Friday, December 29, 2006

It is that time of the year...

When all around you, you see:

  • Happy faces. Smiles all over.

  • Greeting everybody you come across with "Happy New Year".
  • Making New Year celebration plans including the "eve".

  • All the hotels are booked in the city and you are struggling hard to accomudate guests.

  • Every other person you see is planning for something or the other.. outing with family, chilling out with friends, booze parties at home... you name it.

  • Decorations everywhere. Home, Office, Shopping complexes, even streets.

  • Endless discounts and new-year-offers.

  • New Year resolutions made one after the other. How many are kept is another story altogether.

All in all, it's party time folks! Celebrate!

May this year make all your dreams come true. Here's wishing you all a Wonderful, Happy and Prosperous New Year 2007!.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

They are Highly Insensitive Vermins - But... Am I Denounced Sinful?

I am a young boy studying in school. I am 4 years old. Everyday when I go to school, I get weird stares from everybody. Nobody sits with me. Not even Ramu, who is the best boy in school and is friends with even the watchman. He is always smiling and talking in class, but he is upset with me. I don’t know why. He does not talk to me anymore.
Everything was nice and beautiful when I joined school, I had friends. I played with them all the time. We drew pictures together. We had lunch together. But something changed when my teacher got to know about my mom, dad and me. We are a nice family like any other. My mom and dad are nice, they buy me whatever I ask for. But strangely they can’t buy me friends. Neither do they have friends. We never visit anyone, nor does anybody visit us. Not that we are bored with ourselves, we have the TV and video games, but we sure could use some company from time to time.
My mom says I have to get used to living alone. She says we have been cursed with something. I ask God everyday if I have done something wrong, but I don’t get any answer.
My mom silently cries sometime in the Pooja room or in the bed room. My dad is sometimes engrossed in deep thought. I don’t know what they are so sad about, but I think they also miss friends like me.
Now my mom says I can’t go to school any more. I like going to school, it is so much fun. I cried, and she cried with me, but insists I can’t go there anymore.
WHY? Why me?
I am sure these were the thoughts in the young boy’s mind when he was sent home from school. After all he was HIV infected. The dreaded infection!
This infection incidentally is more dreaded because of its “cause” rather than it’s “effect”.
I had a friend, who was doing her masters in social work, and she happened to do some research on AIDS patients and yes, it is traumatic. Especially when the patient is in the last stages, it is impossible to even look at them. They will have acute infections in their private parts and a simple thing as going to the loo is a traumatic exercise.
But then, isn’t any disease traumatic? What about Cancer? What about TB? In all these cases the patients die a slow and painful death. But why this terrible discrimination only against AIDS? Is it only because it is transmitted sexually? The answer is YES.
First and foremost, let us clear some myths about this disease:
  1. HIV infection does not necessarily mean AIDS. HIV +ve simply mean you have the Human Immunodeficiency Virus. Just like any other infection, if this is also treated in the very initial stages of infection, chances of NOT getting AIDS are high. But then we must also note here that most of the patients who are HIV +ve contact AIDS at some point or the other simply because the initial infection went un-noticed.
  2. HIV infection (or even for that matter AIDS) is NOT transmitted just like that thru air. It does not affect if you sit in the same class and study together. (Only lice and common cold get transmitted that way!)
  3. It’s NOT a person’s fault if he is infected. People catch so many infections and he/she has caught this one. It is as simple as that. And for heaven’s sake it is definitely not the fault of a 4 year old kid!!

What can we do to stop this discrimination?

  1. EDUCATE: Start from schools. Educate the children as well as the parents about the infection. Its causes, its effects and the myths/stigma surrounding it.
  2. Promote usage of condoms. Make it available in colleges and universities and educate people about it.
  3. Advertise. With the power the media has today, it can do wonders. Tell more and more people about it. Knowledge is virtue. But half knowledge is dangerous. People now think of only the sexual part of AIDS. Hence the treatment is also the same. It's time to remove that mental block.

Incidentally, a little away from the topic, I feel us Indians are major hypocrites. When it comes to population we are the second largest in the world. When it comes to AIDS, we are the epicenter of the epidemic. We gave the world Kamasutra. I think we are the only culture who glorifies sex (what with the “first night” preparations and all). BUT when it comes to talking about sex… SHHHHhhhhhhhh. That is something which is not to be talked about!!! Why this treatment? By not talking about it and making it a stigma we are indirectly giving more importance to it. But at the same time, since the education level is so low and the awareness about safe sex practices is almost nil … it is not a surprise that we are in such a situation today.

Having said all this, I don’t think even education will solve everything. I don’t know how my parents would react if they came to know that I was close friends with a girl who is HIV infected. Though at present I am not sure how they would react, but I can tell for sure that they will definitely not be very happy about it.

So what is the solution? Let us, from our generation at least make an effort to accept these people as a part of our society. It would be too idealistic to say we will eradicate AIDS. This is kind of too far fetched, as there is no cure/vaccine for it as yet!Till some brilliant people find something about it, let us join hands together and educate our fellow country men and women about the disease and let us make this world a better place to live for the already suffering.

P.S: Reasons for this post:

1. This Link


2. Pavan's request.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

I am back... yahoooo!!!!

I am back in India. My home.

I had realised this before also.. when I lived in Germany for sometime, that no matter what all problems we have, no matter how dirty our country looks as compared to the developed countries, no matter all you get as "welcome" at the airport are dirty stares from men around, no matter the first thing you do after getting out of the airport is fight with the auto/taxi guy for the fare, this is MY country. All said and done, I belong here. I feel more at home.

However advanced the other countries maybe, however comfortable your life maybe there, you are always an outsider, a potential immigrant, you are always a foreigner.

Yes. I am extremely delighted about coming back home, but at the same time I was extremely dissapointed at the Delhi airport. If that is the welcome our country's capital gives to the visitors then God help us! It was far from being even "satisfactory"! Atleast I expected much more from our capital's international airport! The loo was in a bad state! with toilet paper all around.. with water running from the taps.. with a strong smell! Yukkkk! All this is when the cleaning lady is just sitting there looking at each coming passenger and expecting them to give her some money.. for what? I didn't understand though! She gives a sheepish smile when you are coming out.. and acts as though she is helping you with the luggage.. the help which I don't need because I have a trolley with me.. just so that I will give her some money! If she had atleast kept the loo spic and span I would have whole heartedly given some money!

