General ramblings

Sharing the Finest

What happens when a Pakistani blogger says “Mumbai Attacks…Pakistan? I don’t think so!”

About 600+ people descend on his blog to beat him up virtually. Read here.

Here’s the choicest comment:

Who said Pakistan is not involved in Mumbai attacks? Pakistan role is there in every terrorists attack happend in this world. All Pakistanis are terrorists. If i had a given the chance, I Would prefer to bomd the entire pak. No more pakistan in the world. It’s gone. Even Obama wants to hit the pak, because it is epic center for all terrorist activities. What kind of idiots u r? behaving like sadists. No goal nothing. Killing the innocents is the great thing. There is something fundamental wrong in the Islam. U need to correct it.

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General ramblings

Three Men

(Picture symbolizes hope and funnily, shows Liberty Island- which was the Port of Entry for most immigrants to the United States. What I’m facing is something to do with immigration too)

I’ve been going through a difficult period in my life. Lots going on and nothing is in my hands. I can only play the wait and watch game. The worst part is, this might affect my career. I know that this is not the end of my life and even if things don’t go my way, life will go on and I’ll find something else to do. I’ve been in a melodramatic mood since the past couple of days, hardly sleeping, hardly eating, rejecting invitations by friends to go out for a drink. You get the scene.

Then I saw three different people last evening, who seemed to be facing greater troubles compared to me. I was waiting in the parking lot of my company, in my car, waiting for my friend to join me. A man on a wheelchair rolled out. I’ve seen this man before. He opened the door of his car, threw his suitcase in the backseat. Next, he glided on to the driver’s seat, dismantled his wheelchair and threw that on to the backseat too. He lifted both his legs, one by one and literally kept them in the car, as if they were dead objects. Which I suppose they were. Semi-dead. And he drove on. As if that was the most natural thing to do. Then I looked at these women walking around in high heels. Did they know how fortunate they were? Their legs could also bear the burden of those high heels!

I was driving back home and on my way, stopped at a gas station to get some soda and chocolates. That’s when I saw the second man- he was bending over a crutch and trying to cross the small lane. In the process, he was holding up a couple of cars behind him. It’s weird that the car closest to him went on advancing at a slow speed instead of stopping completely, and waiting for the man to fnish crossing the street. The man felt so guilty/awkward/uncomfortable because he was making these cars wait. I felt really bad that these SOBs were making him feel so.

Anyway, I drove on and ended up going to a full fledged grocery store next, because I needed to buy some alcohol. The third man was a Salvation Army man, standing outside the grocery store, ringing a bill in this bitter cold. Small donations are what he was looking for. I bought the alcohol and was walking out of the store, when I saw him sitting on a bench inside the store, coughing profusely. The cold weather and the wind was obviously too much for him to take. After he felt sufficiently warmed up, he resumed his duty of ringing the bell. I can’t even begin to tell you how upset this made me. I donated some $$$ and got back to my car in an even more sullen mood.

Were these three gentlemen trying to teach me something? I think so. People have greater miseries in this world and here I am, wallowing over mine. Yet, I can’t help it. My misery is my own and I can’t seem to find a solution. I wish I could leave all of this, stop being so materialistic and put my life to good use- take care of old people, poor people, people truly in need and stop trying to be “efficient” (yeah…the cliched stuff).

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Blog Closed

I’m off blogging for a month or so. Too much work and other stuff going on! I’m not being able to read anyone’s posts or write comments. Please don’t mind! I’ll probably be back next month. I’ll try to read your blogs, but will probably not be regular. 🙂

Miss you wonderful people!

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Gifts

It’s funny how people forget to inform their friends that they are getting married, or how they feel that an electronic, scanned version of the wedding card, distributed through e-mail, Orkut or Facebook is enough. This is quite uncharacteristic of Indians, who take great pride in throwing lavish weddings, inviting thousands of people, preparing a ten course meal and wearing every possible Gold/Diamond jewelery that they possess. Times have surely changed. Unfortunately, I’m of that ‘age’ when all my friends are getting married or in the process of tying the knot. Sometimes I wonder if mass e-mailing electronic wedding cards suffices the purpose? Where is the personal touch? Perhaps I’m asking for too much.

