After a number of blotched attempts we are off for a mini-vacation! And with the vacation comes in V and R's new venture, scary-on. If you have ever traveled with a photographer, you know how much they treasure their camera and their lens and how worried they are traveling with them. And have you seen their camera bags? Big bulky ones which can never fit in the carry-on overhead cabins and that exactly is what scary-on is all about. All of V and R's travels include a big scary-on camera bag and lots of fun and adventures

Welcome to scary-on and take a look into the vistas they discover...

The bond that binds us

V and R

our siblings,
blood and otherwise,

It has been indeed a wonderful ride over the years and never can we imagine life without you. Thanks for being there for us and for doing small things that matter! We love you and we miss you!

A cute pic from the past, V's bro and cousins

Big people, small minds

V rants,

If there is something I enjoy the most a slice out of Indian culture, it is the guru-sishya relationship. The old adage "matha, pita, guru, theivyam" had been drilled into my mind, and yes I followed it. Respect to teachers come naturally, and it continues, miles away but nothing changes. And more than the regular classroom and syllabus-based learning, you learn a lot when you just are around the expert. And just when you think such teachers, motivators and such students are no more, think again. Most classical art forms of India are still taught the old-fashioned way. Guru is still Guru whether the class is in Chennai or in Chicago; the student still starts the class with a traditional namaskar and seeks the blessings of the Guru before the class begins. And the atmosphere is so conductive for the interested student and the ever creative teacher finds ways to motivate even the not-so-interested student. And that is how I learnt to love dance. Though I loved the concept of dance, it is my Gurus who motivated me, challenged me and continue to mold me into the dancer I hope to be. And believe me; I have light years to go!

So you ask me what I am ranting about. It is the role of Gurus as role models to students like me. I am truly blessed. As a Bharatnatyam student, I have had 2 amazing Gurus and who have made dance a part of who I am today. From my Gurus, I have just not nritta, nritya and abinaya, but much more. Dance teaches me about my culture, mythology, history and a deeper appreciation of other art forms. But dance has just not made me an art-knowledgeable person; it has made me a better human being. It has made me learn to challenge myself and dream for the ultimate. It has taught me all about hard work and its rewards, it has taught be about compromise and friendship It taught me to respect who I am and owe what I learnt to my Gurus. It taught to me what ethics are, what copyright issues are beyond any textbook. And most importantly it has taught me what no engineering class work taught me, it taught me that to be a Guru, you need to put Him above everything and put your art form with Him. It taught me, to be recognized as a Guru, more than your art skills, your PR skills, your performances, your awards, the number of years you have been teaching, the number of arangetrams and kutcheris you successfully complete, you need to be a magnanimous and good human being.

And some incidents over the weekend, brought be crash landing to earth. People whom I respected even without knowing them well as a Guru, whom I looked upon to disappointed me by behaving petty. Does success blind people so much? How can a Guru tell her student not to acknowledge the other Guru? Bigger the name, smaller the mind? Is this what Gurus are teaching their shisyas? I always felt India is amazing because people are so tolerant to each other. But I never expected this petty behavior from stalwarts. I really do not want to put forth names and details but it hurts. And it makes me see things clearer and I take home this lesson. Success is not measured by your awards, your rewards but by the way you carry yourself, by being open-minded, by facing your competition with a smile as winning is not everything in life.

Disappointed but wiser is my current state of mind and this when I really feel lucky for having the best Gurus to guide me and I officially learn Bharatnatyam but being the person you are, I have learnt much more lessons that I would have otherwise learnt the hard way.

Double Celebrations

Time for double celebration! Both R's brother and sister celebrate their wedding anniversaries today! Wishing Mr. and Mrs. S and Mr. and Mrs. A a happy anniversary and many more years of love, luck and happiness

Memories and Wishes

Years ago, friends, dance, fun and cultural experience through SPIC MACAY Mangalore Chapter!
Onam Wishes!

