Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Unexpectedly good Christmas day despite being all 'alone', the weather playing spoilsport on my confirmed 'plans' and my own indecision about my travel plans. Total strangers can sure make you happy!

Here's to my first white Christmas :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse was supposed to happen today in Seattle, the roads resembled those on thanksgiving, schools were shut and we were asked to work from home. I'm still waiting to see the first flake of snow, it did snow on Saturday, but today's forecast seems so totally off, I'd rather have completed the rest of my Christmas shopping! They've decided to blame the doughnut hole and Mt. Olympia, as interesting as it may sound it's not. I guess there's just one positive out of this, I can sign for the UPS package and not have to go pick it up!

December is supposedly the best month to write, somehow I think it's exactly the opposite for me and my excuse is not the usual! Work is becoming a mere whisper in my ear of late! but of course it's holiday time and farewell time all while looking forward to greener and warmer pastures.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Keep, Think, Give

It's that time of the year and unfortunately this is seeming to be more like a once a year ritual! wardrobe sorting it is and no this is not a task undertaken to clear clutter. I can guarantee you, my closet is organized, almost obsessively!

The 'Give' and 'Keep' piles are relatively simple, it's the 'Think' pile that bothers me. 'Think' has a collection of clothes, some that I feel I should no longer wear but have an attachment to, for e.g a gift from a dear friend or an absolutely low maintenance but slightly 'old' shirt and then there are those which I have not worn in months, but hope to wear 'someday'. The pile also includes some country specific/city specific clothes, I'd rather not dwell on them.

The 'Give' pile is ready to go into the Clothes Collection bin and the 'Keep' will be carefully packed, the 'Think' well, hopefully it has become the 'Thought-Keep/Give' pile when the time to pack my bags comes and then of course, it does depend on the the final weight of the suitcase, like I've said before, always constrained by what the airlines let me carry!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Band Aid Covers the Bullet Hole

The title of the previous post seems half appropriate for this post about the latest terror siege that occurred in Bombay. Scars are rampant on all who experienced this first-hand and I am not sure if any souvenirs will emerge out of this, but the hope remains, this story could qualify.

The internet is aghast at the audacity of the attack, demanding action and with a scathing attack on the governance. Facebook communities have been formed and while I will not be joining any of them or vouch for the purpose they would serve, I will be wearing white tomorrow in allegiance to the country which has suffered the maximum brunt of terrorism, be it from external elements or from the in-grown factor.

It was a Wednesday morning, the day before thanksgiving and while I was browsing through TOI, I came upon the main story of a terror attack in Mumbai, I almost dismissed the story, casting it aside as yet another attack, what's new about it? Unfortunate is the situation wherein the citizens of a country can put aside news about a terror strike! I realized the enormity of the attack and the scale when news flash tweets started pouring in through my twitterfox popup.

Ever since, I've followed first hand updates on twitter, live streaming, joined the discussion on CNN (Wednesday's AC360 telecast was 2 hours long and saw a huge presence of the Indian diaspora joining in the live conversation on the 360 blog), have commented on various blog posts and have constantly been amazed at the response of emergency personnel to the disaster. When the fire was blazing at the Taj, I was almost hoping for a chopper to appear loaded with fire suppressing materials, but I guess India does not have one.

Yesterday, here in Seattle I watched while a paramedic team arrived in response to a 911 call in aid of a pregnant woman who was feeling faintish, all in under 5 minutes. The hope is for such a response time in India from any of the essential services, be it fire, paramedics or the police. India has a strong urban presence and despite the fact that a majority of the population still lives in rural areas, a service similar to 911 has to emerge. A question at this point, are roads the only projects covered by our taxes?

A few months ago, a colleague of mine was tracked down and interviewed by the federal bureau, all because he had hired a couple of boats for a ride through Lake Washington, this was his birthday bash(I could not attend due to unavoidable circumstances :)) and it seemed like someone allegedly reported the group for clicking excessive pictures. I can't say aloud or write about the nature of the allegations, however guys in a boat, clicking pictures of an important floating bridge, a vital link between two land masses, I leave it to you to piece it together. You might call it going overboard, but that is how serious security can sometimes be in this country, not always of course.

'All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing', is a quote attributed to Edmund Burke, though I'm learning it may not really be his quote, anyway it does not matter who said it at this point! When Mangalore happened, there was a general complaint that very few good men (or women) took a stand to highlight the incident, it did happen eventually. Today, a number of good men and women have taken a stand, the attention of world media is on India (not so much on Nigeria, where more than 400 people have died) and it will take much more than band-aids to cover the gaping holes in our security, in our emergency response time. Has a lesson been learnt? Maybe, maybe not.

The title of this post is also the title of a Scarling song.

Scars and Souveniers

I've mastered the art of dodging the bullet! literally but from the over-eager, over enthusiastic kiosk employees who are constantly in your face, trying to sell you something, be it a hair extension (seriously!), a nail set to make your nails all shiny without applying nail polish, wind chime thingies, aromatherapy packs, pro-activ, crystal souvenirs for every relative you could dream of while the above mentioned over eager, over enthusiastic salesperson badgers you into submission. And if you are the kind who finds it hard to say 'No thanks', then good luck. Don't forget, these kiosk/cart stores have no return policy either.

I remember a particular incident in a Houston Mall when three of us were walking down the mall and this Seacret Sea salesgirl pops, almost out of nowhere and practically took our hands and started polishing one nail each. Thank God for small mercies that I had painted my nails so she let me get away! The remaining two, were not spared, they emerged with shiny nails (one of them male!) and were badgered into buying 100$ worth of nail products and some other stuff all allegedly made with ingredients from the dead sea!

Our local Southcenter Mall has an umpteen number of kiosks/carts and has fallen prey to the cart culture. Nothing against this culture and considering that I come from a country where the cart culture business thrives. In fact it's just possible that you find some unique item you were looking for, from halfway across the world. It is the harassment and badgering that I condone, Isn't the retail tagline 'Customer is king', they will come to you, wait for it!

