Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Not All Birthdays Need To Be Happy or Worth Celebrating

I didn't celebrate my birthday this time around. Reason being my grandmother (mom's mom) passed away two days ago. Reality is yet to sink in and somehow I find it hard to believe that I won't be able to ever see her again when I visit my ancestral house. We cousins are forever teasing her (in a fun way, of course) of how she "never feels hungry" and then goes on to eat around 5-6 idlis for supper with ease. She had a peaceful death -- and we are thankful to God that she was taken away without feeling any pain.

I didn't even realize it was my birthday today till I got those 12 o' clock messages and calls. Funny how life changes. Before, I used to literally remind everyone that my birthday is coming up and here I'm at a phase where others have to remind me about my birthday!

I was able to see all of my cousins at the funeral. When we touched her feet, we realized we won't be able to do this anymore -- and all the emotions just came out like a flood. She has been a wonderful grandmother. I haven't heard her raise her voice at anyone, including her children. She was a very bold woman who took everything in her stride when grandfather passed away. During most of the day, she was alone in the house, only with an old aunt (who happens to be very timid) for company. But never once did she ever complain that she's scared of living at such a desolate place. I admire her for this very courage. She used to sing like a nightingale (a quality which has not unfortunately transcended across generations :)), and I remember how I and Pri (my cousin) used to sing along with her whenever she started singing. A favorite being - "Vara Veena". It's a beautiful memory with a dream-like quality to it. One of my favorite memories of her is the way she used to call me "Ponma"(deer) whenever I called her "Grandma". She apparently found the word "grandma" very funny.

We all are taking comfort in the fact that now she is at a place where her true love is - her husband. They were meant for each other even if they were poles apart. My grandfather was a well-learnt man as far as I know and can talk about anything under the Sun. My grandmother, on the other hand, loved talking about people and not about current events as such. He was a strict disciplinarian whereas she was disorganized, sluggish in a way. We all were dead scared of grandpa, but showed no hesitancy in teasing our dear old grandma. Our grandfather used to give us little gifts like gems and poppins which used to make us smile with glee, whereas grandma didn't believe in giving gifts as such. There were so many differences, and yet they lived peacefully together.

We did cry our hearts out, but then realized she might just not like the fact that we are so sad here without her. She would be happy considering the fact that all her grandchildren got together again after such a long time -- each one of us being busy with marriage, work, school, college etc. All of us got together for a round-table conference of sorts and chatted our heart out about everything. We had a look at all our old pics together, talked about how color blindness exists only in the male folk of our family (weird but true!), and just about anything that connects us together. I'm sure our grandparents are looking at us from up there and realizing now THIS is a type of happy joint family that is very hard to find nowadays. I'm glad I'm part of one such rare joint family.

Getting back to my birthday, I wasn't really bothered about it and thanked everyone cordially for all their wishes. But yes, a number of posts/messages did make me feel a bit better. Unexpected wishes came in form of a popular RJ, VJ and hot-shot photographer respectively. I was expecting these people to shy away from wishing others in public, but I was wrong.

Sandeep Balan again managed to surprise me. And why wouldn't he? He is into marketing and very well knows what appeals to the public! :) He made MTV VJ Jose Covaco wish me, yet again!

To everyone who is reading this post - instead of wishing me, please say a silent prayer for my grandmother tonight. It would be the best birthday gift you could ever give me! Peace.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Am Dhanna

I usually stay away from topics which are politically inclined, but the furore is such for this particular one that I just couldn't ignore it any longer. Yes, I'm talking about Anna Hazare. You need not do a facepalm just yet! My blog is corruption-free and I intend on doing just that for years to come. Because I Am Dhanna. And I'm just like Anna. Or Am I?

...Damn, that should be my slogan when I hit the streets!

Anyhoo, I'm all for India's stand against corruption and I am all for the Jan Lok Pal bill proposed by our civil society. But the skeptic in me can't help wondering if this new system will help in eradicating even half of the corruption in our country. In case you didn't know, there is already an act (The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988) which does more or less of the same thing - combat corruption. It is a very stringent law which (but obviously) has failed to totally curb corruption - something which the Lokpal bill promises on doing. Will the Jan Lok Pal bill once passed be as ineffective as our current laws as time moves on? Corruption in India exists at so many levels that I somehow find it almost impossible to believe that the Lokpal and each state-based Lokyukta will be completely corruption-free. In the bill's draft it's mentioned - "The entire functioning of Lokpal/ Lokayukta will be completely transparent. Any complaint against any officer of Lokpal shall be investigated and the officer dismissed within two months." - now what if the officer claims that he's innocent? What if these "investigators" are corrupt and claim the person is innocent too?

