Friday, July 29, 2005

More pictures....and some interesting stuff to look forward to

Continuing to post pictures about the floods in Bombay (see my previous post about this) these are two pictures provided by my friend Sajid. One is of people walking on railway tracks because trains are shut off. The tracks themselves are on a bridge so you can see how desperate things can be if you have to walk in a single file on tracks on a bridge. This is the spirit of Bombay - the city and it's people will NEVER give up. Life will not stop and people will never back down. The second picture is of a bus drowning in water. The picture is misleading because it gives you the impression that the entire city had such high water levels. But it's only certain areas where water was deep enough to drown a bus. Other areas were still heavily flooded but not as bad --- bad enough nevertheless.
On an entirely different note, this week is going to be exciting. For some very very very odd reason, I am excited about my birthday. This isn't even special. I'm not hitting landmark any landmarks such as 30 or 40 yet it's strangely very exciting. I'm not sure why but then again, if something makes me happy and I don't know why, I'm completely okay with it. Happiness is always welcome !!
I have two surprises to share with everyone. One will be next week and one will be the week after that. For both these surprises, I shall post pictures. One picture per surprise. :-) ... maybe THAT's why I'm so looking forward to next week anyway.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

My hometown almost drowned !!!

This is a picture of people walking on railway tracks. What makes this picture even more nerve wracking is that they are walking on railway tracks that are laid on a bridge. So the gushing water that you see underneath is water from flooding that is filling up. These people had boarded commuter trains to get home from work. However, trains stopped working and they had to get off the train and start walking on the tracks to get home. Now let me tell you something more interesting - I have done the same thing in an earlier monsoon in Bombay.

Buses are a key to mass transportation in Bombay. Trains and buses carry millions of commuters to and from work everyday. It is estimated that the trains alone carry more people than New York's subway, buses and taxicab commuters put together. Now imagine the state when the city is paralyzed because mass transit has ground to a halt. People were stranded where the bus decided to stop. Your choices are clear - walk. Sorry there is no second choice. You can see the driver also exited in a hurry and didn't bother shutting the door.
Now that I've shown you the pictures, here's the story. Bombay got drenched with the heaviest rainfall that India has seen in this century. In a 21 hour period it got a little over 37 inches of rain, as measured by the barometer. So that's a little over three feet over the entire city. Now you can imagine how much water fits into 3 feet across that many miles. Needless to say, I spent the better part of yesterday trying to track down my parents who live there. The city had ground to a halt - phones not working, electricity in some parts, mass transportation halted. After repeated attempts to call them on various phone numbers, I finally managed to get a text message across to a friend of mine in Bombay. He called them, got through and then paged me back that they were okay and at home. It was such an ordeal to track them that I felt mentally drained out by the time I got home. I slept for about an hour and a half ... just to slow my mind down from the overdrive that it had been in all day.
I still can't get a hold of my parents - the phone lines are apparently up but getting through to India from here is turning out to be a chore. I'm sure millions of people from all over the world are trying to call Bombay.
The only side is that I know the city will hold and the people will get back to work. I've lived there, I've done all this and i've walked on railway tracks with my friends when coming back from college - exactly as the picture shows. I know that the city is a sea of survivors. We Bombayites know how to live through this shit and get up the next day and get back to living our life. There are things that I completely dislike about the city but then again, the above pictures tell a story about people who will work against all odds to keep the cogs turning and keep the city alive.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Republicans are bad? At least Indians shouldn't say so.

A lot of Indians are against things that George Bush does. They call him ignorant and unaware of what is going on around the world. They call him too stupid to know what to do with domestic policies and are against the Republicans in general. Indians really liked Bill Clinton. I really don't want to assume things because if you're not in the government you DO NOT know the government. Everything is a smoke screen. But here are a few things that I'd like to remind Indians about....things that are happening right now in the United States and Indians call them wrong but yet the same things in India are AOK.

