A sixer!

Got this off Chandini's ! Loved the idea. The idea is to simply sum of our lives in 6 words

and here's mine

"Mind plans, dreams but heart rules "

Go ahead,describe your life in six and post it in the comment section!

Eskimo Village sues over Global Warming!

The first of many! I am sure there will be many more of such law-suits. Interesting and I look forward to the progess and verdict from this case.

Source: CNN

It is time to Rodeo!

The Houston Livestock and Rodeo is coming to town. Time to pull out those jeans, cowboy hats and boots and gear up! Cowboys and everything related to them form the crux of this 20-day long extravaganza in Houston. From Ford-150's to the famous Hannah Montana, Houston offers them all. Lasso a cow or a cowboy, enjoy BBQ the way it should be done, two-step to country music and shop for the best livestock in town!

It is here and we are ready for it! The parade through downtown Houston to kick off events is on March 1st followed by the World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest at the Reliant Arena. The other events start from March 3rd. Details about this year's rodeo are here.

There are numerous packages and individual tickets for the events happening these 20 days. We are picking up the FunPass! package that includes unlimited admission through the run of the Show to the World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (includes free chopped brisket sandwich meal), Carnival Reliant Center and Reliant Arena to visit the livestock and horse shows, shopping and food booths. It sounded like a good deal coz we really were not planning to sit through the country music concerts and we live quite close to Reliant Arena. So we are ready to Rodeo and more about the Rodeo coming up soon!

Nirvana is...

Nirvana is ....

- 4.30pm
- on the patio
- a cup of masala tea
- 4 marie biscuits
- the warm Texas sun
- the beach breeze
- chirping birds
- the trees and flowers showing off their spring best
- children playing the yonder
- home alone enjoying all this.........

Don't I love this season? Well I can enjoy it for the day before the next cold front moves in...

A Warm Texas Sunday filled with Peace and Tears

It was my kind of day. Warm and with promises of a beautiful spring. My kind of day. The sunglasses are out and we head out to the Meenakshi Temple (R has a post on the temple here). A good 30 minute ride from home, the warm sun on the face, laughing and talking with a friend on the phone. A perfect weekend!

The temple is no way grand compared to temples in India but it brings them both an inner peace. They walked along sanathi to sanathi enjoying the peace, the weather and just life in short. The swaying neem trees, the peacocks behind the Ganesh temple, the newly planted marigold plants, the incense and oil smell floating in the air, the kumkum and vibudhi lines on their forehead, - they felt blessed.

Their last stop was the Aiyyapan sanathi. Just as they were about to enter in, they see an old man come out accompanied by his wife and another couple. They stop to let them pass and the old man lifts his hand in a silent thanks and carefully walks away. They enter in, and in front of the Pillayar she bows down her head, her hands held together. She could not stop herself from turning around to take one last look at the old man walking away. He is somebody she has never met, but he just reminded of someone she knew... someone she loved... tears streamed down her eyes and she prayed, "hope he has a granddaughter who loves him as much as I loved mine and hope his granddaughter shows her love and takes time to be with him unlike me"

A prayer for a stranger or was it something else all together?

Just for laughs! Adsense and Mexican brides

It seems today is the day for laughs!
You might have seen my pathetic attempt to earn some pennies (believe me, it is literally pennies) through this blog and have a couple of adsense links. And this was one of the ads I saw in my blog today,

Why should it be there? I have no idea.

Spam for the day

I just wrote about the amount of spam emails I receive on weekends. It is Saturday morning 6.35am and it is no different. There are tons of spam mails and guess who the newest kid in the block is..

- Spam emails for designer/brand name shoes and footwear. This is what my email says

Gucci Prada Dsquared D&G & Other Top Fashion Designer Shoes and Boots Amazing DEALS HERE....

Gosh! they sure know how to tempt people...and I bet we'll be spending quite some hours at the stores trying out new shoes this weekend....a small bit from Poohsden towards the economy.

Of course the usual software, replicas, work-at-home and pharmacy deals continue to haunt me!

Oh don't just love getting up on weekend mornings and deleting spam!

Jinx broken

And with my last post I broke the jinx. For the past 5 months, since September this blog has not seen more than 11 posts a month. I felt bad that I was not writing as much as I wanted to. But as always with life so many other priorities creep in and it is our hobbies that take the first hit.

