Travel God?

Both V and R have a normal Hindu religious upbringing. From regular temple visits, to daily lamp lighting and poojas at home and some sloka chatting… you know the normal thing. They visit the temple regularly and pray to God, the way that was taught to them. Bowed head, hands together, eyes closed as the ringing bells mixed with the chanting of Sanskrit slokas fill the air, the smell of the burning oil/camphor mixed with the agarbati smell creating a haze… Eyes flutter open as the aarati is done before God and a frantic pleading to God in the form of a silent list of things to be done….

Late last night, just before going to sleep, V was just thinking about the hanging-in-the-air vacation planned, the one she desperately wants to go – a cruise to Alaska. Yes! the rational mind of her says, if not now, later probably early next summer but the other half tempts her with the amazing photos she has seen – her mind turning into a high-def TV showing snow capped mountains, pristine waters.. ahhh!! Bliss! Who doesn’t want such a vacation?And her immediate involuntary reaction was to pray.. pray to God to make her vacation a reality. But then the rational side of her took over. And here are some questions her rational mind asked… any answers?

  • Is it really worth asking God for a vacation?
  • Isn’t it petty? Trivial? There are so much more happening in the world one could pray for… no not the beauty contest world peace or the latest Bollywood actors interest in global warming issues. There are so many people whom we know personally who just need a boost. A vacation seems so stupid compared to their lives
  • And back to the same thing, we keep asking God for so much, the list grows by the day but what do we do in return. I really am not sure if giving thanks to God is a part of Hinduism. I could be totally wrong but I feel we just ask and ask but never say thanks (Pongal being the exception I guess). All our slokas seem to be praising the God and then asking for one’s own well-being. Correct me if I am wrong…

After all these questions, V just decided to keep her fingers crossed and mutter a small thanks for all the numerous things we have in life and leave the rest to Him! and the vacation... if we are going we'll surely let u know.. yup a few more crossed fingers won't hurt...

Potter Magic

Cross post from Vini's Corner on Chennaionline. com

Like millions around the world, I waited for the last book in the Harry Potter series on Saturday and was up till 2 a.m. that night finishing up the book. Reflecting back, it is amazing to accept that no wizarding world exists and there are no Hogwarts and Diagon Alley in the real world. J K Rowling, the author, has created a perfect world for anyone to take a trip to fantasy. The best thing about the book is that it is a good read for all ages. I enjoy it, my husband enjoys it, my young cousins enjoy it and, in fact, it has been many a conversation starters and savers with strangers.

No, I am not telling what happens in the book and you need to grab a copy for that. But overall I feel Rowling has tied together lots of loose ends in the final book and given us a series that the literary world would treasure. Beyond talks of dark magic, spells and death curses there are few things these books convey and it is that complicated yet subtly conveyed messages almost lost to the young reader that makes me admire Rowling more. Much more than her amazing creativity and ability to create a world all of her own.

All through the seven books, Rowling has conveyed through the various puppets she created mainly Harry, Ron, Hermione and Lord Voldemort, the basics of life. You know the usual things all parents teach their kids - the ones taught in the moral science classes in school. And it is the almost hidden messages that make these books special.

Unlike other super heroes, Harry is not the handsome, confident, know-it-all who rushes into burning fires and crumbling buildings to save the world. He is just another human being with fear of the future. He is the insecure rather unloved kid who is presentable at his best. He is not the best in studies or has had the undying support of family. He is the normal kid-next-door but he is the superhero of the series and that makes him special. It just projects the unwritten rule that to be the No 1, you need to work hard, trust your friends and instinct and be ready to face whatever is dished out. And above all, he is loyal and selfless, to his friends, the people who love and trust him and for these people he is ready to meet death. And isn’t that what parents teach their kids?

