Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Effective immediately

Two apparently normal and harmless words, 'effective' and 'immediately', when used in conjunction with each other, have disproportional power compared to most other combinations of words that I've come across in my professional life.

I've unfortunately seen it's power so much and so often that it shakes me up and keeps me in that state for a good 8 hours. I'd rather be in 20 feet radius of a wild tiger in a remote jungle. Ok maybe 500 feet radius in a bullet-proof van with an armed forest officer and his backup but whatever.

Effective immediately there are no more ladies restrooms.
Effective immediately there are no more weekends off.
Effective immediately you cease to exist.

Dramatic? Perhaps a tad but the effect is the same no matter what follows those two words because it's far from pleasant. If it ain't pleasant, it'll be ridiculous which means there's only one right way of using these two words - the unpleasant way. Try it out. It might be a fun little exercise.

Effective immediately I like you. (so lame)
Effective immediately I will buy you lunch every day. (beyond nerdy)
Effective immediately you are promoted with a 15% raise. (oooh this one isn't too bad but far from ideal)

For the most part, it's unsettling to say the least even when it doesn't involve you. Who knew words could be so creepy?

If you found this blog vague, it was deliberate. At least for my sake, I hope it was vague.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Always politically incorrect

I don't know what's with me and certain situations but I end up being far too often politically incorrect than otherwise. But these being tricky situations, there is no set answer to the same question.

For instance, if you bump into a cheerful looking acquaintance at a party and ask "so where's the boyfriend" and if pat comes the reply "oh we broke up", how are you supposed to respond? I've tried "oh i'm so sorry" and I've gotten "yeaa it is what it is" and then awkwardness followed by a sad face that I contributed to. I've also gotten "don’t be sorry coz i'm not" which I have to admit is a little hard to respond to except for an "alright then''. And then there's an occasionally narcissistic "he didn't deserve me" where I have to chime in and say "you bet" or something. Maybe I should just stick to the standard boring "so how are the Angels (or whatever her fav team is) doing this season?"

I'm bad with names. Rather I'm bad with names of important people. On my graduation day, I introduced one of my profs to my dad saying "this is professor" and then I shut up coz I couldn't remember his name. I didn't know his first name and couldn't recall his last. The prof didn't help out by finishing the sentence for me. So we all stood there in utter silence. Unfortunately, it has happened more than a few times. It's started happening in management meetings now. "On that front I'm working closely with" followed by stuttering or stammering in the first or last name if it isn't someone from my dept. Of course I remember the names of all 400 kids I went to school with.

Much like Meg Ryan in 'You've Got Mail', I can rarely reciprocate the kind gesture when someone's really mean to me. Then after the steam has evaporated and the season has changed, my mind is still thinking of a fitting response and a week later, I have it. At which point it’s always a day late and a dollar short. Totally irrelevant. But since it has taken me a week to frame the response, I have to do justice to it. It doesn't only end up being completely inappropriate but rather makes it sound so absurd. I'm getting better at it though, much to the annoyance of a lot of people.

Or when someone asks me if I'm ever gonna have a second baby... and I always end up going down the path of "Certainly, just so my first born can have some company and I won't have to be her best friend and actually get some peace of mind" and I'm the only one laughing while people are shooting me the 'you are so mean' look. I need to stop hanging out with single peeps. What do they know!

Maybe they offer courses on it in shady personal development institutes that I used to mock. I probably need one.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Coconut palms with a side of potatoes

It's such a great feeling when you create something that you end up loving, by accident. I threw in a few ingredients this morning for a potluck lunch and ended up loving one of the dishes so here goes. It's super quick and easy, hence one of my signature dishes from now on.

- 2 large potatoes
- 1 bowl plain yogurt
- 1 pack DEEP frozen coconut chutney
- Oil and regular spices

- Bake, potatoes in microwave, peel and chop
- Heat EVOO in a pan, add potatoes, salt, haldi, red chilli powder and stir for 2 minutes. Set aside.
- Heat some EVOO in a pan, add mustard seeds and jeera. Let splutter then add hing.
- Add whisked yogurt, salt, haldi, dhaniya-jeera powder, red chilli powder, grated ginger and curry leaves and let boil for 5 minutes. Take off the heat.
- Add the entire pack of thawed coconut chutney and mix well.
- Add potatoes to it and mix.
- Garnish with coriander.

I think it is a cheated version of dum aloo. But the coconut definitely gives it a nice kick so please don't try this without the coconut chutney. Serve with roti or poori.

Bon appetite.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

The next best thing

I was at the doctor's yest morning. The nurse, as usual, was taking her own sweet time to go through an extensive list of what appeared to be seemingly innocuous albeit useless questions. Then she got down to the ethnicity (linked to nationality) question and couldn't find 'Indian' (of course it existed as Asian Indian) in the drop down list so looked at me and innocently asked "so would that be Indonesian?"

It's an interesting aspect of human psychology. When you don't find what you're looking for, immediately your mind wanders around, looking for the next best thing, whether it fits or not, whether it's applicable or not, whether it's what you might want or not.

In good old days, when a potential desi groom would visit a family with two daughters to check out the elder one, and if something did not work out, no one shied away from instantaneously proposing the younger one. The younger one's gotta have some of the common qualities as the elder one after all.

