Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Early Morning Trail Walk

Went on an early morning trail walk on Christmas day with a couple of friends. It was up a hill( about 1 hr upwards and 40 min downward) close to the ocean, passing an old lighthouse ( now renovated) with a bit of tragic history at the summit and some great views. Not only was it a fabulous trek but as always Mother Nature had some spectacular show on display. And, (as always) I ended up borrowing my friend's small digi camera and clicked some shots. Now, if you think these are cool, then thank me for being at the right place at the right time :). All I did was capture whatever was on display!

I hate to run, I like to walk and I love to gaze. Nature gazing is such a cool occupation and if you have a friend/partner for company (who enjoys nature gazing as well) then life is good :).
(PS: No offense to my dear, lovely friends but more than two is definitely a crowd in such instances :P)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Cookie Experiment

Attempted to bake some cookies and I ended up baking one giant cookie. The instructions said to keep them 1.5 inches apart on the baking sheet, and I did not care to follow it. Arrogance of an amateur baker! Did not realize they would expand as much and get stuck to each other. All said it didn't taste too bad and the M&Ms was a personal touch :).

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Kalamandalam Haidarali

This post could be about many things. It could be a simple tribute to a great artist or perhaps sharing the irony of his situation/story, or reconfirming the power of art and how it can transcend (man made) religious barriers (well, to some extent) or maybe it is trying to say why cant we all just get along, get over and beyond all the fuss over my religion vs. your religion and be more accommodating? On a parting note, even if the post doesn’t convey any message to you please spare a few minutes and enjoy this beautiful Kathakali padam rendition by the great Kalamandalam Hyderali. It is in Malayalam but I am hoping you will all rely on the universal language of music and get some pleasure out of it.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Weekend Art Scene

We have been sweating through the finals week and now its almost done. One final paper submission and then its goodbye Fall semester. A short winter break and classes resume with Spring semester and I also start on my new project (which would eventually be my dissertation work i.e. if I decide to stick on ). Yep, life lesson #1- nothing is certain, but for now I am pretty excited. :)

Two weekends ago, got invited to my Prof's son's debut art exhibition. Not solo, but with a bunch of other local artists. They got together to form an artists' coop in collaboration with a local cafe to showcase and sell their art and this was the maiden exhibition. The coop concept is simple- the cafe will serve as a gallery where the artists get display space at a subsidized rate and when a painting gets sold, a small % age goes to the cafe owner, a small %age to a local charity org or NGO the respective artist is associated with and the remaining goes to the artist. And since the cafe also serves as an art gallery, people come in to check out the art, people order food and drinks and the cafe gets some business as well. Sounds like a reasonable strategy.
The show was late evening and the art/cafe scene was pretty cool with trance music and fire dance (now if there is a specific name to this kind of dance form then my apologies as I have no idea). Lots of young and old hippies and the artsy kind with tatoos and long hair/braided hair/ regular hair and a couple of us uni crowd who looked slightly out of place simply on the basis of how we looked. I , as always , forgot to take my camera and while my friend kept apologising for his camera's poor quality I went around taking some pictures with it. They are all a bit dark but that is fine since I dont want to reveal too much of the art work anyways. All in all it was a memorable evening and leaving you with some pictures.

On the way to the galleryThe fire dance girl - literally playing with fire!
Artists/ guests/hippies young and old..!

Art work @ Cafe





OK...so I got to go now and finish up that paper or sleep depending on whichever takes over.
Happy holidays to all!


Thursday, December 03, 2009

Where Do You Go To My Lovely

Somebody sent me the link to this song...just adorable. And guess what? The singer is an Anglo-Indian! He ( Peter Sarsted) is practically British since he moved to UK very early in life--yet I can't help feeling proud of his Indian connection. And you can forgive his hairstyle and mustache..come on :)

Ok..now listen to the song again and again and again..( oh and try using an ear phone)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Saying Thank You.

