Monday, December 31, 2007

The World can be ....

... a better place...

a place where people don't get blown away by suicide bombers, a place where love and respect for each other reigns and not hate and anger,...

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A victory over the past

For the first time in my life, I solved the Rubik Cube today! Twice at that! And before the day is over, I will probably solve it another 3-4 times

The fact that I had help in that the instructions on a web-site helped me to solve the last layer doesn't diminish the fact that the successful solving of a Rubik Cube is a huge victory over the past for me.

I must have come across the Rubik Cube around 20 years ago. It proved to be an unconquerable peak; something only the very brilliant and very smart kids can solve. I was too dumb to be in that elite category of people

The failure added to the my sense of inferiority, along with all the other things that were feeding the "I-AM-NO-GOOD" thinking.

Now I find it amusing that a couple of years ago I was desperately hoping that if I am able to solve the Rubik Cube, I will be able to regain a lost love! Wishful thinking in the time of intense emotional suffering.

Given this back-ground, I am indeed proud of myself for being able to solve the Rubik Cube. Am gonna party like there is no tomorrow

And in a few days figure out the algorithms to solve the Rubik Cube with no external help.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Monday, November 19, 2007

Demotivators.....

EG showed me this hilarious web-site about Demotivators

Dilbert-like take on the "Motivation Posters" industry.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

India: Beauty in Diversity

Thanks to DS for bringing this Video to my notice. This video brings up wonderful memories from back home in India - about the time spent with family and friends, about visiting many places in many states and managing with different languages, about the Movie-stars & Cricketers I idolized, ....



Am grateful to the team at Door-Darshan who put together this colorful & inspiring medley with participation from many notable personalities from 80s India.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

An "Indian" becomes Governor of a US State

Great news!

Bobby Jindal - 36 year old son of Indian immigrants - has been voted the next Governor of Louisiana.

Indians going a further step in becoming part of the mainstream in the US.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Severed hand....



This thing had me shocked for a moment as I walked from the elevator towards my car in the parking lot yesterday

Halloween is just around the corner ....

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Alternatives to Google

"Why would anyone want anything other than Google for search?" - that has been my opinion ever since I got hooked onto Google a few years ago.

The following Search sites take a different approach, and seem to provide additional value:

http://www.technorati.com
http://www.chacha.com
http://www.rollyo.com
http://www.nettrekker.com
http://www.stumbleupon.com
(From an article in Newsweek or Time)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Magnificence of European (Western) Classical Music

I don't know much about classical music. My exposure to it has been minimal over the years, listening to some of it while in the elevator ("Elevator Music" and "Wallpaper Music" seem to be the derogatory terms for this genre of music), or inadvertently on the radio or TV.

The movie Amadeus was the first major introduction to Classical Music I received. Hollywood's dramatized rivalry between the Maestro Wolgang Amadeus Mozart and the 'pretender' Antonio Salieri is an amazing movie including some of Mozart's masterpieces in the sound-track. The story behind these music pieces made me more curious about this type of music, in addition adding it to my listening range.

Looking forward to see the movie Immortal Beloved - hollywood's take on Beethoven's life.

The kickass classical website has great info about many popular composers and their best works.

Here are some of the Classical Music pieces I have discovered over the period of time, and like them for their magnificent impact on the senses:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Never saw something like this

Thanks to GN for showing this real-life clip of a wild-life battle in Kruger National Park in South Africa:

Friday, August 24, 2007

Lincolnian PJ

From Presidential Anecdotes which I picked up at a Yard sale in New Hampshire last week-end:

QUOTE BEGIN
On another occasion, taking a walk in Washington with Secretary of State William H. Seward, he noticed a store sign bearing the name of the proprietor, T. R. Strong, in bold letters. "T. R. Strong," murmured Lincoln, "but coffee are stronger." Seward smiled and made no reply. "We don't see how he could reply after so atrocious a thing as that," commented the newspaper which reported the story.
QUOTE END

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Corporate Blogs : de rigueur in the near future

Came across The Corporate Blogging Book while browsing at one of the NYPL branches in Manhattan today. Author Debbie Weil has dealt in detail on the topic of Corporate Blogging and makes it very simple and clear for readers to appreciate the benefits of blogs for Corporations. Numerous examples of Corporate and CEO Blogs are mentioned. Her blog has links to some Top CEO and Exec Blogs.

I have long been convinced of the benefits of blogging, and am of the opinion that the need for transparency & richness in Company-Customer and Company-Employee relationships will ensure that more and more companies will get onto the blogosphere in the future. This book backs my belief with solid proof.

Got to know about the concept of TinyURL through her blog. Had come across it while using the Corporate Wiki, and had assumed it was a concept local to each Wiki; surprised to know that TinyURL.com is not local but applies globally to the web.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Proud to be an Indian?

Got the following email from one of my college-mates yesterday on the occasion of India's 60th Independence Day.

************
Hi....

Knowing in the subconscious is not enough. Know consciously, be proud & do the country proud.
And do pass on to all your friends so that by 15 / 8, there are millions of us who want to get back the past glory!



PROUD TO BE AN INDIAN

Q. Who
is a GURU of Franchise Sales?
A. Manish Adhiya


Q. Who is the GM of Hewlett Packard (hp) ?
A. Rajiv Gupta


Q. Who is the creator of Pentium chip (needs no introduction as 90% of the today's computers run on it)?
A. Vinod Dahm


Q. Who is the third richest man on the world?
A. According to the latest report on Fortune Magazine, it is Azim Premji, who is the CEO of Wipro Industries. The Sultan of Brunei is at 6 th position now.