Even if the bill is able to fight corruption in the field of politics, what about our aam janta? Just saw this status message on Facebook - "You Know Whats Ironic? An Auto driver wearing a Gandhi Topi and I am Anna T-shirt charging you Rs.50 instead of the usual Rs. 20!" Reforming corrupted people in a country as huge as India will be no mean feat. There are many such Indians out there who show support but knowingly or unknowingly indulge in petty crimes themselves ala the rikshaw wallah.

Anna Hazare has some strong supporters - like Kiran Bedi for example. And if you've an intellectual like Kiran Bedi on your side -- what more can you ask for? Just look how motivational this woman is -

She has single-handedly reformed Tihar Jail and because of this very effort, Tihar jail (or Ashram, whichever way you choose to call it) was able to yield an inmate who passed the Indian administrative civil service examinations! Impressive? I think so!

On the other hand, there exists a minority group who is totally against Anna like Arundhati Roy, for example. In her article "I'd Rather Not Be Anna" today on The Hindu, she mentions "He does however support Raj Thackeray's Marathi Manoos xenophobia and has praised the ‘development model' of Gujarat's Chief Minister who oversaw the 2002 pogrom against Muslims. (Anna withdrew that statement after a public outcry, but presumably not his admiration.)". Now anyone who supports such shady politicians usually gets my thumbs-down. But here too I would like to give Anna the benefit of the doubt, because as said by many people out there -- it's not who he supports that we should look into, but rather what he's doing for our country to end corruption.

Of course, the answer to all these questions and doubts only time will be able to resolve, provided the proposed bill gets passed by the government. Till then we can just hope, pray, protest and starve for a corruption-free India.

Before I end -- did you know that Manmohan Singh's and Kishan Baburao's (that's Anna Hazare) first names mean the same? Yes same-to-same only! Their names are synonymous with Lord Krishna. And it happens to be Janmashtami today. As Facebook would put it, would like to ask dear Krishna - "What's on your mind", seeing our current state of affairs.

Happy Janmashtami folks! :-) Leaving all the corruption aside, you've just GOT to read this post on Krishna & Radha. Brought a tear to my eyes. An absolutely beautiful piece based on innocent, true love.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon?

This post will only be understood by people like me who spend time in front of the idiot box after work, watching Star Plus serials. I am a Star Plus sitcoms junkie, right from 'Saath Nibhaana Saathiya' to 'Maryaada.. Lekin Kab Tak?' -- I tend to watch them all. Since I'm so in-touch with what's happening in my reel friends' lives on screen, I have even signed up as a Star Plus panelist to give suggestions for their shows.

There are two specific characters - Arnav and Khushi - appearing in a new sitcom called 'Iss Pyaar Ko Kya Naam Doon?' who are irritating the hell out of me nowadays. The storyline is interesting, but it is only when they get into a good 5 minute 'staring at each other mode' that I feel like hurling my remote control at them. This post is specially dedicated to these two characters. You might find some pictures repeated, but this is only because Arnav and Khushi have the same expressions - even if they are happy, sad, angry or irritated. Please adjust!


... And the saga continues....


Monday, August 08, 2011

Creativity and Being A Joru Ka Ghulam

I already had a couple of peacock feather photographs which were taken from home. My mom is a huge peacock feather fan. So am I! :D She keeps purchasing them from Guruvayoor whenever she makes a visit. I never really knew what to do with these pictures. Was lazing around this weekend, and as a result, a pair of peacock shoes were born. I already had the layout for the shoes and then I did some work on Photoshop with the pictures to create a one-of-a-kind design. I would wear them, but then my choice has always been atrocious in some cases! :)

Yes, whenever I get some spare time this is what I like to do. Somehow cooking still fails to allure me, and this is what I end up doing instead of learning new recipes and stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love to try out new recipes if all the ingredients are available. But truth be told, I'm just not passionate about cooking. And I'm glad to know that I'm not the one alone in all this. I know of a couple where the lady hates to cook and she just cooks a single meal in the morning which suffices for lunch and dinner. What does she do the rest of the time? She creates the most amazing paintings, learns violin with her husband, and does almost everything which satisfies her creative self. I'm dead sure she wouldn't have found time for all this if it wasn't for her husband's support. Imagine what would have happened if she landed up with a husband who would blast her whenever she started to paint, or demean her by saying such things weren't important. This lady's husband not only understands her passion but even shares some of her interests. They take classes together and do things together which I feel is a MUST in any relationship. Which brings me to a question. What would you call such a husband who supports his wife in her likes? A 'Jhoru Ka Ghulam' (wife's slave) or a 'True Life Partner'?

