Sunday, August 04, 2019

The Paranoia of a Cab

One fine weekend evening, my wife and I were sitting in the driveway of our apartment, enjoying the breeze when a cab came and stopped just about in front of us. Obviously, it was either an Ola or a Uber waiting for the passenger.

At about the same time, an aged lady whom we knew in the apartment, was walking close to us, carrying her 9-month-old grand daughter in her arms. She smiled at us and we returned the smile. The grand daughter was happily looking here and there, and enjoying the general ambience, being pampered by the granny. And then, her eyes fell on the cab, and suddenly she started sobbing. She pointed her hands to the cab and shook her head while her crying increased. Her tears welled up, she became absolutely restless & started wailing. She was almost furious with the cab while at the same time realized she was helpless. The very presence of the cab in the apartment was causing her immense distress. While this sudden change in the emotions puzzled me and my wife especially because the child was crying looking at a cab which seemed so unusual, her grandmother explained it to us:

Apparently the child's mother goes to office every day in a cab in the morning. And the presence of this cab made the child think that her mother would go off once more in this cab! And hence - the anger directed towards the cab & the helplessness of the inability to stop the separation from her dear mother all of which resulted in a desperate outburst of tears...

Aah, such a heart-wrenching sight. Poor child, what unimaginable pains she would have gone through every morning of her life when her mother left to office for the emotions to come out like this just by seeing a cab...

Like so many other times, Sadhguru's speech on motherhood came to our thoughts.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

A child's question

I was walking in the park when I saw a child who was maybe about 3 years old. She was swinging on the swing. Her eyes were roaming all around the park and she was talking to her mother who was right in front of her. 

When the path on which I was walking came close to her, I heard her ask her mother, "From dinosaurs?".

As I was about to go out of earshot, I heard the mother reply "No; from other human beings."

As I continued my walk, within a few seconds I came across some other kids running around the park as a warm-up. They were all wearing Taekwondo uniform. 

And that's when I understood the full conversation between the child and her mother...

Saturday, March 09, 2019

The Strange-Looking Fruit

I was driving on my two-wheeler with my family near Banashankari bus stand one day, and was about to take a left turn when I noticed a mother crossing the road, dragging her child behind her who was struggling to keep pace. I stopped my vehicle to let her cross the road despite getting honks from behind me. While the mother was looking hither and thither to ensure she was not in the way of any vehicle, the child who was about 4-5 years old, had absolutely no care in the world for all the traffic around him despite the road being heavily occupied with all sorts of vehicles. He had absolute faith in that hand which was held by his mother; and his legs just kept moving one feet after next following his mother. To be honest, it was definitely a tough road to cross even for adults what with all the vehicles enjoying the erstwhile green signal, and having to drag a child too in the complex moving maze was a challenge indeed. 

And while he was following his mother, his eyes were looking high above the sea of vehicles. His eyes lit up and he tugged at his hand to catch his mom's attention. But she didn't pay any attention to the tug. Her sole aim was to cross the road. He kept tugging and indicating her to look at the top of the tree which was at the corner of the junction. But she couldn't take her eyes off the road. At that instant both my wife & I followed the direction of the boy's attention and then we saw what the boy was seeing: a strange-looking fruit!

It was big in size, rectangularly-oval-ish, with maybe some spikes & brownish. It was something I had never seen before. And there were lots and lots of them. I was astounded and so was my wife. In fact, my wife asked my daughter to see that bunch of strange-looking fruits too! I am not sure if the mom finally paid any attention to her son's tugging or not but it was as if that whole episode was for my family and me to witness Nature's inexplicable existence: a massive tree growing a large bunch of weird looking yields in the middle of a highly polluted crossroad!

I have driven over that road thousands of times having never once paid any attention to that tree nor its fruits - & here comes this tiny being who just took the tree and kept it right in front of my eyes! What a marvelous experience! And look at the innocence of a kid: in all that cacophony of angry honks, amidst the waves of vehicles, he calmly looks at a tree while crossing the road, sees it in entirety a way an adult never does & appreciates it to such an extent that he wants his mother to acknowledge too!

It is such simple things as these that we as adults miss but kids do not. And unfortunately when kids highlight it to us, we brush it off lightly and yet these are the gems of the Creation that we ideally ought to wonder about. The whole scene might have lasted less than five seconds - and it occurred about 4-5 months ago and yet I cannot forget it.

Nor did I want to miss blogging about 'such a simple incident'!


Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Family Tree

My daughter just uttered "Amma" as a way of "Good Night" endearment while she was about to head to sleep, without wanting to say anything else - when the below interesting conversation ensued. Much of it was in Kannada, and it is imperative that I retain the local language because the conversation churned out certain gems only due to the Kannada words...!

Daughter said, "Amma...
Mommy replied, "Magu..." (but pronounced it as 'Maggu')
If pronounced as 'Magu', it means baby; if pronounced as 'Maggu', it means a flower bud.

D: "Naa Maggaadre, Nee Hoova." [If I am a bud, then you are a flower]
M: "Naa Hoovaadre, Namma appa amma are seeds." [If I am a flower, then my parents are seeds]

D: "Then Ajji thatha are roots." [Ajji thatha = grandparents]
M: "Mutthaatha has transformed from roots back to Earth, from where all Life originally comes up!" [
Mutthaatha = Great Granddad (who died recently)]

D: "So, I am a bud!"
M: "Yes, from Magu to Buddy - thats how parents ought to treat children as they grow up!"


Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Body & Mind Calibration

Mind, as we know it, never stops churning. It rambles on and on and on - at least when we are awake. Unless you are a master at it, it ain't that easy to stop it from rambling. Now, the body, on the other hand, is a different thing altogether. When we were kids, the body is hardly still. Slowly, as we grow older, the body starts to become stiller and stiller. 

This imperfection of the calibration of the pace at which the Body & Mind works is what I believe to be the cause of Man's sub-optimal way of living. 