Q. Who is the founder and creator of Hotmail (Hotmail is world's No.1 web based email program)?
A. Sabeer Bhatia


Q. Who is the president of AT & T-Bell Labs (AT & T-Bell Labs is the creator of program languages such as C, C++, Unix to name a few)?
A. Arun Netravalli


Q. Who is the new MTD (Microsoft Testing Director) of Windows 2000, responsible to iron out all initial problems?

A. Sanjay Tejwrika


Q. Who are the Chief Executives of CitiBank, Mckensey & Stanchart?
A. Victor Menezes, Rajat Gupta, and Rana Talwar.


Q. We Indians are the wealthiest among all ethnic groups in America, even faring better than the whites and the natives.

There are 3..22 millions of Indians in USA (1.5% of population). YET,

38% of doctors in USA are Indians.
12% scientists in USA are Indians.
36% of NASA scientists are Indians.

34% of Microsoft employees are Indians.

28% of IBM employees are Indians.

17% of INTEL scientists are Indians.
13% of XEROX employees are! Indians.


Some of the following facts may be known to you. These facts were recently published in a German magazine, which deals with WORLD HISTORY FACTS ABOUT INDIA.

1. India never invaded any country in her last 1000 years of history.
2. India invented the Number system. Zero was invented by Aryabhatta.
3. The world's first University was established in Takshila in 700BC. More than 10,500 students from all over the world studied more than 60 subjects. The University of Nalanda built

in the 4 th century BC was one of the greatest achievements of ancient India in the field of education.
4. According to the Forbes magazine, Sanskrit is the most suitable language for computer software.
5. Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to humans.

6. Although western media portray modern images of India as poverty striken and underdeveloped through political corruption, India was once the richest empire on earth.
7. The art of navigation was born in the river Sindh 5000 years ago. The very word "Navigation" is derived from the Sanskrit word NAVGATIH.
8. The value of pi was first calculated by Budhayana, and he explained the concept of what is now k! nown as the Pythagorean Theorem. British scholars have last year (1999) officially

published that Budhayan's works dates to the 6 th Century which is long before the European mathematicians.
9. Algebra, trigonometry and calculus came from India Quadratic equations were by Sridharacharya in the 11 th Century; the largest numbers the Greeks and the Romans used were

106 whereas Indians used numbers as big as 10 53.
10. According to the Gemmological Institute of America, up until 1896, India
was the only source of diamonds to the world.

11. USA based IEEE has proved what has been a century-old suspicion amongst academics that the pioneer of wireless communication was Professor Jagdeesh Bose and not Marconi.
12. The earliest reservoir and dam for irrigation was built in Saurashtra.
13. Chess was invented in India
14. Sushruta is the father of surgery. 2600 years ago he and health scientists of his time conducted surgeries like cesareans, cataract, fractures and urinary stones. Usage of

anaesthesia was well known in ancient India .
15. When many cultures in the world were only nomadic forest dwellers over 5000 years ago, Indians established Harappan culture in Sindhu Valley ( Indus Valley Civilisation).
16. The place value system, the decimal system was developed in India in 100 BC.


Quotes about India

We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.

Albert Einstein.


India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend and the great grand mother of tradition.

Mark Twain.


If there is one place on the face of earth where all dreams of living men have found a home from the very earliest days when man began the dream of existence, it is India

French scholar Romain Rolland.


India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.

Hu Shih

(former Chinese ambassador to USA )



ALL OF THE ABOVE IS JUST THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG, THE LIST COULD BE ENDLESS.


BUT, if we don't see even a glimpse of that great India in the India that we see today, it clearly means that we are not working up to our potential; and that if we do, we could once again be an evershining and inspiring country setting a bright path for rest of the world to follow.


I hope you enjoyed it and work towards the welfare of INDIA


Say proudly, I AM AN
INDIAN.

Please forward this email to all known INDIANS................

************
Does all this make for one to be proud to be an Indian?

I doubt it ....

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

YouTube links to favourite songs

Elvis Presley : Hound Dog
ZZ Top : La Grange
Boston : More than a feeling
Lynard Skynard : Freebird
Pink Floyd : Comfortably Numb
The Doors : Light my fire
Aerosmith : Dream On
Led Zeppelin : Stairway to Heaven
Journey : Don't Stop Believing
Pink Floyd : Shine On You Crazy Diamonds
Dire Straits : Money for nothing
Deep Purple : Smoke on the Water
Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young : Cathedral
Bob Seger : Turn the page
Jimi Hendrix : All along the watchtower
Guns n roses : Sweet Child o' Mine
Queen : We are the Champions
Derek and the Dominos : Layla
Roy Orbison : Pretty Woman
Survivor : Eye of the Tiger
Kansas : Carry on my wayward son
Dire Straits : Sultans of Swing
Red Hot Chili Peppers : Under the Bridge
Eagles : Hotel California
Queen : We will Rock You
Beatles : Hey Jude
Moody Blues : Nights in White Satin
Rolling Stones : You can't always get what you want
Pink Floyd : Wish you were here
R.E.M. : Losing my religion
The Fifth Dimension : Aquarius/Let the sun shine
The mamas and the papas : California Dreamin
Daniel Powter : Bad Day
Ray Charles : Hit the road Jack
Queen : Killer Queen
Petula Clark : Downtown
Guns n Roses : Knocking on Heaven's Door
America : A horse with no name
Charlie Daniels Band : Devil Went Down to Georgia
Pink Floyd : Another brick in the wall
The Beatles : Come together
Elton John : Your song
Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrel : Ain't no mountain high
Tom Jones : It's not unusual
Johnny Nash : I can see clearly now
Train : Drops of Jupiter
Bill Withers : Ain't no sunshine
Supertramp : Give a little bit
Louis Armstrong : What a wonderful life
The Beatles : Twist and Shout
T. Rex : Bang a gong
Roberta Flack : Killing me softly
Creedence Clearwater Revival : Have you ever seen the rain?
Kansas : Dust in the wind
U2 & Greenday : The saints are coming
Gavin Degraw : I don't want to be
Simon & Garfunkel : For Emily whenever I may find her
Plain white Ts : Hey There Delilah
The Beatles : A Day in the Life

