Sunday, August 16, 2009

Moving on to the next phase

Marathon = over;
Physical activity = Must be Kept (still true);
Need = Goal;
Otherwise = Sad state of sedentary lifestyle;
Activity = Pleasurable, worth the time, in my bucket list;
Ergo, Goal = Hike Kilimanjaro;
Time line = will keep you posted (moved from Summer 2010 to indefinitely due to the knee surgery I have to undergo in Spring 2010).
Training = Weekly hikes to mission peak;
Times completed since training started = 2;
Total times completed = 23 (Actually 24 now but that aint much)
If you wanna join me = Welcome.

Peace,
sai

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Marathon training

I am training with TNT to participate in the Seattle Marathon in June 2009. Until that is over, I am blogging my tryst with marathon at http://saismarathon.blogspot.com/

This is also a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. For more details about LLS and on how to contribute for the cause, please visit http://pages.teamintraining.org/sj/rnrseatl09/sgopalakrishnan

Peace,
sai.

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

What a joy! what a bliss!!

Shivani is now 9 weeks old, weighs 11 lbs and measures 23 inches. Hard to imagine that this little bundle is a source of infinite joy.

If we let her, she sleeps for 8 hours in the night.. So, we are not awake on her account. Nevertheless, the silly work makes me still burn midnight oil.. Hopefully, I can get the EC for my project done by end of January and then abscond for a couple of weeks!
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Getting ready for a new chapter

The ETA for Shivani was 11/6 and she has kept us waiting till now. I guess she will make a good Indian politician. Keeping the audience waiting and making a grand appearance are important part of managing image for these statesmen.

It seems like November is a busy season for the labor and delivery. We had an appointment at El Camino hospital at 8PM for 11/11 but when we called in to confirm our arrival, we came to know that they were 'running behind' :-) But we will be starting in another hour or so. That brings me to the end of a chapter in my life.

From my previous experiences with these end of a chapter things, 2 things helped me transition well. They are 1) Having no expectations 2) Taking 1 day at a time. I am planning to go with the winning formula this time around as well. Will keep you posted

Peace,
sai.

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At 11:52 PM, Blogger Pradnya said...

SaiG, Priya, I am eagerly looking forward to visiting you guys and meeting Shivani. Best wishes.

 

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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Top 5 reasons to have an offspring!

I am having one of those insomniac nights and uncharacteristically, I am at my cynical best.. So here goes.. "The top 5 reasons for having a kid" in no particular order
  • Acquiring, retaining and exploiting the moral high ground
Let's say you get into an argument involving social issues and repercussions of some social policies . For instance, think about these following questions "Should the government send more troop to Iraq?", "Should candies be sold in school canteens?", "Is global warming real?". You can spend all day long preparing cogent and the most rational arguments based on scientific evidences like that freakanomics guy (Oh my god.. imagine sharing a dorm room with that geek!). All your preparations can be tossed aside if you answer the following question in the "nay" - "Do you have any kids?". In many of the roadside arguments (presidential debates inclusive), moral high ground is automatically bestowed if, say, you can anecdotally refer that your kid stuffed himself with candies and ended up running a temperature of 99.1 and hence candies should not be allowed in schools!

  • Your career is going no where and you need an excuse for rationalizing your incapacity to climb the corporate ladder
If your corporate experience starts feeling more like a stairmaster than a ladder, you need someone to attribute that to. You can complain about the 'politics' going on in the big bureaucratic company, you can complain about some of the questionable 'policies' of not promoting people of your background (such as wearing red trousers and yellowish orange shirt to work). But it all sounds noble and better if you can tell that you are 'sacrificing' your career because you are focusing on the more important facets of life (getting hated by your kid for following him everywhere)
  • A ticket to excusing yourselves from any unpalatable gatherings - for life!
This may be one of the best reasons for having a kid. Say you are socially awkward and you want to avoid every social gathering to the best of your capacity. An even more apt example. Say your brother-in-law (insert any other pretends-to-know-all, ignorant fool, kill joy, totally obnoxious loser epitomized by the aforementioned relation) invites you over to his place for thanksgiving. What is your best excuse as of today? "Busy at Work?", "I am afraid of flying?", "I am not feeling well?" See how it sounds.. It is all about you.. pretty selfish. Now try, "My kid's preschool will be affected by the travel" (or) "we are trying for a 100% attendance record in his day care"... How does that sound.. totally benevolent! Cant beat it.. There is no come back for that..
  • An avenue for harnessing the talents which you never had
Say you dont have any talent for language.. You can hardly put words together in half a language.. But you have seen James Bon, Tom &Jerry for that matter, adeptly conversing in multiple languages without skipping a beat. Or music.. you are not only tone deaf but cant hold any instrument for good.. Or for that matter math, physics, sciences.. Now you have an avenue to actually stuffing all this on an uninterested mind.. And what more.. you can rant about how your parents were stupid and never supported you in exploring your passion (which is non-existent in the first place but you dont have to tell that) and how you are providing the opportunity for the kid and why he should show his sense of gratitude towards you
  • A safe front for expressing your skepticism
If I do not have a kid and I write like this, I am a cynical loser.. But with a kid, I am one with a great sense of self-deprecating humor! I will take it any day !

Peace man!
sai.

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At 1:21 AM, Blogger Pradnya said...

Forgot to post a comment on this one. Awesome read. Absolutely hilarious! Now you do have the all-time excuse for everything, including blogposts like these :-)

Enjoy!
-Pradnya

 

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

It's all over !!


We turned in our capstone paper on March 12th and that marked the end of a chapter in my life. Considering that I never would go to school again for learning, I might as well italicize this experience as the end of an episode. It was an experience as grueling as a strenuous day hike - rewarding but tiring nonetheless. To mark the end of this long voyage (3years for some, as long as 5 years for others), we named our Capstone team 'The Odyssey'. Everyone in my team has a different story, but it has the same underlying theme of hard work, sacrifice and managing time. While all the previous quarters were challenging, the final quarter was especially hard. If you have any friends from SCU, talk to them about Tammy Madsen's Capstone and they will go on and on like an energizer bunny. We spent 30 hours a week outside the class for this one course. That's like another job!

Whenever I thought I was getting the wrong end of the stick, I looked at my team mates, who were managing their MBA along with not just work but with kids, for inspiration. I bowed in their general direction, stopped whining and got back to working on the project. Being the ultimate procrastinator, I never finish any of my assignments unless I can smell the stench and feel the chill of the looming deadline. But I had the good fortune of working with an amazing team full of energy and focus. We pushed, taunted and challenged each other into completing a "close to turnin quality work" 10 days before the deadline. By the time we submitted the final paper, it had gone through almost a dozen revisions. I don't recollect any instance where I had time for more than 1 review before turning in the damn thing. Thanks to you 'Team Odyssey'.

