Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

IT'S HALLOWEEN by Jack Prelutsky~

It's Halloween! It's Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can't be seen
On any other night.

Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels,
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms.

In masks and gowns
we haunt the street
And knock on doors
for trick or treat.

Tonight we are
the king and queen,
For oh tonight
it's Halloween!

Its Halloween day and I have no costume to wear, simply because I didn't have the enthu to go and get one and dress up to come to work in a costume. Almost everyone at work is dressed up and I feel like a kid who is left out in a colorful fancy-dress competition. I tell myself that maybe next year, I will sum up the courage and venture out to try out some costume that will suit me. My colleagues are knocking on my door and showing off their costumes, we have a costume contest at lunch and as HR I again feel so left out and a little out of place. It is becoming harder for me to respond to their queries on Why I haven't dressed up, because it looks like it is part of my HR duties to not only coordinate the events, but also dress up and soak in the spirit of the day.

But, I did make it a point to go and decorate our front lawn a few weeks ago with some skeleton heads, cobwebs and halloween stuff (picture will follow soon) and I am fully equipped with variety candy to treat the kids when they come around for trick or treating tonight- I so look forward to that every Halloween and am hoping that there is no rain to stop the kids from coming around the neighbourhood tonight.

Happy Halloween and enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Married and Happy at 25 or 65?

One of my favorite shows on Sun Tv during festival days is to watch the "Pattimandram" which is the tamilian version of a debate with Solomon Pappaiya as the moderator. His snide remarks and sattirical humor always make watching the pattimandram more enjoyable. Usually, he starts out by giving a prelude to the topic of debate and there are 2 teams with 3 speakers who take turns and speak one after the other opposing their opponent's views and strengthening their own arguement. After everyone has spoken, the moderator finally gives his verdict on the winning side using his rationale from the debate. This year's pattimandram topic on Deepavali day was, "Does happiness in life come out of marriage when you are 25 years or does it come when you are at 65 years."

I am just trying to sum up the arguments made by the speakers and of course, add my two cents to it, too. Life at 25 is definitely lots of fun, a road to new beginnings, fulfilment of dreams and desires etc. Being engaged, falling in love and getting married (either the arranged way or other way), the first job, the first date, first anniversary, first gift, first baby, so many firsts make it all so much worth living for. The first fight with your spouse, followed by several others in due course etc. are also part of the works. Of course, making up after such tiffs and the lessons learnt about your partner are all part of the marriage game at 25. Also, life at 25 is filled with changes and rushes past by without the extra time to savor and enjoy the niceties.

Life at 65 is laid back and comes with a sense of contentment. A pension and secure savings provide the financial stability, while dependecy on a son/daughter may also rock this age. There are times when the son/daughter may not always be that patient or accomodative with your old age quirks, but, if your significant other is around, it makes living more bearable. While sparks don't fly off at a glance into each other's eyes and you don't even have to touch the other person, there is a comfortable silence and mute understanding of what your spouse is thinking at this wise old age. Listening to your wife cough through the night, may not be that pleasant and happy, but, getting up in your tottering steps to fetch her a glass of water and gently holding her hand, may bring happiness and comfort. If your grandfather is out on a hot sunny day to the near by post-office and isn't back at his usual time, the concern on your grandmother's face and the way she walks to the door and peeps out, is probably the best depiction of what love is at that age.

Finally, the verdict was given to Marriage and happiness being enjoyed the most at 65 and not at 25 years. At 25, a lot of the feelings are passionate and associated with physical needs and superficial, but, is like bright spring season, with the blossoming of flowers and color. At 65, life in a marriage is about sharing concerns of who might die first and what will happen to the other spouse and is shared from the heart and soul and is like the changing colors and falling leaves of fall season. Enjoy and savor the thrills of married life at 25, for those are probably the best times in one's life and welcome old age with grace.

Thanks to the moderator Solomon Pappaiya for a thought provoking topic and a befitting verdict.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Deepavali Wishes and a different tale

Monday, 10/27 is Deepavali day in South India. What that means is for folks like us living in US, we get to celebrate it on the weekend. A get-together with a bunch of friends, a potluck dinner and maybe lighting some lamps and wearing new clothes sums up the make-do version of this widely popular Indian festival.