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wanted good woman : Cowboy version

A framed notice seen outside a Cowboy-themed restaurant in Gardiner, Montana:

Wanted Good Woman. Must sew, cook, skin & gut, clean & shovel horse stalls. Must have horse and saddle. Please send photo of saddle and horse.

Came across the same in Wall Drug as well.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Enrolling the world

Who I am is the possibility of TRANSFORMATION.
The ACT I am giving up is I AM NO GOOD.
And thats who I am.


Remember....

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Pioneering spirit...

I bought the newest and the hottest gadget on the market today - iPhone!!!

Spent almost an hour playing with an iPhone at the Apple store before buying it, convinced of its utility and ease of use. It will be very useful on my road-trip.

Phone, music, access to maps and youtube, personal productivity tools like Calendar & calculator, internet access, and more, all in a cute tiny package and extremely user-friendly!

All hail Apple Inc.

Next thing I want from Apple and AT & T /.... : Affordable world-wide coverage!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Why blog regularly?

I have been blogging extensively over the past few months, as I see there are quite a few benefits from doing so. It would be interesting to list out these benefits so that others can understand why I keep bugging them to start blogging.

Friday, June 29, 2007

To read in the near future.....

Some books that I want to read in the near future based on recommendations from different sources:
  1. Don't make me think A common sense approach to Web Usability - recommended by PR. A book for the makers of web apps, and any other software apps.
  2. Bound together How traders, preachers, adventurers, and warriors shaped Globalization - reviewed in a recent issue of Newsweek. Whats not to like about a book which explores how everything in the world is connected?!
  3. Fish! A remarkable way to boost morale and improve results - recommended by GN, who in turn got a recommendation from GE employees.
  4. A house for Mr. Biswas - Never got around to read V. S. Naipaul's masterpiece despite the numerous recommendations over the years(one from SB), perhaps because it required quite a bit of patience and I didn't have it at that time!
  5. Another day in the frontal lobe A brain surgeon exposes life on the inside - from KD's book club list. Promises a fascinating look into a profession which revolves around a remarkable object.
  6. The will to lead Running a business with a network of Leaders - From the guy considered as the father of modern management consulting; need I say more?
  7. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows - The story needs an end!
  8. Arise Arjuna Hinduism and the Modern world - Recommended by KK.
  9. Sri Aurobindo Centenary Library Full works of Sri Aurobindo - recommended by KK.
  10. The life of Sri Aurobindo Biography of Sri Aurobindo by A. B. Purani
  11. The intention Experiment Using your thoughts to change your life and the world. Recommended by DJ.
  12. Why girls can't throw ... and other questions you always wanted answered. - About word and phrase origins, mainly Americanisms. Excerpt in a recent Readers' Digest.
  13. Headcase How I almost lost my head trying to understand my brain. Recommended in the Experience Life magazine (which incidentally is a very good magazine and I should subscribe to it soon) and could be a better alternative to #5 above.
  14. The world without us Another book recommended in the Experience Life magazine. Very intriguing title!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Road trip across US of A ; A dream come true!

Decided on doing this drive across the country yesterday, after mulling over it for the past few days, and after hoping to be able to do it "someday" for the past six years!

Monsier Victor Hugo was absolutely right when he said There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. Given that he was of the opinion that Every man should frame life so that at some future hour fact and his dreaming meet, I am sure he would be beaming down in approval at my plans to realise my dreams of driving across the length of United States.

JH had spoken about renting a RV and going around US with a bunch of people a couple of years ago, and naturally he came up as the first possible candidate to accompany me on this adventure. Given that he is an amateur photographer, and has time on his hands, I was quite hopeful that he will agree to join me. And he didn't disappoint me when I called him up!

So I need to figure out the earliest date at which I can start on this trip, list out some of the must see places & people on the way, book the flight to San Francisco, rent a one-way car rental from SFO to EWR with possibly an in-built GPS, find out about friends we could meet and stay with on the way, get details about hotel accommodation and camping information on the way, start a new blog dedicated to the road-trip (after all this is going to be a once in a life time experience, and hence deserves a separate blog of its own!), finish the must-do things in NY and pack some food and snacks among other things.

Life is beautiful when you are doing what you wanted to do for a long time!!

Perhaps the Who will buy... song from Oliver! comes close to express my current state of mind.

Created the Pacific to Atlantic blog; further updates on the trip will be over there. As of now, it looks realistic that I start on this journey during the week of July 9th.

That Elephant?!