The customs officials... shabby clothes, wrinkled and dirty, undone hair ... I know that 2 in the morning is not a good time, but come on! they are at work and they are supposed to be presentable. And what will somebody loose if they smile at each person they are checking?

I think we as Indians lack some basic courtesies! A smile at a passerby, a response when asked for, a thank you once in a while...
Interestingly we are the best hosts when somebody visits our home.. we take care of them so well.. we go out of our way to accomudate them and show them around.

I think, it's time to realise that India as a country is our home too.. an extended home!

Bangalore gave me a much better welcome! The loo was cleaner and the airport also has a kind of sophisticated look. Thank god for that! I also noticed that the situation in Hosur road has imporved drastically! With that useless drainage cannals closed, and the road widenened.. the commute is not as dreadful as I imagined it to be!

Even with all this "yet-to-be-done".. I loved

1. The aroma of bakery (this I surely missed in USA)
2. The sound of suprabhatham early in the morning from a near by temple.
3. The shoutings of the vegetable vendor on the road
4. The early morning coffee aroma... ahhhh bliss.
5. and most of all it's so cheap to have a cellphone here! I don't have to wait till 9 in the night to call people ;-)

P.S: It looks like nobody missed me while I was away.. no messsages asking where I was and all that... If you guys hadn't noticed I was away for almost 15 days :(
I think you can atleast send some nice and warm welcome messages!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Crocodile Crocodile.. which color do you want?

Do we remember this game which we used to play when we were kids? If I was in Arkansas at that time, I would have never lost to the crocodile!
Yes, it is still not CA-trip story telling time. I just have one more story to tell. After that CA news is all yours :)
2 weeks back we drove to Arkansas to see the fall colors. You name the color it was there!
Day 1: Started early in the morning. Had rented a mini-van, 7 seater. Drove it in full josh :)Texas, where I live is a very dry state. There is not much vegetation. But as we were nearing the end of Texas we could see a lot of vegetation and some fall colors here and there too.
I will not go into each and every detail, it's going to get too boring to read. Some interesting points

  • One of my friend had got his parents also on the trip. Travelling/staying with them for 2 days made me realise it's not easy to travel with our parents.

  • When I was in Germany, I knew for sure that my parents wouldn't be comfortable there. But I had thought that in USA they will be comfortable. I can make them come here sometime... But this trip made me realise a LOT of things.

  • Food will be a major problem. My parents being extremely orthodox, I am sure they won't eat even in the Indian restaurants here as they serve non-veg too.

  • They will not eat bread and stuff, so places like subway is also ruled out. So where do I take them to eat? I will have to make 100s of chapathi's from home and take it. That's all.

  • Restrooms will be another problem, them being not used to the western toilet.

  • So, though it was a bitter realisation. My parents won't enjoy if they come here :(

That is me feeling sorry for my parents. I don't know how my parents would react after coming to a foreign country. I am sure my father will take it well as he has been to Russia and parts of Europe before. My mom is very sporty so she will also take it well.. at least that's what I hope so.

But my friend (lets call him Dh) Dh's parents are a little too much in awe of America. Sometimes it would becoming embarrassing even for Dh, when they would "touch" a cute kid. Or times when they would openly bad-mouth India... :(.

Anyway all that aside, here are some snaps.. they will tell you much more than my long paragraphs..;-)

Roll over the cursor on the photos and you can see my labels for them.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Paati.. I miss you!

She was a woman... full of love, patience and lots of courage. Her childhood was very good. Born to a rich family, she enjoyed every bit of it. She used to secretly like her cousin.. he was a handsome young man... Her joy knew no bounds when he also felt the same and proposed marriage. They were a loving couple. She used to dress up every single evening before he came home... She cooked for him, gave him 6 wonderful children, took wonderful care of his parents. She was the perfect wife. He was a perfect husband. They were a perfect couple. Alas! the world is not perfect... so her world fell apart when he suddenly died of heart attack.
She did not breakdown. After all, she had a HUGE responsibility on her head. Taking care of 6 children, with no income of your own is a hard task. His business partner took advantage of the situation and ate away all the money. Her parents were already dead and the wealth was already distributed among the sons... who obviously refused to give anything to her.,. when she needed it. It's another matter that she never asked for it. But they never offered to help either.
As any Indian woman would do, she sold all her jewels and managed to educate all of her children and sustained the family as well. That sure is some wealth management! Her children understood the situation and joined jobs as soon as they could. Sometimes the family went without food for days.. but never once did they go to anybody asking for help. They managed on their own. It was one mother and 6 children, all for themselves. But not once did she loose her smile nor her temper in all these difficult situations. She was a woman of substance. She managed to marry all of them off to good respectable families. Doesn't she deserve an applause for this task! I am sure she does... If only she could hear me applauding her...
My day never went without seeing her. She was everything for me! I refused to be with my parents! I wanted to be with her always! Since both of my parents were working.. they used to leave me in her house... And I refused to go back with them in the evening when they came to pick me up! NO!
"I have a stomach ache today... I can;t sit in the scooter with that.. I will stay back here...!"
"I am feeling very sleepy now.. can;t ride all the way back home like that.. I will sleep here only today!".
These were my alibis to be with her. Yes I loved her more than I loved my parents. She was my grandmother.. my paati... my love... my everything.
I never used to let my mom touch my hair... it was always to be plaited by paati. All my school books had labels written by my paati. She had a beautiful handwriting... even though she had studied only till 10th class.. her English was flawless. Her Tamizh and Kannada were perfect! She was my tutor at home. My homework was never complete without her nod of approval.
I still remember those wonderful evenings after school... when she used to make coffee and bajji for me.. and we used have our little chat. We exchanged stories.. we went vegetable shopping... we went to visit houses.. we were the best of friends! She taught me how to make koodbale, chakkuli etc.
I still remember the warm feeling of sleeping next to her in the night. The way she used to hug me and put me to sleep... the way she used to tell me stories... she snored sometimes, and I used to make fun of her for that.. she laughed it off... but was concerned if my sleep was disturbed because of her snoring.... why can't i hear the snoring now! I promise paati.. it's not at all disturbing.. it's in fact nice... very nice....
She used to stand near the gate and wait for me to come from school... the smile on her face when she saw me in the corner of the road is unforgettable. So where is that smile now? where is she now?
She took me with her when she went to visit any of her relatives. She bragged about me so much... that I did this and that.. and that I was cute and adorable.... and she always bought chocolates from me after these visits... or ice cream on the way back... who will buy me all these now?
The one above all of us... the supreme God can sometimes be very cruel. Something happened to her. She fell unconscious one day in the bathroom... and there was blood all over. We rushed her to the hospital.. and yes we were late. She was in the last stages of uterus cancer.
That is when I started seeing the other side of her. The smile was slowly fading away. The chemotherapy was eating her from inside. She suffered all night.. the snores were replaced with subtle cries of pain... She was reduced to the thickness of a stick. But she smiled in the day... If I took her fruits.. she would make me eat them first.. because you see I was a growing kid and needed it!
When I was a kid.. she used to bathe me every day. Now it was my turn.. she could not take bath all by herself.. and she let no one other than me to do the job.. I was happy that she chose me... but at the same time I just could not stand the sight of her.. so sick and so fragile... and yes.. the dreaded word... so dying..... I would finish the job as soon as I could and run away to the room to cry my heart out. God! why did you do this to her?
I prayed to God every single day to end her sufferings.. but how was I to know that he would end it by taking her away...
It was early in the morning. I had just brushed my teeth and was having coffee... a call came from the hospital.. it was my mom. She spoke something over the phone with my uncle.. and my uncle just put the phone down and sat on the floor..staring at nothing. Death of your mother is not an easy news to digest. I knew from the looks of it what had happened... but didn't believe it. How could she do this to me? How can she leave me? Does she not know that my life is incomplete without her?
They brought the body to the house.... I fell unconscious... I could not see her that way! No this was not her... this was not my paati. I cried.. and cried.. and cried.. did she listen at all? Why can;t she just get up and come and hug me? I kissed her goodbye anyway... She was as hard as a rock... I put rice in her mouth.. I bid her farewell... after all what am I in front of God's will?
She left me exactly 10 years ago.... I HATE ekaadashi in the month of November! And it is tomorrow! This day of the month took away my paati.... took away my love.. my everything!

