Thursday, December 23, 2004

Snowed in in Lexington

Lexington is an isle of safety amidst this severe winter storm raging all around us. Cincinnati up north is snowed in under 2 feet of snow. Louisville is also under snow. All interstates between Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky are closed or almost closed. And two of my friends who came to visit me from Chicago are stuck here (poor souls!)...One of them has a flight to catch on Christmas Day (which I hope he makes). One other thing worth mentioning: Greyhound customer service sucks. I have had a couple of adventures the past two days which I will blog about when I am in the mood for it...Right now,I am signing off...Ciao!

Monday, December 13, 2004

Finals crunch

Well, it is that time of the year again. Finals on Wednesday and Thursday. And I have been on a marathon study of some 4 hours (quite a record by my standards) and I thought I'd take a break and do something else for a change....
Have a long to-do list for this week and next before going to India. Promising to be a very, very hectic schedule for a couple of weeks! But first order of business: finish off finals.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Land of the Cauvery

When I first set foot in Trichy some 5 years back, it was the #1 hated spot on my list. If someone told me then that after spending 4 years there, I'd be blogging about Trichy one day, I would have laughed in their face. But I guess the place grew on me and I actually began to love Srirangam with all its quirks, incoveniences and eccentricities!
Way back in December 1999, we had a good monsoon . Till then, in the 3 months or so that I had been there, I used to travel daily between Srirangam to my college. Everyday, I used to cross the dried up, desert-like horizon of sand that was the Cauvery and I used to wonder what inspired so many people to write verses on the so-called beauty of Cauvery. But after the monsoon, after a week of holidays, I ventured out of Srirangam in the good old TST (Trichy Srirangam Transports) bus. The roads were awfully water logged and I was wondering how in the world I was going to manage to come back home in the evening without becoming a muddy mess. When we crossed the Cauvery bridge, I truly held my breath. The water level was almost near the top of the bridge and the river was truly in spate with the swirling waters dashing against the embankments on either side. The coconut trees on either side of the river were lush green. And the big banyan trees were bent over the river with their branches caught up in the spate. It was truly one of the most amazing sights I had ever seen in my life and I realized then why Ponni was the touted possession of the erstwhile Chola kingdom. A couple of days later, I had to travel towards Ariyamangalam to meet a friend. And the lush green paddy fields after the rain and the cool green orchards enchanted me.
After my first year exams were over, one of my good friends suggested that we both start reading Ponniyin Selvan over the holidays. Back then, I was an ignoramus and I thought Ponni was some girl and the novel was about her son/lover or something. I wasn't too keen but because of a lack of things to do, I started reading it. And the masterpiece by Kalki had me at the first page. The Cauvery, of course, is the lifeline running through the novel. I guess it inspired me to learn more about the history and culture underlying the region and I was much the better for it. Anyways, I went on to read all of Kalki's historic novels.
The thing is that at the end of four years, which I thought would be the most hateful, I ended up being very much attached to Srirangam, the temple, its culture, its distinct flavour. When I had to say goodbye to Srirangam when I was leaving for the US, my heart was truly heavy. When the Rockfort Express crossed the Cauvery and headed out, I saw the temple tower soaring majestically from amongst coconut groves and I had a strange feeling of loss.
I have been in many cities and towns in my life. I am used to moving around and adapting to places. But this was the first place that inspired in me such deep sadness upon leaving. It might not be the hippest town (sometimes, it is dead boring!) and not perhaps the trendiest, but the land between the Cauvery and Kollidam certainly holds a special place in my heart.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Seinfeld Quips

"Our body is high maintenance. There's a lot of shaving, grooming, washing and feeding. Really, if our body were a car, you wouldn't buy it because it is too much maintenance!"

"Men's magazines don't contain a lot of advice because men think I know what I am doing.....just show me somebody naked."

Jerry Seinfeld

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


By the way, watched Manmathan on Sunday against all the better counsel of my brain (I had an unfinished project due Monday). Okay sort of a movie. Hats off to Simbu for a stunning performance. I am not a Simbu fan (in fact, I was virulently against him) but he made me sit up and take notice. But as far the movie went, it is desperately lacking logic. Because of one woman's adultery, a character becomes upset and murders her?! And because of his brother's heartbreak, the hero turns a "cleanser of all adulterous women"?
I am not a female lib person or a chauvinist or anything remotely close to it but why is it that female adultery is somehow more heinous than male adultery????????!!!??? I've never seen a movie where a female character turns to murder because the guy in her life cheated on her.
Anyways, I guess it is stupid to anyway look for logic in Tamil movies. And this movie is compared to Sigappu Rojakkal and Manmatha Leelaigal. I think those movies had far better cause/effect logic than this one. But oh well, it was an okay way to spend time...

Gone in 45 mins

I have an Algorithms class from 3.30 to 4.45 PM on Tuesdays and Thursdays. To be frank, I rarely ever focus fully in this class. I am always in a half-dazed state. Not that I feel sleepy in class or anything. It is just that I cannot bring myself to listen to the lecture. The rambling style of the prof doesn't help matters much. But anyways, the one thing I learnt from this course: I know my attention span precisely to a minute. And it is exactly 45 minutes. Yup, everyday as I sit through this class, I will glance at my watch exactly at 4.15 PM for the first time. After that, it is 10 minute increments of glancing. The initial 45 minutes, I at least try to listen with half an ear. After that, it is all downhill.
Anyways, I just wonder how it is that people sit for hours together listening to lectures or even watch movies. The other day, my friend told me he watched 4 movies back to back. These days, I can't sit through a single tamil movie in one sitting. I start fidgeting after an hour or so. Maybe this is just a reflection on the sad state of movies or MAYBE I am getting old!!

Monday, December 06, 2004

Sound of a ticking clock

I have this little red mechanical clock, you know, the ones that operate on battery. I was using it until some 6 months back. Through the night, I would keep focusing on the interminable tick, tick, tick of the damn clock and I couldn't sleep. In the mornings, when I became half-conscious, the tick, tick would creep into my brain and I couldn't go back to sleep. So finally, I put the clock out of use and in storage. Well, this evening when I got home, a sudden surge of conscience made me think I should put my resources to good use. I rifled through my drawers and decided I would use the clock albeit at a safe distance from my bed. So I plomped it on a chest of drawers safely away from my bed and went to take a nap. Whaddaya know.....the ticking still irritates me..I lay in the bed tossing and turning for an hour focusing on the clock instead of sleeping and when I actually got out of bed, I had a horrible headache.
Well, now I am stuck with a bad headache and a horrendous loathing for the little red clock.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

You know you are a Desi when....

I came across this article. Found it funny. Check it out and Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Which Planet are you from?

You Are From the Moon

You can vibe with the steady rhythms of the Moon.
You're in touch with your emotions and intuition.
You possess a great, unmatched imagination - and an infinite memory.
Ultra-sensitive, you feel at home anywhere (or with anyone).
A total healer, you light the way in the dark for many.

The Mess in Kanchi

I had decided not to blog about this issue because it is a highly sensitive one. I changed my mind. A friend forwarded me this link about the Shankaracharya titled "The Real Shankaracharya":

I was a great follower of the Paramacharya, Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi. I have read his collected talks "Theivathin Kural" and many of his ideas have moulded my thoughts and perspectives in many ways. I confess that I am not that great an admirer of the present Acharya but nonetheless revere him as one who's above the average populace. It came as a rude shock to suddenly read on rediff that he had been imprisoned on a murder charge.

Of course, immediately, the press went to town on how he is a power wielding, goonda in ascetic robes. Somehow, I find it very difficult to believe that a man who has been performing Chandramouleeswara Pooja for the past 50 years or so is capable of committing murder or even masterminding it. Regardless of the fact that he is active in politics, he is still an ascetic, has been under the guidance of the Paramacharya and has the exclusive right to perform pooja to Kanchi Kamakshi in the garbhagriha. Would such a person even contemplate a heinous sin such as this?! I can't imagine that.

What is more irritating is the "holier-than-thou" attitude of politicians. Karunanidhi who now tarnishes the Acharya freely is a scoundrel himself. And Jayalalitha is no better anyway. These are all people with so many criminal cases pending against them and they are in no position to accuse the Acharya of anything.

Do I belive the Acharya is guilty? Frankly, I don't know. I hope it is not true. If he has indeed committed such a crime, then I think the spiritual punishment for doing Pooja with such impure thoughts would be more severe than any that mortal law can impose on him. If he is not, then I hope that all these years of purity and tapas will bring him through this test of fire stronger and untarnished. But there is no denying the fact that the Hindu community is indeed deeply hurt by the arrest of a religious figure of the Shankaracharya's stature.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The more things change...

