December 31, 2008

Adios 2008, Hola 2009

(Title for this blog dedicated to my dear little Spanish-speaking Dora and Diego-loving daughter)

Another year gone by and so quickly too. Tonnes of dirty diapers getting dirtier, sleepless nights getting sleepier and still more tantrum-filled days getting...better, its been an interesting one. I wouldn't ask for anything else though. Honestly. As I get ready to welcome in the new year, I wonder what it is about this day every year that makes everyone list out their so called 'resolutions'. Things that they want to do or want to give up doing. Making a clean start on the 1st of the year and hoping that it will result in a better life or at least a better year. So here's my list. Promises, lies and all things in between.

I will exercise everyday.
I won't yell at the kids.
I will eat healthy.
I won't waste time surfing randomly.
I will read a book a week.
I won't get mad at my help everyday.
I will improve on my Hindi and Telugu.
I won't buy stuff for the heck of it.
I will blog more regularly.
I won't be too random in my thoughts. And I won't ramble on.

Happy New Year 2009!

November 27, 2008

Black Thursday

It's shameful what's been happening in Bombay since last night. When will they see that this is not the answer? Innocents injured, people dying on the job. God bless all those that have given their lives fighting this madness and God be with those that are still out there trying to save the rest.

Yes, it is shameful the way things are panning out but I find it even more shameful that the breaking news on almost all the channels is that England have cancelled the remainder of their tour. We all love sports, especially our cricket. But please, let's put things in perspective.

November 18, 2008

The Namesake

We loved it. It was short, cute and yet powerful. It wasn't a new name, just that we had never heard it used alone...by itself. It was a part-of-something-else name. But we still loved it. The reactions were mixed. The older generation found it hard to conceal their bewilderment. The younger generation (ours) thought it was cool. Whenever we mention it now, there's always a follow-up question...about the meaning and if there is more to it.

It makes me wonder if we've pulled a Gogol...

November 13, 2008

Resemblance bias...or is it?

The baby looks like...who? Mom? Dad? Mom's brother? Dad's sister? Paternal Grandad? Maternal great grandmom? None of them??? A completely random-looking baby? Isn't is amazing how different people can see whoever they want to see in a little baby? And it doesn't even stop with just overall resemblance, does it? Nose looks like dad's, fingers are shaped like mom's and so on. And you don't hear all this nonsense from just friends and family either. Step outside the house and you will have complete strangers swing by and swear that the kid looks like one or the other parent leaving the parent awarded the resemblance feeling (secretly, of course) very thrilled and the other (visibly, of course) very irritated.

This must mean that all mom's and dad's resemble each other in some weird way. How else could you explain such a peculiar phenomenon?

November 11, 2008

Train travel trial(s)

Every summer all through school, I took train journeys with my grandparents. Rocky motion, non-stop snacking, reading under the dim lift-up lights, sleeping in the upper berth...many fond memories but always one peeve. The loos. As a kid, I don't think anything was scarier than the thought of having to use those loos. Many years have passed, many new trains and routes introduced, many techie things added(like plug points in the compartments, cell phone towers for coverage etc) but the loos have stayed the same. And overall cleanliness seems to have worsened.

I discovered this at the cost of taking my kids on a long train ride from Hyderabad to Madras. Sky rocketing fuel prices increasing the cost of flight tickets and saying Bye bye to Begumpet prompted this experimental train ride to Madras. First a/c is the business class of train rides or so we thought. (First class would be attaching your own coach to the train). The compartment was far from clean, the berths needing quite a bit of dusting and washing. An orange coloured cheese ball turned black after being dropped in the gap between the window glass and metal fix (Our intrigued kid was keen to taste that as well). A half hour into the ride and a trip to the loo revealed a broken potty and dirty, messy floors leaving it absolutely unusable. The bedding that was provided was musty-smelling and sneeze-inducing. And to top off all that, the train staff were not friendly or helpful. It's ironic that there was a bell to call them if we needed anything, but even a face-to-face didn't accomplish much. The one thing that they promptly did was to wake everyone up at all unearthly hours indicating the arrival of an important station making sure to mention that it was their job to do so.