A fond memorable incident I noted down a few years ago:
I was playing with a sweet two year old girl yesterday; she gave me a pair of scissors and a piece of paper and told me "Make Elephant". I toiled over it for a while egged on by her frequent "Where Elephant?" and finally showed her my best effort.

And she went "That Elephant?!"

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Lap-tops as life altering devices...

Was considering purchase of lap-tops for two of my nieces who are starting on the graduate degree studies this year; the intention being to give them a means towards a more secure and self-reliant future .

While googling on these lines, came across the OLPC (One Lap-top Per Child) and $100 lap-top initiatives. Looks like an ambitious project with realistic goals; would be interesting to know more about their objectives and the current status. There might be a possibility of getting involved in the initiative as well at some point in the future.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

El Laberinto del fauno

Had read a lot of good reviews and heard extremely positive comments from friends about the movie Pan's Labyrinth. Finally got to watch it on DVD with a few friends recently. It is quite an impressive movie, worth more than the three Oscars it won this year. A story which can be interpreted either as a delightful fairy tale or as a young Girl's delusional fantasy amidst the cruelty and harshness of a Fascist military base in Spain during the WW-II.

The story moves seamlessly between the two worlds the main character Ofelia lives in : The realistic world of soldiers and rebels and a suffering mother; and The Fantastic world of fairies, a Faun, a giant toad and a child eating monster.

I - as well as my friends - got engaged in the movie right from the beginning and came out at the end with a wondrous feeling.

The soundtrack of the movie is very nice.

I can't do this all on my own...

I think I got hooked to Scrubs because it was JHS's favourite show; JHS being a resident at a Boston Hospital at the time I met her first, working some crazy 48 hour shifts at the hospital and having some interesting stories to tell about her work place.

That was 2-3 years ago; now I own all the DVDs of the show, and watch some old episodes when I want a humorous interlude. There are so many episodes which I like to watch and watch again! My absolute favorite is the My Screw Up episode in the third season in which Brendan Fraser has a guest role, and the episode has a sad twist at the end. Other favorites are the one in which Dr. Kelso states "Nothing worth having comes easy in life", the ones with JD's father and brother making an appearance, some episodes with Heather Graham as guest star.

The music associated with the series is one key attraction for me, starting with the Superman single by Lazlo Bane which is the theme song of the series. Some old rock songs featured in the series became my favorites after I listened to them in the episodes and got to see the songs in a new light - most notable ones being Journey's Don't stop believing and Boston's More than a feeling. Turk and the other members of the air-band playing More than a feeling had me listen to the song over and over again for days!!

The lyrics of the theme song Superman:
Out the door just in time
Head down the 405
Gotta meet the new boss by 8 am

The phone rings in the car
The wife is working hard
She's running late tonight again

Well I know what I've been told
You gotta work to feed the soul
But I can't do this all on my own
No, I know I'm no Superman
I'm no Superman

Lyrics continued ....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Games Indians Play

A book titled Games Indians Play Why we are the way we are? caught my eye in Chennai Airport on my recent trip to India. Had never heard of the author V. Raghunathan, and would have dismissed the book as another 'thinker' ranting about the Indian society, but for the "Foreword by N.R. Narayana Murthy" line on the front page of the book.

Unlike a reviewer of the book implying that it is a book to be finished in one Sunday afternoon, I took almost a month to finish reading the book. It turned out to be worth a read, as it provides a framework based on concepts in Game Theory to understand various aspects of the Indian society, which are overwhelmingly negative.

Explaining the Simple and Iterative Prisoner's dilemma to begin with, the author makes a forceful argument that the basis for a course of action should come from within and not from outside. And only when majority of the Indian population understands this would the self-defeating Defect-Defect behaviour present in almost every aspect of 'Indian-ness' would be transformed to a sustaining Cooperate-Cooperate behaviour. The author also makes an interesting parallel between the discources between Krishna and Arjuna on the battlefields of Kurukshetra and the concepts of Game Theory, concluding that the Cooperate-Cooperate behaviour is nothing but everyone following Dharma as elucidated by Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita.

I would recommend it to anyone who has asked themselves at any point in time : "Why are so many things wrong with India? How can things be improved?"

Monday, June 18, 2007

Back in the 'City of Light'

Came to Paris on a week-long official trip yesterday, and found the city to be very mesmerising. As usual!

One of the must-do things on my Trips to Paris is a hike up the Montmartre to visit the Basilica of the Sacré Cœur. I like the short climb up the hill and getting rewarded with panoramic views of Paris and the serenity of the majestic cathedral with its huge and hollow white dome. Unlike my earlier visits, this time it was drizzling and it made for a different experience.

This time I found out that the trip to Sacré Cœur could be financially lucrative as well. I bought a memorial gold medallion from a vending machine by paying 2€. A German man saw me do so, and asked me if I have another 2€ coin to spare for him to buy the same memento. I gave him the last coin I had, and he gave me a 5€ note!!

Thats a whopping 150% rate of return per (let's say) 10 seconds. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all investments give atleast 0.001 % of this kind of return! On refusing to accept the 5€ note for the 2€ coin, the entire family pitched in to pay me 2€ in change, telling me "Now you can sleep in peace"

Found out that the guy had worked in India (Gujarat) for ABB and had stayed there for 9 months.