Dodging the bullet is nevertheless easy, my strategy is to ignore the kiosks completely, no eye contact and I even act as if I am deaf and blind too, it may be rude, but it works.

I was in Southcenter yesterday and noticed this cart with beautiful wood carvings of nativity scenes, rosary hands, last supper scenes all intricately and exquisitely carved. The owner seemed to be of Middle Eastern descent, Israelite possibly or could be Egyptian too. He explained that the statues were all hand carved out of Olive wood from Bethlehem and considering my interest in the Nativity scenes offered a 10% discount while querying if I was buying it as a gift!

I told him I wanted to buy it for myself at which he acted pleasantly surprised and seemed almost to be searching for a telltale sign that I was a Christian and no, I was not wearing my little cross pendant. He asked if I was from India and on my affirmative answer, said he did not know Christians lived in India!

My being a Christian from India surprises many, from the Ethiopian cab driver, my Russian neighbor, the midwest programmer who even asked me if it was tough being a Christian in India to the Vietnamese parishioner and the Middle Eastern kiosk owner. I told him there are 20 million Christians in India with an evil smile to the almost shocked look on his face and then told him that we make up 2% of the population, it seemed to make him happy!

I believed the hand-carved bit but was doubtful about the Olive wood from Bethlehem part, anyway I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and ended up with a carved set of a nativity scene. The discount was nullified by the 9% sales tax! Nevertheless a pretty nativity set to start the advent season.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ask Annie?

Okay, my name's not Annie! but how weird is it that I get approached for relationship advice not once or twice but thrice in one day and to think that I consider myself to be the last person to be handing out such advice to anyone! Not to mention the almost 10 minute conversation with a Comcast support person, talking about how she spent her weekend, her plans for thanksgiving and her woes and pros of buying gifts for Christmas.

Back to the drawing board, that's the terminal where all sorts of requests come in, including a few to start writing a book! I tell myself, don't flatter yourself! and considering my recent work, my supposed publisher has decided to abscond and ignore my calls, but then since I am getting pretty chummy (my definition of chummy, not yours) with one Associate Producer of AC360, I could have a shot at something!. Maybe its time to start with a relationship column, How does 'Dear Annie' sound?

The point of the above rambling was to linkback to an interesting post Cupid makes a few Mrs. I do like the title, Enjoy!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Déjà vu

I almost get that foreboding sense of paramecia; no it’s not a kind of amnesia… though I wish it were. ‘Mark all as read’, is the only option in Google reader right now, except for the new items from friends and they sure are scarce to come by.

I remember logging into work during my thanksgiving vacation last year and actually making some code changes to handle a CR! This year seems no different, except for the fact that I can’t possibly code in the current situation! (Read can’t possibly with some dramatic effect :’))

I could be a workaholic, having a lot to do keeps me more sane than not having anything to do. Clearly that is not my problem, my concern is when the credits start to roll and I find my name missing. All those late nights and successful deployments seem to count for nothing if you choose to leave the project for an uncertain future (read bench!).

This plane must fly! Of course I don’t expect credit when it does.

On a side note, I ended up with two quarters of Hawaii yesterday, was presently surprised considering that it was only released 20 days ago, almost makes me want to go back to collecting state quarters again, but no, no way.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Yes, we did

It has been a historic week for the US and the world too. Of course, I am glad the election and the debates are done, no more interruptions for my favorite TV shows! Today's episode of The Amazing Race like the previous one had India as the pit-stop. It's great to see India in popular shows like this, but unfortunately the nastier side of India seems to be dominant, hilarious moments nevertheless.

In my attempt to to catch up on the backlog of movies, it was Body of lies and Nights in Rodanthe this week. Both the movies are miles apart however good in their own little ways. Surprisingly Quantum of Solace was released in a number of international locations and including India before the US release...wonder why the week's delay?

It's already that time of the year, shopping malls are decorated in red and green, supermarkets have created a special holiday section and people are changing their ringtones to 'Deck the Halls'!. This year is going to be unlike the past two years, I've already made sure of that! Thanksgiving 2006 was midnight shopping in LA, while 2007 was Lake Tahoe, 2008 is going to be brilliant!

Bulldozing the bully

My approach to dealing with the bully at work so far has been pretty much one of indifference than action. I guess it does not work too well in all situations. Yesterday I decided to bulldoze the bully into submission! literally only, not figuratively before you imagine me with a bulldozer swallowing that poor chap!

Of course, me being me... I did not feel good after the deed, dwelling on how I could have dealt with it differently, maybe I could have added a bit of humor in my reply! looked for a resolution rather than revenge! Somehow being so outright...that's just not me as they would say! Looking back, I think, I had to reply, to free myself from the tangles of any mis-doing, after all I was in the right.

I've come across my fair share of bullies at work and elsewhere, be it the know-it-all colleague, or the colleague who takes credit for your work, nit-picks on every aspect of your work, portrays his resentment by being bitter, obfuscates your emails or even that demanding friend who makes you feel guilty every time you disagree with a suggestion.

Matthew 5:5 says 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth'.

Not in this case! I believe, we make our own bullies. A bully will follow you only as long as you allow them, stop showing your left cheek ever so often. Advice of course that is tough to follow.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I'll take that hour back

It's that time of the year...again, only this time its time to turn back the clocks for that extra hour and I'll take it gladly, and no I am not glad because the bars can serve for an extra hour! Of course, I am not going to set the time before I sleep, what fun would that be? the best part is waking up at 8 AM and realizing that it's only 7 AM, how awesome is that!

If you must know, I was not pleased at all on March 9th! I wish they would turn the clocks back on a Monday, there's nothing like getting an extra hour of sleep on a working day but then I dread to think of the reverse scenario!