I have this friend back home, who is very dear to me. She’s been a friend to me when I was facing great difficulties. After I shifted here, we e-mailed each other religiously for a couple of months. Then the number of mails that were exchanged started reducing. Finally, we realized that we don’t have much to talk about, except for the weather and some old memories. She is not the types who makes international calls nor is she the types who uses the internet much. Quite surprising, I know. So, it was mostly me who would try to communicate in some way or the other.

She got in touch with me a couple of days back (through a social networking site, of course), informing me that she’d gotten engaged a couple of months back and that she’s finally getting married by the end of this year. I was genuinely happy for her and gave her a call to congratulate her. We spoke for around 15 minutes. During the entire conversation, she appeared distracted, was busy changing her clothes, spoke in a monologue informing me about the guy and the marriage plans, forgot to ask me what I’ve been up to all these months, and then hurriedly informed me that someone’s at the door and she needs to get going. She asked me to call her back the next day to talk some more.

After a couple of hours, she emailed me a list of the things that she wants for her wedding. It doesn’t matter that she asked me to buy loads of stuff- I would have bought her something nice either way. What distresses me is the fact that she didn’t even ask me once how I am doing. The e-mail only contained a list of the things that she wanted me to mail her. Nothing else.

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Another Tag!

Nova has tagged me to do this meme and I think I’m the first person to respond to it, even though she didn’t expect me to 😉 Let me add Suda’s name too. He’s also tagged me for the same meme!

1. Last movie you saw in a theater?

Errmm…do I need to answer this one? I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s Tashan. But in my defense, I walked out of the theater during the interval.

2. What book are you reading?

Age of Iron by JM Coetzee. Also reading the CFAI Text books- thanks to my exam in the first week of June.

3. Favorite board game?

I like Monopoly, Pictionary and Scrabble. Haven’t played Monopoly and Pictionary since a long long time. Last played Scrabble on New Year’s Eve.

4. Favorite magazine?

Business Week and Fortune Magazine.

5. Favorite smells?

Elizabeth Arden’s Splendor, Davidoff’s Echo and Hugo Boss’s Deep Red.

6. Favorite sounds?

My heart beating. I don’t know how it will feel when I’ll realize that it’s going to leave me. I also like the background noise of the AC fan whirring.

7. Worst feeling in the world?

When you know that things have changed for the worse, even though you don’t want them do.

8. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?

My inbox 😀

9. Favorite fast food place?

Taco Bell and Jack in the Box.

10. Future child’s name?

Babloo and Pinky! As if! Dumb question.

11. Finish this statement. “If I had lot of money I’d….?

Donate some to some charities, take some long vacations, buy big houses…have lots of dogs…and lie at home all day, reading books and watching movies.

12. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?

I want to type something else here, but I’ll refrain myself. Don’t want to be labeled as a pervert. For the record, I don’t sleep with stuffed animals.

13. Storms – cool or scary?

Cool if it’s at night and I’m sleeping. Scary if I’m wide awake.

14. Favorite drink?

Banana shake and Orange Juice.

15. Finish this statement, “If I had the time I would….”?

Actually, I have time for everything I like doing. We’ll live only once…why not spend time doing things you enjoy doing? So I don’t believe in “If I had the time I would…” Make time if you don’t have any time.

16. Do you eat the stems on broccoli?
Oh yes! I love Broccoli. 🙂

17. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?

I wouldn’t dye my hair again. I have abused them enough. Thankfully, they’re still very soft and healthy. I had some brownish and dirty blonde streaks when I was in college.

18. Name all the different cities/towns you’ve lived in?

Quite a boring list actually- Calcutta, Pune, Bombay, Bangalore, Springfield, MO and currently, St. Louis, MO.

19. Favorite sports to watch?

I hardly watch TV.

20. One nice thing about the person who sent this to you?

Nova-She sees pretty things through her eyes!

Suda- He’s a very soft spoken and jovial fellow. Besides, I’m his favorite blogger. 😉 So he can’t be bad at all.

21. What’s under your bed?

Nothing! I don’t have a bed now. Still in the process of buying a mattress. I don’t enjoy shopping for such stuff. So I don’t make any time for it.