The career choice for wanna be engineering students with 12th grade result sheets in their hands is a testimony to this. All the branches of engineering have a score associated with it. If you want to be a comp eng, but did not quite qualify on the basis of your score, you go to the next best (and available discipline). And it doesn't matter how far spaced out computer and mechanical engineering are from each other.

It brings to mind the oh-so-popular "settle hone ko mangta" from Rangeela. If you take it out of context, the human mind is wired to settle on the subject it's working on and if the expected doesn't seem to be in the vicinity, you settle for something else. In short, just coz you have to settle the matter, you settle for whatever you can get. And it's often too late when you realize it's definitely not what you wished for.

But you probably know that... and it's no biggie. Ok time for some spiced tea but out of mint... maybe I'll settle for coffee.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

When love goes missing

Too many birthdays in my family this week brought back memories of one too many celebrations and people... friends... long lost friends.

It's funny how when you're in school, the rate at which you make friends goes up exponentially. Scrapbooks aren't enough to hold all your expressed love for them. Then you grow up and the world's a different place. Every passing day adds a new layer of complexity on your once innocent face. And why wouldn't you embrace it… that's the way the cookie crumbles. But as the layers get added, the equations you once shared with people often change. Or at least the way people perceive you changes. Perhaps vice versa too.

I've lost one too many friends over the years... some for trivial reasons, some for reasons I can't remember and most without any reasons. I never introspected and asked myself the hard questions. I don’t know if I would have found convincing replies though. Different cities, different schedules, different wavelengths, different expectations.... who knows. Perhaps we just withered away with time. But that doesn't mean I have moved on. Life takes a toll on you and makes you forget about everything that has gone missing, until days like these when you sit and reminisce.

So here's a toast to all my precious friends (you know who you are)! Whether you're on my facebook or not, whether you're on my speed dial or not, whether we spend hours talking over a cuppa anymore or not, you'll always be in my heart.

p.s. lets talk :P
p.s.1 if email works better for you...
p.s.2 just drop by, will ya?

So long Michael

What an awfully sad day at work today. Lots of co-workers, music lovers and Michael Jackson fans, devastated at the news of his sudden demise. We had just sold out all 50 shows of his London tour. Sold out, 50 shows in one city. Sold out, after him releasing just 2 albums in 18 years. Sold out, after him not touring in 12 years. That was MJ for you. His talent, his fame, his legacy... all unmeasurable. These dramatic shows promised an explosive return with a band of the highest calibre, state-of-the-art stage show and incredible support acts. He'd been rehearsing for it at a close by facility since a couple weeks and even this morning. For those of us who worked with him on it, this will be so hard to get over.

He will always be remembered for his incredible talent and his unfortunate eccentricity.

It was also the day of the 2009 NBA draft. I stopped by at the draft party at ESPN Zone for a little bit to check on the excitement. Of course Lakers never pick from the draft, so Clippers were hosting the party. The place was jam packed with fans in their fav team's gear. They had won the lottery, got the first pick and picked Blake Griffin, a 6'10" dude from Oklahoma. The crowd went beserck, cheering with excitement when that was announced. This little boy, 19 years in age, has been compared to Karl Malone already. I can only hope he saves the Clippers from giving away free tickets next season :p

Cannot imagine the drama at the draft if Lakers picked from there!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Monkey business with SurveyMonkey

In a breaking news story today, President Barack Obama has been named the world's most stylish man. He beat out Brad Pitt, who came in second. A survey of 3,000 men put the 47-year-old president at the top of the list. Soccer star David Beckam came in third, followed by James Bond star, Daniel Craig was voted fourth.

Please tell me as you are reading this, your jaw is dropping to the ground and your forehead is developing numerous creases. Thank you. Why can't we just say it like it is? He's a very able and articulate president with intelligence galore and a great family. That is seriously a LOT of qualities/ achievements to have in your kitty. Why then, in addition to all that, does he have to be a style icon and superman and ha-ha funny with the best bikini body (oops that doesn't apply here) and everything else? Just coz we like him so much? Isn't that being unfair to the real style icons and the real superman (ok there is no real superman but still) and the real funny guys who get knocked off the list when this guy gets pulled up?

FHM Magazine released its list of the sexiest women in the world a while back where Ms. Freida Pinto ranked 10th. Also, she showed up as a member of People Magazine’s 'Most Beautiful 2009' list. I love her, really, but one of the most beautiful in the world?

Zillow.com published their desired celebrity neighbor survey which revealed that U.S. adults would most like to be neighbors with Sarah Palin. Any doubts only retirees, southerners and perhaps men who love dumb women were the only ones who took this survey?

Are we redefining these parameters? I never got a memo about it. I'm going to go with a different theory. Most of us prolly don't even read those surveys before filling them out in a jiffy while multitasking.