So, what next? This is a very personal question and if you ask a dozen of my class mates, you will get a dozen answers. The implicit connotation to this harmless question is malicious indeed. The world expects an MBA to succeed dramatically and become a CEO of a Fortune 500 company over night (or) it expects him to fail dramatically and end up in a low security cell for committing some white collar crime. Rarely does either of these scenarios occur. But one thing is sure. The MBA changed me, my perception, perspective and aspirations, forever - mostly for good. Though the curse of the MBA - never feeling content and always thinking about what next, looms large, I am looking forward to setting higher career goals and achieving those aspirations in future.

That said, most of my focus in the next 12 - 18 months will be on the personal front. I have to get myself back in shape, get back in touch with friends, do the things I wanted to do but never have gotten time to do and get my personal life in order. My main objective is to fill the 30+ hours of free time a week with activities towards achieving the goals I've set for myself (some of them outlined in my previous blogs).

Right now, I am looking forward for the week long trip to Utah to decompress and to marvel at nature's splendor at Zion, Bryce and the arches national parks. The travelogues to follow.

Later,
Sai.


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Friday, January 25, 2008

Happiness !

Of late, I am trying to nail down an answer to the inflation adjusted million dollar question - "What makes me happy and what should I do to achieve and maintain the state of happiness"? I came across numerous articles from 'life coaches' to the modern day 'gurus'. 90% of the material I came across had lesser value than the nutritional value in deep fried Twinkies. The rest of the decent sociological researchers get a bad rap because of these phony gurus (Deepak Chopra anyone ?)

Out of the remaining ones, I extracted the following crucial information on happiness that resonated with my feelings.

Long range Happiness is a state of mind and is rarely altered by the context. Yes, we are happier if we get a promotion (or) get a salary hike. But after 60 days (mileage varies), we just get back to our natural level of happiness (or lack thereof). There may be lots of reasons for this. But they are all variations of the 3 basic reasons
  • Hedonic Treadmill - You wish you'd $1000 more per month for a little bit more comfortable life. You get a $12000 hike, you spend all on home re-modelling. There are problems with re-modelling. You need some repair and you are worse off than you were before you got the hike. The premise is that your 'basic' needs increase to consume the extra loot.
  • Endless comparison - You joined your corporation as an entry level programmer along with 10 of your classmates. You were the star, stood out from the rest of the pack, were diligent, didn't mind burning the midnight oil and your management recognized that and promoted you. You feel good, again for a short time only to recognize that your peer group is no longer the 10 class mates you left behind in dust but a whole bunch of new peer group where the competition is more aggressive. Now you know why the Peter's principle - that everyone rises to the level of one's incompetence, is almost axiomatic.
  • You handled money in a way that it brings more problems than happiness: In the landmark movie 'Ab Thak Chapan', Nana Patekar gives an oration on the difference between 'strength' and the 'nuisance value' in his characteristic dead pan style. I will leave it as an exercise to the reader to watch the movie and savor Nana's delivery. This scenario is usually encountered by guys who inherit a windfall - which brings all the unnecessary attention, unnecessary friends, unnecessary habits, unnecessary stereotypical and publicized failures.
So, what can we learn? The lesson is neither intuitive (more money more happiness) nor a cliche (money does not bring happiness). The truth - as always, is somewhere in between the two simplistic extremes.

Money does bring in happiness, but only when it is spent to acquire 'experiences' not 'possessions'. This was the point that hit me on the spot. When I spend the money on a 2 week outdoor camping trip, to learn to play a game better, to acquire new skills, to watch an astounding movie (Go Coen!), to acquire a Teaching Company of America DVD, it just feels right. And at the end of it, if I do it right, carry it all the way through, I come out as a more enriched person. On the other hand, if I spend the money on _Fill_the_name_of_a_possession_, I am just the same dumbass with one more possession.

So, what's my take? I value life. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate the opportunity to walk on this Earth at a time where a RTW ticket is within the reach of a college hobo and more than 75% of the world is living in relative peace. I don't know what I was before I was born, neither do I know what the heck awaits me at pearly gates. What I know for sure is that Here and Now is real.

Looking back, if there is one topic that naturally intrigued me when I was a child, it was the literature on lands that are foreign to my immediate surroundings. There was a mystic aura when I read about the glaciers in Patagonia, curiosity when I read about the island continent of Australia and how the provinces where neatly drawn with a ruler, the vicarious pleasure I experienced when I read about the train from Vladiovastak to St. Petersburg and the inexplicable reverence when I watched the documentary on Leshan Buddha. I didn't do good in the classwork on Geography. But that subject remained as a topic that made the most sense to me. It still remains. As Mark Twain said, "you learn things not because of school but in spite of school". School is a devil's parade ground where parents send their kids in a masochistic fervor to numb their feelings. I am lucky that I survived the ordeal and most of my feelings are still intact. While my health is good and my brain is functioning, I will take a round the world trip for an year or more without bothering about the continuity of my employment.

That, in essence, is where my happiness lie.

Truly,
Sai.

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1 Comments:

At 12:44 PM, Blogger Gaurav said...

Are you serious? Are you planning a RTW trip or just saying that that is what will make you happy.

:)

While I agree that your happiness as it relates to money, lies somewhere in between "more money more happiness" and "money doesn't bring more happiness", there is always more to happiness than how you can get it with respect to money.

There is also the feeling of how much you have achieved, whether other people respect you for what you are, whether your children/family members respect you and whether your existence in this world has meant something for you and others, and how much.

Then there are pleasures related to your senses.

Then there is knowledge about various things in this world.

You see where I am going?

 

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Management insight !

This is a verbatim quote of what Shareholder activist Carl Icahn mentioned in the 'Avenue' magazine:

"I have my anti-darwinian metaphor: The CEO is the fraternity brother type who is great to have a drink with. He's a survivor and maybe not all that smart, but he works his way up the ladder in the corporation. And if you are a survivor you never have someone beneath you who is smarter than you. So you eventually work your way to CEO. You have someone a little dumber than you underneath, and eventually we will have morons running everything.. which we are getting closer to."

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Back from the Aggieland!

