Work Zone

We are working on changing the way the blog looks. It is work in progress, as of now we have decided what we want it to look like and started playing around. In the meanwhile there will be no posts. Hopefully by Monday we should have the newly remodeled blog up!

New York Nagaram - Vacation 3

The next stop on our trip was New York City!! And overall NYC did not leave me impressed! Guess I was expected too much from the city! We did the typical touristy thing - take the Grayline hop-on hop-off tours, Statue of Liberty and up the Empire State building! We met up with a few friends and tried to master the subway system.

I personally felt that NYC was just like Mumbai with extra tall skyscrapers. Dirty, crowded and yes places to gawk at, at every corner. And the thing about rude New Yorkers is true especially for the Southerners we are, NYC was just a rude shock!

Well guess like every other non-NYer we just said na this is'nt just our place!

Oh yeah as always R's photos are here and here.

Blog roll!!

Dear old sis V nagged, booed, tortured and insulted baby bro KA to enter the blogosphere and guess what she succeeded! That gal sure is persuasive!!! Here's welcoming baby bro KA into the big bad blogging world! And check out the Devil's Hangar

New toy!!!

iexcited! ithrilled! imac!!!

Our new toy arrived by mail yesterday!!! The imac is incredibly stylish - typical apple. The entire CPU is built into the monitor and so are the webcam, microphone and a set of really good speakers! Here are some pics

Here it is sitting next to our old monitor (Eeeks!! the table is crowded)

Any takers for the old PC??? :)

Green around the gills

I am sure there are many households like our very own, thrown into a confusion due to the every changing green card processing scenarios. If you are totally unaware of the situation please remain ignorant! Ignorance is bliss! But if you are like us forced to understand the complications, you have my pity! And if you are one of those eager people always ready to learn… please don’t contact me! I barely know enough and you should have heard me explain stuff to V’s family!

Well here are some drastic changes in life, till day before we had a wonderful vacation planned to Galapagos.. now gone as a dream and till day before yesterday V thought she had planned out where her research was going and how and when she planned to graduate.. gone with the wind!!

And to all those you are running around to get their I-140’s and I-485’s filed good luck.

The Kaput story!

It was another one of those weekends

  • Wake up late
  • Read the useless 100 page Houston Chronicle
  • Have brunch with whatever is leftover from yesterday’s takeout dinner
  • Open up the snail mails (yes we get tons of them) and shred the junk
  • Chores including grocery shopping, laundry, ironing, cleaning the bathrooms, vacuuming the house etc
  • Calling up friends (and leaving a voice mail. No one ever picks up the phone on a weekend)
  • Replying back to emails dating more than a month back
  • Visits to library
  • Dance class
  • To the temple

And we are off to the temple, Sunday evening. “La La la”and that’s V’s phone, a good 5 minutes of blah-blah-blah with lots of eye rolling and finding excuses to hang up!

15 minutes later, at the Meenakshi temple, V flips open her phone to turn it off and surprise, there is no display.. a few buttons pressed, battery taken out and in short all tricks of the trade tried and it is time to admit, the phone had gone Kaput!

End of story! V lost all 150+ contacts!

Moral of story : Open an Excel spreadsheet and store all your contacts!

Happy Birthday Bro!

Here's wishing NJ a wonderful birthday! Yes we are looking forward for your US visit and those long long phone calls which start with did I wake you up?

Have a great year ahead NJ!


Our next destination was a visit to Hershey. Yes here is where they make those chocolates! The small town Hershey thrives only due to tourism and the place offeres anything, any tourist wants. We had a few hours in hand so we hit the Hershey Gardens. And it was such a wonderful experience. Unlike Houston, the hot summer had not set in at Hershey and we could see the plants bursting with color. R has some wonderful pictures from there. Check them out here. There are other attractions in the area, mainly a theme park and a chocolate museum which we did not feel like visiting. But we just loved the park!

AR Rahman show - 2

If you have not read the first part of the review, read it here.

So finally, there were people on stage and all I could see was people draped in white spandex running around the minuscule stage. The stage was not really small but with all the instruments set, it did look small. The first song and all that caught my attention was those mummy kind of dancers. I bet Rahman wanted to make a dramatic entry with those dancers but unfortunately the dancers kinda took over the stage and running wild in all directions. Craziness I call it.

Finally there were songs, singers, Rahman and ofcourse the dancers. I really have not understood why we need dancers in a music show. I bet every single person in the audience was there to see Rahman and his troupe sing and not see those dancers with their bigger than life props dance around. It was a small stage and hence they were bumping into the singers and generally drawing attention from the singers which I didn’t like. No I have nothing against dance or dancers but it was not what I wanted in a music show. If I wanted to see a dance I would have been at a downtown theater watching the Houston Ballet. Kathak costumes, dancers on boxes, ropes, ribbons and everything on stage, Why? Why? Why?

