Monday, February 27, 2012

Somebody has to say it

Fabulous weekend folks! Get together on Saturday was a lot of fun with great food. The menu was mouth watering. Just to give you an idea, we had vada pav, fish cutlets, stuffed mirchi and corn salad as appetizers. For main course, we had fish biryani, chicken sukka, paneer ghee roast, dal fry, spinach patrode, etc. and for dessert we had tiramisu and date halwa. How could I resist such delicious food? Oh well, life is too short. Gotta live it up a little. Watched the Oscars last night. The highlight was on the red carpet when comedian Sacha Baron Cohen spilt the ashes on Ryan Seacrest's designer suit. I like Angelina Jolie's (she has some legs!) and Gweneth Paltrow's dresses. The others were forgetful. One cute little thing happened today. I had lost my fav. pearl earning, that I wear 90% of the time, 3 months ago. I was feeling bad about it for along time, as it was not easily replaceable. Guess what? I found it today in the office, in a meeting room. Awwww... I am going to wear it tomorrow.
So, I went shopping with a girlfriend some days ago and I noticed that there was something stuck between her teeth. Now, we were going to meet some other friends soon. Instead of her being embarrassed later, I thought it was best to tell my friend right then to check her teeth. She quietly corrected the situation by checking in the mirror. I was not sure if she liked me pointing this out to her or not. I know these kinds of things are normal and can happen to anyone. If I was in her shoes, my friend would have never pointed it out to me. However, I don't know if everyone can be as nice as my friend. I always thought of myself as a person, who said what everybody else was thinking and that I was appreciated for it. I have always heard people say, "we love you for what you are", "you are so frank and that is your best quality" and such things. I always believed all of these people till recently. One friend told me openly that she did not like me for being so honest and it hurt her deeply. She now keeps her distance from me. This came as a shock to me. People were just tolerating me. They were avoiding any kind of argument with me.
     My question: How can you not be bothered about unpleasantness around you?  Your argument maybe if that it is not your business, then it doesn't bother you. Well, while that is a safe and diplomatic approach, SOMEBODY HAS TO SAY IT! The example that I have here is a personal one. But what if the issues were bigger and it had bigger positive effects? Would you still keep quiet? This is where I understand that individually personalities come into picture. No two people are alike. How many times will you tell your "fat" friend that she has not put on weight, or that you really like her "bad" hairstyle?  How long are you prepared to be fake? The answer to this question from my experience dear friends is... ready? drum rolls ... FOREVER!!! Because no explanations like "I have always been like this", "you know I say things and I don't mean it", "I was just joking", etc.  after you have told them what you "really" felt, will heal wounded hearts.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Technology - A boon or a curse?

A bright and beautiful day with comfortable temperatures here in VA. However, my day was dull and boring. I started off this morning by reading TOI. The only news that caught my attention was that of Chote Nawab Saif Ali Khan. Poor Saifu, unnecessarily caught up in a court case because of his rage. Anger - one's worst enemy. However, the timing of this news amazes me. With the upcoming release of his movie Agent Vinod and all. Publicity stunt? Why do we fall for this crap all the time? Anyway, by afternoon, I was ready to pull my perfectly blow dried hair out. So, I decided to take a walk by myself. While, on my walk, I started thinking. Is Technology a boon or a curse?
With the advent of the Internet, keeping in touch with friends and relatives has become easier, a lot easier! But because of this somewhere, people don't feel the need for that personal touch and are living a virtual life. I am one of them. Apart from the social aspect of the boom in Internet usage, technology overall has made everyday living so much more convenient. I cannot imagine a day without online banking, a microwave, a mobile phone, a computer, a car etc. Old technology gets replaced by new more useful ones so often, that one has no choice but to keep investing in newer, better products. One such example is the mobile phone. I have changed at least 3 phones in the past 5 years. I think, soon television and movie theaters will be redundant. Websites like YouTube and Netflix have made it possible to download and watch anything under the sun at ones leisure. The laptop is becoming smaller and lighter making it very portable. Also, going to office to work might soon be a thing of the past as more and more people are working from home. The ever evolving technology is making this possible.
             However, technology has many disadvantages too. The capabilities for information retrieval and communication are infinite. Hackers and Stalkers are out there indulging in Cyber crimes on a daily basis. Kids are exposed to illicit material at the click of a button on the Internet. At school, kids are using a calculator in math class for solving simple things like linear equations, or matrices. Their brain is not being used to its maximum capacity. Doing things manually becomes more and more difficult for them. I have seen kids who are so used to typing everything, that it becomes impossible for them to read their own handwriting. Computer games are so addictive, that its only natural that more and more kids are having vision problems at such a young age. If these gadgets were to break even for a day, there will be chaos not only in personal lives but world wide as so many industries, including sports, depend on technology today. I can see the stock market taking the biggest hit with the airline and education industry coming close second. One more thing that I dislike is the CCTV. While it is a great tool to catch crimes, I am now seeing that it is placed in fitting rooms in the mall. I am not sure if people are watching us change or it is being recorded. It's kind of creepy. I dread the day when Robots will take over humans, like in Rajanikanth's movie "Robot". In my opinion, technology is neither a curse or a boon. It's both. It depends on how we use it.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Snooze land = Dream land

