Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Joy of Giving, Exchanging Goodwill and the Holiday Season

Its been almost a month since my last Thanksgiving blog and it appears as though my blogging happens only during the holiday time and not earlier, simply because, life has been more busy and I haven't been in the mood to blog.

Well, its that time of the year when wreaths made from artificial mistletoe, carols about holly, ivy and reindeer, bright-colored stockings are all hung up as decorations- all these have become an integral part of Christmas and holiday celebrations at work and outside. Yes, I am referring to my work place, a totally white dominated office where the spirit of giving and the holiday season have started to cheer the atmosphere around me.

I am not a Christian and neither have I yet started celebrating Christmas at home bu putting up a tree etc., but I definitely enjoy exchanging goodwill with friends and colleagues during this time of the year.

Being in a University, we are closed for the next week starting 12/23-1/2 and these last few days in the office have been good. First of all, work is slow at this time of the year and it is great time to catch up on organizing and cleaning the office and making plans for the new year. Secondly, attending other department XMas parties, lunches at nice restaurants with a group of colleagues followed by "white-elephant" gift exchange games make it seem so realistic. I haven't felt the same during Diwali time here in the US, not that the Sun TV programs and temple visits make me only feel more nostalgic. But, the nice thing about the holiday season and approach of XMas is that I don't feel left out. I too go shopping to buy gifts for friends and colleagues who shower their holiday spirit on me by giving me home made baked goodies, stockings filled with candies and a lot more other XMas gifts.

I am learning a lot about reciprocating gifts this year. "Gifting is an art" and I think it should be done with a lot of elan and class. Wrapping and packaging of the gits with the most innovative of holiday paper and bags make so much of a difference and is thoroughly appreciated.

Last, but not the least, the joy of giving is not only exchanging gifts at work, but also practicing some charity during this time of the year. This year, I participated in a Holiday Toy Drive for homeless kids and managed to collect some toys from work that I passed on to the Urban Ministry department who organize the toy drive. I find lots of colleagues and friends (sadly, not Indians) who contribute a portion of their income to the Red Cross or do something to help the less fortunate folks.

An older colleague of mine who has no living family members says that the joy of giving is deep and rewarding and works wonders on a person's psyche. She says that when distraught with tension and worry, a little help to somebody in need can be a great stress buster and an anti-depressant.

With all the sales happening in stores around us, being caught up with our hectic lifestyles, passions and interests, we never pause to reflect on the misery of those in dire need. Well, not to go on to the point of sounding monotonous, it is a good idea to start thinking about doing something small for a person in need during this holiday season.

Merry Christmas to those celebrating and Happy Holidays for the others. More frequent blogging to follow.....

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving..........

Its that time of the year when the US festivals and holidays start coming and filling our houses and lives with the spirit of the season. The Thanksgiving Day and long weekend is one such occasion when its time for family and friends to get together in someone's place, cook a fancy meal, need not necessarily be a turkey meal and enjoy good food and great company. In 2004, K and I made a trip to Boston to spend the holiday with my aunt's family where they celebrate thanksgiving in a traditional way cooking a vegetarian version- we had mashed potatoes, veggie stuffing, cranberry sauce and gravy, a dish made out of butternut squash and pineapples and of course pumpkin pie. A picture of the dinner has been attached.

In 2005, I tried my hand at making all those dishes that I had learnt from my aunt on K and invited another recently wed couple friends of ours and hopefully they enjoyed the meal.

This year, dear aunt, uncle and cousin are arriving tonight to spend the holiday with us, can't wait to try out some new dishes this year.

Other things that I am looking forward to this year- Black Friday Deals and shopping on Friday the day after thanksgiving, a trip to SFO to watch the Ghirardelli or Union Sqaure Xmas Tree lighting on the same day and maybe some other visits to nearby places in and around Bay Area during the weekend.

To all those travelling and spending time with family and friends and for those who plan to stay home and relax during the holidays, wish you A Happy Thanksgiving Holiday!!!

