Earth day, Earth hour and the media has something or the other about global warming, climate change everyday. This nice slideshow on the 10 surprising results of global warming caught my eye.

Meanwhile, as with last year, I wish to spread around the word about environmental protection through my blog and so jump in and post in your blogs or leave a comment about,

What small steps you can do at home and at work, as an individual to reduce carbon emmissions and have a cleaner, greener environment?

The idea does not stop with posting about what can be done but it needs to be implemented also - at your home/work. If it is something that you plan to follow regularly, then an update after few months will be great!

There are lots of suggestions floating around the net, I'll be posting a few on my blog as we draw closer to April 22nd - Earth day. There will also be a lot of posts on environmental issues in my blog the next few weeks.

If there are more than 10 people participating in this Earth-day-blogathon hosted by Poohsden, I'll add in prizes for the most innovative suggestions and make the path to a cleaner,greener earth a ride worth taking!

Rules for Earth-day-Blogathon hosted by Poohsden

1. Post on your blog about "steps you/your family will make a part of your everyday routine that will help reduce your carbon footprint" by April 20th 2008.
2. Post a link to your post in the comment section of this post
3. Pass the word around.
4. Implement your suggestions and post an update in 2 months.

Meanwhile, check out my previous writings about environmental issues mainly pertaining to India here.

Note: If you do not blog but wish to participate, email your entry to poohsden[at]gmail[dot]com

When it is dark enough, you can see the stars

What : Earth Hour.
When: March 29th, 8 pm (your local time)
Why : To count the stars, trace the consellations, share a moonlight dinner (nila chooru) and raise a voice about climate change in your own small way.

Makes a difference

It does make a difference!

It does add a little disaster to the morning mad scramble to work. After the routine get-out-of-home antics at Poohsden which include forgotten and lost keys, trash cans moved out on wrong days, missed breakfasts and gulping a cup of cooling tea, we really do not need this and it does make a difference.

The 15-minutes drive to work as the mind whirls trying to get into the work left off last evening, the fading music from the radio keeping them humming and smiling. The radio station, Houston's 106.9 is a favorite - classic rock.
And to give them the dose of reality is this ad for Burger King. (I tried hard to find it on the net but couldn't find it)

The words might be sort of wrong but this is the gist.

X: Welcome to your new job Y.
Y: Thanks! It feels great to be on the team and I quit. (Pause). And I would like to be paid for the time I was here.
X: The whole 5 seconds. You earned probably 2 bucks.
Y: Oh yeah! I made enough to eat a yummy meal at BK's dollar menu like the Whopper Jr. blah blah blah!
X: Yummy!
Y: Right Boss! no former boss.
X: Former is right coz I quit.
Y: Finally you are acting like a professional.

Please someone point out the connection between being professional and quiting your job to eat at BK!

Listening to such an ad the first thing in the morning makes a difference. It makes me want to drive my car into every BK and flatten it. Who on earth comes up with such "creative" ideas? Please can I kill them? Another such ad was the Compass bank ads. Believe me it makes a difference to your morning commute!

Spinning out of control

Welcome to the retro look at Poohsden! I have long been wanting to change the colors but finally got around doing it over the weekend.

Owning a home teaches one so many things, and one such thing we learned about ourselves is that we love the retro blue and brown combo! We have incorporated the lovely coffee brown shade into all our rooms and we love it! And the blog does look different!

The banner photo was taken by R at the rodeo (more rodeo pics here). It is the lights in one of fast spinning rides at the carnival. Kind of retro and very close to the speed our lives are moving. We seem to be always in the middle of action, weekday or weekend, day or night. Mainly coz we love it that way and we would be lost otherwise.

Here's to more posts from the new spinning out of control and retro looking Poohsden!

ps: If there are any glitches, links that don't work, fonts too small to read, or anything else please let me know.

Happiness is.....

Picking up this tag from Homecooked,

Happiness is....