I was in College Station - Home of the Aggies, XII man, fighting Texas A&M football team and home to million other sobriquets, last weekend for university recruitment. It is 6 years since I had been to Texas A&M University. So, I was looking forward to visiting all our favorite hangouts, to meeting my Professors and my colleagues. More importantly I was preparing to eat the hell outta Freebirds Burrito! For the uninitiated, "Beat the Hell outta _fill_your_university_here_" is the official slogan for all the Football games in which TAMU partake. This slogan is displayed in any and every LED scroller all over the campus. Freebirds is a burrito shop that twisted this slogan shrewdly in their commercials. You wouldn't have a burrito like Freebirds burrito anywhere else on the planet - I guarantee :)


I flew into Houston and drove from there to College Station. I forgot about the toll in the Sam Houston Beltway. I got only 20 dollar bills and the toll was just a dollar twenty-five. I practised my sorry face and mentioned to the toll collector about the fact that I dont have change. "No problem", the toll collector said and while he patiently counted the eighteen dollars and seventy five cents change to give back to me, I tried reading the name from his name tag to thank him. The name was hidden under his collar and so I asked him what his name was. "Saym sir! Like Haym with green yeggs! Not that I particularly like green yeggs.. but the name is Saym". I thanked Sam profusely and drove on. Used to paying the highway thieves in the Bay area close to $3 a gallon, I was so glad to see $1.90 a gallon in the pumps. It is good to live in the land of the President. There were banners on the highway advertising 4000 square feet homes from the lower $200 thousands. Hmmm.. Man!!!

I wandered through the campus taking snapshots of all the off campus residences. Lot of memories rushed towards me. The road I used to walk - in winter, in rain and in simmering summer, Nagle Street, still looked the same - with the potholes and all. I drove all the way till the only desi store in town - Aggie Kwik. The cigarettes, cheap liquors and the books of questionable reputation were all in the same place as they were 6 years back. Surely change is not the only constant in this hamlet :). Northgate - the downtown College Station, is always mired in controversy. While this is a neat little place where students congregate to hang out and quench their thirst at places like Fitzwilly's, "Hole in the wall" and more, there is always a stigma associated with Northgate. This is where the international students get beaten up - with bare hands and beer bottles. That situation hasn't changed either. I talked with the current students and they mentioned that a couple of similar incidents of that nature happened in the previous semester. I also felt stupid seeing the Northgate Parking garage. When I was in college, we held the placards and walked in protest against constructing the garage in the 'historical' Northgate area and the garage now made a mockery of our attempts :)

I visited the memorial constructed for the 12 Aggies fell during the Bonfire of 1999. I was in school when the incident happened and I lived through the sad days in TAMU. 12 doors are erected in the general direction of the young mens' home towns. There are several other thoughtful motifs in the memorial as well. From there, I visited my Professors and the office where I used to work. The familiar smell in the Blocker Building - a combination of roasted coffee beans, the stuffiness of old upholstery and the various cleaning chemicals, triggered a wave of nostalgia. Then, I enjoyed the sunset @ Lake Sommerville. Ofcourse, it would have been much more pleasant to enjoy the sunset with friends. But, I surely would take this next best thing.

The whole of Tuesday was spent on interviews and I rushed to Houston airport after the interviews were over. While doing the 2 legged 8 hour flight back to San Jose, I can't help but feel that I am leaving a part of me back at good Ole' Aggieland. Good bye TAMU, Good bye College Station.

Signing off,
Sai

ps. For the slideshow of my TAMU trip, please visit my picasa web album.

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2 Comments:

At 8:58 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Great you enjoyed your nostalgia.

 
At 2:55 AM, Anonymous Krish said...

when r u going to take me there?

 

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Sunday, October 08, 2006

ZMM - Confusing people since 1957


I tried reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance during my weeklong vacation to visit family. It started good - there was philosophy, pathos and road trip. I even got inspired to get my own cycle because I am a road trip junkie and a wanderlust. But boy-o-boy did the author lose it or what? What the heck does he mean by 'Quality'? I thought it would just go away after a couple of pages. Little did I know that the main theme was 'Quality'! I would extend an invitation to the author to visit a software firm to understand what quality is. The word itself is very pejorative in the world of fast paced technology. "I am working in quality", is translated to "I am the one who work with the auditors and make Engineers' life more miserable". Thankfully I carried another book - "The monk and the riddle", a venture capitalist account of a start-up business plan. That book was well written and the crux or core of the book was well supported by an interesting context. In ZMM, I liked the context - the roadtrip and the cabin near Yellowstone National Park but the core was amazingly convoluted and went no where. I also despised the author for dismissing one of the finest national parks in the world as some place where he did not find anything to do. Sorry, Mr. Pirsig, Your book aint for me. You neither understand Zen nor motorcycle maintenance.

So Long,
sai

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At 1:23 AM, Anonymous Kovai said...

"I am working in quality", is translated to "I am the one who work with the auditors and make Engineers' life more miserable"

I respectfully beg to differ! I work in quality.

There are good engineers and bad engineers. Please don't tar "quality" just because you came across a few bad guys.

Yes, I *do* make other engineer's life miserable... only when the other engineers in question happen to write bad code!

One could look at it this way as well - if the dev folks designed well and wrote good code, they wouldn't get bugged by the quality folks :)

 

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Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Controversy on stick people

Officials at Pine Tree Elementary School in Monroe, New York say a hand-out of male and female stick figures in sexual positions spelling the alphabet was a mistake. A spelling curriculum was handed out with the acrobatic and suggestive figures. "The school received several calls of concern from parents who read it when they got home", the Middletown Times Herald-Record reported Tuesday.

Parents were assured the students had not seen the curriculum, and letters were sent out explaining the teacher who used the font "did not do so intentionally or maliciously," the report said.

Stick people are around us forever. For instance, this is how you spell YMCA with stick people - \o/ |o| /o_ /o\

But as far as the racy alphabets go, my heart is with the concerned parents. How dare the school institution try to pollute our children's minds? In order to show my solidarity with the parents, I have created the following banner for the concerned parents. Please feel free to use this in your demonstrations!












Rgds
Sai

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4 Comments:

At 3:37 PM, Blogger Priya said...

Ok, Does Tidnina have access to your blog? Hope he does not...

 
At 6:52 PM, Blogger Gaurav said...

What? Where is the banner?

 
At 8:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, now I see them.

 
At 8:34 PM, Blogger Gaurav said...

The stick people were not visible earlier.

 

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Sweet revenge of the wanderlust

Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound people with their hearts in a safe deposit box and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: you will outlive the bastards.

- Edward Abbey

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At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good one, Machi!!!
i thought you were at a meeting that time ;)

Priya

 

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Thursday, September 07, 2006

Operation Efficient Breathing!


