Saturday, January 02, 2010

Auld Lang Syne..

Wishing everyone a very happy new year, if anyone still reads this, that is. I don't blame noone.I haven't visited my blog page in the last year and a half. And it does feel like I have almost forgotten to write anything cohesively. For starts, I spent my new years all by myself, in the warm confines of my apartment without meeting anybody. Now Is that a good start to the year, well I do hope it is and that the rest of the year won't be so lonely and that it would be more fun and cheerful. I thought I'll make a start with writing a post and here it is.. To a merry , happy, prosperous 2010, Cheers :)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

An Era - A Beginning or the End ?

F1 - Schumacher
Cricket - Australia
Tennis - Federer

A list of legendary players/team, Dominance is the word, An Era that solely belonged to them and none other, they have established history that probably will never repeat and a certain kind of dominance that made the result of a game predictable, a victory to their credit was a foregone conclusion. Sport viewers have a different take at it, some watch it because they always want their favorites to win and they were treated to it. But, what about the classic competitions, a competition between equals where one tries to get the better of the other and constantly evolve. I am by no means demeaning the feat achieved by these champions, what they have achieved is by no means ordinary, maybe not even extra-ordinary but beyond that, something out of the world, their talent surpassed that of everyone else. Well it’s when you think about all this, you end up watching an epic of a tennis match- Federer - Nadal Wimbledon'08 .It sure was a clash of the Titans. Whatever people may say - that Federer would not have had a chance if the rain gods came to the rescue or that Nadal would not have made it at the end if not for the fading light. It did not matter, we have to give it to these players. It was Nadal’s day from the start and he won the match, deservedly so, Federer definitely was not at his best, but he is called a Champion for no reason, down two sets in a Wimbledon final, how often do we see such classic comebacks. The Final set could have been anybody's. One could draw a parallel to the 1995 Australian open quarter final between Pete Sampras and Jim Courier, I do not remember watching it, but have read about it so often that it sure is etched in my memories as one of the classic moments in Grand Slam Tennis history. Courier was the world's best and Sampras was the supreme challenger. You know what happened after that. Sampras won that match and now, the rest is history. Will yesterday’s Wimbledon final be one such moment - Many say it’s a moment that is going to signal the end of an Era and the start of another one, we got to wait and see if that is going to happen - Time will answer. For now, I am still relishing the amazing sporting moments from yesterday's match :).

Saturday, July 05, 2008

When you look and you find..

Growing up in India, the only words that you are fed with while shopping are probably discounts and sale. My first tryst with deals and mail-in-rebates is when I got here to Uncle Sam's land.

Have you ever felt the joy of finding something in the first place you look for?And,before you come to any sort of conclusions this is the story:

June 7 : My friend and roommate Miss.A is looking for deals for laptops and she finds one in Office depot, everything that a normal person ( excluding techies, nerds and gamers) would want came in a laptop costing 830$ with a mail-in-rebate of 175$ and it was the last day of the offer. Wow, both of us jumped in joy, but alas only one of us could order it, mail in rebates have this policy of one rebate per household, nevertheless I was magnanimous and suggested that she should take the laptop first since she was leaving for India soon and I will have some more time. She places her order. Somehow, I felt this was an awesome deal and not wanting to let it go, asked for another friend Mr.K to bail me out and order a laptop for me using his address. Yay I ordered mine too.

June 9: Ms.A's laptop arrives. She is sober.

June 10: My laptop arrives, we now have 5 laptops at home, 3 official and two personal.. Wow, this is my first laptop and am thrilled beyond description.

June 12: Realised that the mail-in-rebate form has to be post marked by June 28th. Ms.A and me decide to print the forms and checked for everything that needs to be sent - original bill, UPC and the form, just believing the ability of the self's knowledge of what a UPC could mean(Ms.A sometimes trusts me), we just sent the Bar code we received with the bill.

June 28: Randomly checked the office-depot website for the status - no updates yet.