More blogging to continue from Monday.....

Thursday, November 16, 2006

A Glimpse into Mani's "Guru"

Mani Rathnam is one of those few Indian directors who has carved a niche for himself and his style of movies. Madras Talkies is his home production and everyone knows about all the trademark movies that have come under his direction and remain as hallmarks of good cinema. With his sophisticated style of film taking and his eye for the best and most suited star cast coomplimented by the best in music AR. Rahman (this time, it is indeed worth spending every penny and minute watching Mani's films.

I am both excited and am eagerly awaiting the release of his next venture "Guru" from Bollywood. During my browsing time, I manage to catch up on all the tit bits from the websites on the movie. Almost everything about Guru is grandiose and builds high expectations.

Beginning with a heavy star cast that includes Abhishek Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai, Mithun Chakravarthy, Madhavan and Vidya Balan, well, if this isn't the only reason to watch the movie. With Mani's expert direction, I am positive that each actor would have performed to the best of their abilities. The second best thing about Guru is its music-AR Rahman has been roped in to do some stunning background score. Gulzar's lyrics have been sung by ARR, Alka Yagnik, Udit Narayan, Hariharan, Shreya Ghoshal, Madhushree and Bappi Lahiri.

Finally, the story of Guru- It is rumored to be based on the life of the Ambani family. The Ambani family is known to be one of the richest conglomerates in the world. The movie is based on the transition of a simple villager to a rising businessman and entrepreneur who grows to become the largest private company in India. Abhishek Bachchan is said to have played the part of Dhirubai and Aishwarya as Kokilaben. Of course, Madhavan, Vidya Balan and Mithun also have strong supporting characters to play. Inspite of being known to do some controversial movies like Nayagan, Bombay where Mani Rathnam has had to face obstacles, in this movie too, he had to walk a tight rope in not copying the verbatim lifestyle of the Ambani's, since the family doesn't want any controversial scenes that would slander their family reputation. So, a private screening of the movie to the Ambani family would probably be expected before its December release.

Abhishek Bachchan's performance both as the youngster and the older Ambani must indeed be a visual treat for his fans and of course the chemistry between him and Aishwarya (his soon to be wife) must only add more of the magical element to the movie. A few articles comparing Ambani to Velu Naicker in Mani's Nayagan about 20 years ago have also been coming out claiming that this would be Nayagan Part II. Since, the movie has been shot in Mani's favorite city Mumbai, but a lot of shotting was also done in and around Chennai, the song sequences have been shot again in Mani's favorite location- Thirumalai Naicker Mahal in Madurai (the place where Kannalane song from Bombay was shot.

The Music of Guru was released in a star studded event in Mumbai last week (pictures are at India Glitz events gallery under Hindi section), but the CDs become available only on Nov 18th.

A short Trailer of the movie at India Glitz and several short music bits are available for viewing at as well.

Guru seems to be amazingly promising and comes with a lot of expectations from the 60 minute promo trailer ...Villager Visionary..Winner with ARR's background score and minimal dialogues. Just counting the days till its release this December.

Friday, November 10, 2006

A Man's Rules

Just came across this on the internet and thought it would be interesting to share-

If you ask most men, they would say that the rules are made by their women in their lives etc. For fun, If a man were to make his rules-

Rule 1 Anything I said six or eight months ago is inadmissible in an arguement. All comments become null and vid after 7 days.

Rule 2 If I say something that can be interpreted in two ways, and one of the ways makes you sad or angry, I meant the other way.

Rule 3 It is in neither your best interest nor mine to make me take those stupid Cosmo quizzes together.

Rule 4 You can either ask me to do something or tell me how you want it done- not both.

Rule 5 Whenever possible, please say whatever you have to say during commercials or time-outs.

Rule 6 Christopher Columbus didn't need directions and neither do I.

Rule 7 When I'm turning the wheel and the car is nosing onto the ramp, you saying, "This is our exit" is not necessary.