Let us see this with two examples: 

a) Sub-optimal: 

A primary school-going daughter and a father both wake up at the same time. The father goes to office & the daughter goes to school. When the father comes back home, the daughter is still full of energy but the father is exhausted. Mentally speaking, both would have had almost similar "amount" of rambling thoughts, ideas and emotions. Physically speaking, the child has spent more energy playing one full day whereas the father sat in his office chair almost 90% of the day. And yet, why is the parent exhausted...? That exhaustion could be due to the lack of physical activity which did not go hand-in-hand with the mental works. Perhaps it is for this reason that offices now have sports lounges & gyms...?!

b) Optimal:

In any sports, the athletes competing are all thinking only about the game and they have an equal amount of physical activity to go with this thinking. So, during the game, the pace of their body & mind is just perfect to get the best out of each of them. And hence this grandiose display of human potential is a major attraction for the general population.

We will now consider another angle - 

We have all heard and read so much about the benefits of meditation - which, as per my understanding, is to calm one's mind and make it as still as the body. Once the body and mind are still (I am as yet unsuccessful in doing so), we are supposed to feel the bliss of Life. And whoever is blissed out in life cannot be unhealthy, right?

So, here we get one equation: 

Body still & Mind still = Bliss
Hence Healthy

Now the most common thing any doctor advises these days (for good health) is to exercise regularly, go to the gym & work out, go for long fast walks, etc. In other words, this indicates to me that - "Since you cannot keep your mind still in tandem with your body, better keep up the pace of your physical body with your mental pace!" 

So, we get another equation by going to the extreme end of the hypothesis:

Healthy if Body pace = Mental pace

So, essentially, what this is indicating is that as long as the pace or the stillness of the Body is matched with the pace or the stillness of the mind respectively - or in other words, if the Body & Mind are calibrated correctly to go hand-in-hand - Human Beings have the ability to reach their optimum mode of operation - and also free from any sickness or disease! 

Phew, what-a-thought, da?!

While I am thinking all this, the only physical activity I am undergoing is typing! So, to match up to my mind & be optimal, let me stop this typing & do some push-ups!!


Friday, October 05, 2018

Sri Raghavendra Swamy Darshan

Ok, so this happened many many years ago but the event remained etched in my mind and I had always wanted to blog about it but kept putting it off. Each day I saw Sri Raghavendra Swamy's photo in the morning, I vowed myself to write about it as soon as possible but I never did. So here goes...

I had visited Mantralayam with my parents and my brother's in-laws. The morning darshan went as planned and so did the lunch at noon. While my parents and I had booked for the return journey the next day, the in-laws had planned for a night bus departing on the same day at about 8 pm. Them being aged, we thought it was courteous on our part to bid them farewell by going to the Bus stand instead of just from the hotel room. The only glitch was that at about the same time, there would be Rathotsava (chariot ceremony) in the temple premises which we had to miss. Nevertheless, we thought perhaps we can bid them adieu at about 7:45 pm at the bus stand and return to the temple to have a glimpse of the Rathotsava too.

Unfortunately, the bus was late. While the in-laws asked us to "Go, its ok, we will take care", we continued to stay on knowing fully well that we would indeed miss the Rathotsava in its entirety. Finally the bus came and it left at 8:30 pm - and with anxiety, we returned hastily to the temple, hoping the chariot ceremony would still be underway. Alas, it was over. In fact, the temple itself was being closed for the night and many pilgrims were asked to leave the premises. With a lump in our throat, we realized that the opportunity was lost, and we felt an inexplicable grief.

At that time, my mother's relative (Sri Parimalacharya) was amongst the few priests who were give the responsibility of doing the daily rituals (such as floral decoration, abhishka, etc.) to the Brindavana. He happened to see us just while we were getting ready to depart and he asked us if we watched the Rathotsava to which we told him how unfortunate we were to have just missed it. He then asked us to accompany him to the sanctum sanctorum where the final rituals of the day were being conducted to the Brindavana such as removing all the flowers, other clean-up, etc. This was happening when hardly any other pilgrims were present & the temple premises was almost empty save for a few priests and other temple attendants. So it was both an honour and a privilege to be present to witness the final rituals of the day - and this offset our grief greatly.

Sri Parimalacharya took off all the remaining flowers from the Brindavana and did the final Aarathi of the day. He offered this Aarathi to all those present including us. And then he did something I hadn't seen anyone do. He stood directly in front of (and facing) the Brindavana and with the help of both of his palms he leaned on it and touched his forehead to it. He stood like that devotedly, resting his palms & forehead on the Brindavana for a few seconds as if to intimately bid goodnight to Rayaru, and then he walked back towards us with a smile. 

We then offered our namaskaara to him and thanked him for letting us inside the sanctum sanctorum despite it not being the time for devotees to be within the temple premises. He waved it away as if it was nothing. We then offered our final namaskaara to Rayaru and walked out of the sanctum sanctorum and then out of the temple towards our hotel room.

Thats all that happened.

But this incident remained in my mind all through these years. And recently, there is this one special quality about it that suddenly dawned upon me whenever I think about what happened that day. After we offered our namaskaara to Sri Parimalacharya & looked at him, his face had this strange brightness, this unique inexplicable glow that I now think that the great Sri Raghavendra Swamy Himself had entered the mortal body of Sri Parimalacharya and was offering grace to us. It was as if everything was pre-planned: the in-laws bus being at 8 pm which deliberately got delayed, the Rathotsava that we had to miss - and all this was just so that we could get Darshan of Sri Raghavendra Swamy Himself "in-person" & get His blessings directly from Him!

It was a mind-boggling event, and I still cannot forget the way Sri Parimalacharya leaned on the Brindavana with great devotion, & that glow he had while he blessed us. This constant belief that I have that it was Sri Raghavendra Swamy Himself who blessed us that night "directly" is suffice to make me think that my this life has become sacred. 


Saturday, September 29, 2018

The JiraLe Scare!

I was in Central Mall yesterday, sitting with my daughter in one of the rare couches that was empty, while my wife was shopping. 

