Random


Been lazy again. So this is just a quick post in a hope to “get back into the groove” again. I realize that most of my interests wax and wane. For the last few weeks, I was consciously aware that I was not actively blogging (even during those carnatic cryptic puzzle weeks) and also remember feeling “just not interested” to do so. But now today all of a sudden the interest spiked up – for no particular reason.  But dont have anything interesting to say. So what has been happening at my end the last few weeks?

  • A trip to Far-East: Went on a rare official trip to South Korea. I almost never travel officially, and so to go to South Korea of all places  is an extremely rare situation indeed. Went to Suwon near Seoul. I was impressed by the efficiency of the country, and the achievements its people have made. Managed by with some decent vegetarian food choices for the few days I was there. There were Indian restaurants near where I was, but then my colleague wasnt interested in them 🙂 !  The pizza I had there was actually pretty good (spicy). I tried “kimchi”. Well, I can see I tried kimchi.  I guess since I was used to some western vegetarian choices, I was able to get by better (pizza, pasta, and many cakes). Breakfast was awesome – but again a western breakfast which I always like.
  • A “Cookie” for my daughter: We have a new member in the family – albeit not boy or a girl. We have pet Cinnamon Green-Cheeked Conure (a member of the parrot family). More about “Cookie”  perhaps in a later post.  “He” is adorable (we dont know the sex, you cant tell until a DNA test, but we are presuming him) in a later post. He was “hand-raised” by a breeder, and so will step on your hand/finger when you ask him to.  He is even potty trained. He is my daughter’s and by now he thinks so too. When she is around, he is itching to get to her. We (my wife and I) never thought we were “pet people” – but we certainly have warmed up to it well.
  • Super Daddy: Managed the fort with my daughter for a couple of weeks on our own when Mom was out of town. We suffered a few casualities – all in the botanical area, both inside the house and outside. My question “Oh, so that was a real plant?” did not go well when Mom returned.  Someone joked “Hey, it was either water the plants, or water the kid. I think you made the right choice”. Anyway, I think in spite of that, I have like a million brownie points in my account. This may be connected to the “droolarama” point below.
  • Amateur Singer: Sang as part of a group at the local carnatic music festival. I call this festival my “Annual Embarrassment Conference”, but this time we actually did well. Like animals at the bottom of the food-chain, we amateurs do feel “strength in numbers” and I think that could have been the reason (besides our teacher training us well). I am glad that I got to learn many beautiful songs – many in my favorite ragas. With rItigauLa, bhairavi, husEni, nIlAmbari, sahAnA, Ahiri – who can complain?
  • Mergers and Acquistions: The company I work for got acquired. They say it wont affect anything. Ha, Ha :-)! Now, where have I heard that before?  But I think I should be ok.
  • Droolarama: Have been drooling over electronic gadgets again. This time, my credit card points were exchangeable for electronics gift cards. Planning to buy a real good camera (panasonic fz28) + something else that I am still deciding.  So little money (after the camera), and so much more to buy:
    • An LCD TV for upstairs (this is the only one that is atleast somewhat need based)
    • Apple TV
    • Mac OS Leopard (yes, I am still on Tiger)
    • A 1 TB hard drive that will work with Leopard’s Time Machine.  The Apple’s Time Capsule looks like it is a big rip-off.
    • I also bought the Creative’s Vado HD video player – outside of points at Amazon (since I drooled, and since Amazon gave $50 credit on top). But I will return it now, since its low-light (actually medium-low light itself) is bad, and the camera I will be able to get via points should have HD video recording as well.  Both are not going to be like a HD camcorder – but atleast my pocket will not become too light.
    • Of course, the mother of all drools – an MacPro Notebook. I see that the 13 inch one would be $1200 come September ….

Isn’t this sobering (in an ironic way)? Today I stumbled upon a definition for my net moniker as indicated http://www.urbandictionary.com (warning: content is risque. Don’t ask me how/why I stumbled upon this)

1. arunk
A state beyond drunkeness (sic), the level above brunk.
Well, I was def a little drunk after those pints, then the rails, the chron, and that x pill have taken me right up to arunk

Now I wonder where how it all got started 😉 ?

Been a bit busy the last week but also the prep work for the next post on my favorite Carnatic ragas is taking a bit longer than I want (I hear rambodoc muttering thanks).

So like what my favorite satirist Andy Borowitz said a while ago, perhaps this like pointless filler column. I guess I am trying to prevent the “flame” (# of hits) alive.