Source: Internet

Happy Friday!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Thaali aka Mangalsutra- No strings attached?

Have been wanting to write about this topic for a while now, but haven't had the time to do so. In today's modern world, a married woman makes a conscious choice to wear or not wear her thaali or mangalsutra. What does this imply?

For those who aren't familiar with the Hindu tradition of marriage, a thaali (as known in South India) or a mangalsutra (as known in North India) is tied by the groom around the neck of the bride on the day of their wedding signifying their union. The thaali is considered auspicious and is believed to protect the marriage and life of the husbands and was never usually removed in the bride's lifetime, unless her spouse died.

But like all traditions and customs, today this trend is also changing. Although, it is tied at the wedding, the younger generation women of today are choosing whether to wear it all times, or not.

For many women living outside India, the thaali is worn on and off. Some reasons for this are that- First of all, the fear that something may happen to their spouses if the woman takes off her thaali is overcome by the voice of reason and logic.

Secondly, the new era of women are confident that a mere symbolism of the thaali is not an expression of their commitment in the marriage. Most of them feel that loving your spouse and staying married doesn't come with a piece of chain around your neck.

Thirdly, the practical difficulty in wearing the thaali is that it does not blend in with western clothes or go well with party jewellery, silver jewellery, black metal etc. Earlier, the thaali was a traditional thick rope, followed by the thick gold chain and each community has their version for the pendant. Slowly, the gold rope was replaced by the "karugamani" which is made of small gold and black beads and then nowadays women have a "micro thaali" done which is fashionable, much sammer in size and weighs lesser.

Also, during work outs at the gym and other activities such as swimming etc., the thaali is uncomfortable. Not to forget mentioning that some women are allergic to the gold and even have marks on their necks.

But, many women still like to wear it at special occasions and sometimes even on a regular basis and when asked by colleagues at work are proud to explain that it is the equivalent of a wedding ring and symbolizes that a woman is married.

Life is much easier for the women abroad when you don't have a mother-in-law hovering around in the background to express shock and disbelief or a mother to express her concern when you aren't wearing the thaali.

But, for the married women in India, well, I do know some of them who work in MNCs who don't wear a thaali daily to work. But, for the others, it is a constant battle and struggle when the traditional society that is steepled in orthodoxy, culture and values fails to listen to the modern day women's perspective. Also, when the women living in US visit India, they are inclined to wear the thaali more as a way to keep the family members from reacting. Of course, there are still stronger women who hold on to their decision and boldly say that it is a matter of individual choice.

Lastly,how does the husband react to all this? Some of them who are raised in an orthodox background don't approve of their wives not willing to uphold the tradition of being married to them, while others are a lot more open to their spouses making the decision. But, secretly, most men do seem to care about whether their wives want to wear a "thaali" or not, its just that the circumstances in today's lifestyle are such that he has to make his wife have the final word on that!

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Happy Halloween

Just got off the hook after organizing A Halloween Lunch Party at work. The spooky decorations and witches and candies were all put out a few weeks ago throughout the office- I guess for lots of folks, being in HR means just "OB-adichifying" with parties, office events etc. It does mean doing all this, but involves lot of physical work and also creativity. Employees love to have a nice atmosphere at work and it is one of the duties of HR to boost their morale by coming up with all sorts of ideas for every special event.

This year for Halloween, I decided on doing a costume party, cos many folks in our office loves to dress up in their Halloween costumes and I haven't yet got into the costume group (for which some folks look at me and say "You need to set a better example as HR".....and my response to them is, "Yeah..I am setting up an example in other ways, not just by wearing a costume).

Anyways, came up with two categories- Most Frightful Costume and Most Creative Costume for the Event, ordered and picked up Gourmet Applewood Pizza (which is thrice as expensive as Round Table or Chicago Pizza), got half a dozen variety of candies, cookies and treats.

The pizza lunch followed by a secret ballot voting for the Best Costume of the Day in each category ended well with people thanking me for all the efforts. Can't wait to go home and hit the sack. Guess those with kids have a lot of Trick or Treating to do this evening.