Its thanksgiving break and so there is no dragging yourself out of the bed early morning, gobbling down or (most times) missing breakfast and rushing out to face the challenges the day has in store for you.
As every year, this year too got invited for thanksgiving celebration at a friends’ house. D and R throw these elaborate, formal, sit down thanksgiving lunch every year, and you may be a perpetually broke, semi-starving ( just added that for some extra drama) bunch of graduate students, but this day you are forced to look and behave your best. And like every year this one was as wonderful and elegant and interesting and warm.
There was lot of good cheer, love and pure unadulterated gluttony (I mean literary unadulterated as D swears by organically grown food and rather die than compromise there). It is also an opportunity to catch up on what’s been going on- personally or professionally or even general matters of the world.
Now, just because we are the invited ones doesn’t mean we walk in empty handed, share some hugs and hellos and get down to eating. We all bring something with us - some home cooked dish of our respective countries, some wine and some talent. Yep there is entertainment after the meal where whoever is blessed with artistic talent gets a chance to showcase it. So there is usually singing, piano and guitar performances, documentary and short- film screening, photography presentation and some dancing as well. Oh yea..it is quite a group although it is embarrassing to say that I am the only one in the group with no talent per se. Anyways, the buffet table was particularly interesting ( I called it world food) as there was the typical American thanksgiving spread, with some Chinese, Eygyptian and Indian (courtesy moi) thrown in.

Mr Turkey stuffed, cooked and ready to be eaten. I almost felt sorry for the bird

Your typical American thanksgiving spread-cranberry sauce, lima beans and corn, mashed potatos with gravy and sweet potatoes. The green stuff is the Egyption dish-"Stuffed Grape Leaf".

You can catch a glimpse of my creation at the far end-My signature Chicken tikkas! :)

However, this time for me, the highlight was a presentation/demo by A, who is a budding filmmaker/ environmentalist, on her latest personal project. She wanted to buy a car and after some extensive research, she bought this old model Merc Benz, diesel car and converted it to run on vegetable oil. Yea, you read it right—vegetable oil, that too used!

The yellow, vintage, veggie oil Merc.Benz

I cannot possibly explain all the details on how it is done but the system seems fairly simple as all it requires is a set of three filters and a heating fixture (can’t remb its name) to get the car running.The filters are basically to filter the vegetable oil as they tend to be dirty and the three filtering steps will take care of that. There is one filter which needs to be changed often ( about 2-3 times a month but it costs only $3 and the other two only once in 6-12 months ( costs ~$13)

The insides--you can see one of the big filters in white and the pipes connected to it are the additional fixtures to be incorporated

The oil is made to pass through the heating thingy. This is basically because veg oil tends to be thicker than regular gas and bio-fuels and on passing through the heating fixture it thins the oil. Also, this is important when the weather gets cold and the oil tends to thicken. Anyways, long story short, there is this beautiful, yellow, old model, ex-diesal merc benze running on used vegetable oil. The used veg oil she gets from a friend’s restaurant. This is recycle, reuse and reduce at its best and I am mighty impressed!
(Point to note- this works only on diesel engine cars)
So, as I said earlier, it was an afternoon (extended reasonably late into night) of good cheer, brilliant ideas and unreserved hogging. I mean really, the turkey was not the only one that was stuffed ( although it almost disappeared towards the end). I felt like the turkey by the time it was to leave.

You can guess the fate of Mr Turkey

We were all getting ready to leave when, as always, D and R gave us our Christmas gifts (we always get it early from them as they normally leave town before Christmas. Must add that we mail our presents to them) and as stuffed I was, I thought it was pretty ironic when I found what my present was. Me being my impatient self had to find out what was behind the brightly colored wrap and couldn’t wait to get home before I ripped open to find this interesting book. Its named “Hope’s Edge- The Next Diet for a Small Planet” by F.M Lappe and Anna Lappe ( a mother-daughter team). I skimmed quickly through ~10 pages and it appeared that the authors are attempting to de-mystify the notion that “hunger in this planet is caused by scarcity in nature” and points out that the world is basically divided into two- the over-fed and the under-fed with a screwed up economic (now global) system to blame for. Hmm…sounds interesting so far. But since I am still reading Aslam this one will have to wait. These type of books, how much ever interesting and fascinating the content maybe, do not read like page turning thrillers (speaking about myself here) and it normally takes time. So once Aslam is out of the way maybe I’ll take it up. Actually two fictions that I ordered are one their way so maybe after one of those I might get to the “ food book”. By then finals should be over as well.