Oh, one more good day down! Wishing me more such days. It's been over 2 months of religious gymming and I have seen no results. Frustrating! I read somewhere that skipping breakfast slows metabolism. Normally, I don't eat breakfast. I decided to change that this morning. Ate a bowl of special K cereal. This really charged me up. I went to work with an upbeat mood. Got a slight headache by mid morning. A good friend, who happens to also be Indian, offered me this organic herbal tea from India called "Tulsi tea".  See pic. below.
The other healing(??!) ingredient in it was "Mulethi". My curiosity made me google "Mulethi". You will surprised to know that "Mulethi" is nothing but Liquor! Hmmm... So, exactly how is this tea herbal or organic for that matter? Beats me! But I must say, it did have a healing effect, as I felt better by lunch time. "Mulethi" must be having similar healing effects like brandy has on common colds.
Always wear nice pajamas to bed... you never know who you might meet in your dreams.

Have you ever had a dream that seemed so real only to wake up and find out that it was a just a dream.  It's so annoying when you had a really nice dream, but you cannot remember it entirely and sometimes you wake up during the best part of your dream. What if your pillow could collect your dreams and when you wake up you plug it into your computer and watch them over again? Dreams are neither good or bad, they simply are. Some dreams are frightening or disturbing, so they are called "bad breams" or nightmares. But the dreamer has no conscious control over dreams, which are produced by the subconscious mind during different stages of sleep. Intense dreaming occurs during Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep. The brain activity is maximum during REM.
                          I have dreamt about my childhood, my teenage years, my parents, friends relatives, etc. but never dreamt about my future. Wonder what it would be like to have futuristic dreams. At least in my dreams, I would like to know if in the end all this is worth it. It is really surprising that I time and again dream about failing exams. I appear for an exam and I am completely blanked out when I read the question paper.  This clearly shows that it is in my subconscious that I did not prepare well for my exams back then and I still carry that guilty feeling inside me. I often dream about falling into a pond. Now I did have an incident like that, when I was 6 years old. And then I have those warm and cozy romantic dreams, that I wish was true in real life too! I have to admit, I find myself day dreaming a lot. Whenever, I have a free moment, I slip into dream land. I dream of the places I like to be at. Since, my visit to the Golden Temple recently, I hear gurbani in my ears and dream that I am taking the rounds of the temple on bear feet. Love the feeling. I dream of being at the Taj Mahal with the annoying guide, eating gol gappa on the streets of India, dream of the beautiful blue waters of Hawaai, the Opera House in Sydney, Australia,  etc. I am a dreamer. And if you are one, then you know that anything is possible in a dream and it does not cost anything to dream BIG!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Starbucks "religion" moves to India.

Bagunnara friends? I had another fun weekend. It all started on Friday at work. We formed a new international group at work that enjoys food. We all went out to an Indian buffet for lunch. We plan to do this once a month trying different cuisines. On Sat. we visited our old friends after a long time. Enjoyed great dinner and chatter. Today, I met 2 girlfriends at Starbucks for coffee.

Q: How did Federal Authorities figure out that there is a complex underground drug smuggling tunnel near the US-Mexico border?
A: It had it's own Starbucks! LOL!!!