The singers who I could identify were Hariharan, Chitra, Sadana and Sukwinder. Rahman failed to introduce the others who sang and I am sure they would have loved the applause and I would have loved to attach a name to the voices. Living in US, we don't have that much access to page 3 gossips and glossy prints. We listen to music , admire a voice and sometimes attach a name to the voice. But we do need to attach a face to the voice and that is one reason why many of us attend such concerts. Someone told me Vijay Yesudas was there, but sorry I don’t know who he is! Is this the nurturing touch provided to young singers?

But the biggest disappointment was the choice of songs. I was looking forward for some all-time hits of Rahman and all I got was 4 songs from Shivaji and I didn’t even know they were from the movie. And they sure are not Rahman’s best work. I can understand 1 song from Shivaji but four? Was Rahman testing our patience? There are such wonderful songs from Roja, Bombay, Kandukondein Kandukondein, Alaipayuthey, Rangeela and I could keep on going and Rahman chooses some crappy songs. Guru songs were good but all songs together at the end? What were you thinking Rahman? Unlike Indian audience, US audience thrives on old-hits. That is the music we associate with India and Rahman and not Shivaji songs which we have never heard of. A big disappointment!

And there were other aspects of the show like the blond Hooters kinda American female literally throwing herself at Rahman and blowing kisses at Rahman! A good laugh!And the group of guys dancing and moving forward and everytime escorted back to their seats!

And to cap of the show were the eye-candies or should I call them arm-candies? Why on earth do we need, gals decked up in sarees and high-heels, doing a cat-walk giggling with excitement escorting sponsors to stage? I wish I had some answers to these questions!

And while on the topic of questions, could someone please enlighten me why Sukwinder Singh sings songs which he can’t do justice to? He cannot sustain the high-pitch in Chaiya Chaiya and he is more worried about imitating Elvis Presley!

To wind things up, I would say there were around 10 good songs worth listening to and you can go to the show for those but to listen to those songs you got to put up with delays, Sivamani's usual drum solo show-off (it is good the first time you listen to it and ofcourse being Rahman's friend Sivamani gets special recognization!), Indian rapper, Shivaji songs, India’s own Elvis imitations and the oh-so-great dancers distracting you!

With inputs from KA and V's dance friends PD, SV and KB! Thanks!

AR Rahman show - 1

We did what 8000(?) other desis decided to do last Friday – yes we hit the AR Rahman show. AR Rahman – India’s golden boy sure brings in crowd and the organizers cashed in on it! The show was a sold-out event held at the Reliant Arena. The event was at 9pm on a Friday night – it sure is an odd timing for the show and my only guess for the timing of the show is Reliant rents its facilities cheaper at later hour. Inspite of the time, we decided to go and at the end of the day I really am not sure if it was worth going or not.

We reached the venue around 8.40pm and wham! a sea of color greeted me! Bright fuchsias, blues and yellows! Well I was quite unsure if I was at the right location, I was there for a concert and everyone there looked as if they were a part a grand wedding! There was the whole desi crowd decked in their best clothes and I looked pretty drab next to all these decked up people! Yup V has already got some ideas of what is in vogue in India and planned what to shop next!

We waited and waited growing impatient, drinking $4 pops and eating samosas, listening to loud ads for Hum Tum Radio City and finally around 9.05 we were let in and we got comfortable. And did what we always do the best - people watch and that was all we could do for the next 40 minutes. The show was ofcourse running on Indian Standard time and no one bothered to enlighten us why the show was being delayed or apologize for the delay. There was a mixture of languages thrown around and confusion prevails in a way it always seems to happen when you put a bunch of desis together. Here are some interesting ways to spend when you are waiting for a show to start (thanks to the junta at ARR concert @ Houston)

1) Call every single desi person in your contacts. 99% of them will be at the show. And your conversation will be something like this

You: Aree yaar! Do you hear me? Guess where I am

X : Speak up! Speak up! I can’t hear you! I am at the AR Rahman concert and the people are just going crazy!

You: Me too!! Me too!! Where are you? I am in $** ticket section. The stage is pucca clear from here

X: Oh me too! I also have a $** ticket. Which row are you?

You: I am in row xyz. Can you see me? I am waving at you. Get up and wave!

(Now starts the time of frantic waving. And you see every next person in the arena also glued to their mobile and waving and checking out)

X: Dude! I don’t see you. Did you get the section right?

You: Same here. Btw what color dress are you wearing? I am in my new green top/shirt I got at Neiman Marcus (go ahead and lie, no one is going to check it out!)

X: I still can’t find you.

Continue frantic waving and add a few dance moves! Watch out for fakes (like us) who for no reason just keep waving and irritating people!

You: Dude! I have another caller waiting cya. Keep looking for me!

Now continue the same with the caller!

What an amazing time pass for the caller and the people around them. We had free entertainment courtesy our neighbors at the concert! And by any chance if your friend is not at the concert, here is your chance to boast.