Read the survey questions people. I don't wanna see Joe Biden as the guy most teenage girls have a crush on :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Anti-climax in the courtroom

I get up at an ungodly hour to get to the LA Superior Court a little before time as a responsible citizen. Of course my confirmation page didn't tell me the address or that there was more than one LA Superior Court so I get there, park and just as I get in, I find out that I'm at the wrong court. Having parked 2 blocks down, traffic hour and the right court 20 blocks down, I panic and run like someone's following me with a butcher knife. Miraculously, driving like a maniac, I make it to the right court in time to see a hundred people in line before me at the entrance. It looks worse than the airport security scene on long weekends. The elevator ordeal (with 30 peeps squeezed into a 3x3) and other such unmentionables later, I reach the assigned court room.

The cop on duty makes everyone (about a 100 of us) sit on the left side of the room. Then he begins to call out names and you get to sit on the right side of the room, in the order your name gets called. It brings me back memories from elementary but I ignore. Snoop Dogg is right in front of me. I can only see him from the back thought. It takes the cop 30 minutes to get through the name game until everyone gets seated. Then he plays a small audio on civilian rights which I pretend to not understand. Few more minutes (I'm already aching to break free at this point) and he makes another announcement about a temp judge being on duty and that peeps have a right to leave if they wanted to see a 'real' judge. No one seems to care about time although it's 9 am on a weekday. Finally the temp judge comes in and calls the first guy. "Mr. Chris Brown" he says and the room breaks into laughter. What are the odds!

9 defendants later, it's my turn.
"Miss you are charged for crossing an intersection during a flashing light. Do you plead guilty, not guilty or no contest?"
"Not guilt your honor" I say confidently.
"Ok your base fine is $25 and please see the cashier for setting up a trial." Dang hadn't thought of this. I thought in my innocent head, that if the cop doesn't show up, you win! Poor me. I cannot bear the thought of dealing with this again.
"I'm actually moving out of town and won't be able to come in for a trial." Could it be any more lame?
"What do you wish you do then?"
"Umm is there any way you can reduce the fine?" I am insane.
"Because you are asking for a special consideration, I will have to finish with everyone in the room first and then hear you out. You'll have to wait about three hours. Do you wish to do that?" No no no. I have to get out of here. I will die in here if I wait half that long. Plus I have a meeting at 11 with out-of-towners that I can't get out of.
"In that case I plead guilty." I given in with a kitten face.

20 minutes later, my bank balance gets down by $123.

All this, because I had dared to cross a street in downtown during lunch a few months back when the walk sign was flashing and gotten a freaking jay walking ticket. It was flashing for god's sake, not even red. He could have given me a warning, he could have opted to fight real crime but instead he took the easy way out. Someone's going to hell where there will be no sports bars with girls serving booze in shorts. Oh and that wasn't Snoop btw... just a clumsier look alike, if that's possible.

Funny when it happens to someone else, ain't it?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Let me indulge!

No one wants to know that their birthday cake has 780 calories, 500 from fat, which amounts to 55 grams of fat. (i.e. chocolate mousse cake from Cheesecake factory.) Coz then it would cease to be a birthday cake and just become a 'so many fing calories that i feel sick' cake.

Chain restaurants (with 20 or more restaurants nationwide) in US are now required to mention calories on their menu. So there goes, yet another unwanted on the menu in addition to prices. Already, your eyes are going left to right and another row and left to right in quick succession. Ok not you personally but generally speaking. And now when you go to a chain restaurant, it's going to be left, middle, right and then it'll shake you a little since your favorite entree will give you a cold stare with a dare? undertone. You'll chicken out, get up and leave if you're like me.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for consumers-are-entitled-to-information-that-pertains-to-them and all that good stuff. But there has been a lot of awareness in this country lately what with the variety of diet fads and media doing their bit to educate the masses. People filing multi million dollar claims against fast food chains blaming them for their obesity and losing has done it's bit too in spreading the word.

So I'm going with the presumption that most of us know that chicken wings don’t exactly have the detox quality or pizza isn't an alternative to greens or low fat tea isn't quite the same as a thick chocolate milkshake that you can't even sip. So why on earth would you want to see it on the menu, for that one time a week you go out to celebrate your getting through the week somehow. It's unappetizing to say the least.

I'll leave you with some pleasant thoughts:
- a regular chicken burrito from Chipotle is 1000 calories
- 5 pieces of chicken wings from KFC is 420 calories
- a small mocha frappuccino from Starbucks is 340 calories

At this rate, let's just make grass our staple, shall we?

Quick 'n easy mushrooms

Weekday dinners are anything but elaborate. All I hear telling myself is hurry hurry hurry. So here goes a hurried version of one of my favorite punju veggies: Mushroom masala.

Sliced button mushrooms - 1 pack
Red onion - 1/2 (diced)
Tomatoes - 2 (diced)
Green bell pepper - 1 (diced)
Garlic - 3 cloves (finely chopped)
Ginger - little bit (finely chopped)
Green chilies - 1 (finely chopped)
Regular spices and olive oil

- Saute slices mushrooms on high for 5 minutes with some oil and garlic. Add some salt when done and stir.
- In a pressure pan, sauté onions on high for 2 minutes with some oil. Add garlic, tomatoes, green bell pepper, ginger, green chilies, salt, haldi and garam/kadai masala to taste. Add half a glass of water. Let it whistle once and take off the heat.
- Let simmer for 5 minutes, add mushrooms and stir.
- Garnish with coriander.