Overall, the experiment was a bit of a flop. We will most certainly fly on our next trip. What trials that may bring is anyone's guess.

November 7, 2008

Deepavali Diary 2008

Firecrackers, new clothes, sweets and treats, parties, friends and family – that just about sums up a typical Deepavali for me. Throw two little kids into this mix, one too small to comprehend too much, while the other just about the right age to start enjoying everything and at the same time to start fearing the sound of the hydrogen bombs and Lakshmi vaedis. All it took was some fragments of a story, a few sparklers, flower pots and ground chakras...and some jaangris. How simple a child’s mind is and how easily distracted when in the company of a loving grandparent. Deepavali came and went leaving as always fond memories, plenty of pictures (thank God for digital cameras) and a few extra pounds around the waist. But this time, it also left me with another thought. Instead of everyone sending everyone else sweets who then have to figure out how to dispose off them before they spoil, wouldn’t it be nice if we could express our wishes a little differently? Can we not donate however much we wish to spend on these treats to a worthy cause and just send a card to everyone wishing them and informing them of our donation? Would that be considered cheap or would a supposedly progressive society accept and appreciate it?

I remember an episode from Seinfeld where George fakes donations to a ‘Human Fund’ during Christmas time just to escape gift-giving at work. Of course the lie catches up to him and yada, yada, yada.

But I'm not George...

September 26, 2008

Road to Hell

For a second it seemed like I was back on I 95. In the driver's seat, Dire Straits playing, zooming by just knowing where the road would curve left or right. Then, a sudden halt...buffaloes! Holding up traffic in, possibly, the busiest road in Hyderabad! OK, so we wait awhile, get around them and within a few seconds hit the next roadblock - new and improved potholes thanks to the measly rain we had a few weeks ago. A slalom run through them ends in speed bumps at the end of the road! Speed bumps when the top speed one can go is 20 kmph!

Yes, seat belts are a must in Hyderabad or else, a momentary lapse of reason may make you jump out of your running car.

September 24, 2008

Black or White

While watching a cookery show that had shrimps on the menu, my helper asked me what it was. I tried explaining the Tamil word for it...'Yera' i think. She remarked that it was usually black and then, without missing a beat went on to add that the shrimps on the show were white because they were in Europe!

September 16, 2008

The name is Rajinikanth????

I've read a lot of books. Some good, some average, many boring but none that I thought of as terrible. But there's always a first isn't there? What's sad is that this book is non-fiction; a biography... about the most famous South Indian actor (debatable, some would say) alive!
How can one go wrong with a biography? The star's rags-to-riches story, professional facts, photos, comments from peers should pretty much cover it all. Hah! I wish.

Chapters alternate about the star Rajini and Shivaji the struggling boy. Its almost like a movie...present and flashback except that it happens for every scene. The author's English is terrible. She constantly moves from one tense to the other seamlessly, leaving the reader confused. She has mis-spelled names of movies, actors and many other important facts. She has literally translated most of the words (i.e say it in Tamil and write it in English). Many of her assumptions are completely biased as she is a hardcore 'thalaivar' fan. Like the teacher that everyone has had at some point that said 'open the door, let the climate come in', someone somewhere has said 'he has two daughters, both are girls'. Never before have I seen this in print(and not in the bloopers section, mind you). Apparently spelling and grammar checks were used neither by the author nor the editors. To publish this book and charge a whopping Rs. 495 is a crime. I feel cheated (although I didn't pay full price for it).

If we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, should we by it's title then?

