[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Nice Day Today

Friday, January 28th, 2005

I understand you are sick of hearing it from everyone. I promise I wont talk about this cold winter again here. Since it is such a beautiful day today 01/28/2005 Friday 9.10 AM, I couldn’t stop crying.


Just five below our fridge’s freezer setting. You will know its a beautiful day like this when your nose hair stands straight up!

SUN TV – Glimpses into a disgruntled viewer’s mind!

Thursday, January 27th, 2005

It is an unsurprising conincidence that srikanth wrote about Sun Tv’s dumb quiz today since I had something similar to write about in mind.

First, I am outraged as to why they dropped yesterday’s, “Chidambara Ragasiyam” the only series I watch. I make sure I dont go to Sun Tv even by mistake on another time slot. I switched around 9.30 to Sun Tv and noticed a really funny thing.

Did you ever notice how the Sun news readers try to casually talk to each other just before they start reading the real news? While the camera zooms from behind giving a full view of the studio? I understand they are trying to mimic the CNNs and BBCs but for God sake, it doesnt seem even a bit real. It is comical and obvious that they are acting something out infront of the camera. To add to that, the lady is totally unsynchroized never seem to be listening to what the guy was saying ( as if he was saying anything meaningful ). This reminded me of the videographer roaming around the marriage hall, asking everyone to talk something while he shoots, so he could make it look like real. But it never does. Is there one person at Sun Tv who cares about originality? I can bet anything against that.

After execusing that, I patiently waited for the News to complete for my Chidambara Ragasiyam to start. Holy Shit, I saw a still that said “Red, movie continues”. Nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! Dont worry, I didnt let that happen. I made sure I didnt even glimpse one scene from that movie. We went on to watch “Manmadhan”, which was worth it. Thanks for that guy who invented “Remote” otherwise I would have walked few steps to change channel and must have seen a scene from “Red”. Oh! that would have been a horrible curse I wont be able to get rid off in a million rebirths. Thank God.

Professional hockey circuit in India?

Wednesday, January 26th, 2005

[via another sudhar] Somehow I missed this wonderful thing happening to Indian hockey. Professional Hockey (code named PHL – Premier Hockey League) apparently has already begun in India. (Whole lot of media coverage at Rediff, PlantFieldHockey and ChennaiOnline) It will be a great boost to game’s image and certainly a big gain for the sponsors. With pompous names and star players including some from countries like Pakistan, Spain and Malaysia, the teams and the fans are firing with enthusiasm in all levels.

Having played hockey during my school days, I am extremely delighted about this new change and hope for reinvention of India’s national game. Someone made a sensible choice in naming the teams, especially the chennai franchise as “Chennai Veerans”. Nice. That “Veerans” stand at the bottom of the league is not good for “veerath” thamizhans!.

veras [Source:ChennaiOnline]

Btw, it’s not a circuit…yet. A day will come soon, when veerans and warriors fly on chartered jets playing across the nation!

Abdul Kalam speech

Tuesday, January 25th, 2005

I recommend everyone to spend a few minutes and read Dr.Abdul Kalam’s address to the India on the eve of Jan 26th 2005, Republic Day.

India is an extremely complicated and idiosyncratic society intertwined with every conceivable aspect of past and modern civilizations. Yet, the Country stands gloriously challenging every dismissal. At the turn of the past millenium(1000AD), India was one amongst the developed and civilized of the societies (Egyptians and Chinese were equally civilized). The west was, for all practical purposes, barbaric. Perhaps, 2000 AD marks the beginning of another transformation. It may not be by 2020, may not even be by 2050, but it will be sooner than much later. India, along with China, is staging a turn-around and thanks to 1000 years of “western renaissance”, Mother Earth has seen enough fun on one half of the globe; Its time for the other half to have a smile, to start with.