I am at home now enjoying Priya's pampering following the Septum correction surgery (and for the millionth time this is not nose job!) I underwent this morning. I was under General Anesthesia and didn't feel a thing. I saw no tunnel, no light, no rushing of all my past events. GA is a total anti-climax. When I entered the theater, my Doctor (Dr. Patrick Fann, Otolaryngologist), the anesthesiologist and some one else were elaborately discussing about where to hold a birthday event for one of their kids. My surgery was more like an express Oil Change for them - I guess :)The nurse patched something in my body (Giggle...Oooh...Tingly!) and that was the last thing I remembered and then I woke up to a beautifully etched glass on the ceiling (No! I didn't ask "Where am I? How did I get here?")

Priya drove me back and I was still under the influence. I didn't feel any pain and I enjoyed the traffic in 101-S under a hazy consciousness. Is this how you feel when you DUI? Scary! When the influence started disappearing, I felt a mild discomfort. Kind of nose blockage under a very bad cold. The stents inside the nose started feeling funny. If you want to feel the same, take a plastic wire and insert into your nose ;) I hope this won't start me sneezing when the pain killers' effect disappear. I can't afford to experience the simple satisfaction of sneezing for a week!

I discovered one more interesting fact. If you don't like the groginess associated with the pain killers, try chocolate bars. Dont bite but treat the chocolates with respect as the Hershey bar advertisement says. I found that a 5-star chocolate bar, 4-5 Petit Beurre chocolate biscuits and an ice cream reduced my pain and I feel alive as well. I am sure my Physician - who has put me on Cholesterol watch, wont think of that kindly but it really worked for me.

Dr. Patrick Fann of the Camino medical group was awarded The Best Otolaryngologist of Silicon Valley and the award proudly adorns his consulting room at the Camino Medical group hospital. I couldn't agree more. The websites which talk about septum plasty and septum correction mentioned about constant bleeding soaking the swabs every hour. But for me, So far, the bleeding is very minimal. I have only the discomfort of stuffy nose and minimal pain (touch wood). All the inhaling through my mouth has given me sore throat. Apart from that, I am doing pretty good on the first day.

Priya is exteremely wonderful and is taking good care of me. I am entertaining her with my non-stop unintelligible gibberish and miscallaneous blabbering - which I am prone to do when I have cold or fever. I am avoiding any sound that has a nasal tone (m, ng etc.,). I am going to read some books, organize some photographs (long pending) and do a lot of introspection in the next couple of days before I get back to work.

So long,
sai.

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5 Comments:

At 12:13 AM, Blogger Gaurav said...

So what is this nose job for? Also, I totally remembered my experience with GA when I was operated for the kidney stone. They said, take a deep breath and I did and the next thing I remember was waking up in the recovery room with bunch of other patients waiting for the effect of GA to subside. Can we come to see how you are doing? I promise I won't get too much pepper.

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger Pya said...

NOSE JOB! NOSE JOB! NOSE JOB!

(Even the doctor's profile online is Facial Plastic Surgery...)

NOSE JOB!

 
At 4:17 PM, Blogger Sai G said...

For Pya's comments:

:> :> The enemy within the family!

Sai

 
At 11:11 PM, Blogger Kedar said...

Sai,

The doctor has done a great Nose Job. You did choose the best Nose Job specialist ;).

 
At 11:56 PM, Blogger Mehrabaneman said...

Hi,
I have consulted Dr. Fan and I was searching on line and I came acros your blog. Are you happy with his wok?
Thank you.

 

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Saturday, September 02, 2006

Boston Trip - Eventful but Pleasant

The original title for this blog entry was "Will missed baggage and crashed laptop spoil what-was supposed-to-be-a pleasant R&R trip?" Prudence prevailed and I changed the title. But to the original question posed, the answer is, "a resounding NO!, if you are surrounded by good company, good food and a kid whose energy is highly contagious." That is our Boston trip - in a nutshell.

We took a week off and visited families (plural) in the last week of August. Priya's 2nd nephew (Sujatha/Uday's 2nd son) was born in July and a trip to Boston was in the offing. We waited for my Summer quarter exams to end and we started the Friday following the exams. Since there was a carry-on restriction for liquids and Gels, we had to check in a luggage (Read: Priya's cosmetics;)). We had a layover in Dallas and I had the hunch that for the first time in my flight travel history, the checkins are going to be messed up. That hunch turned out to be true. The 'Meet the Parents' debacle was precluded because Priya had the thoughtfulness to pack our carry on with all the unmentionables and the works. We did not receive our checkins on the next day as well and the American Airlines 'up-to-the-minute' status on baggage situtation kept repeating the same status - "Your baggage was scheduled to be picked up at 3:00PM on Saturday", endlessly.

I also had carried some work with me to be completed over the weekend. My laptop started behaving funnily and crashed in a moment. No blue screen - nothing. Just black screen. Priya helped me out with setting up a web-ex conference with my colleague's machine. That worked but was painfully slow. Thankfully the assignment got transferred to one of my teammates with the help of my managers. I had a feeling that this vacation is not starting very well. I wanted to have a good rest and relaxation trip with my nephews and instead I am spending countless minutes brooding infront of this screen which is mocking at me. I took an oath that I will never ever count on finishing tasks by logging in remotely. It seemed to me that Murphy's law was more powerful than all the technological accomplishments of 21st Century. But once my manager helped me to reassign the task, I got a relief and put the bitter experience with my ugly black laptop behind me.

On Sunday morning, the same message was replayed on the American Airlines baggage system.We decided to take things into our hand instead of waiting for the baggage to arrive and Uday drove me to the airport. The missed baggages alley was not unlike a refugee camp minus the refugees. The chaos that prevailed there would have beaten hands down, the situation in Indian Railway Stations. There was one guy with one trolley who was doing the unenviable task of clearing out these baggages. Looking for our baggage, I annoyed him with my impudence of disturbing his carefully arranged trolley. There was a baggage which looked exactly like ours and I took it out of the trolley only to notice that it was not ours. He vented out all his frustrations on me (Red Sox just got creamed last night by the Yankees, he had to clear all the baggages in a non-conducive weather and a Brown guy is messing with all his bags this morning - that was his last straw).

