Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A sad day

Just read online that there were multiple grenade blasts and shootings in Mumbai at multiple locations.
You can get instant updates about the blasts at
I hope everyone and their near and dear are safe and sound.
A sad day.
I pray for the people of Mumbai.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Desi-American lifestyle!

A note of caution: This blogpost is not to make fun of any community in particular. I am only listing the steretypes. And this is purely for fun.

It has been almost 4 years since I arrived to the US and have been married for 2 of those 4 years. When I arrived, I was saw that there was a very typical Desi-American way of life. By that I mean:
1. Living the so-called American Dream - more credit than you can afford
2. Buying a house(a HUGE one at that, like most desis do) that you cannot afford
3. A desi car(Honda/Toyota)
4. Working your butt off during weekdays, and desi-family parties on weekends
5. Eating too much, leading to an unhealthy paunch. No activity, no exercise
6. Clothes, home smelling of sambar
7. sending kids to kumon/giddeon classes, kids do well in math
8. no vacations, save money to buy stuff(a huge tv, gold, house in India etc)
9. Only desi friends, invite each other home for lunch/dinner where you only talk about shares/sticks, status of green card, kids and work
10. Going to temples every weekend(or every other weekend)
11. Inlaws/parents visiting every other year. Take them to the usual places(Niagara falls, Statue of liberty).
I can go on and on!

When I saw that most desis fell into this group, I decided I shall try to do atleast some things differently. Let me now tally my status after 4 years:
1. We do not indulge in #1
2. No to #2 as well
3. Haha, here we stuck to the stereotype, a Toyota AND a Honda
4. huh......stereotypical here too
5. We try not to do this. We workout whenever we find the time, but the paunch has a mind of its own!
6. Our clothes smell of some weird combination of marathi and south indian food!
7. We fall behind in this department
8. We do take vacations whenever we can. It is very relaxing and necessary!
9. We have a few non-desi friends too! The Indian friends we invite never talk about GC processing, kids or stocks/money. We have conversations of varied topics, politics, India, books etc.
10. No on this!
11. Here is where we again stuck to stereotype. When my inlaws were here, we went to the usual places, in addition to Vegas, Grand Canyon etc!

I must have missed out on a lot more things desis do. Again, this was not to ridicule or anything, just for fun!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Holidays and weight

