Today I got a calling to visit Them and off I went to the temple complex in Domlur. I reached there only by 12:30 in the afternoon and the sanctum sanctorum doors were just about being shut. I could just manage a fleeting glimpse of the main God Shani before the doors were shut leaving me very disappointed and seeking just one full glimpse of the Lord. As I stood in such a state a priest emerged through the door and I requested him to open the door just a crack so that I can get a quick glimpse of the Lord. But that man looked through me as if I was thin air and kept walking on. I was so furious that I would probably have hit him on his head and told him a word or two about being decently behaved. How can a priest who is considered next only to God in our temples be so insolent? How can he not see the desperation in my eyes? Forget that, how can he not even acknowledge that a living breathing person is talking to him? Such were the angry questions running through my head. As I walked around the temple performing my Pradakshina (circumambulation around the Lord) I saw him being equally rude to an old lady. If looks could hurt my scorching gaze would surely have left him with a headache. I finished my prayers and left the temple in a big huff after saying sorry to the God for not being able to see him. I then walked to the nearby Sai Baba temple. I reached the temple and as I was leaving my footwear outside the temple I felt this impulse to talk to the priest there and get my mind cleared of this anger. But my innate shyness took over and when I entered I dint say a word to him. I silently started praying with my eyes closed. As I finished asking Sai Baba what I had come for (yes there is always something to ask isn’t it?) I heard a small bell ringing and upon opening my eyes I saw the priest doing an Arathi to the God. I felt joyous. Then the priest gave me the Aarthi and the Theertha and the Prasad. As he handed out the Prasad to me he stuck up a conversation with me. I felt very strange indeed that he chose to talk to me. The more he talked to me the calmer I felt. My anger just dissolved. I realized that the priest in the other temple was only doing his job and I was the one at fault for arriving late. I was just trying to find a scape goat to direct the anger I had for myself. I took leave of this wonderful priest and started walking back when I realized that I hadn’t sat down at the Shani temple at all. In our culture it’s a must that one has to sit down in the temple before leaving it. When I went back to the Shani temple and sat down I noticed a few people standing in front of the Sanctum Sanctorum door. I rushed towards it and to my delight the door was open and I could see the God albeit without his Alankaara (dress). The priests had already started changing the dress of the Lord for the evening prayers. Saturday is a very special day for Shani so the temple is thronged by people. I understood why the priest behaved in the way he did. I thanked Him profusely for giving me the right mind to come back once again and obtain his Darshan (glimpse). On my way back home I sat back and thought about al that happened. I can only summarise as below :

Anybody who goes to a Sai Baba temple comes out happy and optimistic. Any premises that he resides in drapes a net of calm. He has the capacity to instill patience and tolerance towards each other. Sai Baba is not about extreme religion or overt devotion. He stands for faith. Faith in one self and faith in the super power to guide us. But moreso faith in one self that we can achieve what we have set out to. People from every religious beliefs are welcomed here.
Some people call him Sathya Sai Baba or Shirdi Sai Baba to distinguish him from the Sai Baba at Puttaparthi. But I only know him as my Sai Baba. He is the one along with Ganesha that have an instant recall for. He has always been there for me.


What not to wear

It was in a hotel room at a foreign location, one cold lonely night, that I understood that I was a complete fashion failure. Yes it was in the month of March with the snow raging outside that I stumbled upon this fact of life when I watched for the first time What not to wear on a channel called TLC in Montreal to which I was addicted, the channel I meant. I discovered that t-shirts and jeans are worn by dorks and flat heeled footwear are worn by….well not worn in fashionable or half the claim circles. These being the staple of my wardrobe I was left feeling ashamed of myself at the end of every single show.
On this show the victim (who is ‘volunteered’ by friends and foe alike because they suddenly realize that they cannot live/work/remain with a dowdy lady anymore) is given 5000 dollars, loads of abuses at current dress sense and a lot of fashion advice and sent out into the big sinful world of shopping to choose her new wardrobe. And ofcourse one cannot run to the nearest flea market or garage sale to dish out new variety and also save some moolah but have to go to the super duper expensive branded shops of New York and spend the entire five grand. And yes like all fairy tales there is a midnight hour even in this one where the victim participant has to bring every last suitcase load of her clothes and watch with tears at all of that goes directly into a trash bin with the hosts (fashion experts) making fun of each piece of garment.
There were visible transformations on every show. T-shirts and jeans transformed into skirts and frocks and tops. Turtlenecks give way to plunging depths. This was the definition of fashion. The fit became the buzzword.
But, I love this show. For all the embarrassment and humiliation the victim faces she comes out tops at the end with 4 fancy dresses, a new hairdo and a makeover in exchange for 40 dresses and grubby looks that she had painstakingly aquired over the years.
I learnt a lot about what kind of cut in clothes suit what kind of body shapes. The only thing am yet to figure out is what kind of a body shape template I fit into. As soon as I get done with that am on the fashion superhighway folks!
My mom always says “Dressing is an art”. And I have always had an aspiration to become perfect in that art. Enroute to fulfilling this desire I discovered accessories and eye liner. I have become adept at picking the jeans that fit me albeit a little loose to give enough room for errr.. changes. I have also discovered colors. And some that suit me. I experiment with different tailors to bestow on me the chic look. I am always waiting for the moment which would magically transform me into a bright eyed, twinkle toed beautiful girl.
Sadly I have also discovered my slouch which makes any dress that I wear look like a sack hung over me. I have a bad hair day everyday except on holidays and that only because I don’t bother to even comb it with the intention of staying put at home. Most times I am asked to go and take bath ten minutes after a refreshing shower. So much for eyeliners! I even tried bullying T to nominate me for this show while we were in Montreal.
To my brazen dismay I have recently discovered that T has a fantastic sense of what I should wear better than me! And to my disbelief his choice compliments me very well! Oh well, one doesn’t have to be perfect in everything. One should only know whom to approach for help.