At the end of whatt seemed to me an endless barrage of expletives, he screamed, "Where the f*** are your baggages destined?". I tamely answered, "Boylston, MA". Those magical words put a smile on his stern countenance. "That changes everything", he said. "I think I have only one baggage in my office destined to Boylston; if you can follow me to my office, I will verify if it is yours". I wanted to seal the deal. "So if I understand it correctly, my picking up the baggage from your office will obviate a 50 miles trip for you", I slipped in a reflexive question his way (Thanks, Prof. Corio). He demurred but eventually conceded. "Man, Don't get me wrong; This f***ing airlines guys are morons and they cannot handle the increase in check-in volume and I am the one who gets punished because of their incompetence. I was delivering lost baggages non-stop for the past 2 days", he explained his churlish attitude. I seconded his opinion that the airlines guys were morons. With congeniality established, I followed him to his office - a thatched broken brick building to be precise. The baggages were strewn all over the place. Some baggages were kept outside in the rain. Inside the building, in a corner, my bag was patiently waiting for its salvation. Had we left the delivery to be done by the pick up service, we would have lived out of our carry-on for the entire duration of our trip. "Normally we pick up 50-75 badly routed baggages per day. Yesterday alone I delivered 500 baggages", mentioned the weary pick-up guy. We thanked him and drove back to Boylston.

After these very eventful 2 days, the trip took a very pleasant turn. On Sunday evening and Tuesday Uday, Priya, Arvind -the elder one, and I took long walks in the nearby park. We talked about all and sundry in these walks. Priya was on a roll and I have never seen her talk so much! We reminisced about our school days, good old friends, not so good old peer pressures, bad old sibling pressures and the pranks we used to pull on fellow students. It was pure fun from Sunday afternoon. Arvind was full of energy. Watching him move like a tornado from hither to thither made me feel tired.

Taran - the younger one, was very silent. He was sleeping most of the time and gets cranky in the night when his tone pops out. Otherwise, he minded his own business (eating, burping, farting and sleeping). Priya had good fun with the 2nd one. Being a male, my bias was more towards things that move, jump, fly and make noise. So, I had fun watching Arvind in action. Uday's parents were there and we had authentic Tambrahm food - Conjeevarom Idli, Aavakka oorugaai, arisi appalam and what not. The very thought of these would make my mouth water at any time.

What started as a disaster evolved in to a very delectable trip and closed with a lot of heavy hearts as all good things have to come to an end. Uday drove one last time to the BOS airport to see us off. We bid everyone farewell and headed towards my brothers' in Chicago. Bye bye "Walking City".. Hello "Windy City".

Peace,
Sai.

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Saturday, August 05, 2006

What would I like to do?


People who get stuck in the elevator during black-outs talk about what they would do once they get out of the elevator. Half way through the MBA program, I have a similar feeling. On one hand I am learning all good stuff but personally I feel like I have lost a part of me - the one who is carefree, with the devil-may-care attitude, the one who waits for parents to turn the other way to skedaddle out to spend time with friends playing Cricket.

I was musing what I would do if I am out of MBA. I would suddenly have 14 direct hours and countless indirect hours. How am I going to use these hours? Hopefully I will get back to my Pre-MBA shape before I finish my coursework. I am intending to attend Tennis camp by end of Fall 2006. I would take up Swimming by mid 2007 and make it a life long hobby. After I finish MBA, I also would join a Cricket club to play for simple fun.

After I walk, I will take a couple of weeks off and get my PG-2 certification. If I dont break a limb, I want to go all the way till PG-4. Lot of money and time. But hey!, I will be flying above everything. As a quote goes, "To fly a paraglider is to hold God's hand". How can you put a $$ limit for that?

I would get into a language program. Spanish is my favorite. But that is for later. My main aim after MBA is to get out there and explore. I would hike to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro and Mt. Shasta. Once these 2 are accomplished, I will learn rock climbing and take a course in Alpine climbing. Before getting out of the US, I will climb Mt. Denali.

Ok that's about it for now. I will get back to my homework now!

So Long,
Sai.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

States and Countries I have visited


Saw this pretty cool page and I thought of listing the countries and states I have visited. Now, 'visited' is surely a stretch word for passing through the place @ 70 mph or worse having a layover at God forbidden airports ! So, I decided that I would list only those places where I have spent atleast 1 day visiting friends/camping.

When it comes to countries, with that criteria, I ended up with only 2. So, I added Malay and Singapore even though I simply slept through the 12 hours I was in these countries. Hoping to see many more red.

For doing it yourselves, visit here.

Rgds
Sai.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

An ode to "José + 10"


José + 10 is an advert that is run by Adidas during the FIFA world cup soccer 2006 as part of its "Impossible is nothing" campaign. Purely from a marketing mix point of view, we are still long ways from judging the efficacy of this commercial - assuming that we can measure it. But, from a sentimental perspective, this advert has caught the imagination of millions of adults. You can watch this promo at google video. In short, it is about 2 kids who are selecting a dream team to play for them and the moment they selected their hero, he comes to life and joins them in the dusty make-shift soccer field.

The way the emotions were captured were right on spot. Inside every adult there is a latent child. Especially for men, there is a dormant rebellious kid yearning for fufillment of a dream - conceived in childhood, fabricated against the backdrop of his favorite sport. Two kids challenging each other on a lazy afternoon, the seriousness with which the toss is handled, the macho mind games, the larger-than-life authoritarian disposition displayed when dismissing players and bringing the backups from the bench and the million dollar argument on whether it was a 'goal' or not - the producers had nailed the psychic excitement of an afficionado right on the money.

Last but not least, all this drama comes to a premature end when the one adult - his mother in this case, whose decree he cannot veto calls it a day with the death knell, "José!!!!!, Aa Casa!" with no respect or sympathy for the kid's dream. That is an absolutely brilliant end to this already excellent short film. As it happens in real life, when the kid who owns the gear goes home, the game is over. No one resists, calls him name or disparages his mom. An absolute melancholy congeniality prevails and other players empathize with José as this premature end is an unavoidable externality.

Hats off to you Adidas for touching me and the million other individuals at a personal level. Hopefully along the way you also will make some good shoes that I find worthwhile to buy from your outlets :)

Peace out
Sai.

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2 Comments:

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Gaurav said...

The ad also touched my heart because most of the people will probably have already fantasized about playing with the best players in hot summer afternoon. I remember just sitting after playing some games trying to figure out what to play next.

I also like the exchange between the mother and the son. The mother is frustrated or angry due to some reason or for the fact that the kid is not studying..."JOSE!!" the look in Jose's eyes knowing that the game is about to be over and the cautious "Keee" hoping that she will say something except calling him home and the "Aaa Casa" crushing the child's hopes to continue on with the fantasy game. And of course at the end, the guy with the equipment has to take the expensive equipment and the game has to end. There is no question. Back to drab dreary afternoon. Simply amazing ad. I love it.

 
At 11:43 PM, Blogger mihir kulkarni said...

The ad is a perfect 10. perfect in every department.
Searched more on the background music and found this:
http://www.utahsaint.com/?p=201
and then searched on Jim Noir's Eanie Meany and found the actual sound track .... http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/entertainment/music/audioandvideo/s/215/215592_watch_jim_noirs_eanie_meany_and_play_the_game.html

Its cool, enzoi! Soccer Rocks!