Everyone says mankind has "evolved". We have grown progressive since the middle ages, apparently. We have invented new things and shrunk the world to a global village. Sure, we know a lot of things now. We know that we have come from monkeys; that we are just a speck in the dust swirl that is the universe; that each of us is just a fleeting moment in our beloved Earth's history. But despite all this, Nature still holds the upper hand. The impulses that drove men and women 2000 years back still drive us. Men went to war out of greed for land, women, wealth. We still do. Iraq is a case in point. Long back, they had all those crusades in defense of religion. We still have our jihadists, Protestants Vs. Catholics in Ireland, Hindus Vs. Muslims in India, Conservative Christians Vs. Liberals in the USA. Even today, people wage war in the name of God, be it on the stump or on the battleground. People murdered for wealth back then; that remains the primary cause even now. During those wars back then, they murdered and slaughtered POWs. Geneva conventions notwithstanding, that's what is happening now too.
And if they burnt witches back then, now we have gays.
The only thing I find different is that, these days we do everything with a James Bond-like sophistication. I guess in those days if you wanted to kill someone, it would be a very messy affair with a lot of splattering of blood. These days it can be done with a grease-like polish. Same goes for almost everything else.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. All progress is an illusion.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

The Procrastrinator Cometh!

Well, I don't know when I became such a HUGE procrastrinator. I have a 571 project, a term paper, a term project and a programming assignment looming ahead in the coming two weeks and here I am, cool as a cucumber whiling away time watching TV, doing all sorts of things that could take a backseat. I have promised myself that I'd make some headway today with my CS 571 project. The task is just made harder by the fact that C on Linux throws up some weird Bus errors and Segmentation faults for no reason. Vijai suggested I blog about this topic but I wasn't really keen at that time. Now after spending 3 hours trying to debug I-know-not-what, I am ready to rant about it.....aaargh!
When was the last time a programming project drove me nuts to such an extent???!!!! I think it must've been way back in my second year, perhaps. If only gcc would give me some kind of decipherable errors, I would be happier. And I am NOT happy with procedural programming. I prefer the OO model.
Anyways, I think I will be a way more happier kid when I am done with all these deadlines. Oh and I just realized that I made a major mistake at work today. I had to upload some files to the webserver and I overwrote some recent ones with old ones. And my boss is just sending me mail after mail about some flash quiz that is not working on the site. I didn't even code that quiz and heaven help me if I have to read that code and find out what's wrong with it. I suppose all this means that I would have to go to work at 8 AM in the morning (sigh). Happy me!
The only consolation: tomorrow's payday!!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

If this were hell...

Maybe this world is another planet's hell.
Aldous Huxley (1894 - 1963)

I found this funny. Just imagine if this were indeed another planet's hell....what sort of punishments would the powers-that-be devise for the people sent here?!!? Here's some I came up with:
1. Watch endless Tamil mega-serials.
2. Condemned to call 1.800 numbers and keep listening to machines for hours. You know, the ones that keep on going "Press 1 if you want blah..Press 2 if you want blah..Press 9 if you want blah..". Hell, all I want is to talk to a person which you will never get to and worst of all, the machines will never get tired of talking to you! Can't think of a better punishment.
3. Listen to George Bush's talks. (By the way, I can't imagine why he looked like he was about to deliver an obituary when he appointed Condi Rice to Secy. Of State. I quite honestly thought that that grave air was quite out of place. Dubya, after nearly 6 debates, you still haven't learnt what expression to use when!)
4. Browse the net without pop-up blockers.
5. Be an MP in the Indian Parliament when they start throwing slippers, bottles or have shout-matches.
6. Read Salman Rushie's Satanic Verses (most likely, the average joe would become nuts trying to figure out what this guy's trying to say)
7. Travel on Mumbai's electric trains in peak hours.
8. Have a friendly neighborhood dog that just won't stop barking/howling through the night.
9. Try to get a license from an RTO office without a bribe.
10. Eat American food.
11. Try to explain to a confused kid behind the desk at a fast-food store what "Vegetarian" means. When you get done, he/she goes , ", if you don't want anything in there, like what do you want???"

That's for now..feel free to add to it.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Diwali Mela!

I suprise myself sometimes. I just finished cooking about the best dinner I have ever made in my life and I didn't even set about it seriously!!! I was just doing it in the most offhand and casual manner!
The menu this evening:
Coconut Payasam
Okra curry- south Indian style
Garlic Rasam
Fried papads.

I offered whatever I had cooked to God and after naivethiyam, when I tasted the coconut payasam, I almost swooned with delight!! I tasted like heaven. And the garlic rasam has left its aroma on all my jackets, gloves et al that I had left lying around the house. Oh, and I had fried papads for the first time in the US. All in all, a delicious Diwali mela. Too bad it became too late to invite anyone over.!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The Sacred Ash

I am reading Freedom at Midnight by Dominique LaPierre and Larry Collins. There are often references in the book to crazy customs in "God-obsessed" India like smearing ash. Frankly, it sort of annoys me to the point that I feel compelled to write about it! The wearing of the "Vibhuti" or sacred Ash has deep philosophical meaning in Hinduism:

When any object is consumed by fire, it becomes charred. If that black residue is burnt again, it becomes white ash. White ash continues to remain white even when burnt again. This shows that white is the ultimate and black is proximate to it. Science tells us that diamond and coal are basically one. White and black are not colours. The primary colours get separated from the objects to which they are attached when subjected to the test of fire and ultimately white. Similarly, in the mental and spiritual place, the Ultimate Reality is Siva, who is white and proximate to Him is Parvati, who is dark. When we test everything in the fire of Jnana, or true knowledge, the residue is Siva. Ash in the material plane corresponds to Siva in the spiritual plane. We smear our bodies with the sacred ash to remind ourselves of Siva and the fact that the ultimate goal of life is Siva.

Hinduism is perhaps as complicated to fathom in a single glance as the land that nourishes it. It is sad that the populace of Hindus themselves are vastly unaware of the reasons behind their customs. If the Hindu population itself is ignorant, is it any wonder that the world chooses to ridicule their ideas??

Interesting Perspective

Those of you that can read Tamil, please visit the following link:
You might probably need Tamil font downloadable from the site or perhaps not. I cannot remember. But it is certainly worth a look....

Sunday, November 07, 2004


Only two things have left me totally awestruck. The first one was some 10 years ago. My father was posted in Madurai in Southern Tamilnadu, once erstwhile and rich capital of the ancient Pandya kingdom. We set out on an evening journey to a temple nearby which my father was really curious to visit. I was not very happy with the idea because I was missing 'Pepsi Ungal Choice' on Sun TV that evening. So I was kind of dragged kicking and crying to this temple and naturally, wasn't really favourably disposed.
We left the city lights of Madurai for the rural countryside. Halfway through our journey, power went off and the road on which we were traveling was pitch dark. To add to it, as we neared Thiruvedagam, we slipped off onto a mud road and it was one bumpy ride! Finally, the driver stopped in the midst of a jungle, or so it seemed to me. I got out the car and couldn't see a damn thing to save myself and was kind of looking to the heavens for help, when I saw the silhouette of a soaring gopuram or temple tower right in front of me. It was the night of a full-moon and the twilight sky was sparkling with a few stars and it was the first time I was totally impressed. The temple tower was as ancient as anything and the sculptures were as life-like as anything I had seen in my life. We went into the temple. It was bereft of electricity and the only guiding light was a single light from the garbhagriha of the Shiva sannidhi.
We explored the temple in the light of lamps and moonlight. The soaring monolithic columns, immense prakarams, life-like sculptures and the astonishing beauty of the deities left an indelible mark on me. I read up on the sthalapuranam of the temple after we returned and it is one of the places of historic importance which steered the course of the Pandya kingdom.
The sad thing is that the temple had no electricity or even oil to burn lamps in the sanctum sanctorums of the deities because of lack of money. How poor can a temple be that it doesn't have oil for the lamps? There are scores of temples in southern Tamilnadu suffering from lack of attention and funds. These architectural marvels largely remain unknown to the world at large, hidden away in the remote villages of Tamilnadu.
Whenever I get misled by the propaganda that India is a god-forsaken land of teeming, miserable millions languishing in filth, heat and dirt looking toward the west for redemption, I remember these masterpieces of an era of splendor, wealth and culture unsurpassed.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


There is only one constant thing. Everyone, everywhere is bored. It goes to prove that boredom is not a function of time, place or position but of the mind. My friends in India are bored despite the fact that they are all working full-time and are in over their heads with lotsa work. I am bored sitting here in the US and doing my MS. So it doesn't come as a relief to me to know that I will be bored even if I start working.
Now, there are these few gifted jeevans who are not bored. I told my roomie that I was tremendously bored. She told me that it was boring to get bored daily!! I scratched my head and thought about that....Perhaps one day I will get bored of boredom.
And another thing is that everyone, everywhere is lonely. All of a sudden, when you get out of college, somehow this menace creeps in. Everyone is complaining that they don't have a friend they can talk to daily and share things. Reason: everyone's busy. I was of the opinion that this malaise affects only those in the US. But in India, it is the same deal.
So finally my gyaan for the day: Better stop blogging about nothing and get back to reading RFC 1771 about BGP...(sigh)....

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

False God Syndrome

Apparently, all or a majority of us suffer from False God Syndrome. Apparently, we think everyone else is having a free ride while we are the only ones having all kinds of problems in life. This is supposed to cause all kinds of stress related problems. I confess I've been in this boat many times..well now, I have a name for it (as if it is any consolation!).