Monday, November 20, 2006

American Football

It seems I am back to blogging after all. People will have to wait a little bit more to hear about my vacation details. In a gist.. it was AWESOME! I will write in detail about each and every day.. be ready for some long, really long posts... till then, lets have some fun with the ball.

This is about football. The American one where there is no "foot" involved in the game with the ball.

I went to watch a high school football game some 3 weeks back. I would have sworn it was a world cup match thingy if I hadn't known before that it was just a high school game. The arrangements, the glamour... you had to see it to believe it.

First they introduced each and every player on the team. There will be at least 60 players on each side. Only 11 can play at a time, they keep rotating people, after all it's a very physical game. Each player was accompanied by his family.

After the gala introductions, the game started. Some things I learned about the game.
  • Physical power is EVERYTHING in the game. People fall over each other, trip each other, beat up each other also!

  • It's like cricket in India, it's a religion in America.

  • The supporters/audience of each of the sides are seated on the respective sides of the stadium. No mixture allowed.

  • Girls wear something called "mums" around their necks. These are basically presented by their boy friends who would have asked them for prom dance the next evening. These things costs no less than $100! These mums carry the respective boy-friends' name.

  • It's a family event.

  • America is a RICH country. The band, the cheerleaders, the dress for them, the band instruments ranging from drums to saxophones, the media coverage... all for a high school game.

During half time, there will be some recreational activities like band playing, cheerleading performance, some music etc.., Some photos and some shark's words to go with them.

My Team : Black-Panther - Band Troupe

The other team : Wild cats - Cheer leading team - They were really very impressive.

The wild-cat band team along with cheer leaders. Please note the short skirts ;-)

My team, performing. Co-ordination at it's best. They would all lift their legs at the same time and to the exact same height... super!

Ok, last but not the least ... some players in action. Couldn't catch too much of the play on camera. One, because I was trying really hard to understand the game and had no time for taking pictures. My camera does not have some fantastic zoom... so even if some pictures were taken, they were far away shots with not much clarity about what's happening out there :)

Update: Sojourner asked as to who won finally. Do I even have to mention? It was MY team... the BLACK-PANTHERS :-D

Friday, November 17, 2006

Vacation time...

I will be off to LA tomorrow for a 9 day trip :) I have heard a lot about the west coast of America, going to experience it!
This weekend is gambling time... you guessed it right! I will be in Vegas.
3 days in LA.. then I will be off to San Fransisco. Golden bridge, Downtown wait till I come there!

I am very excited! Needless to say I will be off blogging.. till then Ciao!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Uravugal Pirinthaalum, Ninaivugal maraivadhillai

  • A & S - As far back as I can remember. My first childhood buddies. Have played endless house-house, teacher-teacher, ice-pice etc etc..,
  • S Rao - L.K.G to 7th Std. The most beautiful girl in my class. Also the most intelligent girl. There was always a compitition between us for the 1st rank.
  • V - 5th Std to 7Std. Extremely orthodox. She used to do ekadashi upvaasam at that young age itself! That too without even drinking a drop of water! Interestingly she was the one who "educated" me about girl-boy things ;-). There used to be one guy in my class who used to say sorry to me every 2 minutes. I used to wonder what's wrong with him. She was the one told me that he is actually "line-marofying" me!
  • S - 7th Std. She was the new girl in class. Never actually talked to her all year. But at the end of the year there was a medical check up, both of us were standing in the queue for around 2 hours. That's when we became friends. Kept in touch for 2 more years. But later lost touch :( She was extremely clean (did I just say CLEAN...*ahem*). She always smelt very good.
  • M - 8th Std. She was a quiet girl and my first high school friend. We didn't remain friends for long though. I don't know why. Now I can't seem to remember what cut us off?
  • P & J - My best high school friends. We used to hang out together all the time :) I am still in touch with P, but not with J anymore.
  • D, G, M and A - P.U.C friends. We bunked classes almost all the time ;-) We used to go watch movies, eat churmuri, or just laze around in one of our houses when all of us were broke :). I am now only in touch with M.

