Friday, January 23, 2009

Sunshine State, Weather Gods, Cabin Fever & "42"

* Made a trip down to Orlando last week. Stayed at the Walt Disney Swan. Wherever you go, its Disneyland. Disney owns the place! But I liked it. Of course, I bought a bunch of Disney stuff -- most of them silly but what the heck!

* When I left Lexington, I was gloating over the fact that I was going to warm, sunny, tropical Florida. Lexington was freezing. Ah, freedom for a week! Alas, I didn't pray to the Weather Gods. The temperatures in Orlando were in the mid-twenties for most of my stay there. Sigh. So much for escaping freezing weather. Nonetheless, it didn't deter a bunch of us from going to Universal Studios one very cold evening. "The Simpsons" ride was easily the highlight of the trip!

* The minute I landed in Orlando, my cell phone died. No life. Zilch. Zip. Nada. I tried many different avenues of getting it to work. Finally, I abandoned it and decided to have fun without it. It wasn't that difficult to manage without a cell phone. I actually enjoyed the freedom conferred on me.

* When I got back to Lex, of course, the wrath of the weather gods pursued me. We had an ice-snow storm two days back. Driveways were iced up and the roads were slick. We couldn't get out of the house. Our satellite dish couldn't pick up any signals. No TV. No cell phone. Sitting at home for three days without seeing anyone else other than S gave me cabin fever.

* Which brings me to my last point -- "42". The combination of not being able to venture out + no TV + no cell phone gave me tons of time to do some reading. I've been devouring "The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy"! And I am becoming a cult fan! Currently reading the fourth book of the series -- "So Long, and Thanks for all the Fish!". If you want to know what "42" means, go read the book.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Whenever I see a cat or a dog running around the streets without any visible owner, I just go, "Look, there's a dog crossing the campus." To me, its just part of the scenery. Nothing special or notice-worthy. A couple of weeks ago, I was reminded that this is not how everyone in the world reacts. My friend went, "Oh my God! Look, there's a stray dog! I am going to call the pound."

I am used to seeing stray dogs, cows, cats on the street everywhere in India. In residential colonies, if they happen to wander around, people give them left-over food. Cows, especially, have a field time during Pongal. They are in demand everywhere. Of course, these animals cause traffic problems and irritate some people who dislike having their picture-perfect neighborhood "dis-figured". But they manage to survive, procreate and have a life on the streets. I am not saying that it is a great life. But they manage to be alive.

I know people who run shelters and pounds are trying to save the stray animals from pain, cruelty and starvation. But if no one adopts an animal from the pound, they are euthanized. Is it fair to kill an animal because we want our streets to be picture perfect?

I think humans have developed this exaggerated sense of entitlement to Planet Earth. Like it belongs only to us and we can do what we want with it and all its other inhabitants. Everyone makes fun of President Bush's statement, "I know the human and fish can co-exist". But maybe one day, all the fish in the seas will get sick of being caught. Then, we'll have a fish uprising in history. Maybe, the fish and the rest of the animal kingdom will decide to euthanize us all because we are ruining their environment. And Bush will seem like a messiah. I know I am blaboring. So I'll shut up. :-)

Friday, January 02, 2009

A new beginning...

My first post of the year is going to be just an assemblage (is that a word?) of random things in my head. I tried to go for an emotional and meaningful post but it backfired on me.

--I wanted to write a New year's eve post commemorating the fact that I had 44 posts last year compared to the 35 in 2007. It would have been nice to make it a round 50 but I am not complaining. I think I kept up a steady stream of posts in 2008 every month instead of the spasmodic pattern of 2007. Enough gloating.

--Have been on a reading spree lately. Managed to devour four books in the span of 1.5 weeks! Started reading the Stephanie Meyer "Twilight" series. I am sure series-lovers will want to crucify me for this but the first book -- "Twilight" -- really sucked. It felt like I was trapped between the pages of a very badly written Mills and Boon romance. Too touchy-feely for me. Stephanie Meyer redeemed herself with the second one, "New Moon". The third, "Eclipse",was positively engaging. I guess it gets better as it progresses. Two more books to go in this series.

I also struggled through "The Gatecrasher" by Madeline Wickham (alias Sophie Kinsella). Extremely meandering story with no concrete plot. Ugh. Didn't expect this from the creator of the "Shopaholic" series!

Finished the "The Lost Army of Cambyses" by Paul Sussman. Masala thriller story in the mould of Dan Brown (though not close enough). Worth reading on a flight or a train!

I am about to start on "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Khaled Hosseini.

-- 2009 has started out very promisingly with lots of cleaning getting done @ home. We managed to buy things we had been putting off, clean things that were pending and re-organized our home. I finally managed to hang up some photographs on the walls. I even got a rolodex so we can be better organized about phone numbers/addresses. Yippeee to that!

-- Some people have this gaping dichotomy between what they want to be and what they are. They insist that they are just suffering a lack of will-power and they really, really "want" to do something. But no matter how much you help or how hard you try, their actions point in a different direction. Makes me wonder if people have no idea what they want or what is good for them. I've also realized that spending energy trying to alter the course of someone's behavior is EXHAUSTING! :-)

Okay, for this largely trivial post, I am going to write something a bit more deep. I have been thinking about this for a while and want to get it off my chest. There have been times when I wondered if it was just freakish chance that I was on this earth, that maybe there was no rhyme or rhythm to the universe, that there was no 'karma" guiding the paths of our lives. I had my first taste of intense grief last year and with that grief came a tiny glimmer of intense appreciation of human life. A realization of truly how magical life and a living being is. It is difficult to explain that feeling. I think everyone has to feel it to really know it.

Farewell 2008 and welcome 2009! Belated new year wishes to all! :-)