July 1: Almost 10 P.M, A friend Mr.A comes over to pick up some card board boxes as he is moving to another place and while pulling out the cardboard boxes, we also realised we needed to throw away a few of them which we probably did not require, one of it turned out to be Ms.A's laptop box, I wanted to throw mine as well, but the lazy me hadn't removed some stuff from the box yet. So all the boxes that we decided were of no use were kept next to the door so that we could throw the next day when we leave for work.

July 2: Morning 8 A.M, very diligently I pick up all the card board boxes and threw it away in the trash bins.

July 3: I was working from home.
2.30 P.M Again a random thought to check the status of mail in rebate (its worth 175$ remember). I checked mine and there was the update that I did not want to see, a non compliance report - Incorrect UPC code and a note to send the UPC code.
3.00 P.M: Realisation that I should check what a UPC code means, a very gracious website had a description that it was the label that is stuck on the box in which the product is delivered, A sudden flash of thought, Ms.A's box is already in the bin and probably even recycled now, that's 175$ getting recycled, you know.

3.30 P.M: Decided to check the bin, odds against odds what if its still there. Walked up to the trash bin in a hurry, they have these huge trash bins out here (there were four of them) and I had left the boxes by the side of the bin the previous day. There was nothing on the sides on the bins, hoping that its probably hidden somewhere in the bins. These bins are taller than me, I just managed to look into one of them and voila there was a laptop box and what are the odds and that in an apartment of 100 houses, somebody was going to buy a laptop and still throw it, a ray of hope, I had to climb up the fence to reach to it, I did not care who was looking, but surprise and surprise, it was exactly what I was looking for!! You can imagine the feeling, It's beyond words.
I Called Ms.A to immediately tell her what I did for her, she now owes me a big treat but better yet, I still find that whole feeling very and also learnt a priceless lesson - Never throw your cardboard boxes until you are sure, but the thing is you can never be sure!
Yay, I now know the feeling of what it means to find something in the first place I look! Here's to - laptop, mail-in-rebates, cardboard boxes and trash bins:)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

God Bless Dasavatharam

As Kamal’s just released magnum opus “Dasavatharam” faced its moment of truth, critics had a field time - they pounded , pranced and tore it apart. Kamal has set such high standards and the expectations out of him grew manifold with this movie and it was easy for them to dismiss the movie as something that did not meet their expectations.

Chaos theory, Butterfly effect , atheism, social issues, history , a brilliant parallel between the 10 avatars of Vishnu and the 10 roles that he plays in the movie – all this makes it the most innovative storyline ever seen in Indian Cinema and to that you can add Kamal’s out of the world acting. I sure do think the screen play could have been more crisper and the special effects in some scenes leaves a lot to be desired, you also need to realize we do not have the luxury of the budget with which English movies are made. Leaving that aside, you ought to be spell bound by the brilliance of the story, the acting. Even an astute mind cannot decipher all the minute details that every frame of this movie exhibits at one go. The more you think about the movie, the more you are in awe of the super human effort that has gone into the making of this movie and the genius in Kamal.

Anbe Sivam, to me was one of the best movies and everyone I spoke to about it acknowledges it , but it did not send the cash registers ringing at the box office. You really cannot blame the Indian audience, remember when Shawshank Redemption released, people did not take to it, today, many years later, it is a cult film.

I really hope, for the sake of Tamil Cinema, the audience will embrace it and make it a hit and thus paving way for people who will dare to innovate and not churn out movies, the way Bollywood has in the last year (saving a few movies here and there). The Americans are taking to Obama, for that Change that they believe in. Many miles away, we Indians still want to prove why someone should not do anything out of the ordinary and if and they when they do, we only want to showcase why it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

God Bless Dasavatharam!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

When the going gets tough, DADA gets going..