Favourite Things...

1. Lazing on the bed after the alarm has gone off...
2. Love it when pets cuddle up with me....
3. Smell of wet sand....
4. Colors black and royal blue.....
5. Aloo Mutter and Kashmiri Naan (Always my favorite!)
6. Quake III (with cheats on!) and NFS II (God on the Country Woods Track with El Nino!! Beat my bro everytime we ever raced that track!!)
7. Adrenalin rush of success....
8. Laughing till tears flood my eyes...
9. Action movies....
10. Actors Madhavan (who else??!) and Surya......
11. Sourav Ganguly, Shoaib Akhtar, Steve Waugh......
12. Tamil gaana songs....
13. Traveling on Electric trains in Chennai....
14. The countryside in the Madurai-Theni area....
15. Temples of Tamilnadu....
16. Well sung songs.....

I think that's already toooooooooooooo many...the list could go on....

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Casa Fiesta

Had Mexican food at Casa Fiesta- Cheese Enchiladas and Rice. Actually, the rice tasted like our own Indian Tomato rice. Watching Kyun! Ho Gaya Na....absolutely no chemistry between Vivek and Ash. And Aishwarya doesn't suit the role....she is not naturally bubblicious. And wah re wah, Ash's style of handshaking ka to kuch jawab hi nahin, yaar! It is like this: you just extend your arm straight out toward the person's face. It is as if the face is going to handshake..or maybe, I should say faceshake...whatever. I am spouting a lot of nonsense....

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Vengaya Sambar and Samosas!

I have invited a friend over for dinner tonight. I started cooking rather gingerly. Recently, I seem to have acquired this habit of putting too much salt in everything. I add only a pinch but somehow that pinch becomes too much! I made rasam the other day and when I tasted it, it was like I had made it out of sea water!!! Anyways, to make a long story short, I was very careful with my salt today and the result is pretty good...
Oh and I tried Vazhaikkai curry today for the first time in my life and it has turned out very well.

Here's the menu today:
Entree: Samosas (courtesy, my roomie)
Vazhaikkai Curry
Onion Sambar
Garlic rasam

So, how has my Sunday gone? As usual, doing nothing...just slept and slept and cooked and now eating and then sleeping......

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Sick of the "War" on terror

The one thing that has always unsettled me is that people tend to think too much in simplistic terms. Good Vs. Evil. Black Vs. White. America Vs. Bad Guys. This also goes to the Sept 11 attacks. When journalists and Americans talk of how 9/11 "fundamentally changed the world", it sometimes palls on you. It is this fundamental idea that somehow the happenings in America are going to "change the world" and so we should "crusade" to protect the world that is nauseating to many around the globe. It is not as though terrorism was born after 9/11. Terrorism has tormented millions before 9/11, continues now and will continue to do so in the future. Millions lose their lives to explosives and misguided ideologies everyday. Lives, infrastructure, dreams, hopes are shattered by terrorists. In India, we have terrorist attacks everyday in Kashmir. The 1993 blasts in Mumbai, Parliament attack in 2002, the Swaminarayan Temple affair in Gujarat, LTTE attacks in TN, recently the attacks near the Taj hotel in Mumbai........ the list is long and weary. So many Indians lost their lives. But then, we are supposed to respond in a "mature" fashion. Even when there is a blatant attack like Kargil, we are supposed to practice "restraint" and "caution" and act "wisely". Oh no, India can't attack anyone like the mighty US can at will. I mention the case of India because I am Indian. I am sure every other country has the same problems.
The point I am trying to make is that 9/11 did not herald the birth of terrorism. It merely struck home forcefully. So people should stop acting like it is a fundamental world-changing event. America is a nation well-protected by its natural boundaries. It has fought all wars abroad, none at home. And politicians grew complacent in that fact and pursued policies they knew wouldn't have any physical, literal impact back home. Well, 9/11 just proved that wrong. The message it sent was: You think you are invincible at home? Well, no more. When journalists say that the effect of 9/11 was more psychological than anything else, it is so true. Well, immediately America had to be seen as taking action and now we are in the middle of a big mess in Iraq and Afghanistan and none the safer for it. The "caution", "restraint" and the "maturity"...where did they all go when home is attacked and the blood that is shed is one's own??!!!
9/11 was bad. 3500 innocent lives were lost which is really upsetting. But it is not such a life-altering event for others around the globe who are used to such devastating losses. So Bush and others should stop pretending they can't understand why there is anger against Bush the world over. Terrorism is real, yes. You got to know of it only now.
As for myself, I am sick of hearing about this topic. It is like nothing else is more important. As Ian Malcolm put it so aptly in Jurassic Park, "Life will find a way".

Monday, October 18, 2004

Honor among Vending Machines

We have this finicky vending machine in the basement of our office building. Somedays, it won't give you anything for your money and somedays it will give you two for the price of one. A couple of weeks back, it held back a Lays potato chips packet I wanted. I tried banging, wriggling my hands through and a lot of things but it refused to spew it out. Well today, I went downstairs and I found a woman doing acrobatics to reach through and grab her Cheetos packet. I think the vending machine is not a morning person. Anyways, I tried to help the woman and put in 40 cents to get gum and push the Cheetos along the way out. Guess what happened? The Cheetos packet didn't budge but the cranky vending machine gave me two gum packs! I guess it was compensating me for my loss of a couple of weeks back. There's honor even among vending machines.....hmph.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Compelling Quote

I was browsing through MIT's vast free Virtual Access resources when I came across Bartleby's Online Books page. I found this quote staring at me in the face on the home page and found it just too apt and too compelling on the eve of the final Presidental debate:

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy.
John Quincy Adams

By the way, grad students, do check out MIT's Virtual Courseware. They have all the courses, lecture notes, reading lists, assignments and projects for the courses they offer. Really neat.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

The Winds of Change

I feel I have changed a lot over the past year or two. There was a time when I was really sensitive and used to agonize over a lot of things: comments, little mistakes, stupid little happenings. But these days, it doesn't bother me so much. I have just learnt to take it in my stride and move on. Of course, I am sensitive even now at times. Undeserved rudeness and harsh words from some can still put me off but I guess I just look past them easily. Another common cliche I've heard often but never understood: "shifting sands of life". I never truly fathomed the meaning of this until recently. Way back during my 9th grade, I was part of this great group of friends- 5 in all. Amongst them, I was very close to a couple of girls and I thought I could never be as close with any of the others. That was true then. Now, after 10 years, one of them rang me up. She is in the US on deputation with a company. We were chatting away forever! And we found ourselves sharing a lot of personal things, laughs, sorrows, upsets. And she is one of the people I thought I couldn't be really close to. We were heady competitors in the academic arena back in school, fighting over ranks and prizes and quizzes and we had a lot of disagreements. Somehow, all that seems rather insignificant and funny in retrospect. We've planned to meet up soon. As to the other girls, I am not in touch with them.
I guess it is true that there are no permanent enemies or friends in life. People change. Relations change. And if we have the gift of a bad memory (as I do), life's an all-you-can-eat buffet.
There's one thing I've learnt and that is to never reject a hand of friendship. Sometimes, we tend to live on memories and feel comfortable with our established set of friends and turn away new relations. There's nothing more regrettable in life because you never know when you will be an "outsider" searching for a friendly word, a friendly smile or just a caring "how do you do?" from somebody.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Lunch at Frankfort

I had to go to Frankfort for a meeting last Tuesday. For those not in the know, Frankfort is the capital of Kentucky. As almost all US state capitals go, it is just a small town. It was a lovely day and the scenic beauty was truly breathtaking. The area where I went is the old Frankfort area which is truly village like in its style of buildings and environs. I felt as though I were in some European countryside village. In such an atmosphere, one tends to forget that I am in the US of A! Had lunch at the Kentucky Coffeetree House. This again was an old-style cafe. The inside of the cafe was styled as a library-like used book store. There were plumpy sofas and spare tables for those who preferred that style and the tables were interspersed between the aisles of used books. And we were served in a straw basket. I had butter scones, Three bean salad and a coffee called Autumn Breeze (most appropriate for the season!). I had never tasted scones in my life before except reading about them as being part of an English tea. I had cinnamon scones with butter and boy, were they a delight!!! And I found some real classics in the store like Virgil's Aeneid and Homer's Odyssey and many, many more......Of course, the idyll has to end somewhere. So I had to get back to the Univ and classes and assignments and deadlines and blah, blah, blah.....

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Bad day!

