Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reaching the Five Year Landmark

Yet another summer morning with the Californian sun is here, it is a regular week day, but, still, in my mind, this is a special day. Not because another year has passed by and we've completed yet another anniversary, but, because today we've reached a small milestone- five years of marriage.

Ours was an arranged marriage and with every passing year we've embraced our share of differences, created memories, shared secrets and learned to respect and love each other. When I flip through old emails and see the one that has a picture of him that I first saw, it brings a smile to my face. I still remember our first meeting, the words exchanged, the glances that crept across the room and the conversations that followed. There is definitely something romantic about marrying the first guy who officially comes to see you.

As the years pass by, and we build a life together, I watch our relationship take its own shape and form. Every happening and life's events brings us more closer and makes us feel more appreciative of the blessings we have.

With renewed vigor and enthusiasm, I look forward to the years ahead, with him by my side, holding my hand, as we step into the next phase in our lives.

Happy Anniversary.....

Perfect Mate By Karl Fuchs

After many years of trying
To be the perfect mate,
You've still keep up the effort,
And that's why you're so great.

My love for you keeps growing,
With each year that goes past;
The enjoyable times I spend with you
Are really quite a blast!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Seed of Jealousy

Pic: Courtesy google image

As someone once told me, "Life is a like a train journey, you will meet new people and you will say goodbye to old friends, as and when the train passes through each station". I did not fully comprehend the meaning of this, until more recently. There was a time in my life, during school and college years when my life would revolve around friends. Like many others, I was part of a group of girls (having studied in an all girls school and college) and we would spend most of our time, both in and outside school/college hanging out with the others, spending hours together chatting on the phone, going out to see movies, shopping or simply just camping out at another girl's house on the pretext of doing combined/group studies.

As life moved on and with it came higher education, jobs and marriages that took us to different destinations, the day to day communication and face to face meetings became impossible. Slowly, our contacts dwindled to staying in touch via email and catching up on instant messenger when the varying time zones made it possible to happen. As the years moved on and life's routine and demands of a family, career etc. took over, it became evident as to which friends took the extra time to even do that minimal email and stay in touch. The best analogy I can think of is how a filter functions by filtering the unwanted particles and gives you a clear solution. The more times the filtration process happens, the more clearer and purer is the resulting solution. A group of 20 friends from college slowly dwindled down to 5 friends over the years. Amongst those 5 friends, especially, amongst the girls (a separate post will be done on the male friendships), as the years grow by and parallel lives emerged, comparisons and petty jealousies became inevitable.

I've always wondered why is it that girl roomates don't get along and have problems or issues with their companions, unlike guys, who hardly have any issues, even when they have more than 2 or 3 roomates sharing a place. The answer is simple, though jarring to admit, being a girl- girls are picky about most things, petty about sharing stuff and unadjustable and inflexible in many ways. Even if two best friend girls share a room, at some point, issues will crop up due to comparisons (what she has is better and so much good than what I have) and as a result the feeling of jealousy springs up and slowly the friendship starts falling apart. I maybe so biased, but, rarely, have I seen two guy pals who whine, complain and compare that one has a better job, better looks, a better life etc.

Why is it that the female population slowly degrades when they allow the seed of jealousy to take over their friendhips etc. If you believe in karma, than, your life has already been determined by your kismat and the good deeds that you perform will surely bring about good results. What you sow, is what you reap! Then, why allow petty comparisons starting from the car you own to the house you have to the gender of the baby you have and on and on take over your emotional intelligence and cause so much of negativity in your heart. Nothing positive is going to come out of this experience. I am not trying to pick on the girl friends, but there are even sisters, who compare and contrast all the things they each have in their lives. It will be helpful to keep in mind that rarely does any woman have it all. Every person has their own share of joys, sorrows and baggage to deal with in life. While, for some the complaining and whining makes it sound more evident, for, others dealing with life as such makes it a lot more easier.

Phew......putting all those feelings in words was exhausting......until the next post, keep in touch with your girl friends and stay positive and be cheerful, after all, being a girl is so much more fun in many ways.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The ABCs of a Hindu Ceremony in US

The last couple of weeks have been exhausting,to say the least. We organized and hosted a traditional and religious ceremony at our place. This was not our first time doing a religious ceremony in the US, but, nevertheless, the scope of the event turned out to be larger than expected. Of course, it was my choice to have it this way and I shouldn't be complaining. But, putting together the whole event drove some simple home truths into the mind.