Tortoise coil swirls

Remember those tortoise coil swirls to show flash back scenes in the movies? Time for those at poohsden

4 years back, August 2003:

V and R did not know each other existed! V did'nt know even a wee bit about photography and R did not know the words like varnam and thillana existed

3 years back, August 2004:

V and R knew each other for say 4 months and were getting tired of smiling at strangers and trying to play the identification game at Ramji Mahal, Trichy. Incase you do not know about the identification game, read here...

2 years back, August 2005

The much-hyped about first anniversary, candlelight dinner and lots of gifts and stuff!

a year back, August 2006

V and R were backpacking through Germany. Koln, Munich, Fussen, Rothenburg, Weikersheim... A wonderful trip through the country, clicking photos, enjoying themselves before heading to India.

The tortoise coil swirls out and bringing you back to the current day!

V and R celebrate 3 years of togetherness! And it sure has been a fun ride with its ups and downs and every passing year has been fun at poohsden... looking back, the past year has been great and as V and R walk through life's potholed streets together here is wishing them the very best intuition, swerving away skills, swearing skills and shock absorbers. Moving on, creating memories, savoring them and discovering the world!

Identification game

Location : any wedding hall
Main characters : newly married couple, some far off relative (also known as a stranger) X
Others: well meaning relatives who seem to know the whole world
Background music: Anything loud enough to tear your eardrums played by the local band
Props: garlands, big big gift boxes, cash envelopes dyed yellow at the corners, flashy jewelery, excessive flowers, balloons and what not

X: Congrats! do you remember me?
the couple : (look at each other to assess if it is someone related to the other person) smile sheepishly and turn to the help of the well meaning relatives who are busy chatting with someone else and cannot help you out.
X: (ah! this is my chance let me feed on the couple before feeding on the feast below. I hope they made vengaya sambhar and added lots of cashews and ghee to the cooking, you never know these stringy people) Come on you know me!
the couple:
scenario 1: oh! I am sorry! It has been a while since I met you.. and get ready for a lecture and really embarrassing story of what you did eons ago at X's house in front of your new spouse.
scenario 2: yeah we remember how are you? life is good thanks... please go and eat and enjoy yourself. Pass our regards to your family..
generally people accept scenario 2 and pose for photos and leave for the dining hall, the smells enticing them but the worst is when scenario 2 backfires,
X: okie tell who I am
the couple: (oh crap! will he never let us sit down for a minute) more sheepish smiles and ribbing, till the next in line pushes him off and comes to talk to the couple!

When it rains..

It just pours... Houston atleast the area we are has been experiencing heavy rains, thunder and lightning. Flooded streets... well what else can you expect with 6 inches of rain dumped in around 6 hours. The sky has cleared up a bit now and the rains have stopped and it is quite possible that by the time V and R head home it would be clean and clear... unless we get more rain!

The Houston Fire Department says if you don't have to go out, don't. Well now the bosses have a reason to keep V and R at their desks till late evening... while I keep dreaming about hot chai and millagai baji....

Update at 1pm : A quick check at the weather reports say that the cleared skys are but temporary! It is going to pour again!

Update at 3pm: There is a break in our area. No big rains since noon. Water is draining fast and that is good news. Reports of more rain going on. Hopefully not. V got a call from the Crisis management team at her school asking her to stay safe and leave home if necessary!

Update at 4pm: The sun is out and things are drying out. Looks like H-town survived another 6 inch rainfall day! Just another day at work for most I guess!

Erin came and now waiting for Dean!

Tropical Strom Erin made landfall early this morning making it a soaking wet day in Houston. Yes it is nice to have some rain after days of blistering heat. Tropical Storms are what are called depressions in India and they just dump rain and some high speed winds. And if you live in coastal Texas you just get used to it. Luckily Houston is not a coastal town but we are quite close to the Gulf of Mexico. On the other hand, unluckily Houston was a swamp before it became the happening city it is today. Swamps drained, streams (or bayous as they are called) re-routed and clayey soil all add upto a great recipe for flooding which is biggest problem with any storm making a landfall in the coast.