Attached are pictures from our costume themes- Most Frightful and Most Creative Costumes of the Day.

Happy Halloween!!!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Hobbies for Pleasure

"Happy is the man who can make a living by his hobby!" Prof. Higgins in George Bernard Shaw's "Pygmalion".

Recently, I came across a few people's opinions on a random survey conducted between ages 12-70 in a certain community event. The topic and questions thrown at the folks were- Have people bid goodbye to hobbies or are hobbies still being considered essential to our lives?

From my personal view, I feel that a hobby is an activity or interest pursued outside a person's regular occupation and engaged in, primarily for pleasure and interest; otherwise it loses its purpose.

It was interesting to read some of the responses and opinions that people shared about pursuing hobbies.

From my daily experience in reviewing resumes, atleast 15% of them have a final paragraph on hobbies and often times I wonder, if this is a mere ornamental additional to a resume or is there more to it than that.

Hobbies can be anything right from surfing the net for constructive purposes, blogging to more traditional ones like gardening, cooking, playing sports, reading, listening to music, art and crafts etc. Whatever be the hobby, it needs an investment of time and lots of passion by the person to keep it going. Due to the technology advancement, computer and video games and watching cartoons on TV have taken precedence over outdoor hobbies.

Some examples that I found worth sharing are-

An older generation Indian mother after relocating to Indonesia, was part of discussion groups to share her knowledge of India with foreigners. She also taught English to adults and children from non-English speaking countries such as Norway, Korea and Indonesia. She found that sharing her knowlesge with the wider world makes an interesting hobby.

Another Indian lady who is a homemaker in Australia spends her weekends making glass paintings and mehendi designs for functions and also earns an income out of this.

Here in Bay Area, there are tons of Indians and their families who conduct classes in Carnatic music, dance, cookery, Tamil language etc. and not only pass on their talent and knowledge but also make a decent living out of doing this. They meet a lot of people and thereby form new friendships and contacts.

Some folks voiced that due to time constraints, they made their profession into a hobby, not sure to what extent that kind of a parochial view can be taken.

Anyways, the bottom line was pursuing a hobby that one enjoys contributes to making a person's life stress free and happy.

Would be interested to hear some of your thoughts on this........

Monday, October 23, 2006

90th Post- 6 Weird Tag Questions

My 90th post - Tagged by Raju, 6 weird Q&A responses......

1. Psycho in me: Aaaha!! The psycho in me gets triggered when a women is put down or when her opinion is not heard of. Worst yet, can't bear to keep quiet when an older generation man, old school thought, South Indian brahmin man acts as the dominating chief in the household and the rest of the family needs to fear him and obey.

2. Thinni pandaram: Absolutely! I love everything about good food- any cuisine, only vegetarian stuff, ever partial to sweets, pastries, ice creams and cakes. Of course, love to cook the delicacies as well.

3. Kids: Love to cuddle other people's babies,afraid of holding them in my hands, though. Not too fond of them as they grow older.

4. Dreams: Often have the most weird occurences in my dream. Last night, dreamt that a tiger is in the loose in our neighbourhood and it may enter our apartment. It took a while for poor K to rouse me out of my sleep and calm me.

5. No weird: What is the question?

6. Bore factor: Having to stand before the wardrobe every morning and decide what to wear to work.....

I am sure most folks would be bored by tagging them...but will not be the spoiled sport here- so my tagged bloggers: Anu, Renuka, Priya, Shankari, Sundar and jinguchakka........makkale- please don't curse me for doing this!!!

Friday, October 20, 2006

Happy Diwali to All

Wishing all bloggers Happy Diwali!

For the NRI folks: Enjoy the weekend by eating the delicious goodies (home made or brought from store),wear new clothes, visit your nearest temple, be prepared for the crowds in the temples, have a nice lunch and don't miss the Sun Tv programs, if you have cable connection.