Serve hot on crispy wheat toast and enjoy.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Varun in a soup

The forensic evidence is in and the verdict is out. Varun Gandhi, the lesser known and now popular grandson of Indira Gandhi, indeed made that hate speech in Barekhera and Lalauribagh in early March. Incredible. That must have been some accomplishment for those against him in this case. For someone who's made a speech in front of thousands of people as a part of canvassing for Lok Sabha elections and captured on tape by tv reporters, it takes months to prove that the voice was indeed his.

To add drama to the episode, Varun is now claiming that the audio tapes have been completely doctored. But allegedly he had refused to give voice samples for examination. I don't get it. If you are convinced that it's a plot against you, why would you not be cooperate with the law. Varun has vehemently denied making the speech saying it was a political conspiracy. In fact he said the speech was "mangled" and he sounds like Amitabh Bachchan in it, where as in reality he has a soft voice. He's out on bail currently with six FIRs against him.

Mommy darling seems to be pretty upset too. She is pulling names out of her kitty, chosen names from the BJP party, and asking them to not make Varun a scapegoat. She's asking them to not blame BJP’s defeat on son's speeches. This one is completely devoid of logic. If good speeches can work favorably for you in elections, don't bad (and disastrous in this case) speeches have an adverse effect?

Let’s talk about the speech in question for a second. Original or doctored, the video that was repeatedly played on news channels and websites, showed him denigrating Muslims to a rather great extent. The interesting part was that the video was super low resolution and it seriously doesn't sound like him if you ask me. He said things about cutting off hands of antisocial elements, per Gita. Later, he insisted that his statements were strong but far from being communal. But one funny dialogue from that 'doctored' video cracked me up. "America couldn't get Osama, but Varun Gandhi will catch many after the elections." referring to a bearded Muslim rival candidate.

All the Nehrus-Gandhis have steered cleared of communal politics and always had a rep of being secular. The lethal statements are therefore a shocker. Me being a BJP gal, this is rather sad to hear. What's heartbreaking is that he's getting no love from his own fam. Priyanka has gone on record criticizing Varun, not once suggesting that it could be a conspiracy. What is true, only those involved know.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The acai drama

Most fads come and go while a handful outlast their lifespan until they morph into a lifestyle. That's precisely been the Acai saga. A hitherto little known fruit, purple in color, shaped like most berries and containing less pulp than a grape, has suddenly become what cell phones are to most of us... the 'absolutely cant live without it' thing.

It’s a hard-to-miss fad. If you're an Oprah fan, you probably religiously drink the acai juice. If you're a Rachel Ray fan, you probably religiously drink the acai juice. If you are the organic green tea drinking types, you probably religiously drink the acai juice.

For those of you who've managed to be blissfully unaware of it, its the wonder fruit from the Amazon jungle of Brazil with a zillion proven benefits from increased energy levels to improved digestion to detoxification to antioxidant to heart health improver to cholesterol reducer to what not. Its most commonly marketed as a weight loss product though.

This isn't a research document so here's the fun part. If you live online and have a wondering eye, you've seen ads. The internet is full of acai berry scams. Generally taking what people say at face value and not being too cynical in life, I fell prey to one of the scams and ordered a free bottle of acai pills. Little did I know it came with a fine print of an order every month for 80 bucks for the rest of the year. Luckily I caught the scam in time only to realize that there was no customer service number to call to cancel or no address to write to. After days of struggling with it (and canceling my credit card in the process), I finally was able to get out of the damn trap.

Just because I got out of a scam, it didn't mean I was able to subside the urge to try the wonder fruit. When you want to try something bad enough, life always give you an opportunity. Mine came in the form of a colleague who'd newly become a dealer of the acai pyramid scheme (too complicated to explain). Sure enough, I ordered a bottle expecting something in the packing of a typical juice box you see in grocery stores. Oh no no no. What I got was something with glossy literature that came in a fancy wine like bottle. It was a blend of pure acai, pure and original, mixed with 12 other fruits using some technology that made 2 ounces of that liquid equivalent to 10 servings of fruit a day. I just had to try it. Don't ask me how much I paid for it but it sells for $40 and lasts a week. I got it, chilled it and finally tasted it. I couldn't believe it. It could have tasted like anything... anything literally... but it ended up tasting like cough syrup. I still have $35 worth of that juice in my refrigerator. May be it's the brand I tried. Who knows.

They say you end up bumping into something you want to avoid the most. It’s so true. I still see it everywhere but thankfully the adventorous feeling has gone missing. What can I say, I guess it's just not for me.

Perhaps when I go to Brazil one day and go berry picking.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Feeling hot hot hot

Its summer and everyone's hot, literally or otherwise. Working in entertainment for several years and having encountered every possible kind of hotness, I think I have a few insights into what goes into it. Sorry no money back guarantee on this one.

Btw I seem to be in a major gyaan giving spree this week. I can tell by the way my kid is avoiding my gaze.

Anyways, if you already know you're hot or not interested in the subject, feel free to ignore. This is for those of us who do not meet the ideal standards of hotness (elegantly tall and impossibly skinny being the most of it) but still have a desire to feel/look hot, just for the heck of it.