Republicans are mixing the Church and the State:

We had a BJP government in the center for almost 8-10 years until 2004. Think back on what the BJP stands for and what it's origins are and who it's members are. It is firmly a Hindu Nationalist Party. It was created by members of VHP which is an out and out religiously fundamentalist Hindu organization. BJP leaders who actually hold government positions give out statements about how the Babri mosque should be demolished and a Ram temple needs to be resurrected there. So riddle me this....does that sound secular and a separation of religion and State? Not really. Republicans and Democrats aren't parties that are based on religion. We think that THEY mix Church and State and yet here we are in India rejoicing when BJP got to be the ruling party when we thoroughly knew that they are not only mixing religion and state but also are proud of doing so.

Republicans are anti-abortionists:

Once again lets look in the mirror. Where do we Indians stand on this? If you're from a metropolitan city and think that your ideas and culture represent the whole of India, you are sorely mistaken. The rural India is still about 100 years behind lifestyle in a city like Bombay or Delhi. In rural villages in India, there are instances of abortion where the abortion happened because the baby was a girl and that's a big liability. Abortion is done irresponsibly enough that it sometimes endangers the health of the mother, yet , no care for that ... lets abort the baby because it's a girl and that's a problem. What I'm getting at is, in India you DO have abortion rights and what does that buy us? Abuse of the female sex. Again, don't even start to tell me ..well it doesn't happen in metropolitan areas. Real Indian life does not happen in cities like Bombay. It happens in rural villages where you have to walk 4 kilometres for water and electricity is unknown or a rare occurrence.

Republicans are pro-industry and anti-union:

I find this very funny especially coming from citizens of my country. Reason being, we openly acknowledge bribes being a key method of getting work done in India. Bribes are used to gain political mileage and various other things. BJP , Congress and other such parties get millions of dollars in "donations" from industry bigwigs like Reliance, Tata, Bharat Petroleum and others. Not just that, the underworld contributes it's fair share too just so that they have the leverage that they need. We know all this for a fact and yet we have the gall to say that the pro-industry approach of Republicans is a bad idea? If you're a business owner in India, chances are that you have bribed someone at some point for business benefits and have participated in tax evasion at the business level. How does all that work? It works because the system allows the person with financial muscle to buy his way to the front of the line. The common man continues to stand at the back of the queue. So lets not get on Republicans to be pro-industry. A lot of our industries actually have strong say in government policies.

Republicans are not racially sensitive to minorities:

Oh umm...yeah the last time I remember, we had religious riots in 1993 all over the country and then again in 2002/3 in Gujarat. Those riots were politically incited for sure because Hindus and Muslims have been living together for 50 years or so. Anyway, my point is ... lets look back at the last Black v/s White riots in USA. There were Blacks who rioted in downtown LA and Chicago for Black killings by police officers. But I lived through the 1993 riots in Bombay so I have a benchmark to compare against. I want to see cars burned with people inside them. I want to see shops set on fire. I want to see gasoline poured on entire families and set alight. That's what my city was like in 1993 and it tore me apart to see that. Show me that and compare that to what we had in India. Also, show me where in the American education system and Government system are there 33% reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.'s a merit based system. There are reservations for blacks and minorities but not 33% of the entire government sector including jobs , education, health, petrol pump allocations and everything else that comes to mind. So if we've got our own history that we aren't very proud of, lets not point fingers at others who might have an equally or less miserable track record compared to us.

Republicans are anti-gay and anti-lesbians:

I'd just like to say one thing here. You think we in India are pro-gay and pro-lesbian? If you answer yes...let me know of some rights that homosexuals in India enjoy. Point me to some instances where we have gay-pride parades there or gay marriages or something that at least puts us in equivalence to rights enjoyed by homosexuals here. Get real people. We treat transvestites worse than dogs back home. Homosexuality is a taboo we do NOT speak of back home. Show me a proud homosexual father in an Indian village. I'll show you 10 over here in a small city like Dayton.

All in all, I'm not defending Republicans or Americans or anything that either of those stand for. Hell I don't even have a right to vote in this country, so really it doesn't matter what I think. I'm not part of the electorate. I'm just saying that before we criticize, lets look at ourselves. If we think that the points noted above are their fallacies....we've got the exact same or similar things going on back home. If it's not right here, then it's not right there and consequently you cannot point fingers at these people. At least be fair in your criticisms.

Monday, July 25, 2005

A religiously offending post -- do not read if offended easily

At lunch today, a discussion started about religions. I don't know how but anyway it got started. A little background - I'm not an atheist ... I'm a believer in God but I don't subscribe to religion. I respect the fact that people believe in them and would never try to convince them otherwise. So go with that background into reading this post.