Today’s the `Festival of Lights’ all o’er;
A joyful day for minds and hearts and souls;
And people throng the Temples to offer,
Prayers, resolving to take better roles.

And most of them are richly clad and clean,
And eat such dainty foods and sweets with mirth;
Whilst noisy crackers burst, their lights are seen,
It seems to be a happy day on Earth!

But are there not hearts woe-filled, very sad?
Denied of laughter, smiles for days;
Today’s the triumph of Good over bad;
But what about the wastage in much ways?
True joy is when you see someone else smile!
True charity gives joy in Heav’nly style.

Sonnet by Dr John Celes on the Festival of Lights.......

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

NRI Diwali Special Part I

Its three more days to Diwali and I am sitting at work writing a job description for a new position that needs to be created, classified, posted, recruited, interviewed and hired as soon as I can. Well, what else can we, other NRI's who work and study here in the US do other than fantasising about their childhood Diwali days and buying calling cards to call India to ask about the Diwali preparations at home.

Earlier, during school and college years when I was in Chennai, I wasn't a big fan of Diwali, mainly bcos I was afraid of crackers. My fun with crackers was restricted to the sparklers aka "kambi mathapu" and flower pots aka "boos vaanam". Vedis such as electric pataasu and even cape guns were banned in my house since I would crawl under the bed with my ears stuffed with cotton and my heart beating loudly at every sound made bya cracker in the neighbourhood. But, what made me still look forward to those Diwali days back then?

A week or so prior to the Diwali day, my parents would take me to Naidu Hall and Nalli etc. for Diwali shopping and a salwar or a midi would be the choice of the day. Today, as I look at all the online apparel business and hear about the crowds at the shops in T.Nagar from my folks, it seems like a lot more gala has been added to the festivities, simply bcos new fashion apparel like modern designer clothes, traditional silk saree varieties and even so many latest trends for men's wear and kids- the new tinkerbell pattu pavadais etc. coupled with the Diwali bonanza, mega sale at Pothy's, Saravana Sotes, Globus, Lifestyle etc. has made the whole package more attractive.

The crackers- What with Subhiksha and many shops offering all the latest types of crackers and lamps-diyas is indeed a kids delight to celebrate Diwali.

Of course, when we call our parents, they keep saying, now that you've all grown up and gone away, there is no one to burst crackers, so we haven't bought any, just a few sparklers for namesake.

Then, the sweet and savory making time at home. The women of the household-ammas, grandmas etc. would all join together or exchange recipes on making laddos, thengoyal etc. Of course, the special Diwali "legiyam" would top the list, so that it will do good for digesting all the goodies. Slowly, even that started to change. My mom mentions that since all the youngsters have grown up and nobody has the enthu anymore, they have resorted to Krishna Sweets, Grand Sweets and other outsourced Iyer mami's to order their muruku, badusha etc.

On Diwali, visits to temples and grandparents and relatives houses, adjusting the visits such that we don't miss the special programs on Sun Tv would always be memorable. Today, when I see all the advertisements for the shops and Diwali sales and also the preview for the special programs that are going to be screened on Saturday, it touches a memory chord to the years spent in India.

Well, without adding more senti- its still good to have those memories, but living far away here, we can still make do whatver is feasible and fun for us.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Random Ramblings

It is Friday afternoon and I just finished organizing a baby shower for one of the employees in our department, we had delicious Mocha Chocolate Cake and some fun games. I am ready to leave for the week........just some random thoughts put together in a blog....

1.Thalaivar SuperStar became Super Grandpa on 10/10/06. Being the hero of TN, he distributed sweets and Rs.1000 to all Appollo Hospital staff on this joyous news. Poor Dhanush (whose role isn't too significant as son-in-law, he is 25 yrs old and is younger to his wife Aishwarya) told media that his son would be named by Thalaivar on a grand auspicious function.

Inspite of Rajini attaining grandpa status, his fan crowd and status of hero amongst Tamilians is still at its peak with the successful shooting of his next mega budget Sivaji.