It is one of those days. Nothing goes right. I search frantically for everything from my wallet to clothes this morning. I forgot where I put some important papers. My boss e-mails me about some stuff I should get done by the end of the week and my supervisor tells me I might not be able to work tomorrow. And I have an assignment that is getting on my nerves. And to cap it all off, the Campus network has blocked my IP because I have a virus on my computer. So I can't access the net from home! And there's a strong possibility that I might have to move from my present apartment at the end of this year which is just one more headache out of many.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Kool Kerry Vs. Grumpy George

Well, the library is hell bent on charging me a fine for a book I didn't lose. The funny thing is that I was told that I had to pay a $65 fine as cost for the book + $20 as overdue fines. I asked that if the book is lost, then where does this issue of overdues come in?? And I am being told that there will also be costs to cover the "overhead" involved in searching for my book within library premises and paying the search party!! I thought that is what the salary that the University was paying the library people was for! Anyways, so I am incurring a cost for a book on philosophy that I didn't read at all and didn't lose (the fact being that I returned it promptly because it bored the jeepers out of me).
Bush seemed certain in the debate yesterday. Russell wrote, "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts." Whether he is a fool or a fanatic or both, I leave you to decide. Kerry was cool whilst Bush was ruffled. All in all, a good 90 mins worth of entertainment. And somehow Kerry seemed to understand that no matter how strong you are, you cannot go it alone. Strength does not guarantee success. Perhaps Bush has to take lessons from corporate America about teamwork (I do think Bush went to Harvard business school?? Didn't they teach him about teamwork?). And Kerry seemed more patient and willing to wait and make long term changes in the world order than Bush who just wants to shuffle the power balance anywhere and everywhere whenever he feels like it.
Being directly involved in a war definitely changes life perceptions. Kerry has it. I can relate to it in a much smaller scale from my own experiences(of course, I haven't been in any life threatening war or situation though sometimes it seemed that way to me when I was in high school and the High School Italian mafia threatened to trip me in the hallway!!!).
Meanwhile, while I am sitting here blogging, I have a lot of unfinished things on my agenda like laundry, homework, papers.....

Thursday, September 30, 2004


There are a few things I love more than listening to the lilting swaras of the raaga Mohanam. One of the first songs I learnt was in this raaga and it remains my favorite raaga to sing! In the twilight hours of the evening, the melodious raaga evokes memories of the banks of Cauvery and the culture of Tamilnadu. I really love the rendition of this raaga by Maharajapuram Santhanam. He brings a kind of sublime, melting quality to Mohanam that few other singers can bring. His rendition of "Mohana Rama..." and "Nannu Palimpa..." rank as my all time favorites. In Carnatic lore, this raaga has the tradition of being tough to render because of the sheer range of notes that a singer is required to be master of. The very same hills and vales of this mellifluous raaga makes one's mood truly mohanam!!

Kannadasan and Kamba Ramayanam

For Tamil cine lovers, Kannadasan is a household name. His songs are famed for conveying their meaning in succinct verses. I am his great fan! Perhaps, only Vairamuthu comes close these days as far as meaningful songs go. Interestingly enough, I found that many of his plays in words are inspired by Kamba Ramayanam. In Kamba Ramayanam, there is a beautiful verse describing Lord Rama's prowess in war. Unfortunately, since I don't know how to use Tamil font on this page, I can't reproduce it but if you Google it, I am sure you can find it. The verse plays on the word "vannam" (or color). It ends as
Kaar Vannathu Iraiva
Un Kaal vannam angu kanden
Kai vannam ingu kanden..."
In "Bale Pandiya" (Cast: Shivaji, Devika, Savithri), there's a song "Athikkai kai kai" that uses the same sort of play in words as the above verse. Also, in "Veera Abhimanyu" there's a song "Parthen Sirithen" that is famed for its ending in "..then". There's another song "Paal Vannam Paruvam Kandu..." that uses the same kinds of play.
Just an interesting case of geniuses thinking alike or that life is a giant recycle bin: Only it takes not just years but centuries to recycle!

Vini Vidi Vici

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure."
[Mark Twain (1835 - 1910), Letter to Mrs Foote, Dec. 2, 1887 ]

I think this is one quote that has it bang on! You know how you've exclaimed many times, "But that person is soooooo dumb!! I don't know how he made it so big!"??! Well, I think people succeed just because they're dumb. When you're dumb, you don't think too much. You just do pretty much as you feel and go with your instincts. With knowledge comes all the additional baggage of caution, responsible behavior and other appendages. You have to think before you act; you analyze a thousand possible end games; how many things can go wrong and the cost it is going to take and how it is going to affect others. The result: a big zilch. You don't feel like doing anything at all! In contrast, the dumb person thinks of something, likes it, does it. Vini, Vidi, Vici.He/she doesn't care if it is going to work out or not simply because they've not thought about it! It is a risk but they don't know that it is a risk and there, my friend, lies the difference! And all the world loves a risk-taker. And they succeed! Never, dear nerds, look down upon anyone as dumb; they might be the next happening success-story! I personally think that the derogatory meaning attached to the word "dumb" should be removed from our societal interchanges.....

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Mona Lisa Smile

The Lady's back. With a bang. And she's real. A historian has apparently found out the muse behind the famous painting. She was Leonardo's father's client's wife (whew!). Call me Art Blind but I never could see what was so impressive about the lady. And I don't find anything enchanting or alluring about that smile(?!) or whatever expression it is that she's wearing. Over the years, people seem to have been tearing out their hair about her expression. There was a theory that she is really not smiling but gives that appearance because she is toothless!! And some art afficionados found small sutures around her mouth that were indicative of some teeth problem. God knows why that painting acquired the kind of fame it has. Just goes to show that the most famous things in the world are not necessarily the best.
Perhaps, the only thing I like about the painting is a certain gentleness of expression. Not her smile. Not her "beauty". But a calm, gentle amusement that seeps through her eyes and tells the viewer, "Oh! Never mind all this fuss about me. Just move on."

Monday, September 27, 2004

Spin Wins!

The simple truth is that it doesn't matter what you do but what you SAY you do. Welcome to the world of spin. Though spin must have existed from the times language was born, I think the past decade has really perfected it. Bill Clinton is, of course, the epitome of spin! Globalization and cut-throat competition seem to have further enhanced this phenomena. And I see it in everyday life too.
The power of suggestion and imagery is so compelling to the human mind. Keep repeating the same thing over and over again and the brain starts believing it. It is like this annoying jingle that you don't like the first time you hear it but then it starts getting onto you. You start humming it and eventually you end up liking it just because you are humming it often!!! That's why the worst blackguards in history seem like heroes at first and the best people on the earth seem so insignificant and unassuming. Villainy, Deceipt, Corruption always make Grand Appearances with booming voices and charming countenances. On the other hand, purity, innocence and truth are always in the background; perhaps unheard in the din caused by the others but nonetheless, present as an eternal, endless, soothing background score. One really has to listen to hear the voices of truth. How many of us have that ability or time? We don't. We go for the best seen and best heard things in life.
Why does life have to be so unfair to the best things it has to offer????

Sunday, September 26, 2004

International Night at UKy

Saturday night, we had this gala International Night. It was a rocking show! Different countries had set up their stalls and displayed their wares. We had several dance and song performances from all over the globe. I liked the African dances. They were really earthy and make you want to dance. There was an Indonesian performance with 4 or 5 instruments, three dancers and 4 singers or so. The instruments they were using were really novel to me. One of them sounded rather like the Jaldharang but this one was much more intricate and pretty to look at. Another instrument kind of looked like the harp and one looked like a gong. The dancers were wearing masks and their dance seemed rather similar to our own Kathakali sort. My next favorite was the rice field dance from Philippines. Two long bamboo sticks were placed on the floor. Two dancers danced around the sticks in a rhythmic motion as the bamboos were clapped together. Seema tells me that this dance is done in Eastern India also and in a much more intricate fashion. A Chinese man gave a rousing performance on a violin. I think he won the most applause in the evening. Then of course, there was our own desi performance. It would have been more appropriate to term it as Indian Night as the comperes were Indian, the ISA had a really good stall, the best food was Indian and the audience loved Indian music better than any others played. And of course, the most visible,attractive and distinct clothes were Indian!
The organizers did a good job of introducing themselves with placards to the sound of music. I rather suspect they lifted the idea from Main Hoon Na's credits style but oh well, only Indians would know that and it was a cool way of introduction. Finally, the dance floor was opened and all of us just danced to 'Pretty Woman' from Main Hoon Na. Not that I know to dance but still, in spirit if not in form! Would've gotten into the swing of things but the party had to end. Kudos to the organizers for doing a great job!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

ID Pops and Moms

I heard something interesting about life in BITS, Pilani from my brother. At BITS, there is this concept of BITS-ian family. Each student is given a unique ID. It consists of the year of enrollment, major and a ranking amongst the freshmen that year. So the immediate senior with the same major and the same ranking becomes the ID Pop/ID Mom. The super senior with the same ranking becomes the ID Grandpop/GrandMom and same goes for the final years. The guy/girl who loans you books becomes the book pop/mom. The people who occupied your room previously becomes the room pop and so on. Rather neat, wouldn't you say?

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

What, ho!