The next thing I love from the series are the mystical Dementors. These dark hooded creatures kiss their victims and suck away the victim’s soul. They suck away all good thoughts and leave the victim cold and dead within. And I look at these creatures as one’s fears. We all fear various things and there we go feeling all down and depressed. And how does Harry overcome these Dementors? The Patronus spell, a chant, the wave of the wand and most importantly, happy thoughts drive away the Dementors. And don’t we do that to our fears? And best of all, the Patronus spell works the best with practice, the more you think happy, the more easily you over ride soul-sucking fears. Another lesson from the cradle.

But the best thing, I admire Rowling for blending in easily from book one is the power of love. Especially a mother’s love. So powerful, so strong that even the darkest lord’s killing curse will not harm the child. And Rowling keeps it through till the very end. Love and just love differentiates Harry and his arch enemy, Lord Voldemort. And it is love that makes Harry the hero and Voldemort the villain. Simple and yet powerful!

If you have not yet read the books, pick them up somewhere and start reading them. It is an entertainer for all ages!

Connecting Dots

What sort of person are you?

The impulsive, spur-of-the moment person? or the one who makes sure every dot is connected sequentially?

We have always been the well-connected dots people... but over the past few weeks we are just given an empty canvas with dots everywhere and multi-colored markers and told to connect whichever way we want... and guess what we are totally confused and lost! And we hate it....

If you know V, you know that her patience levels are really low and now left to her own devices to connect dots without any plans is really getting her excited and ofcourse the prospect of erasing the connected dots and starting fresh every week is even more exciting! Yes she is nearing her boiling point!

We are waiting to step back into our usual lives....

Potter Potter

Inspite of entertaining guests at home and a prior commitment out of town, V did find time to pick up her copy of Harry Potter from the holds section in the library and was up late night finishing it off... R is now reading it..
Nothing much to tell about the book.. but yes it was fun while it lasted..

Day of Rants

It seems to be a day of rants..there has been so many crazy things going on in Pooh's Den! We hope we'll hit normalcy pretty soon.. till then... just keep your fingers crossed us! We just are praying for some sanity and time-out! Are we asking too much?

And then there were two!

We just got back from the airport after waving goodbye to V's granny and bro. It has been an amazing 70 days with family around. And now the house is silent and just the smell of the parotas we had for lunch is in the air. It feels strange, it feels weird. V is so scared how she'll survive. This is from the gal who spent 3 full years by herself, managing the household, cooking, cleaning and everything in between. Now it is so tough for her to imagine coming back home from work and not inhaling the wonderful aromas, the sounds of some stupid tamil serial blaring away, KA typing away on the computer. It is tough to imagine how the laundry will get done and ironed, trash taken out at right times, the floors swept and mopped, it is tough to imagine weekends without them, without planning for something to be done. It is going to be tough hitting the grocery stores without them. V cannot imagine lunch breaks at work without sharing the food with KA and laughing. It has been just 70 days with them in Houston and it is tearing us apart....

I know we should be grateful we had such a wonderful time and enjoy the memories but it sure is tough for V. Now it is just back to V and R with all the stuffed toys in the 1500 sq feet townhome.....

Hoping V's bro and granny have a safe trip to India. Their flight is in another 30 minutes and I am sure they have boarded the flight by now.

Miss you mom, dad, KA and granny! Can't wait for your next visit here or our visit to India.. whichever works out earlier!

Rant Central

Seems like it a day for rants. V rants

I am fed up with people who expect me to do things when they don't do anything else. If they need information, they need to ask me and should not expect me to inform them. It really is irritating to see grown-up people behave like kids. Everyone leads a busy life and there is no reason to assume that I am jobless and that I landed on earth to pass all information to them. No it is neither my job or duty to do it. Yes I admit I go out of way to pass information to friends but I don't do it to others. Come on! people get a life and quite making my mornings and blog rant central! Well ultimately it just alienates me and makes me more sure to move from my till date neutral stand! Whatever!