School, projects, interviews, travel, dance, household chores have been taking up all the time. I know it isn't about the number of things I do, it is about time management. After all I did not win a Nobel Prize or any other kind of recognition the past 5 months. And add to this a writers block and the blog becomes history.

I did keep in touch with other blogs but that too was erratic and we are now back. With the jinx broken V and R have actually spent time discussing the blogs this week. February has been a good month. We have actually been able to tackle our to-do lists and take things a little more easier. More books read, new hobbies developed, more blogging and more fun!

Look forward to more ramblings and more from Poohsden is the coming weeks!

Photo tag

I saw this over at Broom's and knew I had to do it.

Here is V at the wise old age of 3.
Naughty, bratty and adorable as she always has been!

And that is R from his Mumbai days! Cute and lovely!
Check out his curls... he still has them

This tag has been going around the blogworld for a while now and if you have not done it please take it up. Lavs, Sementi, Kavi and Suja please go ahead and post your childhood pics.

Edited to add: KA please take up the tag also

Four years

Four years ago, she cried heart-broken. Losing a much loved one is never easy, saying goodbye was probably the hardest thing she did in her 21 years of sheltered existence. She cried buckets, tears flooded her eyes every minute, tears of memories and a wish to turn back time.

She learned to live, grow and move on. Time flew past her, she made memories, relived on the past memories.

Today, she cried again. Four years to date and the tears still overpower her, the emotions and images in her mind's eye are vivid. She cries, as if her tears will bring him back to life, tears of fear, fear of forgetting the past with time....

Time they say heals, yes it is healing but does she want to be healed is the question she asks herself. The memories with time have become just a blur, they just don't flood her every waking second. It makes her feel so much distant, so much far away from him. It makes the past like a sweet dream, you barely remember. You know the fuzzy and nice feeling you get when you wake up after a good dream a tiny smile on the face and a sunny disposition all through the day.

Their past together was more than a sweet dream. It was filled with ups and downs. Temper tantrums and silent moments spent reading the newspaper. Sharing trivia and travel tales. Under the branches of the magilampoo tree, showered by the falling flowers, early in the morning, they discussed breathing exercises and fluid mechanics.

In the room they called the study, with a small TV tucked inside one of built-in bookshelves, they shared the morning news and vayalum valvum. Her treasures were hidden within his treasured collection of books, away from the prying eyes of the rest of the family. In the study, the fought, fought over mathematics and numbers. Her lack of understanding and his patience were indeed a sight to see, so they say. It was lucky the room was designed with doors that cannot be banged shut with her temper. Might be he designed it just for her? Forseeing such temper tantrums?

It was never a sweet dream as it seems today and she is scared. She wants to remember in detail, in techni-color the ups and downs. The journey of love and learning she shared with him. Time is cruel, she feels. Four years and life without him seems so normal... How can it be she asks the picture of him on her table. How can life without you ever be fine she screams at him in heart. As she knows there will be no answer. There will be no answer and she will have no doors to bang to ease her temper. But her eyes washed with tears deceive her logical mind. She feels or rather senses him give his standard wry smile and tell her poo jitu, pooi velaiya paru. A smile and voice she was so familiar with... so familiar with... is fading and fading....

Today is the 4th death anniversary of V's grandpa. And this is what is going on in her mind right now.

Spam Sundays

Have you realized that the amount of spam the inbox lovingly receives increases drastically on Saturdays and Sundays? Anything from replica watches, fake diplomas, drugs, medications and ways to become an agent for some strange company or act as the next-of-kin to a slain multi-billionaire, all oh-so-interesting mails find a way to the inbox in droves over the weekend.

I have been observing this trend for quite a while and always wondered, why over the weekend? (Yes there are people in our household who are logged on to computer even on weekends spying on who comes online on gtalk and how long they stay on! Wi-fi at Poohsden makes life so much "more connected "). But why on Sundays? No one in the right mind ever emails on weekends (Unless it is your cranky boss wanting some details asap or it is your long-lost relative who needs a favor). Weekends have long become family times and times to get the chores done. Who does the chores at the spammers household wonders V....after all 90% of the precious weekend time here goes to cleaning the house and cooking.