Just then I noticed a small cute little girl, maybe about 3-4 years old walking amidst the multitude of dresses that were folded & placed neatly on shelves. She was holding the hand of an elderly gentleman, who probably was her grandfather. Her other hand was idly touching all the dresses that she was passing by to which the elderly gentleman remarked in Kannada, "Adhella mutbeda, alli JiraLe iraththe" which translates to "Don't touch, there will be cockroaches.

Obviously he was kidding and just trying to scare her just so that she will stop touching the dresses. And she did stop touching the dresses with a mild fear in her eyes as if those roaches will come flying out of the folds. Just to confirm she got the message - like how we all do with such tiny tots - he asked her a question: "En iraththe?" (what will be there?) She dutifully & fearfully replied "JiraLe".

All this was happening as they were walking right in front of me and hence I could hear every bit of it. I even smiled at the gentleman knowing fully well what he was doing and he acknowledged the smile back. And then she came to the section where there was Jeans pants folded neatly. She pointed her finger to the "fashionably" torn section of the Jeans pant and told the man innocently with a slight scare in her voice, "JiraLe Kachbittidhe!" (The cockroach has chewed!")


Sunday, August 12, 2018

"The Best Friend"

One of the most awaited times during a "school working day" for me is the time to pick up Paavani from the school bus after her school gets over. As soon as she jumps off from the bus door, she is all bubbly to offload the latest information about her "best friend". 

Below is an excerpt of a "real conversation" on any typical week (days specified are fictional):

She: "Pappa, Roshni is my best friend. I have so much fun with her in the bus!" 

She: "Pappa, Madanika and I were playing bunnies today, and we were laughing so much!"
Me: "Who is Madanika? You have been going to school for almost 9 months and I haven't heard her name till today..."
She: "Oh she is my best friend!"

She: "Pappa, I have decided I will take Charanashree with me on my birthday to distribute chocolates to all the teachers."
Me: "Why not Madanika?"
She: "Oh Charanashree is my best friend!"

She: "Pappa, today is Karnitha's birthday and she gave me chocolate even though we are now no longer classmates."
Me: "Oh that is so nice of her. She was your first friend in this school."
She: "Yes, she is my best friend."

She: "Pappa, I miss Pragathi."
Me: "Last time you met her was about 4 years ago in your pre-school."
She: "Yes, she is my best friend."

And so it goes: Paavani & her long list of Best Friends...!


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Rebirth as a House Fly?!

At times, there are a few house flies (commonly called in Kannada as NoNa) flying around in our house. These creatures don't really cause any nuisance like mosquitoes which bite and go ummmmm near our ears while we are sleeping - but they are annoying in their own way. It tends to make us shoo them away by waving our hands and legs and what-not whenever we see them.

My daughter has suddenly shown interest in these flies. This happened once when a fly sat on her finger for a long time. When a fly sits on your finger or toes, you wont even feel it - it is so light. So, she didn't really feel it but she saw this fly sitting on her finger. At that instant, she declared the fly to be her pet and she will play with it. [This could also be because she kept asking me for a pet (like a dog or a cat) and I kept refusing!] So she asked me not to shoo away any of the house flies from the house because they were her pets now! Boink!

Be that as it may. That alone is not the reason for me to blog this post. 

She had nicknamed the fly as NoNi and used to call them so until one day she changed it suddenly to 'Mahatma'! I asked her why she was calling the flies as 'Mahatma' and she replied that anyone who had achieved great success in life is called 'Mahatma', and who knows these flies might have achieved great success in their past life! A big BOINK!!

Now, this was good enough reason to blog!!

I had never thought about what she had said! What if our very own Mahatma Gandhi himself had turned into a fly in his next life?! I mean, can that even happen? You achieve great many successes in life only to turn into a fly the next life! Oh Jeez - that is so despairing to think about! After all those struggles, the sacrifices, the Satyagraha, the fasting and then sweet success of a Nation's Independence - only to be turned into a house fly in the subsequent life! Surely that cannot happen?! 

But then he should have been born again by now really. I have read great many philosophical theories now to firmly believe that there is definitely rebirth but no one has told me yet that the rebirth will be as humans only. What I have understood is that the rebirth is from animals to human beings but, to be honest, I have never thought that we might be reborn as animals in future. That is like going back in the Process & Fulfillment of Life as we know it, like getting demoted instead of promoted. What if it might just be true - that we might not be reborn as human beings?! Now thats a scary thought!! My mother always used to tell me when I was a boy that we will be born as lizards if we refuse water to folks who ask for it and I always used to think that it cannot be true - but what if it indeed is?!

But what if we are indeed reborn as human beings? Our generation has depleted this Mother Earth so much that when we are born again, there would be hardly anything for us to live upon. Men are cutting down generation-old trees in this life to make furniture and doors and houses and when these same men are reborn a century later, the Earth would be so much hard to live with soaring temperatures and depleted water due to all those fallen trees cut by the very same men! Men are throwing garbage and trash into oceans & rivers, illegally mining the sand off the river banks, and not worrying about now but when born again, they will see the impact it will have on the ecology which in turn comes back and affects the same men. But they would then just blame their fathers and forefathers for not taking care of Earth but in reality, due to rebirth, they are actually experiencing the results of their own actions in their own past life! Like right now - what if I am experiencing this era of 'no-water', 'rising-temperatures', 'polluted-air' because I used to cut down trees, burn up the fossil fuels, waste electricity, waste water, etc. in my own previous life?! What if people in Africa are suffering massive famine because they used to waste food in their own previous lives? This is what Karma is all about, right?

Even on the positive note - again, what if we are indeed reborn as human beings? All the achievements and successes achieved are forgotten by us when we are reborn. They would only be associated to that name and person of the yesteryears. So, amongst us, there could be Mahatma Gandhi, Einstein, Ramanujan, Newton, Mother Teresa and all those great folks but just that they wouldn't even know that they were those folks in their own previous life! Unless, of course, they had reached that state of Enlightenment which apparently takes them out of the lifecycle of Birth & Death but then again, who really knows?!