First of all, in order to perform a hindu puja or a ritual or a homam, a lot of prep work goes into effect atleast a few days in advance to the event. This is true, no matter in which part of the world the event happens. When growing up in a traditional brahmin household in India, a religious event happens atleast every fortnight, be it the simple amavasya "tharpanam" for which the vaathiyar (priest) comes home or the more elaborate varalakshmi viratham for which also the vaathiyar comes home. Vadai and payasam and more varieties of delicacies are prepared from the start of dawn. Until now, when I had to organize a function/puja at my house, I hadn't realized how a lot of things have been taken for granted. Back in India, i used to sit in front of the TV or try all sorts of means to escape from helping poor mom in the kitchen. Here, even though, I had some family and well wishers pitching in to help, I still had to make sure everyone knew where things were in my kitchen and had to do a lot of the logistics.

The second part of the organizing and planning is for the ritual itself. Buying the necessary puja items and arranging them prior to the day of the function was the most time consuming and tedious project ever. I can now fully appreciate the efforts that my dad put in every time before we had a puja at home to go to the market to buy all the stuff. Inspite of living within walking distance to Indian stores, it still isn't the most easiest task cut out.

Another thing that I noticed about these festive/religious events is the people. What makes a simple puja/ritual complete is the people who dress up in traditional attire and show up for such functions. It takes the rich silk sarees, jewellery that is not worn on normal days and the fresh jasmine flowers (yes, we got home grown jaathi malli as its the season here in Bay Area) to bring the cultural aspect of the event to its fullest.

Last, but not the least, is the religious significance of the whole ceremony. It is one thing to have an Indian priest who drives a C-class mercedes come and perform the puja. Hindu priests are in a lucrative business big time nowadays. They may not make the pay that your typical software engineer does, but, nevertheless, their income level is closely comparable. Being an Indian priest, more importantly, in a place like California, where the desi population is abundant, the demands on their services are pretty high. Not only do they charge exhorbitant fee for their services, but, also get mileage reimbursement, hidden fee during the ritual itself saying that it will be given to God X in India (goes straight into the pocket of the priest, not the God) and also take with them the leftover stuff after the puja.

The sanctity and true significance of the ceremony are sadly lost in the stark comemrcialism and business needs of these priests. I maybe biased if I state that all Indian priests are like that, but, honestly, the majority of them fall under that category and hence even the few ones that want to be sincere and genuine need to modify their ways in order to make a livelihood and to stay in business.

All said and done, as long as our belief system is still ritual based and we fear that some ill fortune may fall upon us if we don't adhere to those practices, the trend of priests exploiting us will continue. Of course, it takes a tough mindset to shed those beliefs or even question them(especially if you've grown up with them) and to embrace the idea that God will bless us no matter whether we follow these religious rituals or not and that true faith and belief in God alone is enough to carry us through life.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Deferred Gratification

There are days when I stare out of my office window thinking about all the changes that are happening in my world and how at one time I used blogging as an active sounding board to write about stuff. These days, there is no dearth of topics to write about, but, the expressions have reached a stumbling block. Nevertheless, I hope to overcome this phase and start being able to express myself again more freely.

Over the course of months, I've had some exposure to learning few of life's valuable lessons. Yes, this post is taking a philosophical tone. I am a long term planner for the most part (meaning I plan my vacations, life changes, goals etc) for atleast a year or more into the future. I plan my weekly lunches and dinner and cook accordingly. I love a routine and try to stick with it as much as possible. I even have to know the storyline and ending of a movie before watching it, no element of unplanned surprises for me, if I can help it. But, I guess life doesn't always work that way for everybody. Things change, situations out of the ordinary crop up and you have to deal with the issue at hand.

One of the recent learnings that I gathered about myself is that I don't know what it is to defer gratification. I guess I am not alone in that respect. In today's busy and stressful world, everybody wants everything now, or atleast most people do. Starting with on-demand programming, instant ready to eat meals, instant messengers...the list is endless. Wanting it is in itself so bad, but, wanting it right NOW makes it ten times worse. There are many things in our lives that we bought on an impulse, ranging from a small thing like a pretty top to a major thing like a sports car. Of course the top that seemed pretty to you initially, doesn't sustain your interest for a long time and goes into the closet, along with the plenty of other items that would fall into the category "I just had to have it." The sports car would probably have been used for a more longer period of time (probably a few years) and then you realize that it is not practical anymore for your growing family and that you need to trade it in to buy a van.