The holiday season is upon us again. To me, it seems like the time between the last holiday season and the current one was spent trying to lose the pounds gained during the last season. When I was in grad-school, it was easier to stay away from sweet treats because everyone around you are very much health conscious and even if you did indulge, you could work it all off in one of the many awesome free gymnasiums in the university. Plus, one had all the time in the world to workout as much as one wanted to. Since I have started working, things have not been so perfect though. October(Halloween) marks the beginning of candy bowls, cakes and sweets being brought into work by kind(or not so kind) co-workers. Then there's a thanksgiving lunch at work, the leftover desserts of which linger around the office kitchen longer than necessary. Add to that there are sweets from the many bake-offs that people do at home for their kids. So whenever you venture into the kitchen to get some coffee/tea or even water, you are tempted to have some. If you resist the temptation by not going into the kitchen at all, you keep thinking about all those awesome treats awaiting you, and then off you go!
Working out is another story. You are at work from 8:00am to 5:00pm. Getting up early is an ordeal during winters. When the temperature outside is sub-zero and inside it is snuggly and warm, who would want to get out in that cold and warm up the cold bones by breaking a sweat? Even if you do manage to get up and go to the gym, which is a sorry excuse for one(its a free apartment gym, with 3 treadmills, one elliptical, one rower, a few bikes and weights), someone is already working out on the elliptical, so you hop on to the only treadmill that is not occupied and start running. Within a few minutes, you resolve to workout breaks as you start getting cramps in your abdomen and stop. Now all you do is wait for the elliptical-person to finish. For some reason, people working out on elliptical trainers really have no concern for the waiting populace. I once waited for a whole 45 minutes for one fine lady to finish her workout and she showed no signs of even slowing down. I even gave her a few rude 'looks' but she didnt budge. Had someone given me the looks, I would probably have cried and stepped off the machine! Anyway, coming back to working out, morning is hence ruled out. Going in the evening is not so simple either. Ofcourse there is the cold. Then you need to cook first. Even if you do manage to cook by 6:30pm, you have barely an hour to workout since ideally(sigh) you would want to eat early and go to bed early. An hour of workout, which inclues stretching, cardio and weights, never did anyone any good. I barely break a sweat in 30 minutes! Thus you take an hour out of your very busy schedule, and it barely helps. Instead of putting on 10 pounds, you might put on 5. And then working thsoe off takes forever. When you reach your old weight(pre holiday season weight), the next holiday season is almost there.
Thus run the holiday weight woes, you end up eating, but not working out, during the holidays. In an ideal world, holiday season would be in summer when you eat all those yummy treats and then go workout your a$$ off(its warm outside, remember, so you CAN get out) and burn everything off. Hell, in an ideal world, you eat what you want and it doesn't show! (why not? It's an ideal world after all!)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I first noticed dada during his first ever test tour to England, where he hit a century on debut(I was in the tenth grade). I was impressed. So impressed that his cutout from The Hindu found a place in my cricket scrapbook(yes I had one). Since then I have been following the career trajectory and personal life of this charming man. His beginnings were humble but he was always style personified!
It was only later that I came to know that he had actually played for India in 1992 against the West Indies and was dropped because "he was perceived to be "arrogant" and his attitude towards the game was openly questioned" (source: Wikipedia.) It was only after he played prolifically in two seasons of domestic cricket that he was picked for the National team. Then after the Sidhu tamasha in England about how he was treated, Sourav got a chance to play.
Slowly he blossomed into a fine batsman and a good motivator and my admiration for him only grew with time. In 1997 he started opening in ODIs with Sachin and they made a great opening pair. He became the captain in 2000 after the match fixing mess and ruled his way to a 2003 world cup final against Australia which we lost.
My admiration for him is for the way he motivated the team both as a team player as well as a campain. He brought home the idea that we have to play hard in order to win. He brought the fighting spirit to the Indian team. Even though he was not very athletic, he motivated everyone to field well, and his field placements were always effective. His fighter spirit slowly permeated to the rest of the team and we saw a side of the Indian team we never do, the fighting side. Instead of the drooping chests and sad demeanor, we saw them pumping fists in the air, doing dances, huddles and also taking their shirts off! Ofcourse dada was not at all noncontroversial. He was critisized for taking his shirt off after India won a nailbiter at Lords in 2002. They said he was disrespecting the gentleman's game(I remember thinking, gentleman;'s game my foot, there are players fixing matches, using swear words and racial slurs, what gentleman's game are you talking about?) He had his differences with Greg Chappel (I have mine with Greg too......he did not understand Indian cricket.) He was always thought of as an arrogant man, although there were players far worse than him in that department, who were never critisized(gori chamdi.) He was known to have Dalmia dancing to his fingertips too.
Irrespective of the controversies his captaincy brought, that was an era of cricket I really loved because the Indian team was finally getting away from its 'paper tiger' image and actually becoming a tiger on the ground and roar! That was an era of cricket when the Indian team actually huddled before a match and motivated itself. That was an era of cricket when we fought till the very end of even a losing match. Dada's contribution to cricket is not just ODI, Test runs, wickets or wins but the attitude of fighting for a game. The game is all the better for him.
We are going to miss you dada!

Friday, November 7, 2008

Proposition 8 - Breach of civil rights?

From Wikipedia:
Proposition 8 is a California State ballot proposition that would amend the state Constitution, to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, overturning a recent California Supreme Court decision that had recognized same-sex marriage in California as a fundamental right. The official ballot title language for Proposition 8 was "Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry". On the day after the election, the results remained uncertified. With 100% of precincts reporting, the vote was 52.5% in favor of Proposition 8 and 47.5% against, with a difference of about 504,000 votes;[1] as many as 3 million absentee and provisional ballots remain to be counted.