Green around the gills -3

I can't believe I am writing about it again! I don't know whether to rejoice or worry. As of now, we are past caring. We are just going to let our lawyers do the job and yeah we might have to cancel yet another vacation. After the first canceled one to Galapagos we am still upset and now the second one? V is fed up and upset.. there is nothing I can do. It is quite clear that a green card wins over our vacations... hmm are we jinxed or what? No she is not canceling our cruise to Alaska till the lawyers file our I-485s !
And you guys get lucky.. keep your fingers crossed please for either of the two choices 1) cruise to Alaska 2) Green Card! Take you pick!

Of begging squirrels and ducks

I have been harassed by a rather different cadre of beggars not the usual 2-legged homo sapiens and it has been really really funny!

V and baby bro KA have been eating lunch together the past few weeks at the school campus which has more squirrels than students this summer. These squirrels are gigantic (at least compared to their counterparts in India) and beg for food. They even go to the extend of following you till you feed them. They enjoy chapatis and Twix chocolates! They are daring enough to come close to you, stare at you for what seems like an infinitely long time before you give in and feed them. And to think I thought they were cute!

Here is a pic of KA feeding chapati to the squirrel

V's next incident with the animal kingdom is even funnier. A rainy, soggy Saturday afternoon, V heads to R's office (that overlooks a lake with a fountain and ducks). She parks the car and waits for R to come out. And immediately the car is surrounded by bandit ducks! Quacking and begging for food! They have been living off the food feed by kids who come to "feed the duckies" and a soggy summer day means no kids out and no food. They were all around the car, quacking away. Then they were joined by a few pigeons and grackles. And it looked like a bird circus! V had to roll up the window to prevent these beggars from flying in and eating her! And R comes out laughing and worst, they don't move when we were ready to leave. Well I was kinda hoping for a duck dinner that night but somehow it never did materialize.

A rather irritating experience

V met this rather interesting(?) person sometime back and has been wanting to rant about the whole interview experience! The interview part was fine but after that there was some discussions which left V mad! Normally V is not the kind of person to associate certain characteristics just coz the person was born somewhere. And by that I mean the usual North Indian/South Indian invisible divide. Both V and R have lots of North Indian friends and are never let the geographic location play a role in choosing friends. Ofcourse they have had heated North India vs. South India discussions with friends.

This person whom V met was a Punjabi and I would call him middle-aged probably in his mid 40's, quite a well-known name in his chosen profession which involves a lot of talking, information gathering and quick reflexes. And with that let us move on to what V found irritating during her discussion with Mr.X.

Mr.X : So where in India are you from?

V : From Tamil Nadu.

Mr.X : Oh from Madras! I am from Punjab

(This is where V starts getting worked up. Afterall Madras is not the only place in TN. But yeah she does understand many highly-educated people are weak in Geography and lets it go)

Mr.X : So what do you speak? Madrasi?

(The next nail on the coffin. This man who acts so knowledgeable does not even know the languages spoken in India!)

V (with a saccharine smile, and a little more loud than usual) : No I speak Tamil. And there is no language called Madrasi (you moron she wanted to add)

Mr.X : Are you sure? (WTF?) I thought people in South India spoke Madrasi!

V (slowly counting 10) : I am quite sure Sir!

Mr.X : So tell me what states are near Tamil Nadu?

V (with a so-you-don't-know-Indian-Geography smile) : Well sir, they are Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh

Mr.X: So what languages do they speak there? Do they all speak the same language?

V (looking at her watch and cursing herself for getting caught teaching Social Studies to Mr.Know-it-all) : blah blah blah

Mr.X: I thought they spoke Karrrrrrnatak in Karnataka

V: Sir! The language is called Kannada.

Mr.X: Kannat no Kannad right?

V: Kannada or Kannadam

Mr.X: Whatever (with a who-cares-shrug)

(V is reaching her boiling point by now)

Mr.X : So tell me are Tamil people misers?

(V shocked and her mouth open)

Mr X: You know not wanting to spend money like the Malayalees.

