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!