Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Yipee! Its Halloween!

This was my son's reaction when he found out today was halloween! I was bewildered. He informed me that he was going to get dressed in the evening and go knock on every door and say "Can I have some candy please?". I refrained from saying anything. The rest of the day went uneventfully. He has been nursing a cold, so I had him bunk school today. Was thanking myself for that, or he would have come home and insisted on trick or treating.. after talking to his voiciferous friends! Anyway, he settled down for a rare nap this afternoon... and I had a nice afternoon to myself ! He got up and asked for a snack...and ate it without fuss! He then came to me and said "Alright lets get dressed". I dared to ask "Whatever for?". He gives me an exasperated look and says "We need to go trick or treating!". I told him "If some other kid visits our house, you can go".

I had a long talk with my husband on the possibilities. My husband who conveniently chose this time to go out of town on business! I have decided I will call a friend and warn them and go over to their house if the need arises. Still no kids at our door. So am I saved?

My son sits at the window in his room calling out "Hey Kids" to an empty pathway... He sings "Trick or treat" every couple of minutes! Its so cute and I am almost tempted... but its also freezing cold outside, and I dread knocking at strange doors! Also, I am sure when we do get there I will be the one shouting "Trick or treat" and whatever else, because my son is sure to clamp up!!

Waiting with my fingers crossed to turn off the porch lights and call it a night!

If - Rudyard Kipling

I first read this poem in a school textbook in Grade 11. I am not into poetry in a big way... but I hold this very close to my heart! It is truly a work of genius aimed to inspire and uplift at all times. Read on ...

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream--and not make dreams your master,
If you can think--and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings--nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much,
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And--which is more--you'll be a Man, my son!

--Rudyard Kipling

Trivia 1:

The lines "If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same;" adorns the entrance to the center court of Wimbledon

Trivia 2:

The poem was inspired by Dr Leander Starr Jameson, who in 1895 led a raid by British forces against the Boers in South Africa, subsequently called the Jameson Raid. This defeat increased the tensions that ultimately led to the Second Boer War. The British press, however, portrayed Jameson as a hero in the middle of the disaster, and the actual defeat as a British victory.

Don't you Quit

This poem has kept me going on many days! One of my favorites...(after Kiplings IF ofcourse)

DON'T QUIT - Author unknown
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low, and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you frown a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.

Life is strange with its twists and turns,
As everyone of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow,
You may succeed with another blow.

Success is failure turned inside out,
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you can never tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit,
It's when things seem worst
That you must not quit.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

College Nostalgia - Part 2 (Forging Friendships...)

College friendships I have always been told last all life. Same is the case for me.
I met some amazing people there who stood by me through all my craziness, and continue to do that today. There are the people who have listened to all my frustrated ramblings then and later in life.
I read this quote somewhere...

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart, and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."
How true... the friends I mention here are people who can write this narrative of my life better than I ever will.

Akila (Kil) - One of the first people I met at college! She had a knack of talking just when the lecturer was looking at us, or better still falling asleep. I spent a lot of time kicking her under the table! When she was not sleeping, we were yapping away and getting into trouble for that!
Sandhya (Sandy) - Another of my first friends at college! She sat between Kil and Me all of first year to keep us from getting into trouble! She and I had a lot in common including our love for books, and all competitions which invloved speaking! We had some great times attending every possible competition in every possible college.
Bhanu - I camped out at her house so often, and spent hours on the phone with her... We shared the passion for books and computers!! She has always been rake thin and I have always wondered if I should pin her to the ground to keep her from flying away. Her mom is one of the sweetest people I know!
Ananthi (Nu) - She was always calm and composed and kept us all grounded to earth... but was always raging a storm inside... She has also listened to the most of my frustrated ramblings then and later in life. We created a joint email account and used to chat with strangers every sunday at the internet cafe!!!! I was a chauffer for her and would chauffer her around in my scooty! She was also the person who gave me valuable advice (on makeup and posture) on how to get my photo taken (at a studio) to send to alll the prospective grooms family. She took me to the studio and we got my picture taken. My mom rejected every one of them!
Priya - She is probably the one person I have argued the most with.. and enjoyed the arguments! She is also the one person who is very similar to me in nature.. we are both non-conformists, to put harshly rebels! She is also a very dear friend who thinks friendship is sacrosanct and will do anything in its name!
Sri (Lekha) - I have always thought of her as this dear nutty girl. We had so much fun at her expense, but she was always quick to forgive us and love us! She would read M & B's at the rate of atleast 10 a day! She religiously passed notes in class and kept us in conversation through all lectures! She was also this clumsy butter fingers with a penchant for accidents!
Vijayabanu (Viji) - She has been a good friend to many of us mentioned above, although she didn't belong to "the gang". She was the one who kept me grounded in the crazy Odyssey days. She is such a cute person, I am really very fond of her!
There were many others who made my college life so memorable - Rashmi, Nandini, Veena, Krithika, and many many others!! The list is endless!