Is it possible to lose time? As it is traveling through time zones can be really weird and confusing. India to the US is not so bad, but consider traveling from New Zealand to the US, you will infact be arriving at your destination before you left the source. I remember a trip when I was flying from Nevada (PST) to Utah (MST) and on to my final destination Seattle (PST). I go one hour ahead and then go back one hour, the flying time did not make much sense and I didn't think about it too much then, coz I was practically running to the plane to avoid getting stuck in Utah.

Consider a case where you have traveled to a daylight saving country such as the US before they advanced their clocks (if it was 2008, before march 9th), so essentially you've lost one hour, however you don't need to fret if you would continue to stay in a daylight saving country (US or Europe) until they turn back their clocks(Nov 2nd). But what if you traveled to a non-daylight saving country such as India or a state such as Arizona say in October?, where is that all important one hour? beats me!

Glad I have my hour back, thank you!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Every leaf is a flower

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower - Albert Camus

We traveled 3 hours into the mountains of Western-Central Washington, North Cascades to be precise to catch a glimpse of the acclaimed fall foliage. This is what we saw (10/26)

The below pic is from right outside my apartment and there was more of this all along the way (10/19)

But of course, the first snow on the mountain peaks and some amazing home cooked food consumed in the near freezing conditions made the drive worthwhile.

It's all about the shoes

or rather stilettos.

Strutting around in these almost 4' heels gives me good reason to visit my pedicurist with no guilt!
Clothes maketh a man and shoes maketh a woman or so it may seem but don't forget the accessories to go along with the shoes, jewelry, bags, scarves, coats and of course clothes!

What's it about shoes and hand-bags that make us go gaga over them? I've got at least eight hand-bags with me right now (I know this is a small number, but don't forget this is a temporary residence and I am always constrained by what the airlines let us carry) a couple of which I have not yet used! and then the shoes (have to find all of them to count 'em!) like the one above, which are worn once in a blue moon.

What every woman wants... a great career, a good man, and comfortable shoes - lots and lots of them. Quote from JAG In any order...

Go on while I figure this out.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Meandering thougths!

  • I kinda like clearing my own trash bin in office, we had to start doing this due to the IAM strike.
  • My new wireless headset is awesome, I hope it will reduce my chance of getting an earstroke from all the meetings I used to attend with the phone stuck in my ear!
  • I am trying to deal with my coat fetish (read this post), at least I don't get up in the morning wishing the temperature would drop even further!
  • I'm contemplating switching from Ibuprofen to Advil.
  • We all know Fox News is pro-republican, without a doubt... but is CNN leaning towards the left. (Left in this case is left of the GOP, not like the left equals communist parties in India)

    Have you noticed how easy it is to

    1. hate Barack Obama for the not-so obvious racial reasons ( not to me) and at the same time hate McCain too because everyone else hates him?

    2. say we love you to random strangers, people we don't know personally such as someone who writes extremely hilarious blog posts on AC360.

    3. gulp down a full bottle of arbor mist without even feeling tipsy!

    and no, I am not going through a mid-life crisis, maybe a teenie weenie quarter life crisis! sigh!
  • Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Shopaholic anonymous?

    After two major shopping spree's within a spate of an hour and without even stepping into the cold cold weather outside, I begin to wonder. Am I a potential candidate for SA? and then I came across this trailer and it gave me great joy.

    I know I'm not as bad!, even though the joy I feel right now may be momentary or until I see my credit card statement... but admission is the first step towards recovery!!! '@#$ for the innovation of online shopping.

    I remember reading about the types of shoppers, it was some training on the retail domain, it is no doubt that I fit into the impulsive category, but some day I'll have the right classification! Until then, sorry for the rambling, will join SA, right now.

    Recession, Really?

    Friday, October 10, 2008

    CSI: Season premiere

    [Spoiler warning if you have not yet watched the first episode of Season 9]

    The season premiere of CSI was bound to be heart wrenching, what with Warrick getting shot and his exit from CSI confirmed. The episode more than a whodunit was a tribute to a guy who made CSI his own these past 8 years. Of course, the real life legal problems of Gary Dourdon, seemed to have been a cause for his untimely exit from the show.

    CSI has always been about excellent writing and brilliant acting, and the cast truly rose to the occasion. The mood was somber with a blood soaked Grissom and ominous music playing in the background. Casting Warrick in a good light after his recent misdemeanors seemed to be the goal of the episode and they stuck to it. As is confirmed, Grissom is leaving the show too, two seasoned actors lost in a spate of weeks, only time will tell if the rest of the ensemble can live up to the high standards of this show on their own. Grissom's eulogy for Warrick at the end of the episode was simply marvelous. A must watch episode if you've followed CSI in any small way.

    This season first watch to CSI on CBS(Thursday, 9PM) and whiny, flooded Seattle Grace, Grey's Anatomy will be relegated to (anytime after Friday, 10 PM)!.

    It was nice to identify with the familiar sights of Vegas too for the first time!

    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    How great thou art

    An airview of Mt. Rainier (my favorite mountain :)), while flying from the San Francisco side (9/2/2008).

    I can never get tired of the vista of this beautiful mountain and look for it everyday on the commute back home. He? does like to play hide and seek though, sometimes hiding completely or just a part amidst all the clouds. And No, I don't think flying saucers land there.

    Majestic ain't it?, it is after all the third most active volcano in the USA.


    Sunday, September 28, 2008

    Sunday evening blues

    Well, who does not suffer from them! It's worse than the Monday morning woes... the reflection of the week gone by, the anticipation or should I say lack of anticipation of the week ahead. It has been an eventful week and no I am not talking about the debate or the bailout deal.

    Have you ever been notified of an 8 AM meeting at 11 PM the previous night?, it can only happen in India, was an appropriate one-liner, but I'm not in India! Nothing against the early morning meeting, in fact I'm all for an early start. I remember a 6:30 AM meeting in Plano, during which I had to make a presentation to the client, of course it was well planned and hence the meeting schedule sent well in advance.