Are spammers part-time weekend workers? Or are spammers lonely souls who once had nicknames like bored_lonely_alone@home and IMed hi, asl, c2c? to virtual strangers? Did the cyber chatting scene leave them high and dry that they decide to cash in on the spam market? Or did they see an job opportunity for spammers (weekend jobs) on the local newspaper and assume it meant eating box after box of spam? (which would turn off any normal human unless they happen to be Hawaiian)

Religiously whether I make the trip to the Meenakshi temple on weekends or not, I delete the spam in my inbox every weekend and wonder about spammers and the way their mind works.

Of Valentines day - Jewelry, Chocolates and Wine

Jewelry, Chocolates and Wine are always linked with romance and of course Valentines Day. They are the traditional gifts for the one you love.

V used to live on chocolates for the 4 years when she was forced to eat what was called food. Easy way out from the crisp chapatis and half-cooked veggies - a bar of trusted chocolate - instant sugar and energy and a treat for the senses. There was in fact days when she was called a chocolate vending machine - she always was able to pull out something sweet and yummy from her bag. Her favorite from those days were the Bar One chocolates. And for a environmental and human right conscious love of your life, check out the
options available here. I have seen some of these brands off my regular grocery store in Houston and slowly but surely I plan to make the switch.

And before you pick up your next bottle of wine, do take time to read this list.

Diamonds, pearls, rubies and jade are all of course a gal's best friend. And here are
tips to buy these items. V loves the go antique idea. Time to raid granny's and mom's loot. After all antique is currently "in" in the world of fashion.

The question you might ask is, "are we going totally organic and fair-trade and watch every tiny thing we buy/use?". The answer is of course NO. We try to buy and use organic stuff but as you probably know organic stuff are more expensive and not so readily available. But we are making an effort every now then to be more educated and aware of the environment and all the issues that tag along with it including human rights, forced labor etc. We will never be activists but just be small-time messengers and followers. The links above are a lesson for us. A list which we'll take a look the next time before we pick up a box of chocolates!

Red roses and Valentines

It is that time of year again. Red is the color of the season around the world except in Saudi Arabia where wearing red is banned! Everything is red and pink and shaped like a heart. From boxer shorts to chocolate boxes. As always I believe this is just another marketing trick and every year it just gets extravagant. Everything is just priced up.

Long back V and R made this agreement not to buy over-priced gifts for V day and hang on to the love for a day more and hit the shops on Feb 15th for gifts. And if you did not know it, the best time to buy Valentine’s Day chocolates remain the day after Valentine's day when everything is clearanced in the stores. From Godiva and Lindt chocolates to T-shirts with cupids. V actually thinks it a good time to hit the shops and stock up on her private stash of chocolates and soft toys.

Flowers remain an eternal favorite and the latest statistic shows that nearly 70% of the sales of red roses are for Valentine's Day. Logically February is not the ideal time for roses to bloom. The ground is cold and frozen in the Northern Hemisphere and hence adds the cost of importing these flowers from countries like Ecuador.

I came across this interesting piece of info on Yahoo's green page. Might be it will make you think again before buying those dozen roses.

Nothing says love like a long-stemmed red rose… but at what cost to the environment?
How are those flowers grown? Where do they come from? And how eco-friendly is it to buy a bunch of hothouse flowers in the dead of winter anyway?

About 214 million roses were produced for Valentine's Day 2007, according to the
Society of American Florists, and this continues to be the number one holiday for florists. About 70% of all cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported. Most come from Colombia and Ecuador. Unfortunately, Latin American flower growers use a lot of chemicals on their products, including pesticides that have long been banned in our country.

Natural Resources Defense Council notes that roses have been found with more than 50 times the pesticide residues allowed in food. Florists who handle these flowers frequently develop dermatitis on their hands. But those who suffer the worst are the farm workers themselves. Studies in Ecuador, Colombia, and Costa Rica found that nervous system damage, genetic damage, miscarriages, premature births, and congenital deformities are all linked to chemical exposure in the flower industry. Plus, runoff from these pesticides pollutes the waterways due to lax environmental laws in South America.