So, what I came to say was... we make lots of friends. Some keep up. Some don't. We keep in touch with some, some not. But I don't think we ever forget them. They always stay in our memory forever.

Friends may depart, but memories never.

Auctioning INDIA... Unbelievable prices…. Any takers?

Bidding starts… 500 million dollars for INDIA, base price. 500m ONE, 500m TWO 500m THREE…… It appears as if there are no takers! Howz that possible? After all we are the land of elephants (and they are heavy and expensive). We are the land of snake charmers… if we are capable of taming a snake we can achieve anything right?
We are the land of brainy computer engineers, though it’s another matter that most of them are currently outside India. But come on… the resource pool is here. So why are there no takers?
Ah, I get it. Nobody wants a “complete” package. Everyone is interested in bits and pieces.

After re-consideration, bidding starts again.

10 million dollars for Kashmir… 10m ONE…10m TWO **bhang** (sound of a gun shot). The bidder is killed by a militant. For the fear of getting shot everybody agrees that Kashmir will go to Pakisthan. No cost…free… as a token of “friendship”!

5 million dollars for Arunachal Pradesh… 5m ONE… 5m TWO… wait! Wait! A Chinese representative comes to the dais. “Arunachal Pradesh was an integral part of China from the beginning, how can you even sell it now? It belongs to us. Period.If we don’t get this, we won’t send anymore Made in China goods to India.”
For the fear of not having plates to eat, mobile phones to talk, bed to sleep (all products made in China).. people give Au.P off to China as a token of “Thanks” for providing us with cheap house hold goods.

100 million dollars for Bangalore… Forget it, the bidding won’t even start. If Bangalore is not handed over to the US, then all those lakhs and lakhs of ABCDs will be sent back in 10 days… oh my God! That would be disastrous. Who will marry them if they are not in America? Ok, Given. Bangalore sold!

100 million dollars for Mumbai (or was it Bombay?)… **bhang** **bhang** **bhang**!! The underworld goons won’t let anybody else sell Bombay. They have already sold it to some Dubai Sheiks!

Chennai – LTTE all over it… it’s difficult to even set a price for it as it is no longer in our control.

So, that’s it. INDIA sold in parts to all the interested parties. After all we are a peace loving secular nation. Who cares if parts of it are ruled by different nations? Who cares if someone invades us? Who cares if someone claims some part of us as theirs? They are free to take whatever they want. It’s available for general public!

Do you think I am weaving a sarcastically funny story here? Wait and watch, this will happen really for sure. With the kind of apathetic administration that we have… this day is not very far off. With people like Abu Salem ready to contest elections, with people who are in power bothered only about vote banks and not the welfare of the nation, with leaders who are too scared to take any aggressive decisions, with terrorists being pardoned, with rapists and murderers let go scot-free, what more can we expect?

Hey Bhagwaan… is din ko dekhne se pehle mujhe uthaa lo!!!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Of Criminal Lawyers and Child Labour and Motherly Love

Criminal Lawyer:

What makes a person take the side of a criminal? Is it money? Is it just plain professionalism? Is it the urge to do something wild?
I know, a criminal is not one until proven so. Agreed. Also, as a constitutional right, everybody has to get a fair trial, be it a criminal or a poor person, or an influential person. I understand the legality of it. But as a lawyer, if you “know” that somebody has committed a crime (be it small or big), what makes you take the side of them and “fight” to free them?
I know in this materialistic world of complex laws, human rights, media attention, money, power and whatever else you can think of, it is too much to expect everybody to be righteous. But isn’t there something called as moral-conscience? A quiet inner voice which talks to you in the middle of the night?
How can a person sell his soul for money or fame? In comparison to people who sell their souls, people who sell their bodies for money are so much better!

Child Labour:

Today is children’s day. A happy Children’s day to all those millions of children out there in the world. Child labour, as we all know and understand and accept is a bad thing. That clearly shows how backward the society is where it expects a child to work and earn bread for the family. The government (for a change) did something good by banning it. We all also know that this law is in place for as long as we can remember, but unfortunately have not been followed strictly. Now I suppose there will be periodic checks and offenders will be severely prosecuted. This is a good move, but is it in the right direction?
I am all against child labour, but what are we achieving by just taking off their means of bread? The child does get free education and food in school, but what about his/her family?
The situation is not as simple as it meets the eye. Poverty leads to lots of misery. Do I even need to say that? These children work hard to fend not only for themselves but also for their family. If they are off the work, what next?
As I said before, it is a good move but in a bad direction. You cannot just expect to implement the law overnight. The grass root problem has to be looked into.
Provide them part time education. Set maximum hour of work that they can do and rest of the time let them go to school. In that way they are able to do both. And believe me once one generation is educated and has a good job, I am sure they will put their children in schools voluntarily. Provide alternative employment for their family members. Or even give some monetary compensation to such families.
Unfortunately all these measures can be put in place if and only if somebody high up there and every single person below him feels from the bottom of his/her heart for the betterment of the underprivileged children of our country. If it is just again the same old story of vote bank politics and other selfish interests, nothing can save us. Not even God!
God also helps only those who can help or atleast try to attempt to help themselves :)
Motherly Love:

In all this misery around us, there is also Love, plenty of it. Came across this beautiful article in
Bellur’s blog

That is called mother’s love. That is called the most powerful strength in this whole world. That is Love. Pure unconditional Love. That kind of love can be given only by a mother and nobody else.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Neil OH Neil ...