    Fall TV is back, the only new show I've started watching is Fringe on Fox, only because the creator is JJ Abrams, the same guy who created 'Lost' and then there are all the same old shows, some launched with a renewed interest such as NCIS and some continuing their downward spiral including Grey's Anatomy and Heroes.

    Y'all have a great week ahead while I continue to pork barrel my hours for various activities in the day and of course the reasons for the eventful past week were not covered in this post.

    Monday, September 22, 2008

    Today is an autumnal equinox

    It is one of two days in the year when the sun spends exactly the same amount of time above and below the equator. It thus signifies the start of shorter days and longer nights, I do like the sound of that, the beautiful fall colors raved about in the East, not sure what the colors will be like here in the West and the time to bring out the sweaters.

    Somehow like magic, mother nature knows when to flip the switch. I almost think she has a chart which says today is the official first day of fall! and promptly changes the weather. Well of course, I know how the 'official first/last days' were deduced, but it seems nice to think of it in my terms!

    Official reports confirmed that 'fALL' arrived at 8:44 AM PDT today, I believe the chill and the rain are here to stay for sometime now.

    I did not know that there was a state water law that limits the amount of rain water that can be saved! Imagine such a rule in Mangalore! where is the reason?

    Sunday, September 21, 2008

    Palin who?

    America seems to have gone from Palin 'who' to Palin 'no'. This spot-on on SNL is totally hilarious nevertheless.

    The web is still abuzz with Palin...Check out what your name would be if Sarah Palin were your mother, this url was broadcast on CNN of all channels, mine turned out to be Rock Crane Palin, sounds cool doesn't it?, but it does not make much sense to me. How does inputting my own name help in figuring out my own name if Sarah Palin was my mother, beats me! and while visualizing out your Palin name you can also buy the exact same pair of glasses that Sarah Palin loves to wear, these seems to be the latest fad, Kawasaki 704 Glasses.

    To be fair to Palin though, who herself made the tabula rasa claim seem true with her apparent ignorance on the bush doctrine, the episode seemed blown out of proportion. She could have handled Charles Gibson's Bush doctrine question by simply admitting she did not know what he was talking about, but then VP candidates don't admit!, there was some discomfort for sure. I can admit but then I am no potential VP of America!

    Does all this side-dish buzz digress the more important issues, seems so anyway like the now infamous bridge to nowhere. As I watch the Emmy's, I hear the veiled references to the Republican covergirl from none other than Stephen Colbert and a not so subtle one from Howie Mandel. Some trendsetter she sure is, wait for the Biden-Palin debate.

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    Oh Mangalore!

    Someone asked me if I had a comment about the tension in Mangalore, mayhem seems to be the word of the week! First it was Ike slamming into the gulf coast and Houston, then the unexpected communal riots in Mangalore and then yesterday's bloodbath at the Dow!

    Of course when Orissa happened, all in the direct or indirect line of fire were concerned. Blogs, facebook communities were created to spread awareness on the sensitive subject which did not seem to be getting the attention of the media.

    Aptly the Christian community showed solidarity with their brethren in Kandhamal, Orissa by protesting in a peaceful manner (the way they know best) by closing all Christian institutions in the country for a day. I have read enough on the subject of the communal infighting to know that the violence this time around started with the killing of a VHF leader, who killed him? No one knows and no one seems to care!

    However the VHF and Sangh outfits pointed the finger at the Christians, and not just the finger but the knives and fire too! There seems to be a very casual attitude about the law in this little known town and human rights violation continues unabated even to this day, all secluded from the media! There is no justification to the atrocities committed on the people who have given up so much to serve the downtrodden community in Orissa. It is easy to recollect the Graham Staines incident here.

    I agree there are many events that occur in India which do not get the media attention, why should Italy be concerned about Kandhamal, why were they not concerned about the people displaced by the Bihar floods, likewise for me! these are questions I do not wish to address here, I write about what hits close to home.

    What happened when the Catholic institutions closed their gates for a day? They were promptly slapped with a notice of violation by the education minister of Karnataka. Talk about just and fair! Where are the notices when the ABVP or the VHP call for a bundh and disrupt classes which has happened time and time again?

    Believe me when I say that the best educational institutes for early education in India are run by the Catholics, I’m sure I’ll get a consensus on this even from my Hindu and Muslim friends. Everyone likes to proclaim that they are convent educated. When St.Stephen’s, Delhi announced a quota for the Catholics there was a public outcry, I was surprised by some of the crude language used in the debates on IBN. Can ghettoism be a term used to refer to us?

    Mangalore has recently emerged as a communally sensitive city, the emergence of a city is something to celebrate in most cases, but not here! recent probably dates back to the past 7-8 years. The tension was always between the Hindus and Muslims who form a sizable part of the city. Mangalore is home to Hindus, Muslims and Christians and despite being a minority the Christians are still dominant and have considerable influence.

    I’ve studied in a school run by the Apostolic Carmel Nuns (girls only) until the 12th; they have a number of institutes in the city as well as in India and around the world too. We had an equal number of Hindus and Christians in class, Muslims were a small minority. Catechism was a class only for the Catholic students, non-Catholics such as the Protestants were welcome but it was not mandatory, they usually joined the Hindus for a class of moral science. First-Friday mass, Way of the cross, chapel visits or any other Church visits were only for the Catholics, the rest usually had a games period during our faith formation activities.

    We sang the national anthem every day at the end of the school day, we had patriotic singing competitions, we practiced hard in the sun for the Independence and Republic day drill and parades, took part in flag hoisting in our church and school with equal enthusiasm and the news about India was read every morning at the school assembly. A sense of patriotism was always imbibed in us ever since I can remember. I never saw any favoritism towards the Catholics in my class, infact the School Pupil leader of my class in both the 7th and 10th Standard were Hindus.