So there you have it. Majority of voters decided that a marriage should be a union between a man and a woman and a union between homosexuals can never be turned into marriage. Though I do not understand all the ins and outs of this proposition, I have some views on gay marriage and voting to ban gay marriage.
How come millions of heterosexual people get to decide what homosexual people can and cannot do with their life? I see this as a civil liberties issue. What I do with my life should never be dictated by the government. If you dont believe in gay marriage, fine, keep it to yourself. What gives you the right to decide? I liken this treatment of gays to the way African Americans were treated. They were disenfranshised, treated as less than human, not allowed to run for office, were segeregated. It might come across as a very radical comparison but in some ways it rings very true to me. Marriage is a fundamental right of people.
Why was a marriage defined as a union between a man and a woman? Was it because when the constitution was written there was little knowledge about homosexuality?
If the constitution did not define marriage as between people of the same sex also, I believe it is because the idea that someone could be gay did not exist. Since the constitution was written so long ago, should there not be a revision to accomodate modern ideas? If right to own guns, right to free speech etc can be added later, why not redefine marriage?

As an aside - When I was reading about this proposition and history of the gay movement in America I came across this news report on the fox news website. So you can stop being gay by praying? Really? According to Wikipedia:
The term is used to refer to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions primarily to" people of the same sex.
Being homosexual is like being female or male. Can you stop being female by praying enough? How many hours/days/years will it take for me to become a man?
Can we expect religious preachers and influential people to be socially responsible and not spew such nonsense?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tears......of joy or sorrow!

Last night there were tears. Tears of joy when Obama(Sorry, President elect Obama) won! People were happy ofcourse, they were on cloud nine. But they were crying. Why do we cry tears of joy? When I saw them crying and heard the speech at midnight, I could not contain myself either. I was crying tears of joy!
I cried(almost) last night when McCain said "I dont know how else we could have run this campaign. This is my failure, this is not your failure". He seemed like a very vulnerable and weak person who was feeling bad about letting his supporters down.
There are other times I have cried during this campaign. When Hillary gave her concession speech, I cried out of empathy. I could feel her pain. I could feel that she saw her long cherished dream slipping away. And even though I was excited for Obama, I cried for Hillary. I almost always cry when I hear the National Anthem, Saare Jahan se Achcha, hell, even the american anthem, stars and stripes forever.
With all my crying experience, I can say one thing, crying out of joy makes me feel very exhilirated.
It would seem like all this crying for something I have no control over, and something that I have no stake in (I am not an American), or something as intangible as music make me a crazy person!
But I am not! I am not alone. I know countless women who get emotional and cry over things that are not personal at all. On the other hand, I barely know any men who do. Is crying a woman's thing? Why do men express their joys and sorrows so differently?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


My heart's beating fast, I am hyperventilating, I feel scared, almost sweating. No no I am not running away from an attacker or preparing for an exam. I am stressed out because its election night here in America and this is the day everyone has been waiting for! You might ask me, why bother with the elections of a country you are not a citizen of, in which you are merely living in? When you can't vote, why bother? Well, I bother. I do because I have always been a poilitically aware person. I like to think that I care about the political climate I inhabit! Or so I'd like to think.

Speaking of political climate, everyones on the verge of a nervous breakdown at work. Most of my coworkers voted this morning and some and leaving early to participate in Get Out The Vote rallies. They would go around their neighborhood, making sure everyone could get to vote. Some would also drive the elderly to polling places so they can vote. I see all this participation from normal people and am amazed. I have not seen this level of involvement in India during the elections. If there is one thing we can learn from the US, it's the involvement of people in society, in politics and in government which makes the lawmakers more responsible and accountable for their actions. Now, do not take me wrong. I love my country and I think there is no harm in adopting a few good practices from other places. It only enhances us. There is another thing I would desperately like to see changed. Tolerance towards diverse religions. This might be a perfect time to address tolerance in India. It seems like people's tolerance towards religions has only decreased in the last few years. A lot of well known bloggers have written about this topic and I am going to throw my 2 cents in soon!
Meanwhile, do let me know what effect this election mania is having on your life!