For those who don't have parents or in-laws visiting, Komala Vilas in Sunnyvale sells Deepavali legiyam or marunthu, a medicinal mix that takes care of indigestion problem that may tend to occur while devoring on sweets and snacks during this festival.

It has been 8 years since I was there in India for Deepavali and frankly, I don't regret it. My fears with Deepavali go back to my childhood days when I was scared stiff of loud bursting crackers and while growing up in India, every year I would dread the arrival of Deepavali day, as it means I would be huddled under the bed with my ears stuffed with cotton scared of cracker noises. It would be a struggle for my parents to drag me to visit my grandparents place, as I would not step out of the house. My folks would compare me with the small child holding the 1000 walla in his hand and bursting it, while I couldn't even bear the noise. I would cry and howl in fear and my heart would beat so rapidly at those firework sounds, that nothing was worth the trouble for me. Over the years, the fear just wouldn't go away and I used to tell my folks that I can't wait to get out of India and come to US, so that I didn't have to endure this day.

Of course, wearing new clothes and enjoying the different sweets and savories and watching all the new movie release shows, new songs, Solomon Papaiyah's pattimandram and movies were the day's highlights. My poor mother would be in the kitchen all day cooking while I would be sitting on the couch watching TV without even an ounce of guilt. Those days, when my dad would tell me to go help her in the kitchen, I would never oblige him. But, sitting in a far away country and after years of growing up, I finally feel some remorse for not helping my mother and selfishly watching TV, while she never got to see any of the TV programs.

Also, growing up as an only child in a very nuclear family, the lack of cousins etc. only made the festival seem even less appealing to me.

I am happy to be here in US for this year's Deepavali too and wishing you and your families a very Happy and Joyous Deepavali, no matter where you are, soak in the spirit of the festival that lights up the hearts of many all over the world.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Puppy meets his match- cute video

I am a huge lover of dogs and especially cute puppies. This was too cute to resist posting- Enjoy!

Happy Monday!

Friday, October 17, 2008

What is your "Word" ?

Just started reading the much acclaimed book "Eat,Pray,Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert. A detailed analysis and review of the book will be a separate post later. Basically, the book is about an American woman's search for everything in her life across Italy, India and Indonesia. But, even as I've completed exactly 100 pages in this 330paged book, the author whose narrative of the story is in first person, throws out so many ideas, thoughts and topics for discussion that I can think of writing so many posts out of the readings. It will be appropriate to say that atleast one post can come out of one page's reading in this book, such is the content material.

This will be the first out of many posts to follow from several anectodes in this book.

During the author's stay in Rome, Italy, a snippet of coversation between the author Liz and a friend result in the friend saying that the secret to understanding a city and its people is to learn- what the word on the street is? The friend explains that in any place if you could read a passer by's thoughts, you will find that most of them are thinking the same thought. Whatever that majority thought is,will be the word of that city. And as an individual living or visiting that city, there will be one word used to describe your current personality and if that personal word matches the word of the city, then you totally belong in that place. Makes sense?

A few examples given by the friend and the author are-

What is Rome's word?
Answer: SEX (Since that is what is there on the mind of most of the people all the time)

What is Vatican's word?
Answer: POWER, though you'd think FAITH is more like it.

What is Stockholm's word?
Answer: CONFORM (depressing one)

What is the word in Naples?
Answer: FIGHT

What is the word in New York city?
Answer: ACHIEVE (yes, it is a verb of course)

What is the word in Los Angeles?
Answer: SUCCEED (a subtle but significant difference)

The coversation then moves to more specific questions that the friend poses to the author, which might be worth answering in our own lives.

What was the word in your family when you were growing up?
My answer to this would be Abundant and Religious (yes, I used 2 words).

Lastly, What's your word?
If I had to use this in my current state of affairs, I would come up with Restless.

It will be interesting to hear what your answers to these last 2 questions will be, if you want to share them. What I really liked about this message/exercise is that by coming up with that one word that best describes you at present, it brings about a clear realization of who you are or your current state of mind.

Happy Thinking and enjoy your weekend..

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Pissed off

I guess this blog is turning out to be a venue for my rants and vents with life's happenings. So, without further ado, a narration of something that happened towards the close of work day yesterday that still has me pissed off.