Life is a rum little thing. Sometimes, it happens with me, that when a bolt of the blues strikes, it is like Hurricane Ivan: it is unwelcome, annoying and takes a painfully long time to blow over. And here I sit, thinking of all the misfortunes that life has visited upon me (some real and some, I confess, imagined. But it so happens that while in the Blues, you have the poetic license to imagine whatever you want!), all the people who have hurt me, everyone that I would like to bang on the head with a bat etc, etc, etc... And suddenly you start reading Wodehouse and start laughing like a lunatic out of an asylum. It certainly makes you think of life in a less serious vein. And after reading Bertie Wooster's misadventures in Chuffnell Regis, my life started seeming rather tranquil and good. What with valets getting paid to run around their employers with carving knives, millionaires who love to shut their guests up in their yachts, a hero with a penchant for sleeping in potting sheds, garages and roaming around with his face painted with shoe polish and his ever faithful man, Jeeves, cooking up schemes and holding forth on all dead god, if ever there was something to make people laugh!! Thank You, Jeeves.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Weirdest things...

I don't know what gets into people when they get on stage. They say the weirdest things.
"If given the chance to be someone else, who would you like to be?"
"Mother Teresa"
Well, that's the answer our beauty queens love. Now for a moment, strip away all the hoopla and hype about beauty contests, forget that the women on stage are celebrities and are expected to be noble and beautiful and just focus on the bare, context-less situation. A gorgeous 20 something girl is on stage. You ask the question again and you get the same answer. The only surge of emotion that I will feel for the girl is overwhelming pity. After all, why would a beautiful, youngish, successful girl ambitious enough to aspire to a beauty crown and pursue a career in glamour, riches and style want to throw away everything and become an ascetic??!!! Sound reasonable???!!! (Yeah right. Only if I am a moron of the biggest sort, I will believe that! Which most of the judges are judging by the looks of it.)

It is not just beauty queens. I think some weird mechanism kicks into place in humans when they get on stage. The need to be seen as noble, caring when they really are not. What in the world is wrong with being ordinary? Why not say "I would like to be like my neighbor's 3 year old" or Jennifer Aniston or Mel Gibson? Last week, we had a Fresher's party here and one guy got on stage and said that he admired Aishwarya Rai not for her beauty but because she had donated her eyes. Sure, we believe you, man.

As for myself, if you ask me the same question I would say that I'd rather be my cat. My cat has no probs in life. She walks in like a queen whenever she feels like it. Drinks her bowl of milk with Horlicks in it (that's right, people, Her highness deigns not to drink plain milk) and eats ice cream if she chooses to or just sits there and "meows" to hell until we give her whatever she wants. Then, with a triumphant look, she walks away majestically to the bed or sofa or whatever plushy thing she can find to take a nap. And come evening, she goes out and socializes till whatever time she deems fit. No need to brush, take bath or go to school. No need to submit assignments or worry about money. No need to even worry about boyfriends cuz she just finds another if one of them leave her. Not a damned thing to worry about.

Some psychologist wrote that cats never have nervous breakdowns or disorders. His conclusion: We ought to live like cats. He is damn right.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Miracle of Life

I am not much of a biology person. But I was absolutely thrilled when I received a superb lecture on the functioning of cells, proteins and the roots of cancer. It amazed me to learn of the intricate processes that govern cell division and how the DNA is wired to auto-correct faults/defects while splitting. There seem to be so many layers of protection and correction built into the human system that if some disease/anomaly does show up, then it means you really have a problem!! Funny how I never thought of it that way before. Anyways, I got a new respect for this body that we abuse so much. But I know all this awe and wonder is gonna be short lived and it won't be long before I start taking everything for granted again. So for what it is worth, I have immortalized that fleeting moment in this blog!

Friday, September 10, 2004

Indian men and color sense....

Whoever said that men don't have any color sense???!!! Well maybe they don't but I know that our desi men have a great sense of color contrast (they are one of a kind, you know...)
I don't know what it is with the men from the southern part of the sub-continent but they are just totally befuddled with "fair" skin. God knows, there are a lot of females who are obsessed too but still I haven't come across matrimonial ads from girls that say they want a "fair, slim" spouse. This wouldn't be so bad if the guy in question is himself rather wheatish and has a buff body. But it would turn out (as it always does) that the guy would probably be like the moon on amavasya day with a nice rotund body. Arre, what a sense of contrast, yaar! And guys, please don't tell me that you don't post those matrimonial ads, your moms and dads do. Nothing is a greater turn off for a girl than to know that the guy doesn't even know what kind of a spouse he wants! Sometime back I got a funny e-mail about why south Indian males are not desired by girls. The author had bemoaned that it had to do with the staid and boring names South Indians had. Puhhleeeze, guys. Perhaps more than that, it is the hiding behind mom's pallav and acting like your eyes' color contrast mechanisms have gone nuts is more like it.

Root of Assassin!

I discovered yesterday that the word 'Assassin' comes from the word 'Hashisha'. The term is Arabic in origins where crimes were committed mostly after taking Hashish (yeah, the same old guy who is still around and kicking...looks like we didn't change much since medieval times!)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Musings on War...

I don’t consider myself a very emotional person. Sometimes, as life has taught me to, I take even bad things objectively. But I didn’t realize that the war in Iraq could touch a raw nerve with me. Terrorism, violence have all become a part of our lives and I guess I have become desensitized to it to an extent. But today, I was talking with a newly-wed friend of mine and it was just casual conversation. In fact, we were conversing light heartedly about happy, simple things in life. My friend made a passing comment that her husband was due to go on National Guard duty to Iraq and she was just telling me how much she was going to miss not seeing him for a year or more. Somehow, more than all the stories and images on TV and news, her simple statement jarred me out of my insularity. I still don’t know why it disturbed me a lot but suddenly the war seemed much closer to heart. I could imagine dreams, homes and lives being thrown askew because of a war fought so much farther from home. So have I relinquished arms like Ashoka did more than 2000 years earlier and renounced war? No. I still believe that some wars are necessary and no amount of personal or emotional trauma should prevent those wars. After all, only 137 years in recorded history have been without any war and to wish for everlasting peace is utopian. But I guess this incident has mellowed my brazen objectivity and I am grateful for it. And it seems also stupid to say this but I am going to: I think now I KNOW what made Ashoka throw his weapons away and renounce life.

Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Temples of India

I found this really nice site when I was random surfing the web:
One of the more interesting sites I have come across...

Sunday, August 29, 2004

End of a Kentucky Summer

I woke up to another rainy, gray morning. This summer has been a rather wet and cooler-than-normal one according to Kentuckians. I was looking forward to azure blue skies and sun-filled days during summer and I was sort of disappointed. And now it is the end of summer. Back to school, work and dreary winter. The very thought makes me really sad. At least it was a good summer for me. Enjoyed work, leisure and read a few books I've always wanted to.
And here I am blogging about what's gone instead of doing my homework assignment due tomorrow in Finkel's class. I haven't started yet and I don't feel like starting anytime soon. Blogging and chatting with D.
Oh, I have to mention the best gift I got this B'day. D sent me a Calvin and Hobbes Comic Collection. It was a total surprise to me when I got a package from! Calvin's philosophies and ideas are totally inspiring and amusing!

Here's one I read this morning that cracked me up:

Calvin: I always seem to think faster than I can say the words.
Hobbes: Is that so?
Calvin: Yeah. I wonder why?
Hobbes: So you can think twice.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Did you know?

I don't know why but this morning when I was reading the Washington Post, it set off a strange set of associations in my head. I started remembering the roots of words and their ancestry (I forgot the right term for the parentage of words. Help!). Once upon a time, I had embarked on a journey of finding out the origin of certain terms but that was a blue moon ago! Here are some I found interesting:
In ancient Greece, a philosopher called Zeno preached un-emotionalism and bland acceptance of life's ups and downs from his house's porch. In Greek, porch is called as "stoa". Hence followers of Zeno were called stoics and thence the present day English word "stoic".

The Earl of Sandwich was an extremely slothful man. All he loved to do was game a lot. In fact, he was so lazy that he wouldn't even get up to get his breakfast or lunch. He ordered his butler to bring him two pieces of bread with cheese and meat in between. And lo! a new food item was born and it was called Sandwich (of course, Dumbo, I hear u say!).

Sparta and Athens were always at odds with each other. Due to constant battles between the two neighboring states, the Spartans were always on their toes. They led spare, austere lives and were always military-ready. Hence the term "Spartan" to describe rigorous, bare lives.

Most of these, I remember, I learnt from "Word Power Made Easy". Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" is another treasure trove of historical "did u knows".

As a kid, when I started reading Greek/Roman mythology, I was astonished as to how many regular English words actually derived directly from those civilizations. As I grew in years, I found subtle associations between the two and it made me appreciate the English language much better. From terms such as "Herculean", "Medusa", "Judgement of Paris", "Trojan Horse", "Narcissistic" to a bunch of others I can't remember.