I used to be an ardent fan of cricket, following cricket matches played all around the world, could dish out a few statistics and get a little technical (at least better than most girls :)). The last one year, however has been different. I really found it difficult to be interested and to keep tabs on the happenings, but however a news headline this morning about Saurav Ganguly's 100th test caught my fancy. Personally, my favorite has always been Rahul Dravid, but I have always admired Saurav (Dada as he is called fondly) for his never-say-die attitude. It's not easy for someone who has always been glorified to handle the emotions and pressure that come along after being unceremoniously dropped from a team and to come out of it successfully. I have only seen cricketers fade away into oblivion when this has happened, but when the person in question is DADA, things are quite different. Sure he was out of form but I certainly do feel, he did deserve a much better treatment while being dropped. My heart really went out to him. For me, he certainly has been the best thing to have happened to Indian Cricket at the time he was appointed Captain. Under him, the team transformed from a selfish group to cricketers to "Team India". A Indian Cricket fan has never been more proud and entertained ,as he took the team thru some of the most glorious moments - A Scintillating Natwest trophy final, a world cup final, away and home test match victories. Aggression, youth, team spirit, playing to win - these words came to life while he was at the helm of the affairs. The team moved out of the "Tendulkar" mould and it was no more that India would win only when Tendulkar plays. The fact that he enjoyed undying support from the youngsters in the team is a testimony to a fact that he has been an unbiased and a great leader. He has been the man behind getting some of the finest talent into playing for India. And now he has shown the world what he is truly capable of, I respect him twice as much. For to be down and out and written off and then prove the world that they are wrong is no mean feat especially when the country is India and the sport is Cricket. As he plays in his 100th test, here’s wishing him the very best and hopefully I will soon return to following this sport.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Every Child is Special...

Bollywood in 2007 has certainly saved "the best for the last" - The movie Taare Zameen Par. Movies that can make you relate to it, make you smile, make you cry, make you think -are really hard to come by, but when they do, make sure you don't miss it for anything in the world. It's a simple story of a 8 year old artistically talented child suffering from dyslexia and his feelings. With an amazing script and Aamir Khan making his debut as a director,this movie is a heart rendering experience. The kid who played the 8 year old Ishaan, is amazing to say the least. This performance could easily be a national award winning performance. I read a review which went with the tagline - Taare Zameen Par may change your life, I don't know about that but I can say with certainity that this movie will make you change the way you look at people and their abilities and especially children. It's a movie with a big heart and a great message. Its humanly impossible to not shed tears as you relate to some of scenes. It's certainly not a sad movie, its a story of success, its a story of a character you can relate to, it could be you..

It's a soul stirring experience, Go WATCH it!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Up above and all...

A self confessed Agnostic, I sometimes do find it really necessary to have a "fall back" mechanism, to feel that sometimes things are beyond your control, things will fall into place as necessary and as appropriate and things do happen as per the plan charted out for us and that someone up above is dictating terms. Sure, I have experienced something close to being a miracle, realised that there is power in a sincere prayer. There have been things that have not worked for you for your own good, you realize it as the days go by but who is helping you make it not work.. I wonder.. I have been involved in many a discussion about this, people have talked about everything in this world being a result of a probability of being in a certain situation at a certain time but who is dictating the outcome of that probability ??

I am surely not talking about religion here, I am a Hindu , have studied in what you can call a staunch Hindu institution and in fact did most part of my education in Christian institutions', have grown up with friends who are Muslims (some of my best friends are Muslims), I enjoy singing "Om Jai Jagdish Hare" and Ayyapan padi pattu with the same fervour as singing "Showers of blessing". I have celebrated Diwali at home with my non-Hindu friends for as long as I can remember and I have been part of Ramzan and Xmas celebrations with my friends as long as I can remember as well. I go to the temple more often but I do like attending masses at the Church, The principles of different religions to me is fascinating, deep down they all preach the same goodness. But we end up sticking to the religion we are born with more often because we do not want to displace the God's that we grew up with and are taught to believe in with due respect to all religions. I do not want to delve into religion fanatism as thats something I have tried so hard to understand but I can never figure that one out.