Often times, people get too comfortable with their style statement or rather lack of. Go ahead and try something new; kohl eyes paired with nude glossy lips (always works... let someone else be the judge and you'll know) , reverse of your hair type (curls if it's straight or vice versa or the messy look. p.s. frizz does not equal curls), colors that you've never worn (keep the dull ones at bay), styles that you've never tried (it doesn't have to be over-the-top or revealing, just sthng that doesn't hang on you and is stylish), skinny jeans irrespective of your body type (you just have to trust me on this one), french manicure and a great pair of non-black heels (don't you have enuf of black already?).

Bronzer looks sexy on any skin color. It lends shimmer and impeccable glow. Invest in a good one and research/practice the right way to apply it so you don't look sun burnt. Mascara lends that instant oomph factor so add a dab.

Bling bling. But not too much. Add just one chunky piece of jewellery; pick from a bib necklace (yes I said bib), desi jhumkas, a studded belt, an armlet or a giant bracelet.

A nice hand bag goes a long way in adding to your style statement. If you've had a boring one for a long time, try something patchy and big. Ok I'm deviating a little from the subject here.

Last but not the least; an intoxicating fragrance will leave you with that feel-good feeling all day.

But more than anything I have described above, I think hotness is reflected on your face. If you lack confidence or are simply not comfy in your skin, no amount of styling will help. Imagine Bill Clinton or Gisele Bundchen suddenly appearing in front on you. Do you want to run or can you look them into the eyes, give a warm handshake, smile and say hello? Take a deep breath and bring out that cool, confident you.

And the very last thing... losing weight until you look anorexic definitely helps.

Just kidding ;)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pride with responsibility

The Los Angeles Lakers, the LA basketball team, won the 2009 national basketball championship by defeating Orlando Magic 4-1 yesterday to win their 15th NBA title. It was a fantastic series. The 4th game that witnessed the rebound of Lakers was simply phenomenal. It must have been equally phenomenal for the Lakers fans so one would have expected crazy excitement in the jam packed bars, private parties and on the streets after the final win.

As the Lakers were kissing the trophy and giving speeches at Orlando, Lakers fans in LA downtown turned violent. I watched it on the news as half the places looked familiar.

The crazy fan mob pulled out shrubs from Staples center and burned it so they could jump over the flames and dance around it. They messed up the outside walls of the venue with graffiti.

There's a brand new bar close by with hundreds of bottles on display. Their owners were guarding the place with their life instead of celebrating and keeping it open for business after a few fans threw stones at it. Nearby Ralphs and Robeck's were attacked as well.

Poor Carlos (owner of a nearby gas station) looked too sad for words when he told me today that the fans looted his store last night. Chips, drinks, chocolates... all gone. (On the bright side, Carlos was getting ready for an interview with a local news channel so guess it's not all bad.)

Fires were set, objects were thrown at police officers, several businesses were looted and buses, police cars and other vehicles were vandalized. They threw rocks at abandoned buses as LAPD struggled to put out the blaze and chase the knuckleheads from downtown soon after.

It was nothing short of a riot.

Hooligans or die-hard fans.... what are we? Why does excitement have to be manifested in a destructive manner? This is why we can't have nice things in LA. It's taken so much effort on behalf of the city and the investors of businesses around to make this place safe, livable and enjoyable. So much has gone into making this the 'Times Square of the West’. And we have to get cops to shut this place down on a remarkable day like this instead of everyone hanging around and having a blast like the real Times Square. What a shame.

Hopefully we can behave ourselves during the upcoming Lakers victory parade on Wednesday.

Gosh I sound like a grandma.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Without a caller id

A hip woman from a computer screen talks to me everyday on my way to Starbucks from work. A giant monitor hangs on the outside wall of a brand new condo leasing office and the walkway next to it has a sensor. This woman sits on a leather couch, working with her berry until someone walks by, at which she gets up and says "Hi do you have a minute? I would love to show you around our newest residences." I've never stopped walking and she's never stopped talking to me.

The high end salon next to Starbucks gives off the fragrance of a tropical paradise. It invariably reminds me of Hawaii; of the endless rows of palm trees, lazy days, sparkling water, purple orchids and smell of fresh coconuts - a perfect antithesis to ordinary city days. I have never stepped in... and probably never will. The art gallery like decor, four giant tv screens and exotic looking hairdressers with multicolored hair - a little too upscale for my comfort. Besides, I'm always in a rush to return back to my desk. But it never fails to entice me.

A pigeon swings by every evening. It sits on the huge direct tv dish in my balcony and coos. One time I left the balcony open and it took the liberty of letting itself in. It made a maniac out of me as I tried to shoo the harmless little thing away. My actions were prolly unforgivable. But it still comes by, everyday.

My fav picture in a photo frame... of my wedding with my fav person in the world, my grandma. She’s no longer with me. It's on my night stand since years and it still transports me to a different world. I resist looking at it because I don’t know what to do with that thought. Perhaps I am too weak to handle that emotion. But that barely helps.