College Nostalgia - Part 1 (Getting There)

Its been years and years since I passed out of college... well not really that long.. but its definitely been a while. I am in constant touch with my good friends from college, who are still the closest of my friends! However all of a sudden this week, I am stuck with Nostalgia... thinking about the fun college days! So here I start a series on my college days!

It was the year 1996... I passed out of my 12th grade with a not so great marks to speak of. I had a 90%, but thats not good enough is it? Like most kids in India, I needed (mind you not wanted but needed) to be an engineer. I had played with computers most of my life (not so common at that point in time). Like all parents, mine too thought my life was doomed if I didn't study computer engg. I had no patience or courage to wait for the "general counselling"! My parents dint want to let their pampered and spoilt brat to rot in the myriad college hostels strewn across Tamil Nadu nor did they want me to travel miles and miles to the outskirts of the city to study.

We had our solution... and the one and only "Avinashilingam University of Women", Close enough to home and all women (I bet my parents were happy. I most definitely wasn't!!). Well to cut the long story short, I got ACCEPTED and went reluctantly to the first day of college. It was a bit overwhelming to see a classroom filled with some 75 or so girls. But as I started to get to know the people around me, I found some like minded people on the very first day!!

A couple of these people - Akila and Sandhya stayed on to be my great friends for the rest of my tenure in Avinashilingam! And these two and others made the Avinashilingam I remember not a strict and opressing place, but a fun and happy place. We shared many laughs, pranks, jokes, frustrations and struggles through the years!

Monday, October 29, 2007

The genetic tug...

I have been hearing a lot about the differences between boys and girls lately in blogs and emails. I decided to do a google search and see what I find, and found some really interesting stuff some saying girls are polite and courteous while boys are brutally honest and lacking in tact. How as they grow older boys are better and loyal friends in comparison to girls. I read another blog which said how society is hard on boys who are not masculine enough! By far an interesting exploration...

I have always blamed it on the genes though. I had seen girls all my life, sweet little things who loved to talk and bawl (girls at all ages do love a good cry).. girls who are polite and listen to you and want to be goody good! Then I gave birth to a boy... one of the first words my son said were car and tractor. As soon as he could crawl he'd be everywhere in every appliance exploring. He is now 3, and he never listens. He wont even stop long enough in one spot to listen... I am in for a lifetime of this!! But the good part, he can play by himself with those cars for hours, he doesnt cry too much and road trips are good fun with him - he can entertain himself for hours looking at the cars on the road.

I have seen girls play and boys play. If 2 girls play you can be rest assured they are playing house, pretending to cook, being a doctor or talking - now thats dangerous, girls tell each other everything about what goes on in their home. Not to mention they will observe everything on Tv,in the mall, on the road and ask you about it.
Boys are easily fooled, show them a car or a tool and they will forget mid speech what they were talking about. Put 2 boys together and you will hear a lot of vrooms and bams!! They will talk too, but will talk about all the taboo words they cant say and come back and ask you why they cant say it and when they can! Or they are talking about attacks, fights or are trying to fly, jump, run and tumble all at the same time.

You ask a boy about a car on the road he will tell you the make, model, year, number of cylinders and what not. A girl will tell you if its red or blue and if she heard the boy might try and read the licence plate for you! You put them both on an art project - she will make them as if her life depended on it, be neat and make about 5 for good measure one for each member of the family. A boy will play around with the glue, see how all the pieces look stacked up ... make a couple of wiggles and call it coloring and will leave the half finished piece to tinker with the nut/screw on the edge or under the table which ofcourse we can never spot!!

You dress a girl up, she will keep her dress intact and neat, sit carefully and worry about her looks. You dress a boy up, he will run around roll in mud and come back in bedraggled state. Try and wash him, he will turn that into play time too!

Having said that there are the tom boys... like the little girl who once came home and left it looking like a tornado had hit it. Or the sweet little boy, who will come and sit there playing with his thumbs for hours!

Whichever kind you have though they are all equally adorable and good fun!

What color is your brain

Your Brain is Purple

Of all the brain types, yours is the most idealistic.
You tend to think wild, amazing thoughts. Your dreams and fantasies are intense.
Your thoughts are creative, inventive, and without boundaries.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking of fictional people and places - or a very different life for yourself.