If everything that happens to us is because of what we are and is a result of how much work you put into, why are each of us born so different with capabilities so different? Why do some people have to work so hard to achieve that, when there are other people who get the same thing done, maybe more efficiently with just about little effort. What about our natural capabilities, people born with disabilities, who is responsible for that? You cannot decide whether your child can be a boy or a girl, sure that is a result of a probability, so are so many other things that happen to us. The easiest way out is to believe that there is something thats controlling the outcome of these probabilities and if we can't believe in that, we sure won't believe in miracles, to me expecting miracles is HOPE and I cannot live without it. I have experienced it,so will everybody in their lives at some point, it could be as small as getting a 45 in an Engineering subject when you really think you would not make it.

All said and done, I do believe in Karma, or whatever you can call that, that if you feel or do something that is going to hurt someone else, it is going to go all around and come back to you in this very same life.. (I don't think in this world where everything is "instant", you are going to feel the effect in your next birth.. even the cause-effect principles follow "instant" gratification)..

Sunday, October 21, 2007

St.Louis Part II

[There is a Part I which I haven't written about, it was my first trip to the US, I would still think Part I was more exciting and I literally lived life like there was no tomorrow, I will save that for some other time]

I am going to India in another two weeks, after a year and half on a two and half week vacation, the excitement is just beginning to kick in, I will be home for Diwali, to say am thrilled would just be an understatement. As I was trying to get the suitcases out to get started on packing, I was just thinking about how life has been for me, this last one and half years.

Being on the wrong side of 25 years 150 days, you are bound to have met people from all cross-sections of society, changing your perspective about life. I have been so lucky for the kind of people I have met and have grown to be friends with in St.Louis, staying away from home for long can take a toll on you sometimes, I must say that I have never felt homesick (barring a few odd moments here and there), life always has been exciting, I never really had the time to sit back and think. Those friday night movies, impromptu shopping getaways, In-a-minute lunch and dinner plans, after work parties, mini trips to places around here, my personal favorite being the potlucks (reason: anything and everything) fun unlimited, food limited :).

Work life has just been great (I would not prefer to talk about the not so great part of it), I have got to work with some amazing people, people who have been around even when computers were worked with punch cards, learnt some priceless lessons, technical and otherwise. Well there have been days when I have had to go without my regular quota of sleep, but well I can discount that, for part of work is what is challenging and exciting and keeps you up without getting bored about the work you are doing.

Onto my favorite part, traveling and activities:

A get-together with friends from college is a regular and is something I look forward to, we usually meet once every 3 months and I come back all exhausted and tired after laughing incessantly and having a great time :)

Las Vegas and Grand Canyon: I loved it more the second time, cos this time we stayed overnight in the Canyon, watched the sun set and sun rise, an experience of a lifetime. Watched the circue de soleil show and gambled like crazy.

Tampa : Beach house party, jet skiing and parasailing, what a trip it was :)

Dallas and Austin: A very casual and chilled out trip, played paint ball for the first time..

Seattle : One trip where every one of my friends from college who were in the US made it, it was memorable for more reasons than one, my first camping experience..

This is the only major road trip that I was on and probably my only big trip with people from St.Louis, the Breckenridge- Colarado trip.

This trip needs a very special mention, It was my first road trip, with so many new people I was just getting to know, about 21 of us, 4 days. I decided to be a part of the party at the very last minute and am so glad I decided to go. My first experience with the snow, skiing and snow mobiling in Breckenridge is an experience that I would treasure, though I kept falling all over the place, it was still fun. Those wooden log cabins and amazing people, a perfect thanks giving retreat..

And a trip to SFO and Yosemite with friends who joined work with me, we were in the same induction batch.. I just loved the place..

Not to forget, the number of trips to Chicago (I have actually lost count of it).

But alas, still New York is on the list, yay I finally made plans for it, first weekend of 2008... :)

Attended some great live concerts: Aerosmith, Kadri Gopalnath, Sonu Nigam (St.Louis), AR Rahman and Linkin Park (Chicago).