    Outrageous, is the claim that the Catholics are involved in religious conversion. Education has been the top priority of the Catholic Missionaries since ages and continues to be. Adoration monastery in Milagres and St. Ann’s Friary, Bejai are some of the most peaceful places in the city bustling with life. I have frequented these places often for tranquility.

    Desecration of one of the most holy symbolisms of the Catholic Church, the Holy Eucharist or the places of the worship was uncalled for. This is not new in Mangalore though, it has occurred before too in my parish a few years ago, the grotto of Mother Mary was desecrated and the Monstrance stolen.

    The New Life group against whom the alleged claims of propaganda have been based are in no way connected to the Catholic Church. Even if the claims are true, no religious group has the right to violate the boundaries of another religious community by destroying life and sacred property. It should have been taken up with the law, a case could have been filed, an investigation conducted, like how sane people in other countries do. I can’t count the times I have personally received pamphlets talking about the greater God, who cares? I remember a group of people outside of Alamo, San Antonio, they gave us reading material, some said thanks, but no thanks, others like me, simply took it and later discarded it. People don’t go around burning churches or desecrating sacred property.

    Was the goal of the Sangh Parivar and VHP under the strong influence of the BJP in Karnataka, to make the Christians live in fear? They have succeeded to an extent and have also gotten back a response, retaliation is something you don’t expect from the Christians who have tolerated injustice and peacefully protested for long, but the tolerance threshold has already been breached. There is a reason to get back within the threshold though, for the sake of all in Mangalore.

    I am also amazed at some of the comments and blog posts on this subject. I could somehow never believe there are people with so much hatred against Christians in India. Rediff seems to rally all the religious fanatics who post distasteful comments, one of the many reasons I never rely on that site for any news!

    While on the subject of conversion, it’s a personal choice. If I decide to embrace Hinduism it’s my choice, even the UN charter has a ruling on this, why should anyone else care? I know our Hindu Brethren don’t all support what has happened in Mangalore and my hope here is for a peaceful co-existence like we’ve done so far.

    An old post with the same title - oh Mangalore

    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    A mouthful of what?

    While on the topic of eating, Seattle downtown has some truly quaint eatouts.

    One such place is the turkish delight at the end of pike place market, a few stores down from the first starbucks store. They have the best baklawa, I've eaten to date. I was quite astonished at the price of the delicacies though, a small triangular bite of a pistachio baklawa costs $3.75, and again it's a cash only transaction restricting the quantity you can buy owing to all the plastic money in our wallets! But then it was well worth the price, a Turkish coffee to go with the sweet and I was all set to be amazed by the hustle and bustle of pike market on a Saturday evening.

    Zig Zag Café: Not much of a choice for eating except for the sandwich which was pretty decent, but then of course, our motive was not to eat! This place has some of the best reviews for cocktails and I must agree with all the good reviews. I had the 'drink with no name', seriously that's what their menu says!, customized to my liking. It has an almost perfect ambience for a cocktail place, it was a tough find though, almost missed it twice! Who knew we had to go down the stairs!

    Zaina: Nothing quaint about this place. The whole Egyptian, middle-eastern music and ambience gives it an almost mysterious hip atmosphere. The hookah bar, light dancing, Arabian men almost reminded me of one of those places in those Arabic serials I used to watch occasionally as a kid. Not really a place to venture out alone though.

    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Eating right?

    I thought I'd eaten my share of the 'ugh' frozen meals for a lifetime, but then I chanced upon the Eating Right brand in the frozen foods aisle of Safeway and before I could stop myself, I was checking out a couple of packs! My motive, being the 'ready in 3 mins' phrase, microwaveable, no utensils to wash, no vegetables to chop! Well the supposedly nutritious, sans any taste meals, left one hungry gal hogging on breakfast bars half an hour after lunch!

    < Now to the real eating right! It was all authentic Mangalorean cuisine, this past long weekend courtesy A's Mom in Belmont which included the works, Mutton, Chicken Curry, Sanna (its been such a long time since I tasted these fluffy rice cakes). Sanna and dukra-maas, make a heavenly combo, you know what I am talking about if you are a mangy.

    Today is Nativity, the feast celebrating the birth of Mother Mary and is popularly celebrated back at home with the elaborate nine dishes (no meat) and novem jevam. It is one of the most important celebrations for the mangalorean catholics, the procession, the flower offering, the sugarcane, the family lunch with novem, each has its own traditional significance.

    I think I am excused from the all veggie diet today and these sea creatures were my lunch and dukra-maas is in the pot for today's dinner. That about completes my eating right for the week despite what Dr. Pachuari says!, what about cow's milk and cheese, I ask!

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Godspeed to you all

    I have not commented on the intricacies or the nuances of American presidential politics on my blog, but there's always a first. Ever since the long elaborate process to select a candidate who would run for president started, I have been avid, in passing interest at times which has waned and deteriorated over the months.

    Can this system work in India? Imagine Manmohan Singh vs Pranab Mukherjee, with their efforts to upstage the other, trying to be the 'candidate', and of course for practical reasons we can't even think of such a scenario with the umpteen political parties and regionilistic views. More importantly can the candidates ever reconcile for the good of the party after all the mudslinging?

    I can't vote, but given a chance I'd vote Democrat or so I thought. Hillary was my choice, she is better suited to be president than Obama. Nevertheless Obama seems to have a strong view on critical policies too, however the excessive media coverage he gets in comparison to McCain is sometimes overbearing and seems plain unfair.

    Do hard line party lines come first or a candidate's view on policies take priority while voting? I mean how different can they be, McCain is a war hero, a POW and an experienced politician while Obama seems like a novice in comparison, however it is his fresh ingenious outlook that draws people to him. Again you can compare McCain and Obama's supporters on social networking sites such as facebook and twitter, there is no competition there, Obama wins hands down.