What if I myself was - in my previous life - a famous personality that I studied so much about in my History books in this life?! 

What if that fly indeed was Mahatma Gandhi?!

So many thoughts and questions just by a simple conversation with a seven-year-old on a house fly!!


Friday, January 12, 2018

English & Me

As a child, English was a foreign language to me. I was never comfortable with it. I couldn't speak as well as I would have liked to nor could I get my hands around it. Not that I do now (!), but I am way better compared to, say, when I was in my 3rd standard! Any given day, I would resort to my mother tongue - Kannada.

But that didn't mean I was averse to it. In fact, I used to do crosswords and puzzles from a very early age and was quite adept at it. I remember my 2nd grade teacher asking me what 'Satan' meant and I was the only guy in a class of over 60 people to know it. But I was too shy to raise my hand and say the answer. My relationship with the language was more with the hands than with the mouth!

In fact, I remember when I was probably 8-9 years ago (around late 1980s) arguing with my mom - who was coercing me to speak in English so as to become comfortable & fluent with it - that one shouldn't speak in the language which belonged to our invaders. My point was - why should we speak the language of our erstwhile rulers after we got independence from them!

Gradually, I started getting the feel of it though. But it wasn't easy. One day, a cousin (elder brother) of mine had come to our house. This cousin was studying in a real English medium school - by that I mean not the one where people just study in English but also talk only in English with an accent that is hard to understand AND in the 1990s. I asked him about the visit and what prompted him to come, for it was not everyday that we get to see him. To this day, I remember his reply - "I was in the neighbourhood and I thought I will just drop by". I remember gaping at him, with my jaws dropped. I mean, I knew there was a word called neighbourhood and it meant something but I never knew till that very moment that it can be used in a sentence!

And on one another instance, me and my neighbour (another Bishop Cottonian or Baldwinian school) were talking about something, and he remarked - "It costed me forty bucks". I remember distinctly asking what bucks meant. He gave me that kindly paternal look which contained shock as well as amusement that I didn't know "the most commonly used" word.

And then there were some really embarrassing moments. During a visit to my cousin's (elder sister) house, I looked at the wordings she had scribbled on her room door and asked her with all innocence, a complete blank and neutral face, the face of the illiterate - "What does this thing that you have written mean? No Farting." I will leave it to you to imagine the look on my sister's face, the pregnant pause before she replied to me back with the same innocence in the language that I could understand. I will spare some adjectives and leave it to you to imagine the look on my face when I realized what I had asked and what I had made her answer.

Another one of those embarrassing moments was when my father's colleagues had come to our home. Most of them were known to me and we exchanged pleasantries after which one of them remarked "Sunday is longer than Monday." Now, how can a guy like me understand such a cryptic statement if I am not taught?! I tried to understand the statement literally and wondered why this person was telling me that Sunday was longer than Monday. With nothing else to reply, I said "Oh ok" and smiled back. Only then my father told me what it meant and I hurriedly corrected my attire. In fact the subsequent questioning by the same colleague also left me stupefied: "Are you studying for the exams hardly or very hard?" And thats when & how I learned the difference!

Added to this was this really great uncle of mine - the same one whom I mentioned in the driving post - who always asked me the English words for things I never thought had English words! Like the mirror-like reflection on the road when we are driving on a highway (mirage), the thing that joins the two coaches of trains (vestibule), the rectangular lace-like same-shaped same-sized horizontal pillars that form the bed for the parallel rails of the railway track (sleepers) and many more. 

Although my grasp of the language increased and improved when I started reading novels (which kind of happened suddenly in my high school) - not because my mom was forcing me to, but because I was enjoying it - I still wasn't in anyways great in talking. I could never get on the stage and talk in English. My English teacher forced me to do that for a debate (Pros and Cons of Television) and I was having all these butterflies in the stomach while I read out loud what I had written on the piece of paper. 

Me and my friends used to call all those who were talking only in English as Thames - that iconic river in England - metaphorically. It used to amuse me a lot - and sometimes even irk me - when I was seeing parents talking to children in English. By doing so, they were killing their own mother tongue and its associated heritage, culture, literature, poetry, etc. It was like the baton not being passed from parents to offsprings and thus triggering the possible extinction of a language!

At the same time, my English writing and speaking skills improved automatically, thanks to the novels and Star Plus & HBO channels that suddenly invaded the Indian Television during mid-to-late 1990s. I became a great fan of Pierce Brosnan, and his Remington Steele became my favorite. I got acquainted with the American accent. 

Slowly but gradually, even without my knowing, the English language was enveloping me and I never realized it. I was talking more and more in English than in Kannada now! I suddenly was more comfortable in English than in Kannada. All those events 2-3 decades ago - me fighting against my mom about not wanting to learn English - suddenly seemed so superfluous! 

Despite the knowledge and confidence of being English-friendly, there were some mild shocks during my initial days in the US (mid 2000). My first 'For Here to go' was an absolute blinder! And there is no such thing as 'Plastic Covers', we had to just ask for 'Bags' at the retail stores! And 'Overtake' meant nothing to the traffic cop, it was 'Pass'; and 'Indicator' didn't mean anything to the car repair guy, it was 'Directional', and the list goes on!

And then a decade later (late 2010), here I am with a 7-year-old daughter who is most comfortable talking English, thanks to the first 2.5 years of her schooling in US. I feel funny now - me and my wife talking in Kannada and our daughter talking & replying to us in English. This is just the kind of family-language-thingy I didn't like and didn't want about 2 decades ago looking at other such families, and here I am in the exact same situation! But, thanks to my wife and my daughter's new friends & new classmates, Tontu now talks in Kannada more than she used to talk when we left US for good - which is nice. It is amusing to hear her talk in Kannada just like how we all used to talk in our childhood. In fact, I am to be blamed more now since I resort to English words very often for the sake of convenience.

Suffice it to say that although I am trying to get back to "Kannada Days", the English language has become very much a part of my life. So much so that - 

This is my 600th blog-post in Kaleidoscope!!