Twenty20 Cricket

What’s up with this? The format seems ridiculous for a sport. I thought that for a sport to be engaging, there must be two opposing aspects which are sort of on even ground(batting vs. bowling, attacking vs. defending, offense vs. defense) . But this one is too heavily slanted towards batsman. Like I commented in pr3rna’s blog, why even have professional bowlers? The crowd wants to see a lot of 4s and 6s – why not just give it to them with the least resistance? Have an amateur bowler (or better yet a bowling machine), and amateur fielders – perhaps very good actors who can dive when there is no need and not field so that to the crowd it looks like “a great shot past the fielder”.

Of course, just when you think it cannot get any more silly, you have the concept of “bowl-out” to break a tie – like a penalty shoot-out in soccer. Which genius came up with this idea? The penalty shoot-out is quite anti-climactic, but this tops that by also being comical! But at least I think this joke won’t play out that often as a tie at the end of 20 overs would be quite rare.

I cannot find the link on The BBC Sports website about history of Twenty20 – but I found their seriousness in taking this sport serious to be quite amusing. Apparently, a crowd of a few thousand in England is enough to declare this is a rage and it has “caught on”. Soccer in the US draws a heck of a lot more, but it is still “catching on”.

I certainly do not doubt the entertainment value of Twent20 cricket, but can it last as a sport? Or will it only last until the next best thing? I think soon people may get tired of the mindless hitting – but then our appetite for masala movies is never satisfied …

Gatherings, festivals, Social Events Galore

It is quite clear that the size of the Indian community here in this big mid-western city has just exploded exponentially. This year, like in May, the months of August, September and October are loaded with functions and events. Every weekend, we have something to attend to – whether is cultural festivals, dance arangetrams, music concerts, dance programs etc. etc. And very often, we have clashes – two functions on the same day and we have to pick one!

One big indicator of this rise in the size of the Indian community is the # of cars parked at the local temples on a weekday. I remember 10 years ago, if I went to the temple during a weekday in the evening, there will 2-3 cars parked. The temple would literally be deserted except for the priests and a couple of administrative folks. Nowadays, you go anytime the temple is open, there are at least 20 cars. Some days, you think there is nothing big going on – but the entire parking lot is full. On big religious days, local police has to come and organize traffic. On really big ones like Deepavali, you have remote parking with people having to take shuttle buses. In a US city, 10,000 miles away from home. Wow!

The talent of professional musicians is mind-blogging

I am a lover of music – but specifically Carnatic Music. Last week, I witnessed a orchestra from India learn within a matter of few days, 3.5 hours worth of music to be performed with coordination with dancers (three dance groups, 5 hours including the 4th dance group with which they were touring).

The # of new pieces they learnt were about 40 I think. They had to remember how many times certain lines/phrases had to be repeated, when to “extend”/”improvise” a certain part to allow the dancers to enhance the scene etc. Some pieces included fairly complex rhythmic combinations. They did all this with only 1-2 live rehearsals with each dance group. And they did a fantastic job given the seemingly herculean task! I was there for the rehearsal and just watching them pick up stuff, make minor adjustments as and when needed all seemingly at a blink of an eye – it was truly mind boggling!

Not that busy to not comment

Well – I have not been so busy that I could not visit the blog world. I did spend time – mostly commenting on wonderful, engaging topics by mahendra and nita, and enjoying the humor of krishashok’s jalsa and jilpa, and rambodoc’s twisted wor(l)ds.

Here are a few things that make me go What’s the big fuss? I don’t want to pass judgment on everyone who feels otherwise – but I probably am 😉