Images of Beauty

I was browsing through New York Times' T-magazine today. I came across Fall Fashion trends, colors, the usual what's in and what's out. Of course, pictures were included of pencil-thin models draped in Yamamoto designer coats, Gucci shoes and Calvin Klein lingerie. It seems animal prints are the "thing" this Fall. I saw some of the photos and I was truly apalled. If a woman came sashaying down the street wearing leopard skin tops and bear-skin furs and crocodile boots with dark, raccoon eyeshadow, I would truly think that she had no dress sense. I mean, what normal women have we seen ever wearing some of the audacious things ramp models wear? I don't even know who buys the stuff that they display in fashion shows. Everyday life, regardless of how melodramatic we would like it to be, is rather mundane. And I cannot imagine a guy liking a woman dressed like she just finished hunting the entire zoo! (perhaps, guys do. Who knows? What say, guys?)

Interestingly, the magazine also had a story about Kate Winslet. Winslet has refused to become twig thin to satisfy the industry and has retained her rather curvaceous form and market-value.

There are men and women I've met in everyday life that many would consider beautiful/handsome. But they are nothing like the models who adorn fashion magazines and conform to so-called "norms" of good-looks. Mrs. L is one of the most elegant ladies I've ever met in my life. Though over 65 years now, she is at once elegant, charming and has the most captivating presence in any gathering. A PhD in math and a professor for over 30 years at UBC, Vancouver, she is one of the most well-read and cultured women I've ever seen. I introduced one of my friends to her at a party at one time and he did a double take and exclaimed, "Man, what a stunner!" and he was only 19 years at that time!!!!

The first thing anyone notices about S is her colorfulness. From the clothes she wears to accessories, it is a medley of at once complementary and yet striking colors. It makes me happy just to look at her because she is so full of life and color! And my friend J deserves special mention. Though not the traditional handsome profile, he has a quiet strength and character that makes him attractive to more women than he cares to know (or knows)! And I know many girls who go completely ga-ga over his smile (if he chooses to, which he doesn't do very often. You should smile more, J)!

These are all regular people. And yet they would drown out the beauties/studs in ordinary day-to-day life. I think all that makes a difference between an ordinary looking visage and a strikingly beautiful one is a honest smile and kindly eyes....

Friday, August 27, 2004

The Summer of Husbands Behaving Badly.

This has been a summer of husbands behaving badly. First, there is Scott Peterson accused of killing his wife Lori and their unborn son. And along comes Mark Hacking who confesses that he bumped off his wife in her sleep and dumped her body somewhere. And there's Kobe Bryant who cheats on his wife and promptly gets accused of rape. Two things really bother me about the Mark Hacking case. One is that he killed his wife apparently because he couldn't get admitted to Med School. That seems like a seriously stupid reason. Perhaps he felt insecure about his wife's achievements and position. The second thing is that once he decided on murder, I can't believe he would do it when Scott Peterson was in the headlines and any similar wife-gone-missing case would automatically direct suspicion toward the husband! The Scott Peterson case is even more hopeless. What sort of a man would want to murder a pregnant woman much less his own wife?!!! And of Kobe Bryant, I have nothing to say.

The thing is that I don't understand why these husbands felt compelled to kill their wives. Most murder cases can be traced to the Old Greenback. That has been the primary reason for murder from times unknown. In neither of these cases has money even figured as a possible cause. Have we evolved that now we don't murder for menial reasons such as money but for more altruistic reasons ? I mean, this is the US of A and divorce is as freely available as water. If they hated their spouses enough, it wouldn't have been hard to obtain divorces. Why not take the easy route instead of going through all the effort of murdering a person and that too for totally silly reasons (yes, they are silly) such as having an affair or not getting into med school(talk about pressure!)??!!

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Fall 2004

Well, Fall 2004 has started auspiciously on my birthday. The first day itself was hectic. I shudder to think how things are going to be as the semester progresses. I have a lot to blog about but I just don't have the time to write! I already have an assignment to be handed in on Monday and I have a pile of work sitting on my desk. I just seem to have run out of inspiration as far as tackling a web design problem goes...(sigh).

My birthday was pretty cool. Got a couple of unexpected calls that made me very happy. But the downside is that I used 150 daytime minutes of my cellphone just in a single day and now am on a tight leash.

I just can't wait for the weekend already.

Saturday, August 21, 2004


On a Lazy Lexington (wow, I love the alliteration on this one...) Sweet Saturday morning, as I was doing some random rendezvous on the web, came across this joke @

A college student needed a small two-hour course to fill out his schedule. The only one available was Wildlife Zoology. After one week the professor gave the class a test. He passed out a sheet of paper divided into squares.In each square was a carefully drawn picture of some bird legs. No bodies, no feet, just legs. The test asked each student to identify the birds from their legs. The student sat and stared at the test and got more and more angry. Finally he stomped up to the front of the classroom and threw the test on the teacher's desk. "This is the worst test I have ever taken." The teacher looked up and said, "Young man, you have flunked this test. What is your name?" The student pulled up his pant-legs and showed the professor his legs and replied, "You tell me!"

How did the public like it?

Holiday Inn Express commercial

Scene: A man in a desert has been stung by a snake with two friends trying to help him. Along comes a cowboy and asks a few knowing questions about the snake and the bite. When the friends are heaving sighs of relief, they find that this guy is only an acting as a cowboy and knows nothing at all about snakes or bites. One of them asks,
"So you're not a real cowboy?"
"No. But I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night."

If you've seen this one, you must've seen the other Holiday Inn Express ads too: one involving a game show and another with doctors (or radiation physicists. Didn't notice much). I don't know what the hell the ad writers are trying to tell me. Do cowboys stay at Holiday Inn Express??? or do doctors??

The funny thing is that people think they're supposed to laugh for this ad and start laughing even when they don't know what the heck it is supposed to mean!! For my part, i don't even know if I am supposed to laugh for this. Explanations, anyone?

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


It has been exactly one year since I arrived in the US! All in all, I think I've had more good times than bad the past year. There are so many things that I miss:
1. My pet cats Azhagi and Amul. Really miss them more than I can blog about.
2. Srirangam temple. Never thought I'd grow to miss the town that I once hated.
3. My friend S.
4. Jasmine flowers.
5. Laughing about nothing. Used to do a lot of that with my friends.
6. Traveling in crowded public transport buses. (Really used to enjoy that!)
7. Silly chit-chats with my brother. We used to have the most trivial conversations about nothing.
8. Fighting with my brother.
9. Carnatic Music Concerts.
10. Above all, the smell and taste of India ( doesn't matter if the only smell that hits you is the stench of sweat and gutters!).

There are so many more things I miss but I can't remember all of them right away. But there are so many more things I gained in my one year of US stay too...More on that later.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Universal Nonsense

Independence Day unleashes the writer in everyone. From top politicians to businessmen to laypeople, everyone wants to have their say. Which is fine with me because it gives me a justification to say something too. I am not gonna blog about our fine heritage and great, glorious 56 years of don't surf away! I found something rather trivial in all that serious talk to blog about (silly me! but i seem to find humour in odd places...what to do?)
I read three articles in succession on and all the authors were bonkers over the word "universal". "Universal education","universal prosperity", "universal tolerance" etc...Anil Ambani was the author of one of those pieces. He has very noble goals but I just wondered if the entire populace would "universally" want to embrace education. No matter what great goals others have, there will be some who will definitely be averse to studies and there's nothing wrong with that either! Perhaps their mettle lies somewhere else.
Universal Prosperity?? Another of those pipe dreams, if you ask me. You cannot eliminate poverty from society. Even the US has a high poverty rate.
Universal Tolerance??? This is the most absurd of them all. One of those pieces suggested that India had not improved because there are still terrorist attacks everywhere. Of some 5000 years of recorded history, only 137 years have been free of conflict. What does that tell us?? So long as humans exist, there's gonna be differences, problems and conflicts. So, the amount of violence is definitely no sign of non-development or otherwise. And to make everyone tolerant is a next to impossible task!!
So, all in all, I just felt that most of what these people had written (except for some good points, of course) was universal nonsense....

Friday, August 13, 2004


I saw the photo of an old man sitting on his parched farmland in Gujarat. If a picture is equal to a thousand words, this one was worth millions. Those eyes bespoke years of unceasing hardship, sorrow and a silent plea that things might get better at least in the future. It rent my heart.

"If you can visualize the face of the poorest man on earth and say honestly to yourself that you have done something today to improve his condition, then your life has not been in vain." The Mahatma's quote echoed in the corridors of my now stilled mind. It reminded me once again that the greatest happiness on earth comes out of helping and serving others.

In these 22 years of my life, I've done what little I could to help the poor. Someday I will make life better for at least one needy person in this world. Whether monetarily or in some other way, I don't know. But I know that it will give me immense joy to put a smile on another person's face and regardless of how long it takes, I will do it too.

Justice and Freedom

One of the most common refrains that I hear on news these days is "freedom". "Freedom from dictatorship", "Freedom of speech", "Freedom for gay marriages" etc... And underlying all these phrases is another complementary one: Justice. This word pops up often this being an election year. Both Pres. Bush and Kerry have been liberally sprinkling it in their speeches. "bring terrorists to justice", "upholding justice", "retaliation", "protection"....I get saturated listening to all these terms.