To wrap up this early morning verbal diarrhea ( I woke up around 3:30 am, tossed and turned for a while, got my ipod and listened to some music and when even that failed to keep me calm, I decided to type) I must say there are many issues that bother and overwhelm me (and you)- this includes your own issues, of the ones near and dear to you, of your fellow bloggers and non- bloggers, of everything living and breathing on this planet and just about everything under the stars…but somehow when a bunch of us sit around a lovely table with goodness around you, automatically things you are thankful for pours out of you.
So..yes I am thankful as well.. to you and you, to this and that..
Thank you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Current Occupations

-Reading Reza Aslam's book(No god but God).You can call it a history book. Good one
-Watching movies on youtube. Saw Abhiyum Naanaum. Good one
-Preparing for finals. Nothing good about it but still got to do it
-Wondering how evil and how saintly I am (Rauf inspired thoughts). Not sure if it is good or bad and not sure if I got to do it or not

-Final thoughts for the day...why can't it just rain..daamn it!*said with a mallu accent*

Friday, November 20, 2009

Making a Fuss

Hi...I am soooo bored *yaaaawn*


"Come up to meet you, tell you I'm sorry

You don't know how lovely you are.
I had to find you, tell you I need you,
Tell you I set you apart.
Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions,
Oh lets go back to the start.
Running in circles, Comin' in tails
Heads on a science apart.
Nobody said it was easy,
It's such a shame for us to part.
Nobody said it was easy,
No one ever said it would be this hard.
Oh take me back to the start."

(Src: The Scientist-Coldplay)
Bye...I am soooo bored *yaaaawn*

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tale of the Snail

After the rains this lonely slimy snail appeared on my backyard. It was pretty huge and also the friendliest snail I have ever seen :). As you can see it rendered itself to be photographed without any hangups. Normally these guys retrieve into their shell as soon as they sense some disturbance..but not this one.

Posing for the camera ( even sporting a Shaka sign :)) or asking for food?

Threw a couple of flowers just to make the frame look prettier.

But next thing you know the hungry fellow moved towards the petals

As you can see a part of the petal's already eaten up

And the snail lived happily ever after..

That was the tale of the snail.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Charter for Compassion

My friend shared this with me and I am shraing with whoever..




And its founder Karen Armstrong speaks....

. Also check out the speech she gave at the TED awards..My favorite line from her speech- " we have a talent as a species to mess wonderful things up "..




Monday, November 09, 2009

"Updates"

For J and anyone who is interested...

News in general...

School continues to take up a good chunk of time/life. Not much research happening but quite a bit of refelection happening..as in- what the hell am I doing and what the hell do I want to do in life/with life? Also, bumped into a fellow student and family friend who sounded frustrated with studies. His words" The more I learn the more I feel I don't know". I said...'welcome to the club my friend'.

Entertainment...

Attended a Diwali get together with mom, friend and prof. I call K and jr the anti-social elements in the family :D. Post dinner, the dance floor was open and my friend and I danced like crazy to upbeat Punjabi numbers (which was the only frustrating part). Prof surprised with this unseen side of me...mom not so much.
Read a couple of books by Shoban Bantwal. Pretty good, especially the Dowry Bride. Currently reading Jane Austen's Emma. So far--simply delightful!
Watched the COnstant Gardner( second time). What can I say..it was superbe, magnifique ( no it isn't a French movie), inspiring and sad. Also watched the Brick Lane. Good one. For some Bollywood fix, watched Swades ( 3rd or 4th time) and fell in love with SRKhan again.

Friends and Challenges...
My good friend in Mumbai is volunteering at a mental health day care. A Schizophrenic patient, 23yrs old, has a huge crush on her, bordering on obsession and follows her around all the time. She is pretty worried and doesn't know how to handle him. My words of wisdom ( with no disrespect intended)- ' I thought sane men are tough enough to handle and you are talking about a not-so-sane man here. Good luck alright'!
Another friend is not speaking to me. She ignored my phone calls, my messages and my emails!.Looks like I have the talent to piss off people and I don't even realize it until much later. What a dense-head I am! ( Incidentally I found this bumper sticker at the ISKCON gift shop that said- " You can pay with Visa or Karma" and I wondered if God was trying to communicate with me). The frustrating part is I dont know what I did that she is so upset with me. Karma! Karma!
On a happy note-a good friend's sister had her first painting exhibition. She has put up the pictures in facebook. Really good collection I thought. The girl definitely has talent. I hope to buy one if I can afford it. She has a B.Arch degree and worked for a while, then quit and sat at home and played house. One fine day she woke up and decided to start painting..just like that!.I think a star is born again.

Matters of the heart...not really but..
There is a new crush in life- crushes actually. I have been crush free for the last year and a half (a record of sorts I would say).One is Anthony Bourdain of "No reservations" ( only because Ian Wright of Globe Trekker is out of sight these days)and the other is this African-American dude I see at the campus all the time. I don't know his name, what he does, or where he is from and vice versa( I am pretty sure). All I know is he looks good and we always smile and say hello. I know it is superficial, lame, and fickle and vain but as the new saying goes "Crush ( and love too) is not blind"!

