Tuesday, May 27, 2008

ending my hiatus

I finally decided to end the long hiatus, and get back on the blogosphere. The hiatus, well, it was caused partly due to sluggishness on my end and partly because I simply did not have access to the wonderful, virtual world of the wWw. I am not going to go into too many details of where I was traveling, as it is not really relevant. Plus, I personally find it a little tedious to read others travelogues.

By the way, is it just me or have people suddenly started traveling a lot? Especially after blogs were launched? I wonder if blogs have created this massive irrepressible urge to hit the road, and to pen down every corner, nook and pebble that you encounter? Has travel become the most active hobby in the last couple of years, with tourists proudly displaying 'where I have been' widgets in their virtu-soci-al networks?

I am exaggerating, ofcourse.

However the phenomenon of social networks is interesting, isn't it? Given a chance, we would not hesitate to put our entire life out for the world to see, which compliments our core nature - that we are social animals after all! We create a fiasco about privacy, but at the same time are curious about what everyone around else is doing and share our intimate secrets with complete strangers online. Whether we are sleeping, eating, drinking....or even traveling we derive secret joy in letting people know. Why? Well, because we are contributors to the new-world hobby of 'how many places have I been to', of course!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

while I am in India

After the numerous parties and a teary send-off, I finally made it to Mumbai. And I fell sick as a part of what seems to be a standard body-resetting procedure. In IT jargon, I would coin the term as a 'cold-boot', personally it was just a flu. However lately I have been doubtful about this flu attacks, especially after I land in India. If I plot my visits to India in the past 8 years and juxtapose them with the flu attacks, I am sure the -flu' periods will be marked by a steep bell curve, comparable to the stock market during the .com boom.

It is similar to the .com boom in yet another aspect - that I've never been able to nail down the culprit for this flu. I think its a 'bhel-puri' (indian term for a mix of various things) of the pollution, the humid weather, and the density of the city. My doctor thought I was over reacting and gave me the local antibiotic saying 'chalta hain!' ('Its ok' ..literally translated to 'it walks!')

While those antibiotics are kicking in, I did notice some new things in Mumbai -
a. The gyms have a strict 'no shoes' policy inside the gym (including running on the treadmills)
b. Commuting a distance of 18 km may take around 90 minutes by road and 60 minutes by train (and maybe your life!)
c. I found a small pack of Nescafe for Re.1 ($0.04). Just when I thought the rupee was loosing value. I wonder how much it must cost Nescafe to package and ship that Re.1 pack.
d. I actually saw a toothpaste called 'Salt'. Perfect with some scrambled eggs, I suppose.
e. The local cable operators have quite a monopoly on the content. Imagine watching TV, where the top 1/4 and the bottom 1/4 of the screen is covered with flashing commercials.

This city seems more crowded this time around. More cars, more people, more malls -- all in the same area. Its a chaotic assimilation of people, concrete and metal. And somewhere in this concrete jungle, I am recovering from my flu!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

a new begining...

We were in New Orleans a couple of weekends ago. One evening, we had gone to see a movie about the hurricane in New Orleans re-opened IMAx theater. As I was buying tickets, I asked the lady at the counter if she had seen the movie. "I didn't ," she replied, "I lived it". That was my first encounter with a Katrina victim. During the course of the weekend we met many more such Katrina victims who had lost everything, and were now fighting back, hopeful that one day they would be able to bring back the glorious days. A new hope, a new begining!

I've posted some pictures on Flickr (link, on the right).

After coming back, I ended up catching 'Babel' in the local theater. The movie was quite interesting - it shocked me, only to make me feel sorry and then frustrated. The movie reminded me, in some vague way, of New Orleans.

On a similar note, I am finishing up Thomas Fridman's 'From Beirut to Jerusalem'. A great book if you would like to know in depth about the Israel-Palestinine conflict.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Halloween is here...with the Freeland-er? and the Jessica Lall case

Halloween, the night when the ghouls allegedly roam the streets, brooms are meant to be used for things other than mopping, and the air is full of hanuted whispers, starts off with a flurry of costumes that would stir the minds of even the most unimaginative.

Our Halloween started different; with the 'death of the Freelander'.

We were coming home after watching 'The Prestige' where Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale trick you with their slick magic, a real treat, when the car overheated. It would've been almost magical, had it been in the movie. In reality, it was a bit spooky and annoying. After coming back (with the car parked and the tow-company on its way) I started doing some googsearch. What I discovered was simply horrifying!