V: Sir that is a very general statement and I cannot comment on that

Mr.X: No! No! See Gujaratis spend on gold and others spend on dharu and clothes but I have seen Malayalee nurses wearing clothes that I wore in 50's and it was the fashion then

V (Crap! how did I end up thinking I'll enjoy being here) : Sir dressing is a matter of personal choice and preference

Mr.X : I know I know so tell me about Tamil people spending habits

V (Carefully) : Tamil people spend money on Kanchipuram silk sarees and gold jewellery

(V tries to give subtle hints about leaving and Mr.X is not bothered at all)

Mr.X: So tell me about Tamil movies. Is Rajini the superstar there still?

V: Rajini is the Big B of Tamil film industry and ofcourse there are other actors

Mr.X : There is no Sharuk Khan in Tamil

V: There are lots of young heros, who are smart and handsome and some even know to draw a line between acting and overacting

(Mr.X doesn't catch the sarcasm dripping in V's voice)

Mr.X : You know I saw a Taamil movie the other day and I thought I could be the hero

(V looking at his pot belly and for some weird reason thinks of him as the next VTR)

V: Sir! like any film industry there are good and bad in Tamil films and you should know which movies to watch

Mr. X: But how will I know that?

(V has reached her patience limits and keeps quiet)

Mr.X: You know and the heroine, was a little plump.. after a little thought she was like you. You could act in movies

V - (thanks for pointing out I am fat dumb-ass) Sir, Sridevi is a Tamilian, Rekha is a Tamilian

Mr.X : No Rekha is not Tamil. and Sridevi no way!

(V is past caring now and lets it go)

Mr.X: So you know, I was travelling and I met two South Indians, one was Tamil and another Kanad or something and they did not know Dilip Kumar. The great and he is better than any actor on earth

(V wanted to scream, you Mr. who does'nt know your motherland's geography and languages and you want to talk about Dilip Kumar? but she just smiled) - Sir, I need to go now. It was a pleasure meeting you. I'll contact you through email regarding the things we discussed.

A few days later she sent a sorry I am busy mail and let it go.

What pissed of V is that Mr.X was totally ignorant about India's geography but being the expert he is on Bollywood expects everyone to know about Bollywood. And to V, more than Bollywood, India is defined by its culture, heritage, history and people. Bollywood, Kollywood, Tollywood and all other woods are a part of India but they are more recent and are not considered history..
Well whatever! Just needed to rant

Koffee with Pooh

V hates anything coffee. She cannot bear the smell of coffee (ever heard of a Tamil gal hating coffee! here's your first specimen!) and on the other hand R loves coffee... he cannot survive with his daily dose of coffee...and we have put our coffee cups out for Ammani's Virtual Coffee Mornings in aid of Lafti ! What about you guys?

Is 4/10 a good score for India?

I chanced upon the July 9th issue of Newsweek at my doctor's office and guess what I read something that needs to be here...It had the list of top 10 cities in the world with the worst air pollution problems based on a survey by the World Bank and here they are

1) Cairo
2) Delhi
3) Kolkata
4) Tianjin
5) Chongqing
6) Kanpur
7) Lucknow
8) Jakarta
9) Shenyang
10) Zhengzhou

Vacation -5

After doing the typical touristy stuff at Niagara, we had a day to do something else and we were thinking about a trip into Toranto but later decided against it and headed out to the African Lion Safari.

It is a type of zoo where you drive through the gardens and watch the animals from the confines of your car. It is a bit more exciting than the usual behind-the bars animals as you get to see them move. We were in time to see the elephants enjoy a bath and R had a field day! And his photos are here and here.

And on our way back to Niagara Falls, we stopped at Niagara-on-the-lake. A quaint town with a laid-back feel. Bed and Breakfasts, vineyards and wineries are all over the place has all the makings of a romantic getaway. If you are looking forward for a quiet place to vacation and yet be close to the touristy thing, I would surely recommend you stay at Niagara-on-the-lake and head out to Niagara Falls for some action in the evenings.

This is the last in the series of our Summer 2007 getaway!

Happy Birthday !