September 9, 2008

Magician, artist, dare I say God? - Part 2

I wrote Part 1 September 2007. Unfortunately part 2 is a whole year later. A bad year for Federer by his standards; exit in 1 Grand Slam semi-final, runner up in the next 2 (although badly thrashed in one) and finally a winner at the last. Based on the last couple of years, number 15 will hopefully come about at Wimbledon. That's where Sampras beat the record as well. Federer respects tradition. He will do the same. I hope he's saving the best for it.

July 7, 2008

Conflict

Many times, the mind knows something that the heart does not want to acknowledge or believe. May even seem like a premonition sometimes. But the heart firmly rejects any thought of it. A sort of denial. "No, it just can't happen that way", believes the heart while the mind smiles smugly. The body that connects these two is in a state of limbo not sure who to go with; the all-knowing mind or the ever-believing heart. Its a tough time waiting for the result and when it comes, there are unshed tears. I'd like to believe that those same feelings were shared by both.

June 30, 2008

M&A

The current trend of mergers and acquisitions (m&a's) has spread into all industries. So much so that I have been impacted by one too. No, I'm not an i-banker that closed any deals nor am I an employee that's been canned. It's just that my daughter's school has been acquired by another group, a bigger and supposedly a more profitable group that can run things better at her school. So we've gone from being a 'mom and pop' school to a franchise-run academy! Maybe the future holds better food, open on weekends, better staff, a uniform and definitely a higher fee! There's no place for mediocrity anymore, only the bottomline counts. Especially for the schools.

June 28, 2008

Music to move

Sare Jahan Se Acha, The Lambada, Jingle all the way, Suprabhatam and a whole host of other random songs from Bollywood, Tollyhood, Kollywood and even the Billboard Top 10! What do they have in common? Absolutely nothing (thank god) other than ending up as monophonic tunes that play when cars back up.

What is the purpose of this tune playing? To warn the buffaloes, sorry people (maybe buffaloes and cows occasionally) that are behind the vehicle to move out of the way. You might think that that is something that would logically happen when one sees a car or truck coming at them. But no, not in India. Be it a person or animal, they continue with whatever they were doing ignoring the vehicle until it almost bumps into them and then (this is even better) glare at the driver as though the fault were his/hers. For a passing observer though, this tune playing is so annoying because it does not cease until the reverse gear is disengaged and that usually happens only after the confrontation with the party blocking the reverse has ended; a quite laborious process.

If you're ever in a state of amnesia and have forgotten which city or state in India you are in, you can find out based on the accent of the person that says the most famous of these reverse tunes "Attention please! This car is backing up"! "Attention please! This car is backing up"! "Attention please! This car is backing up"!

It makes me want to screeeeeeeeeeeeeeam!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 8, 2008

We are the champions...almost

"If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two impostors just the same" go the immortal words of Rudyard Kipling.

The French Open ended today and with it Federer's quest to become the best ever. Yes, he has many more years of tennis left in him but the chances of a French Open victory seem to have faded. There is only so much kindness that fate will show before the draw gets tougher and the game becomes more difficult. How must he feel?

A football match coming down to a penalty shootout is most exciting for viewers (however nail-biting it might be) but the worst ever for players. It all comes down to the goalie and which side he decides to dive to. The recent Champions League final was all that and more. The Chelsea captain could have won it for them with a simple kick but slipped and missed and went on to lose. How must he feel?

The Chennai Super Kings made it to the final against all odds. As lackadaisical as their fielding and batting was, the chances of a victory were not too remote. To take the match to the last over with 8 runs for the asking captain Dhoni decided to go with Balaji who was just back from a long break due to surgery than with Gony who had already taken 3 wickets. Reason? Take a risk, maybe the batsmen will be fooled by the pace of the ball (or lack of it). 1 ball left, 1 run needed, batsman hits a 4. How does the team feel?

As a avid follower of many sports, I find it so difficult to forget the game and go to bed in peace when the person/team I've been supporting has lost. I wonder how the athletes can digest their loss, make their peace and move onto the next event.

Tonight will be a sleepless night but not because of my little one.

May 23, 2008

Advice, anyone???