June 21 is a special day in France. The whole country resonates with music emanating from thousands of concerts at public places during the La fête de la musique

Found out from a few of my colleagues that Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham is a super-hit in France and is more famous as La Famille Indienne

The trip inspired me to re-invigorate my efforts at learning French Language (oui, I am a closet Francophile ) and that lead to the creation of 2bfrancaise blog

Saturday, June 16, 2007

When you don't know the answer...

Thanks to BK for forwarding me a mail containing the following images with some very funny answers people have come up to difficult questions posed in Examinations. Made me remember the "Gestalt Theory states that if you don't know the answer to a question during exams, you should not answer it" answer to the question What is Gestalt Theory? in college, getting me a "Nice Try!" from the professor.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Pittsburgh, Hindu temples, Amish community...

Accompanied SS on his road-trip to Pittsburgh during the Memorial day wknd as I hadn't planned anything else for the long week-end. While SS was going because he wanted to have a Darshan at the Hindu temple there, I was more than happy to join him for the drive itself. The drive to Steel City takes around 7 hours from my place and for the most part very picturesque - through the Applachian mountains and having 3-4 tunnels enroute.

We attended the Vishnu Sahasranama recitation in the morning at SV temple. Found out that my first name is one of the names of Vishnu! Makes me extra proud of my name :)

During the recitation, a young girl sitting next to me on her father/uncle's lap said to him "I don't understand anything the priest is saying." It made me wonder about the thousand odd rituals like this which Indians/Hindus perform regularly without knowing much about the details, and about the historical Brahminic hegemony on all things religious in Hinduism. I also felt sad that in a few years that girl is quite likely to stop raising such complaints to fit in among her family and peers.

I bought the book Hindu Culture An introduction by Swami Tejomayananda at the Temple store to learn more about my religion; I don't think I have really had a formal introduction to the religion at any time.

Got to see some people wearing a odd-looking red cloth on their head, and on enquiring with one of the women in the group, found that they were Kannadigas from all over US who come to Pittsburgh regularly (usually during a long-weekend) to perform Mettilotsava. The head-clothing they were wearing was supposed to be a simile of the 'cap' worn by Purandara dasa.

In addition to the SV temple, we also visited the Sri Shirdi Saibaba temple and the Hindu Jain temple, all of them being in close vicinity of each other.

On the way back, we took a detour from the regular Penna Tpke route and drove onto Interstate Route 99 with Penn's Cave and Route 80 being the guiding markers. The trip to Penn's Cave did turn out worthwhile even though we couldn't take part in any of the cavern/wild-life tours there. We started seeing road-signs on Route 192 asking us to expect seeing some Horse-buggies, and within a few minutes a Horse-buggy came along making us aware of our inadvertent entry into Amish country. It was surprising to us as we were far from Lancaster county which is commonly associated with Amish.

For a half an hour or so, we got to see Amish men and women go about their lives in their traditional head-covered (and mostly black) dress, walking to places within short distances and traveling by horse-buggies to far away places. It was quite an experience to partake of their anachronistic life-style. A few Amish women - most likely returning from work in the fields - waved at us when we passed them and were looking at them like they were some tourist attractions. While SS was taking a photo of the Horsebuggy as it approached, one of the Amish men in the buggy took out a cellphone and was taking our photo with it :)

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Mungaru Male : Pure magic

I have been listening to the songs of the movie Mungaru Male repeatedly (often 4-5 times a day) over the past couple of months, after listening to my friends and my family rave about it for months. I love it, and can't wait to see the movie to have the full experience of these songs with the beautiful picturisation of the songs in Malnad. Wish I had made time to see the movie when I was in Bangalore last month! I will have to wait till the movie comes out on DVD or travel to some faraway city in US where it is being premiered now according to this web-site. I guess I could make it to Pittsburgh on July 14th to watch the movie!!

These songs were the favourites of my nephew and nieces as well; recalling them cutely singing these songs while I was at home lends an additional charm to the music and the songs.

Got to know that the music director for this movie - Mano Murthy - is part Music director and part Silicon-valley Entrepreneur. More surprising was the fact that he scored the music for the movie America! America!! which has been one of my favorites both for its story and its melodious songs. How could I have not known about a guy who has such wonderful scores to his credit!

Songs of Mungaru Male uploaded on YouTube:
* Anisuthide yaako indu : Sonu Nigam
* Kunidu Kunidu Baare : Udit Narayan, Sunidhi Chauhan, Stephen
* Mungaru Maleye : Sonu Nigam
* Onde Ondu Sari : Kunal Ganjawala, Priya Hemesh
* Suvvi Suvvali : Hemanth Kumar
* Araluthiru : Shreya Goshal
* Ivanu geleyanalla: Shreya Goshal

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

True transformation can indeed happen!

I spent three days (Fri 8th to Sun 10th from 9:00 AM to almost 11:00 PM everyday) in a basement in Manhattan with around 130 total strangers. I entered on Friday morning as a person with thousands of unsolvable problems, and left on Sunday evening with a "Bring on the Problems, World" attitude!

I must thank RR for pestering me over the past two years to do this. Of course I called him yesterday to thank him and also mentioned that he will get a kick on his butt next time we meet for not dragging me to the Landmark Forum earlier! My life would have been so much more fulfilling, and a whole lot of trouble I got into wouldn't have happend, if I had attended this seminar before!!

RR was telling me for a long time about Landmark Education and I was always ignoring his entreaties to take up the course. I finally came around recently and decided to attend the Landmark Forum Seminar, and was blown away from the moment I stepped in.