Sunday, December 10, 2017

The Missing Steps

About a decade ago, I had written a post about After Dinner Walk (ADW). 

This habit of ADW continued on even after the birth of my daughter.  And when my daughter was just about learning to walk, she started giving me company. Those were unforgettable times - she would trip over, fall down a couple of times thud on her bum, but again get up and carry on along with me. We used to live in a hotel-like accommodation in Woburn, MA, USA and the whole corridor was carpeted, so the falls were not affecting her much:

Couple more years later, she was my talking companion during ADW. She being a 3-year-old, whatever came to her mind used to come out unadulterated through the mouth! By this time, we were in a sizable apartment in Walnut Creek, CA, USA, and our ADW was within the confines of our living room. Below is an excerpt of one of our classic conversations:

She (looking at the digital clock display on the Comcast cable box): Time is one hundred and seven.
Me: It is not one hundred and seven. It is 10:07.

A pause.

She: I am still a teeny tiny baby. So maybe I dunno how to tell time.

I am silent, just listening to her talk and walking.

She: When I was a teeny tiny baby I was mumbling. But now I don't talk like that. When do you think that I grew up? At 3, I grew up?

I said yes and continued walking, wondering what she will talk next. Her eyes fell on the Dora pyjamas that she was wearing.

She: You know I am wearing Dora pants because of winter tonight. Tomorrow it will be summer. In summer, we will have swimming party. For swimming party, we should have that round, colored donuts kind of things.
Me: Tubes
She: Oh tubes. Yes.

And so on, the conversation used to go on and on - childishly beautiful. Unforgettable and always cherished!

But now, I don't walk so much after dinner. Over the course of years, I have realized that the ADW is only a necessity if I eat brimful. Eating brimful had become a necessity because of Mom's over-cooking and wanting to finish off stuff to not keep it for the next day. 

Now, with marriage came wife, with wife came new style of cooking and this new style of cooking was all per measurement with a CMM level 5 of continuous improvement & calibration! Thus, we have now reached the stage of cooking just how much is needed; hence there is no 'over-cooking', no 'brimful' and hence no real 'wantingness(!)' of ADW. Which is good - because I also read in many places that eating brimful is just not the right thing to do especially during dinner. Leads to overweight and obesity and bulging tummy and what-not. So alls good, I guess. 

But I miss the night walk & things that came along with it: the conversations, the flow of thoughts, the terrace, etc. 

The 100 steps are missing in my life and I miss the 100 steps!

Monday, November 20, 2017

If you want to spend the rest of your life in one city...

Much has happened in my life since I last blogged. My family and I have now moved back to India for good, as I have recorded in my travelogue. I guess my travel blog was more active over the last few years than Kaleidoscope! Me and my wife spent a lot of time discussing on whether we should go back. After almost 1-2 years of back and forth discussions, poring over R2I forums, jotting down pros and cons, we finally decided to head back. 

Next came the big question "When". There were positive and negative ramifications if we left too early or too late. I will spare the elaborate details of "why" but the timing had to be just perfect. Thankfully, I was assisted by the Hands of God, for giving me a project till end of Dec 2016, so that I could quite perfectly plan for departure in the second week of Jan 2017 - exactly as I wanted. Things fell right in place and the day of departure came nearer. 

While I had taken a big decision of moving back to India for good, I suddenly decided to take another huge decision of quitting my job, which was not really necessary, considering I was working for a company which very well had its roots in India as well as in Bangalore, and it was just a matter of asking him and her to get me a project, so that my work (and more importantly, payroll!) would continue. Yet. I decide to go out against all odds and put down my papers and decided to take a long break.

In some ways, it was a very clean exit. I was quitting after my project got done. I had notified my employer as well as my clients about two months in advance of my departure unlike the typical two-weeks notice which tends to get very messy. So it wasn't a shock to anyone. This also allowed me plenty of time to perform complete knowledge transition to my successors. I was in this account for over 3 years and I had achieved a lot. I was the single point of contact for a gazillion things and I had enough time to recollect and share with all the parties concerned. 

The farewell lunch given to me was heart-warming. I have already written a blog about my past farewells but this was extra special - it was a farewell from US and even from my regular day-to-day work/office: almost like VRS! Over 20 people attended - even those remotely associated with me on day-to-day activities. And this was from the client-side. Being a contractor, and getting a warm send-off from 20 of the best folks in the industry, that too on the Christmas Holiday week, was a great honor to me, on both professional and personal front. It is a moment I would cherish all my life, as I would the farewell card too.

So then. My 'Last Working Day' - quite literally, almost like my early retirement day! - was Dec 30th, 2016. I was quite tied up with a number of things and I ended up being the last person in my team to leave office - or at least my floor. It was 6 pm. The floor was deserted. It was, after all, the last working day of 2016 too for everyone and all were in a holiday mood. I took a selfie - which is so, so rare; ask my wife! - of me at my office desk. I wasn't sure when and if I will be sitting at an office desk again...

The next week went quickly and if I have to use one word to describe that week, it is 'Dispose'! The whole house with all its belongings had to be disposed off, including the car. It is just not the material things that got disposed, it was the emotional bag that was associated with each of those things that we lived with and loved so much. Like Tontu's scooter, her cycle, our mattress, sofa, dining table, TV with which we watched over 100 episodes of Vishnupuran, the beautiful living room Ikea lamps, and a million other things.  The 'disposal', however, was just one of the 70 odd items in the 'US' checklist. There was over 100 items in the 'India' checklist that I had to look into after I moved back to India!

Many thanks to our neighbours for helping us out. The last day was very crucial in many aspects - sleeping overnight, food, tranport to airport, etc. and they helped us in ways unimaginable. I guess I can never repay them.

Cometh Jan 11, 2017 and we were back in Bangalore. We had left on April 30th, 2011 with 6 suitcases and we came back with 6 suitcases. 