 

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Geography bee and a dose of reality!


I watched the 2006 National Geographic's Geography bee contest hosted by Jeopardy! game show host Alex Trebek. I liked this twist to the bee better than the spelling contest. The kids were amazing. A 4th to 8th grade kid has more geography IQ than I have and that's humbling.

After rounds and rounds of elimination, when Bonny Jain from Illinois scribbled 'Cambrian' on his card for the question "Name the mountains that extend across much of Wales from the Irish Sea to the Bristol Channel", he won the $25,000 scholarship prize and the national champion title over the other finalist Neeraj Sirdeshmukh who took home $15,000 in scholarship prize. Alex Trebek was very professional and he did not make any comment on the fact that the top 5 participants were all of Indian origin. Call me ethnocentric - I dont mind. I was as proud as their parents when I saw the top 5. Inspite of the fact that I didn't know the answers to 3/4th of the questions asked, a strong current of euphoria swept over me!

That euphoria lasted but for a few moments until the kids started getting eliminated. While these kids answered stumpers like "The Kikuyu, who led the Mau Mau uprising against the British, are the largest ethnic group in which country in East Africa?" with such poise and ease (Ans. Kenya), 3 of the top 5 made atleast one mistake on simple questions about India. "A religion which is a hybrid of Hinduism and Islam requires that its followers wear head turbans; which religion is this?" was the question and Suneil Iyer responded "Buddhism". Even the hate mongers in Arizona who shot the Sikh cashier at the seven-eleven shop would know the answer now!

"Onge tribe is native to which chain of islands that are part of India but close to Burma" (Ans. Andaman & Nicobar). Yeshwanth - the 3rd place winner blew it up. These kids are brilliant. They might have used focused preparatory materials for sure; but brilliant nevertheless. But it would be a huge mistake to identify them as Indian kids. The similarities cease to exist beyound their names and color of their skins. Apart from these superficial similarities, they are just akin to other highly competitive bee participants who passionately memorize any curios factoid and data without internalizing the passion. Again, call me mean, narrow-minded or provincial - I dont mind. But the euphoria was no more when the competition got over!

Parochially yours,
Sai.

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At 9:35 AM, Blogger Gaurav said...

Absolutly. I don't think they do anything but hold onto the knowledge. They are just short term containers of facts and trivia. The only impressive part is the capacity to hold rather than internalize the knowledge.

 

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Monday, June 19, 2006

End of quarter!


My spring quarter MBA exams got over last week. I have only a week's breathing space before the craziness starts all over in summer. Not much of a splash; but enough time for some retrospection. 1 year spent on finishing the core courses has been really fruitful. When I started MBA, I ne'er thought I had any interest in Finance. A combination of good professors and interesting content made me rethink about my position and I will be doing my concentration in Finance in addition to Marketing and Managing innovation and Technology.

That means, preparing myself to brace for extra time in school. I need to get more organized so that I can have a personal life after school and work. I have forgotten the directions to Gym and have not pursued any activities of my passion such as photography. Paragliding has been relegated to the bottom of my todos list for quite some time now! Ok! that's enough lamenting in one blog entry!

We spent the weekend meeting friends and watching world cup football with them. I am glad that - unlike Olympics, we get a chance to watch football live. Nothing beats the feeling of waking up early to catch a glimpse of the action that is happening exactly at the same moment. The pleasurable inconvenience is part of the whole fun.

We went to the Bayland park to watch airplanes take off and land. Felt like we were kids again. We watched 'Swades' - may be for the 20th time, at Ragu's place. Then, we watched 'The Ring' movie at Kedar's place. The reporter's son creeped me out more than the Ring girl. As Kramer says, the girl is just "a normal, mischievous, rambunctious kid" :). I couldnt help but cogitate the fact that what would have been easily dismissed as 'time-pass' when I was a kid now qualifies as quality time with friends. I like it this way. The older one gets, the simpler life becomes :)

Two weeks to go before we take up the week-long camping trip to Yellowstone. Looking forward to checking out the Big Audacious Hairy Grisly tete-a-tete! I will post the travelogue as usual unless the super volcano blows up when we are there :)

So long,
Sai.
The splash photograph is the work of professor Davidhazy. Many thanks to him for allowing me to include the photograph in my site. You can view his site @ http://www.rit.edu/~andpph

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006

One man's quest for happiness

In today's NPR forum, there was a discussion about 'happiness'. There was a good quote there. Happiness is about 'having something to do, someone to love and something to hope for'. It made a lot of sense at that time and sounded good but can I use it to advance my daily life - I havent still got an answer :)

Darrin McMahon, author of "Happiness: A History.", mentioned that money is not a source of happiness. I have heard this rhetoric earlier in college and other forums. But this author qualified his claim by saying that money is a source of happiness only when you were in abject poverty. Other than that, the effect of extra money will only linger for so long before you reach your original level of happiness and he quoted examples about lottery winners. 5-6 months after they hit the lottery, they are either at the same level of happiness or worse when compared to the level of happines before they got the lottery. I can be a guinea-pig. Does anyone want to do this experiment on me? $10 million is a good start. Call me back in 6 months :))

Yours truly
sai

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At 3:25 PM, Blogger Pya said...

Dude. It's been 3 months. Publish your drafts man! (I hope you been making drafts!!!)

 

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Friday, January 13, 2006

Gods and Prophets - Are they relevant today ?

This is a follow-up of my previous blog "Principles, Values, Whims and Fancies".

I will not categorize myself as a totally rational person. I take comfort in a power which is beyond my scope. Though I am not a fatalist, I humbly believe that I cannot totally determine the outcomes of my effort to the utmost degree of accuracy. I believe in destiny but also believe that destiny is not handed over a golden plate to me; rather I have to work towards my destiny. Before you conclude that I am a confused nit-wit, let me just assure you that all this prelude is just to set the stage that I believe in a supreme power.


But I do not believe that that supreme power would ever ask for a human sacrifice to test your faith or that that supreme power would condemn you to the darkest corner of the netherworld if you pray to anyone else or that that supreme power will poke your eyes if you do not wear a yellow dress to her temple. Frankly, the supreme power is not interested in these trivias. The fact that most of the world's religions bank on fear tactics does not tell a lot about the supreme power the religions believe in but it tells a lot about the people and the timeliness of the scripture - primitive, barbaric and ante-diluvian.