The 130 odd people who had signed up for the Forum along with me each ended Sunday evening as a different person with a new-found confidence in themselves and a better understanding of their stature and interactions with the world.

I did have quite a few break-throughs and achievements during the three days.

On the personal note, I was able to let go of one of the long-persisting notion of inferiority which I had been grappling with for most of my life. It happend just like that. I was doing a 2 minute exercise with my neighbour in class at that time - a black woman. She said something very simple and obvious about my complaint and I - after a brief pause - burst out laughing at the simplicity and the absurdity of the revelation, and was left wondering why I couldn't see it for myself before!

I was able to make huge progress in getting close with my family members. When I joked with my mother about her having to learn English language atleast for the sake of being with my English-speaking-only kids when they are born in the next five years or so, I knew the money I paid for attending the Landmark Forum was worth every penny, and I was being rewarded immensely on the investment.

I also made some breakthroughs in normalising my strained relationships at work. On Sunday afternoon, I called up my boss at his home and had a pleasant - and significant - conversation with him after a long time. I am glad to have turned the tide in the way our relationship was disintegrating. I am very confident that I can build on this small victory and achieve what I want most at work - harmonious relationships with everyone and working as part of a team towards achieving the Organisation's Goals.

In addition to my transformations at the personal level, I am also thankful of this forum for giving me some close friends. Two of my Black/African-American friends had never had Indian food ("because of ignorance" as one of them mentioned) and were very happy that I introduced them to Indian cuisine. Later on as they made significant breakthroughs in their own life, they thanked me for my role in their transformation. I could be flying high in the sky now :)

I don't think I have ever interacted with Homo-sexuals before, and I always have had a thought at the back of my mind that if I ever came face-to-face with someone, I would be embarassed and not know how to behave. There were quite a few Homo-sexuals in this forum, and I had no problem relating to them, and made some good friends by the end of the sessions.

It was amazing to see the transformations in each and every participant. The most astonishing transformation was of one young white woman who started as obnoxious and everyone was referring to her in their private conversations as 'The cynical one' or 'a B***h'. She ended as everyone's favourite at the end of sunday's session after she thanked the Seminar Leader for "conducting the seminar and trying her best to throw her out" and addressed everyone in the audience and said "I apologize to all the people I have been mean to over the past three days." Later on in the day, when she was thanking her boyfriend - who was in the audience - for bringing her to Landmark, everyone in the audience gave her a huge ovation.

I was very impressed with the way the Seminar Leader - a French woman - handled the sessions and the impact she had on the 130 odd people there. At the end of the sessions I decided "I want to be like her. I want to be able to make a difference in the world, 130 odd people at a time over one week-end!" I volunteered to assist in Landmark's courses and have gathered information about what needs to be done to become a Seminar Leader.

This realisation was quite significant for me. I have had a nagging complaint about myself over the past few years that I hate many things about my family, my community, my city, my country, in fact everything associated with my roots, and that is why I 'ran away' to United States. And that I had to earn millions to make a difference back home. Now I know how I can indeed make a difference RIGHT NOW, and I feel liberated from unnatural and unhealthy drives!
I am amazed at the changes Landmark Forum has helped me bring about in myself, and I am sharing it with everyone I know - my family, my friends, my colleagues, the people I meet on the road :) It is a good thing that Landmark Education has a large presence in India and conducts regular seminars in many cities including Bangalore. I told my family members and requested them to attend the seminar. Right now only my father has agreed and others say they are not interested. That is awesome - my infectious enthusiasm affected atleast one person in my family!

I am inviting everyone I know to attend the seminar session today evening, and the more I talk with people about this, the more it becomes clear to me what I am gaining from attending this course. Yesterday, while speaking with one of my friends I realised that one of my rackets is to "prove that I am better/different than everyone else". Thinking about it further I realised I have that need for one-upmanship in reaction to a sense of rejection I experienced as a kid and was trying to gain my parents' affection back by proving that I am better than everyone else. Very typical of the script I wrote for my life as a 5 or 6 year old kid! Now that I know I have this behaviour and understand why I behave that way, it should only be a matter of time before I take this unwanted characteristic out of my behaviour.

I was thinking earlier "If this course is so life-changing and beneficial, why don't everyone benefit from it?" Drawing parallels from my own case, I came up with the following answer: "Everyone can benefit from it, but only when they are ready for it and are willing to receive what it has to offer"

RR was telling me for 2 years and I kept ignoring him. Anusha's untimely and tragic death shakes me to the core, makes me go on a 'emergency' vacation to India to reconnect with my family and friends, return to US with a thorough sense of dissatisfaction about every aspect of my life - family, friends, work,.... - and am desperately looking for some help with these problems and I sign up to Landmark Forum without too many second thoughts, and voila! My life is transformed!

Earlier today I was wondering if all this was a momentary 'high' induced by some master manipulators and that I would be back to being as I was before on Friday. Then I realised it is not temporary; I have it in me to use the things I learnt over the three days in handling every difficulty life throws at me; the friendships I built at Landmark would be my support for life.

World! You have another content and proud man among your billions!!!

As a close friend says "The best way to measure the positivity of this cult is to see how much money they ask you for. On a scale of ZERO = very positive : MUCH = Negatively cynical ;-) "

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lynne Truss - My heroine

Finished reading Eats, Shoots and Leaves today. Awesomely entertaining book on punctuation. Hats off to the author - Lynne Truss - for writing an informative book on the 'drab' topic. The abundant anecdotes and hilarious send-ups had me laughing out loud on the train while commuting to work!