  • A warm sunny day, camera in hand, hand in hand, by a river/lake/sea, soaking up the sun rays, picnic lunch...(it has been a while since we did one of those, now that Spring is officially here we should plan a picnic soon)
  • Late nights in the patio, smelling the blooming jasmine and talking
  • A push-yourself-to-the-max session of Bharatanatyam that has every muscle screaming in pain and the adrenaline rush that follows (obviously R has not experienced this)
  • Sharing a dessert at Ruggles
  • A walk in our neighborhood (we love this area and our home)
  • Times spent with family
  • Diwali parties at home
  • Travel.. anywhere... anytime is happiness
  • Discovering a hidden bar of chocolate in the handbag unexpectedly (V's secret pleasures)
  • Flowers, fresh and pretty decorating the home
  • A challenging game of chess and winning it (R's obsession)
  • Aggie football and basketball wins (R the Aggie fan)
  • Friday evenings....the dreams of the weekend/ a long weekend
  • Dreaming about our dream home
  • On a blanket at the Miller Outdoor Theater (we are doing that this weekend)
  • Long drives
  • A surprise (of any kind, gift, visit, trip!)
  • A clean home (I know we wish the house cleans by itself)
  • Browsing through books at the library/bookstore for hours
  • Bird photography in Galveston/High Island at 6am on a weekend
  • The feeling of bliss that fills us when we visit not-so-crowded temples

That is quite a long list! If you have not done this tag, go ahead and do it. Do post a link to your list in the comment section.

The first attempt

And here is V's first crochet scarf... The fringe is her favorite part. And now if she can find the perfect sweater to go with the scarf.....Work on the new project has started. It is considerably bigger than the scarf and will take at least 3 months for completion if V keeps up the momentum she had yesterday (the first day obviously)

The good and the bad

The good and bad of the past few days at Poohsden,

The good:
  • Warm days and white puffy clouds doting the blue skies
  • Spring green leaves, blooming azaleas and beauty all around
  • Long talks late into the night and simple pleasures in life
  • Pig races, camel rides, longhorns and much more at the rodeo
  • Houston Rockets 22 straight wins
  • Plans and dreams for the big India trip
  • Catching up with college friends who have recently moved to US.

The bad:

  • Incessant coughing and just a too sick V
  • Non-stop hectic days at work for both V and R
  • Heavy torrential rains and high-speed winds
  • Just too many unfinished chores....

Life goes on.....

A stitch in time... requires patience

Hailing from an over-achieving family background has its own pitfalls. V hails from a family of women with extremely talented fingers. Be it their embroideries or tatting or crochets or knitted scarves, these women put others to shame. And ofcourse the world and her family expected her to have the same talent running through her!

V's grandmother now in her late 60's still makes it a point to keep herself busy by doing hand embroidery for V's dresses. Her biggest worry being her failing eyesight. V's mom in spite of working finds embroidery relaxing. Legend has it that, she started designing boutique-worthy sarees by the time she was in class 8 and this was much before times of Manmandirs and Varshidi's and in the small town of Trichy. So V, the lucky one grew up with designer wear, lovely salwars, amazing sarees and classy tops all designed and lovingly stitched by mom or grandmother.

And for the longest time, V's mom and grandmother patiently tried to nudge V into cross-stitch kits, and knitting needles. After the necessary SUPW (aka soup) classes in school she never bothered to touch a needle again in life. But she did pick up some sophisticated terms like knit, purl, double crochets and 5mm hooks which she used generously in conversations to make her sound like an extremely talented person just like her grandmother and mom. But the truth is V is more open to critiquing and suggesting changes to designs. Sitting at a spot, knit and stitch is not her game. The gene has somehow skipped her.

A few weeks ago, in an attempt to develop some skills and kill time she decided to crochet. Thinking back the decision sure was not an impulsive one like most of V's decisions. She thought long and hard about it before starting her Google search. Crocheting seemed like a good starting point just coz she remembered how to do the basic chain stitch while all she remembered about knitting was the two big needles and the funny "knit and purl" terms.

She found the best beginner crochet books (according to were "Crocheting in plain English" and "Getting Started Crochet". After a quick search in the library catalog she had both books in hand. She spent a couple of days looking and admiring the books. Getting Started Crochet was clearly a better book to look at with tons of color pictures and thin just like picture books from childhood. And that was V's book of choice.