Many more of the same... things that I seem to want to avoid. Things that I hope would vanish. But they never do. What if they did one day... would I feel lonely without them? Would I miss them?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Geek flirt alert

For most computer geeks, writing code is easy. But trying to compose an amorous email may cause night sweats, said a fun article in WIRED magazine today targeted at geeky boys. The title read flirting with confidence. It had suggestions like 'forget star wars' coz no girl wants to take about it, 'dont dance' coz you'll be a disaster, 'remember they are people' not a compiler so only crack obvious jokes if you want to be funny, etc.

It reminded me of this research that came out in April published by NORTON, the antivirus company. The research findings reported that Indians are highest in number when it comes to flirting online, followed by the China. It's an absolute shocker. India is unquestionably the biggest geek land on earth (apologies to the 100 million plus desi geeks). Ok maybe China gives us a tough competition there. But still the highest? To me, the research finding is, at best, an oxymoron.

Our boys back home (generalizing here people so don’t get worked up) can’t woo women effortlessly or make them go weak in the knees by compelling gestures or flirt like it’s math. The whole reason behind arranged marriages in India, I think, is that our nerdy boys are slightly challenged in the romance department. It's not their fault. They burn the midnight oil until they've collected all the available degrees and safely put them away in their heavy metal locker and landed the job of their dreams, at which point it's too late to start the flirt cycle. Like any other skill, flirting is an art with a huge learning curve. And 27 (give or take) is not the age to experiment with it unless you are a natural. Hence mommy and enterprising relatives to rescue, whose conspiracies btw can put CIA to shame.

So how on earth did we manage to be the highest number in flirting? Even if we exclude the expat bachelors (it's easy to watch and learn on foreign shores) how do we do it back home? Humor, a key ingredient in online flirting, is not our forte. Queen's english with errr bad grammer (it's not always present continuous tense silly) doesn't help either. And pointed direct umcomfortable questions (our niche) are a definite spoiler. So what is it?

Think I know the answer. The virtual flirting toolbox that the internet provides is indeed a work of art. There's a very good chance that every cool online app designed ever had an Indian brain involved. When we can get machines to do all the work, why do it ourselves. Just poke the heck outta her or have the crush app tease the girl or keep liking her status and commenting on her pics. And bingo, you're a certified flirt.

So girls, get flattered all your want but not before switching on your webcam to check out the reality behind that username. Time to play Kitty from Karamchand.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

London street style

Lately everyone I know is either traveling to London or returning from London or dating someone in London or all of the above. Ok not everyone may be but it was enough to get me thinking about London. London fashion particularly is of interest to me. It's fascinating and intriguing to say the least. If you take fashion in US and add funk and wildness, you get shades of London fashion. And the true test of how fashionable a city is, is to check it's street style.

Some current trends below from the streets of London.

Milatary jackets seem to be quite the in thing in Brit land.

Ripped jeans are of course is in style across the globe.

And a few random ones here; boyfriend blazer, shorts with sheers, and shirts or dresses with leggings. Love it.

Until next time, toodles.

Photo credit: www.marieclaire.co.uk, www.elleuk.com

A taste of Khajuraho

Monday nights and going out don't mix. But a cuz from out of town was visiting with friends and dragged us to a hollywood hot spot. The place is called Nirvana. It's more than fine Indian cuisine. It has the unmistakable nightclubbish look; a row of beds with dreamy canopies and decorative little tables on these beds so you can eat on em, colored glass floors, a little fish pond with a giant wet buddha statue emerging from it, soft lights, amazingly soothing and romantic Indian music that I'd never heard before and, here's the fun part, kamasutra theme. Actually I guess the theme was kamasutra infused with zen (or just buddhas)... does that make it divine?

I recognized it from my visit ages ago. As I looked around, I saw life sized and quite exquisite buddha statues and wall art adorning the walls. At a few random places, bits and pieces of erotic khajuraho sculptures (do these sculptures indicate anything beyond orgys? I’ve never been to khajuraho) hung with soft light focusing on it. Throughout the restaurant, tiles of suggestive art were flaunting themselves. The crowd was nothing like you'd expect: uncles and aunties and more uncles and aunties and a screaming baby (mine). That's Monday night for you!

The owner of this place was a friend of my cousin’s and kept us good company. I learnt that he was a cuz of Vikram Chatwal, the infamous hotelier and shared many many insider stories. That's the kind of stuff I live for ;) When I asked him about the theme, he joked that one has to be a pervert to do something so explicit. Of course he was joking; he was the nicest guy and took good care of us. The intriguing part was that all the khajuraho sculptures in the restaurant had been made in Thailand, which he said translated into awesome quality and affordable rates. Only if our rulers during medieval times had known about the concept of globalization.

The menu was a work of art too. The cover had a picture of a female hand with mehndi, and the mehndi had little kamasutra drawings on it. The appetizers were in the ‘Foreplay’ section, the entrees in ‘Loss of innocence’ section and the deserts were in ‘Sensuous pleasures (sin committed but quickly forgiven)’ section. Thankfully, sides were just sides. All in all, it was great family fun :)

With all the 'vices' (visual so I guess it doesn't count) it had to offer, I had reached Nirvana, but was far from attaining it. Unless food coma can pass off as a state of Nirvana. :p

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Strikingly simple and sweet

I saw the cutest hindi movie over the weekend. It was prolly made in the 70s. Was flipping the hindi channels and came across a funny name - Humari Bahu Alka. The story line was funnier... not haha funny but are-you-serious-this-can't-be-true funny.

