My daughter Sahana participated in the Kutty Chutties Program on Sun TV last weekend.
Category Archives: life
Am an immigrant hear in The US for employment. So obviously I did not have the luxury of growing up here and shaping my views and thought process in line with most Americans. Of course when you come from a different culture you start noticing a lot of paradox in the culture you are trying to embrace.
One such is this notion of privacy here. The level of importance that is given to privacy in the US in just mind boggling. So much so if a Presidential nominee does not deal with the questions around privacy appropriately, it could break their primary candidacy in the elections… You may have noticed that recently in the republican primary debates… I remember seeing this movie ‘Enemy of the state’ starring Will Smith. The whole movie plot is around privacy.
Anyways, coming to the important point about the paradox… I find it incomprehensible as to how little people care for their privacy in the public toilets or toilets at work places. A typical workplace toilet looks like this one. Just look at the gap between the frame and door. A place where you are pretty much going to be pants and under pants down, a place for all practical purposes you could be displaying your private parts to the person walking in from the other side, it seems absolutely ok to people here. Read the rest of this entry
A question that haunted me for a very long time. Not many people have asked me why I am a vegetarian… but when someone does, I have had no better logical answer than saying, “Look am from a Brahmin community who are vegetarian… My dad, my mom, my grandparents, everyone are vegetarian so am a vegetarian too..”
Although I am finally going to conclude to the same reason, I really wanted some logical reasoning for being vegetarian… After all, what is the fun in just doing what we have been told to do and not choose to do something yourself… Right!
So I started asking myself some of the questions which are common myths about being vegetarian. In a sense I really confronted myself and my earlier beliefs.
Is it the ‘killing’?
This is the most popular cover that vegetarians have taken I guess. Atleast for me the answer is NO. I have to admit that when I was a kid, I have caught dragon flies and killed them, I have killed garden lizards, I have killed garden snakes.. Atleast for snakes there is a perceived fear but for the others there was nothing.. I still repent doing some of those…
Anyways, forget being a kid, even as an adult I have consciously killed thousands and thousands of mosquitos.. I would be stupid to generously watch the mosquito bite me and suck up my blood, make me itchy and leave me with malaria…Here I couldn’t even argue saying that ‘well it bites me so I hit back’, because I have killed several mosquitos which just sit out there quietly. I am just assuming that they are going to bite me or my family.. so I kill them…
So the killing or the blood are not the reasons for sure…
Is it the smell/taste (or perceived bad taste)??
Well if its sea food… absolutely… thats the reason… Man I can’t stand the smell of sea food… But… But… But… There are a lot of vegetables that while cooking could smell bad… Example, when cabbage or cauliflower boils, its not a great smell..
Taste couldn’t be the case either because I have not tasted meat to say that it tastes bad… Some people say that the soy chunks actually tastes like chicken.. I like Soy chunks… So technically I should like chicken taste… Plus, there are some vegetable who’s taste I don’t like either… So this reason is shot down too…
If the above two main potential factors are not the reasons, then what is the reason?
Here you go…
I have been reading Mahabaratha written by Sri Rajagopalachari (This is a must read book… Beautifully written). In that book, there are several sections which clearly shows that the Pandavas (Kshatriyas/Warriors) ate meat. This one story where Bhima actually eats all the meat and food before slaying Bahasura.
The other instance where Dharmaputra is confronted by some animals while they are living in the forest and request them to move on to another forest because these animals are fast depleting since the Pandavas have been living off them. So the pandavas realize they have to conserve the eco system in that forest and hence move on to another forest.. and so on…
But Brahmins on the other hand where primarily working as priest in temples or in the king’s palace as spiritual advisers, chanters, etc… By profession they are not expected to have the aggression.
….”I think that food makes you oversexual,” he goes on. “It makes you angry, it makes you aggressive — I can’t believe the difference in the person I am now compared to four years ago.”
I am not working in a coal mine or a steal plant or a oil rig or a soldier. My work is primarily on computers and involves thinking and nothing physical really. I get the strength I need by just eating vegetables… It just prevents me from getting the unnecessary aggression which comes by eating meat and my profession is not compatible to vent that aggression out.