In moments of tranquillity, I wonder who are we to play judge and jury. Bush might hate Saddam but does that give him the right to depose him? The question boils down to whether we have the right to hurt and force a change on those we hate or disagree with. I might not like dictatorships but does that give me a right to convert all dictatorships to democracies? Are we really sure that the Iraqis wanted to be rid of Saddam? And if they did, what vested power did the rest of the world have in waging a war that was none of their business? Are they better off now with civil infighting and regular bomb blasts rocking their daily lives? And who said anyway that democracy somehow becomes a harbinger of prosperity and sanity? Does democracy and freedom prevent export of terror? Isn't the export of terror a reflection of a more basic problem unrelated to dictatorships/democracies?

Of course, one can always find millions of people who don't like their leaders. Even in America, I am sure we can find millions who don't like the Prez. In India, I can virtually guarantee that not many Indians would profess a love for their netas. But does that mean that all netas should be bumped off or deposed??? Hell, I might not like a person but I cannot just shoot their head off!

If one pauses to ponder all the issues involved in dispensing justice, a greater awareness dawns. And with greater awareness comes a sense of our own failings, mistakes, consequences of our actions and our place in the scheme of things. And this knowledge makes it hard to reach a decision because you see the consequences with crystal clear eyes....

I've asked a lot of questions and I am sure no one has definite answers to all of them. Sometimes, I think that it is better to be ignorant than to have knowledge. Knowledge is a double-edged sword and if the wielder is not skilled enough, it can cut violently and cause a lot of heartbleed.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

High School Buddies

My high school buddy Monica sent me pictures of her garden flowers today. She has her own community garden plot as well as her backyard garden. The flowers were quite beautiful and I am amazed at the patience she has with gardening! And she is an IT nerd too! Another of my friends, Grace, is in Ottawa and she is with the State Agriculture Department doing some hi-fi job (she does so many things..i just can't remember!!! She completed her Master's (Political Science) defense last week....yaay!! Wish I could've been there for the party). Almost all of our high school gang are now employed full-time or busy with grad school or something or the other.

It just reminded me of how fast we've all grown up. I can still remember my high schooling days when we used to hang out at Burnaby North's cafeteria and in front of our lockers sharing lunch and views. Monica had a thing for climbing trees and we used to pick cherries and apples from my house's backyard in the summer. And we used to go hiking sometimes in beautiful Vancouver's trails or play soccer by the Burnaby Lake. And I can never forget how we went dress hunting for our prom and going to the prom and dancing,laughing...Those were good days....

Now, we all have jobs, responsibilities...a couple of them are getting married and we hardly have time to even talk on the phone. That reminds me of Antoinette and I wonder how she is doing. She must be in Marseilles, France somewhere having a job perhaps?

Life moves amazingly fast. I wish I could join Moni and Grace in Ottawa in October.....

Kings Island

Five of us (Seema, me, Venky, Vijai and Ananth) went to Kings Island on Saturday. It was 12 hours of amazing fun. We left the park only by 11PM after all the rides had closed. All in all, we went for 10 rides. Seema and Venky went for 11 going for an encore of Face-Off. The scariest and best of all was the Drop Zone. We were dropped straight down from a height of 315ft. It was too good! Face-off and Vortex were the next best rides. Son of Beast was truly a s.o.b. The ride was superb but also rather rough. My neck got some harsh treatment and I can already understand what whiplash injuries are!
Ananth got me a cute teddy bear in one of those win-it-yourself competitions. Didn't have much time for shopping (which is good in a way). They also had some fireworks at the end. They were so-so.
By the time we finished, we were thoroughly drenched and shivering because of the Rapids ride that we took. And Venky and I had to drive back to Lexington too! Despite being totally worn out and tired, we made it back safe and sound. Oh and another first for me: I drove on the interstate and managed some night driving too!
All in all, amazing trip and three cheers to all of us who went!!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

End of Another Day...

So another working day comes to an end. And it is time to leave the office...yay! Saw a gang of new grad students from India roaming around the campus this afternoon. Probably searching for on-campus jobs.
Feel like having a strong shot of coffee. I don't know what it is about sitting in one place that makes me so tired! I think I wouldn't be tired at all even if I jumped around all day instead of sitting in a chair staring at the computer. In a way, I am relieved the summer is coming to an end because I don't have to sit for 8 hours a day!
More blogging later.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Travel Agents

Travel agents are a separate species. I've been speaking to them for the past two weeks or so. And they gave me a unique confusion as to who the salesperson and who the customer was. I had to make a sales pitch to each of them just to get them to talk to me and I had to convince them to give me the fares to India. One experience was real amusing. I called this person up and he asked me to call back after 5 minutes. Again, I call and he told me he was real busy and maybe I should call up after 30 mins. I call up again after 30 mins and he informs me rather coolly that he is having lunch and would appreciate it if I called later (what???! I am scratching my head wondering if I am really the customer? He'd appreciate it?!!). Hell, I thought to myself, this is like talking to a boyfriend who's about to dump you! Not that I'd know much about that anyways.
And finally, the bargaining phase. Once they start talking, you have to literally extract information from them with- what's that thing dentists use to pull teeth out? Pliers? Nope, I think pliers are used by mechanics. But as I am writing this, I got this strange mental image of myself in surgical masks and gloves wielding whatever dentists use and prying out some decayed teeth that simply won't come loose....if that imagery seems gross, blame it on "Harold & Kumar". It falls in the twilight zone between a sick, gross movie and an amusing, silly movie (It's like Seinfeld, a movie about nothing!). I don't know which. But I certainly won't forget it.
And I finally finished off a webpage that I was developing at my workplace. It was a particularly challenging task and it feels good to have finished it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

En Iniya Tamizh Makkale....

Somewhere, recently, I read an article about countries. It laid out an interesting argument that the reason behind the quality products of Japan is the fierce pride the Japanese people take in their work and country. Because their products are so honed to perfection and can be easily identified by their workmanship and precision, the average Japanese worker works extra hard lest there should creep in some error and tarnish his country's reputation. I wonder what it takes to have that kind of pride in one's nation.  The article went on to suggest that perhaps the reason why India doesn't live upto its potential in many fields is the strange lack of pride and enthusiasm that the average Indian has for his country and work. 

Sadly, I feel that we are more ready to disown our heritage much more than we are ready to acknowledge it. The simplest case in point is the mother tongue. It is highly ironic that many people born and brought up in Tamilnadu all their lives cannot read or write Tamil. Some even consider it highly "cool" that they don't know Tamil and speak only King's English. Movies portray girls as preferring boys who speak in English??!! Ridiculous, isn't it?  And of course, much has been already said about the various cable TV anchors who literally murder Tamil trying to infuse a western accent into it.

Would any decent Englishman speak English like French? Or would any Frenchman try to infuse a German accent while speaking French???!!! Why in the world do we have to speak Tamil as if one just landed from the UK/US?! We seem to be in a hurry to disown everything that is ours by birth as if it is something shameful and sinful. In fact, if you tell some people that you read Tamil novels, you will get condescending glances. The attitude is that you will resort to Tamil(="local", "uncool") only if you don't understand and appreciate English (="civilized", "cool").

There are so many things people miss due to such stupid philosophies. Shakespeare, Browning, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Tennyson are not the only poets to be read and appreciated. They get more appreciation because most of the world speaks that language. There are beautiful sublime works in Tamil that ought to be read and known- works that reflect the culture and civilization that we were born into. If we read all those ancient works, perhaps, a realization will dawn that we are second to none as far as civilization, technology, science and art goes.  In fact, when Europe was still in the dark middle ages, struggling to find light at the end of the tunnel, the Cholas and Pallavas were at the height of their glorious reigns in terms of art, architecture, literature and navy!
If we take that fierce pride in our country, it will automatically shine through in everything one does.  The disinformation planted by the British about our past and our nation is so deeply ingrained in our hearts that even 50 years of independence has failed to shake its roots..... Instead of being happy about being second class citizens in another nation, I think it is far better to be first class citizens in one's own country....

Bharathiyar's words come into mind..
"Enna Valam Illai Indha Thirunaattil..."


The Da Vinci Code Part II

All of you are being treated to a second edition of the Da Vinci Code blurbs because I found it absolutely mind-blowing.  The style of the author really pulls you into the book and the way he weaves history in and out effortlessly into the storyline is spell binding. Apart from the mystery element, I really liked it for the little titbits of fact that it provides. I learnt about The Divine Proportion, curious facts about the Fibonacci sequence, the reason behind the four year cycle of the Olympics, Da Vinci's works of art and more...I actually googled to look up some works of Da Vinci that were discussed in the book! Now, when was the last time a book made me want to look up new things?!!!! Been quite a while.


Friday, July 23, 2004

The da Vinci Code

I started reading "The da Vinci Code" yesterday evening. It was highly recommended by a couple of my friends and one of them was kind enough to lend it to me (Couldn't find it at WT's). It is quite gripping and I have just gotten past 4 or 5 chapters. Think it will occupy most of my weekend because it has everything I love- mystery, history and art!
Still slogging on with Satanic Verses but I am going to put that on hold for now.
I noticed something weird happening with my blogs. I posted a comment on my friend's blog and the previous comment just disappeared! And on my own blog, a few comments have gone missing by themselves. I don't know why this is happening??!!! Tried checking the settings but nothing there would mess with the comments.
A little mystery to ponder about....