    Then why is he not leading in the polls?, the other day, I put up a status message on twitter, when CNN confirmed that Obama had picked Biden to be his VP and someone read it as 'Osama'! an 's' in the wrong place can make a whole lot of difference. Obama is perceived to be a Muslim, he is black, not technically though since his mother was white, yet as they say, stereotypes are carved in stone and it may be tough to mould them.

    The DNC at Denver is truly an extravaganza, like a pop concert only this one lasts longer. The enthusiasm and spirit of the supporters seems contagious. If only there was such a keen interest in Indian politics. The first thought that comes to my mind when I think of political rallies in India, is that the party would have hired/bribed some local folks to make the numbers!, why the mistrust, why the disdain among the educated class? Food for thought.

    Hillary Clinton gave an astounding speech yesterday, she is one of the most eloquent speakers I've heard, I think the media has given her a hard time so far, she has emerged out of Monicagate, out of her loss to Obama, only more strong, more resolute. When push comes to shove, it is Hillary Clinton who has delivered the goods like she did yesterday. She ended her speech with the term 'Godspeed to you all', I like it... it almost means 'may God be with you', a relatively new term in speech circles!

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    Speaking in tongues

    Today is a day of obligation for us Catholics, no not because it is Independence day, but to celebrate the Assumption of our Lady into heaven. Since it was my day off (now how I managed to do that two days in a week is a post for another day!), I decided to attend the multi-lingual mass in the evening (the extra winks on a Friday morning are precious!), than the English one in the wee hours of dawn.

    Father's dialect of Spanish puts my claim to 'know' a bit of Spanish to shame! Mid-way through the mass and I wondered why they call it multi-lingual?, should it not be called bi-lingual? after all only Spanish and English was spoken!

    And then came a barrage of languages for the prayers of the faithful, I could recognize only Spanish and Vietnamese ( my driving instructor spoke in Vietnamese, the accent is unmistakenable!) and no, I could not understand all the words they spoke... I have not yet received the gift of tongues yet knew the standard english response for each of them. How cool is that?

    Happy Indian Independence day to all ( 9 mins to midnight!)

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Six days

    Have you ever been in a morbid state of mind? when the niggles and sniffles of life and an active imagination seem to fuel your paranoia. Did you know that the inability to sneeze when you felt the onset of one could be a manifestation of medullary neoplasm, whatever that means. Wow, that does sound morbid! Have you ever seriously considered writing a will?

    The newly opened H&M, seemed to have caused the entire Seattle to descend on the South Center Mall as did I, it was a sea of people either queuing up to enter the store or seeking to heed to the call of their growling stomach or just watch the Dark Knight/X-Files. I somehow managed to do all three and that's when the thought that there could be a deranged killer in our midst crossed my mind. It's not the first time that such a thought has crossed my mind, it has probably to do with that sense of morbidity that seems to be looming over me!

    Today in church, (for some unknown reason, I made it to Church in good time, which I must say has become a rarity of late!) I started to dwell on the complexities of the mind that takes the life of unknown strangers, after all, colleges, malls and churches seem to have the highest incidence of random shootings.

    And amidst all the thinly veiled death threats, there's the miracle of life, of birth itself. Three babies were baptized today, with their beauty and innocence intact. It somehow served as an affirmation, that this is what fuels life, the marvel of a child. Each of babies seemed averse to the holy water being poured on their heads but not so much to the holy oil on their foreheads. It was indeed a marvel when Father lifted each baby up at the altar, presenting them to the parish and declaring them a member of the Congregation. It was a humbling experience.

    The title of the post has nothing to do with the fact that it took six days for God to create the universe however it has everything to do with the fact that I believe in a higher eternal power, in a God who possibly created the universe as we know it, and despite the thoughts of morbidity, I am in awe of life, despite the roller-coaster or the see-saw that is called life, I hope to do my bit for a better world... however cliched and beauty pageantish it may sound!

    The title of the post is a song title sung by DJ Shadow

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Government fixing?

    An MP's job seems like the most lucrative profession in India right now! Match fixing in Tennis or cricket seem to pale in comparison to 50 Crores!. Our very own version of the big fat greek wedding seems to be unfolding in the Indian parliament.

    I do support Manmohan Singh and his government's stand on the nuclear deal, it will be good for India and for once the government seems to have decided in the interest of the country by not backing down despite pressure from its 'so called allies'. It is however surprising that not enough focus has been given to take the benefits of the nuclear pact to the common people, very little has been said about the deal itself.

    The government has to win the trust vote, plunging the country into elections/presidential rule just eight months shy of completing its term seems unfair and a burden amidst countries of the world trying to recover from a falling economy and high inflation.

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    Grasping at straws

    A couple of brilliant trailers, if only the end result were half as good. Spoiler alert for those who have not yet watched 'The Happening' and 'Wanted'

    What's happening in 'The Happening'? Manoj Night is one of those guys, who you could bet on getting India within arms reach of the Oscar's, I do believe he has the ability to direct a Oscar winner movie. The Sixth sense, Unbreakable and Signs were truly commendable efforts. Despite the strong presence of Mark Wahlberg, this work of his fails to make an impact. The lead actress seemed in a constant drug induced wide eyed state, almost as if she was going to collapse in a fit! Incorporating global warming and all in the movie didn't really pay off and the story seemed very open ended.

    In one line - Poor acting, horrendous dialogue and absolutely no substance in the storyline.

    Wanted - I really don't get the need for all the extreme close up shots of bullets going through heads!, dreadfully painful movie to watch and I must say I am surprised at this movie's pretty good tomatometer ratings.

