Thursday, August 28, 2008

DNC -- History is made!

Barack Obama was nominated by acclamation as the candidate of the Democratic Party for Election 2008, the first African-American to ever lead a major part ticket. It was an emotional moment for African-Americans. Tears were rolling down their cheeks. Many of them were crying outright as they raised their heads proudly. An African-American party official said he wanted to dedicate this moment to his late father who lived through segregation and racial discrimination in the 50s. Finally, finally, vindication that they could aspire to the highest office in the USA and officially represent a major party!

It was a historic moment and I can now say that I watched it live.


I've been following the race for the President of the US since January this year through the
grueling primaries, Hillary's defeat and the melodrama that followed afterward. I, for one, thought that Bill Clinton, after his wife's defeat, was a shadow of his former self, acting like a baby denied candy. I thought I'd see more of his wordplay yesterday night and a wishy-washy approval of Obama.

Instead, he came out swinging with his GOP slamming and outright approval of Obama. In the process, he showed everyone how its done..:) The thing with Clinton is that you forget all his faults when he shows up and starts talking nice. He sounds so sincere, eloquent and coherent that you want to believe him. Thus far, I thought no one, including the candidate, made a case for himself so strongly as Bill did for Obama! Definitely, one of the best talks of the convention.

S & I were wondering how in the world the country managed to listen to George W. Bush for 8 years after hearing someone like Bill.


Tonight is Obama's acceptance speech. I am a sucker for good speeches and am looking forward to hearing this guy speak! :)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

India Post

India is still new to the Internet. A lot of established trading houses, merchants and even the Indian Embassy don't have good, usable websites. But I was pleasantly surprised by the India Post website. The website is usable, information is easy to find and most important actions are up-front in the home page. Way to go! :) The postal service has had the sense to hire a good developer who knows his bread and butter to do their website.

If you want an example of a badly done website, you should look at the Indian Embassy (Washington D.C) website. S had to fill an online application form to renew his passport and they had a big disclaimer saying they would ONLY accept online apps. So we dutifully tried it and ended up being their QE team. The 'Submit" button on the application threw a JavaScript error. We couldn't print or save the application because of some other exceptions. Some developer had forgotten the basic rule of coding -- HANDLE EXCEPTIONS!

I can't tell you how annoyed I was -- both as an end user as well as a software professional. As an end user, when I am sending confidential information, it is scary to see some strange exception. Do you take it that your operation failed? Succeeded? As a software professional, I intensely dislike people who can't do their basic homework and follow good practices. Is the Indian Embassy so poor that it can't hire a decent company to do their website? Or is it yet another example of the "chalta hai" attitude we see so much?

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brain dump..

The people in the house behind ours put up a fence yesterday. Our next door neighbor did the same 2 months back. Our house had a fence when we bought it. I feel boxed-in when I see a bunch of fences around me instead of a clear view. Besides, the neighborhood children were playing in the backyards this summer. They were using the undivided space between the houses to play softball and to run around screaming. I guess now they're confined to limited space which must suck! Bah!


I watched three movies this weekend. 'Thedi Vandha Mappillai' starring MGR, Jayalalitha has to be the worst movie made in that era. Horrendous dialogues and acting. Jayalalitha looked very pretty though! 'Enga Veetu Ramayanam' was a laugh riot. S.Ve. Shekar cracked me up. 'Jab We Met' was alright. Shahid Kapoor looked really cute! It was a feel-good movie but I thought the "crazy, simple girl does whatever her heart tells her to" routine is getting old these days. Recently, Genelia did that in 'Santosh Subramaniam' and now, it is Kareena. Honestly, I've not met one girl like that in all these years. So not sure whether to believe such people exist..:-)


Belated Independence Day Wishes! This blog has been in draft mode for two days. I've not managed to publish it.


One of my college friends sent me a link to Amitabh Bachchan's blog -- . It is interesting in its own way. I am surprised he finds the time to post regularly (and he insists it is he that's writing, not some ghostwriter) despite his busy schedule. It is quite nauseating to read the comments section of his posts --- all fawning, servile and irrelevant. I wonder if Indians have lost all sensibility. If someone is pouring his heart out about his mother, the only thing someone can find to say is, "You are awesome!" or something like it?? What's wrong with people!

Saturday, August 02, 2008


On the highway from Kumbakonam to Mayiladuthurai (Mayavaram), near Kadiramangalam, lies a quaint little village on the banks of the Cauvery. It has been my grandmother's dream that I visit this place, her native village, at least once in her lifetime. Last year, after years of talking and dreaming about it, I did just that.

Our driver almost missed Sivaramapuram. He had never heard of it and he had been driving in those parts for quite some time. We managed to find it and our car couldn't get into the one-street village. We went on foot. It wasn't a big deal because the entire village consists of just one street.. :) The entrance to the village was dotted with a Siva temple.We were accosted by an old maami in madisaar clearly excited at the prospect of some new comers! I left my parents to banter with the madisaar maami and walked down the length of the street to the Cauvery.

It was an intensely personal journey for me filled with memories of my grandmother and her childhood tales. Narrated over afternoon siestas or lazy evenings in the thinnai of her house, her stories were always colorful and entertaining. To me, she and her village stories belonged to a magical, idyllic world that I could never personally experience! She is a good storyteller, that one..:)

Most of the houses in Sivaramapuram are dilapidated.I heard the madisaar maami say that most of the owners are in the US with their sons/daughters. Ha! The reach of the US even in these old parts. I reached the Rama temple at the end of the street on the banks of the Cauvery. It was always as my grandmother had told me! The padithurai where she and her siblings bathed every day was now dilapidated. I was a bit disappointed. People don't use rivers when there are bathrooms, I told myself. A couple of ancient banyan trees were hanging over the river, their branches lazily touching the Cauvery. My grandmother had told me that her boisterous brothers would swing from Banyan trees and jump with a splash into the river while the women were going about their chores. Could these trees be the one from her stories?!

We visited the erstwhile house of my grandmother. It had now become a Raghavendra Madam. The person next door was a distant-relative of my grandmother and she was maintaining the madam. She showed us inside the madam and gave us a tour. This place was once a 4-kattu house..This was where my grandmother grew up..I was lost in imagination until the maami invited us home to coffee. And what a coffee it was! The cow in the backyard had just been freshly milked. The smell of fresh boiling milk and decoction in the filter was simply intoxicating. I have to say that coffee was from Heaven! No Starbucks can beat that taste ever.

Some of these old places in the Tanjore district still maintain their old lifestyle. They are self-sufficient. Almost every house has a cow that feeds the family. Some of these families still manage agricultural lands and live off that produce like my grandmother's family once used to. They know where their food comes from and how it was grown. They know that their milk doesn't have anti-biotics, pesticides and artificial growth hormones. It is not that they do not know the joys of city life. A lot of them have well to-do sons/daughters in Chennai or abroad. But they choose to live there..

Today, there is talk of world famine and food shortage and everyone is encouraged to go "local". In the US, there's talk of encouraging people to have their own farms. That's how India used to be! That's the lifestyle we so vigorously rejected a few decades back! Now, its back in fashion but I am not sure that the knowledge still exists...Life's a Circle.

As Sivaramapuram faded away into the distance, I found myself thinking, "What have we done..God, what have we done?"