Friday, April 29, 2005

The week of the tsunami

You can see our Outer Banks vacation pictures HERE . Click on that. The two pictures with the store signs are interesting.

Next week is going to be quite horrible at work. Lots to do before a software release goes out the door. It's always like this. When we near the deadline, the workload piles up and we have to work longer or harder or both to get stuff going.

On the flip side, Noddy passes a really tough exam and has gained professional certification as a business analyst. Quite a credible task so "Woot! Woot!".

A friend, a traveler and an uplifter

Noddy (my cute wifey) often wonders why I don't write much about her over here. There are multiple reasons. Firstly things between a couple are too personal to discuss on a broad platform such as this. To top it all, we both are very secretive about what goes on in the four walls (okay maybe seven walls) of our home between thee two of us. That's why it stays off the air and we like it that way. But I think this post can clearly be said to be about her and about wives in general.

When I got married to Noddy, we had been dating for almost five years. For me, the change from dating couple to married couple was "supposed" to be transparent. But somehow, somewhere along the line, things started to change. Life brings on different challenges as you grow. Maybe more , maybe less but certainly different. And unknown to me, Noddy went from girlfriend to life partner. The change was concrete yet subtle and it took me a while to notice it and absorb it. But I am definitely aware of it now. I'm sure I've changed similarly, taken a similar role and she's observed it too but this post isn't about me (for once!!)

There's a lot of strength that she gives me. No doubt she has her weaknesses like any human being. But she holds on to me and doesn't let go (figuratively speaking) when life continues to throw crap balls at me using big cannons from a distance. That reassurance is something I cannot get from anyone else except her. Knowing that someone is there for you, unconditionally and selflessly, is an unbelievably strong pillar of strength. She doesn't have to do anything special or don a Zeba Warrior Princess costume to appear strong ... just her presence and sustained support does it.

Most Americans might not get why this is so important to me. Part of the reason is, I come from a culture where, for generations, majority of wives have been treated as people who's roles outside of the kitchen require permission from the husbands. It was an extremely pro-male society until the recent decades. Things have changed a LOT from those times, but even a large social change can start to look like a drop in the ocean in a country of 1.2 billion people such as mine. That's why what Noddy brings to the table (besides food) is so important for me to know and acknowledge. It has a lot to do with where we come from. It is really sad that in my country we wasted generations where, had men allowed women to contribute and be REAL partners with them, they might have actually progressed more than they have.

Noddy also has a lot to do with who I am now and where I am. She's like the assistant-coach of this game called life. We decide our plays together, we tackle the oppositions we face with a clear gameplan and when we lose a battle we're holding each other's hands (unlike most traditional coaches who don't hold hands) and we're laughing and preparing for the next one. And sometimes men severely underestimate how much this can cherish a relationship. It's not all rosy and we have our disagreements, our fights and our regular couple blah blahs.... but the fundamentals never change.....NEVER. It's easy to see why they won't...we've got way too much committment into each other to be able to get away from it all without literally uprooting our existence.

Anyway, that's too much mushy stuff for at least six months now, so back to the regularly scheduled blog posting for me. I just thought it was about time I wrote something about this, not for people to see, but for me to log away and then eventually read it years later when I need big thick reading glasses, and I'm bald and don't have much of a dental architecture left.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Fundraising for Cancer Research

My 15 year old neice in UK is trying to raise money for cancer research ... a noble and worthy cause indeed! Please encourage her. As little as a one dollar contribution would be okay too. No amount is too small or too big. Donate if you feel like it and if the cause appeals. Don't donate cos I'm writing about it here. I'm writing about it here because I truly believe in trying to find a cure for the disease and truly want to encourage her efforts. :-)


Here is the link:


By the way, for non-UK residents, the best way to pay is via credit card. Safe, secure and immediate. I've already done it so I speak by experience!

Back from vacation

Wow that was a really good break. Noddy and I really needed that vacation and it was great and very well worth it. Outer Banks, NC is a great place to go but if we were to do this all over again, we would go in July instead of April. Much warmer at that time of the year. Photos shall be uploaded soon and link will be posted here.