Then came the tough job of choosing a design, the simplest scarf design seemed to be a good starting point (and ofcourse a scarf is sure a good accessory to have for the cold winters! selfish she is). A trip to the neighborhood Joanns and V was the proud owner of lovely blue and purple yarn (she was already planning about buying the perfect sweater to go with the scarf she was yet to crochet) and a few crochet hooks.

The first day was a mess, her fingers were not moving the way she wanted them to and slowly she got a hang of it. And then the usual boredom stuck. For the ever-restless and impatient V, the scarf could not easily be done. Repeating the same stitches over and over every evening was getting to much of a routine and she hates anything routine. But this time around she was not planning to give up. She hung on there and finally after 4 weeks and numerous one-on-one talks of self-motivation with herself, the scarf is done.

Does she feel a pride? Not really. Probably because she knows it is not a masterpiece. But it is the first one so it is special. She is sure mom and grandmother are happy that this gal has a bit of patience to hang on and finish on a project she started. Not just happy but relieved too. They cannot imagine they brought up their gal with no patience and no interest in embroidery.

And it definitely is not going to be V's first and last crochet masterpiece. The new design is selected for the next one from V! She is hitting JoAnns again for new yarn and off we go again!

Dreaming together....

Late last night, a completely jobless V flipping through the current issue of the PC Magazine admiring the new Mac Air for the lack of better things to do. The PC Magazine is probably the last place one would expect to see a tourism ad and there she saw an ad from the Incredible India series.(I tried to find the ad online but could not find it.) With an image of Taj in the background the words read, "And to think these days men get away with giving flowers and chocolates to their wives". Simple and effective advertising!

Laughing V showed the ad to R. The structural engineer-R immediately pounces to the chance and asks "what should I build for you, love?". She felt another Taj Mahal for their love is pretty useless and so late into the night they sit discussing their dream house. Mughal/Chettinad/Kerala influenced architecture with a large garden, cascading pools, the central open courtyard, the state-of-the-art kitchen... In their own world, they picked out fabrics and tiles, wall colors and flowering plants.

Dreaming together with eyes open is so much fun...
What is life without dreams and hopes for morrow?

In the hands of time

Have you ever thought about how we change with time? We all kind of know we change, with time but we often never realize how much we change. Our priorities, our likes, our dislikes, our friends, our hobbies, our favorites all change, slowly but surely.

Sometimes, we feel better if we assume we are the same as we were years ago. But the truth is far from it. We all change with time. At times it is scary to think that you will not be the same person you were a few months/years back. But it is the change that makes us more human. Some changes are society-influenced and some are very personal. Some changes we force upon ourselves to fit into what we see ourselves us and some changes just happen. Some changes are for the good and some for the bad.

This isn't an earth-shattering discovery or something I never knew before. But it is one of those smaller things in life that we never pause to think about. I am sure there are many a research on this topic done. But as an individual we never pause to think about the changes in our lives and its impacts on us and others.

So here is a simple exercise, V does to keep track of her personal changes. It takes 5 minutes every month. Start a list, on paper, your computer or on Google documents (like she did) with the following sub-titles.
  • Things you want to learn before you die
  • Places you want to visit before you die
  • Your favorites - books, music, food, colors, friends.
  • Your biggest fears
  • Your biggest dreams/hopes

Fill in your answers every month and see yourself change.

We change drastically and most of these changes are linked with small incidences that are registered strongly in our sub-conscious. Some of them are really stupid and dumb. But that makes us more human, normal with flaws. It also gives sometime to think about what we really want out of life and not just run the rat race.

We are but players in the hands of time......

College memories....

It was the Indian Student gathering at the University of Houston, mainly undergrads born brought up in the US. The first few minutes she felt like a fish out of water. She was easily one of the oldest people amongst the people there. There were a few questioning glances directed towards her, it was evident she was not a grad student, she was not a undergrad, she was not old enough to be one of the kids moms. She politely ignored them and sat back, waiting and observing.

Like every student organized program, there was the usual chaos. Might be not visible to a stranger but for someone like her who was always in the organizing end it was so evident. The usual chaos. US or India, students tend to be the same. Frantic phone calls, screams and cover-ups...they did stir up memories... surprisingly the once bitter memories seemed sweet... time does it she thought..

