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.