Being the sort of sole HR person in my office, one of my job duties is to put together events, parties etc. With Halloween coming up at the end of the month, every year, we have a grand costume party, lunch etc. at work that is organized by me and our Operations Coordinator. So, usually the emails on such upcoming events etc. are sent to the group from me or sometimes by our Ops Coordinator.

C is our Finance person who not only keeps track of our budget, but also thinks that she controls the money that we spend. In some ways, it is good that she has a tight control over our spending so that we are well within approved funds etc. According to me, C is a control freak who always keeps saying that she wished she had more power around the work place to do more things. C, Ops Coordinator and myself all report to the same manager.

Yesterday, right before the end of the day, I see an email that comes from C to the group about the upcoming Halloween party etc. My first reaction was maybe our manager had asked her to send it, for some reason, though I knew that wasn't the case. I was so pissed to see C step on my forte by sending out the email to the group, more so, since it was I who had brought up the topic of Halloween at our last team meeting. She should have atleast checked with me before sending it out, so typical of her want to have power over things. I never interfere in her area, Finance and have no clue as to what gives her the right to poke her nose in my domain. Granted, we are a team and we all come together to do things, but, we do have separate portfolios and it is so annoying when someone steps on your toes.

On the pretext of checking something with C, I emailed her and added a line mentioning that I was surprised to see this email come from her. Thought, she would respond to it, but nope. Spent a significant time venting to K about this last evening. I also emailed my manager venting off about this. Finally, decided to go directly to C and ask her about this in the morning. I had to take several deep breaths and calm myself before going to her, since I didn't want to lose my temper and say something regretable (which is so typical of me). But, at work, I am a whole different self, so when I asked C as to why she sent the email, she had some story about how she was thinking about our big boss (whose favorite event is Halloween and recently how she had a death in her family and was still recovering), so, in order to cheer her up, she sent the email on a whim without checking with me. C had absolutely no remose, even when I told her that I was feeling bad about it etc. She said that I could maybe do a follow-up email/evite for the event if I wanted to, since I was going to be doing the logistics of planning etc. The cheek and nerve she has to say that to me, I just put on my professional smile and said, No, that is fine, you can do it, if you want to and came back to my office.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Change is part of life

The last few days have been a whirlwind of activities and happenings. Amidst all that, the daily routine goes on. A weekday is a typical weekday with the usual waking up, packing lunch, gobbling through the morning's breakfast and beverage and the commute to work. In the office, its going through the same old emails, solving new issues that arise, surfing through new blog posts etc. Depending on the kind of day you've had, the time seems to have flown by or the day drags itself. Come evening, the commute back home, plans for dinner, a quick workout, watching the never ending polls and debates on CNN, the news and its time to hit the sack for the day.

Routine is like my anchor to day to day life. More than the routine, a sense of familiarity makes life secure for me. A familiar place called home to come to, sleeping in the same bed, going to the same office day after day, watching the same show over and over again make the world a safe haven for me.

A slight change in status quo or events doesn't board well with me at all. Forget even accepting the change, even being open to changes in living is not my cup of tea. I know some of my friends who are also wary of changes in life, but, still, I guess they accept it as part of life and go with the flow. There are others who thrive on change, meaning a routine way of doing things, repeating the same activities etc. becomes mundane and makes life dull and boring. New activities, new ventures, or a mere change in the order/way of doing things keeps them going.

My lack of willingness to embrace change and fear of the unknown and unplanned is something that needs to be overcome. Sure, it is not going to happen overnight, but adding a touch of spontanity will sure make life better, it seems. While, even opportunities for taking risks and trying out new things don't come our way often in life, I think being a little optimistic on the whole concept of change will atleast make me look at those as opportunities and not as threats. Writing this post, makes me think that every situation in life needs to go through a SWOT analysis (something from my management classes)- look at the Strengths, analyze the Weaknesses, seize the Opportunities and know the Threats to make a successful management decision.

While, I am may not end up turning a new leaf and embracing change right away, atleast I can watch it from the sidelines and try not to be overly critical of the changes in other people's lives.