2. Heard that the new movie "The Departed" that has all the major star cast is very bloody, more so that Munich for its violence. So, wondering if we should go for Jet Li's Fearless instead tonight?

3. Want to make some gobi manchrian this weekend.

4. Want to go watch the Pumpkin Patch festival and carving at some close downtown.

5. This huge piece of choc cake that I ate this afternoon is still lingering in my mouth, maybe workout during the weekend?

More meaningful blogging next week......................Happy Friday!!!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Indra Nooyi of Pepsi: An Inspiration to All Indian Women

Indra Nooyi is President and CEO of PepsiCo, Inc as of Oct 1. As many of us are already aware of this, I am drawn to this not only in seeing the elevation of Indra to CEO, but also the fact that everybody has noticed it.

Indra has been ranked amongst the top 50 most powerful women both in Forbes and Forture 500 company magazines. Prior to this, she was Senior VP and CFO of Pepsi, US and played key roles in the Tricon spin off, acquiring Tropicana, merger with Qaker Foods and also in the public offering of Pepsi Cola bottling group.

Unlike other Indian CEOs what makes Nooyi distinct and special?

First of all, she is a woman, an Indian-born girl who garduated from Madras Christian College and IIM, Calcutta. Her fiery urge to come to the US in 1978 to pursue her Master's degree in Public and Private Management at the Yale School of Management was aptly rewarded.

Secondly, she wasn't an American, but an outsider. This implies that she had to be twice as good as her peers to be considered half as good in a white dominated corporate environment. Her first job at the Boston Consulting Group for six years gave her the strategic background and later enabled her to join Motorola as VP and Director of Corporate Strategy and Planning. Later, her move to Asea Brown Boveri as part of the top management team brought her career graph higher.

She joined PepsiCo in 1994 and broke the glass ceiling by clawing her way up the ladder to become President and CFO in 2001. In her current position, she is responsible for all of Pepsi's corporate fucntions, including finance, stretegy, business process optimization, innovation, investor relations etc.

Lastly, Indra's uniqueness comes from the fact that she wears a sari to attend PepsiCo's corporate events and thereby comes across as a woman proud of her Indian heritage and upbringing. This has made other Americans look to her with a difference and they welcome the genuine woman that she has become. It has opened up a whole new vision for the Indian CEO's, especially the stereo typed Gupta, Dutta Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who have changed their names to blend in with the Americans here unlike Indra's distinctiveness.

Interviews from Business wekk and other articles talk highly about Nooyi's other responsbilities as mother of two daughters and a wife to her husband Raj. She claims that her religious nature and background that she maintains in her puja room at her Connecticut home along with Lord Ganesha's grace always help her handle the several roles that she has to play at home and at the office. Her extra curricular activities aren't limited to playing the electric guitar at office parties, but also span reading a book everday between 11pm to 2 am to keep herself up to date on innovation.

To the average American, Indra Nooyi's CEOship at PepsiCo has come to symbolize the "entry" of the Indian woman immigrant. Today, as Indra stands apart as one of the most successful and powerful businesswomen in the world, she personifies that for Indians to come up and rise in the corporate ladder here in the US- education, hard work and moving into lucrative areas such as finance, HR, law, medicine, entertainment and engineering makes the difference. We need to take the paths that Jews have undertaken before and inspite of the 9/11 after effects, understandably, we would still need to work through to carve a niche for ourselves.

Nooyi deserves to be noticed and applauded for her feats and for drawing the attention to Indians breaking the bastions for top positions in corporate America. She may not be the first immigrant to get there, but she definitely has made a difference with her grand entry.

Kudos to Nooyi who is an inspiration to all Indian-born US educated career women!!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Indian Women: Job versus Career?

This has been a long pending blog topic for me and finally here I am writing about something that is of great significance to me. It has always been a struggle for me to clearly distinguish between a non-working woman (which is easy to comprehend), a woman who has a job and a career woman.