So anyway at lunch we started talking about stuff that's funny about religions and I started concocting a story about me sitting around a Hindu scholar and a Christian scholar and they were all trying to chastise me about being non-religious and wanted to tell me what why one's religion is better than the other's

Sheeshers: Hi folks... I heard there's free food here so I thought I'd stop by and ....

Hindu scholar: Come Come. God always feeds His children.

Sheeshers: Really? So the homeless and the hungry ones must not belong to Him then. Hmm... those people really need to find their parent God if they're looking to get fed.

Christian scholar: Jesus is the God for everyone. He loves the rich, the poor, the hungry ... everyone is loved. They are all His children....this Hindu guy knows nothing. Ignore him ... he isn't even wearing a shirt....just a long thread around his chest. Look at me, I have a robe from Georgio Armani.

Sheeshers: Umm... as far as I know, Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross and He wasn't exactly wearing an Armani suit. He looked like Gandhi..... a man of the poor.

Christian scholar: You know nothing. Jesus died for our sins.

Sheeshers: Hey, I wasn't born then. I didn't have many sins at that time. I sure have oodles of sins now but I'll die for them on my own, thank you very much. On second thoughts, can I pick someone else to die for my sins? I'd like to see some people gone off this planet.....people like child molesters can certainly die for my sins and I won't even blink. I'll continue to live happily as the world will be a much safer place for my children.

Hindu scholar: See that's the problem with Christianity. Why would their God die for your sins. We believe that you die for your own sins and they determine what you are reborn as. I think the Hindu Gods are the true ones because they created the Universe and the Christian God was born into the universe. So our Gods came before their God was even born.

Sheeshers: that's strange. If Hindu Gods came before the Universe was invented, why is the entire Hindu mythology based on this planet. We could very well have used their original place of residence. Why did they all come here and decide to create history. Secondly, my problem there is that Hindu Gods are very specialized. So I have to have a Yellow Pages book to decide which God to pray to. You've got a God for creation , a God for wealth, another one for music, another one for education. So each time I cross a particular phase in life, I gotta ditch one God and move on to another. I kinda feel bad about the one I left behind. I think you need some consolidation and down-sizing. Certain departments can be managed by more than one God. They're truly very powerful and capable Gods and I'm sure they can handle the added responsibility.

Christian scholar: That's why we only have one God.

Sheeshers: Then who is Mother Mary? It seems to me that Catholics and Protestants have very different views about Christianity, so it's not true that there's one version of your God either.

Hindu scholar: But Hinduism is only one ... there's only one way to follow it. Everything revolves around do good Karma you're going to come back as something really nice. You do bad Karma and you'll be at the lowest rung of the society.

Sheeshers: I do have serious problems with that. I currently feel not so far away from the lowest rung of the society, being a human. We're like parasites. We consume, destroy and then move on. We're now looking to see if Mars or any other planets out there are habitable because we're kinda done with ruining this planet. On a separate note, if Karma decides what you become in your next life.... can you map me the Karma path between me i.e. a human and a Penguin or a Panda? I like Penguins and Pandas and I'd like to do the correct mixture of good and bad Karma to come back as one of those in my next life. I think you should sell books that show how to get to things people want to be. That's a great business venture instead of trying to lecture idiots like me.

Christian scholar: This is so pointless.

Hindu scholar: He is completely ignorant

Sheeshers: Has either one of your Gods thought about owning a Porsche? I think that would rock.

Friday, July 22, 2005

So here I am once more on Friday. I really really am getting frustrated at how little I am getting to blog. It's just not enough and there's so much to write about everyday. But work has been crazy. It's affecting personal life too , and I keep telling myself that this is just a phase. I know it's just a phase but it's hard to come back and justify to Noddy that three weeks of coming home and continuing to work or coming home around midnight from work is a "phase". If one more week goes by like this, that'll be four weeks in a row and at that point I'm about ready to ask for some compensatory vacation. Work is just getting too hectic and things at work aren't looking good either. So all of that is adding up, tempers are flaring, people are getting mad at each other (including me) and the whole situation is just real rough. We'll see how that pans out but you can see why I would have lots to rant about everyday.