Wishing V a very Happy Birthday many more happy returns of the day!

As V adds another candle to her cake, let's wish her a great year ahead much like the year that just passed and even better!! This year after a long time she got to celebrate her special day with her grandma and lil baby bro! Grandma made Gulab jamuns and vadais - V's favorite dishes to celebrate the occasion!

The past year had V enjoy a few good trips, join her masters degree program and have her family come over for a vacation. Hopefully the next year would bring more of the same: successful completion of her masters, a job, more trips and lots more fun with R and me!!!

Happy Birthday !

Wishing Mrs. AA a Happy Birthday! and many more happy returns of the same!!

Giving a roar for the tigers!

So you want to make the world a better place, you want to do something worthwhile...? Unfortunately we are not the Einsteins or even the Bushs of the world.. so what do we do? Simple, support the Save-the-tiger project!
The statistics are scary to say the least and the tiger is our national animal and there are good folks out there trying to save the magnificent beast! And Vikram Nandwani is selling prints of two tiger cartoons & doing custom caricatures to help raise money for a Community Conservation Project and yes he is doing one of V and R... and so can you.... Check out his blog and support the cause!

memory games

V's ramblings...

Are there times when you wish you were forgetful? Easily able to erase the past, the unwanted at will and move on? Photographic memory that helped all through the years be it the recitation competition at age 5 or the all important board examinations at 17... sometimes seems to be a bane.. sometimes like today!

Why we blog

We started blogging a few months back coz it was THE thing to do and over the last 6 months we have come to enjoy it. We blog for the fun of it, we are happy to have a place to dish out our nonsense. We don't care if anyone reads it or comments about it.. we just enjoy putting down what we feel into words and it is tough. And that is what blogging has given back to us. It has made us think outside the box and be able to put the cris-crossing thoughts in a more organized way. Or that is what we hope to do eventually. It has also got us interested in things which we never knew we liked. And the list is endless.

And no we do not blog because we are jobless. Both V and R don't have the regular 9 to 5 white-collared jobs. They work odd hours and they both enjoy their work. In addition to all the 101 other stuff they seem to enjoy doing, they also blog. Because they like it. They make it a priority and find time and fit it into their schedules.

No we are not writing for people to appreciate our time management skills. You read our blogs great! You love them great! You hate them fine with us! You comment on them great! But please please quit connecting dots and making assumptions about our lives.

Vacation - 4

The last destination of our vacation was Niagara Falls, Canada. Yes we did go to the Canadian side and it is definitely a better view that the American side. From NJ it was a good 7+ hours drive and crossing the border was a breeze. Once you learn to look past the tacky touristy attractions, the Falls is indeed amazing! It is astonishing how a small river and millions of years can create such a wonderful sight. The roaring falls and the mist rising from the falls is something to awe at.

We did the usual touristy thing at Niagara. If you are at Niagara for a day, I would recommend you buying their Adventure pass for around $40 USD. This pass gives you access to all the must-see places and also the mover bus. Our first stop was the Journey behind the Falls and once you are hundreds of feet below the falls it is a scary and yet amazing site. You cannot hear yourself over the thundering of the falls and the fine spray of water drenching you despite the yellow ponchos handed out. It is also an engineering marvel. Imagine blasting through rocks to build the tunnel!

Our next stop was the Greenhouse. A deserted and not so famous tourist area...but amazing display of hydrangeas greeted us. We spent sometime enjoying the gardens before heading to the famous Maid of the mist boat ride. And what do I say about the Maid of the Mist, it is worth visiting it. I also makes me wonder how these resourceful people turn a falls into the much talked about and touristy attraction. India sure has tons to learn about marketing and developing its amazing resources.

The Whirlpool Aero Car, the Butterfly Conservatory, The floral clock and the White Water Walk were other things we did at the Niagara Falls. Ofcourse we were there for the night illumination and fireworks at the Falls on Friday evening and later hit the casino. The age for entry into casino's in Canada is 19 so baby bro KA got lucky and enjoyed the gambling scene.