2) Now the organizers really wanted us to enjoy the concert and bring out the kid in everyone and hence they supplied glow sticks and flashing novelties to the crowd. And as desis we never leave a chance for a freebie. Here are snippets from conversations I managed to eavesdrop.

Aunty to Uncle: Dear just go and get couple of those flash things. They are giving it out at the counter. It is free and a nice gift

Uncle: Oh are you sure they are free?

Aunty: Yes I am really sure. Mrs.S with whom I just spoke said she picked up 3 of them. We sure need them.

Uncle: Okie Okie I am off.

A while later you get to see Uncle happily rotating those flashing stuff and get back.

Then the conversation

Aunty observing her neighbor Aunty 2 rotating her flashing novelty : Wow! Yours has a different color than mine. Where did you pick it up?

Aunty 2: Oh! They gave it to me at the counter. Is yours different?

Aunty to Uncle: Did you see her’s? Isn’t it different? Might be you should try to get one of those. They look so pretty.

Aunty 2 also repeats the same stuff to Uncle 2 and you could see both Uncles moving down to get different colored freebies!

And you could see people of all ages twisting those novelties to their heart content. Am I the only one who found it weird? Check out the whirling glow sticks

And finally the show begun! And that is for tomorrow! Watch for part 2 of Rahman's show in Houston

With inputs from KA and V's dance friends PD, SV and KB! Thanks!


Check this out!
Blackle saves energy because the screen is predominantly black. "Image displayed is primarily a function of the user's color settings and desktop graphics, as well as the color and size of open application windows; a given monitor requires more power to display a white (or light) screen than a black (or dark) screen." Roberson et al, 2002

Thanks KA for the tip!

thinking of you

V wanted this here!

Just a note to wish someone who is not here with me today.
Happy Birthday Mamaiyaa! Miss you loads!

And that's V with her grandpa

Guess what?

I found that the lights mentioned here, do a great job at concerts! They were amazing at the AR Rahman show last Friday. Actually it was just one of the few good stuff at the show (no I don't consider spandex wearing dancers with all possible props, bumping into singers good stuff!) A detailed review of the show coming up soon!

The moment of truth

It was inevitable. She knew she had to face the aftermath someday and it was the D-day. And there she was, left to face the music alone. Thinking back about the life she lead for the past month, she just sighed. It was easy to lose control, with temptations all around and the gang encouraging her, giving her the support she needed. And there she stood today, forcing herself to take the step forward and face the consequences. The world around her was now laughing at her. She can no longer run and hide. It was the moment of truth, she had to do it. She could see his face stand out amongst the sea of people. Was he laughing at her or encouraging her? She didn’t think any more, she was not ready wait any longer. She was ready to take the plunge. She closed her eyes and took her stand, fingers crossed, praying to all possible Gods she stepped on the weighing scale.

And that was V’s mind racing as she built up the courage to step on the scales this morning. After a month of eating all the wonderful concoctions V’s mom and granny whipped up, it is time to step on the scales!

And no! I am not telling the readings from the scale!

Silver Anniversary Wishes

25ème Anniversaire de mariage heureux!*

Wishing V's parents a wonderful 25th wedding anniversary! And a lifetime of love, joy and cheer!

* yes they are celebrating their anniversary in Paris!

Vacation -1

Our week long vacation started out early Saturday morning and we were off to Philadelphia, the 8.00 am flight out of Houston was uneventful. In Philly, we rented a minivan to accommodate our big group and the bustling suitcases. And there started our road trip. Here is the map of our road trip.

And that is R in our rental van

Our first destination was Mechanicsburg to visit family. It was joyful reunion. V’s mom and granny had a ball catching up with family news and gossip.Just a few miles east is Harrisburg, the capital of Philadelphia. A quaint, small town with loads of character. The city is on the banks of the River Susquehanna and has some old beautiful bridges. We visited the State Capitol and walked along the city center. R has captured some amazing pictures. Check them out here.

And that's R again on the Walnut street bridge with his beloved D70, clicking away

World Environment Day

Today is World Environment day. Here are some of my views on the topic written earlier.

Stop and smell the ???

The River Story

The Greatest Polluters - poverty and need

Baby Steps

Chennai Dreams

Being a Texan!

Texas reminds most people of the vast Wild West deserts, lone star cowboys, rodeos and ofcourse the BBQ’s. Texans love their BBQ and no visit to the Lone Star State will be complete without a BBQ place. My personal favorite is the Goode Company BBQ place on Kirby. Try their baked potatoes! It's worth dying for!

And what better way to entertain visitors than enjoy an evening of BBQed goodies. And that’s what we did the other evening. We fired off the grill at our patio, threw in some veggie burgers, tandoori chicken, veggies and let the smoky flavor fill the house. A variety of condiments and some fresh salad completed the meal.

Here’s the simple marinade we use for our tandoori

Yogurt, ginger-garlic paste, salt, chilli powder and some lemon juice in appropriate proportions.