Okay now to the main topic - two types of people who irritate me. People who drive at speed limits in a one lane street AND they know that there are eight cars right behind them trying to push them along. I think if you're the only one driving on a one lane street, you can drive at whatever speed you want or you can even stop if you feel like. But at 8:20 am, my morning is practically ruined by following a beat up Ford that is going 35 mph in a 35 mph zone in a one lane road that goes for about eight miles. That is going to kill me. I just do not have the patience to sit behind the wheel and follow these people. Sometimes I do it without stressing myself out but c'mon ... it's office rush hour ... everyone's trying to get somewhere (well almost everyone) so the lady with the poodle taking the dog for a manicure needs to stay off the street. Maybe they should make laws such as those. From 6:00 am to 9:00 am, the only people allowed on roads are walkers, joggers, people dropping kids off to school or office-goers in cars - emergencies and hospital visits are of course exempt. Nobody else!! That's Sheeshers rule. No wonder I am (and never will be) in any position of authority. I make absurd rules.

We're now in Merrilville, Indiana visiting a friend of ours. Shultz is a regular and avid reader of the blog and will occasionally comment. From here, we're off tomorrow morning to Chicago to see some relatives. Sunday we head back to Dayton. The drive up here was horrendous. It looks like everyone was going somewhere, and this isn't even a long weekend or a holiday weekend or anything. We were stuck in a traffic jam just outside of Indianapolis for an hour. That was just beautiful.

Sorry for this very very sour blog. Things have been piling up and I need to get stuff out. So there it was. Happy days are stowed away in future.

Comments welcome!

Monday, July 18, 2005

Weekend wrap-up.

The weekend was absolutely phenomenal. The Cumberland Lake trip was abandoned due to expected rains (which makes pontooning and/or jet skiing a bad proposition. So we decided to go to Dave and Busters, a games arcade that is my favorite. The concept at Dave and Busters is straightforward -- you play games and in some games you win tokens that can be redeemed for goodies. One thing is clear -- games that are absolute fun do not have token vending abilities. On the other hand slot-machine style games don't provide any entertainment except for the tokens you might get if you do well on them. So it depends what you're there for. If you're there to go motorbike racing with your buddies, then don't collect tokens - just have fun. On the other hand, if you've got a girlfriend who wants that cuddly teddy bear sitting in the goodies section, then aim for the slot machines where you can get tokens even if you play average but play long. We had a lot of fun. We played a mixture of games - some included token games and others were fun games like bike racing, shooting missions and such. In the end, we spent about 50 dollars and had 1614 tokens to show for it. That number of tokens got us four small cuddly toys and one shot glass. My goal is always this - for every dollar spent at Dave and Busters, you must make at least 30 tokens to buy anything respectable from the goodies store. That formula doesn't make you even or anything, but it'll put you in the right ballpark to get something out of the money you spent.

This weekend was also the "crave for an IPOD" weekend. The trouble with the IPOD continues to remain the same as it was a year ago. I cannot in any sane frame of mind, justify spending 300+ dollars on a music playing machine plugged into my ears, however cool it may be. There's a certain specific model I like but anyway that's besides the point. We almost went out and bought one but then my senses came back and I refrained. I have a car stereo, headphones at work and a music system at home. I don't understand where I'm going to play the IPOD if I've got accessible music in all these locations. One big benefit to the IPOD is that it consolidates all your music into one neat little compact package that looks sexy and that also makes it very highly portable. But still...300 dollars to do THAT? I can spend 300 dollars and get an extra 15 sq. ft on the deck at home and enjoy it for years to come with more than enough cost justification. So, all in all, no IPOD for me. The particular model I like needs to get down to $99 before I will buy it. Maybe two years from now.

We went to a drive-in theater to watch "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". Noddy's parents have never been to a drive-in so we wanted to show them what the experience was like. It's decent if you can skip the restrooms and the food stalls. The movie was good if you let your imagination go wild. If you liked "Finding Neverland" then you will like this movie. If you don't let your imagination go wild and instead try to rationalize, the movie will seem wierd and won't make much sense. Special effects were good and the storyline was of course based on a novel and so were all the characters. Johnny Depp seems to have taken to playing child fairytale icon style roles. He does really well in them too so I don't see why not. Children should like this movie. Will you might consider taking your kids to see this one.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Deck decision....