Agreed! we cannot judge people- who lived in a different time and in a different place, based upon the values that are currently deemed 'acceptable'. A thousand years ago, even civilized kings considered the practice of demolishing the figure-head statues kosher and within the confines of the rules of conquest. But we cannot equate them to the current day barbaric Taliban who destroy the historic Bahmani Buddha statues just because they do not like those idols. Not too long ago, sharp minded people believed that narcotics enhanced their minds and consequently geniuses (including the famous Sherlock Holmes portrayed by Doyle) took large doses of narcotic. We cannot categorize those geniuses as the same as today's pot-heads.

The corollary and a more subtle but important point is that we cannot really exalt all the behaviors, whims and fancies of people - however "noble" they were, who lived in a different time and a different place as virtues in today's world. Though that seems so simple and common sense, if you think about it for a second, you will find that this common sense is not too common. People rationalizing their meaningless gestures in today's world - fasting for political purposes; weaving clothes from the charkha (spinning wheel); drinking goat's milk, just because Gandhi did it and I have not even started ! It is very easy to misconstrue my position here. Gandhi is a noble soul and a great leader but he has given us much more valuable thoughts to ponder about than these silly practices. If it is a touchy matter to talk about Gandhi, my follow-up point is even touchier. Let me see if I can straddle the thin line.

"347 people got killed in Hajj stampede"; "100 killed in deadly stampede in Kumbh mela". My thoughts and prayers are with the near and dear of the deceased. News of this type has become common not just these days but almost annually or cyclically every time the event happens. Normally the media covers this as newsworthy for a week. Some people console themselves that it is just fate; some people say that since this tradition is one of the pillars of the concerned religions and since religion is one of the pillars of the society and society a pillar for the world, these traditions must go on inspite of the tragedies and even radical some say it is better to die in God's place rather than live in a Godless place (material world).

This is where I have problem with mindless religious afficionados. There are numerous other places to think about and thank the Supreme power in which you have faith. If you are particular about the place, there are numerous other times to visit these holy places without getting caught dead in a stampede. Why this place - why now ? Yes, a noble prophet, a good soul walked this place thousands of years back and preached a religion a long time back. But why make a mockery of all the good preachings by the noble man by mindlessly following millions of people to a death trap just because some contemporary wizard says that approximately this was the time two thousand years ago this incident happened? Why do we forget all the good things these prophets taught but hold dear all the trivias? Is it because the latter is easier to follow and demonstrate whereas the former too difficult? People have come to believe that just these symbolic gestures purify their souls and it does not matter how they live the rest of their lives.

Eleanor Roosevelt said “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people”. There is a lot of truth to it. How often do you hear the Christian proselytizers talking about peace and love taught by the noble Christ compared to how often they talk about "Christ - the person"? verdict: Small minds. How often do you hear the Hindu fanatics talking about the virtues of doing work ethically and diligently - values taught by Lord Krishna, compared to how often they talk about "Krishna - the person"? verdict: Small minds.. Whether it is the Hajj or it is the 'yatra' from Kashi-Rameshwaram, the idea of pilgrimage is to demonstrate and personally feel the physical and mental strenght that is needed to undertake such an arduos venture. The idea of pilgrimage is to understand that inspite of all the differences we have, the color of the skin, hair, geographical allegiance, the disparity in wealth, we all are brothers and sisters; and we read that the fellow pilgrims stomped over the dead brothers because they will be delayed for a symbolic gesture ceremony. None of them that did that understood the idea.. All they can think of are 'event' and 'people'. verdict: Small minds.. Even without any twisted interpretation of religion - as done by Taliban and Al-Qaeda, even with the most straight interpretation of religion, I feel the religious world filled with small minds. More importance is given to whose God is better than whose God without even considering what principles the religions teach.

To the point of the topic - Are Gods and prophets relevant today? A resounding yes in terms of timeless principles and values they taught us - universal brotherhood, love, peace, sympathy and celebrating life. These are eternal principles and they will never fade and neither will we have any strifes and contentions. But if all we are doing is to simply dress like them, blindly imitate what they did and visit the place where they were a long time back, then I cannot differentiate this behavior from that of mindless teens trying to imitate what their favorite rock artistes do.
This is a fad and ephemeral and it MUST fade into oblivion when the next fad comes along.

Peace Out
Sai

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2 Comments:

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Gaurav said...

Well, I wouldn't jump to conclusions so fast. People follow the practices preached by Gandhiji because they TRUST him. Just the way they trust their ancestors and pray Ganeshji before starting any auspicious occasion. There must be some good reason why Gandhiji started those practices. I say this because I know that he was a thoughtful and compassionate human being. (Charkha's reason was self-sustenance and deeper economic model. Goat milk is actually lower in fat content than cow or buffalo's milk.)

Also, the part you are missing about making a pilgrimage is the fact that people believe in hindu calendar and the effect of stars/planets on humans. So many people believe in the age old practices and effect of planets that they forget the direct effect of their own actions on others.

Otherwise, I agree with your message. Good one.

 
At 12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely written, Sai.
Gods and Prophets are as relevent today as they were before. I am not a religius person but I appreciate the good things that religion brings to the table, something that is not highlighted enough today. Maybe because its hard to measure (how do you measure how many bad things might have happened in absence of religion) or maybe because its not newsworthy (dog bites man not interesting but man bites dog is newsworthy).
Society works when its people are motivated to do good things and avoid doing bad things. Law provides the stick and can only go so far in policing our lives. The religion provides the carrots (rebirth as Jennifer Lopez's dog, lets say :-) ) and the stick and motivates (or scares) people to behave well.
There are ills that come with religion but I think when you weigh it against good, I think its a good deal.
So why are people not encouraged to follow ideas of religion as opposed to the persons. I think you answered that already. “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people”. In a average society, what percent of people have "great minds"? 1-3%? what percent "average minds"? 30%? The rest are all "small minds" my friend. And nothing wrong if small ideas work with them. If they are more motivated by people than by ideas, so be it. Important thing is that they are motivated to behave in a way that's beneficial to the society.
NJD

 

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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Principles, Values, Whims and Fancies

For discussing the concepts of faith and religion, we need to establish some fundamental vocabulary. I found the following words pretty useful for taxonomy.

Principles: This is the universal truth - a moral compass. The principles are universally common for every homo sapien for sustaining a society - Dont steal, Dont kill in a non-war situation, Dont commit adultery etc., While these are pretty basic, it is hard to imagine a society which can survive without these principles. Every decent human being should follow these principles and there are no 2nd choices.


Values: While they are as important as the principles, there is no one universal value. My personal value can be different or even diametrically opposite from another person without either one being right or wrong. Eating habits for instance. The 'values' form the root of the family tree and gives a strong foot hold in the world personally. Hence it is mandatory and expected that one should communicate those values which they found important on to their children and progenies especially when they are young when they would listen to you(watch little TV, eat vegetarian, pray to Vishnu etc.,) But it is insane and unethical to impose these values on any and every stranger that comes on the way. An analogy would be every mother is important for her kid but it is childish if we compete 'whose mother is better than whose' It will only result in some peeing competition.