Back to work and 90 emails waiting for me in my InBox. Barely finished catching up right now. So what else has been happening with my fellow bloggers. I noticed quite a bit of posting and need to go read everyone's blog and post comments. It's a give and take - if I expect people to read my blog and comment on it, I need to do the same.

Hey Will ... I promise to post a self-portrait soon. I got something useful during this vacation that I can use and I'll post it. Hey I forgot to mention ... the good thing about going to NC this weekend for a break was that I missed the snow in Ohio. Isn't that just depressing? Snow in the last week of April. Could anything else have been worse for the people here trying to enjoy their weekend? I think I want to support global warming simply because I want the snow to STOP ! I hate it ... period. I don't like it short-term/ long-term/ any term...it just plain sucks.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Aaaaa---chhhooooo

That's my condition right now. Sneezing away....sniffing away....with watery eyes and a headache to go with it.

It's a blessed feeling to have Noddy by my side. She takes care of me during such times. The warm dinner and the hot tea have definitely helped. I got back early from work because I was sure I would infect some people there. Slept at 6 pm .. got up at 11 pm with a severely dry throat (we've got to buy a humidifier for this house !!). Dinner and tea and some internet surfing so far. Planning on heading back to bed hoping that I don't stay awake all night. I hate colds !!

The lawn is doing good. I can see some grasslings ... my hope is that there's enough of them this time. It's actually too early to tell but we'll keep an eye out. I planned on posting pics but that of course didn't happen. The bad part is that it hasn't rained in almost a week now and this week doesn't look too wet either. So my water bill is skyrocketing because I have to keep the lawn completely wet for the grass to grow. What a price to pay for grass.... I think I"ll throw some weed seeds ... they grow easy.

Alrighty ... me and my box of Kleenex are heading upstairs to bed. Good night :-)

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The IDIOT's Guide to India and Indians - top 10 questions.

I've been in the United States for almost six years now. Ever since I"ve come here, I have been asked a lot of questions by Americans curious about India. Apparently, the East is a much bigger mystery to the West than vice-versa. Anyway, not to digress from the topic, I have decided to take the time to answer the top ten questions I have been asked since I got here to the US. Hopefully this will serve as a guide to others wanting to know more. Some of the questions might sound dumb but trust me .. I have been asked. Please forward this post to anyone who you think could use this knowledge:

#1) Ah..you speak very good English. I didn't know Indians could speak English so well.
FYI ... we were under the British rule until a couple of years after the Second World War. They first introduced English education and we happen to have some very highly renowned English literature scholars, philosophers and poets. Just because YOU don't know anyone other than Mark Twain doesn't mean that English isn't prevalent in the East. English is very widely used in India. I think the fact that all call-center jobs got outsourced to India proves that the companies are exploiting our English speaking abilities.

#2) So are there cars in India?
No Sir..we all walk. In fact we don't have roads. Duh !! Yes there are cars in India ... actually since 1990 when India opened up it's markets to free trade, we have pretty much the same companies manufacturing cars that America has. Ford, GM, Honda, Toyota, Suzuki, Mitsubishi....everything. Trust me, we are at a point that we now need less cars.

#3) I've heard that there are elephants and cows on the streets everywhere.
Umm..yeah we issue them drivers licenses and they're allowed access to the right most lane. No in all seriousness....it depends where you are. In interior and non-metropolitan areas, yes it's likely that you will come across cows and maybe an elephant. In a metropolis like Bombay .. maybe a few cows but hardly an elephant. Cows are worshipped in India, they are treated as one's mother, although sometimes the actual animals go through abuse quite a bit.

#4) Do Indian women work?
Good question and I know where this stems from. You watch way too much Discovery channel. The current state of the Indian woman is very transitionary. There are leading Indian women in all fields such as Business, Technology, Sciences etc. They are in key positions and some of them are entrepreneurs that own their own companies. Yet, in India, it is very common to find women that are oppressed and forced to stay uneducated because "a woman's place is in the home so why educate her". That comes from some cultural evils that we have had for generations but I see that changing so much. Global socio-economic realities have forced Indian families to re-think the role of the lady. They are far more independent, educated and equal to men compared to say 25 years ago and 25 years later, they will still be growing strong.