SO THAT IS WHY AM VEGETARIAN…
PS: I am talking for myself… Not for anyone else in my family… 😉
Tyson Caricature taken from: http://sportsmockery.com/mike-tyson-it-tasted-like-shit/
I have often been dumb struck by some of the questions that my daughter asks me. What I heard from her a couple of days back was one of the best.
It was a slightly unusual morning… We woke up to some kind of commotion from the kitchen. Apparently, my mom had placed an apple by mistake on the kitchen counter top the previous night and it seemed like a rat had visited, eaten a portion of the apple. She was so upset about Rat at home (particularly in the kitchen) and was telling all of us about what happened… Basically just the usual reaction from anyone when they find Rat’s presence at home and all the usual reaction…
But a very unusual response came from my daughter after hearing my mom and seeing the half eaten apple. She said, “Paati (grandma)… Rat has a small mouth, imagine the difficulty it would have had in eating such a big piece like this…” She questioned my mom, “Why did you not cut them into pieces so that the Rat could have eaten it easily… Every time you ask me to eat apples you cut them into pieces… When you give me Chappathi (Indian Bread), you cut them into pieces…”
I was pleasantly surprised at this comment from my daughter. While all of us where worried about what else could have happened, should we clean some of the vessels on the counter top, how to prevent the rat from coming again, my daughter was actually concerned about the Rat and how to make its job easier while eating.
It is quite surprising how we all have grown up being so self-centered and sometimes have to be reminded by a child to be concerned for others.
I recently read an article in Times of India on the subject of ‘power of negative thinking’. It was partially a review of the book “Happiness for people who cant stand positive thinking” by Oliver Burkeman. The title of this book and article immediately got me hooked wanted to read further. It is certainly a topic that has been in my mind for a sometime now.
The most important point the article covered was how people in an effort to think positive fail to get prepared for the worst thing could happen. When we always think positively that we can achieve something and work towards that without recognizing the potential pitfalls, we tend to get easily disappointed when we face failure. With disappointment comes stress and sadness. So his point is that when we want to achieve something, start off by planning for the worst thing that could happen.
I certainly agree with the author that preparing for the worst is one aspect that positive thinking lacks. But I would like to suggest a mid-ground here… How about ‘Cautious thinking’??? or perhaps ‘Realistic thinking’??? I neither want to go all out saying that I want to achieve something without being cognizant of what could go wrong, nor do I want to think about all the potential things that could go wrong and tell myself that well if so many things could go wrong why even try it. The problem with negative thinking is just that – not many people have the ability to carry on with something despite knowing the list of things could go wrong…
You need to have positive thinking for setting your goals in life. What you set as goals are basically what you desire. But you need to know is that, you first have to ‘deserve to desire’. So you do everything you need to first deserve what you desire. And please be aware is to deserve is not a one shot affair. It is an iterative process and you may not deserve in your first attempt. Well who is going to tell you if you deserve something or not?? Answer is that it is none other than yourself…
Perhaps what positive thinking has done so far is that it has made a bunch of authors rich… 😉
So what do you think?? 🙂
Pictures – courtesy google.
Like many I wanted to own a property in a city where I grew up. I came back from the US with a lot of promise and aspiration to buy an apartment (Condominium) in Chennai, India – The place where I grew up and lived most part of my life… But it has been 6 months since I returned, the aspiration or dream has not come true.
Well there are several constraints such as location, size, layout, price (of course) that I have to play with to strike a balance make some compromises. If these were the only one, I would have been already living in my own apartment. But there is one constraint I did not think of and is outside of my ability to manage that still prevents me from buying a house – Deviation: Floor plan approval vs actual.
What is a deviation – There are several types of deviations in constructing a house. But in simple terms it is called ‘breaking the law’. The local government authority (in my case CMDA) stipulates guidelines on how a house/apartment needs to be constructed. If you see most of these rules are primarily for safety reasons – i.e. If a house catches fire it should not quickly spread to other houses, if there is an emergency people are able to exit easily and safely, if there is an emergency a rescue vehicle is able to reach the spot, etc…
Unfortunately almost all the builders do not comply with these guidelines. They believe these rules are not practical and cannot be followed. As a matter of fact, I booked an apartment with a leading builder. When we started verifying the papers, there was a difference of 147 sq feet between the CMDA approval and the salable area (Thanks to my wife for the good catch – If not for her thorough verification, I may have missed it). When enquired, they were candid and mentioned that deviation is very common and that I was the only person to make a big deal out of it. Well I did make a big deal out of it and got my money back.