As it turns out, Freelanders are known to have problems with their K-Series engine in which case the cylinder liners drop too low causing the engine to be replaced (there is no economically viable repair procedure). Even more shocking is that this problem is known by the Land Rover company and is specified in their technical advices. The average life of a Freelander engine is between 60-80 K miles. Our Freelander engine died at 35,000 miles. R.I.P, I said...never again!

While we were mourning the freakish death of our freelander, somewhere in India, Sabrina Lall was mourning the ongoing case of her sister's murderers.This week marked another twist in the high-profile Jessica Lall case in India.

For those who don't know, Jessica Lall was a young,aspiring model who was shot dead simply because she refused to serve a drink at the posh Tamarind Center Cafe. All she did was follow the 'law'. She paid the price...with her life. Read more about the case here.

Jessica was shot in 1999. Seven years later the New Delhi High Court is still trying to serve justice. But, with the family emotionally torn and people's confidence in the justice system shattered, ...the question remains whether justice will really be served? Can a woman refuse drinks again in New Delhi without the fear of getting shot? Can a father be assured that he'll get justice for his daughter's murderers while he is still alive? Who knows...

These people don't need pumpkins. Their life is scary enough.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Bad morning, Good night!

Ever had one of those days that start out as crappy but end on a good note? Today was such a day. Before I start rambling about it, here is last weeks recap -

Last week was good. Payal turned 30, for which she got a surprise party from all of us and a proposal from her boyfriend - Gaurang. Yes, Payal and Gaurang are officially engaged. I joke with her that her path2engagement can best be summarized as '50 first dates' meets 'Break/Up' meets 'Meet the Parents'. At least she doesn't have to change her last name after marriage(both she and Gaurang have the same last name). My heartiest congratulations to the Bhatt's!

Talking of engagements, just realized that its been exactly two-months since Sylvia and I got engaged ... and it feels just like yesterday. I am told thats a good thing. At least we introduce each other as 'my fiance(e)' nowadays...

Coming back to today, the day started on a bad note. My loan for INSEAD was rejected by HSBC. I guess I was bummed out not so much by the rejection, but by the fact that HSBC did not give me a convincing reason. A bit disheartening. Oh well...I guess its time to start looking at other avenues.

On a brighter note, it seems that the apartment situation in Singapore is finally getting resolved. Hopefully, if things go well I will have an apartment and two roommates by the end of next week (fingers crossed).

p.s. in case you are wondering about the picture, its me globe trotting next year:)

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Super Size HER!

Meet E-T.

While one part of the world is struggling with obesity, here is the other side - the yang of the yin, the -ve of the +ve, the south of the north - bare bones. Since when did 'thin' share the same bed with 'gollumish'. Is this a new trend? Or just a passing Haloween fad?

I wonder if after some time we would end up with these two extremes in all facets of life. Would the clothes just be XX-Large and Invisible? Would the dinner portions be all-you-can-eat and all-you-can-watch? would the drug companies sell pills to loose-weight only to gain it back again at a faster pace? Makes me wonder about the purpose of living if you can't eat. Without food, Life as we know it, would be quite bland, wouldn't it?

At least there is a new rule that warrants runway models to be a certain weight. Although it won't be long before someone screams discrimination at least till then they are required to eat. Who would've thought that 'eating' would be a requirement? Try imposing this requirement with the kids in Africa. I am sure they won't mind it.

Talking of the kids in Africa, I was quite surprised around the whole Madonna adoption controversy. I wonder what she did wrong? There were others, including some well known celebrities, who adopted kids from remote parts of the world before her. And they managed to do so quite smoothly. So why is international media all over Madonna?

One of the plausible explainations could be that she is 'her'. Media and Madonna, are interwined like the vines wrapped around the Kapok tree. Both need each other, both thrive on each other. I just hope that in all this Malawi-Madonna-Media (oddly enough, they share the same initial) the kid gets a decent childhood. After all he didn't ask for all this, did he? He wan't the one to say 'Super Size me!'.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Act II

Fade In.

It finally hit me as I opened my mail. Just like that.

It wasn't a scene from 'American Idol' when the winner is announced. Nope. Nothing revolutionary. Nothing dramatic. And certainly no sudden, seizurish jumping movements. It was, in fact quite serene. If I was an artist I would've painted that moment on a canvas like the sun rising over an ocean with a sail boat sailing towards it, reaching out, yearning to be bathed in the first rays. It was that simple. It was that clear.