So what about that bouquet? You do have some earth-friendly options for your sweetie. Look for organic, fair-trade, or sustainable -- ideally, you'd get a flower that's all three, but that's admittedly tough to find. But any one of these will be better for the planet than a generic bloom. You can buy flowers that are certified
USDA organic. Look for the same "organic" logo that you already find on foods. TransFair has begun certifying fair-trade flowers. The fair-trade label guarantees that workers get decent wages and the products are grown in an environmentally responsible manner. Another label to watch for is VeriFlora. This program certifies that flowers are sustainably grown with fair labor practices, and if they're not organic, the grower is on the path to becoming organic. Certification is conducted by a recognized neutral third party.

Where can you buy flowers with any of these labels? Ask your local florist to start carrying certified roses. Also,
supermarkets like Trader Joe's and Safeway now carry VeriFlora-certified flowers, plus Whole Foods may sell organic flowers. Sam's Club has fair-trade certified roses. The specific selection varies depending on your location. You can order now online in time for Valentine's Day at various sites. All of the roses at Organic Bouquet and Organic Style are VeriFlora-certified and some are certified organic.The "planet-friendly" section of 1-800-Flowers features organic and fair-trade bouquets and gift baskets including one bunch of fair-trade certified roses. FTD has a "go green living" section with flowers described as 'certified sustainably grown,' but the site doesn't say where the certification comes from. When I called the 800 number, nobody could tell me more about this issue, so I'm not sure if this is green-washing or legitimate.For more certified organic flowers, visit Diamond Organics and California Organic Flowers, or search Local Harvest for a farm near you.

If you can find local flowers this time of year, do buy them. But while so many of our cut flowers are imported, florists note that those roses are
shipped in the cargo holds of passenger jets which would already be making the trip. Fragile plants can't exactly go in container ships like other imports. Thus, it's hard to say how they're adding to your carbon footprint. The best way to show you love the planet and your valentine is with greener blooms. Organic, fair-trade, or sustainable roses help everyone enjoy the sweet scent a bit more.

The banner is finally up! And the blog sure looks better. Now that is done, we move on to the rest.

Smile Please

You must have seen them around, admired their work, cribbed about them and complained about them. They are special creed of people; they talk about lights, angles, apertures and speed. And we do have one in our own household -the photographer!

There are so many incidences when we run into photographers and just get ready to kill them! Their so-called eye for detail and the skill to disturb the most intimate moments seems to be inborn. I have had one-to-many words with photographers and each experience just leaves me wishing I can kill them.

The first murderous instinct came-up during V's engagement party and she had a hard time explaining that she is not interested in his "artistic" abilities like adding weird graphics and images thrown in between. All she wanted was a record of events as it was. She was not going to pose with her saree spread out around her and shy and coy just for the pictures! We'll we just chalked it down to one crazy photographer and were ready move on!

And then happened this incidence, not-so-newly-wed after 5 full days of being married, V and R decked up and smiled to strangers for their wedding reception. If you have ever been to an wedding reception, you would notice, that the only activity there is strangers going up, giving gifts to the couple and posing for pictures. Seems harmless enough but if you are the couple being congratulated you just need a break. So during V and R's engagement party, as the crowd drifted on and off, the photographer tried his best to document moments. And for some reason, he could not cover the whole stage and he decided if V and R scooted closer to each other the pictures would be perfect. Well, thrown in two couples sharing the same stage, some over-sized uncomfortable, red velvet and silver colored chairs (I bet you have seen them at marriage halls around), a wave of well-wishers, some over-sized gift boxes, shredding garlands of flowers and cute kids hanging around, the place is a mess. The migraine creeping in, the heels taking sweet revenge on the poor feet, the incessant smiling, trying to remember names and faces and sweating in the kanchipuram saree all just adds to the ambiance. The photographer, just concentrating on his job kept on telling V and R to move closer, turn left, turn right and went ahead to comment that the couple had a fight and did not want to be "close" together. And yes, V lost it then and the poor photographer made sure he was on V's good books for the next couple of days for HS's wedding.

And ofcourse during our latest vacation, we end up with the notorious photographer aka the captain who just interrupted private moments with his camera. He did capture one lovely picture of V and R. But that was the picture taken at a totally inappropriate moment without asking V and R for permission. Baby bro, KA had a grudge against our dear photographer (mainly coz sis was pissed off with him) and he got his sweet revenge by asking him to pose for a photo.