Now Dean is going to be a totally different story. It is a hurricane or you can call it a cyclone or typhoon depending on which part of the world you live in. Unlike in India, hurricanes in US are named alphabetically and it alternates between a girl's name and a guy's name. Pretty funky system if you ask me! Well now about Dean, it is currently near the Lesser Antilles and getting ready to wreck havoc in Florida and might be some parts of the Texas coast. It is really too early to forecast things say the meteorologists and I would think with their oh-so-sophisticated technologies it would be otherwise. Well currently they predict it to be a Cat 4 when it reaches the US waters and it just means on the destruction scale from 1 to 5, 1 for the least destructive and 5 for the most, Dean could cause some serious damage.

So this weekend we plan to make basic prep incase we experience an emergency and Dean decides to hit Galveston just 45miles from Houston. Stocking up on basic non-perishable stuff like water, some canned food, a first-aid kit, batteries, flash-lights etc. We also plan to design a grab and go package which just means, incase we are asked to evacuate it will be the package we grab and leave. It would contain the most important documents and some other stuff. So if you live in the coast make an evacuation plan please. It is essential and stock up now instead of waiting for the last minute.

Stay safe everyone!

'Tis the season!

Yup you read that right, and no it's not even close to the end of December, but still there's a special something in the air, hopes are high and you can just sense the anticipation!! Here in the US, the football (American version) season is just about to begin.

In case you're not aware, football is the most popular sport in the US (sorta like cricket in India), and the football season runs from the end of August till February. The NFL (professional league) and the NCAA (collegiate league) go on almost simultaneously for most of this period. While the NFL has superior players and is a professional run organization, nothing comes close to the emotions and pageantry of college football. R, having attended Texas A&M University, a school thats proud of its football traditions is "maroon blooded" like the rest of his fellow aggies!

Well, when I talk of football traditions, you really need to experience it to understand it. There is a saying that football is a religion in Texas, and as R's aunt AS puts it the feeling as gameday comes College Station TX is similar to a thiruvizha in India. The night before the game is a big party in town. At midnight a huge crowd gathers at the stadium (Kyle Field) to practice yelling, to intimidate the visiting team! Then the next morning, people start gathering at the parking lots with their BBQ equipment and TVs hooked up to their RV's to catch the pre-game shows and other games being broadcast. Aggie fans take pride in treating the visitors hospitably and visiting fans are invited for a bite, a drink and good natured ribbing.

Now, at the beginning of the season, none of the teams have lost a game yet, and the anticipation is high. Most fans have finished laying their bets and giving their opinions of how their teams are going to fare. R has his own little bets with his cousins KS and NS (there NS, you get your mention even before the promised feb '08 deadline!). I know V & R are getting set to ride the emotional roller-coaster for the next few months and I'll keep you posted on the highs and lows till the end of the season!

Traveling around the world!

The world has shrunk and check out the cool destinations our new ipod travels before reaching us. Designed in California, shipped from Shanghai and reaches Houston via Anchorage...

My Patriotism

This is something that irritates me. Just because I live in the US it just doesn’t give any resident Indian to question my patriotism. Yes I made a choice to celebrate my nation’s 60th year of Independence miles away. It was my personal choice and just because I live in Houston today doesn’t mean I am a bit less Indian than the one who lives in Hyderabad and sips the same contaminated coca-cola like me or the one in that AC office, with a fake American accents and flakier Westernized name.

I am very much an Indian and with every achievement of the country I personally rejoice. And yes you, resident Indian is one of the millions leading the nation to where it is today. Kudos to you. I applaud you. But quit judging me. Why do you think I cannot celebrate the Indian Independence day here? And you resident Indian tell me what you personally do on August 15th? Get up late, crib about the quality of Indian roads and traffic and spend time watching TV. Is that your great Indian passionate Independence Day celebration? Please quit judging me.