22. Would you like to be born as yourself again?
Sure…why not? I’m very smart and intelligent. Heh.

23. Morning person, or night owl?
Night owl. But I’ll have to change that in the next couple of days.

24. Over easy, or sunny side up?

Both…depends really. I’m a very serious and cranky type of person. 😛

25. Favorite place to relax?
The restroom.

26. Favorite pie?
I hate pies. But if I were to pick one, then it would have to be banana pie.

27. Favorite ice cream flavor?
Banana Split from Cold Stone or Baskin Robbins.

28. Of all the people you tagged this to, who’s most likely to respond first?

I don’t know…really. Maybe Ashish? Maybe Dinsan?

Okay, let me tag- Amit, Anand, Ashish, Balu, Dinsan, and Shefaly. Any one who wants to take it up is free to do it too! 🙂

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General ramblings

Review: Unaccustomed Earth

One of the most impressive things about this book is this opening quote that is being flashed all over the internet-

Human nature will not flourish, any more than a

potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long

a series of generations, in the same worn out soil.

My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far

as their fortunes may be within my control, shall

strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.

-Nathaniel Hawthorne

“The Custom House”

Other than that, I didn’t see too many positives. Part I of the book has five stories, out of which Hell-Heaven had already been published in The New Yorker. Part II of the book has three short stories, based on the two characters, Hema and Kaushik. The first story from this part, titled Once in a Lifetime, was originally published in The New Yorker too; Jhumpa Lahiri decided to expand on it and that is how we get the other two stories.

I was expecting quite a bit from this book, considering the fact that it’s a collection of short stories. Having previously liked The Interpreter of Maladies, and having not liked The Namesake that much, I felt that this book might just be the literary piece that can seal the fact that Lahiri is a good writer, at least as far as short stories are concerned. I don’t see that happening though. I understand that writers tend to write about people, places and surroundings that they are familiar with. But there are many others who don’t stick to the familiar path. Lahiri seems to have beaten the topic of elite, Bengali Indian American immigrants to death. I can almost predict what her next character will be like- He/she will be a resident in the Cambridge/Massachusetts area, will only attend MIT/Harvard/Stanford, will marry a girl/boy of his parents’ choice in Kolkata and bring her here, go on to get a PhD and then a nice German car. The second generation will soon follow and the Indian immigrant will try his best to get his child into another Ivy a.ka. Envy League. The kid will be the talk of the town if he fails to get into an MIT/Harvard/Stanford. Oh, and the child will almost always marry a non-Indian and then feel awkward around his parents. Throw in some philandering, some desi eccentricities, garam masala and some memories of India and you have a Lahiri novel!

The only stories that I truly enjoyed were Unaccustomed Earth (from Part I), Once in a Lifetime (Part II- Story One) and Year’s End (Part II- Story Two). So, yes, 3/8 is not that bad.

I don’t want to write about every story in detail because it doesn’t make sense to do so. If you want to read about every short story, then take a look at NY Time’s review, which is quite detailed. Or read the book instead.

If Lahiri wants to write another novel, then I think that she might have to get over her comfort zone and pen down something new, something that we already don’t know about.

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Random Act of Kindness

I just got gifted $30 by POBox42111 and I hardly know him! In fact, he commented for the first time in my post, Desi Connection, only a week ago. I’m quite surprised and pleased/shocked at the same time. I guess it doesn’t take too much to make someone happy.

That’s a sum total of two random acts of kindness that I came across this year- First, the lady who helped me after my car accident on the freeway and second, POBox42111. I’m amazed how some people like POBox are so big hearted. I know that money is not a big thing, but still, it never occurred to me that it takes so little/much to make someone smile. 🙂 I have a lot to learn.

My mom asked me- What’s his name?

Me: POBox42111

Mom: You mean you don’t know his name?

Me: No!

Dear POBox, I’m sure you are reading this post. I owe you one and I hope you will let me do something for you if you come to this side of the country. I have no doubt that you are not like other desis that I come across here ever so often. 😉 Anyone who tips $7 for a $13 haircut cannot be bad! I’m not going to give you a gift in return because that would mean that I’m trying to settle accounts here. I will hope that sometime, in the future, I’ll be able to put a smile on your face too. I really appreciate your generosity and I’m very bad with words; so this does seem like an awkward post.