So, if you live in the US, you know that a new Starbucks cafe pops up every other day around your block. Well, it's no surprise then, that Starbucks is now arriving in India. It's a 50:50 joint venture between Tata Global beverages, Ltd. and Starbucks coffee company. It is going to be called Starbucks coffee ' A Tata Alliance". They are planning to open 50 stores all over India by the end of this year. I would think that, with the clear distinction in preferred hot beverage between North and South India, Starbucks would have to make some adjustments in their menu in different parts of India. In the South they should have a version of "filter coffee" and in the North "masala tea". It's going to be interesting to see if this whole thing clicks. I have noticed that here in the US, even tough people complain about the ridiculous price of Starbucks coffee, they still buy it. I think it's more of a style statement, to have a Starbucks cup in your hands. I am a very "value for money" type of shopper. Extremely careful in where I spend my money. That being said, I still find myself buying one cup of Starbucks coffee once a week. So, what makes Starbucks so popular? I think, I go in the cafe just for a "relaxing" experience. The ambiance, is so perfect. I see people from all walks of life in the store. Couples enjoying a romantic time together, business men wishing they could sit there for sometime away from their small cubicles, friends catching up after a long time, etc. I have also heard of job interviews being held at Starbucks. Isn't that something? The location is also very convenient. Normally, it is strategically placed in a strip mall with the local grocery store. Other than in the US, I have tasted Starbucks at different airport's around the world. The taste is the same everywhere. That's awesome! In my opinion, the taste of the coffee is not even that great. It's the overall packaging that is attractive. The Italian names of the different flavors makes the coffee sound very exotic. I cannot wait to taste Starbucks chai and coffee in India. I am sure I will have to pay Rs. 100/- per cup. :(

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yellow Yellow Dirty Fellow

“Pyar karne waale pyar karthe hain Shaan se, jeethe hain shaan se marthe hai shaan se…” Happy Valentine’s day folks! Shekar surprised me with a Sony Vaio laptop, Red roses and Strawberry pound cake. See pics. below. 

Don’t you love the color of the laptop? Now I can be a regular at blogging. Shekar said he was tired of me complaining and screaming for computer time on a daily basis. He had to get me off his back. Hey, whatever works! Correct? Some sad news today. One of my close friends here lost her Dad. Now,I am reassured of wanting to visit my parents every year.

Everyone has a favorite color. Mine happens to be yellow. Right from childhood I liked so many favorite yellow things like sunshine, mangoes, bananas, sunflowers and yellow ribbons. The primary reason I like yellow is because, I feel elated and alive whenever I wear something yellow. I think itsuits my complexion too! I still remember this beautiful yellow salwaar kameez that I had while in college. It was sewed so beautifully with a patiala bottom and was made of china silk fabric which was in vogue back then. I wore it to a class party. That evening was very special to me as I received a ton of compliments and something magical happened. I will share that incident with all of you on another post. (stay tuned!). On my birthday,(November 22) last year, I was reading my daily horoscope and found that "topaz" was my birthstone. No wonder then that yellow is my favorite color. Someone once told me that every color has some meaning associated with it. So, I decided to google yellow color to know all about it and here is what I learnt:
        Yellow symbolizes enlightment, creativity, happiness, intellect, eloquence and the power of persuation. It also means wisdom, joy, optimism, energy, movement, travel and the promise of a positive future. Wow! if only all that was true about me too! Yellow is definitely a perky color. It is very much like the sun which gives energy, warmth, optimism, happiness and light. People who suffer from SAD or "seasonal affective disorder" or "winter blues" may get an extra lift if they wear something yellow or surround themselves with bright, yellow things. Yellow is considered as a good choice to advertise children's products or to attract people to your place. Just think of McDonald's and its big yellow arch. It is known that people who are blind to other colors can see yellow. Thus this color (in combination with balck) is used to paint those road signs and road barriers so we see them readily. Yellow also signifies clarity of message. Think of your yellow pad and yellow pencils. Then there is "yellow pages" in your telephone directory and the yellow color taxis and buses.While yellow has many positive meanings like, happiness, intellect, energy, and clarity of thought, it also has a negative connotation meaning sickness (as in jaundice) and cowardice. I  am willing to ignore that. :) Different countries have different interpretations of the color yellow. In Greece it symbolizes Sun, grain and the power of thought, In Japan and Philippines, yellow represents courage. In China, royalty and respect. Yellow is the color for mourning in Egypt while to merchants of India, yellow is the symbol for peace. No wonder then, that we in India, use a lot of yellow turmeric in our cusine. I like my curry yellow. How about you?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Bangalore experience

Namaskar friends! Had a fantastic weekend. Watched the 18th Annual colors Screen Awards on Friday. It was entertainment, entertainment, entertainment!. Sat., I watched the movie EMAET. This movie had a hopeful ending. Seemed like it ended abruptly tough. The directors of today are apeing the western movies with more realistic approach towards movies. Sucks for me who is used to a typical Bollywood happy ending.
          Today I took Rohit to the gym with me. Found out he had some good negotiating skills. He had purchased a chocolate cookie (for $4:00!!!) after his swim. His explanation was that he was hungry. I asked him to return it. He tried, but the lady at the snack bar would not take it back. So he asked to talk to the Manager. The Manager said the bar was now closed, so he could not take it back. Rohit said "but you just sold it to me a minute ago and it was open." The Manager was taken aback by this and took the the cookie back and returned Rohit's $4:00. Sometimes children surprise us.
Mantri Mall - Malleswaram Bangalore
Inox theater