What better way to start off the randomness again than by posting bits of advice/comments that's being doled out to me by domestic help, family, friends and anyone else on ways to make the kiddo bigger, taller, stronger, sharper (nose especially!) and the rest? Oh, how can i forget fairer?? Try at your own risk!


  • Apply ghee to baby's body, especially nose and massage to make it sharp and long. (I would rather eat the ghee)
  • Massage with oil/ghee twice a day. This will help bones stretch out thereby making baby tall. (Playing basketball might be a better option)
  • Drink milk with saffron, this will make baby fairer. (Saffron, yuck. Also too expensive. Why don't you buy him Fair and Handsome?)
  • Bathe baby in milk, also will make him fairer. (I would drink the milk before I did that but not with saffron)
  • Give baby strange herbs, they have VARIOUS benefits and will prevent illness. (I'd like to take some green herbs, forget about the baby for a minute!)
  • Don't drink anything cold if you're nursing, the baby will catch a cold. (WOW!)
  • If you're nursing, eating bread dipped in milk with help with producing more milk (Clearly, these people don't want me to fit into my jeans EVER.)
Based on the above suggestions, all Indian babies should be very tall, super strong, very very fair and have no illness at all. What a deadly combo arbid advice and blind faith is.

April 28, 2008

Sabbatical

I didn't want this to be a personal blog documenting things about my life. But I decided that I should acknowledge the latest, biggest event thats happened...the birth of my 2nd child. April 26, 2008 at 0202 India time. Due to this, I will be taking a short break from here. Back with some extreme randomness very shortly (I hope).

April 15, 2008

Leagues and sports

An Indian cricket league is something I've always dreamt off. Imagine having your own home team to root for, wear their jerseys, cheer for the franchise player, buy season tickets, the whole nine yards! As much as I loved living in Hartford Connecticut, I couldn't help but feel a bit sad that we never had any city teams in any of the leagues (basketball, baseball, football...). No, I've never been a fan of the New England Patriots, so that doesn't count.

Anyway, we now have two cricket leagues in India; ICL (the rebel league) and IPL (the BCCI's answer to the rebel league). Neither of these are along the lines of what I imagined. I always assumed that a state's Ranji Trophy team would be marketed in a different way, people would get to know up and coming players from their state or city, maybe the matches themselves would be televised, stadiums packed and so on due to the marketing effort. Unfortunately, that's where the business aspect of sports comes in to play. Owners of these league teams are successful businessmen, actors and the like. The bottomline for them is ROI (return on investment) not talent encouragement. Hence all the league teams have international cricketers that have been bought for huge amounts of money (well, not all expensive....sorry, Ricky Ponting) and a couple of Indian youngsters, who might make it into the Indian team if they perform well at this level.

As much fun as it is to watch these games, I can't help but wonder what the difference between this and regular first-class cricket is (ok, format is T20 not 50-50). But shouldn't the INDIAN Premier league have only Indians playing in it? Shouldn't the league be a stepping stone for local talent to perform well and thereby act as a screening for the national team? One can argue that the Ranji Trophy teams are there for that reason alone but I think everyone knows that the truth is far from it. Players do not get in purely on merit. Favouritism is the name of the game. A star player has his 'chumchas' and refuses to play unless they are in the team...and so on. With the BCCI sitting on so much cash, its tough to say how this will pan out in the long run and how much good it is going to do for Indian (and World) cricket.

It feels a bit strange to see Glenn Mc Grath in a Delhi Daredevils tee or Shane Warne as captain of the Rajasthan Royals. I wonder how it feels for the players to be donning jerseys of cities or states that they have nothing in common with. Does money make that awkwardness go away? Does money replace pride and love of the game? Is this the future of all sports?

Apartment Rules - Part Deux

The doorbell rings, a random person walks inside the already opened door and says she's here to have a look around my apartment because she is renting the one 2 floors down below. No introductions, nothing. She just waltzes around while I stand there speechless (stupid of me for sure). She then goes on to complain about the silly size of the bedrooms (her exact words), praises the fact that there is a room and bathroom for live-in help and then walks out the door. Comes back a second later and says, "I didn't get your name"!