P.S:- There is a similar series in UK which gets aired in India also and its pathetic compared to its North American counterpart. The hosts are overtly unabashed and the participants have to get into a mirrored cubicle with their bare minimum and withstand the stares and pointed remarks they get from the fashion experts. Ugh! I cant imagine how they can go through with something thats so disgusting. And if you ask my opinion their fashion tips are ludicrous. They transform the ladies from pants to skirts with the same dowdy look.


What kind of movie is my Life?

The Movie Of Your Life Is An Indie Flick

You do things your own way - and it's made for colorful times.
Your life hasn't turned out how anyone expected, thank goodness!

Your best movie matches: Clerks, Garden State, Napoleon Dynamite


Theaters need a cleanliness drive

I watched Mungaru Male before all the hype got washed away by our raging monsoon rains in Bangalore. The cinematography in the movie is simply breathtaking. The shots of Jog falls from directly above the plunging fall is stunning. I felt scared when the heroine bends down near the edge of the cliff from where the falls start and the camera pans and cranes down to show the beautiful falls in all its glory from the top!

However this post is not about the movie but about the hall.

After arriving at the theater we waited around for the movie hall to open its door and devour us. In the meanwhile we debated quite a bit whether just a drink would suffice or we needed to buy something to eat as well. All of us were hungry and the prices expensive at the theater food counter. These days we have stopped buying anything at the swank multiplexes because it feels such a shame to pay Rs.40 for a small load of popcorn or Rs.20 for a small glass of coke. We finally decided to share drinks and popcorn and went up to buy it. While we were standing waiting for the guy to serve us, we saw a friendly little neighbourhood insect running happily in between all the goodies on the counter. We were aghast and informed the guy manning the counter. And all he did was give us a shy smile and simply whacked the insect to oblivion. But the incident left its mark on me and I may never buy food at any theater again. Ok thats too much. Let me rephrase it. I might not buy any unpacked food at a theater again. Movie halls should take a cleanliness check. They dont want to entertain us with food poisoning do they?

Just so all Bangaloreans know - this was at PVR Cinemas and it was a cockroach.


I get a new dress yet again

She did it!! I told you she would do it! I knew she dint like my pink dress at all. She was just waiting for an opportunity to change it. Now I have a nice shade of pristine white. I like it but I hate it that she decides everything! She took this new fashionable look of mine from Gecko & Fly. Its called the K2 blogger template . Its nice in a minimalistic sort of way and I do so like the links on top instead of all of them on my side bar. Now I can stretch my arms and fly :). It also has a wordpressy feel about it. And looks a little organised and less cluttered. Now I can eat my food for thought in suave peace.

Psst Siri also wants to thank the Gecko & Fly team immensely.
She is working on making links meaningful and VISIBLE. So please bear with the slow-poke. If in the process she discovers that she is a dud at it then she might change my dress again. Sigh!


Alisha Wonderland

If there is only one person who entertains on the Indian Idol show it is....No not Anu Malik but the bimbette judge. Let the original baby doll please stand up. Presenting to you single reader Alisha in wonderland Chinai. The super duper blooper of the show. I am not sure she understands what exactly is required of an Indian Idol singer. For that matter neither do I and another few thousands of viewers. Is it the singing talent that is being showcased or their tingling performance? Am not sure. I as a viewer am left thoroughly confused because of the judges' comments as well. When a song falls flat on a normal listener's ears it receives a tremendous thumbs up from the connoisseurs on the jury. When a singer gets a popular response from the studio crowd, the judges feel that it was a bummer. But all the seriousness aside, I watch this show only for one reason - the stupefied face of Alisha Wonderland. Her face inadvertently mirrors her feelings, or does it? Everytime she listens to someone singing very well she has this constipated look on her face, I cant fathom why. Jealousy maybe? Everytime a particularly guy (who proposed on this show to another competitor) sings a deep chink appears on her cheeks as she blushes away her overwhelming sighs and presents her verdict. Its fun to watch I tell you. The gamut of emotional juggernauts that she presents is unique. It lighs up the otherwise dull show. She could even put a bulb above her Marge Simpsonique hairdo which could light up the entire set! I wonder how many hair extensions she needs to remove before going to bed every night. So yesterday, on the show, the lady was extremely happy with some performances and she obviously wanted to express herself and these were the two masterpieces :
You blew it!
You smoked it!
I can imagine the poor old thing’s fiery distress when someone eventually points it out


All I want to say is that, they don't really care about us!