Kalam suggests ( rather being a President, he should be able to effect what he suggests, isnt it? ) The education system should build entrepreneurial and vocational capacities in students. …impart the spirit that “we can do it”.. I add that (I have said this before and I will keep saying/doing it) our education system and our traditions must also impart risk taking, creativity and innovation.

Life after the Blizzard

Sunday, January 23rd, 2005

The entire New Jersey was in a state of emergency. “People should stay home, no driving”. Thanks to the uninterrupted power supply a lot of us are alive today!

The scene around looks like a christmas fairy tale location. The blistering storm is still out there and scares us at times with its ghostly roar around the windows and doors. Snow ploughs and cleaners are still cleaning up streets and highways, but I am guess they are fighting a losing battle. It will be days before the state gets back to normal. The snow gets dirty and ugly in a day or two wont be a pleasure looking at. Through the glass all this looks exotic until you realize that mondays arent meant to head out! Real life begins 7am tomorrow. (rather 6.30 for me since i have to clean up the drive way before i can pull out)

We went out this morning to experience the effect.

[Fun begins early tomorrow getting this poor thing out!]

[You cant give a face like that and still play in snow!]

[There must be other ways to measure the snow fall!]

Sodayplay to Moovl

Saturday, January 22nd, 2005

Long ago, I met Sodaplay and was instantly fascinated. I still yawn for spending a day to create my own soda. The creators of Sodaplay have already gone far ahead and invented yet another new gizmo, Moovl.

If you want to take a drive into the creative frontiers of your mind, take a look at Moovl and if you havent, check out Sodaplay.

Some of the best sodaplays are here and my best is below.

[Click on the image, it will open the sodaplayer. Be sure to play with the g, f, k levels on the left bottom. Use your mouse to move them up and down and watch the effects]

Escaping the blizzard

Friday, January 21st, 2005

I dont intend to make another big deal out of the snow situation here. But as it stands today, the next two three days is going to get pretty nasty. With blizzard and snow storms hitting the tri-state area, we are expecting upto 2 feet of snow.

blizzard on the way
[I got a snap of it as things are getting started here]

another view from the window

This winter has been very unusual with snow hitting parts of south california, which I guess has never happened before. We thought of going to ski in a nearby resort but chose to stayput with all the warnings.

The Cold Factor

Tuesday, January 18th, 2005

5.30AM Bursting out of my log-like sleep, I wake up to the early morning praise of the Lord in the christian evangelical FM station from the alarm. Next split-second, without any conscious effort, my hand coming from somewhere beneath the layers of blankets and a comforter, bangs on the big snooze. Retire to dead-state. Scorching eyes barely open swear to shatter the alarm on next snooze. As I quickly retreat by hand, it senses that it’s hell a lot colder outside than the cozy warm zone inside.

5.40AM BANG snooze!

5.50AM BANG snooze!

6.00 AM With a final frown I hit the small stop button and muster all the strength to move the comforter away and see the “outside” world. Every tiniest cell in my body begs not to do it. I crave “may be I can take another snooze”. The biological system that just got booted succumbs.

6.02 AM As the conscious nears another full shut down, the subconscious reminds “you hit ‘stop’ baby, it wont snooze again until tomorrow, stupid!”. Holy moly! It just takes a few seconds to remember what happened the last time. I propel myself out of the bed. It feels like I weigh 876 pounds and my center of axis is dangling all over the place.

I reach the bathroom, turn the lights on and pull the tap open. Closed overnight, the bathroom feels beautifully heated up. Why dont I give up the struggle and sleep in the bathroom! I look at the mirror. “Woh! thats the messiest of me I have ever seen”. Reminding me that I could have been lot nastier, I lend my palm into the running water. Freeezing! I take it back as fast I can and turn the knob all the way left to HOT. I look at the mirror again. Right eye is still half asleep.