WOW! Dare I say only in Hyderabad?

April 7, 2008

Well dressed thief?

2 days, 2 different stores. Both times I was asked to make my way to the cash counter to pay for something that my little daughter had in her hand. And in one instance, when I didn't comply immediately, there were at least 4 people watching me to ensure I don't leave the store. Do I look like someone that would steal something worth Rs. 200 and Rs. 40 respectively?

It's funny but the coincidence is hard to ignore; I usually dress ONLY in tracks and tees...some people like to call that kind of look snobbish grunge. To me its just comfortable. Anyway, when I'm dressed like this, people automatically assume that I'm from 'abroad' whatever that means these days. And I've noticed that the kind of treatment at stores is definitely different. People seem more obliging and once before, they even opened up a new counter for me! (Once at the airport too when the check-in lines were so long, the counter that handled excess baggage called me when I was almost the last in line!) On the 2 days of my attempted robbery, I wore a neat salwar. And what I got was being looked at like I was going to pinch something from the store.

How strange?! Does this mean that people from abroad can get away with whatever? Or that well dressed people are capable of stealing too?

It's late and I'm sleepy, so I'll stop the rambling. I still can't make any sense of it though. But given that I'm not a fan of salwars and the like I'll just stick to my grungy clothes so that the stores will think I'm cool.

April 4, 2008

The Graduate

I first wore a cap and gown and participated in a graduation ceremony when I completed my Masters degree. My daughter on the other hand, took part in a ceremony at her playschool today...and she's just over 2 years old!

Many times before, I've mocked at such ceremonies saying that they make a joke of a 'real' graduation ceremony, something that only happens after one completes an undergraduate degree at the very least. But I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the school day/graduation ceremony at the school today. Although the cap and tassel may not have been as meaningful to my little one as to an adult finishing up college, she looked really cute as did all the other kids. I guess this is another trend that's caught up here in India...along with Halloween and a few others. I just have to get used to it and not be cynical. Tough...

March 20, 2008

Reality (shows) bite

I've never been a fan of reality shows. Be it Idol, Survivor, Dance with the stars etc...I'm not sure why that's the case. Maybe because I don't believe that they're as real as they claim to be. Anyway, I thought I'd left the world of reality shows behind when I came back to India only to find the same shows broadcast here with a time delay.

Of late, to make matters worse, all regional language channels have started similar shows. Random people singing, dancing and acting in front of the so-called famous judges from the respective movie industries passing poor comments and judments hearing which the contestants mostly cry (either due to extreme joy at winning or extreme agony at being kicked out). The whole thing appears to be so false that I really wonder how so many people tune into these shows and sit through them. Almost every single Tamil channel that I know of has a show like this and everyone claims that their viewership is the highest level.

What does this say about the audience? And maybe the better question is what does this say about the ability of show producers? Its definitely easier to throw a bunch of people together and get them to sing or dance (or both) than to write a script, get real actors, direct it and sustain levels of interest for a prolonged period. Who is to blame for this slide in quality shows? Or is it a slide? Am I just being too cynical and critical because I don't like them?

Date screw-up

It's 2152 on Sunday March 23, 2008 but my previous post reads Thursday. Not sure why. Will figure out and fix soon.

Bye bye Begumpet

Yesterday was the last day flights flew out of Begumpet Airport in Hyderabad. I'm not a Hyderabadi at heart to actually feel sad about that or be affected in any way other than the fact that my commute time to the new airport in Shamshabad has significantly increased; from 15 minutes to at least 45. I'm not denying cribbing at Begumpet when the wait at the check-in counter was too long or finding a parking spot was near impossible. Apparently the new airport addresses both these issues and a lot more. But I'm still irritated about the distance from my home. I've decided to look into the trains going into Madras. The only scary thing is the thought of having to entertain my daughter in a little cabin for 12 hours! (Ok, maybe not 12, she will sleep for a bit...but still...)