One of the main reasons this is happening is because buyers ‘don’t care’. There is a lot of money out there in the hands of people and they just want to invest. There is absolute madness with respect to real estate in Chennai. There are a lot of issues with this attitude which I want to deal with in another blog. But the least I would expect people to do is to check if what they are buying is according to law.
It is a horrible and nauseating feeling that people care so much about Vasthu compliant houses but not approval compliant houses. You may even see builders advertising saying that their apartments are Vasthu compliant but there are very very very few who can claim that their house as approval compliant.
Well am not going to give up. I will continue to insist on CMDA approval compliant apartment/house. At worst what could happen?? I may not be able to buy a house, people may call me impractical. Atleast I know I did not break the law and that I was a good citizen who does not think that the rules are only for others and not for me.
“Do you want to want to eat this Pizza slice or should I give it to your sister???…” “You pestered me so much to get this chess board do you want to play with this or should I give it to your cousin???…” “Are you coming in or should I close the door??? ”
These are common questions that I have seen many parents or grandparents ask their children to make them do something… Most often than not, these questions result in our children doing what we wanted them to do… (Unless you chose the wrong provocative questionJ)
In other words, parents and grandparents manage their children by provocation to make them do something that we want them to do.
I think this method of managing kids is good and bad… One possible good thing about this method is that, it is a very good tactical solution that can be handy for us to make them do something immediately. The other benefit could be that the children will have a sense of fear that if they don’t follow the instructions, they might lose something they like…
But in the long run I think this may have a psychological impact on kids and also have a severe impact in shaping up their character.
In my view there are a few major problems with this provocation theory:
a) These negative statements or questions from us, instigate a sense of constant competition in their minds. For the kids, the only source of motivation of doing something seems to be imaginary completion and not the actual benefits.
b) Over a period kids learn that we don’t really mean what we say… That’s a very dangerous thing to happen I guess. The trust factor will slowly be lost between parents and kids…
c) The more parents get things done this way, the more they start pushing what they want the kids to do irrespective of whether that action is really needed or not.
I want to particularly focus on the last point above. Out of all the things that parents get done by provoking the kids, how many of those are really needed to be done immediately? May be all of them are or may be only some of them are… I am not being judgmental here because I have to admit that I myself use some of those provocative questions.
Am just saying that we just have to give it a thought. Let us not use this technique on kids when it does not really warrant. Let us as much as possible tell them the benefit of them doing something rather than getting it done by provocation.
It has been almost 6 months since I have written a blog… So I was looking for a topic. It was like searching for ghee with butter in hand… This is school admission season so I could not think of a better topic..
Last few months have been an absolutely emotional roller coaster ride for all of us in the family. One of the reasons we came back to India for good was to put our daughter in a school. I have been both looking forward as well as fearing this phase of my life – Running around for my child’s school admission in India.
Believe me or not, we really did run around… Everything that one would fear about a child’s admission was there in front of us… Long lines, exorbitant application fees, horrible application issuance process, waiting for interview call, disappointment due to rejections, written test, personal interviews etc… etc… etc…
Our first step towards getting a school admission in Chennai was moving to RA Puram thinking that there are a lot of schools around this place and hence by chance or probability we should be able to secure an admission… Well obviously we were proved wrong. Some schools we applied but we did not get a call at all. Some schools we heard unofficially that they have brokers and can get admission for LKG for around Rs 75000 (Well you may know which schools am talking about… ;-))… One school, we got an interview card but the interview was atleast a couple of months later.
Finally we decided to expand our radius of school search and if need be we canshift our house. That paid off I should say. We looked for Schools in Adyar. We got interview calls from both Bharath Senior and Hindu Senior. There was a round of written test (Yes for KG, there is written test), recitation test, personal interview for parents and finally got admission in both. We finally chose to go with Hindu Senior… After a very long time, I had that sense of fear in me when I waiting for results… It was as if I have written an exam and waiting for results or as if I have attended an interview and waiting to hear back… I did have goose bumps when they called us saying Sahana has been selected and that we can pay the fees… It was an important phase of our parenthood and it was a great experience..