R has some great pictures here and here

Photo Courtesy: KA and V's dad

Thinking Blog!

Lavs made my day by nominating me for the Thinking Blogger Award!! Now Lavs if you could just get off those extra pounds taking permanent residence in V's ahem... hips, you have found yourself a lifelong follower (especially useful when you decide to start a political party! I promise she'll wear whatever idiotic colors your party endorses.) Jokes aside, thanks Lavs.
And for the blissfully ignorant, the Thinking Blogger Award started here. The rules are simple and straightforward and are
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote

So here are my winners!

1. Kavi: He brings in simple things that happen everyday and make you look at them all over again!
2. Krish Ashok : Along with Jalsa and Jilpa he does make you laugh and smile with his witty posts
3. Baby bro KA: Am surprised to see how different things that fascinate KA are when compared to V. But more surprised that he took V's bait and started blogging. I love the humor he infuses into his posts effortlessly.
4. Sunshine : Everyday life given with a different perspective and a easy flow of language
5. Shruthi: From her blog name to all of her posts, it is thinking all the way about anything from A-Z

Green around the gills -2

More confusion regarding the Green Card processing and it looks like we canceled our vacation to Galapagos a little too early. The latest news from USCIS tells that we can't file our I-485's now and that they lead us on a merry ride all these days!! Hmm we just keeping waiting!

Being a granny's baby gal all over again

V has been sick the past couple of days. You know the usual cold, cough, flu and the works. It just has to run its course and there is nothing that can be done to make it disappear. V being the independent gal she has been for the past 3 years has faced enough of these colds to know what works for her and what does not. She pops in Advil cold and sinus tablets and goes through boxes of Kleenex as if there is no morrow. R being the loving husband he is, finds himself helpless and tries in his own way to make this easier for V. Making cups of hot chai or giving a good massage to help her aching body.

But this time around when V started showing the first symptoms of cold, granny was right behind her dispensing her practical advise learnt over the years as she wiped off the snotty noses of 4 siblings, 2 children, 4 grandchildren and other assorted people. It is quite different to have someone take care of you after being on your own. She was there applying Vicks on my forehead and nose and urging or rather ordering V to take deep breaths and not to let the stream escape as V covered her head with a towel and bend her head into a bowl of boiling water, willing the stream to take away her cold. She stood next to V and everytime V came out of her burkha (as I call it) she was there wiping away the sweat and applying more Vicks and recalling childhood incidences.

Granny raided V's pantry for whatever can be converted to herbal medicines and she found stuff that really did help V. She was there ordering V to wear thick clothes on a day when the mercury touched 84F and telling her to plug her ears with cotton as V headed over to work. It was a touching scene. Yes! V did a lot of eye-rolling!

Granny could see V as her first born grand kid, a kid and V saw herself as a 20 something grown-up who knows how to take care of herself. And this was one of the times I realized the miles that separated us. Had we lived in somewhere close by V's family would be there to take care of her the second they know she is sick. But unfortunately we live across the seven seas as granny puts it and the travel in itself is a torture. How I wish we were closer..

Don't get me wrong here. R goes the extra mile to make V feel better when she is sick. He does the chores and is there getting whatever she wants. But seeing V sick and tired makes him feel worried and you could see the worry lines lining his face as V gets into her sneezing or coughing bouts. He feels helpless and it hurts him to see V in pain.

But with granny it is different, she has seen numerous colds and fevers and knows what does the trick and with whom. She knows it takes time and knows miracles don't happen when you are sick. She knows it takes time and soon V'll be better.. Meanwhile V is enjoying being sick and having granny look after her.

And we are back!

After spending the better part of the weekend playing around with colors and xml files we are back. R has been amazingly patient, fixing up the code, creating the photo banner and dealing with V's ever changing ideas. Thanks R. We love you!!
What do you think of the new look? There are some glitches at some places. If you spot something just let us know.