Purple?? Yikes!!! All the gray matter turned purple.. this is what you get for being crazy!!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

NRN - Interview

I no longer work with Infosys. But still adore the work culture and ofcorse NRN's vision, leadership and charisma.
Here is an interview from Economic Times which I enjoyed reading.

Indiascape - Driving in Chennai

If you have a heart of steel, are adventurous in spirit, have incredible reflexes, have a good understanding of chennai slang and swear words, have a pocket full of cash ... only then I would advice driving in chennai! Chennai traffic is the classic example of the survival of the fittest. The right of the road belongs to the mightiest.

The water tankers topping the list. They supply the dearest commodity water to millions, and are both the most sought for and the most dreaded... they are the menace of chennai roads. The long distance trucks follow close - and move similarly at unbelievable speeds. The rest of the traffic move out and make way for these contraptions. Then come the public transport - bus service. In the peak hours, these buses are loaded to dangerously full with a sideways tilt - always on the verge of toppling over these buses move preacriously at a tilt of 45 Degrees.

Then there are the share autos/ vans which are to the say least murderous! The are driven by men/ kids who look underage. They stop bang in the middle of the road as soon as they spot prospective clientelle to woo them for the ride... These rides are a tryst with destiny to say the least.

Then there are the auto rickshaws. The less said about these guys the better. They think they own the roads and city. If they are empty, you can almost always spot them creeping along the side of the road looking for a "sawaari". If they are moving, they are snaking through traffic causing the maximum noise pollution with their spluttering engines - pushing the engine to maximum throttle. And almost always egging for a fight with fellow road occupants. If they are unloading their passengers, then they are ofcourse haggling them for money and some of the passengers are naive enough to try and argue with them and make them listen to reason!
Then come the cattle. Thankfully these have now been forbidden from the most populus traffic areas, but in other places there will almost always be a drooling cow/ buffalo standing in the middle of the road refusing to move either way. The image here shows stray cattle innthe middle of a busy highway - GST Road

Then the people... they come out on the road from nowhere. They will wait for a car to come before they decide to cross the road testing if the car has good brakes... They will walk on the side of the road with a huge rod or some such contraption on their head and keep scaring motorists by swaying their head this side and that! Also every once in a while they will turn and send a spray of some red goo from their mouth to the face of the unsuspecting motorist on the two wheeler. If you manage to survive all this chaos, there are the roads themselves - filled with potholes, cobbles, patchy roads with almost always some road work or the other going on and eating up part of the road. This doesnt get completed for years together. I have left out the lay man on cars and bikes not because they are perfect, but because they are the most victimised. No one ever follows the rules of the road in chennai, and the less said about that the better for our sanity! Finally I err if I do not mention the traffic police. They stand at the corners of busy intersections, not to regulate traffic but to catch hold of an unsuspecting motorist and procure wads of cash from him. They understand the rules of the road perfectly well and never stop a big vehicle - only the bikes and small cars. They will also stand at the corner of a one way road effectively hiding the sign which says "one-way" and argue with you not on reading the sign, but on your knowledge of chennai! There was one guy who we paid 50 bucks for watching our car parked in a no parking zone on the busy mount road during peak traffic, while we spent half an hour at a nearby store.... such is their sense of duty!

Driving advice : Install a second horn in your vehicle that has a loud sound similar to the one in the tanker lorries (fire engines in US) - with the huge "BAAAM" sound. That helps. Constant honking is very effective, being rude and behaving like you own the road will give you a place in the road. Get a bigger SUV or a car - we had a mahindra scorpio (used by politicians in chennai), that gets you some respect. In the front and back of your vehicle, have the flag of the ruling party/ indian flag. And if you hit/are hit by another vehicle, this almost always happens - be voiciferous and loud and use a lot of chennai slang. You will be let go!!! Surviving chennai traffic is an accomplishment worth appreciating!! Good luck!

Friday, October 26, 2007


My aunt recently told me Preethi I worry about you, you are turning into a yank!! Yeah I am reading those books on American history, mostly to find out what the american revolution was all about! I am also referring to Autumn as Fall! And celebrating Halloween and Christmas!

The american history is just general knowledge. I love reading, and am always reading something or the other, trashy novels topping the list! So decided for a change will try and improve my perspective!

The language, I wont even talk about... I am myself very confused these days on american and english!