For those of you who haven't seen it (don't tell me you've seen it!) I will succinctly narrate the story here. Rakesh Roshan was a med school student. Of course his name was Pratapchand. His dad, Badriprasad, was the incorrigible Utpal Dutt. It was the expected, dad always being critical of the son as was common practice in the good old days despite the son being a med school dude. One random day, dad decides to get son married to a village belle. Needless to say, son was against it but like that matters. Son gets married and finds wifey attractive. Shocking. But dad will not permit them to be close to each other. He proudly announces that he got son married not so he can have a wife but bcoz inlaws need some company and someone to play cards with. But of course. So the newly weds scheme up a plot to leave on the pretext of visiting Alka's parents in another distant town. Instead both of them go to Bombay, rent a room, and decide to be intimate. But fate had other plans, rather comical, for them, that made them regret their silly ploys.

I couldn't believe the movie. It was over simplified and completely devoid of any complex characters whatsoever. I'm so used to watching the hindi movies of today with 10 parallel plots and multifaceted characters with lots of twists and turns in the story line. This one, in sharp contrast, was so easy. What you see is what you get types. But it worked. It cracked me up. If not the best, I guess at least the fun things in life are sometimes simple.

Have a day filled with giggles and smiles.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Enchanted by E3

The popular 3-day video gaming expo known as the Electronic Entertainment Expo was in Los Angeles last week. Instead of grabbing some grub, a bunch of us decided to check it out during lunch.

It was the 2nd day of the Expo. We saw a few peeps protesting the upcoming game 'Dante's Inferno' outside the convention center. I later learnt it was a new game that gives you a virtual tour of hell :) Religious protests perhaps? Who knows. As we entered, instantly I got the feel of being lost in futuristic sci-fi movie set. Larger than life screens dazzling with neons were on display. Nintendo, Playstation 3, Xbox 360, Wii and Sony had the largest presence.

The highlight of the event seemed to be 'The Beatles: Rock Band' by MTV games. Their booth was the most extravagant… it looked like a recording studio that you would enter through a door. Really fancy set up. Heard Paul McCartney had launched it on day 1. Long live Beatlemania.

Nintendo as usual had a wide range of exciting products. I overhead my gang discussing "their approach to interaction and their approach to social gaming is mindblowing". I nodded like I understood. What can I say, video games are not my thing :) Wii was showcasing Wii-Sports Resort. It had everything from basketball, golf, kayaking to archery. I'm brand new to Wii. The only game I've tried out is Wii Fit and after it called me a couch potato and said my Wii age was 53, I'm not too keen on trying their other products. Just kidding. It's phenomenal! Sony was making some big announcements and seemed to attract a lot of bees. The PSP Go! has an iPhonish look. Compact, sleek and convenient. I just remember one of their new titles 'god of war 3' which apparently allows more than 200 people to play simultaneously.

But the craziest of the lot was Microsoft's Project Natal. The game has a video cam that maps every inch of your body. So whether you're playing a fight game or skateboarding, the game is watching you every bit. There is NO controller. It's Wii without the controller. I bet there's an audience for it but just too spooky for me. I still like old-fashioned games like chess where the pieces behave the way they are supposed to, as inanimate objects. But if you see me at the Best Buy check-out lines during thanksgiving holding Project Natal, don't call me out ;)

The general impression I got was that every company was offering games that were highly customizable. For instance, a racing game where you could customize everything from your car and all its nuances, the race track, the background score and a whole lot more. I think that's what defines our demands these days. We don't prefer anything off the shelf. It has to have our signature.

That's all I had time for (and appetite for) at the expo but being a part of this 40,000 peeps geek ocean was a thrill in itself.

Peace out.

Photo credit: www.latimes.com

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The 'chick lit' trap

I'm not an avid reader by any measure. I've become a theek thak reader this year after my New Years resolution of one book per week, inspired by Mr. ex-President George Clooney. Or was it George Bush? I can't remember :) And it doesn't matter. I was beyond impressed that after all that he was doing to bring this country to the state that it is in today, he still managed to read 95 books in 2008. It made me ashamed of my non-existent book reading record and hence the New Year resolution.

It's almost been 6 months and I'm no where close to a book a week but it's significantly better than last year's! Here's the tricky part. Every now and again, I go to the library and pick out some interesting books. Non-fiction, memoirs, knowledge books, classics, books for my profession, etc. I get them, I put them on the corner table, I see them everyday and I ignore them. Royally. Instead, I resort to fun, smart and light reads for women or Chick Lit as it is popularly referred to as.

Remember Me?, Cocktails for three, What would you do to save the world?, The devil wears prada, Chapatti or Chips?, Confessions of a shopaholic, Chasing Harry Winston, crap by Shobha De... the list is endless. I've caught myself re-reading some of them as if reading once wasn't enough. The excuse I give to myself is, the 'other' books require peace of mind and dedication and I'm a working mom of a one year old monkey who's constantly on a destructive spree. Where is the time? But it is just that, an excuse.