Wasted many a 10 dollars on watching those Hindi movies almost every other Friday.. but watching Sivaji made up for it, well almost.. :)

Learnt a few lessons on the guitar, learnt swimming, became more fitness conscious( more like since I now pay for it at the YMCA, I better make best use of it) read a whole lot of books (the St.louis county library is my favorite place around where I stay, its an amazing place, I can spend hours together and not realize how the time goes by until someone tell me its time to close the library), got addicted to watching movies and sitcoms (long live blockbuster)..

Staying away from home on your own has its own way of teaching you lessons, and what have I learnt, I can say with certainty that I have learnt a lifetime's worth :)

And now am looking forward to going to Chennai, spending time with my parents and sister(I miss her like crazy) and friends who I haven't gotten to meet in a long time and a friend's wedding too... will be there for two and half weeks and have already planned something for everyday and a little tad disappointed that I will not be able to watch Dasavatharam(they have postponed the release now) and plays from the chennai theatre scene( looks like the chennai theatre scene is off the whole of November :( ) and before St.Louis gets to hear the last of me, I will be right back :)

Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Namesake's Name..

What's in a name?

A whole lot, me thinks. If you have lived all the years of your existence with a long name (13 letters for a first name and 10 letters for a last name, a total of 23 letters (English has a total of 26 letters, if not for a few repetitive alphabets, my name would be a running in close for having all the alphabets of this language) and to top it all, I have to answer questions like why do you have two first names and no middle names. Wonder what my parents were thinking when they decided to call me "Lakshmi Prabha", that nobody ever calls me by whole name and that people find convenient ways of calling me, the easiest being LP, officially Prabha and a few friends Lakshmi and Vinu at home and it’s a great feeling when you know of your ability to respond to all of these names under different circumstances. Well to go back to how I got my name in the first place, Lakshmi is from my grandmother and Prabha is kind of a family name for all cousins (girls) (thankfully better sense prevailed and my sister was spared of this torture which my cousins and me were subjected to). That's the origin of my name and that I still cannot understand why would anybody want to give their daughter my name, maybe my Parent's should know, I sure have brought it up on many occasions just in a lighter vein and well sometimes seriously too, well then again, I have to live with it now :). Just when you think all is cool and you have forgotten about it, there are certain things which will have to keep reminding you of what you want to forget...

* You read a forward which says you are from South India if your name will be that of a Goddess (Sure my name is of the Goddess of Wealth and well I am her namesake but I don't see how that has helped me until now, If the access to riches was as easy as naming your daughter after the goddess of wealth, won't everybody be naming their daughter Lakshmi.. well maybe they were being optimistic)

* A friend of mine says that before she met me, she had just heard of my name thru some common friends and she had painted a mental picture of what kind of person I would be like - a very quiet, traditional, well oiled hair (not that I have anything against these kind of girls) and we shared some laughs over it and after that I just asked her if she hasn't heard of a certain someone who goes by the name "Padma Parvathy Lakshmi" (she was Lady Rushdie until a while ago)

* It takes me a whole 5 minutes to get my name across spelling it out the American way.. A for apple.. yada yada to even get a haircut appointment and at the end of it, the lady at the salon can't find my name on the database.. sigh..

Well our life is what we make it out to be and that we are what we are because the things we do and the person that you grow up to be and what you want to really be and all that will be remembered by that one name that you were baptized with. Whatever is your name, try to live it up and just as long as it brings a smile on someone's face, you are OK :), the things I have to keep reminding myself to feel good about my name, I really try hard don’t I..

(On the contrary, in the corporate world, the name of your company, the name of your product speaks volumes for itself, we are talking about brand names here. I was reading about this company called Lexicon Branding which comes up with names for Product's for Companies, they are the people who coined Pentium for Intel and Blackberry. Quite interesting to know that so much of thought process goes into naming a product. That We now use the word 'Google' instead of 'search' and 'Xerox' instead of 'making copies' is evident enough)