The differences have never been more pronounced in my entire life than when I got married. I come from a household where almost every woman, except my grandmother, went to work and also took care of the house. My husband comes from a family where the older generation women haven't gone out trying to be the breadwinner but have stayed home baking the bread for the family. Does that mean that one is better than the other?

First of all, everybody has a right to choose their life and decide what they want to do with it. In my grandmother's time, even the SSLC educated women had to stay home and go through a rough patch with their in-laws and going to work was as impossible as having an interest to pursue higher education. Even if that happened at home, cooking, housework, doing services for the older in-laws and having babies were the priority. Even focussing on your husband was taboo without the in-laws consent.

Two types of women personalities emerged out of this experience when their daughters and sons grew up-

The women who were supressed and deprived of a lot of rights in their younger days grew to become aggressive mothers who educated their daughters (our mothers) and sent them to work and got them married and still urged them to continue working so that they would have a better life than their mothers.

Another type of women personalities who went through the same hardships and even forgot to think independently, taught their daughters and sons to have a good education and imbibe the family values and tradition of respecting the opinions of the older generation and that staying home was not a bad option, but a wiser one to raise a good family and let the man be the sole breadwinner. This was applicable to the daughters-in-law specifically who got married into these households.

As a result, the same two types of mother personalities evolved with the ones having daughters and going to work themselves, supporting their girls to go overseas for graduate studies and welcomed the idea that their daughter should also have an equal partnership in matrimony and contribute to the economic upliftment of the quality of life by going out and working, be it here in a software company in the US or in Bangalore.

The other kind of mothers who themselves weren't employed in their life, did not urge or encourage their daughters and daughters-in-laws to have a job. Instead, their focus was on telling these women, in fact, many of them who are independent in all ways that neglecting the husband and home to bring income wasn't necessary and frowned upon as having too much freedom etc.

But, sadly these people (includes the spouses of non-working women) never see it that way. With the changing trends in the world's globalization, Indian women are storming traditional male bastions both in India and here in US. They are pursuing careers these days. Of course, there are many women out there who are satisfied with just having a job to earn money and gain economic independence. But, a lot more women these days are churning out to become career oriented- they want to do more than a job, they want to pursue personal and professional goals. Even though that kind of change is slowly happening, the success rate isn't that high yet. Such kind of career women don't have their path cut out so easily- they need to be able to climb the professional ladder and yet make sure that they are successful in the home front as well- right from organizing the house, ensuring that the equally hi-tech husband does his part of the home chores and also raise kids in a western environment. And the higher you grow in your position, the more challenges one must face. If it is a business or marketing position, then travel becomes part of your job description.

Finally, since many women have the tendency to play superwoman- trying to excel in all her roles, planning and maintaining the work and balancing the personal life becomes critical. Also, this career graph can never be plotted without the complete support of the spouse, not only in a verbal fashion, but also to sort out all issues that evolves, since a career entails sacrifices and compromises.

Hmmm......have we come a long way from our grandmother's generation.....keep the spirits alive and share your comments.

Friday, September 29, 2006

My first Golu

This year Navarathri turns out to be slightly different than the last couple of years. Living in Bay Area and visiting the golu sale at Komala Vilas on El Camino Real made me buy some dolls as a last minute thing and keep the golu last weekend with whatever other stuff we could find at home to fill the padis. With K setting up the padis and offering his thoughts and me arranging the dolls, it was truly a couple effort. Spent the last weekend going around to friends places for sundal and golu visits. And, it is our turn to play hosts this weekend.

Looking forward to Sarawasthi puja, SPB Light music concert etc. for this last Dussera weekend.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

From Aloha to Mahalo- A Trip to Maui, Hawaii

Aloha (Welcome)to Maui- During the long weekend for labor day, K and I made a quick vacation to Hawaii. Out of all the islands in Hawaii, we were highly recommended to go to Maui, because it offers the right blend of sea and land for all visitors. Narrowing it down to stay in West Maui, our pick was the Kaanapali region. Kaanapali extends over 500 acres lined with nearly three miles of white sand beaches. It also has a lot of sea resort hotels, golf courses and shopping centers. Route 30 is the only highway that takes you along the coast and we were fortunate to rent a convertible and just the drive along the coast from the airport to Kaanapali on Route 30 with the covertible top down was an unbeatable experience. What a way to begin our holiday!