General Disposition..
The last couple of days the weather has been awesome. In other words it was cool, dull/downcast, and cloudy with scattering rains. It is a bit oxymoron-ish but the fact is dull weather and rain does something good to my disposition in general.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Fabulous Trip- Central London!

I loved everything about London- the crowded streets of central London, its historical buildings standing side by side its modern structures, the parks, the cool modern cafes, the museums, traveling underground by the tube, taking the "red bus" ( sitting on the second deck, front seat) through Central London which was an incredibly fantastic experience!, its dark alleys and pub houses, all the famous department stores and last but not the least the super fashionable Londoners! The time I had there was definitely not enough.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Future of Shopping

Now wouldn't this be something interesting to experience..can't wait!

Monday, October 19, 2009

So I am Back...

........from a short, super hectic, exciting and exhausting trip. Physically in pain after a long (~30 hrs with a couple of short transit stops), uncomfortable plane ride- economy class should be legally banned.

Mid term in two days and I am nervous and anxious.

Two assignments due last week and I am yet to begin work on it. (I am not usually this sloppy. I have a good excuse but still the thought of all this pending work is putting me off).

I should be studying but all I can think of is quitting school.
.
.
.
.
.
.
I would really quit school if I could think of a better or more interesting option.

Happy Diwali to all---may the light of knowledge triumph over the darkness of ignorance! :D

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Some General Stuff..

75% story of my life...



Received a new subscription request for Science magazine from AAAS. The $50 subscription for 51 issues ( student rate) comes with a free T-shirt. The 6-steps t-shirt- pretty accurate I say and the other one - pretty smart I say.
(FYI: I am stuck somewhere in the second step)

So while I am contemplating to subscribe or not, I went ahead and bought some "peace" and "holy-love" for myself.


Howz that for some fine jewelery huh? :)

Hmm....shouldn't I be doing something more productive than publishing this post!? Lets see- there is a paper to read for today's class ( not done!) and four papers to read and write a review for thursday's class ( half done!).

Next week I am off on a trip for two weeks..very much looking forward to this break from what appears to be a mundane existence at the moment! ( The Downer: I'll be losing four classes! Hell!)

(Mood: A bit bored and a bit whiny and not very articulate about it either)

Friday, September 04, 2009

Weird Week for Sure..

........

Sat through an invited talk by a social scientist from Chennai on Microfinance and Women empowerment in South India where she declared all men (or husbands) are alcoholics! Later, during the mingling/networking session I heard the speaker’s husband introducing himself to someone as- “Hi…I am the alcoholic husband”. That was funny!


Worked on a collaborative research proposal involving 10 professors from different disciplines, two NGOs, one University, and three countries!! Man what a kick-ass experience. Practically all-modern communication technology available was put to use. No idea if we will get the funding but a kick-ass experience nevertheless.

A friend found out that his girlfriend is pregnant. He is in shock although he is trying to hide it well. They have been dating only for 2-3 months so this was unplanned/ unexpected. He recently graduated, went on a short vacation, got back and got the news! Oh Man! So now the poor guy is getting hearty congratulations and free parenting advice to comments like “dude now we know you are not a virgin” to “well now we know everything works just fine”! I think all of us are in a bit of shock yet we all want to be happy for him.

(PS: Heard the girlfriend is pretty thrilled. She is 6 years older than him and she is so ready for a baby!).

Andhra Pradesh CM died in a helicopter crash. May his soul rest in peace. MSN reported that 100 people died from shock hearing about his death. May their souls rest in peace as well. *sigh*.

A friend might be getting divorced after all. *sigh* *sigh*

Monday, August 24, 2009

Multiple Orgasm

One hot, humid day at the store...

Me: Could I have a multiple orgasm please.

Girl at the counter: Sure! Just one for you today?

Me: Well, how much is one?

Girl at the counter: Its $4.50.

Me: Oh ok..well make that two please.

Girl at the counter: For here or to go?

Me: To go please.

...And few minutes later I walk home with two multiple orgasms in a paper bag to enjoy at home.


Trust me but that was more awkward than I thought. And not sure why someone would have such a strange name for an ice cream. Also, I cannot say if the ice cream lived up to its name but I can say that there was nothing extraordinary about it.

This is how a multiple orgasm looks like. ( flavors: chocolate, coffee and oreo cookies with an oreo cookie crust)


School's back in session today and like always I am nervous like hell!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Whats New At My End?