Of course, R being a photographer has his own chronicles of how "subjects" behave! And that is coming up soon!

A block of Bricks and Cement

This post comes as an outpour. I just needed an outlet for all those emotions I face and just need to put into words the pain. It is amazing how the human mind attaches significance and importance to small and material processions. It is amazing the way the memories surface suddenly. Memories not remembered once in the past 8 years come out suddenly. My blessing and my bane, my memories.

It has been 8 years since I lived there; the longest period I spent there in the past 8 was a mere 120 days. But I have attached so much significance to the walls created of bricks and mortar. I hated the house when it was built. I remember vividly rushing off to granny and crying about the collapsible iron grill door. I termed it ugly. But I lived with it. I remember the first pooja, the ground dug for the foundations and the red ants that pestered everyone, the weed removal process and 10 paisa per weed incentive my granny gave me and brother as a motivation. I remember moving into the house and creating memories. Late nights over cups of lemon tea as V prepared for her board exams, early mornings spent in the marble steps laughing, talking and fighting for the newspaper and the numerous festivals we celebrated there.

The past 8 years I have thought about the house but it was never so emotional. Probably the most emotional being when I packed up my room and cleared out stuff 3 years back. I have not stepped inside the house for the past 2-3 years. But today with the talk of selling the home, the emotions that came out surprised me. For some reason, all reasonable thought evaded me. I can never think of it as a block of bricks and mortar. It was not just another house but home. Will I ever get ready to say good-bye to it? I guess I just have to prepare myself for the inevitable.

Pretty soon, it will just be memories.. and before I say good-bye I hope I have a chance to run my hand through the window grills, dust-painstakingly every showcase that once was filled with memorabilia from all over, decorate the door step with a kolam just like years long gone, pluck and eat the fresh guava off the haphazardly growing tree in the corner, string the fresh jasmine from the garden, walk to the sweet-smelling frangipani flower plant the first thing in the morning with my morning cup of maltova and enjoy its intoxicating smell, hear the watertank fill up and scream out "motor over aadu", sit around the dining table and enjoy our last supper there...

But with the house being rented out, the members that constituted that happy family once spread out around the world, will it ever happen? I can just dream and hope for the best. No wonder they say, "home is where the heart is"

5 on 5

Just when I was thinking I just need to tag myself, Lavs tags me to post 5 links to 5 of my previously written posts. The posts have to relate to the 5 key words given : family, friend, yourself, your love, anything you like.

So here I go

Family: I write a lot about them. And it is tough choosing a single post that means a lot to me. But I choose this post about V's grandfather. Just coz it is worth reading over and over and it is so personal and so true that people who knew V's granddad will relate to immediately.

Friends: I can pick so many here but it easy choice. R came to US in 1997 and has been here since then. 11 years now and he is still in touch with his old friends from Anna University. Putting to words was the toughest part for R. He is the silent one, never voicing his feelings. And just for that, this is the most memorable friend post

About Myself: I typically don't write much about myself and so I choose this post on my weekend learnings. The nature has always been my inspiration, my guru and my friend.

My love: I love traveling. And wanderlust runs in V and R's blood and this post about our favorite time of day during a vacation defines love the best.

Anything else: Here I would like to link my old post on environmental issues. This blog which started as a personal blog took a turn to include my passion for environmental engineering somewhere inbetween. There are so many technical posts I can link to. But this one is the closest to my heart.

Thanks Lavs. It was so much fun going through my old posts and yes tags are fun!

Losing your Career

At some point of time, we all end up making career choices. Some by choice and others by chance and then there are others who forced into it a career. And a few years into a job, one's career skills are kind of set and you fall into a pattern. You can do certain stuff and unless one makes a dramatic career change, the new job will also involve the use of the same skill set.

Most of our friends are engineers and their skills involve typically use of specialized software and analytical stuff. Our doctors friends use a totally different skill set. But whatever it is one just keeps learning more and updating about their skills, acquiring new skills on the way up the career ladder. At times an MBA or an advanced degree is added.

So what happens, one fine day R wakes up and forgets all about designing steel structures? Well it is highly unlikely to happen. Worst come he has to get back to his basics and it sure will flow back to him in seconds. After all that is one thing he has been trained to do and does it for bring home the daily bread.