Neil Armstrong was the first man who set foot on the moon. (OK. I know you all know about it, just making it clear who am I talking about...).
Undoubtedly he is one of those "special" men whose words are etched in gold. Here are some tit-bits about him :) These are NOT true stuff, just some rumors which were around. Maybe some of you have read it before, but I read it for the first time today. So here it goes ...
  • Immediately after Neil Armstrong uttered his famous "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind" quote during the historic first moon landing, he added the cryptic phrase, "Good luck, Mr. Gorsky!". Many people at NASA thought it was a casual remark concerning some rival Soviet Cosmonaut. However, upon checking, there was no Gorsky in either the Russian or American space programs. Not until over twenty-five years later did Armstrong reveal that Mr. Gorsky was a former neighbor, whose wife had proclaimed that she would give him oral sex "when the kid next door walks on the moon."
  • On 21 July at 5:56, the first man, Neil Armstrong, stepped onto the surface of the Moon, after which he was joined by Edwin Aldrin. The astronauts, wearing space suits with automatic life-support systems strapped to their backs, inspected the ship from the outside, set up a television camera, deployed scientific instruments on the Moon’s surface, and collected approximately 22 kg of moon surface samples. They brought to the Moon five medals with the images of deceased astronauts: Yuri Gagarin, Vladimir Komarov, Virgil I. Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chaffee.
    Armstrong and his two fellow astronauts, Aldrin and Collins, saw an object on the Moon’s horizon, which looked like an open book, and then they heard some mysterious “music.” They reported this back to Earth. At first, no one on Earth believed them: how could there be a book on the Moon and music in airless space? But the “music” was also heard on Earth over the radio transmission, and the “book” was photographed.
    In February 1983, fourteen years after his flight to the Moon, Astronaut Neil Armstrong went to Egypt to participate in a scientific conference. During the meeting, the azan sounded. Armstrong, sitting in the presidium, went pale and asked: “What is that music?” Surprised by the astronaut’s behavior, participants explained that it was the Muslim call to prayer. “That voice. That’s what I heard when I first stepped on the Moon, hearing it is giving me goose bumps!… O Allah! I found You not on Earth, but on the Moon!… I stepped onto the Moon without praying, but now I will pray, you can consider me a Muslim.” So the first person to walk on the Moon, American astronaut Neil Armstrong, became a Muslim.

Monday, November 06, 2006

I know I am in America when...

  • I jump with joy when I see a 2 wheeler! The other day I saw one which looked almost exactly like our scooty pep! I miss my kinetic... :(
  • No dinner party without drinks.
  • 8 am meetings in the office.
  • 6 pm, have to really search for "people" in office.
  • 60 mph is slow! Zoom past in 80 mph speed sometimes.. and feel happy that you escaped mamas ;-)
  • The winter sets in, you can see lots of desi women in chudidar and sneakers.
  • You make coffee in a microwave.
  • You have the cooler ON in summer and heater ON in winter. - Cotton dresses and woollen sweaters would do in India though.
  • Men at work discuss about bed-performance of their girlfriends over lunch.
  • There are no all-vegetarian restuarants. Maybe you can find a udipi cafe here and there sometimes, that too in big cities.
  • People value their personal time. If you have to attend your child's school function, you can take a day off from work stating the same reason. And nobody is going to deny permission.
  • Men (who are married) accept to work over the weekend ONLY after getting their wife's consent.
  • A child stops crying the moment you put an empty nipple in its mouth. - Try doing that to a desi kid, it will throw that back at your face!
  • A major weekend outing is a movie + lunch/dinner at an Indian restuarant.
  • The office is completely empty by 3 pm on a friday.
  • Anybody and everybody you come across in the street asks you "Hi, How are you doing?". But not one waits for an answer ;-)
  • and only in America, yes ONLY here... Pakistani's and Indians live in such great harmony, it's hard to believe that we are actually fighting wars out there in our own countries.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Enjoy the Dance....

P.S: This poem was supposed to have been written by a terminally ill young girl in New York. At this moment I don't know who the author is, if any one of you know please do tell me.

Have you ever watched kids on a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain slapping on the ground?

Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Do you run through each day on the fly?
When you ask How are you?Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed...
With the next hundred choresRunning through your head?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

Ever told your child, We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste, Not see his sorrow?

Ever lost touch, let a good friendship die...
Cause you never had time to call and say,"Hi"?

You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.

When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....Thrown away.

Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

What a noble idea!

Mahak is suffering from a life threatening illness. His days are numbered. His only wish was to become a police officer one day and punish all badmaash people!

His wish was indeed granted.

It's incidents like this, which make you believe that the world is after all not such a bad place. There is hope...lots of it!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

When preachings are misleading.... doomsday is near

I had decided that I will not write anything AGAINST men and FOR women. Basically because, I was tired of it on one side and I was also sure that this is not going to help. Even the so called educated men who read such things take it offensively. Not my blog in particular, but in other blogs I have seen people getting all worked up because some person is supporting for the rights of women.
Does fighting for the rights of women brand you as a feminist? If all women were treated on par with men in all areas would there be any feminists at all? Is fighting for someone’s rights wrong?
The blogosphere is full of feminist blogs. I have visited atleast 100 of them myself. Though some people are over exaggerating, most of them are speaking the truth. If the truth is unpleasant for some section of the society then so be it!
These days we are hearing more and more of this men vs women debate. Why you may ask? Some have even given me the answers that “Ah! These days women have started earning, and just because they do, they think they are great and treat men with contempt!”
NO. A very big NO. It’s not ONLY because we have money, it’s because we have a voice too… and we have the right of opinion and yes we have a choice! Today women are more independent.
I agree completely, that no family is complete without a man. True, very true…. What I am saying is that it is not complete even without a woman.
Things have changed a lot today. But then, only in some sections of society. Men have become more understanding. They understand that if they are tired after coming back from work and can’t cook, their wives are also equally tired after coming back from work (if not more) and cannot cook as well. So the Darshini’s are flourishing ;-). Men do help around in the house for cleaning, shopping and cooking. I really appreciate such Men. It’s not that Men are good only if they cook… it’s just that they have the attitude to help. That’s what makes them good. Hats off to such men!
I have a cousin brother who is pathetic at cooking, so his area of expertise is cutting vegetables and washing dishes :). See, it’s the thought that counts!
P also falls in this category :). He is even more nice, when I am cooking, he sits in the kitchen and chats with me… instead of just watching TV or something. My sister infact blissfully watches TV ;-). Such small gestures, and it makes a lot of difference.

There are such men on this beautiful earth, there are also men like
Sheikh Taj el-Din al-Hilali!!!!

He claims that he was misquoted and stuff… but still in whatever context he said these sentences, he sure is wrong! Terribly wrong!