March 9, 2008

Making friends 101

Only kids can walk up to a brand new group of kids, barge right into their conversation or game or whatever and come away unscathed. Where does this courage come from? And more importantly, where does it go as one gets older? How nice if making friends were as easy as just that.

Brain freeze

It's been a month since I wrote in my blog. I've never written anything earth-shattering yet but have I even run out of average, random, useless thoughts? Or have I just been so busy that I just didn't have the time? Don't know but just to kick start, here are some thoughts. All about sports...

Los Angeles Lakers
I've been a fan since the time I started watching NBA on Star Sports. I've followed them through their early glory days (Magic, Kareem times), the interim lows (before Shak-Kobe), their 3 back-back-back championship run and the lows since. I'm happy to note here that the Lakers are back on top in the Western Conference and playing really well. Most importantly they're playing team ball. Hope they go all the way again this season.

Roger Federer
It's been pretty sad to see the slump that Fed is going through. I just read a little while ago that he had mono through the Aussie Open and has recently only recovered from it. Not using that as an excuse for his loss (he himself isn't so I possibly can't!) but it immediately makes me wonder that if he can make it to the semis of a Grand Slam when far from being a 100%, what could have happened otherwise? Anyway, he has the rest of the year and 3 more slams to bounce back. And a match against his (and my) idol Samras! Good luck!

New England Patriots
Being a New Englander (at least for 8 years) I should have been the happiest person since the advent of Tom Brady into the Pats team. But for some reason, I've always disliked them. I hated to see them winning time and time again. However, this past Superbowl saw them lose to the New York Giants. Not that I am a Giants fan or anything but I was extremely happy. The best part was gloating later to all my 'Pats fan' friends. Spite is a good thing!

January 21, 2008

Great Expectations

A one-on-one interview, puzzles, brain teasers and the like, and finally an interview with a panel of board members. No, this is not a 20+ year old trying to get into B-school. It's just a regular interview for admission into Lower Kinder Garten (LKG). As shocking as it seems, this is the procedure for admission into school here in India these days. What's funnier is that not all applicants are called in for an interview. Using 'random selection' only a certain percentage proceed to this stage. And even if the child passes with flying colours, there is a hefty donation or some fancy term given to a monetary contribution to the school.

It's tough to keep up with the number of children here in India. The intake only goes up annually but there aren't enough resources to keep pace. The old schools in every city are in greatest demand with people having to register their children even before they are born! How absurd is that!

I'm starting to panic already and my kid is more than a year away from having to be enrolled. Maybe I should start my own school...

January 19, 2008

Oh for the love of sports

I'm a sports junkie. I think I've always been one. First it was tennis, then basketball, then most events during the Olympics, even American football! I have favourite players, favourite teams, favourite team uniforms and so on. As much as I love to watch sports on TV, it is with mounting levels of tension that I watch my favs perform. Today was one such day. My heart skipped many beats as I watched a not-so-perfect Federer pull out a victory after 4 1/2 hours to move into the fourth round of the Aussie Open. When I was younger (ahem) Pete Sampras caused many palpitations in my heart. And always the Lakers. I always thought that as I aged (ahem ahem) my involvement would reduce and maybe I could just watch the game for the game; just enjoying it and not sitting there biting my nails wondering at the outcome and doing silly superstitious things that might make my favs win.

But some things just don't change. How nice!

January 10, 2008

The Nano

Tata has launched the cheapest car in the world. It costs only a lakh of rupees. This in a country where the roads are shrinking and in some places, non existent due to the large number of vehicles that already ply day in and out. With increasing salaries and credit limits, even people in the lower middle income group bracket can afford these. The roads will probably have as many Nanos as autorichshaws. How scary is that thought? How much more cluttered can our roads get? How will this end?