When someone told me that delaying gratification isn't just a money principle, but is a "life principle", it felt like a light bulb went on in my head. Think about it. Which tastes better? Something cooked in the microwave in 10 minutes or in the stove. Hopefully, you said the stove as you pull your frozen food from the microwave!

I guess that by learning to delay gratification in life, a lot of success can be achieved in the longer term. There is a saying in tamil that my mom uses a lot when she talks to me, "Poruthar bhoomi aalwar", meaning the one with patience will rule the world.

Until the next post, which I hope to write soon......

Friday, April 10, 2009

Random Thoughts (RT)

Courtesy: Google Images

Considering that this blog has slowly dipped to the point of being updated once a month or so, nevertheless this is still in existence.

Kal Penn quits acting (for now) and accepts a role as the Associate Director in the White House office of public liaison. I am happy for him and also sort of relieved that there will be no more sequels to Harold and Kumar, watched the Guantanamo bay version on big screen and thought it was gross to a large extent.

RT2: Working long hours doesn't guarantee job protection, but has become a way of survival in the US. A year when most companies have hiring freezes, no salary increases, no bonus programs etc. one must feel that they are lucky to have a job for the moment to take care of the bills. It's scary to hear stories from the Indian community in the valley of shootings, suicides etc. due to job losses, stock market crashes and home prices falling.


Isn't going to one temple and praying to one God reap the same benefits as going to 10 temples and praying to multiple dieties? Its nice that Hinduism has so many Gods that we can choose to pray based on our needs and preferences, but still, the destination at the end of the journey is the same. I hope that this thought stays clear in my mind.

RT4: Why do the Chinese have a name in their native dialect, but then use an English name for all purposes. I recently read the basketball player Yao Ming's english name is Fred.


With that, have a "good" Friday and a great easter weekend.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Horror Flicks

Picture: Courtesy google image

The recently released tamil movie, Yaavarum Nalam had me thinking about this genre of films. I am one of those people whose tolerance to watching blood shed and scary thrillers is absolutely minimal or even none. I can't bear to watch the level of violence that is depicted these days in movies. A nice comedy film or a romantic story or a feel good theme are the kinds of movies and shows that I can take.

Why don't I like horror and violence flicks? The answer is simple, they are not just scary, but also bring about loads of negativity. Aren't we scared about enough elements in life already to not get sucked into watching something that makes your nerves creepy. Despite the censorship in these kinds of films, there is still a lot that can be left to the imagination. Is this form of entertainment educative or productive to our minds?

A friend of mine who loves watching late night horror shows on TV and such movies told me that watching such cutting edge thrillers make her adrenaline pumping faster and keeps her going. The same friend thinks differently now that she has a young child in her house and says that it is detrimental for her kid to watch such things and become fearful of evil things etc.

Movies like Excorcist and the like are truly bone chilling and blood curling, but don't carry a theme or a positive message. Sometimes, a good thriller movie comes along, but that too, depends upon the health condition and age of the person watching it. A person who is prone to have hypertension or gets agitated easily would still find it unwise to spend time watching such elements.

As for me, just the scary factor and the hype associated with these shows and movies is enough to keep me away from them.

So, are you someone who has it in you to watch the horror genre or do you think otherwise.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What does it take to look like her?

Courtesy pics: india glitz and google images

I know that it has been exactly a month since my last post, it has been work and other stuff in life that has kept me away from blogging more frequently (excuses....), but nevertheless, the point is this blog isn't dead yet. So, without further ado-

Was recently browsing some pictures from an event "Cinema Today 2009" hosted for film technicians in Chennai and came across the picture of Suhasini Manirathnam, comperer of the evening. Everytime, I look at this woman, there is something that makes me pause and look at her picture again.

As an actress, Suhasini has not made a big impression to me, but, as a woman who carries herself with such pomp and elegance, she has my complete admiration. Not sure if it is the flowing long hair or the graceful manner in which she fits into either a saree or a modern outfit, but she has the right mix of what it takes to be a head turner. She wouldn't fall into the category of "beautiful", but, it does take a certain level of confidence to present yourself at an event or a function in attire that not only looks ordinary and simple, but somehow appears classy because she has worn it. Another thing, that adds to her persona is her trim/slim figure, I am sure she works out meticulously to keep herself toned. Being in a genre of actresses that are known to get obese with age, it does look refreshing to see someone maintain their body well. Not only does it compliment one's beauty, but certainly takes off 10 years from her age.