Have you heard anything which sounds like a cross between a train whistle and a crying dog? No? Listen to Himesh Reshammiya's Mehbooba song from his movie Aap Ka Surroor (Not even surrre how many Rs are in there). One guarantees that it will jolt you out of constipation. What he has decided to do with this song is abysmmal. There is a recital (yes!) of the lyrics by a rather sad and tired sounding Asha Bhonsle interlaced with this crying sound (when did HR practice with the canine populace I wonder) and yet there was enough scope to add in a sub plot into the song with a gruffy voice putting in his two cents rapper style. Punk! Sheesh! What amazes me is the frequency at which this song is aired on the radio channels here. I hear it in the mornings while going to work and on the way back. Plus there is this other song which eats my brains out. This is the title track of the movie Jhoom Barabar Jhoom. The title looks like it was plagiarised from Bobby Deol's barber. This song (like the other songs) in this movie are full of words from a language a regular person wouldnt know in Bangalore. Know your audience radio people! You are airing it in Bangalore, South India. Here the max people can manage to learn and understand is Hindi. How on earth would we know what a "guthiyan" or what a "lad gaye penche" refers to. I had to go to a lyrics site and then copy paste the words here else I was thinking the first line was something like "aaja rabba ishq di golguthiyan"! You getting the drift? I dont even know where I am heading to with this post. Sorry, I just needed a rant. I do enjoy other songs which are half punjabi but which makes for an enjoyable listening experience like the ones from RDB. I cant take it with all. I think radio channels need a reality check on what we want to listen to. Maybe a poll would be a good idea. I cannot go through another bout of hysteria listening to all crappy songs . Set a limit as to how many times a bad (deemed bad by poll) track needs to be aired irrespective of the listener requests. Puhleese there are so many of us who can do without these to spoil our moods.

Clamor to Fame

You know about all those doey eyed dreams about publishing one's piece in a newspaper? Most of the kids (in my school days there was no blog) who were anywhere close to atleast a plagiarist aspired to become famous through the only means known to kid-kind - the newspaper's children section. I used to read a paper called the Deccan Herald during school days and every sunday there used to be a children's special aptly titled "Open Sesame". I used to pore over all the things other kids would write in it and secretely felt sorry for myself that I could never publish any article. Publicly it was a different story in which I always claimed that I could write better than all those stupid kids who wrote about bread and jam as their claim to fame. I, on the other hand wrote about more mature stuff like life and skies. Why I could never publish was not because I was not good (oh yeah I was the best) but because of lack of guts. I always feared rejection. Add to this some gossip one would hear about how an aunt's neighbour's cousin had become a regular article writer, and one's stomach would churn with jealousy and heart would mourn the lack of courage. At long last I made an attempt of crossing that line which separates the have-trieds and never-have-trieds and sent a poem I had written to Times of India newspaper.
What? You still expect me to continue and write the whole sob story? For the curious ones I still have the copy of the mail I sent to Times of India and the mail of rejection I recieved from them. Oh wait I never got a response from them even! How cheap I say! They dint realise that they thwarted an ambitious writer entirely. They not only snuffed out the flame burning within the heart of a great poet-to-be but also removed the wick!
I did not stop writing. I wrote but with a lot of bitterness. Those were the dark ages of my writings. Blah blah and blah later I started writing online. I created my own web page on Geocities (accessing that now will give one a message stating "Sorry, the page you requested was not found.") . I uploaded all my articles on that and continued to create new ones there. But there was not many people reading it. I can safely count on one hand, the people who used to read it. I discovered blogging quite by accident. But once I was aware I was hooked to it. I wrote and wrote (ok am exaggerating a bit) and did not care if I saw a pathetic "0 comments" at the tail end of every post. I strived, I persevered and finally I got some good souls visiting my blog and some even better souls leaving their comments for my posts. At long last (actually day before yesterday) I got a mail from a person with the Bangalore Mirror newspaper asking if I would mind one of my post's being published in his newspaper. I nearly fell off the seat when I saw the mail. I quickly sent back a reply affirming my "No Problem", the quickness of which he was good enough to notice ;). And lo behold yesterday's Bangalore Mirror's Blog Talk had MY post in it! Mine!! Yeah all mine!!
While I gloat some more at not being a Loser after all you take a look at the pciture version of that article. Ofcourse you cant read it from the picture but you can read the post

Now is it a coincidence that Bangalore Mirror is a daily publication belonging to Times of India? Hee haw haw haw haw