There are many reasons why we took this decision to head back home but I guess the thing that tipped the balance was the question that we asked ourselves - 

If you want to spend the rest of your life in one city, which city would that be?

Namma Bengaluru.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Enlightenment from Milk

Teenager, India

Early in the morning. Go to the milk store and get a liter of milk packet. Daily.
“This is the way of life.”

Mid-twenties, USA

Weekend. Get 2 gallons of milk from supermarket. Refrigerate and use daily for entire week.
“Wow, what a comfort. Why don’t they learn this ease of life in India?!”

Mid-thirties, USA

Knowledge about common diseases such as cancers, et al. Enlightenment: Fresh food = Best life & no diseases.
“India knows best! Why don’t US learn from India?!”

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Screen

I was standing at the grocery store payment line and there was a young mother ahead of me. Her daughter was sitting on the cart watching a video on the smart phone. The daughter was about 2-3 years old, no more. It was the mother’s turn now and the grocery store cashier greeted her. The mother greeted back in turn and the daughter continued to be engrossed on the phone.

While the mother kept all the items from the cart onto the conveyor belt, the daughter kept looking at the video on the phone. While the grocery store cashier billed each item, the daughter kept her eyes fixed on the phone. While the mother placed all the items back onto the cart and paid the cashier, the daughter continued to look at the phone. The cashier greeted the mother to have a good day and the mother greeted him back, and still the daughter continued to stare at the phone. Then the mother started pushing the cart out to the exit and the daughter still had her eyes fixed on the phone. Soon, she was out of the store wheeling away to the car in the parking lot and I could still see daughter looking at the phone.

I was aghast and literally my jaw dropped. Right in front of my eyes, in a matter of couple of minutes, I saw how the daughter was completely robbed off her favorite childhood game of ‘Pretend-play shopping’. I know this because I have seen how my daughter can pretend play grocery shopping for hours. In the house, my daughter acts as if she is shopping for me and my wife;  and sometimes she is the cashier, taking all the items and scanning the bar code, punching imaginary buttons, taking cash and returning change or using visiting cards in place of credit cards, greeting people, etc. Not only is this fun for her, she has also learnt about the real-world human interactions. In a few years, I am confident she can do the same things that anyone is expected to do in a grocery store.

And in this instance, the daughter of this mother completely missed the whole thing. It was as if she was inside a movie theater all through. She was so much into the video that never once she lifted her head. She totally, totally missed the environment - the transactions, the real-life scenario, the greetings that was happening all around her and was so lost in the digital world that she will have a hard time coping up with the true life in a few years if this is what she keeps doing!

Pretend play is one of the most important stages of childhood. It gives children a huge opportunity for imagination and the only way we can fuel the young mind’s imagination is by giving them the experience of real-world happenings. I have been to couple of really good Pretend Play museums such as the ones in Irvine and San Jose and these have miniature grocery stores amongst many things. Children like to play forever at such places – but only if they know what they are in the first place!! 

And here, it was as if a crime was happening right in front of my eyes and I was about to shout out to the mother! The child was robbed a little of an essential part of her childhood and the mother was the culprit! The child had to know what just happened and the parent totally denied this experience just for the sake of keeping the child quiet! Seriously, these children are our future and it is parents’ responsibility to raise the next generation the right way and this definitely was not the right way!

Of course, this is just an iota of an incident. The book ‘The Big Disconnect’ showcases an alarming amount of such experiences and a trend that is threatening the entire next generation due to the digital world. To quote from the book – apparently, youngsters are having challenges in attending interviews because it deals with hours of human interaction and the teenagers are so caught up with screens now that even a 30 minute continuous interaction with another human being itself is becoming increasingly difficult to deal with! I am like….'Wow, really?!!

Sadly, the digital “screen” is actually screening away the real world from the next generation. For all the parents out there – go easy on the “screen” with your kids. It just isn’t worth it.

Friday, February 27, 2015

HVD 2015

A piece of hand-written poem given by me to wifey on 14th Feb 2015...

You have cough.
I have lumbago.

I give you cough syrup.
You massage my back.

I give you kashaya
You apply moov to me.

You have subconjunctival hemorrhage.
I have running nose.

I put eyedrops to you.
You give me tablets.

I apply small ice packs to your eyes.
You give me coffee.

No, we are not old.
We are in our early 30s

Celebrating our 7th Valentine's Day
The way we ought to celebrate our 70th!!

Happy Valentine's Day!!


Sunday, February 01, 2015


About a few years back, I was staying in the city of Irvine, quite close to office. Hence the commute to office was in self car.

One fine day, just as I pulled out my car from the apartment parking lot and started heading towards the apartment exit, I noticed a car right in front of me. I did not bother to memorize it, since there didn’t seem any need to anyways.

However, in the evening, on my way back to apartment from office, just as I turned into the parking lot entrance, I noticed this same exact car right in front of me again, just like in the morning! That seemed like quite a coincidence (but still not blog-worthy…hehehe!)

Then, about a few months back, I was staying in the city of Walnut Creek, not-as-close to office as compared to Irvine. Hence, the commute to office was in public transportation, familiarly known as BART to those who live in the Bay Area.

One fine day, just as I was walking towards the apartment exit towards the BART station on my way to office, I noticed a man walking right in front of me, like hundreds of other office-goers on any work day. I did not bother to memorize his height or apparel or walking style or anything else, since there didn’t seem any need to anyways.

However, in the evening, on my way back from the BART station to the apartment, there was this same exact guy again! Walking right in front of me, just like in the morning!

Boink!! (read ‘blog-worthy’…hehehe!)

I was quite taken aback! Look at the coincidence and the sheer timing of it all. Out of thousands of cars in Irvine, out of thousands of folks living in Walnut Creek, out of thousands of minutes on a given day, I had that same exact car and this same exact man coming right in front of me – both morning and evening! And what are the chances of two such similar instances occurring in a man’s lifetime?! Wow!!