Ish, this time, I had an OMGWTF moment. 😀

I’ve used $15 to get myself a personal domain. Still have $15 which I don’t need.

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Bachchan’s Secret Hideout

Bollywood seems to have finally realized the power of internet, blogging and the direction medium for interacting with fans. After Aamir Khan, it’s Amitabh Bachchan’s turn. While Aamir keeps using his Texan-stylized “y’all” in every single post, it is nothing compared to Amitabh’s first blog entry. Don’t believe me?

Read this:

this is my blog..welcome to it and hope we have a pleasant time reacting with each other.

i shall start with a few views on my upcoming film ‘Bhoothnath’.. hope you will give your comments.

Quote unquote. UP ke bhaiyya ko mera salaam! (Translation: I salute the brother from UP 😐 ). Don’t blame me for my poor English. After all, I’m not a writer/poet. I hope we have a pleasant time reacting with each other in the comments section of this less-blogworthy post. 😉 This is my blog and you are always welcome to it, even though I am no Amitabh Bachchan.

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Desi Connection

I’ve realized that majority of the Indians are the same everywhere, be it India or the US. In fact, US brings out the worst in Indians. My first experience with an Indian couple, in fact, was on the very first day I came to the US. It so happened that I was getting late for my connecting flight and being new to this country (just stepped out from the plane that brought me to the US from India) and the system, I was in need of some desperate help. I made the mistake of talking to the Indian couple behind me. This is how the conversation went:

Me: (Really worried and tensed) Hi! I have a connecting flight in less than 30 minutes and this waiting line for the security clearance is very long. Do you have any idea what I should do?

The husband (typical Indian) replied: No.

Yes, that’s it. That’s all that he told me and that too in a very rude tone. His condescending tone was too much for me to take. I really got pissed off. Spoke to an American Airlines employee and then got ahead in the line and managed to catch the connecting flight.

Lesson Learned: Ignore all Indians in the US henceforth. Don’t even look in their direction.

I guess almost all the Indians who come here have similar experiences with other fellow Indians. The end result is that we prefer to stare at our shoes instead of looking at an Indian’s face. Even if you come across a desi by mistake, you need to act as if you didn’t see him/her. And never ever smile or say “Hi!”. Greetings are reserved only for Americans here. You can continue to be your usual rude self in front of other desis. And you have the full freedom of being a kanjoos too. Tip a little less in Indian restaurants. Who cares what other desis think? Correct?

What made me write such a sarcastic post? That’s incident no. 2! I was going through some classifieds because I really need to buy some household items. A desi was selling a very nice vacuum cleaner for a good price. So, I called her up and ask her for a picture and some specifications. She took roughly 50 minutes to email me a picture- something that should have taken only 15 minutes, at the max. I can hear you saying that maybe she couldn’t find her digital camera or maybe she is not very comfortable with the camera! Okay, her being late can be discounted. What happened next can’t be discounted! I called her back and told her that I’ll be there at her place in an hour to pick up the vacuum cleaner and that I’ll pay her in cash.

I got ready and was about to sit in the car when my cell phone rang. Usually, I don’t answer my cell phone, unless it’s a professional call. Thank God I answered it. This is how the conversation went:

She: Hi! My name is XYZ and you spoke to me sometime back regarding the vacuum cleaner.

Me: Of course, I remember. How are you?

She: Fine, thank you. I just wanted to let you know that the vacuum cleaner has been sold.

Me: Sold? Yes, to me right? In fact, I’ll be there at your place in 15-20 mins. I’m about to leave.

She: No no…I mean…someone else came now and they liked the vacuum cleaner and took it.

Me: Took it? What do you mean took it? I thought I told you that I’ll be there at your place in an hour’s time?

She: I thought that you’re not too sure…so I gave it to them.

Me: (Temper rising)- That’s very unfair of you. I was just about to leave for your place. You could have at least called me up once before giving it to someone else.

She: I’m sorry…I really thought that you don’t want it.

Me: Don’t want it? Then why would I tell you that I’ll be coming to get it? I don’t have all the time in the world to do window shopping at your place.