Given that I am a stickler in many aspects of life - including punctuation - I could relate strongly to the initial discussion on the silent suffering of the few believers forced to live with the non-believing majority.

A believer can co-exist peacefully with the non-believers
  • by finding solace in the company of fellow-believers,
  • by being able to accept the difference of opinions (at best) and lack of awareness (at worst), and
  • learning more relaxation techniques.
Breeeeeeeeeathe deeeeeeeeeeeeply.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

When the Superstar came to town...

Another story I had sent by e-mail to friends; this one from Feb 2007

... I was out of the country

I went to Montreal on a client visit and missed a golden opportunity to meet Rajnikanth!!

ok, here is the story from the beginning:
Pradeep Shakti - the guy who played one of the villians in Nayagan - has been in NJ for a while now, and runs a South Indian restaurant in Jersey City - one which I visit regularly. This guy was in Film Institute with Rajnikanth, and has become best buddies with him.

Recently Rajni was supposed to come to US for shooting parts of his new movie Sivaji. He called up this guy and arranged for staying with him while he was in US. Our friend Pradeep gladly went to the airport to receive the superstar and brought him home. Took the superstar on a sight-seeing tour in NY and showed him times square.

Next day Pradeep had called a few of his close friends (some regular customers at his restaurant) for a late-night party with the superstar. My best friend here went to the party and had a good time there - the party going on from 10:00 PM to 2:00 AM; rajni and pradeep reminiscing about their early days together. My friend was saying that Rajni was very nice in person, very approachable and joined in peoples' conversations in their own language - telugu, tamil, kannada,...

Earlier in the day, they were having lunch in one of the restaurants in NY, and after 10 minutes people started coming over to their table asking if it was indeed rajnikanth!!

Wonder how it would have been if I were in town and had got to go to that party.....

Post-script: I should get the photos from the party; many of my friends will be happy to see those photos.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Once in a life-time adventure

This is a story from May 2006 which I had sent out to my friends as an email with subject as either "Once in a life-time adventure" or "Good story to tell my Grand Kids".

Visit Vancouver. Get work visa extended. Last day plan scenic round-trip drive in Canadian Rockies. Rent car and drive up the Sea-to-sky highway to Whistler and beyond enjoying picture-postcardesque scenery along the way.

70 miles from nearest town on a two lane curvy and lonely road. Speed on one curve create gradient, and along with gravel on road, and lightness of car, make car develop own mind. Car decide to curve around, come to a halt on the opposite side of the road, turn over and stick wheels to the sky. Self dangling upside down, held by seat-belt, enjoying a different perspective of surrounding scenery of grass, stones, etc through broken wind-shield.

Unbuckle and crawl out through broken window pane. Review damage : Car in unmovable state, Not a single scratch on me, no cellphone coverage, rental agreement with insurance coverage limit financial damage to $300.

SMILE. LAUGH.

YESSSS!!!! SOME ONE UP THERE LLLLLLLLLIKES ME !!!!!

Enter stage left: Friendly Boat Salesman in a SUV. Ride with FBS on the way back learning the ins and outs of Aluminium Boat industry and about his own recent car-does-belly-up-turtle-act accident which had resulted in some severe damage to the body of the human and the car. Reach nearest town and report incident to Cute Woman Police Officer. Get report of incident from CWPO and report to rental agency. FBS and CWPO find common interests and exchange phone numbers.

Continue on journey with FBS learning about the adventures possible in Vancouver Island and about the way to identify Albertans driving in British Columbia and other interesting things. FBS thrilled to get CWPO's phone number. Bye Bye FBS in Horse Shoe Bay with "Go easy on those rental cars, ey!"

Continue scenic tour on bus and reach Airport. Take flight home.

...AND I THINK TO MYSELF "WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD!".....

Post-scripts to that story:
  • The rental car company asked me to pay $350 ; I should say it cost me very little for such an awesome adventure!
  • I should contact Mr. FBS soon, and tell him that I have taken his advice and not turned over any other rentals cars so far.
  • One minor regret: I didn't think of taking the photo of the belly-up Car. Or even better a photo of the belly-up car with the Driver who sent it belly-up would have been perfect!
The only souvenir from that accident I have with me is a piece of glass from the wind-shield, which somehow got into my bag, for me to discover after returning to US. I am preserving it carefully to show it in the future as a proof of having been through a miraculous experience!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

South Indian food in New Jersey

I consider myself lucky to be staying in close proximity to many South Indian restaurants; most of them are close enough to allow me to make a last minute decision to drive over there for lunch/dinner and reach the restaurant within an hours time.

Udupi Cafe in Franklin Park was probably the first purely South Indian restaurant I got introduced to after arriving in US. It was wonderful to visit this restaurant and relive the experience of eating out in Bangalore. Haven't visited the place in a long time - it being far away being one of the main reasons. Visited the Parsippany branch of Udupi Cafe a couple of times recently; the lunch buffet is quite good.

Malabar House on Stelton Road in Pisctaway has been a favourite of my friends and I for a long time for the tasty Kerala Vegetarian food, and the cosy atmosphere provided by the family run restaurant. Hadn't been to this place in a long time; very recently stopped over there at around 4:00 PM and had them make me a cup of delicious coffee to keep me going on my way south. :)

Swagath Gourmet on Oaktree Road in Iselin has been my personal favourite for a long time. I have frequently visited the place to enjoy their thali or rice dishes or dosas, and almost always having a side order of Paniyaram and a take-out order of Maddur Vada (AWESOME!) and finishing the meal with a delicious cup of South Indian Coffee. The place is run by folks from Mysore.