I reach to the water again. Its still COLD. I convince myself that it takes a while for the hot water to reach three floors up. Touch. COLD. Touch. COLD. Touch. Better. Touch. Warm. Excited, I reach out and give a good splash on face. I feel better now looking at the mirror. I exchange a smile with the other guy. Even more excited that I dont feel sleepy anymore, I reach out with both my palms wide open to get another good splash. “SSSHHHIIITTT!!!” It’s freaking HOT now. In a haste, I turn the knob back all the way to the right. “No! thats not gooo”. I turn left again, right a bit and left. Finally, the ordeal is over and I give a well-deserved invigorating cleanup to my mouth.

Stepping out from the bathroom, cold air envelopes all around my body. I think, like I do everyday, “Whats the point in setting the thermostat to 70°F, it still feels damn cold and nowhere close to 70s”. As usual, I vouch to fix the leakages in windows and doors soon. Pulling up the blinds on the window, another wave of cold air from the glass gushes. A tiny shiver goes all the way to the brain. Even before the blind is halfway up, I see “white”. “Oh. Not again”. Feeling good that I had parked inside the garage, I glance around the front yard and street. It must be an inch of snow atleast and must be darn cold out there. I pick up the glass of water left overnight and before I take a sip I feel it’s ice cold. I try to hop on top of the comforters but the top is too cold to sit wearing shorts. I quickly move into a jogging suit and turn the tv on to weather channel. They were very happy to let us know that the our area weather reads 13°F and that it feel likes 7°F with a 23mph wind! I wonder what a strange country this is, after we had 68°F a few days ago. By the way, 7°F is -13° celsius. Pretty much, unliveable if left in it by ourselves. No wonder the heater is working hard all night. How long the poor thing can hold an entire space like ours at 70°F continuously?

After doing the same negotiations with the shower knob, I get ready to move out of the nest not forgetting that the moment I step out it is clean drop of full 50 degrees atleast! “Damn it, is this new jersey or the forsaken south pole!”. Though fully loaded up with two layers of jackets and inners, I know I cant hold on to my stearing wheels too long with my regular thin gloves, so I promptly grab the skiiing gloves.

As I walk to the car, I experience a multitude of things. The tiny water particles in my face and head freeze sending a cold shudder on to the skin. When cold air finds its way into my pants and shoes, every movement of the body rubs the skin against the now frozen pants. I already feel like as if I am stepping over ice cubes barefoot. As I breathe, chillness permeates through my nose into my lungs and I can feel it exactly wherever it moves all the way down to belly. My whole body tightens up unnoticed. Once in the car, settling down in the seat is a moment that i wont cherish. Maximum surface area of my body’s skin gets a solid bite of cold only now. The moment I turn the ignition on, cold air blows right onto my face from the heater. Cursing the weather yet again, I switch the blower to defrost and turn the heat to full. I already know my ears are turning red dissipating body heat. The air trapped all night inside the car is lot more colder for reasons I dont know. Not so often in a year, I see what I breath in and out and how much. I now see exactly how much air comes out, how fast and how frequently!. The gloves catch the cold shortly and I now feel it in my fingers. I try not to hold the wheels tightly, but I couldnt. The designer leather glove slips away so I hold the wheels tight. Another cold factor drives me crazy and I realize that I am snapping my teeth harder and harder that it hurts.

A few minutes on the highway, the heater brings life back to me. Suddenly, I sit down on my seat. I learn that I was actually floating a few cms above the seat without really sitting. I take a deep breathe and grab a dunkin donuts napkin (we save them you know for emergencies like this!) to wipe my running nose. Another few minutes, I start the game again, this time with the heater knob in the car. With loads of wool wear, the hot, hotter and hottest air from the heater soon becomes too much. Feeling miserable, I turn the heat down. Another few minutes, back to more heat. I start dreaming about the day when I buy my lexus or discovery with its own temperature control!