Subway - Food Court
KFC -Food Court
Play area
Different levels

Sea food platter - Rs. 185/-
Mangalore Buns - Rs. 45/-
Pizza Hut - Food Court
The last leg of my trip to India was in Bangalore. I had 24 hrs. to kill all by myself before I could board the plane back to the US. After having a sumptuous breakfast of Idli Saambhar with hot filter coffee, I decided to take a walk around the hotel I had checked into. I had barely walked for 2 minutes, when I came across a huge glass building. What do I know, I was standing right in front of a the biggest mall in the city called the Mantri mall, conveniently located in Malleshwaram. As I took a tour of the mall, I noticed that there was a multiplex on the top most floor of the mall called the INOX theater. I had heard a lot about the multiplex "culture" in India. My curiosity at it's peak, I decided to try it. Do people in Bangalore actually have nothing to do on a weekday? The crowd was crazy. I still stood in line expecting to buy a ticket for any movie at any sow time for that day! It is at the very last minute that I decided to watch the movie Dirty Picture. I was thrilled to pay only Rs. 90/- for the ticket. Before I entered the theater my bag was checked. I was asked to leave my camera outside. I was a bit nervous about that, but did not have an option. I was directed to theater # 9. I noticed that there was no guard near the door, so I thought I could sit anywhere I wanted. I chose the plush seat at the very back of the theater. This theater was huge! It could easily seat 300 people. Apart from me, there were only 2 others watching this movie. It was like a private screening. The crowd must have been watching Mission Impossible 4 or Don 2. Anyway, The movie had already started by the time I settled down. One hour into the movie, the guard comes up to me and asks me to show my ticket. He then directs me to a much lower seat as it was a cheaper ticket. The plush seats cost Rs. 500/-. I asked him why I could not continue to sit where I was as there was no one else occupying it. Cheesy haan? I had to try. In a way, I am glad that the rules are being followed in India now. Interval came and I went out and got a nacho platter and orange juice. After the movie, I did some window shopping inside the mall. I could not tell if I was in the US or in India. The mall had all brands from Chanel, Guess, Liz Claiborne etc., and in the food court there was Subway, Pizza hut, KFC, play area and even a carousel. After a lot of contemplation, I settled for a desi seafood lunch platter. Rs. 185/-. It was yummy but a horrendously expensive I thought. I also tried the Mangalore Buns for Rs. 45/-. The clothes were not in my price range at all. Wonder who really shops at the malls in India?  Must be the younger "independent" generation.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Paradise on earth?

Hello world!!! I am so happy today for 2 reasons. One, I talked to a dear friend after a long time. My mood went form low to high instantly. Such is the influence that this friend has on me. Everyone should have a friend like this. Unfortunately, I forgot to wish her a happy valentine's day. Two, this is my 100th post! Woo hoo! Usually when people are happy they express it by doing something nice for some one or for themselves. When I am happy I like to go shopping or have a mini make over for myself. I did not have time for that today. So, I thought it appropriate that I give my blog a makeover instead. Hence the new look. Hope all of you like it.
 Tiger Circle
 Video Cinerama
 A typical Manipal Student today
 Amita Bakery
 Manipal Bakery
 Hotel Green Park
 Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT) side entrance
 MIT main entrance
 Brindavan Garden
 Venugopala temple
 Inside the temple 
 2 new temples (Hanuman and Ganesh) on the left hand side of main temple
 Naga (cobra temple) on right hand side of main temple
 Kailas Quarters ("galli" where I grew up)
C-5(B) - House where I grew up
On my recent trip to India, I visited my favorite place on earth - MANIPAL, where I was born and brought up. These are some of the pictures of the educationally rich town of Manipal.  This place means a lot to me. Tiger Circle is the main bus stop for Manipal. This is where you can find different modes of transportation connecting to many places in and around Manipal. This place is the heart of Manipal, where you can find restaurants, hotels, book stores, Ice cream parlours, video centers etc. Surrounding Tiger Circle are different colleges like Kasturba Medical College, College of Pharmacy, T A Pai Management Institute, Manipal Insitute of Technology (MIT) etc. Since I graduated form MIT, I visited that college. I only saw it from the outside. It was noting like what it used to be. It's hardly recognizable now. One huge difference that I noticed was that there were no bikes at all in the campus. I was told that they are banned inside the campus. As a student, I loved to eat pastries at the two most popular bakeries. Amita and Manipal Bakery. Nowhere have I found that good pastries till date. After a long day at college students from all colleges relax at restaurants like Shantala and Iceland with a cup of coffee. It is a nice place to hang out as it is located in Tiger Circle. Eve teasing is carried out to the maximum extent from here. So girls beware! My visit would not be complete without checking out the quarters where we lived. C-5(B) (the house I grew up in) still remains, but the garden is replaced by concrete. The road has become a private road, meaning no outside vehicles allowed. The one and only unique temple in Manipal is still very beautiful. Unique because, it's architecture represents a mosque, church and a temple all in one. More new small temples have been constructed around the main Venugopala temple. The spot where the Ganesh temple stands today, used to be an open pond for a long time during my days there. I have a sad story with a happy ending about this pond. Someday, I will write about it. The replica of the Mysore Brindavan garden is in Manipal. This is open only on Saturdays and Sundays. My friends and I were regular visitors to the garden on weeknends. There used to be a "mur mure" (puffed rice snack) stall that used to sell "Bhelpuri" for a nominal price of 50 paisa. We used to look forward to eating that. Manipal now has  many new tourist interests including a Planetarium. People come and go but Manipal will continue to grow. Manipal visit was nostalgic to say the least. If you like a college scene, then Manipal is your place. For me it was, is and will be paradise on earth!