This was an email reply to a friend and I thought it would also make a decent blog update. Resorting to reuse-recycle approach due to lack of time, lack of ideas and simple laziness.

So whats new at my end?-

...'Nothing new or exciting has happened since the last 'summary-of-my-life' email I sent you a week ago :). Busy at work mostly and the rest of the time too tired to care.

By the way Felicia tricked us and all those who made elaborate preparations to face the "big storm" were royally let down. Smart me did not bother too much. Finally we got hit with a minor tropical depression and the last couple of days have been gloomy with slight rains and light winds. Great weather as far as I am concerned :). You know the "Wuthering Heights" kind of scene. Gosh! love that movie! have you seen it? I doubt.
So here I am discussing the weather, asking you questions and answering them myself.

Other news..I did an internet Quiz just for fun.It was " what your eyes say about you?". I must say I was extremely disappointed by the results. It says " Fear". Can you believe it?! I need to retake that Quiz again. I obviously did not pay attention while answering the first time. I only have normal human fears like -snakes, or being robbed in the night (actually anytime of the day) or getting hit by turbulence while flying ..

I know I am blabbering away as if you have all the time in the world to read my blabber. In fact my time is quite expensive too particularly at these times of recession. I shouldn't be wasting it on meaningless blabber . Sigh!

I saw Luck By chance. Good movie. I think Farhan Akhtar is pretty cool and Konkana Sen is wonderful!

So whats new at your end?'

Friday, August 07, 2009

We Have Been Warned!



We might be hit by a hurricane over the weekend. It even has a fancy name Hurricane Felicia.
In my "survival kit" so far I have batteries, a first-aid kit and an old sleeping bag.
I had planned on an early morning campus walk with my modest camera, a movie and an IndianBBQ meet at the house, with some friends, over the weekend. Hope the storm simply subsides and passes without any fuss and let us "hardworking" folks party and take a break!

Monday, August 03, 2009

EarthDancing Saturday Evening

For a little bit of green inspiration spent 2 hours this Saturday evening at the art auditorium freezing my ass off watching "EarthDance" which as the flyer describes is a "Short-attention -span environmental film festival". The "short-attention-span" is what really caught my attention besides the cool name of the festival.

"EarthDance is a juried compilation of comedies, documentaries, animations and adventures — from Italy, India, Canada, Germany, Japan, the UK and US — that celebrate the natural world, one short film at a time. Originally presented by the Oakland Museum, this unique blend of eco-tainment brings messages of inspiration, celebration and action".

It was worth the time spent and i did get inspired but most importantly I understood the power of satire after watching "Cheatneutral" - Watch it here.Found it goofy and smart- something I like. Also discovered the awesomeness of mountain biking and Ryan Leech my new hero!Check out this tiny clip to see why.
Last but not the least enjoyed the entire compilation and found them entertaining, amusing, provocative and also it reinforced my connection to the natural environment.

Now go watch, get inspired and go green!



Friday, July 31, 2009

New Possessions

Made possible by an outing to the bookstore on salary day, a Barnes&Noble membership card which automatically gives you a 10% discount on any purchase ( including Coffee and Strawberry Cheesecake at the in-store coffee shop..yum!) and in addition, some promotional sales that were on that particular day.


Entertaining and funny to say the least. Dont let the title mislead you in any way. It is not a handbook on how to be a good indian wife..:).

Frankly I do not possess the exquisite writing skills of Jhumpa Lahiri to describe my experience reading this book. Basically a collection of short stories that manages to take you on an emotional roller coaster ride! Particulraly the last set of stories on Hema & Kaushik simply left me shattered! I took some to recover...no kidding!
Infact that would be my one issue with the book. All the stories have a constant theme of sadness and hoplessness and are so beautifully written that it messes with your emotions to the extent that it rips you apart (and makes you want to rip the book apart if you had not paid $16 for it)! Wish she could write more happy and uplifting stories. I cannot imagine what an high that would give.



They say it is the journey that matters and not the destination. And when you take that journey sitting in your room, on your bed, I suppose it is the book that takes you on that journey that matters. :P . Just couple of weeks back I got back from a trip covering half the world. I was travelling with Paul Theroux through his recent book "Ghost Train to the Eastern Star" and now I am back on, travelling with him to some selected destinations across the world. Hope it promises to be as good a trip as the last one. I just boarded the Orient Express from London to Istanbul.....

Saving the best for the last I suppose. Always wanted to read this one. Even the store assistant commented that you have picked some good books, as he scanned in this one.