I park the car and get out of the temporary oven. Unbearable again, I turn my coats collar flaps over to cover my neck and pull the zipper all the way up. It feels better. I see there is some room still in there, so I stick my nose behind the collar flaps. As I walk a few steps towards the building, I sure felt something which must be a pain in the bones at the knee joints. I felt deeply sorry for those millions of homeless Americans who have to spend such fatally cold nights outside. I get into the building and before I walk a few steps to the elevator, I feel its lot warmer than I am dressed up for. I run the coat zipper all the way down to free myself of suffocation and quickly remind myself that all this pain I went through should be worth at least a blog!

[Were you wondering why an evangelical FM station out of all the music in America? Thats the only station our tiny receiver picks up clearly from where it is in that part of the house! Only after sevaral hundred snoozes it occured to me that it is a christian music. Never mind, its a lot better to wake up to than to brad pitt – aniston breakup!]

Forecast for India’s future

Friday, January 14th, 2005

The American National Intelligence Council reports, by 2020, they envision “a world profoundly changed” by rising powers, India and China.

Rising Powers: The Changing Geopolitical Landscape

However, Its not surprising to see China and the madly chasing India, mentioned all over this report. The political and economic community has been blowing this trumpet for a while now and the council is pehaps the last to scream before everyone wakes up to the reality.

Interesting to note in the report ( I only read the above linked section, the entire report is here) are the strengths of the two nations and their challenges. Skimming through it we learn that India is significantly better than China interms of demographic, economic and political “prospects”. Yet, the report consistently and more firmly cites China as the future “super power” perhaps owing to its current status when compared to India.

This one-0n-one comparison between India and China though seem to staple India squarely at the top, lists few challenges (mentioned without emphasis) need Indians’ desperate attention in the next 20 years: Alleviating poverty, Empowering the rural mass, Nullifying bureaucracy, Upholding the declining secularism. The comparison ends with the perhaps best expectation for India “fastest-growing economy” still not the coveted “super power”.

Do you Multitask?

Monday, January 10th, 2005

You know multitasking right? Yes, its the same that I once described as reading this blog while taking a bite off your sandwich lunch your lunch still listening attentively to what your next cube lady is murmering on the phone when a tiny notification pops up at the bottom of yoru screen from yahoo reminding you that your mom in online! Arent we happy we do all that? Perhaps, we shouldnt be according to this article.

Life interrrruptered!

multitasking is….consistently counterproductive, often foolish, unhealthy in the long run, and when driving, relatively dangerous.

With more and more technology, contrary to what one would expect, we’re only working longer and harder, and certainly more stressed. Should we take a break? I am sure each of us shout a big YES.

Suggestions for Success

Monday, January 10th, 2005

by Jackson Brown Jr.

1. Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
2. Work on something you enjoy and that is worthy of your time and effort.
3. Give people more than what they expect and do it cheerfully.
4. Become the most positive and enthusiastic person you know.
5. Be forgiving of yourself and others.
6. Be generous.
7. Have a grateful heart.
8. Persistence, Persistence, Persistence
9. Discipline yourself to save money on even the most modest salary.
10. Treat everyone you meet like you want to be treated.
11. Commit yourself to constant improvement.
12. Commit yourself to quality.
13. Understand that happiness is not based on possessions, power or prestige, but on relationships with people you love and respect.
14. Be loyal.
15. Be honest.
16. Be a self-starter.
17. Be decisive even if it means you’ll sometimes be wrong.
18. Stop blaming others. Take responsibility for every area of your life.
19. Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the ones you did.
20. Take good care of those you love and those who love you (they arent same always!).
21. Don’t do anything that wouldn’t make your Mom proud.

Very rarely some one forwards an email thats worth reading. This is one of those.

Aftermath stories

Thursday, January 6th, 2005

“Think of Noida without its factories or Bangalore’s computer industry in ruins. That’s what’s happened here”,a relief worker explains in BBC for those who may not understand the economic impact of the tsunami. Most of the souther coastline of India has lost its primary livelihood. No boats, no fisherman and ultimately no motivation and hope, in a near future to get back to life.