Which of these two decks do you prefer? Deck A or Deck B . Don't give me an answer like ... I'd rather have niether of them or I'd rather not have a deck around my home. Just assume that you've got to pick one and you've got these two choices.

I'm listening to Fiddler on the Roof. The songs won't make sense if you don't like Broadway shows and/or if you haven't seen the actual play. But it's an amazing soundtrack nonetheless. If you get a chance, go ahead and borrow it from a library to hear it out. No guarantees that you'll like it.

Fridays are really good. I like Fridays because I look forward to staying up till 3 or 4 am and just having fun with the family, then when they're all asleep I get to chatting with my family and friends living in odd timezones such as India or Australia.

Okay let me know what you guys think of the decks....currently, 4 people have voted on them and the score is tied at 2-2. I'm soliciting more replies to see what others think!

Enjoy your weekend! I might blog or might not over the weekend, lets see how it turns out. Plans are to go to Dave and Busters but that's about it for now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Awesome weather and an open theater

That's a great combo right there in the title.....

We finally got some leftover showers from hurricane Dennis (not to be confused with Dennis, my co-worker who has been mentioned in previous blogs. He can be quite a hurricane too). The showers were really nice and they reminded me more of home. While most people were cursing their luck at the rotten weather - bleak dark skies and day long drizzling - I was enjoying it. That's what Bombay monsoons are like. The rain was just heavy enough to make it's presence felt but not heavy enough to drench you ... that's right about perfect. You can see rain-mist floating in the air and you're walking through the fog. Not to mention my backyard which is getting the soaking it needed. I haven't watered it in over three weeks. My water bill was absurdly high but that's what you get for wanting a green lawn.

Anyhow, coupled with that fantastic weather, we were off to the Fraze Pavilion which is a great place in Dayton to have fun. It has an open theater and some really good performers are there sometimes. We went there and walked around the fountains with a little known country band playing live music in the background. Definitely a place to go during summer. While we were there, there was this lady with a spinning wheel that had various numbers on it. Each number represented a coupon from Friendly's restaurant. Guess what Noddy won - a 96 oz box of ice cream free! She was ecstatic - for two reasons - first she loves ice-cream and secondly she loves Friendly's ice cream. Predictably enough, our Fraze Pavilion trip had to be aborted due to the get-free-ice cream emergency that hit Noddy. The nearest Friendly's happened to be on the way home, so a quick stop was made and a much happier Noddy was being driven home by me.

Things at work are starting to mount up. Morale is becoming a serious issue in my group and it's assuming epidemic like proportions. People aren't sure what they do there anymore and they're feeling like each day is a pointless exercise of watching the clock tick past 5 pm. That's definitely a sure sign of productivity falling off the precipice and that's exactly where we're heading for the rest of the year. The problem with these things is, you can't really tell anything to anyone. If I discuss employee morale with some manager and they decide to approach the employees, the employees will deny any morale problems whatsoever... job security reasons there. So I'm not going to bother much about it. But it's concerning nonetheless. I wish someone could help....I just don't know what.

'nuff said ...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ugh Ugh !! Phew !!

What a week this has been. The long weekend was awesome and I was looking forward to the four day week. Yeah, so much for that beautiful dream. I worked over 40 hours in those four days - so it pooped me out even more than the usual work week. It was extremely hectic at work and next week looks better but I suspect the usual chaos shall prevail. The week has whizzed past and I ended up on this weekend. Blogging continues to suffer. Email checking continues to suffer as well so I'm sure some friends are wondering if I actually care to read their emails. Sorry folks - will get back on track for SURE this week.

By the way, if you're ever in Ohio to celebrate the 4th of July, just buy your fireworks outside of Ohio. I made the mistake of going to a local superstore to buy what they called "fireworks" and we lighted them when our friends came over on Monday evening. Okay first of all - they should really be called smokeworks. The 'fire' part was missing except for the first couple of seconds when you're holding a flame to the smoking device. After that, it lights up to indicate to you that it is functioning and then the spark quickly dies out to give you brightly colored smoke ... wow!! How exciting and breathtaking is colored smoke. Ideal fireworks material. Okay so you get the picture. All of them were things I would easily let my pets play with. You couldn't burn yourself even if you tried -- there WAS no fire in them ergo, no burning while carelessly lighting.