    The storyline seems close to Minority Report. That was a well made movie with brilliant flow and execution, full stop to the comparison. The mistakes in the woven fabric spinning out the perpetrator's (the person who has to be assassinated next) name, fate and belief to made a heady cocktail... which unfortunately is unbelievable! Too much violence and too much slow motion for my liking, neither of James McAvoy(brilliant performance in Last King of Scotland and Atonement), Morgan Freeman or Angelina Jolie's performances were worth talking about either.

    Wesley Gibson, the lead protagonist, its not a wonder that he is Ego surfing, but it is a wonder that his search yielded no results. I can bet that even before the movie was released google would have thrown up at least a couple 100 pages of dirt!

    Wednesday, July 02, 2008

    Waltzing Matilda

    I am halfway through the JAG marathon, which started about three weeks ago and ‘waltzing matilda’ has stuck in my head!. I started from the finale episode of Season 1 for obvious Harm & Mac issues! Anyway it’s been a pretty awesome ride so far, refreshing my memory of this almost too good series of JAG lawyers. Which other TV show could I try a marathon for? Of my mind only two other shows seem worthy - X-Files and Lost.

    While sprinting towards a long weekend which I know will be calm & relaxed, I’ve been catching up with my latest obsession! Blogging live on AC360, I could not contain my excitement when Anderson Cooper’s comment followed mine on a couple of occasions on a couple of weeknights. Talk about beginner’s luck… How often you have a comment to make or just feel like sharing your view when the newscaster reads out the news? Obviously gone are the days when the newscaster’s only job was to read out news!, but you know what I mean.

    Live Blogging gives you just that, share your thoughts, your opinions all in real time and respond to fellow bloggees. The timing of the show is unfortunately kinda inconvenient to us West-Coasters… 7 PM is still kinda early in the day to be blogging...

    Amazing news out of Colombia, with the rescue of hostages held by farc, truly a miracle. I can't even begin to fathom what it would be like to get back to life after 5+ years. It's no question that it is going to be a tough ride for all the rescued hostages and their loved ones.

    Back to my matilda, the image that comes to mind on listening to Waltzing Matilda is one of Scottish men with kilt and bagpipes, I love singing this song at the top of my voice!.. but it sure would have sounded better with an aussie accent!

    This one is a pretty neat version

    The title of this post is a popular folk song considered as the un-official national anthem of Australia and is sung by the JAG officers in the Season 5 episode ‘Life or Death’

    Wednesday, June 18, 2008

    Over the Rainbow

    It was a sort of re-discovery of this beautiful song for me, that was played at the funeral of a truly great guy. I never watched much of 'Meet the Press' but from what little I watched of him on NBC and the outstanding media coverage of the past week it does seem like Tim Russert was truly a legend.

    A double rainbow appeared over the Washington sky after the funeral Mass, it seemed like nature was paying her tribute too.

    The title of this post is a song title, written for the movie 'The Wizard of Oz'

    Monday, June 16, 2008

    e pori konachi

    Do you understand the title? If yes then you are the Konkan, the author seems to be referring to in his novel 'The Konkans', though the title and relevance to the story is a tad contentious.

    Who are the Konkans? According to definition, the people who live on the Konkan coast right from Raigad in Maharastra to Mangalore in Karnataka all along the western coast of India are referred to as Konkans. Non Konkani speaking populations in these regions too such as the Bunts (with tulu as their mother tongue) are considered Konkans by this definition, even though the term seems to exclude them.

    Now that we have settled on who are the Konkans, let me explain why the title is not so appropriate. The characters, historical and generational references in this semi-autobiographical novel lean towards one religious group among the Konkans – i.e. the Catholics. Hence the title should have been Konkan Catholics or Goan Catholics or something like that, anyway the reasons of the Author to appeal to a larger audience rather than a restrictive one seems justified to an extent, after all it is a work of fiction, he has the creative license on the title too.

    I came across this book while googling my own last name, no not egosurfing, but that's something I could be good at too! A single bid on ebay and I was the proud owner of the book 'The Konkans', the author with whom I share the same 'predictable' last name.

    'The Konkans' is primarily a work of fiction narrated in the first person by Francisco D'Sai but resembles the author Tony D'Souza's own life and hence is considered semi-autobiographical. The story mainly dwells on the lives of Francisco's American mother Denise, who traveled to India with the Peace Corps and literally and figuratively fell in love with India, his father Lawrence who desperately seems to be trying to alienate himself from anything Indian and his uncle Sam (too obvious to be a freudian slip!)who seems lost in an identity crisis of his own.

    It starts off with the arrival of Sam and Les, the brothers of Lawrence into the US and follows their trials while assimilating everything about the American culture. The pig episode was hilarious though ridiculous; however the story took a turn for introspection and historics from then on leaving no place for humor. Denise in trying to forgo her own loathsome upbringing and while preparing to lead a life in the country she fell in love with, had her plans quashed when circumstances forced her to return to Chicago along with her Indian husband. It toys with racial discrimination and focuses on the very real identity crisis faced by immigrants.

    Character wise, the trials and triumphs of Asha, Sam's wife were refreshing while the adulterous relationship between the leading lady and Sam and the fact that it was not addressed is surprising given that they are Catholics and this story is set a more than a couple of decades ago, but then this story is narrated by little Franco!

    I found some sections of the book repetitive, especially the spinning yarns of the customs and traditions of the Konkans of Chikmangalur. However the outcome of the author's research reveals some interesting facts and customs of our ancestors.

    I did say my ancestors, but I cannot identify with the characters in this novel, considering my upbringing in Mangalore, the identity crisis never happened. Here in the US, only on the basis of my last name, I've been asked if I am Italian (I think they mean Portuguese!) and this has sometimes resulted in fascinating conversations. I get asked if Christians are persecuted in India, and they are surprised by the fact that there are a sizable number of Roman Catholics in India and also that I have no qualms about eating any sort of meat. Their surprise is a result of stereotyping in society, be it to genders or even countries.