But what will happen if a professional singer loses his voice? or a dancer loses a leg? It is their profession and for years that is what they are trained to do. What are their other options? What will V do if she realizes she cannot be an environmental engineer any more?

This is a question that has been haunting me for the past few days. Professional artists of any artform, or sportspeople relay on their body to sustain themselves. What about them? What are their options? I am sure there are many such people around the world, what do they end up doing? Do they not feel bitter, angry at themselves and at the world? Do they ever keep abreast with their contemprories in their field or do they walk away from it forever? Do they miss it? Is it like a physcial ache, not being able to perform? What do they feel?

Under the shade of the banyan tree

V writes,

Thinking back to my growing up years, whenever I meet a stranger or meet one of my parent's friends at a store or the library or somewhere around, I always introduced myself as, V - daughter of so and so and it was my identity. And immediately the uncle or aunty to who I was introducing myself would warm up and add so you are Prof.SN's granddaughter! I was blessed with a famous and well-recoganized grandfather. And I used it to my advantage many a times.

It has been a negative at times too. I remember this incident in college, I was having an oral examination at one of my civil engineering labs and I was unable to answer some question and hence was blabbering nonsense to get away and my examiner goes sarcastically, "so you are Prof.SN's granddaughter and you don't know this answer" (well just coz my grandfather was the expert on the topic I cannot be expected to be the same!)

I even remember an incidence when someone told me I should stop calling myself Prof. SN's grandaughter as I was then a grand old age of 18 and it was time I stopped living under the shade of the banyan tree - my grandfather. And I told the person (a much-older and much-respectable person) that I was just a branch of the tree and I can never survive without being connected to the root. I was proud to be identified as so and so's granddaughter and daughter! It was my luck I had these people in my life and I will never be ashamed to admit that I am their off-spring.

Till the past 3-4 years, I always was so and so daughter and Prof.SN's granddaughter. And then suddenly I was in a new country establishing my own identity. Today I introduce myself, as V - no references. People know me as me. I was considered grown-up. And today I just introduce myself as V and if I meet one of R's friends, I add I am R's wife. The change never occured to me till last Friday. It is one of those things in life that just happen and you never realize it happens.

Last Friday, I just finish my rehersal for my big program on Saturday and one of my dance friend's dad comes up and says, "you don't know me, but you are so and so's daughter and Prof.SN's granddaughter"! I was speechless, yes after years I heard those magical words. I did recover enough to find out more details and learned that my mother and my friend's dad were schoolmates. But what stayed with me was the way he addressed me! I brought back memories and happiness!

Might be I live under the shade of the banyan tree as that person once said but I am so grateful I have that shade. And I am glad I am not a weary traveler lost in the desert of life searching for the shade! I am just one of those lucky ones to be born under shade or as I say to be a part of that massive banyan tree!

The past few days have just flown past us. The rehersals and preparations for the program took us a lot of time. But at the end of Saturday night, we were tired, exhausted and esctasic. Dancing does it to you..the pain, the fear, the happiness, the tiredness all a part of the parcel. The dance program was well-appreciated and yes we did have the usual hiccups but we survived!

Sunday was the first time in ages V and R slept in and just took it easy. We did watch the super bowl and V kind of expected the underdogs Giants to walk away with it just like they did. All the talk about the poor loser - Pats coach is making waves. Of course that guy never had to be a loser all of this season and suddenly he loses out obviously he will be a poor loser. And why is that the superbowl ads turn from bad to gross every year. I started listing the bad ads but then the list was growing too long and every ad was bad that I just stopped doing it!

And now it is back to work for both of them. With the big program behind, we have started making plans for other stuff. Some travel, catching up with old friends and times enjoying the warming weather. Spring is in the air (I know about the groundhog predictions but I don't care about them) I can't wait for times spent outdoors and enjoying my favorite season.

And hopefully I'll write more and keep this blog much more active! And I did make the 200th post the last time and never even bothered about it! But yes this blog is a little more than a year and 201 posts old! I am glad that I sustained my interest and keep it going in spite of some setbacks. And if you are a regular reader of my space, i would sure like you to drop me a line!