  • Reality Shows on TV: It is everywhere now – Animal Channel, Discovery Channel, Home & Garden, Food network. My colleague and I joked that soon we will see them on CSPAN too. Then we both realized – Duh!
    • In essence, much of the reality show rage can be explained by We need Dirty Laundry as echoed by Don Henley in an awesome, awesome song (check out the powerful lyrics and the live video). The song of course is squarely aimed at newscasters – but based on the dirt on reality shows aimed at satisfying their audience’s thirst for it, I think it has much wider, almost universal applicability.
  • Beer: I really don’t get the fuss about beer. To my taste buds – it is a vile tasting, weak drink. It makes you very thirsty, and output at least twice as much as you input. So what’s the point? Now there are even non-alcoholic drinks that I love which others consider vile (e.g. coffee) – i.e. they are an “acquired taste”. So I can definitely understand that beer is like that – no problem. But what I don’t get is the status of beer. The fuss people in the US make about beer right from youth into college and into adulthood for something that is so blwa…h – I just don’t get it. There are much better tasting and much stronger choices.
  • Beer commercials: Even more confounding. It supposedly has the target audience as “the macho man” – i.e. the one who does not want to look stupid, and wants to swing it with the fairer sex. But paradoxically, the ads seem to convey the opposite:
    • A man ignores the offers of a sexy lady in favor of a lousy Heineken. Now which idiot would do that? And which “macho guy” would be idiotic enough to want to relate to that?
    • Just touch a Coors Light bottle, and it starts to get very cold and snowy, but ladies in skimpy bikinis appear out of nowhere and dance happily. The first time this appeared – you can say odd, but perhaps interesting imagination. But this is the theme of every Coors Light commercial! Are you taking me for an idiot? But I did try Coors Light just in case – no luck yet.
    • Every one of those Miller Light commercials. I would like a warrant out for their advertising folks. Enough said.
    • I did not think beer was exactly a drink of “the sleek and sexy woman” – but I guess it is so according to these well informed commercials.
  • Pickup Truck Commercials: Another one aimed at the macho man. Apparently, Chevy/Ford/Toyota trucks can haul anything you want, even a big 18-wheeler loaded with concrete slabs stuck in a huge mountain. Heck in fact, they can haul the entire mountain itself! I am sure such power can come in handy. And of course all of this is somehow patriotic. Perhaps they are going simply move the mountains “Tora Bora” with some Ford F-150s and Chevy Silverados so that they can literally expose Bin Laden.
  • Golf as a rage, and a major sport: Prime-time coverage – on par with baseball, basketball and football in the US. Now the sport I can believe is relaxing – but showing it on TV, and talking so much about it everywhere? I just don’t get it.
  • Hunting as a sport and on TV: Need I say more?
  • Men and Video arcade games: Never got into it and holds zero appeal to me. An outing to a place like Gameworks, or Dave and Busters does not get me excited, and I have had to go there many times for company celebrations, social outings etc. I try a couple of those car racing games – fun for a couple of minutes. But, I pretty much get bored in precisely 10 minutes.
  • Muscle Car Magazines/Shows and Babes: This is a superb example of a pure fantasy of a stereotypical male: Loves muscle cars, loves muscle car parts, and loves babes in skimpy clothes. Never mind that the last one does not exactly seem to be related to the first two. But who cares? He still thinks – wouldn’t it be so cool to somehow have all of these in one fantasy? Wouldn’t that be ultimate? But how? How? How? Eureka! Simply have the skimpily clad girls stretch sexily on the hood of a muscle car! You could have those girls talk about mufflers, brakes and pads. Now, which girl wouldn’t want to do that?
  • Popularity of obnoxious personalities: These are loud mouthed, pompous asses, but extremely popular – many times for precisely being that. Their ticket to fame is a similar theme: I am an open book. I am honest. I speak what is on my mind. And I believe in what I say. I always stand by my beliefs. People apparently love it when you say what you have on your mind – even if you come out as an obnoxious, opinionated, jackass. But for me, if you are a jackass that trumps everything else – you are going to be one whether you speak your mind or not. You cannot hide your “jackassity”. Besides in many cases, we find these guys are not that honest either. Well, surprise, surprise!
    • I stand for what I believe in: An admirable trait, but is a double-edged sword. It makes you not want to re-examine things, that perhaps you were wrong. It puffs up you ego and confidence and leads you to be a stubborn jackass, and not admit mistakes (but not to worry your fans will still admire you as a strong leader, since you stood your ground). There are too many obvious examples today of this.
  • Baseball: OK, I am sort of kidding ;)! I can certainly understand why it is so loved in the US. I am including this only because:
    • I love cricket for its elegance which I cannot find in baseball. Just cannot get passionate about a game that seems like a more boring (than cricket – if you can imagine that 😉 !), pale imitation of another sport that I love.
    • There are too many games, and more often than not, my favorite re-runs on TV are not on because of a slow, and mostly meaningless regular season game. Aaarrrrgh!

They kick your butt! said my neighbour shaking his head and I smiled inside broadly.

If you see my neighbour you would understand. He is a huge guy, a (US) football coach and Dean of his school. He probably played Offensive Tackle in his younger age as he has got that build – 250 lbs or more. Now, his kids – they are growing but still small. And he was talking about them. They are the “they” in They kick your butt. He wasn’t talking about a pickup game of basketball or flag football where he lost to them. No, he was talking about how kids get their way when they want to, and in process kick his butt regularly. It was funny watching him say it as I sort of pictured a man of his size getting his butt kicked by a couple of small kids. But it was funnier because I could relate to it too. I am not big, in fact I am typical South Indian – wiry thin. I have one small kid and I also get my butt kicked all the time.

Now, if you are an unmarried man but for whom marriage is even remotely on the horizon, I am sure your married friends would have filled you in that after marriage your wife kicks you butt. All your fantasies of freedom like you know “Man of the house”, “King of the castle”, “Independent man” etc. etc. are just that – fantasies, as you will soon find that they evaporate quickly into thin air. They evaporate because they are your creations to begin with. So if you still hold on to them – then you find that she kicks your butt everytime and usually with your consent.