First and foremost… a woman’s attire is her choice! However revealing it is or however lucrative it is… it is NOT A LICENSE for rape! Just because a woman is not dressed properly, does not give any man any right to rape her!

His comments and my comments to his comments!

  1. Women who did not wear a hijab (head dress) were like "uncovered meat". – Oh really? Actually on second thoughts I think it’s a perfect comparison. After all women are meant to be devoured right? Bhah!
  2. I unreservedly apologize to any woman who is offended by my comments. I had only intended to protect women's honour. – Oh I see. Who are YOU to protect our honor? And honor is kept intact by covering your head? Can somebody enlighten this poor ignorant soul as to what “attractiveness” is there in the head? Men don’t have head is it? I have seen so many men who have real nice hair and are very attractive just because of that. So they don’t have to do anything to protect their honor?
  3. The sermon was targeted against men and women who engaged in extra-marital sex and did so through alluring types of clothes. – What each person does with his/her married life is left to that particular individual. There is no hard and fast rule as to what is the “cause” for such things. And please, clothes don’t come anywhere near the cause. K, for a second, lets assume that a woman is doing the dare devil act and alluring people (read married men) into her jaal. She is characterless. What are these men then? Who go behind her? Full of Character? There are lots of distractions around us. Is it our responsibility to overcome the distractions or is for the distractions to disappear? Simple logic, when we study for exams, WE are supposed to concentrate on studies and not watch TV. Do the TV channels stop airing programs? Somebody please knock some sense into this person’s head!
  4. If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside... and the cats come and eat it... whose fault is it, the cats' or the uncovered meat? – Cats are ANIMALS. Are men animals too? Food and Women are the same?
  5. Sheikh Hilali also condemned women who swayed suggestively and wore make-up, implying they attracted sexual assault. – Why doesn’t he publish a rule book? “Do’s and Don’ts of an honorable woman”!?
  6. Then you get a judge without mercy... and gives you 65 years – He was implying for men who get punished for their act! So what is the expectation pray tell me… let him go scot-free? So that he can assume that women in general are public property and he can use them as much as he wants? If you ask me, rape convicts should be given death penalty! No mercy at all!

If he was some XYZ I wouldn’t have even bothered to read about him. But he is a religious leader, a man whose words mean something to people. A man whose preaching’s are followed by his community. A man who is a representative of his community. A man of such caliber, and such words!! Disappointed!!

So what message does this give? Is it OK to rape somebody as long as that person is dressed badly? Whether a woman is dressed badly or for that matter not dressed at all, it’s not anybody’s business to go ahead and rape her! Mind your own business Mr.Raper!

He is not realising that there is something more to this issue than just woman rights. He is a religious leader, the world will look at that religion in the wrong way! Not everybody knows what that religion is all about, what such people say gives people an idea as to what that religion preaches. First of all that religion is in the news for all wrong reasons and the whole world is looking at it with jaundiced eyes, and people like him are not helping at all in improving the image! May God put some sense in to him..,

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Some this and some that

It's long since I wrote anything. I think I am obsessed with blogging now! I have always been this way, if something interests me, then I get so addicted to really takes a lot of effort to get me out of it. Oh I digress.
Last weekend started blissfully. What more could I ask for than to start a weekend with an out and out SRK movie? Man, is he se*y...**drool** (I don't want our government to block blogspot again... and hence the words are written with *s!). First of all, people who will start saying that this movie is nothing as compared to the original and stuff...please...STOP! Stop comparing for a second and just see this movie as any other movie... and I am sure you will like it. All said and done, Amitabh Bachchan cannot be replaced. That's why he is a legend!
But at the same time, this new DON is beautifully made. It's fast paced with good looking women and extremely talented man to lead them all.. ;-). The little twist in the story is a real nice surprise. Just when you think that you know the story because you have seen the previous Don, you are pleasantly surprised.
But, Kareena is a disappointment. First of all she didn't do justice to the role. But most of all what happened to her perfect hour glass figure?!!
All in all it was a fantastic film... SRK is not Amitabh Bachchan, he is DON!
Saturday was Diwali celebrations at home and neighborhood :) Lighted lamps all over the house, at least we can do that if not burst crackers! Cooked yummy food at home and stuffed ourselves till we could not take even one rice grain more!
Sunday was shopping time :) That too precious gem shopping. Ah! What more can a girl ask for? As expected I became greedy and bought lots of stuff... but not only for myself, to all my cousins and aunts back in India (See I am not that selfish also it seems!)
Monday: Some major issues got clarified at work. Life is really happy for this shark. Just when the ocean is peaceful and beautiful and calm and serene... out comes a big wave and upsets it all.
The big wave is the news paper and it comes with lots of unpleasant news!
What was he thinking when he sanctioned this amount? That he was being outrageously generous? Rs 3? For heaven's sake what can you buy with that amount? A kg of rice costs at least 11rs. And a drought hit farmer is supposed to lead his life and support his family with 3 rs? I don't know whether to laugh or cry for this!
I think it's high time we stop treating special people around us with something more than curious looks. They don't need our compassion, they don't even need special attention. They just need some nice treatment. Treat them like normal people. And what were those officials doing that too in airport? Trying to hold him against boarding the plane because he "can-be" dangerous to other people? I will tell you what is more dangerous - Women with as little clothes as possible on their body, so none of the males around have sense as to what's happening around them. Or some people who have absolute no mobile manners and shout at the top of their voice without caring a hoot about their surroundings! Those are dangerous people not the autistic people!
K sleep is taking over me and I don't know what more to write.. that's it zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Remembering Shakthi