#5) So what is an arranged marriage?
It's the same thing as your classifieds ads on a website such as "lavalife.com". The key difference is you're looking for someone to date and maybe things might progress. In an arranged marriage, the parents try to find a bride/groom for their child...so you skip the dating scene. There are positives and negatives about this. First of all, the parents do the finding, background checking etc. So they thoroughly investigate the family of your potential spouse before you even get to meet him/her. Secondly, you're not hunting on some stupid website. Your parents (supposedly) know you as much or better than you know yourself. Sometimes they're the best you've got when it comes to understanding who would be a suitable life partner for you. The negative side is ... the risk. You're getting into a marriage on the faith that your parents made the right choice. Either way you evaluate it , it comes down to how successful is this system. The last time I checked, India's divorce rate was well below 3.5 % .. compared to US rate of about 37% or so?. By the way, love marriages (such as mine) are common too so we're into both.

#6) So do you get English television in India?
Actually, you might be surprised but we get the same unwanted crap on TV that you do. Over 125 channels via satellite dish of which only 3 might be worth watching. And we can thank YOU for that because those are the same dang channels. But remember one thing....NEVER EVER assume that an Indian will understand your humor if it's based on American culture and television. If you grew up watching M.A.S.H on TV and you cracked some "Radar" jokes, don't expect an Indian to get it. It's always polite to ask , "Did you ever watch M.A.S.H?", before you crack a joke and end up laughing all by yourself.

#7) What's an Indian wedding like?
One word....Colorful. Unlike Western weddings, we do not go to our weddings dressed in largely monochromatic colors. We try to use pretty much the entire spectrum...our weddings are in true 32 bit color ... i.e. 64 million colors. You will find bright reds, pinks, blues, greens ... anything imaginable. I might someday post my wedding picture here. I look ordinary but if you look at Noddy...what she was wearing (dress , jewelry etc) was enough to buy me a nice used car in this country. Indians love to splurge on weddings ... and for good reason. Unlike the Wester world, we aren't expecting another one coming up shortly in our lifetime. One wedding, one life partner, one road towards the sea holding hands in sunset.

#8) What is Indian food like?
It's very diverse and this is very difficult for most Westerners to understand. Indian food depends on where you're talking about in India. The menu is vastly different depending on whether you're in East/West/North or South. Each region has it's own dishes that are completely different than the other. Most Indian restaurants will serve you North Indian dishes since they are quite common. Food as a whole is very tasteful, takes a long time to prepare and has lots of spices. Now, when I say "has lots of spices", I don't mean "food is hot"....spices add flavor and not necessarily the zing that comes from hot chili pepper. Indian food takes a long time to prepare. We don't do microwave dinners although there are some dishes that can be prepared within 10 minutes. If you ever try out Indian food...tell your server that you want it at it's mildest possible level. If you think you can digest that, then move on to medium and hot and so on. But make sure you don't leave this earth without trying out Indian food. If you live in an area where there's only one or two Indian restaurants, try not eating there. Go to a big city with lots of restaurants and pick a nice Indian restaurant. Let me know how you like it.

#9) So what is your language in India?
What applies to food, applies here too...only 10 times more. We have over 40 widely spoken regional languages. So in other words, a person from Western India does not speak the same regional language as a person from South. In fact, the South itself has about 10 languages. Our official national language is Hindi and if you go to a metropolian city where people of different regions have to communicate to each other, you will find them using either Hindi or (surprise surprise) English to communicate. This is because the odds of a South Indian person talking to a North Indian person in his regional language are very low.

#10) So how long do you plan on staying in this country? Permanently?
Most Indians come here because of the opportunities and the infrastructure. We already have the brains, we just need a channel to harness that power and make something out of it. A lot of Indians go back home because we Indians get home-sick pretty often. We are very strongly attached to our families and they're half a world away (literally) ... so quite a few go back. Quite a few stay on as well. So it really depends on personal ambitions, things back home and our lives here.

There are hundreds of other questions ranging from politics to religion to culture. But I don't want to address them here. Top 10 should suffice. Enjoy!!