The halloween, bane of having a pre schooler in the US. Last year I spent halloween blisfully unaware of all the fuss! This year I decorated my house with pumpkins and spent the better part of last month discussing costumes. My son changes his mind every 2 days, and we have visited the costume stores about half a dozen times returning empty handed because he changed his mind yet again! Finally we bought the tried and tested Spiderman costume and assured my son that all other costumes in every store in the US was for bigger kids!!

Arent kids the best consumers... the spiderman costume cost us 25 bucks! I berated my husband about this and warned him that if "his" son dint wear that costume he was in big trouble. Also that our son would have to wear this costume for atleast 4 more years of halloweens/ fancy dress/ costume party. I wish!! Already my son wants to be a power ranger now!

We did go to one haloween party this year in his school. My son first said "Can I go as Ananth?"... We convinced him that all his friends would be in costumes, does he want to stick out? (like he cares...). Finally convinced him to wear just the costume, no mask!! We went to school and there were atleast 5 other spiderman's with no mask and other super heroes in equal stages of undress!! yay! I have a normal 3 year old!

Attack of the toddler.

A couple of friends recently asked me "Why arent you writing the blogs anymore". First I was surprised that anyone did read what I wrote.. well I need to be more cautious what I say now right?!! And I thought no one actually read these things!
Anyway, this is for the people who wonder why I keep disappearing from the radar ever so often. That is because I have been attacked, by toddlerhood. I stole this phrase from a book I read which was named "Attack of the toddlers". The book was reassuring, told me I was not alone!
Alright, here is my story.
I sit down in front of the computer and my son comes to me
He: "Mommy why are you at the computer, doesnt daddy have to work"
Me: "No and if he does, he can work on his laptop"
He: "Why dont you work on the laptop?"
Me: "Well..."
He: "Are you going online?" ...
Me: thinking now where did he learn that word "Well yes!"
He: "Are you going to log on to chat?"
Me: Bewildered .. "What?
He: "I need to call Jana thatha on chat"

Believe me this conversation actually happens in my house.. this and many more such! This is the easiest one yet!! There are so many more questions which I cannot answer. Like the one my son asked recently.. He was sitting on my lap and talking incessantly about his friends at school. He suddenly stopped short to ask me "Mommy whats sexy?". I ask him "Now where did you learn that word". He quite literally says "In the playground". Me: "From whom".
He: Ben said "your cold is sexy""
I cant help but laughing.. and tried explaining to him why kids shouldnt use that word
He: Can adults (yes he says adults) use it then?
I just divert his attention and hope he will never ask me this again.. high hopes!!

Neway, like I said this goes on all day long along with all the little arguments we have to undergo everyday for doing just about everything from brushing the teeth "what food doesnt have any germs can I eat that?", to bathing " will you promise not to pour water on my head", " can i have a bubble bath", "can i bathe myself.. and no you cant enter the bathroom"... to sleep "i will sleep tomorrow"! I have no time for blogging!

To all those who are also going through this my sympathies... and to the others who havent got there yet.. good luck!!!

Fall colors

End of September, beginning of october is the official beginning of fall. So in the first week of october we headed to the rockies heeding to the warnings from friends that the colors will last only 2 weeks no more. So we dropped everything and rushed to rockies the first weekend in October. As luck would have it there was the university playoffs at boulder (CU) and the highways were all packed with bumper to bumper traffic starting from Denver Downtown - about 30 miles atleast! We were so sure that everyone was heading to the rockies to see the fall colors, so stayed in the packed highway for about 2 hrs, when it finally cleared at boulder and we realised we were so wrong! Reminded me of the queue in thirupathi to see the God!

Anyway, we went to Estes park full of anticipation, we had seen it in summer and it was beautiful even then. And lo behold, fall colors ... It looked not only so beautiful and serene, but I kept thinking how untouched the postcard perfect surroundings looked.

As we were walking away, we saw a small crowd forming at one side of the park. And there it was a majestic Elk sitting there like the king while the subjects were standing around in awe of his presence! And the elk sat there unmoved by all the action around him.

We moved on to enter the national park now motivated by having seen such wonderful sights at the base camp itself... We fell in love with colorado, and I (in all my naivette.. more on that later) declared to my husband that we are never leaving colorado ever!

Unfortunately we never got to the summit. At Rainbow curve (about 10000 feet) there was a severe snow storm and the roads were closed further uphill. So we turned back and headed back home early, only to be hit by the returning traffic from boulder! We sure are very lucky arent we?

Here are some more shots of the breathtaking sights.

The Elf on the Shelf! Me Too!!

So after years of avoiding the marketing gimmick of "Elf on the Shelf" I finally succumbed to the pressure and popular demand. I ...