By Aldo Kraas

I need to have more patience with others
I can’t fight with people anymore
Because fighting is no good for me and others
What can I change?
The way I think I must change
What can I change?
Get the negative thoughts out of my life
What can I change?
My feelings towards myself and others

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Book Review: The Unknown Errors of Our Lives

I just completed this Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's book, thoroughly enjoyed reading this collection of stories of Indian immigrants who have migrated to the US and the adjustments that their lives undergo- be it connecting with their familial roots back home or making accomodations to the life here or bridging the generational differences that transit beyond seas. Every story resonates with a moving pulse on how human emotions thrive in individuals, families that have a cultural connection embedded in them.

The book has 9 stories and each story is unique in its own way. While every story portrays the dynamics between a parent and child or between siblings or in-laws, each one is poignant with a sense of reality that leaves behind a mark in our hearts.

Most of the Indian families that Chitra refers to hail from North India, especially West Bengal, but, the stories are very applicable to any woman or man from India living abroad. Without giving away the contents, each story has a direct message that ties into the title, the unknown mistakes that we make in our lives. There is a tale of an Indian woman settled in the US who is forced to make amendments with her estranged father when he wants to see his grandchild in his older days. Another story that rings with reality is that of a widowed mother who comes to US to live with her son and daughter-in-law only to discover that her ways are considered old-fashioned, embarassment to her daughter-in-law. A story about an Indian girl who visits India and goes on a pilgrimage tour, only to discover herself and the purpose of her life. There is also a tale about a lesbian woman who meets someone from India in this country and how their relationship blossoms into one of comfort. A story with the book's title is also written to express how a young woman paints about Indian mythology and the comforts that she draws from those paintings to deal with an unexpected twist about her fiance are all woven beautifully into this collection.

While I did not enjoy reading Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's "Mistress of Spices", this book, more than made up for it. A good read that knocks some lessons into our heads and makes us think about the unknown errors that we ourselves may have done in our lives.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Our Golu for this year

A glimpse of our golu this year for all those who couldn't come in person. Thank you to all the friends and bloggers (some) who made it to our place last evening for viewing the golu and taking vethala-paaku-sundal.

This year's golu was a lot similar to last year's in the arrangement, still using moving boxes for the steps (padis), but got some good information from friends on the assembly of proper wooden racks from Home Depot, Ikea etc. Hopefully, next year, we'll have a much better set-up, assuming that this is a project for K to complete within the next year.

The new additions to this year's golu were the Dasavatharam set (heard that after the movie, this set is now a popular in most golus) and the Ashtalakshmis (8 Lakshmi's). The 8 Lakshmi goddess being Adi Lakshmi, Dhana Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Santana Lakshmi, Veera Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi and Vidya Lakshmi.

My personal favorite is the musical Ganesha set that comprises of several forms of Ganesha either singing, playing an instrument or dancing.

A visit to the temple to see their golu display, eating lots of different types of sundal over the weekend (tasted pattani, chick peas, black-eyed peas and peanut sundals), receiving and giving small gifts as part of the vethala-paaku thamboolam, getting dressed and meeting beautifully dressed women in traditional attire, hearing some folks sing at the golus, the weekend was filled with activities and cultural fiesta.

With just a few week days of the golu left, and with Saraswathi puja and Vijayadasami, both falling on Wednesday and Thursday respectively, marking the end of this navarathri, this year's golu was another pleasant occasion.

Happy Monday....

Thursday, October 02, 2008

A Picture Tag/Colorful Meme

Apar of Random Ruminations has tagged me, so here goes-

a) Answer the questions below, do a Google Image search with your answer, take a picture from the first page of results, and do it with minimal words of explanation.

b) Tag 5 other people to do the same once you’ve finished answering every question.

1. The age you’ll be on your next birthday-

2. A place you'd like to travel to-

3. Your favourite place

4. Your favorite food

5. Your favorite pet

6. Your favorite color combination

7. Your favorite piece of clothing

8. Your favorite TV show

9. First name of your significant other

10. The town in which you live

11. Your first job

12. A bad habit you have

13. Your dream job- DIRECTOR OF

14. Your worst fear

15. What you'd like to do before you die

Though, I would like to choose 5 bloggers to tag, not sure if they would be willing to take it up, so please feel free to pursue this picture tag to share more about yourself and your interests, if you feel so.