She smiled as the gals rushed around trying to hang on to the sarees and lehangas and pointy heels and still try to look poised and elegant. She did it once too.... stopping in the loo every few minutes to look at the mirror, matching handbags, matching earrings... those were days... fun days.

Like every other student program she was a part of, this one started late amidst hoots and boos. She missed the rhythmic claps she had perfected over the years.. those claps that accompanied the chorus , "start the f*ing show"... those were days.

She sat watching gorgeous young men and women walk in, meet up friends, laugh, talk, demand compliments, pose of pictures... so familiar... so sweet.. she looked at the smiling faces, the heavily accented Hindi the drifted to her ears... she went back to the time when she did all that... the lovely memories she treasured within her she saw in front of her... Another country, younger versions of her and her friends she saw.....

The fashion show brought back memories of those days. The cat calls, the whistles, the dating couple, the infatuated guy, the jealous boyfriend, the beauty queen... so alike.. just a different people and faces she thought...

She missed the song dedications, the fishponds, the rose stalls and everything else from her college days. She hated each one of those rituals during her days in Surathkal but today she missed them. Might be it is was the carefree attitude of college she missed the most...

Getting together with old friends happens even today. But the world outside college is so different and grown-up. She plans to meet the same people she teased mercilessly a few years back at the restaurant near her house. She chooses her outfits with care, she goes through all the details about her old friends with her significant other for the nth time. She wonders idly about her friends personal lives. The parts she knew so well seemed kind of obsolete today. As they talk over chips and salsa, their conversations linger around common friends marriages, kids, mutual funds, cars and what not. Responsibility has crept inside our lives slowly. The frivolousity of youth seems so strange today. But those were days... the best days...her college days are long since over.. however hard she tries she cannot recreate that magic. In the memories she smiles and clings to them....


Lavs has tagged me again for this post on eights.

So here we go,

Eight things we are passionate about:

In no particular order the top eight are

  1. Dance
  2. Music
  3. Photography
  4. Travel
  5. Environment
  6. Books
  7. Food
  8. Life

Eight places we want to see before we die: (We are changing the tag a wee bit here)

We have a 400+ list of places to see in our list but the top eight are

  1. Galapagos
  2. Greece
  3. Alaska
  4. Masaimara National Park
  5. Egypt
  6. Angkor Wat
  7. New Zealand
  8. Kaziranga National Park

Eight things we say often:

  1. Crap
  2. Holy Crap!
  3. Shit
  4. Damn
  5. Take care
  6. Chee
  7. Aiya!
  8. Guess What?

Eight books we have read recently/reading:

  1. Getting Started Crochet (does reading instructions count?)
  2. India before Gandhi
  3. Palace of Illusions
  4. Indian Classical Dance -Tradition in Transition
  5. Selected poems of Ogden Nash
  6. The Namesake
  7. Frommers California (Obviously we are planning a trip to CA soon)
  8. Dubai Architecture & Design

Eight songs we listen to over and over:

  1. Kurai Ondrum ellai - MSS
  2. Aadi Kondar - Unni Krishnan
  3. Bee Gees - Words
  4. Thats why they call it the Blues - Elton John
  5. I wear my sunglasses at night - Corey Hart
  6. Another brick in the wall - Pink Floyd
  7. Little Wing - Stevie Ray Vaughn
  8. Hotel California - The Eagles

Eight things that attract us to our friends:

  1. Conversation
  2. Ease to laugh with and cry with
  3. Wavelength
  4. Wit/humor
  5. Helpfulness
  6. Getting everyone pumped up
  7. Emotional bonding
  8. Standing up for others
We are supposed to tag 8 people but that is really the hard part. So if you have not does this, you are tagged. Please take it up and post a link in the comments.

Honk Honk goes the bus!

There was nothing normal about that day. It was the wrong time of the day to be on the road and she was heading off in a route she normally does not take. But like all stories, incidents and memories doing something out of ordinary made the difference. It did make a difference that day.

The jam-backed road she usually took at 5pm was empty at 9am. For once, she could let her mind drift and enjoy the music and not keep her eyes peeled to the highway. And then she saw it, 2 no 3 school buses painted yellow filled with laughter. The carefree laughter and the childish giggles filled the air. And she drifted into the time when she was on one of those buses.