Moksha on Oaktree Road is one of the recently opened restaurants to move up to my favourites list. The menu is quite exotic including dishes from all four South Indian states, and probably more oriented for a meat-eater's palate. The food is pricey, but the overall experience is favourable.

Malgudi on Oaktree Road has some very interesting items on the menu, and is more crowded than the other restaurants in the area. I have walked away from the place many times to eat at a different place. Food is good and the service is decent as well. The best thing I remember about visiting the place was once seeing an Indian Guy carrying a new-born child and proudly sporting the "Sugar Daddy" T-shirt much to our delight :-)

Hoysala in Somerset was the most recent discovery. I was delighted to find that the place was run by folks from Bangalore and the menu had some dishes local to Bangalore and the surrounding areas - things like Akki Roti, Ragi Mudde, Kadale Saru, Badanekayi yenagai, ... Their lunch buffet is sumptuous as well, including a wide variety of appetisers (though most are of the deep-fried variety making me go easy on them!), fresh dosa, idli, tasty sambhar, one delicious rice item along with many veg and non-veg entrees. The coffee is good as well.

Saravana Bhavan has recently opened a Branch on Oaktree Road; the ambience is very good - the place must have been a huge diner before. The food as always is excellent.

Finally, I have to mention Baba Hut on Newark Avenue in Journal Square, which serves authentic coastal food from Andra and Tamil Nadu, and is open till 11:30 PM atleast everyday to make it convenient when running late from work or when returning late from a long trip. The propreiter -Pradeep Shakti - was previously in the cinema field; his best remembered role being of a villian in Nayagan. If only I wasn't out of town on work, I would have got to meet Super Star Rajnikanth when he visited US for shooting some parts of his new movie Sivaji and was staying with Pradeep's folks. The Super Star had taken part in a late night get-together at Baba Hut with some of the close friends of Pradeep's.

So do I miss South Indian food with all these restaurants nearby and to top it all I myself can dish out some delicious South Indian food in quick time?!!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

One of the best Hindi movie in recent times

At least one of the best Hindi movies I have watched in recent times.

Watched Khosla Ka Ghosla two time so far with friends, and both times everyone in the audience were very impressed with the movie, and wanted the movie to continue even after it ended! The movie is well made, funny, with a nice story and great acting from all the actors most of whom are small-time artists.

Based on a NetFlix user's comment that the second half of the movie runs similar to Paul Newman-Robert Redford caper movie The Sting, watched it recently and enjoyed it immensely as well.

Friday, May 4, 2007

One book per week?

The other day while browsing at one of the NYPL branches, I got hold of a book in which an author was telling about her efforts at reading one book per week for a full year, and had given as part of the appendices at the end of the book, the original must-read list, the final books-read list, and the must-read list for the next year.

I must average atleast 20 or more books per year.

Some of the books I remember reading in the recent past:

(a) Story-wallah: Short fiction from South Asian writers
The Editor - Shyam Selvadurai - has collected an extra-ordinary set of stories written by writers of South Asian origin. The introduction to the book provided by the author shows his deep appreciation of the sense of no-where-ness a South Asian person experiences when he moves to US or Canada or Europe. The editor also is quite adept at expressing his thoughts. His comment that he identifies more with the hyphen in Canadian-Sri Lankan than with either national identities impressed me and set the tone for the rest of the book.

(b) The Namesake
I had liked the various stories Jhumpa Lahiri had weaved together in her book "Interpreter of Maladies". The title story and the one where the couple are considering separation but change their mind were the two favourite stories from that book. Had never heard about 'The Namesake' till I came across the news about the movie's release.

Listened to the CD version of the novel on a trip to Baltimore, and was totally absorbed with the story of the Ganguly family, and was amazed at the breadth of Indo-American experiences the author has been able to distill into this sweet story. I doubt if watching the movie will be as good an experience as reading the book.

(c) Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness
William Styron's story of slow descent into the depths of depression and a courageous recovery is the type of story I was looking for when I went about seeking someone's story on overcoming depression.

Elizabeth Wurtzel's Prozac Nation - which I read first with the same objective - turned out to be more of a journal of depression-driven excesses and didn't focus much on the recovery part. After spending 99 % of the book describing the hell she was in, the author touched upon Prozac and recovery very briefly in the last couple of pages.

William Styron was not only able to express very lucidly the hopelessness and maddening frustrations of his increasingly melancholic state-of-mind, but also delves in length on the recovery aspects, starting with his recollection of the happier times of his life on listening to a favourite piece of music.

Hopefully will come across more wonderful books to read in the future......

Thursday, May 3, 2007

A wonderful journey of a movie

Saw Meet the Robinsons a few weeks ago in 3D in a movie hall. While there wasn't much of three dimensional effects in the movie, the movie itself was an absolute delight. The story is simple yet fast paced with an abundance of gags in each frame. I especially enjoyed the character of the bald-headed villian for his incredibly stupid schemes.

Got to know that this was the last movie Anusha saw :(

Gwen Stefani's new song Sweet Escape also reminds me of Anusha as one of my friends commented that the song was a good one for Anusha and her friends to dance to at some cultural or school function.