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Why oh why?

Good evening folks! Everyone else in the house is watching the Super Bowl but me. I am using this opportunity to blog. I have zero interest in this game. I watched half time tough. Madonna was boring. Why her?, when there are so many better singers/performers out there. Kelly Clarkson did a phenomenal job with the national anthem. She is a star. She has lived up to the title of American Idol. The World cup Cricket hero Yuvraj Singh, has been diagnosed with cancer. I was so sad reading this. This man has seen a lot in life already. Get well soon Yuvi. We all love you!
"There's one sad truth in life I've found while journeying east and west - The only folks we really wound are those we love the best. We flatter those we scarcely know, we please the fleeting guest, and deal fully many thoughtless blow to those who love us best." - Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
When I read this quote, I could not agree with it more. I want to analyse this today. The reason for this behavior maybe because we know that the people we love are always going to be there, whereas strangers will go away and we want to create that good impression on them.  It is common sense that this should not be the case. Strangely, it is human behavior. Everyone likes to receive compliments. I have noticed that whenever, I receive a compliment, my confidence level increases. How often have we heard people say, you made my day when you compliment them? Relationships are too hard to maintain. We have to make double sure that we don't hurt our loved ones. But then, they are the only ones that we can speak our mind to. Sometimes, in the process we do say hurtful things. As long as it is not intentional, I think this behavior should be taken as normal. 

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Ever evolving Saree blouses

Good evening friends!!! Happy February!!! 2012 is a leap year folks. That's means one extra day to stay young. I am very proud to announce the winner of the contest I had on my previous post. It is none other than my best friend Sharda!!! Congratulations Sharda!!! Well, she got 50 % correct. My son used whipping cream to write his name "Sanil". Sharda thought that he had drawn a dragon to represent the year of the drangon 2012. Well, good thinking from her side. Unfortunately, that's not what Sanil was thinking. Anyway, nice publicity stunt for the movie "Joker" by SRK and Shirish Kunder. The things they want public to believe! And Facebook is going public. Some people are going to be rich. Well deserved! After all I am a die hard fan and an addicted user.

"choli ke peeche kya hai? Choli ke peeche"

Thanks to the likes of  and Katrina Kaif and Aishwarya Rai, it's not about the Saree anymore, it's all about the blouse! Gone are the days when women wore high neck blouses with long sleeves. We can only see it in the old black and white movies. The new era of actresses have taken the 6 yards of cloth from boring to sexy!!! Personally, I think Indian women look gorgeous in a saree and I like this new trend. I see more Indian women representing India in a saree worldwide rather than pick a western dress. The beauty of the saree is that it can fit any figure. Kudos to fashion designers who have created different patterns of this 6 yard cloth. The variety in fabric, colors, texture, and the overall fall of a saree is so tempting and often confusing for a buyer. Now a days, the shopkeepers have made it a little easier by having an in house tailor. After the selection of the saree, the in house tailor helps select a pattern and gets the blouse stitched in 24 hrs. Now, that is fast! Of course, the speed comes with a fat price tag! For a list of patterns of saree blouses, you can visit this site.

So, folks the next time you go out for romantic evening with your loved one and deciding what to wear, make it saree!