    If you want to know more about the origins of your konkan roots, this book will not provide answers, it is easy to forget that this is a work of fiction with some easter eggs and ends up being an engrossing read. Historical manifestation is appealing at best, facts have to be researched, I have not read the account of Vasco da Gama and St. Francis Xavier's journey to India before and so its hard to imagine how that went down compared to what is portrayed in the book.

    While on the subject, the Portuguese were the longest invaders of India, it is but natural for the locals to have imbibed and inculcated some of their traditions and along the years made it their own. No history of Mangalorean Catholics is complete without talking about the influence of the Missionaries, their persecution by Tipu Sultan and their subsequent allying with the British. This is a subject for another post, but there is no doubt that we are proud to be Indians. Never heard of us being referred to as the Jews of India before though.

    'E pori konachi' is like a catch phrase in this story, however it appears as 'e puri konachi' in the book. For lack of its own script, Konkani is often scripted in English or Kannada or could be written in any other language for that matter. It can sometimes be hard to read! I admit I had to google the phrase as it appears to figure out what it meant. This review is what I was led to, fascinating link for the age old konkani videos. The literal translation of this phrase is 'Whose daughter is she/Who is that girl '.

    The title of the post, is a konkani song made popular by the movie Dil hai ki mantha nahin. There is a popular konkani version too which talks about drunk(something like bewda and bewdi) parents, I was unable to locate it, so here goes the hindi version.

    Monday, June 09, 2008

    A cup of coffee

    The first Starbucks coffee shop is right here in Seattle, in the famous Pike Place Market.

    Despite the 'you can't miss the shop' kind of comments, we almost did!. It is quite different from your regular starbucks coffee shop, a definite tourist attraction and most people seemed quite content clicking pictures and purchasing memorabilia, but not me of course, the caffeine shot had to be taken.

    Notice the 'Soon' on India!

    The title of this post is a song title by Johnny Cash

    Saturday, June 07, 2008

    Raindrops keep falling on my head

    I finally have proof that the smoke alarm in my apartment is functional! I had started to doubt the little thing on the ceiling, five months and not once has the alarm gone off, it could also be attributed to the fact that I have stopped cooking typical smoking dishes!...shallow frying cutlets... this is what set it off and no I didn't burn them! One of my favorite foods is beef/mutton cutlets, reminds me of one my neighbors, she makes the best cutlets and ah who can forget those awesome kheema parathas that we used to enjoy in the tiny shack beside Hangyo in Manipal.

    Here's the recipe I used

    1/2 lb beef (I used the ground beef version)
    10 cloves of garlic (more the merrier, if you are fond of the garlic) - finely chopped
    1 small ginger piece - finely chopped
    8 green chillies (de-seeded & finely chopped)
    2 small onions - chopped
    3 small potatoes (cooked and mashed)
    Turmeric, Pepper, Coriander powder, Cumin powder - according to taste
    Lemon juice - 3 tbsp
    Bread crumbs & 1 Egg for the coating

    Heat about 1/2 a tsp of oil in a cooking pot, add the chopped garlic, ginger, chillies, onions - fry until the onions obtain a yellowish color. Add the spices and the uncooked minced meat. Cook for approximately 20 minutes without adding water. Once done add the lemon juice. Set aside and let it cool. Add the mashed potato into the meat mixture and shape into oval shaped balls. Dip each of the balls into the beaten egg mixture and then roll onto the breadcrumbs before shallow frying in oil.

    I have always enjoyed the cutlets with the egg coating, however if you want to reduce the oil used while frying, simply fry the cutlets without any coating.

    I chose to enjoy the cutlets with a glass of port, that's it, appetizer and a drink as my main course!

    The rain doesn't seem to stop this past week, yet its so beautiful... walking out with an umbrella and once in a while letting the raindrops fall on my head.

    The title of this post is a song title made famous in the 1969 movie 'Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid'

    Thursday, May 15, 2008

    David vs David

    little david vs big david, to say the least this American Idol finale line-up has been the most predictable ever, but predictable is good, does it signify that the audience who votes always gets it right can't be said, maybe this time around, they will.

    All along I've been rooting for the little guy, his awesome singing can make it easy to forget that he's only seventeen. The number of times he used 'Gosh' last week!... but then he's only a teenager. I will be equally pleased if David Cook wins, he probably deserves it more, for his sheer charm and stage presence.

    May the best man/boy win. One vote from my side for each of them.

    Tuesday, May 06, 2008

    I am not a robot!

    however that's exactly what I feel like right now! (Do Robots have feelings?, Google threw up 1,090,000 results... so maybe they do) the weather is kinda depressing too and I probably could have written a bot to do this! work for me than cribbing... but then well, there ain't anything as satisfying as cribbing about the job! be it to random strangers on the www or the best of friends.

    back to work (yea, the one & only dreamliner) or anything remotely resembling work such as keeping track of today's primary election results.

    Sunday, April 20, 2008

    that 80's shows

    This post, caused to reminiscence.
    and ever since I've been trying to remember, all those shows we used to watch as kids, this is the list for now, there are a few other shows, I struggle to remember...

    In no particular order

  • Remington Steele
  • Street Hawk
  • Murder She Wrote
  • Knight Rider
  • Airwolf
  • MacGyver
  • Five mile Creek
  • Beverly hills
  • Punky Brewster
  • Charles in charge
  • What a country
  • Out of this world
  • The cosby show
  • Give us a clue
  • Small wonder

    not to forget the innumerable re-reruns of the movie
    'I dream of Jeanie', it was truly amazing to catch up with the actual show 'I dream of Jeanie'(Season 1-5, S1 is in black & white)only about a year ago.

    and then some soaps and cartoons in Arabic, even though we could not understand a word of the language!

    and some 'R' rated, definitely not meant for kids!
  • Knots Landing
  • B&B

    It's no wonder then where my keen interest in TV shows comes from!