And, to top it all, I am the only one in this whole wide world, aware of this seemingly-ordinary-and-yet-quite-extraordinary moment! Because the person who was driving in front of me in Irvine and the person walking in front of me in Walnut Creek were not aware that I was the same person behind them at those precise moments!

It was like a show put on by Mother Nature only to me! Felt absolutely exhilarated!!

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Unethical Vs Smart

Scenario 1: In the 1950s, the Irish Church in the name of cleansing this world, took in unmarried mothers, sold the fatherless children to willing American parents by forcefully making the mothers giving away their loved ones in exchange to hefty donations. The money was good for the Church, and a part of it went to the local Government as a bribe to ensure no law was ever constituted to stop this practice from continuing. So, the Church got the money, the Government got the money, the American parents adopted Irish children and all seemed fine, but the mothers lost their children unwillingly, the children felt abandoned by their own mothers not knowing why leaving them traumatized for the rest of their lives. [I got this by reading Philomena Lee]

Scenario 2: In the 1990s - I had this thought when I was in India - drivers caught speeding in their cars had a very easy way out. If the speeding fine was, say, Rs 200, one can get away by paying Rs 100 as a bribe to the cop. So the driver loses Rs 100 but its better than losing Rs 200. The cop gets richer by Rs 100. For the driver, Rs 100 didn’t matter much, so its ok. For the cop, Rs 100 mattered a lot, so it was a great way of making extra money on top of a meager salary. The only compromise was that the Government wasn’t getting its money due to speeding drivers. And, of course, the rich speeding drivers did not bother about getting caught anymore because they knew how to get around it by greasing their cop-captors and hence continued speeding. The biggest compromise was that speeding, at times, led to accidents.

Scenario 3: A software X made by Vendor A is perfect for the project that I am working on currently in USA. However, Vendor A is not competent enough to deliver a near-zero code quality and on time. Another software Y is being used by Vendor B, which is not actually fit for this project, yet can be tweaked to be used. So, the question was asked to the project technical lead: Which is the right software for this project and who should execute it? It just so happens that the technical lead for the project is from Vendor B. So, although he knows that software Y is not perfect for the project, he gives his recommendation to go with Vendor B due to faster time-to-market and good code quality. But the underlying essence of the recommendation is self propaganda and profit for Vendor B. More revenue and higher profit for Vendor B means better bonus and better paychecks for the technical lead himself. It’s a compromise to the project, yes, but it is a smart way of making own life better.

Foot note: In 1950s in Ireland inside a religious place, in 1990s in India with law-enforcers, in 2015 in US with elite high-grossing software companies. This small pattern shows that this feral human tendency of getting one’s own way at the cost of something (or someone) else has always existed and will always exist. It seems unethical, yet this is what motivational speakers refer to as ‘Being smart’, ‘Survival of the fittest’, etc.

Where to draw the line?

Friday, November 14, 2014

Excellent Shopping!

Once I went shopping in a well-known clothing retailer and selected many clothes for purchase. It was a long time since I had shopped clothes, so I didn't mind the massive shopping really. Finally, I reached the check-out counter and the agent scanned the price tags on all the clothes. The bill came up to almost $200. Customary to this shop, the agent highlighted the savings of almost $80 due to discounts, coupons, sale, etc. on the bill and said,

“Your bill is $194 and you have saved $78 today. Excellent shopping!

As he said the last two words, he looked at me and genuinely smiled. I was amused at the hollowness of it all. “Excellent shopping” because I saved $78? Does he really think I am so dumb as to think I saved $78? Everyone knows that the prices are always bolstered sky high and then reduced by 50% with a big SALE board on it or CLEARANCE sign. So, for a dress costing $5, it could be very well tagged as $50, and then a “SALE 50% OFF” depicting price shot down to $25, which still gives the retailer an immense five-fold profit. I give absolutely no value to the ‘savings’ portion or ‘Today you have saved…’ portion in bills that almost all retailers now produce.

Anyways, I thanked him equally hollowly, and made my way out of the clothing retailer. I guess I would have been happier if he had called out and told me that he was kidding and, in reality, actually intended a befitting pun –

“You spent $194 on these worthless clothes?!! Really?! Wow, excellent shopping!! Clap-clap-clap!! Thank you for your patronage and for my salary!” 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Hilarious Innocence

Now it is “All day long, all day today!” Whatever that means! But more than incomprehensive phrases, Tontu has become a master at innocent-intelligent conversations!

One evening, during a stop-over on a long day of driving, she told me, “Papa, you are a good driver!” I was flummoxed. How did she know good driving and bad driving at such a tiny age! “Why do you say that, Tontu?!” I asked. “Because you drive us to so many places!” Boink!! Such innocence!!

These kind of incredible conversations are a commonality these days. But alas, it is so difficult to keep track of all these gems. There was this other day when we were walking and the sky was filled with orange streaks of setting sun, and she said “Wow! I can’t believe my eyes. It is like dream come true!!” The phrase “Dream come true” was something that I learnt in my middle school during an English class when there was a short story with the same phrase, and here is my daughter using complicated terminology such as, well, 'complicated', 'rocket-ship', 'astronaut', 'aurora borealis'.

She looks at the map and says 'New York', 'Boston!' She has grasped that there are cities like New York and Boston somewhere on the map. Come to think of it, I might have been in early teens when I even heard about a city called New York!! There was this one day when we were coming back from Alaska with a stop-over at Seattle, and she was jumping in the flight shouting "Seattle, Seattle, Seattle"! It made me remember a day in my childhood when all of us cousins were going to the small Indian town of Nagamangala in KSRTC bus and shouting “Nagamangala! Nagamangala! Nagamangala!” What a paradigm shift!!

Tontu’s reference to NY might have been due to her granma who just visited her recently and we were talking about her experience in her port-of-entry. These offline discussions which are not really with her, sets off some strange 'memory captures' and out it comes at some later point in time, thereby stunning us!

This 'mem capture' capability has also led her to remember some small prayers and some songs. But the improvisation of these songs to whatever comes to her mind at that point in time makes it all the more great. She being a great fan of Where is pointer” rhyme, improvised it to “Where is KC” (KC being my pal) when we were searching for him one day at a picnic area. I mean, that is just brilliant!