I was looking at the air ticket. A one-way ticket to Mumbai,India. A ticket that symbolized the end of my eight year journey in USA, a journey that was a symbiosis between me and America.

Its funny how, at big moments like these, you start to search for an explanation, some sort of a clue, among small things. Take the number eight for instance. When I was young we moved from Mumbai to Nizambad. It lasted for eight years after which I moved to USA. Eight years later and, here I am, off to another country. 2006 (adds up to 8) was probably the best year of my life. INSEAD happened in August 2006, the eight month. August 26 (adds up to 8) was the day when Sylvia and I got engaged. Maybe, these are just coincidences. Or maybe not.

The past eight years are filled with great moments and friends, such as -- walking in the freezing New Jersey winter to save a buck during my NJIT days; lazy Sunday afternoons spent with friends drinking beer rooting for the Giants; infamous two-bedroom Kearny apartment, the walls of which, at one point accommodated over ten people; the first snow and then the fall colors; first job, first car, and first real paycheck; first time I hit 100 mph and then the second time I hit 100 mph; running 26.2 miles and then biking through NY .... friends from Asha, Naya Andaaz, Streetnoiz, Open-Mic,NJIT and from Businessedge...

Sometimes I wish I had Dumbledore's pensive where I could relive these memories when I want. Wouldn't that be nice? I guess until I find it, all these memories are coming with me, as I say Goodbye or rather Adios to America and bonjour!, hello! to France & Singapore...

...to a new journey

Fade Out.

(to be continued... after 8 years)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

300 million + 1

Pen is mightier that the sword...but sometimes numbers can be just as powerful.

Although this particular blog would've been written at any other time, it just felt appropriate to pen it down now. It is analogous to a person turning a number on her birthday; this number, big or small, single or double digits, makes one reflect on their past and gives them a little window of glimpse into their future.

So, the fact that America turned 300 million people old yesterday made me ponder about the past and wonder how the future would look like.

The past, or rather the past few years have been interesting, to say the least.From Clinton to Foley, from the dot.com bust to web2.0, from the war of the worlds to the Iraq war, from Madonna kissing Britney and Christina to Madonna adopting a baby, from Survivor to surviving Fox news, from super-size me to anorexic super models, from 40-year old virgin to sex and the city, from MySpace to Real Estate bust - it almost feels that we have been through a turbulent roller coaster ride. And if we are going at this speed now, where would we end up 200 million people later?

Would we have flying cars? Would we be able to teleport ourselves from one city to another? Would we love ourselves so much that we would clone us? I don't know. But I do know one thing that America, India and China together constitute close to half the world's population. And with America's oil consumption and India and China's growing consumer base, soon enough we would be struggling for each drop of oil. Unless we don't need oil anymore.

Maybe that's what I see through the little key hole into the future. We truly become oil-independent, and set the path for others to follow. A path surrounded by trees with fresh clean air. A path so calm that you can hear your heartbeat. Maybe I am dreaming or trying to listen to my heart beat Or maybe I am looking through the wrong key hole - one thousand years ago, into the past.

But, then maybe I am actually looking at tomorrow. At least, I hope I am!

Monday, October 16, 2006

A choice ... culture or money?

'A for Apple' ..the first thing I learnt in school. That stuck in my head just like wet cow-dung sticks to the wall when thrown like a baseball. As I advanced to the 1st grade my teacher taught me that 'An apple a day, keeps the doctor away'. Shortly after that, I learnt 'one bad apple spoils the entire basket of apples'. After this I associated the letter 'A' to the grade of A+, which meant that a treat at home.

Even though I chuckled as the little kid in the movie 'Meet the Fockers' associated A to Assh-o-lle, today it dismays me that how close this is to reality. Sometimes you come across assh-o-lles when working together. They are the 'bad' apples who do not fit together in the basket, which makes you wonder 'why are they in the first place?'

Some feel that the bad apples can be tolerated at the cost of other good apples as long as the doctor is kept away. In other words, as long as the bottom line is met and they rake in the money, the rotten apple is ok. I disagree.

I feel that even though this may be true in the short period, it can have only two outcomes. One, cause all other apples to rot, and voila! you have an entire basket of rotten apples. Ain't that just wonderful. Or, two, it will cause the other apples to leave the basket in dismay.

Now, you are stuck with the bad apple. Both these conditions cause the bottom line to plummet. In my opinion, if you need to keep the basket fresh with your culture then either remedy the bad apple or...get rid of it. The bottom line is not worth sacrificing the culture.

After all, A also stands for 'action'.

Thursday, October 12, 2006