Thursday, July 22, 2004

To see the world in a grain of sand....

To see the world in a grain of sand

And  heaven in a wild flower,

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour.

I found these words accidentally when I was frantically messaging in multiple forums for an answer to my ColdFusion troubles. One of the persons in the forum had this in his signature. I was rather harried and mentally hyper till I saw this quote. It kind of calmed me down. It is amazing how we turn to technology to make our lives easier and simpler. We use so many gadgets , software and what-not to improve our standard of living. And yet, it is ironic that that same complicated technology cannot provide us with two seconds of mental tranquillity that a beautiful piece of verse gives!

Sometimes I wonder if all that technology doesn't just drive us into hyper-mode and make us all the more agitated. And a mind that is agitated cannot plumb its creative depths. Perhaps, that's why even the greatest scientific geniuses have led simple lives in harmony with nature - Edison, Einstein, Newton.....

Now that my two minutes of introspection are up, I've got to get back to battling the demons of ColdFusion/Java Script in the world of Technology!

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

American Morning

Does anyone of you out there watch American Morning on CNN? The first thing I do when I wake up is switch on CNN and watch out for Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien on American Morning. It is my way of getting news with hot coffee in the morning- a substitute (albeit a poor one) for reading The Hindu with hot filter coffee in India.  Unfortunately, Soledad O'Brien is on maternity leave and for the past week Heidi Collins has been taking her place. U know how sometimes you can take a totally irrational dislike to some people? Well, Heidi Collins has my vote. She doesn't fit in like an old shoe. Somehow, she seems to be rather snooty and uptight in contrast to the casual style of Soledad. I am sure all this is just my imagination but nonetheless, I don't like Heidi Collins' style.
Oh, and Jack Cafferty! That guy has a dry, sarcastic wit that is very appealing and his dour, skeptic screen persona certainly fits him. His one-liners are pretty amusing. By the way, it is a darn good way to start the morning. Bill Hemmer and Soledad O'Brien certainly do a great job. I guess I'll stop before I start sounding like an ad for CNN.
And news this morning: certainly not good. The head of the beheaded American Paul Johnson has been found in Saudi Arabia.

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Satanic Verses...

I started reading The Satanic Verses a week back. I read around a 100 pages or so and found it in a different style. It has been a while since I read a novel out of the Thriller/action/mystery genres. So I am having trouble getting my brain to wrap around the kinds of metaphors, allegories and allusions that Rushdie is using. People turning into animals, men growing horns, people turning into angels??!!! Having a lot of trouble figuring out what is meant to be read as a hallucination, or reality or metaphor or whatever. The end result is that I decided that it took a lot of grey matter usage for me to read it now and put it on hold.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Pink Paranoia..

What is it with girls in the US and Pink?!! The obsession with pink ranges from watches to clothes to handbags to sandals to even cell phone covers (yes, you better believe it!). I got on the Medical Center bus the other day and suddenly a cell phone starts screaming somewhere. A perfectly sane looking woman dived into her handbag and lo! came up with a cellphone in a glory of pink!!! It had this flashy pink color and to top it all, was covered with glittering stars (a la Barbie)..I have to tell you, it really was an affront to all my aesthetic values. If I were the owner of the phone, I would've tied an anchor to it and thrown it into the Atlantic and disowned that phone. And I was strolling through the stationery aisle in Walmart and something weird caught my attention..I stop to see what it is that is so distinct...and there it is! A binder (for god's sake) in a bawdy pink with all sorts of flowers on top of it!!!!!
And the worst thing is handbags. How can otherwise-sane women carry handbags in bright pink, that too in a shiny material that I think would be more suited to Las Vegas showgirls ??!!!?
If the color is so tastelessly used in all sorts of godawful ways, it is no wonder men hate pink!!! And guys, don't associate pink with all girls. As far as I know, we girls in India never had any sort of partiality of fact, many of us ran far from that I don't know if it is some kind of an American thing or what!
And I learnt a new slogan last week, "Pink is for girls and Blue is for boys"??!!?? Really?!

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Spice of Life....

Have you ever talked with anyone who has had a grouch bug? The conversation goes something like this: you mention a name and immediately the "grouchy" person finds a fault with the person.
You: "She invited me for dinner..."
Grouch: "She sucks as a homemaker. She never changes her drapery."
You: "Y gave me a lift to the mall. I had some shopping to do."
Grouch: "Y probably expects you to give him a lift in your car for the next whole week and pick up his kids from school."
You: "Isn't she a nice person to work with?"
Grouch: "Oh, that's because you presented her that nice Dinner Set for her birthday."
You: "He helps people out a lot. Nice guy."
Grouch: "He is such a neat freak!"

No matter what you say, Mr. Grouch will come up with a way of spoiling it. These people seem to be infected with some kind of victimitis virus and view life like a barter system: something always has to be given if you receive something. And they have an uncanny eye for finding faults with people!! And most importantly, they never forget bad things about others. And usually, the issues that they talk of are trivial and meaningless...(so what if X flosses twice a day??!!! who cares?)

I've met quite a few people like this( some of them are quite close to me) and believe me, it is amusing. Maybe I am being naive, but I simply cannot view everyone around me as out to get me or believe that everyone has ulterior motives. Of course, we all do somethings expecting something in return but that is something restricted to some people and certain phases of our life..certainly not in everyday life. (If there's someone out there who does it in everyday life, all I can say is "Get a Life!")

So, we all have our little quirks, eccentricities and faults. So what? I think that is the Spice of Life. If everyone were like me, I am sure I'd be bored with life. Sure, sometimes, we'll find people who are hard to get along with, boring people, annoying people, staid people, arrogant people,people who wish ill for us, people who harm us and people who downright stink. But meeting all these varieties and dealing with them and learning to share life with them is what makes life interesting!!!!

Perhaps the grouches of our world should learn to enjoy the colors that different people bring to life just like different spices bring aroma to food...and forgive, forget and give people a second chance!!!!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Browser wars....

All these years, I never understood when some nerds complained about how buggy browsers were. I just thought they were the mutterings of those perpetually afflicted by the victimitis virus..I was the user and IE and Netscape seemed perfectly fine to me. Well, after all these years, now that I am designing websites, i myself am going stark raving mad trying to get browsers to display my website properly!!!! How well I understand what those poor nerds were talking about...!

Anyways, as testimony to me going mad, i just received an e-mail from the University that declared me delinquent! apparently, i haven't given them some transcript (the nth one). I have this great love affair going on with U Ky's graduate school. It's like this: if they don't see me for 30 days together, they go utterly crazy and start firing off all sorts of e-mails (ranging from being declared delinquent to informing me that I never was admitted to UK to god-knows-what-else) designed to bring me to their office. The latest missive is just the last in a string of such communications.

So goes another boring day in my life....

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Indianapolis trip

Spent an awesome three days in Indianapolis. Reached there on Friday night and returned on Monday night (technically Tuesday morning but who cares?). Spending time with family feels great. My Uncle and Aunt had come from India to visit their grandson (my little nephew!). Anyways, chatted with them for a long while about what's hot in Srirangam, what's in and what's out, who's in town ( u know, just local 'vambu' and yadda yadda...) and of course, events in the temple, family stories etc...
My cousin's house is in a great locality. It is full of greenery and simply too picturesque. I loved the place. Went for long walks with my family. Had good old South Indian food. Went to a nearby park. Saw the fireworks on July 4th. It was a so-so display..not too good, not too bad.
Went shopping at a mall. Bought new sandals ( actually went to buy something else but us girls no can resist da temptation...:))

Saw Hum Tum...okay sort of a movie. Expected more but turned out to be a disappointment. I have seen Rani Mukherjee before and have found her okay in her movies..but in this one, she REALLY made me wish she had a better voice..U know the noise that initially comes when ice cubes are put in a grater??!! Well, that's the way she sounded to me..(freaked me out after a while).

The little guy (name's Vishnu, by the way) just stole my heart. He is 7 months old and he took to me very nicely! It feels great to be a part of a little one's life, to be there when he grows up, to be someone to whom he can turn to for care, affection and support. I really miss him.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Beautiful Morning....

Aren't mornings beautiful? I love the cloudy, rainy mornings especially. Well, yeah, they make your commute miserable. But the smell of rain drenched mud, glistening tree leaves and a cool light breeze make me happy. Behind my house, there's this little stream that gets fed by rain water. So if we have a thunderstorm, we have water in the stream that gurgles as it jumps over pebbles. I really love that sound!!

Anyways, for the first time in my life, I didn't wake up to an alarm. It really amazed me! Got up at 7.30 AM and rushed to work. Had no breakfast. I am hungry now.
My database server is down and I can't get to my work scene isn't hot either.
So, here I am writing my first blog...
If you are as bored as I am, then go ahead and comment on it....