She: I’m sorry…

Me: Thanks a lot. No problem.

(Literally slammed the cell phone).

Lesson learned: Nothing ever changes Indians. They are all the same. Just put them in charge of the US and see what’ll happen to the professionalism level and the corporate structure of this country.

Maybe I’m being very general in my observation, but that’s me. Dealing with a desi here makes me feel as if I’m back in India. It’s only when I enter an Indian restaurant and eat a really horrible plate of pav bhaji for $5.99 that I realize that maybe…I’m not in India. The Indian food here just doesn’t taste the same. It tastes too “home made”. Instead of pav bhaji buns, I was given hot dog buns. WTF?! If only the Indian food level here would improve…

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Dear J.K Rowling

Dear Ms. Rowling,

You, as well as my other blog readers know that I would be writing this blog post, after reading about your recent lawsuit against the guy who runs the HP Lexicon. As much as I admire you, I think my confidence in your PR skills is waning. I already know about your mediocre writing skills, yet I’m guilty of spending quite a lot of money buying hardback copies of your Harry Potter series. If that were not enough, I’m even ready to buy The Tales of Beedle the Bard, if a cheap copy’s ever published for poor people like me. But the way you keep suing people left, right and center really makes me wonder if you’ve fired your PR manager. Why would you want to do this? Are you so jobless? I guess not. You are writing another book, right? So, why not concentrate on that?

Okay! I get your point- you wanted to publish a Harry Potter lexicon! This guy, Steve Vander Ark, is/was an ardent fan of your books. He almost runs that non-profit website HP Lexicon, that even I’ve found to be very useful in discovering hidden meanings and relations between the characters and events. From what I gather, the printed copy of the lexicon, which will be sold for $24.95 is as good as a printed form of the website! When you don’t have any objections against the electronic form of the Lexicon, then why do you have a problem with the book that will be sold? The ideas are yours, the characters are yours and the story is yours. But this is definitely not the first time that an independent publisher, such as RDR books, is releasing a “guide” on a popular novel/book. From what I can understand, the Lexicon is nothing but a compilation of lots of interesting information that we often miss as casual readers. Why make such a big deal about a book that’s mostly based upon the website information anyway?

And the funniest of all is the fact you are testifying against a man, who runs a website, whose presence you have previously acknowledged on your official website. This is the same website which you have admitted to have used a couple of times yourself, to quickly “check some facts”. Now, all of a sudden, the Lexicon becomes of poor quality? Wah!

Have you become that greedy? Aren’t you already the richest woman in UK, only next to the Queen? Would a couple of several million pounds make such a big difference to the supposed donations that you were going to make? You were only planning to write it since 1998. There is no book! So, there is no case!

You are basing your case on the argument that you wanted to write a Lexicon and since the characters are fictitious, nobody will understand the background better than you! All right. I understand that. But who says that there can only be one Lexicon? You can publish yours too. People will buy that too, I’m sure. If the quality of this Lexicon is mediocre, then it shouldn’t bother you anyway! Just because someone is publishing a guide sort of thing based on your characters, I don’t see how exactly your lawsuit is justifiable.

I haven’t forgotten about the lawsuit against some poor Durga Puja organizers in Calcutta. Anybody who lives/has lived in Calcutta can tell you that with the amount of money that these Puja societies can spend, the Hogwarts Caste-styled Puja pandal wouldn’t have been even 20% as grand as the Castle shown in the movies. So, why bother? What will you get out of an injunction, except for the wrath of lots of fans (including me) and probably some paltry monetary damage, which you can do without?

Think about all the books that you’ve sold thanks to the amazing marketing and media attention that they’ve received. Why do you choose to fall downhill in this manner? MTV published a good article enumerating several amazing points that highlight the loophole in this case. Having more knowledge of law compared to an average person, I have reason to believe that they are quite correct.

While the entire world waits to see what happens to this case, I hope continue to squirm in your seat and find it difficult to get your “creativity juices” to flow. I, for one, won’t bother buying another book of yours. Like the defense lawyer mentioned in the hearing-“Ms. Rowling is trying to exert a bit of the dark arts” here.

Sincerely,

An ex-Harry Potter fan.

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