Big news of the week - London bomb blasts. More innocent lives lost. No terrorists were reported as victims of the blasts; just innocent bystanders or office-goers. The mindless war continues across the world. A word of advice to terrorists -- killing innocent people around the world does nothing to further your cause. It only angers the common man because you're making his life insecure and the common man does not like that. If you want to fight, take the fight to the enemy. Don't bring it to men, women and children who do nothing to you and your families. If an American soldier has killed your 10 year old child, then killing a 10 year old American will solve NOTHING. Don't do it. It's wrong and it will cause more anger and vengeance. I say this out of experience of what has been happening in my country in Kashmir for the past 12 years. No good has come out of that. Nobody feels victorious about Kashmir and most importantly the Kashmiris themselves are extremely fed-up. Hindus against Muslims, Christians against Muslims --- c'mon , it doesn't take a diploma to realize that underneath the religious facade, it's simple one human mindlessly pitted against another. Religion doesn't make you any better than your natural biological self, so accept that and look at other people as you would look at your own.

Okay off the soap box now. Just paid $2.28 per gallon for gas. The prices are now coming to what they really should be. SUV owners, beware. Gas prices are going to go up a little further in the near future since it's summer and Americans like to be on the road in summer.

I have noticed that fellow bloggers have stopped uploading pictures - Will and Archana in particular ... hmm... must be a phase I guess. I hope pictorial blogging comes back on their blogs. It's really cool.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Meet the in-laws ...

I need to blog more often. I used to be really good about it earlier.

Noddy's parents a.k.a. my in-laws, came here to good ol' Dayton from India last Saturday. They brought with them enough stuff for our home that we are soon going to have to buy a second home. Our home looked relatively empty until they showed up. Now I have to find appropriate walls to hang all the exquisite Indian handicrafts that needs to be displayed. It has also been a non-stop food fest since their arrival. My mother-in-law operates a food-on-demand kitchen. I don't know if it's mothers in general but most Indian mothers love to fatten their children with food. I feel like a cow that is marked with a big X on it's back and is being fattened for butchering at some point. Conversation with my loving mother-in-law:

She: Do you want something to eat?

Me: No thanks ... I'm okay

She: How about some watermelon?

Me: No not now ( ... I didn't know watermelon was excluded from edible products)

She: Milk perhaps?

Me: Nope. Thanks. (.... I didn't know milk can be had even if you're full to your throat and have refused food a few seconds ago).

Somehow I cannot imagine having this conversation with my dad. Dads leave their sons to die - if he's hungry he'll ask; stop chasing him - that's their terse instruction to moms. Indian mothers love you to death ... meaning they will kill you by overfeeding you. If I'm genuinely hungry I have to slip an encoded note to Noddy who will then note, in a discrete fashion, that I need food such that my mother-in-law doesn't come to know about it. If she does, I'll get twice the quantity I should be eating, plus something to drink with it along with an offer for more food as needed. It's all in love and I just find it funny, not offensive or irritating. I know where she's coming from so I'm pretty cool about it. It's just funny sometimes.

The in-laws are keeping themselves occupied while Noddy and I are at work. One of our rooms has been completely rearranged and looks totally different - in a good way. The refrigerator got thoroughly cleaned out a couple of days ago. My mother-in-law has requested that I teach her the washing machine instructions and some other machinery around the home. I am hesitant to do that due to job security reasons - she might take over and I'll have nothing to do. Dad-in-law is an exercise fan. He goes for daily walks and does some Yoga. I have charted for him the path to the nearest gas station so that he can get newspaper while fulfilling his walking agenda.

My father-in-law is a lawyer and a damn good one at it. So everytime he wants to argue about something's accuracy or my statement's correctness, he ends up disappointed because I refuse to argue - I just give in. That doesn't stimulate his brain cells too much so he's probably getting really irritated with my lack of confrontation on any particular point. I'm sure he'll get the guinea pigs to argue with him if he loses all hope in me.