He was brown, well built with bright eyes, always energetic, sometimes ferocious. He protected females around him as if they were his own. He was the KING in the house. He got the first morsel of food. He didn't even sniff yesterday's food, rejected it outright!
Children were sometimes scared of him... sometimes wonder at him, sometimes talked to him. Very few times played with him though.
He was our first family dog. A proud Alsatian. Our Shakthi.
My periyappa (Uncle) had 3 dogs. Shakthi, Rani and Pavan. Interestingly the three of them were aptly named though we had no idea how they would turn out to be after they grew up. We bought them as very small puppies.
Shakthi was all manly and clearly the leader of the group. Everybody used to be scared of him. He would listen to only my periyappa and nobody else!
Rani was as womanly as a dog can get. AH! You should have seen her walk.. what gait! what grace! She was a Pomeranian. Always had sparkling white fur. Licked and cleaned herself almost every now and then. She is the only dog till now I have seen who never used to stink! Nopes not even a little bit.
Pavan, true to his name was never stationary! We really had tough time feeding him. He would eat one morsel and run around the house for at least 4 rounds ;-) He was also a Pomeranian and madly in love with Rani. We have had 12 puppies from them :). He never used to eat until Rani was fed. He would howl and cry when Rani was giving birth to puppies.
Generally during the mating season, lots of stray dogs used to come for Rani.. after all she was very attractive ;-). Though Pavan was hero types, he was extremely terrified of other dogs. He would just run as fast as he can from there into the house. It was always Shakthi who came to her rescue. One big bark from him.... all the other dogs would just run away with tails tucked behind their legs!
I used to study in Bangalore, but used to go to my periyappa's house in Mysore for summer holidays. 2 full months of pure fun with my cousins and these dogs! We adored them... we never used to go to the park in the evening without taking them. We refused to go to anybody's house or any function, lest we loose those few hours of playing with these dogs.

There was a special bonding between periyappa and Shakthi. He used to eat only when he fed him. He never failed to accompany him for his morning and evening walks. Sometimes periyappa used to simply sit in the sit-out and keep patting Shakthi. It was as though they were having a secret conversation. Shakthi was very docile during such sessions.

The last day of the summer holidays were the worst... all of us used to cry, not willing to go back. We missed them so much. I wonder if they felt the same too? But we never knew. They were their normal self from the next day :) Maybe we were just some flying-friends to them.

Then came the bad times. My periyappa fell ill. Age was taking it's turn. He was very ill for almost 15 days and then he was in the hospital for some 3 days and he left us for his heavenly abode.

When he was ill, we noticed a drastic change in Shakthi. He stopped barking. He would just come and sit near my periyappa's cot. Just sit there for hours together. It was almost as if he sensed what was going to happen. He ate only what we gave to periyappa. Rave Ganji, buttermilk and some milk. He refused to eat the "normal" food. The ferocious Shakthi was now so down in the dumps, it was hard to even imagine for us.
Hospital days were unbearable for him. He could not see his master. He started crying, literally. He acted mad.. it was as if he was begging us to take him there. He would just keep licking my periyappa's walking stick and cry. It is believed that dogs generally don't cry as we humans do but they rather howl. But Shakthi cried, we could see tears in his eyes.....

The dreaded day came. Periyappa didn't come home alive. The moment Shakthi saw his masters body he knew what had happened. That was the end of all his "Shakthi". He wept with us. He mourned with us. He just didn't stop barking until we let him in the van to go to the crematorium. But that was the last bark we heard from him.

When he came back home, he was unusually silent. He refused food. Yes. He stopped eating. He would just sit in periyappa's room all day.
Periyappa was very orthodox and pious. He performed sandhyavandana 2 times a day in detail. As usual Shakthi was a companion to him. He would simply watch my periyappa do everything.

4 days after periyappa's death, Shakthi went to the pooja room and just sat there. He did not respond to any of our calls. Just ignored all of us. By 4pm he had left us, to join his master. It was really amazing (I know it's not the right word!) to see that! A dog who knew he would die, and went and sat in the pooja room to be one with God!
Soon after Rani got some disease, maybe because Shakthi was not there to protect her.... she died too... devastated by the loss of her, Pavan ran away from home one evening. A week later we found him dead in front of our gate! It was as though he could not live in the house which haunted him with memories of Rani and Shakthi, but came home faithfully to die.
This makes me think... Dogs have a lot of sixth sense. They bond with people more than how much we bond with each other.
I miss Shakthi.....
P.S: This post was inspired from I Failed The Don post by Kavi.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth

  • I go to my next cubicle guy to clarify some issue and the first thing I get is a warm welcome smile **well.. that's nice** and then THAT follows with that **Not at all nice!**.
  • I get inside the car, start driving... No music on the radio. Some stupid commercials. So what do I do, try to strike a conversation with the guy sitting next to me. What I get in return? - THAT! Yuuucccckkkkk. It's a closed space, so it's all the more bad. I quickly open the window.
  • Home. Dinner time. Sit together to watch some show on TV or our good old Ramayana.. but guess what is more stronger than the aroma of my sambar? THAT2.
  • Weekend outing. Movie. Friend next to me (let me tell you she is extremely beautiful!), but the moment she turns towards me to comment on some scene, THAT is evident.

What is THAT and THAT2? THAT : Bad Breath , THAT2: Body Odor :)

I know! these are inevitable. When you sit long hours in front of the comp your mouth does get worse. And body odor is one thing which is there always! Yes., even in AC rooms. So my ranting is not against any person in particular... It's rather against those who don't take the hint ;-)

  • When somebody offers a mint, DO NOT refuse. Just take it in any case!
  • When somebody opens the window of the car even though the AC is on... don't say anything. Just let the fresh air get in.
  • Please, pretty please avoid onions for lunch. You can gorge as much as you want for dinner.
  • Use deodorants. It is made for people to USE. Preferably twice a day.
  • Wear clean clothes. It's not as if you have to wash them with your hands these days :)
  • Socks can be worn max for 2 days. That's it! Not a day more.

Oh! I do sound like a preaching-grandma! I guess I am getting worse by the day! My sis will refuse to let me inside our house when I go back to India if she sees this!

Does this have something to do with a working weekend?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Religion : Fashionable?