Talking about Jhoru Ka Ghulam, the following videos are interesting -

In this video, the guy talks about how he's considered as the good son when he takes care of his parent's wishes. He's considered as a good brother, if he takes care of his sister's or brother's needs. But why is he considered as a Jhoru Ka Ghulam when he takes care of his wife's needs?

'Diya aur bati hum' has released two more interesting promos -

What's your take on being a Jhoru Ka Ghulam and do you think it is given more importance than necessary?

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Are You A Carrot, An Egg Or A Coffee Bean?

Had to share this!

"A young woman went to her mother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.

Her mother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to a boil. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil, without saying a word. In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners.

She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her daughter, she asked, "Tell me, what do you see?" "Carrots, eggs, and coffee," she replied. She brought her closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they were soft. She then asked her to take an egg and break it. After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg. Finally, she asked her to sip the coffee.

The daughter smiled as she tasted its rich aroma. The daughter then asked. "What does it mean, mother?"

Her mother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity--boiling water--but each reacted differently. The carrot went in strong, hard, and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened. The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water, they had changed the water.

"Which are you?" she asked her daughter. "When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean? " Think of this: Which am I? Am I the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, do I wilt and become soft and lose my strength? Am I the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did I have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, have I become hardened and stiff? Does my shell look the same, but on the inside am I bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and hardened heart? Or am I like the coffee bean?

The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.

When the hour is the darkest and trials are their greatest do you elevate to another level? How do you handle adversity?

Are you a carrot, an egg, or a coffee bean?

Count your blessings...not your problems. The problem is not the problem. The problem exists in your attitude about the problem."

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

The Good

I'm absolutely loving my work! I mean, I am doing something which is my passion and I'm also gaining exposure to new fantabulous technology. This is the first time I ever had a go-to meeting online with people in Kolkata who taught me about our software products and I could see every single thing they were doing on their PC sitting at my work desk in Kerala. What's the need for traveling half across the globe for a meeting, when you can do just this -- have a group meeting online where you can talk, see and put your point across via presentations?

I'm also absolutely loving my colleagues! Most of us are always a bit wary when we interact with our managers or seniors. My first job had me reporting to one of the friendliest bosses ever. He was the one who gifted me - "Tuesdays with Morrie" - a book which still remains a favorite. At my second work place, managers were a lil bit serious and uninspiring (if I may use the word). My current job has me reporting to people in the U.S who have such amazing, inspiring personalities and such funky American accents (:D). Now I hope some of that accent would rub off on me soon with all the constant interaction. My colleagues are young, enthusiastic, and I can talk to them about books (I got Rashmi Bansal's latest book "I Have A Dream" after my manager's recommendation. It's about young entrepreneurs who have made a difference by doing business not entirely meant for personal profit alone.), food and everything under the Sun. I say "young" because now this is one aspect which is very difficult to find in gulf work places. If you are 26 years old (a la yours truly), you might as well be the youngest person who has joined the office! Yes, that's how rare it is to find a young working Indian professional in the gulf.

Most of you might already be knowing I'm into online marketing. This is something which I'm still doing btw, but not as much as before. 9-6 is dedicated to my day job, and then onwards I start doing my little projects and assignments for my online clients. Nice little passive income, and the best part is I have already done so much of work for the past 2 years that it isn't even necessary for me anymore to spend a lot of time on it. I can concentrate on my day job and at the same time this sweet side-business does its work on its own. That's the beauty of affiliate marketing -- you can choose to take a break from it whenever you want and still keep earning from it without lifting a finger.

The Bad

I was recently working on one of my sites, and this is the captcha that came on screen - "Megapoop" - and that too when I was enjoying my bar of Bournville (with raisins and nuts FYI:P).

The Ugly

Recently this junior from school came online on Facebook chat and this is how the conversation went -

Him - Is that your kid on your profile picture?

Me - No! That's my nephew.

Him - Sorry, thought it was your kid :)

Me - No problem :)

Him - When are you going to have your own?

Me - Dunno. When the time's right I guess...

Him - Oh! I see! So you want to practise with me before having one? *wink*

Me - *Silence*

Him - Hello? Waiting for an answer...

...And he kept pinging me for the next 5 minutes or so. Now since I'm not exceptionally good at mouthing bad words to strangers, I logged off. This guy is like 4 years younger than me and he knows I'm married. WTF was he thinking? I know at this day and age, it is very common to see married people in an "open relationship", but for heaven's sake I'm not one of those desperate people. This incident gave me a 'blerrgghh' kind of feeling. Dunno how to define it. But yeah, if you are on my friends list and you are a reader of my blog too, now you know what irritates me to the core -- flirting with me knowing that I'm married!