And then, there are some hilarious instances. Like when we go to vacation, she is all excited. When asked why, she says “Because I love the hotel bed!” Apparently for her, 'Vacation' is synonymous to staying in hotel and the bed in the hotel is what she likes the most. What with it being bouncy, she can jump away to glory!

Then there is this time when she glances at the house-maid in our India house when we are Skyping, and says she is Cinderella (on days when she is wearing blue saree) or Tinkerbell (green saree) or Belle (yellow saree). She looks at my mom and says her dress is not matching. She spies her granma hiding behind a pillar (in the process of Peek-a-boo-ing) and says "Silly Dragon"! ROFL!

Now that she goes to pre-school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, she tracks each day very closely. So, one day, she said-
Is today Monday, papa?"
Are you going to office?
But don’t’ go! I miss you!
I need to go to office to earn money, Tontu. With money, I can get new toys to you!
With that consolation, she finally agreed and I was able to go to office. The next day –
Is today Tuesday, papa?"
Are you going to office?
Ok! Go to office, earn money and get me new toys!
Huh!! “But I miss you, Tontu. I don’t want to go to office!
Its ok, papa. Don’t miss me. I will come to station in the evening to pick you up!” LOL!!!

And so it goes on, every day until it is weekend when she gets super excited because I will not be going to office for 2 full days! That is when I witness her playing all by herself with the umpteen toys that now occupies pretty much one quarter of our apartment home! All of a sudden, she is a teacher, imitating her own pre-school teacher, by sitting on a high chair and arranging and talking to all her toys as if they were her pupils! Another time she is a driver. All the dining table chairs are moved to the room and she has built an imaginary car and she is on the driver’s seat driving, asking all of us to do “Katchak” which means latching up our imaginary seat belts! And then she is sitting on her new tiny chair and working on her laptop just like her daddy! If she has been to a restaurant lately, she is a waitress taking our order. If we have been to the doctor’s, she has an earphone using a stethoscope and checking our heartbeat. It made me remember Salman’s Kabhi Tu song where one person dons so many roles! Using this same eagerness of kids wanting to be everything, someone came up with this brilliant idea of Pretend City and Tontu had a whale of a time being a doctor, a dentist, a waitress, a fire-fighter, a banker, a construction worker, a cop, a car-driver, a librarian, a painter, etc. etc.! Oh, I forgot about another of her favorite at-home activities - standing high on the sofa arm-rest and then pushing herself all-out into the cushy seat-buckets as if she is in a swimming pool, diving!

Speaking of swimming pool reminds me of the recent pool party that we had at our apt. Tontu had this nice tube around her waist and the tube gave her unprecedented freedom! She realized she no longer needed anyone to hold her. She could come out of the pool, fall into the pool, move around by kicking herself, and pretty much do everything without anyone so much as touching her. It is amazing how sweet the taste of freedom is, for she was outright asking us not to touch her or her tube in the pool. After all these years of taking her to the pool for her enjoyment and carefully watching over her, here she is asking us to keep us to ourselves! So much for parenthood!!

But it is good to see her enjoying her own freedom and expressing her individuality. At home, she has this tendency to keep changing her dresses every half hour. So whenever she asks us to change her dress, we keep saying no. So, now she gets into the room, closes the door, pulls up a chair to get herself some elevation and picks a dress of her choice and puts it on all by herself. Out she comes to living room, and says “Ta-da! Surprise!” We are like, “Here we go again!

And then there was this one day when we were at the park and she was playing slide all by herself. It was almost time to go and another girl of her age came over to her and they both started playing – which was nothing but just climbing up the short few steps, sliding down the barrel, running back to the steps and doing it all over again. They did this for about ten times and we kept calling her. Tontu was having too much fun to leave her new found friend! So she kept following her friend despite many shout-outs. And then at one point, her friend realized that we were calling and so she took Tontu to a side (behind the steps) and spoke to her, perhaps convincing her to ignore her parents! It was like two tiny conspirators, and they looked so funny! It was so synonymous to what many children do to parents when they are adults – like girls who are being secretly convinced by their ‘boy-friends’ to leave her parents house in exchange of a world filled with love!! - and I was witnessing something close to it already!! It was downright hilarious.

These “Hilarious Innocence” instances are so many that it is hard to keep track, and many of them slip through our memory. One day, we asked her to write 1 to 10, and she wrote 1, 2 and 10! There was this other day when her mom was teaching her the meaning of her name “Paavani”. My wife told her it meant “Purifier” but my daughter recognized only part of the word. So she asked “My name means ‘Fire’?!” And remember that iPhone post?

Come to think of it, these episodes are true for any toddler or a pre-schooler, including ourselves in that age. It is just that no one logged it in any form and, just like that, it is lost forever. We recently saw a Kannada movie ‘Naanu…Nanna Kanasu’.  It can be considered as the prequel to the famous English movie ‘Father of a Bride’. While the latter covers only the wedding part, the former covers pretty much the entire life cycle from the birth of a daughter till she gets married – and, most importantly, the gamut of emotions that a Father of a Daughter goes through.

Although it is great to see her growing taller and taller, and learning more and more things that this world has to offer, it is quite heartening to see her distancing herself from us parents even though it is minuscule. It is as if we are missing doing things to her – making her asleep, feeding her breakfast, giving her bath, putting on her dress and shoes, buckling and unbuckling her car seat – the list goes on. Just like that she grew out of it all and became independent. It is a time for both pride and melancholy! A video that I saw reminds me of how a duck relies on its ducklings to “Just do it” despite all odds, without so much as teaching, and how fortunate most of us humans are, to talk and teach and generally “Be there’ for our children…

Well, here’s to ‘Being There’ and ‘Feeling Proud’! Tontu turned four last week, and this blog-post is another web-based (and hopefully immortal) gift from her dear daddy!!

Happy Birthday, Tontu!!