As we all know this world has many main religions. Islam, Christianity, Jewish Religion, Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. There are other religions as well of course but these are more in the news I can say.
Of these, the two religions which are discussed for all wrong reasons are Islam and Hinduism.
Islam: It's anyone's knowledge why it is in the news for all wrong reasons. Some of the so-called jihadi's associate with it and the whole world considers Islam as dangerous. How wrong they are! Islam for one talks more about peace than any other religion. Also, polygamy which is legal in Muslims is interpreted all wrong.. In the actual scripts it is mandatory for Muslim men to have more than one wife. One "normal" wife, one "poor" wife and one "disabled" wife. How noble the thought was and what a mockery we have made of it in today's times!
Anyway this was not the intent of my post.
If there is another religion which is in the news for all wrong reasons, it is Hinduism. Why? For one, for it's so-called ridiculous customs, the orthodox principles. Have we seen any other religion being made fun of other than Hinduism? How we ridicule the poojaris who have a small pony in the back of the head while the rest of their head is shaven off? How we ridicule the way they tie their dhoti? How we ridicule the way Indian Hindu women dress...What with all their bindi, bangles and jewelry.
So what started all this? WE...We Hindus make fun of ourselves. So what more can you expect from an outsider?
This article here has what triggered the creation of this post. Religion is supposed to be "hip" huh? Is religion defined by the clothes you wear? Specially Hinduism preaches that it is not a religion, it is a way of life. Alas! None of us have understood the real value of it!
Why is that we always crave for recognition from the west? Aren't we happy with ourselves? Why should the west acknowledge Hinduism?
It seems wearing some religious symbols are "in style and in fashion"! Is that what they are meant to be? Are religious marks fashion symbols?
Just because Hinduism is liberal and gives you the freedom to practice however you want to, does not mean you can ridicule it.
I do not have anything against any religion. It is just a means to realize God... So you pray or do namaaz it's all one and the same. Ultimately you are asking HIM to release you from this worldly ordeals and be one with him.
It's one thing to be a believer or a non-believer. It's all together another thing to ridicule someone's faith!
People... Religion is not fashion! Neither is it supposed to be hip! It is supposed to be the way of life.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Taggy .... Looking back!

It’s just 7 months since I started blogging (I know! I was way behind the IN people!). But now, I feel as if I have been blogging all my life :) Velu wanted me to retrospect so early… I will do it for his sake ;-)

1. Are you happy / satisfied with your blog, with its content and look?
Content wise YES! I am more than happy. If I say so myself, my posts are wide-ranged from chikki to women issues to philosophical thinking to just pure fun! Looks… naaahhh! There’s nothing that “I” have added to the looks of it! I want to make it more personal and me-kinds but haven’t really got the time :( damn! This software industry!
2. Does your family know about your blog?
Yes. Everyone knows. My mom, my sis, my fiancĂ©. My father does not know, basically because he is not interested in my writing ;-) for him anything other than “The Hindu” is below-standard! I will show him one day if my blog gets a mention in the newspaper for being one of the most popular blogs…. Readers, do you get the hint? [;-)]
3. Do you feel embarrassed to let your friends know about your blog or you just consider it as a private thing?
Initially yes. I felt so. But now NO. Before I used to think what will people think of me if I write this way or that way… but now I have realized my blog is my place. I will write whatever I feel like. All of them like my blog, atleast that’s what they say to me... I will believe them [;-)]
4. Did blogs cause positive changes in your thoughts?
Oh yes! I have realized this amazing potential in putting your thoughts in writing. It makes you think again and the thought process flows! Amazing! Also, I have come across some wonderful blogs, which have made me see the world in a totally different angle! And oh! How can I forget the comments section, I guess that’s more important and thought provoking than the main post.
5. Do you only open the blogs of those who comment on your blog or you love to go and discover more by yourself?
It’s mandatory for me to open the blogs of people who visit me. They deserve it :). But occasionally I blog hop too…time is more of a constraint here rather than anything else!
6. What does visitors counter mean to you? Do you care about putting it in your blog?
Oh! It means a lot to me. I don’t have a visitor count on my blog for display but I do track them through site meter. It makes me happy when I see so many people have visited my blog… :)
7. Did you try to imagine your fellow bloggers and give them real pictures?
Yes. 100%. I have pictures of every one of them in my mind. Some of them I know personally so I have the real pictures, but for the others I have my own picture in the mind, sometimes some are related to cartoon characters. .. some are related to things.. and some are well… I will not tell [;-)].
8. Admit. Do you think there is a real benefit for blogging?Benefit?
I didn’t start blogging for a benefit. It’s just like your dairy, maybe after 20 years when I am all old and all… with grey hair and no teeth and wrinkled skin, I want to go back my memory lane through my blog. I want to show my children, this was how I was when I was young…. So is that a benefit? If a smile on my old face is… then yes!
9. Do you think that bloggers society is isolated from real world or interacts with events?
To some extent yes. It is isolated. I mean I don’t meet them personally anywhere outside this blog world. But then blog world itself has become a part of my life now :)
10. Does criticism annoy you or do you feel it’s a normal thing?
Criticism on a positive note, when genuine feedback is given is a normal thing. We all learn from our mistakes. But personal comments and abusive language is not acceptable! That’s annoying, but to be frank in the blog world I really don’t care!
11. Do you fear some political blogs and avoid them?
Politics… the farther you stay from it, the safer you are. Basically I can’t relate to their way of thinking. So, their world is theirs and mine is mine!
12. Did you get shocked by the arrest of some bloggers?
I have not actually heard of any such incidents L either I am too new here or I am somewhere in Timbuktu to not know what’s happening out there! But yes it’s shocking! By the arrest you are taking away their freedom of expression…
13. Did you think about what will happen to your blog after you die?
I guess it will just lie there until blogger shuts down. K, in my will I leave the user name and password for it so that my children can just update my readers that I am dead and that’s the end of “Encounters of Life”. I would have encountered death then…. .
14. What do you like to hear? What’s the song you might like to put a link to in your blog?
Sorry, I can’t stop at ONE favorite song. I like different stuff for different moods… so,
Senti Mood:“Zindagi Kaisi hain paheli haayee… Kabhi tho hasaayee, kabhi ye rulaaye…” from the movie Anand.
Hip-Hop Mood: “Right Here Right Now” from Bluffmaster
Happy Mood: “I am the best.. I am the best…” from Phir-Bhi Dil Hain Hindustani
Sad Mood: “Surmayee Akhiyon Main…” from Sadma
Videsi Mood: “One-Love” from Blue.

P.S: With the 13th question, I am a bit worried now… will they have net connection in hell? I will die if they don’t have one! But wait a sec… I am already dead… *&^$#@#!!!!!