Balaji Sampath of AID India, is out there, leading with a vision for the relief and rehabilitation of the affected people/communities/economy.

An excert from his Jan 1st yahoo group email to AID volunteers.

Structure of the Relief Effort in TN

(1) Immediate Relief : dead body and debris removal, food, clothing, blankets, temporary shelter, medicines and health camps for emergencies and epidemics

(2) Second Level Relief : Construction of huts and houses and health needs

(3) Third Level Relief : Livelihood needs for the families affected forming cooperatives and providing livelihood support like boats, nets etc.

Amidst reports of sexual abuses in relief camps and kidnapping of orphans and the ridiculous fish virus rumours, Today’s Hindu Chennai Metro Plus ‘…a wave of compassion’, presents a appreciative picture of the relief efforts and encouraging those other millions volunteering directly or indirectly to help.

Amit Verma
also gives a first hand report of the good and bad things happening around the coastline. One person, Rajendra Ratnoo, a sub-collector around the cuddalore area is being appreciated for his sensible leadership and execution.

Helpings hands from all around

Tuesday, January 4th, 2005

Its heartening to see help and aid coming in from all over the place.

Just got an email note from our CEO at MetLife that MetLife foundation is donating one million $ to the relief efforts.

Also on another email note this morning from the AID Princeton yahoo group, I learnt that AID has assembled more than one million $ within a week from individual donors around the world.

I also saw a basket in our coffee room here in the Liberty Corner office of MetLife, pleading for donations in any form for the victims of tsunami. This is being supported from helplanka.org.

Shopping in the Oak tree road at the indian grocery stores this past sunday, I noticed a collection box at the end of every billing counter accepting donations. Cents & Dime changes and dollar bills will certainly make a difference at the end of the day.

When we visted the Hindu Temple at the bridgewater on sunday, I read signs allmost all around the temple, requesting for donation for the victims.

While no amount of aid or relief can equal the loss, it gives a sense of unity and humanitarianism to see everyone around doing whatever they can on their part to help.

Long Live the human spirit of compassion and love.

Peace in the the New Year

Monday, January 3rd, 2005

As 2005 dawned, it will be the heaviest ever new year eve in terms of the sadness people carry in their hearts after the disaster in the the indian sub- continent. Marked by heartfelt prayers for the victims, we welcome 2005 with a hope for peace in the world. Lets peace rule the world saving from man-made and unfortunate natural disasters.

We had planned almost a month ago that we will celebrate the new year at Times Square. Ever since I heard of the disaster I had almost forgotten about the new year much less its excitement. After hours of dilemma the day before we decided to go. It may hurt a lot of a people who might think it is a sin to “celebrate” amidst the misery of millions. But I believed it was the best way for me to cope with the sadness and welcome 2005 with prayers.

A million people gathered in Timesquare symbolizing goodwill, unity and hope. Nothing but peace. There were a lot of people from south asian origin ( specifically from srilanka) carrying banners around requesting everyone to donate. Exactly at 8.15 pm there was a two minute silence tribute for the victims of the tsunami. A million people whole-heartedly prayed for the lost souls and I was glad that they planned to do that small thing amidst the frenzy.

It was absolutely food and alchohol free (infact no bathrooms either == torture!) as the noisy crowd witnessed the spectacular ball drop and the fireworks that accomponied it. It is a once in a life time occasion and I doubt if we will endure another 11 hour standing to witness a new year.

I wish the tsunami never happened. It is an unfortunate reality that rest of the world can only merely watch 150,000 fellow humans being washed and crushed away by a calamity ( “Pralayam” as pointed out by Srikanth ) only to move on hoping that another new year brings more peace.

Again, for those who might be offended by our act of being there in TimesSquare, I reaffirm again that my heart and soul is still crying for those dead and we felt in our right mind, it was not a worst thing to do, to join hands with million others emphasizing peace, unity and hope.