I often wonder is this how a woman ages gracefully, of course she is not that old to be categorized as "aged", but, a little something can be adopted from this lady on how we women need to take care of ourselves and do the right things-eating healthy (I hope my hubby doesn't read this) and working out regularly (I hope hubby doesn't read this either. Not just for the man in our lives, but we owe it to ourselves as women to maintain our appearance. While beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and physical appearance is not the measure of a woman's true beauty, it still doesn't hurt us to preserve what God has bestowed upon each one of us.

Until the next post.......

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

My Way or the Highway Attitude

Courtesy: Google Image

The first time I heard this phrase was when an uncle of mine remarked during one of my heated argumentative sessions at home. As is customary of me to go about defending how and why I want things done the way I've planned or forseen them to happen, his comment made me sit up straight and think. This happened a few years ago. Nothing has changed in the way I do or see things since then. In fact, my attitude towards getting things done in my personal life exactly as how I envision them has only gotten worse.

An English idioms book defines the my-way or highway attitude as "If people don't do what you say, they will have to quit or leave the project, etc." Another phrase book, says this attitude is a trite expression that sums up dictatorial leadership style that is arrogance itself.

Growing up as an only child, this attitude of mine only flourished more and as years went by my ability to be flexible, adaptive and tolerant gradually declined. Of course, I would have to force my self to listen to another person's point of view, but, more often than not, it was something that I could never implement or take action upon. Strangely, this attitude is more dominant at a personal level rather than showing up at a professional front.

I am really curious as to how the rest of the world operates, do people take life as it comes or do they always have a plan and try their best to follow it. What happens if things don't go as per their plans, do they simply accept it and move on or do they fret about it and try their best to change the outcome?

It will be interesting to hear some other opinions....

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Proverbial Male Child

At the beginning of this year, San Jose Mercury news had an interesting article that caught my eye. The article talked about how Asian immigrants in California are using medical technology to the fullest extent possible to satisfy an age old desire of having a male offspring instead of a female offspring.

As we know from movies like Karuthamma and in parts of rural South India, especially villages in and around Theni etc. there is still the practise of killing a female newborn or even a woman aborting her fetus if she has already had several female offsprings etc. But, it is indeed surprising to know that Asian immigrants (includes Chinese and Indian) here in California are stretching medical technology to new boundaries that provide prospective parents with the promise of a son. Of course, female infanticide almost never happens here, but according to the article there are some couples who have manipulated the natural odds of having a son or a daughter.

Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg, medical director of the Fertility Institutes of Los Angeles who was interviewed for the article, says that his office uses what is known as PGD (preimplantation genetic diagnosis) a technique where fertilized embryos whose sex is identified after a few cell divisions is then implanted. He claims that a majority of his clients are ethnic couples of the Chinese and Indian community who are willing to pay upto $20,000 for every attempt to have a boy.

Click graph to see enlarged image

Source: Jason Abrevaya, University of Texas, California Dept. of Public Health

The article then delvs into how having a son has become such an important aspect for Asian immigrants. Apparently, the preference for a male offspring in China goes back to some 2,000 years ago with economic and social roots, tradition etc. Amongst Indians, there is a strong belief that only a son can perform a father's last rites and is expected to financially and physically support his parents in their old age (though that is rapidly changing now in India, but still is an unspoken expectation). Also, some South Asian couples opened up saying that having a boy is a "status symbol" for several Indian women, even if they lived in the US, as they felt more acceptance with their in-laws. And, this thinking has now extended to many Asian immigrants even in the US. The worry is that as PGD becomes more affordable, more people are going to use it to ensure that they have a son. An analysis done by a University of Texas economist estimates that between 1991 and 2004 there were 2,000 "missing girl babies" among Chinese and Indian couples living in US- girls never born because their parents chose to have sons instead.

Can you imagine how much of a problem that would pose in the future?

A survey done indicated that most Asians weren't too concerned about the first child, but the bias towards a son became more pronounced for a second baby, especially if they knew it was a girl.

But, as long as there are immigrant couples who have set thoughts stuck in their heads based on cultural factors, there is going to be a huge business opportunity for doctors like Steinberg and others who have understood this and are willing to provide the services to bring more male babies into this world.

Happy Friday...

Thursday, February 05, 2009

I am Back!

Courtesy: Google Image

After a long hiatus, I finally dragged myself to let my blog pals know that I am back. Thank you to all the visitors who have been patiently visiting this blog and asking if all is well at my end. Yes, all is well- Call it a writer's block or taking an extended break, but I am returning to post. Hopefully, the new year has settled in and 2009 is here to bring some life changes.

Posting will resume shortly.......