Prim and proper in her strached and ironed, green pinafore and white top. The green and white tie and belt, the black shoes polished in a hurry this morning, the tell-tale hint of Kiwi black shoe polish on her otherwise white socks, the hair neat in two ponytails, with black ribbons on top. The prim and proper school girl.
Weighed down by the school bag on her shoulders, she walked to the bus stop every morning with her friends. It was the time for her to catch up with friends, the latest dress X got, the smile of the guy in the other class, the strict Math teacher, the tough Physics paper, the latest Bollywood music,the news from the grapevine and laughter - we drove the bus driver and conductor crazy.

Uncontrolled, carefree unless it was the morning of an exam.Exam mornings were sober days, eyes glued to the books. Somehow we mastered the art of eating, getting the hair braided by grandmother, walking to the bus stop, climbing the bus, standing in the moving bus all with the book open and the eyes scanning the words faster than ever possible. The bus was silent with muted whispers of equations and history facts. The bus driver and conductor lived for these days. It was their time to bully us, tease us and treasure the silence.

Evening rides back from school were much more fun. It is suprising how at 4pm she used to get hyper with no sugar in those days. Today, at 4pm she wishes desperately she had half the energy she had in those days. Evening plans were discussed with much gusto on the bus ride back home - hindi classes, music lessons, Oliyum oliyum on TV, special dinners menus, visiting friends, bike rides, a game of throwball... the list was endless.

And as I saw, the yellow school bus go past me, filled with kids laughing and giggling, I remembered picnics and school day-trips from long ago, the race between the old bus, the new bus and the yellow bus as we named them, the mesai driver, the jollu conductor and the list is endless...

Sweet memories of those by-gone days...lost in the layers of grey matter....

Petty Politics

There are politics all around you. Put a bunch of strangers together, they'll divide themselves up into groups and bring out issues you never dreamed about. You try to get away from politics, office or community but you get sucked into it. And today you get a one-on-one into Houston's desi community politics. Some of the issues and examples given here are a few years old and why do I bring them up again today? That stupid email I received a few days back.

Let us start from the beginning. Houston has a big desi population and the obvious Indian organizations. There are just too many to count, each state has its own organization, a few cultural organizations and the big umbrella called Indian something something. What do these organizations do? That is other than gossip and create politics? A festival celebration. And most people align themselves to the organization representing their states. We do not belong to any of these organizations but we do attend events of interest organized by different people. Like the Nithyashree concerts by the Bharati Kalai Madram, the Republic day celebrations by ICC, the Malavika Sarukkai dance program by Kannada Vrinda, the Rama Vaidyanathan's program by Meru Education Foundation and so goes the list.

And there are some unwritten rules these organizations follow. The rules often stupid and not in anyway helpful in bringing people closer which in my opinion is the number one priority of any organization. The stupidest unwritten rule 1 is that members of X organization do not patronize shows/events conducted by other organizations. They consider that a crime. I call it stupidity. Art/culture/entertainment should not have boundaries. The second rule is even worse, if X organization is for members who speak X language, they will invite entertainers/artists who are native Xians. For example, if Malavika or Rama perform under the name of Malayalee Association or Kannada club or Andhra warriors it is a sin. After all, these top dancers are Tamilians. Are'nt we being frogs in a well?

This has for the longest time been the issues with the desi association scene in Houston and the biggest reason we keep away from them. But we happen to be on the mailing list of many of these associations as it helps us to get information about the events they organize and recently we received an email from organization C. This is the gist of the email (edited version of course)

The present committee members have received numerous phone calls and enquiries about soliciting registration and participation in XXXXX. We would like to inform you all that C is neither sponsoring or endorsing this event and no way connected. Registration, donation etc will not benefit C but may help the individual and/ or group to defray expenses involved in organizing this event. C is not benefitted in any way and we caution members to be wary about such repeated solicitations. This committee's policy is not to encourage or support individuals subtle divisive approaches in the name of promoting culture.

I am not bringing up names right now but the story is that some people, let us call them the Zs belong to more than one organization (A,B and C) and when they organize an event through A, they of course will invite friends from B and C. And members of B and C are educated and literate enough to know that Zs program is under the banner of A and if they want to attend the event they can attend it. It is after all a free world. Why make such a fuss out of the whole thing?