Friday, April 08, 2005

The Lazy Blogger's Battle with his Backyard

Yeah Yeah ..haven't posted in aweek. That's bad.
Work continues to remain work. Couple of good days, a few horrid ones , Friday is good no matter what happens on Friday. I just want to get back home for the weekend.
I continue to fight my lone battle with my backyard. See the neighbors have paid about 800-1000 dollars to sod their backyard i.e. instant grasshood. My lawn remains one of the few that do not have a nice lush green backyard. The other unsodded laws will soon be sodded because none of those people have the patience to seed. That really leaves ours as the only home in a few weeks' time with very little grass growing in the backyard. I seeded last year with little success. I seeded early this year and the success rate of that is hard to tell. I did not use starter fertilizer so the germination rate is slow and seeds die out too. Not to mention the stupid rains that wash away quite a LOT of seed.
Tomorrow is attempt 3 of 3. After that, I'm off to get it professionally seeded. For tomorrow's attempt, the idea is to put down seed, then starter fertilizer and then a nice layer of topsoil that binds the fertilizer and seed together. Then hose the whole thing down so that it gets clamped into the ground. That should do multiple things for me. First, the seed won't get washed away even if it rains. Secondly, the fertilizer will ensure quick germination or at least faster germination than what I've got now. Thirdly, the amount of seed I am going to use is really more than what I need, so that'll hopefully offset seedlings that die off. Today is April 8th. I'll be posting a lawn picture here soon. Then in three weeks, I'll be posting the "after" picture to see if it's made any difference whatsoever. We shall see where this goes.
Noddy and I have booked a vacation to the Outer Banks. It's a great place with nothing but beaches ... an amazing view of the Atlantic ocean from there. I think it's going to be a whole lot of fun.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Earliest post ... EVER

So here I am ... it's 5:45 am and I'm posting the earliest blogpost I can ever remember. I got up at 4 am with a splitting headache. No .. lets back up a little bit. I slept at 8 pm with a bad headache. I usually go to bed around midnight so this was really unusual. Anyway, we had finished dinner so there wasn't much point in staying awake with a stupid headache. Off to bed...

... wierd dreams to follow ....

First one, I found myself back in India. Don't know how. Just was there. Maybe it's because I've been reading Archana's blog and she's right now enjoying in India. Anyway, I'm in Bombay with Noddy and my parents and we're going to familiar places. Sometimes I'm alone and other times I'm with them. It occurs to me that I might actually some day (many many years later?) go back to India for good and not stay here. Don't know any of that right now so the thought came and went away quickly.


Second one....whatever the heck this was. I'm standing in the parking lot of the company where I work, trying to rescue a wolf and he is sitting under a car. My fear is that the car driver won't know there's a wolf underneath and might drive over him. So I'm trying to get him out from underneath the car and he won't come. And then what do I do? I howl like a wolf to get him out. Of course, in dreams you can do anything. So the howl is really natural and can be heard for quite a distance...just like a natural wolf's howl. That's just great. Now two more wolves are seen in the distance and they're responding to my wolf-call !! Okay THAT was a stupid idea. Note-to-self .. don't let out animal cries that might attract attention of multiple meat-eating animals. So anyway, the predictable thing happens. I see one of the wolves in the distance hurtling towards me at top speed. His general expression does not look happy ..for example...he doesn't have a smile on his face. Just a big set of teeth. Hmm..maybe I should run. So I do run at top speed trying to get inside the company building. There's a turnstile at the entrance of the building and I have to swipe my badge to get in. But I run like mad, get the badge to swipe and jump into the turnstile barely missing the wolf who wants to eat me so bad.

... end of second dream causes sleep to go away and I wake up, trying to get back to sleep. This is the hardest....especially if the headache is still there. Got up, cleaned up the kitchen mess due to dinner(it's my job...Noddy cooks, I clean), chatted with mom a little bit and now I'm off to make myself a hot cup of tea. Hey I just heard the first bird chirp outside my home...and now the other birds are following. This is so cool!! It's raining outside, the birds are starting to wake up and I'm going to have a nice hot cup of tea in my hands. Woo-hoo to life!!!