In the process I did feel that a couple of things need to change…
1) Parents Attitude:
- Including myself, I think there is this CBSE mania in everyone’s mind. I don’t have anything against CBSE syllabus but without doing some research on whether there is a big difference between Matriculation and CBSE and seeing how relevant are those differences for our kid, I think we should not run behind something blindly. I did the same mistake but realized it later on. Everyone was running behind CBSE so, I ran too…
- Willingness to get a particular school’s admission at any ‘cost’ is another problem. There is a mad rush for certain schools. For such schools parents are willing to pay a hefty some of money. We are still in a society which will take money as long as there are people willing to pay money. People talk about 75000, 100000 and more for just kinder garden admissions… It is simply unbelievable and unacceptable…
2) Application Process
Despite all the technology advancement in all walks of our life, majority of the schools still follow pre independence processes. Admission process is largely manual where you have to stand in Que outside the school for long hours (some people come and sleep on the platform from previous night), only two or three counters, horrible amount of time to collect cash and hand over applications, etc. There are very few schools in Chennai which issue application online. Obviously not everyone is going to have internet access but it will atleast reduce the number of people standing in Que. If the concern is about collecting money, then they can simply ask us to drop a DD for the application amount when the application is submitted via drop box. In an age where even government agencies/departments are automating and going online, to see that vast majority of schools still not going online is extremely disheartening.
3) Age Limit inconsistency for KG admission
All the schools that we got application for were all CBSE. But each school has their own cut of date for age for deciding whether the child can go for LKG or UKG. This simply beats me. If the schools are all governed by Central Board syllabus, and are governed by some government educational body how can each of them have their own cut of dates. Luckily in Hindu senior the cut of date was that a child should have turned 4 by July 31st to be eligible for UKG, so Sahana is going to UKG directly. But other schools such as Sanakara, PSBB, etc have June 30th as the cut off which makes her short of eligibility by 15 days. Hence has to start from LKG… Am not insisting that she has to go UKG or LKG, but there has to be consistency across all the schools.
Anyways, our daughter has started a journey which is likely to continue for atleast another 18 to 20 years. I think, we have done our best to give her a good start :-).
It has been 10 years since the 09/11 attacks, one of the black days in the modern history. When thousands of innocent lives were snatched away from them and their loved ones in a blink of an eye. When some cruel minded sitting somewhere in the caves thought that the way to show their anger against a country is by killing innocent people.
Well think about it for a second. There are so many such smaller 09/11s happened before and after the actual 09/11 around the world. Even recently in the Delhi Highcourt blast a few innocent people lost their lives, in the Mumbai attacks hundreds of people lost their lives… Be it a terrorist act in US, Bali, Somalia, India, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Russia, Japan, it has always been due to a cycle of war, war crimes, suppression, poverty, hunger, helplessness and all resulting in hatred. Some of those reasons are obvious, and some not so obvious to the public eyes… Some seemingly justified, some unjustified…. “He hit me, so I hit him back 10 times harder, so he hits back 100 times harder, so I hit back 1000 times harder and this never ends…” Sometimes each sides may have temporary victories but a bigger horror is soon to follow that they have to cope with.
Let us break this cycle of hatred… Everyday we have an opportunity to break this hatred cycle… there are so many kids born everyday who have no clue about what is hatred, who they should hate and why… 100 years from now, 99.999% of this world is going to be occupied by new people who dont live today and have not been a part of the dark history directly. Let this world take a sincere effort not to sow the seed of hatred in their minds… Instead give them a opportunity to live happily. Let us make a little contribution in someway or the other to make lives for others better too. .My friend’s dad is a doctor and does a lot of free medical camps to help the under privileged. He told me once and that inspired me a lot “Around each of us there is a small world and there are people in this small world. If each of us work towards just making the world around us a little better, the whole world should be a lot better”. When one has a better life for him/herself and have things to do, a good job to keep, a life to live, family to be taken care of, everything else becomes negligible.
My prayers are with all those families who lost their loved ones due to this dreadful disease call hatred.
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