If we organize something, we would of course want our other friends who are interested in the subject to benefit from it. Why are we pushing them away? Over and above, I am surprised by the divide in name of states miles away in Houston. I remember college elections where we were told to vote for the candidate from our state or city but seven seas away in Houston aren't we supposed to unite as Indians and enjoy those rare visits by Malavika or Nithyashree or Yakshagana artists anyone else for that matter? And why are we behaving like kids? Why are we still drawing lines between ourselves? Has education, miles away from motherland, years of living alone in the US not made a difference in Houston desis?

What is needed to change? I firmly believe youth participation changes a lot. But in most of these organizations, the patrons are not the youth. There are so many functions where V and R have felt that they are the youngest in the room. What is needed to change the mind of old-timers who still believe in clinging to their state and statesmen and not be open to Indian art, Indian culture, Indian entertainment as a whole?

Have you faced such scenarios? In India, in US and anywhere else around the world? What are your suggestions?I would love to hear from you.


Here is an update on something I wrote a while back,

The house is not going to be sold! I am so glad and thrilled!
It will still remain our home with the walls telling stories and the dumb collapsible gate V always hated!

Seven floors high

It is such a simple thing but it never ceases to amaze me.

As you probably know, V started her new job a couple of months back and her new office is on the seventh floor. And for someone who has forever been in the basement and first-floor the change is dramatic. Her office high up in Uptown Houston faces the busy road and up there - the whole perspective of the world changes.The whole perspective of your world changes if you change your viewing vantage point. Isn’t that the reason why we fight for that elusive window seat in the bus and the train? Remember the time you fought through maddening crowds just to get a glimpse of the idol at the temple during festival season?

I have traveled in that main road in Houston countless time. So many times that I know which intersection comes after the next and which store comes where. So many times that I even counted how many pharmacies exist in that 8 mile stretch. I enjoy watching things move by as I sit along the window and enjoy the sights. I have driven on those roads every day of the week, any time of the day. It is something so familiar.

The attitudes of the drivers, the flashing lights and screeching sirens of cop cars and fire engines, the trees being cut to make way for a new construction, the deliveries at the neighborhood pharmacy, the cars in line at the car wash, the fog covering the tall buildings, the dark rain clouds just overhead! It is indeed a sight to see!

One feels invincible towering over the F150’s and the buses on the road. The people on the street seem like ants and at times of traffic chaos I feel like calling out instructions and acting as a traffic cop. And it is now I understand why we have those traffic police stands in the middle of the road in India. At times the clouds seem so close-by that I get carried away easily into dream land. The world seems so much better and more dimensional when you are seven floors high. And now I wish for an office by the window in the tallest buildings around the world.

The Rodeo Parade

Houston's downtown feels home to me today. The look at the familiar skyline as I approach the city after a vacation or a trip somewhere gives me peace- the feeling of being finally home. I never thought I will feel this way about Houston but slowly Houston won me over. Especially its downtown with the towering skyscrapers and architecturally awe-inspiring structures- it is my kind of place.

And this weekend the bustling metropolis transformed into something from a Wild Western movie - hoof beats, stagecoaches and carriages, cowboy hats and spurs, boots and the Texan swagger. The rodeo is in town and the celebrations were kicked off by the ConocoPhillips rodeo run and the parade through the streets of downtown.

Streets filled with enthusiastic people dressed in their Western best - jeans, boots and cowboy hats, radio talk show hosts vying for attention, the domino pizza man, the cotton candy seller, the cheap toys and knickknacks it was a perfect reminder of the temple festivities back home. Just that it was a little more organized and more clean before the horses started hitting the streets.

The rodeo run raises money for education and was open to participants of all ages. It was heartwarming to see young children walk and skip their way to the end line. And then came in the marching bands from various schools and colleges around town, the trail riders-on horseback they travel from all over Texas and Louisiana to attend the rodeo, the decorative floats, the Congressmen and Senators, the Marines and the police department and anyone else you can think of.

It was a colorful show-off of the other side of Houston. Of the culture deep-rooted in native Texans. It is fun and family-friendly. With the weather gods smiling on us, this years rodeo parade was a spectacle worth watching.

Head over to R's blog for pictures and more details.