Our stay at the Kaanapali Beach hotel was pleasant and relaxing. Like most other Maui hotels, ours had a private beach where snorkelling, deep-sea fishing and just swimming on the beach and lying out on the sand with a sun tan lotion were some of the activities.

Our agenda for the 5 days was packed-

Day 1- Arrived at Maui in the afternoon and drove to Kaanapali and settled into Kaanapali Beach Hotel and enjoyed the sea

Day 2- Maui Activities Orientation Breakfast and Parasailing

My first parasailing experience at 400 feet height was a totally scary experience. K and the rest of our boat folks witnessed my fear of water and heights and although I was so afraid of doing it, with a lot of support and literal hand clutching with K, I made it- the experience was an adventure for me.

Day 3- Road Trip to Hana

Hana highway is filled with around 720 sharp curves, hairpin bends and about 50 single lane bridges and a trip to Maui would not have been complete without doing the Hana drive. We played tourists on a luxury van since we had to go 180 miles of a most scenic route and would be gone for 12 hours. I had taken enough Dramamine to keep my motion sickness under control and managed to survive the day long trip. Although the road is in excellent condition, but by the time you are done with the trip you will feel that you are trained for the Monte Carlo Gran Prix, if only you could make these turns at quadruple speed.

But, all this is for the wonderful sights and photographs that we took at several stops our local tour guide made for us. My favorite spots were the Ke-anae peninsula, the black sand beach at Wai'anapanapa State Park. The lava tube down at the bottom gives you a beautiful view of the ocean waves.

The Hana coast gallery was an afternoon stop for doing local shopping. The waterfalls all along the route are really a nice sight for the eyes. We also made a stop at Kipahulu where we visited the Palapala Ho'omau Congregational Church and the burial spot of Charles Lindbergh. Since our guide cum driver was a really enthusiastic localite he took the narrow road off the highway to take us there.

After a long day we were back to our hotel in Kaanapali at around 7.30 pm almost twelve hours after our departure that morning. The trip to Hana was an exciting and awe inspiring experience.

Day 4- Haleakala Sunrise and Mountain Bike Ride down the Volcano

We were up the next day at 2 am to be picke dup by our van to go up the summit of Haleakala to watch the sun rise. A few photos of that are also posted. The temperature up there made our hands and face freeze and we were provided with leather jackets with hoods and hot chocolate to await the sunrise. The sun slowly started to come up around 4.30 am and was fully up by 6.30 am. We then made the 36 mile mountain bike ride down the the volcano to the sea of Maui, Hawaii. The tropical fauna and the fresh morning air along with a great bicycle ride experience was the highlight of our trip. We reached the land in about 3-4 hours and had a great breakfast at a small town.

The Luau at Night- The Royala Lahaina hotel hosts a traditional Hawaiian night of food and entertainment for all its Ohana (family). Even visitors are considered a part of this big ohana. The Imu ceremony of burying and cooking the pig, followed by drinks from the open bar with an all-you-can-eat buffet (that had quite a few vegetarian dishes to our surprise) was worth the money we paid for this event. Dinner was followed by the hula dance, a traditional dance retelling the stories of many Hawaiian legends followed by a fire knife dance in the end made the evening a remarkable one. Also, eating beside the ocean with a bunch of people and watching the sun set were an added bonus to the Luau.

Day 5- Drive back to Kahului Airport and took a flight to SFO.

West Maui's panoramic view along with its variety of vacation activities, sight seeing places etc. make this a memorable trip.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The HINDU in digital form

The HINDU, India's largest newspaper will now be available in digital form as of September 10, 2006 at this link-