My life, my rules and I live it!

28,800 seconds...

28,800 seconds spent trying to figure out how to iron out some technicalities... 28,800 seconds spent glued to the computer starting from 6am.. and still no solution... it has been one of those Monday mornings at V's end.. not quite different with R, just 3 spreadsheets and a VB program open trying to figure stuff out..
Is it something in the water? Hope Tuesday is a better day

Heat advisory, cooling stations and the rest

Most of US has been under a severe heat wave and Houston being no exception. Temperatures hitting 100+. Personally I have no complaints, yes it is hot and the minute you enter the grocery store you freeze to death. But I survive. We were at a small serve yourself sandwich place and at one of the tables, I saw a woman in her late fifties, shabbily dressed doing some puzzles. She did look out of place at the sandwich shop with the Rice Village frequenting crowd. I noticed she just had a drink in front of her and no food trays or anything. Then a few minutes later, I see a cop enter the deli and go directly to the woman and kind-of question her and tell her to keep moving. The cop added that she had been there for around 3-4 hours just sipping a drink and carrying on with her work.It was then it hit me, the poor woman is one of the hundreds who are homeless or who do not have an AC at home to keep them cool this summer and there she was trying to spend the hot afternoon hours inside a cool building. I felt bad for her and it also made me wonder what the government or the city do to protect people from heat strokes and such. And I found my answer here.. is it the best solution? na no way! But atleast something...

And with the temperatures soaring, V and R have been content being at home and enjoyed the lazy, relaxing weekend. Small projects around home, a quick visit to the library to stock up, experiments in the kitchen... and now back to workday!

You know you are working too much when...

Location : Pooh's den
Time : Lunch
Props: A bottle of multi-vitamins (Centrum)
Subject: Need for Zinc supplements to prevent mouth ulcers
Background: V has been working on writing up her thesis and that involves reading to tons and tons of books, documents, previous thesis and whatever all saved either as pdfs or docs. Scanning through to pick out what she really needs is the trick!

V takes the bottle and scans the list of ingredients at the back and sees hundreds of them. Her eyes cannot spot Zinc. Instinctively she wants to press Ctrl+F and type Zinc!!

Yes it was a good stress-buster! But yeah just another small reminder to take things easier and at a slower pace.

Peach = Papaya???

V is a Bath and Body Works addict.. you know the place that sells body lotions and shower gels and 101 other things in a variety of aromas and colors. These are the people who add color and different aromas to the normal Vaseline body lotion that you can pick up at your corner drug store and call them sweet pea, sun ripened raspberry, moonlight blooming jasmine, moonlight path and fleece people. The same lotion goes into a variety of containers and are called foot cream, body butter, body cream and hand lotion. And the funny thing is there are folks (read women) like V who are addicted to the place.

V's latest body lotion is Midnight Pomegranate, her hand lotion is sensual jasmine vanilla, her foot lotion is rosemary and peppermint and her body splash (just another fancy name for deodorant) is wild honeysuckle!! Who can resist these names and the beautiful way they are sold... more than anything else I bet B&BW sells its products coz of its marketing... and this became evident yesterday..

V took out a new pale orange shaded bottle of sparkling peach shower gel. The front of the bottle decorated with peaches lush and fresh, a hint of the leaf, a perfectly halved peach... it was indeed a sight... an idle and yet curious mind turned it over and it read Velvety Georgia peaches glow in a summer orchard. Bright. Juicy. Vivacious. It was just so inviting.. just below it is a list of the Naturally Pampering Ingredients.... something Papaya and something Aloe Vera!! No mention of the lush peaches... and V is the papaya hater... even the thought of mushed up chemicals added papaya on her skin is ready to drive her crazy... another marketing gimmick!!

Recycling H-town

Just read this bit about recycling in Houston! And it is pretty sad that for the 4th largest city in the US. We really are so behind times.

and yes we put out our green bin overflowing with paper and other assorted cans every alternate Monday.