However, that butt-kicking is nothing compared to the butt-kicking you will get from your child – pretty much right after he/she enters the world, crying heartily. Now you probably would never have seen something so tiny, but with all human emotions already shown in that tiny face (e.g. Watch the face of a even a few days old baby when you put a few drops of bitter medicine into its mouth. The face contorts showing the bitterness exactly like you do!). You think – how cute, how angelic! And there … It is over for you! You may not know but you have already signed up for lifelong butt-kicking. The only consolation in this case is that your wife will get her butt kicked too.

It seems that there is no defense against a kid wanting to get something (which you don’t want to give) that will work consistently. They are like an extremely adaptable, adept super-organism mutating to changing environment and coming up with new effective tricks: Dad doesn’t want to give this. Let’s ask Mom. What’s her mood? Ah! nice! Let us complain about Dad! Oh no! Both are upset! Let us turn it up a notch and cry – Waaah! You guys don’t love me! Hmm… they seem sorry now. Let us put up a sad puppy face! Hey, they have calmed down! We should ask if we can have icecream/candy again!.

At times, you think you have won. You feel somewhat satisfied to have successfuly bent their will to your way that left them crying or scared or angry, yet compliant. But an hour later it is you who feels lousy. Next day morning, it is you who looks at them and says How could I have gotten upset with this angelic face?. They see it too, and think Now is a good time to ask for something. This time you of course give in. Show butt. Get Kicked.

Some men have the dumb notion that they simply can delegate these parenting nuisances to the mother, and relax with the guys. Confucious probably would have said – That only means you end up getting kicked on both sides of your butt by two people.

Yesterday, among the usual constant barrage of thoughts and images that cross my mind, a brief thought about an old friend suddenly appeared. And it rekindled some old memories. I decided to make contact again with that friend from my college way way way back in India. He has been a friend for almost 24 years now and we have maintained contact throughout although off late it had been quite sporadic. I was glad that the email address still worked and he responded. I am glad that contact has been reestablished.

All this sent me once again on nostalgic trip back to my college years all the way back to mid-eighties, to Trichy, India. Ah! Those lovely years! Truly unforgettable! I always thought so – nay in fact was sure of it. But …

Lately, I have noticed with some trepidation that I cannot remember some of the basic details of those years. These are details that I used to be able easily recollect before. Even as recent as a few years ago, I used to be able to reel out the names of all my hostel (dorm in US lingo) wing mates (20 of them) in order of the rooms they stayed in. I could remember at least five guys in pretty much every wing in the two hostels of my batch.

But I can’t anymore. I can remember many of the guys in my wing, but not all. The room order – details now appear hazy and haphazard. These were guys I spent the best years of my life with. And now I can recollect neither the names nor the faces of some of them! About guys in other wings – my memory is even fainter. In fact, I remember that a couple months ago, it took me a few of minutes before I could even remember the names of all the hostels in my college!

There is no question. Memories of one the best times of my life is starting to fade.

It is just the beginning, but it is a perturbing beginning. Not to be alarmed too much as I am pretty sure I am not suffering from any medical problem leading to unusual memory loss (I hope ;-)). I believe it is just a natural process orchestrated by something. And that something is Time.

(more…)

Well I did it. I do not yet know why, but I have a blog. Now comes the irritating process of trying to say something just for the sake of saying something – and being satisfied that you said something that was worth saying. I have always despised that part! All the more reason to wonder – “then why the heck did you start a blog?”

To be honest, I really don’t know. I have been reading many blogs (mostly of indians whom I obviously relate most with) the last couple of days, and found them intriguingly appealing that I just had to start one. Fascinating windows into people’s minds. I also see how the blog world helps people reach out and making friends. That seems like a cool way! For some reason, Iwish this was around when I was younger. Silly I know – as bloggers come in all ages.

So what do I intend to get out of this blogging business? Not sure. I am not even sure if I will blog regularly. I have a long and notorious history of laziness and “moving on to other things”. But we will see.

I have doubts about the ability to blog. Do I have to always say something profound that people leave positive comments? Will people care about my thoughts even if they are random, arbitrary ones like this? And why should I care if others care? If not, is blogging pointless?

My ego seems to think it would be absolutely super if people thronged to my blog and are always impressed by what I have to say :). Ah – how self absorbed the human mind is!

Anyway, I will blog mostly on my interests. Carnatic music covers about 90% of that and at least I expect to say something sensible about that. Anything else is up in the air at the moment.

Bye for now.

Arun