Whims and Fancies: Very self explanatory. You like red color dress and let that whim stay with you. Dont even bother telling me why you like it or why I should like it even if I am your kid :)

Now with the vocabulary set, religion, mother tongue(s), eating habits etc., I see as mainly 'values'. It is important to educate your kids about those 'values'. You gotta tell your kids their values may not be the same as someone else and why it is still ok. But in immigrants (whether it is tamils living in Bombay or Indians living abroad), it is despicable to see how mostly people try(unsuccesfully) to avoid standing out. They want to just become one of 'them'. Starting from naming the kid with mono-syllable names just so that they can be addressed easily by Americans to not educating the religious values for the fear of being labeled as 'uncool' by the kids, you can see these attempts conspicuous in Immigrant families.

While these values MUST be taught to their kids, it is equally annoying when some one tries to impose his/her values on others. If there is one thing I am proud of being an Hindu, it is the fact that we do not have any formal procedure for proselytization. I find it despicable when the religious fanatics accost strangers in the name of Christ or Mohammed or whomever to talk them in to changing their religion. They truly believe that their faith is a 'principle'not a 'value'.

Even worse is when people mistake their 'whims and fancies' for 'principles' and try to impose that on people. I have heard people saying that they dont like people because of the way they look or how they dress.. Stupid they may be, one can never underestimate the potential of a group of idiots especially if they own a gun ;) Next time when you like or do not like another person or an act ask yourselves whether our inclination is due to 'principle', 'value' or 'whims and fancies'. Likewise when you hear anyone preaching, ask yourselves what they are preaching 'P', 'V' or W&F'. I have found much easier to segregate the content once I understood this classification.

All right that is the sprinkling from my side. Have a wonderful new year !

Ensaai
sai

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At 5:34 PM, Blogger Gaurav said...

Nice post da. I completely agree. One thing I have the doubt on based on my (albeit very limited) experience is that thing you say about parents not teaching the values so that the kid doesn't stand out and becomes one of them. This, I believe, is more due to the humiliation by the peer group and inability of the kid to respond "coolly" rather than the reason you mention. I think only experience can teach us better. After all, they don't say without any profound thought, (Hindi)"Ganga gaye Gangaram, Jamana gaye jamanadas." or "When in Rome, be like romans."

 

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

A road trip to remember!

'Twas december and the ho-ho-hos were all around. It was time to be rewarded for being good and this year Santa thought that we were very good and gifted us with 4 days of paid time off - which means we had 10 calendar days to cherish. What better a way to spend time in December than to hit the asphalt and to head the way where Mother Earth has carved herself for the amusement of the mortals? So, we decided - Grand Canyon it was!


No snow, no storm, no flood. An added bonus was that we would be taking a travel not just in space but also in time. We decided to visit Petrified forest national park, Arizona where the memories from 220 million years ago are preserved for ever for retrospection. While Arizona has inherited all of Mother Nature's wealth, its neighbour - Nevada, is a pauper in terms of natural beauty. A lot of lip stick was needed for this pig and lip stick flowed aplenty to build a dream - that is Vegas, in the heart of a barren God forsaken land. So, a trip to the sin city was in the cards as well.

I will let the pictures tell the whole story but a couple of tips for people visiting the neighbourhood. Bellagio and Wynn has the best indoor decors especially during xmas; if your better half is artsy-partsy, they will ooh and wow the entire time and you will score a lot of brownie points :) Try staying in Rio, Gold Casino or Palms all of which are the closest to the heart of the Strip - the happening places like Bellagio, Caesar etc., If you are planning to stay in Stratosphere, make sure you are not staying in the Regency Tower extension of Stratosphere. You are better off staying in a Motel 6 for a much lower price. Last word of advice - beware of those hawks trying to woo unsuspecting tourists into wasting a couple of hours with a sales staff in return for a pathetic show and a crappy buffett. It is a complete waste of time.

If you are planning to visit the Grand Canyon, get away from the tourist hot spots such as Mather point, Yavapai etc., and head to calmer places like Hopi point and Pima point which are at the west end of the South rim. These places provide a better view of the River and the Canyon and a lot of privacy and an opportunity to spend a lot of quality time (ahem)! Taking a small hike in the Kaibab trail (not all the way to the floor) and visiting desert tower are very enjoyable. Food at market plaza near Yavapai lodge is excellent and very economic. Road trip east of Desert View Tower in 64 North is highly recommended. A lot of off the beaten path opportunities abound in that area - little River Colarado Gorge for instance allows you to see the gorges from very close distance. When AZ64 hits Cameron take AZ89-S to visit Sunset Crater. That whole area offers great vistas and is always free of flock of tourists.

The best part of our trip was a visit down the memory lane to the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook, AZ. Just the fact that this arid desert once was the bed of a river as wide as the current day Amazon was startling. The number of petrified trees with magnificent colors left us dumbfounded. Looking at the well preserved fossilized fishes, molluscs, dinosaur eggs, tropical leaves and dinosaur dung (fossilized silly) evoked a new found enthusiasm for geography within me all of a sudden. A walk along Blue Mesa in the middle of this park where the Chinle formations were shaded with Pastel colors was worth the whole trip. For those interested in semi-precious stones such as Amethyst, Blue Calcite, Obsydians this place is an absolute Mecca. We bought a lot of memorablia in the nearest museum outside the park - collecting any petrified wood or crystals inside the park is a punishable offense; so next time you visit our place, be prepared for a little Geology lesson from us :) Finally, we visited the petroglyphs in the desert left by Puerto Indians - antecedents for current day Hopi Indians, and the Painted Desert part of the park around sunset and marvelled at the hues and colors the desert sand reflected off the sun light and bid adieu to the wild wild Arizona and to a well spent year 2005. We reached the bay area late evening on the last day and welcomed the new year 2006 from the cozy premises of our home.

As always more detailed photo tour at my yahoo photo site. There are around 400 hand-picked photographs for your viewing pleasure; so take your time :)

So long,
yours truly

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2 Comments:

At 12:40 AM, Blogger Satba said...

Well written ! I liked the style of writing :-)

 
At 11:09 PM, Blogger Neeraj said...

hey sai old man! neeraj here yr old roommate.. just stumbled upon yr blog via my roommate who goes to scu as well.. nice blog there. and thats a darn good photo i must say of the asphalt .. what equipment/technique?

 

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