My dad is the editor of a political-social magazine, my hubby reads 'intelligent' books that sound like a lot of work to me and my baby's into general knowledge books (fuzzy animal pocket books count as GK, no?) and I, ladies and gentleman, read Chick Lit.
The catch is, I am hooked. I cannot believe I admitted it in on a public site but I love chick lit. It's funny, it's entertaining, it’s witty from time to time and it helps to provide the much needed distraction from the craziness of urban lives. But it is a trap as well. A gripping one. And I don't know if I can come out of it. Ever.

Gimme a hand?

Photo credit: www.pcij.org

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Of proletarians and bourgeoisie

My daily quote of the day read "The whole dream of democracy is to raise the proletarian to the level of stupidity attained by the bourgeois." - Gustave Flaubert

I have to admit I don't know who Gustave is. Google tells me he's a French writer from the 1800s. The quote made me chuckle a tad. Bourgeois is not a term one comes across regularly unless one is tied to Econ. But then neither does Proletarian. What one does come across frequently is the term Democracy. And lately a question mark seems to be following it. Ever since the US government got into the business of bailing out companies, states, guys with million dollar bonuses, etc. and started taking stakes in it, the 'S' word (socialism for those of us willing to face the reality) has been surfacing in the same line as the name of this country. It can be dismissed as being far from truth (it's just a point of view after all) but the traces are there for us to see. May be in complex times like todays, there needs to be a hybrid of one or more economic theories to run countries (countries that are in a rut anyway).

Major detour. Back to Gustave Flaubert's world. Karl Marx defines the bourgeoisie as that class of society which is wealth producing. Basically property-owning peeps who are exploitative of the poor working class peeps. And a proletarian as a peasant or a manual worker. Socialists view a proletarian as someone who's got no property and therefore at the mercy of employers. I am overcome with emotions right now for remembering these terms/theory and not bunking every since class Econ class in b-school :p Marxism sees the proletariat and bourgeoisie as inherently opposed. For example, factory workers (proletarian) automatically wish wages to be as high as possible, while owners (bourgeoisie) wish for wages (costs) to be as low as possible.

Along with the memory of that Econ class, a joke also came to mind which was delivered in a rather animated fashion to us.

A capitalist is walking through his factory with a friend.
Friend asks, "What did you tell that man just now?"
"I told him to work faster", answers the capitalist.
"How much do you pay him?" asks the friend.
"Fifteen dollars a day" answers the capitalist.
"Where do you get the money to pay him?" asks the friend.
"I sell products", answers the capitalist.
"Who makes the products?" asks the friend.
"He does", answers the capitalist.
"How many products does he make in a day?" asks the friend.
"Fifty dollars worth", answers the capitalist.
"Then", concludes the friend, "Instead of you paying him, he pays you thirty-five dollars a day to tell him to work faster".
"Huh", and the capitalist quickly adds, "Well, I own the machines".
"How did you get the machines?" asks the friend.
"I sold products and bought them", answers the capitalist.
"And who made those products?" asks friend.
To which the capitalist can only respond—to his friend "Shut up! He might hear you".

I have a fun story from that class to share but to keep the length of this blog within reasonable limits, I will share it another time. I read one more quote from Flaubert "To be stupid, selfish, and have good health are three requirements for happiness, though if stupidity is lacking, all is lost" and chuckled some more. I wasn't aware people used the term 'stupid' half as much in the 1800s as we do. But then this guy was French!

I don't feel so stupid anymore :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

A made-over life

I've seen gazillion variations of this show. There's no country or language that it wouldn’t work in. I caught a glimpse of it on NDTV Good Times tonite. The show started with two teenagers who introduced themselves as girlfriend and boyfriend and complained about each other's dressing sense. The girl was a tom boy and the boy was just a regular boy. The show let them rip apart each other’s fashion sense for a bit. Soon enough, Neeta Lulla, a noted fashion designer was roped in. She put them under her fashionable pink microscope, analyzing their looks and personality and got them a new wardrobe and a complete makeover. The couple went ga-ga over each other and pretended to be in love again. Aaaah... god bless.

It got me thinking about makeovers. How fun would it be if I got a made-over life. I'm not talking about run-of-the-mill makeovers like quit your job to go to b-school or leave wifey for a girlfriend. But something BIG. Imagine. One day you're running an analytics team and the next day you get to be a Israeli spy or a French homicide expert or a Cuban politician or a Darjeeling tea-picker or a lead guitarist in a all-girls rock band. Or may be a combination. A lethal one. Like the one from Ms. Congeniality. Beautiful beauty pageant contestant at day and a sassy FBI agent at night. I know what you're thinking. ABSURD. True but absurdity can be so exciting. I just get a kick out of dreaming the unconventional. Life isn't short by any means. You've got 80 years, give or take if you eat organic and exercise five times a week. And to think that you'll just do one thing (or in the same general field anyways) for three quarters of your life is sooo mind-numbing. Besides if you don't dream, how can you ever make it happen.

Btw if you are a Miss India or Miss anything else contestant, ignore this topic. I believe the correct answer is "I am proud of myself and I would always want to be myself" when asked the "What would you rather be?" question. Remember, there is no other answer to that question in pageants unless you wanna go the Mother Teressa route.

Too many "crazy thoughts" as my dad always pointed out. Time for some meditation.