Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is your identity really that important

So someone asked me if my time in the US has changed me. The more I think about it, the more I realize how difficult it is to answer that question. Unless you live two different lives in two different places at the same time and then compare notes, you can never know how life has turned out different for you.

My viewpoint is that the 20's are the most important phase of your life. You start your 20's pretty much not knowing where your life is heading. As you graduate from college and then try to chart a career/life path, you end your 20's with pretty much a more concrete idea on what you want from life. Of course the most interesting people keep reseting their lives and live by this philosophy pretty much every decade, but for most of us this is pretty much true.

Since your viewpoints on most issues will be formed by your experiences during this time, that would mean that my outlook in life will be more conforming with American viewpoints as opposed to Indian viewpoints. Do I follow the Chicago Bears more than the Indian cricket team, maybe. Do I think, I can gel back into life in India - I really don't know. There is this lovely article in the New York Times about another person facing the same questions and Why he left India again. He has a pretty nice quote in there where he says that the first time he left India, he left for the US; the second time he left India, he left India. That's a journey I have to take as well and will probably answer the question of whether my stay in the US has changed me. I really hope that I don't leave India again, because if my identity is not being an Indian, then what exactly do I identify myself as?

Monday, October 24, 2011

Housekeeping

It's not often that your life resembles a movie, but yesterday mine did. I've been enjoying living in motels and inns for the past few months, with my room tidied up and the bed made up every day.

I've had the cold the last few days, so I decided to load up on nyquil saturday night. I guess I was pretty groggy on sunday when the maid came over and the scene from tommy boy played out. I've got to learn some spanish.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Somewhere only we know

I'm sure Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi would like to escape the public limelight for some time. Unfortunately their respective attacks on whistle blowers have only reinforced the viewpoints that Dr. Singh heads one of the most corrupt governments in recent times and Modi wants to cover up his role in genocide. It's sad that both of them are covered in the same post for after all Dr. Singh is still an honorable man.

Well I hope they get a chance to get away from it all and get a chance to retrospect their respective roles. Here's a song by Keane dedicated to them.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Big Brother is watching you

To the one person who reads my blog (yes mom I'm talking about you), you know by now my laptop got stolen and I had to purchase an additional one. I've been looking for something which might keep me protected incase something like this happens again.


I was browsing eversave.com and noticed that they have a promotion for trackitback.com where a 5 pack of tags are available for $20 (as opposed to $100). Considering each of my electronic equipment is worth much much more than what I'm spending on this tracking tag, this seemed like a great deal to me. Check it out at eversave.com and if you sign up today, they will credit you $3 just for joining bringing the cost down to $17.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Et tu brute

Historic blunders are always recognized in hindsight.

India's fairly short run as a democratic state has had a few of them. Jawaharlal Nehru's hindi-chini bhai bhai policy soon led to a Chinese invasion. On his death Lal Bahadur Shastri realized that the country needed a new path outlined in his first speech "There comes a time in the life of every nation when it stands at the cross-roads of history and must choose which way to go". His mysterious death (because the PMO still refuses to release the cause of death or if the government conducted an autopsy, in response to a RTI) at Tashkent, cut short any major changes. Gulzarilal Nanda followed him in a completely unremarkable Prime Ministership, acting mainly as a caretaker for Indira Gandhi to take over.

This week, Anna Hazare is set to resume his fast in support of a strong Jan Lokpal bill. The government has tried it's best to discredit Hazare and his associates, but the mood of the nation seems well with Hazare. Movies like Rang De Basanti have hit a nerve with the common people and it remains to be seen if they will take the streets with Anna Hazare.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has a quandry in front of him. Will he recognize that this is a crucial time in the history of the new India when it is at a crossroads. Will he continue with the status quo or be brave enough to choose the right way to go. If he still continues to oppose Hazare and the will of the people, the anointed one has every opportunity to stamp his authority in the congress party by opposing him. In the words of Brutus - Not that I loved caesar less, but Rome more. Singh has to debate on how history will judge him, as a modern day Shastri or just a stepping stone for the next Gandhi ala GulzariLal Nanda.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Giving up is hard to do - II

One of my most annoying possessions has unfortunately been a must have for a long time. Well not anymore, continuing on my path of giving up things, I'm now officially unreachable well at least unreachable through cell phone.

Some things are obviously much more easier to give up and since my cell phone had gone the way of the car alarm, this was pretty easy. Of course like no one cares if a tree makes a sound when it falls in the forest (unless you are in the path of the falling tree), since no one really calls me this won't be a huge difference to anyone.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Oh Great Spirit - talk to me

The Native Americans believe that the Great Spirit is in all things and if you are pure you can listen to him in the winds.

A few days ago, my laptop was stolen from my room - a tragedy I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. I had a week to reflect on my new found loneliness and my future course of action. Then it struck me, what do people see when they visit their neighborhood Starbucks - quite a few people on their macs happily typing away. They seem joyous and blissfully unaware of the world, like they know a great big secret and now they are satisfied.

Why? Could they be the chosen people. The people to whom the great spirit reveals the fundamental truth of existence, of being one with everything else. It has to be, nothing else makes sense.

So an hour ago, I gave in to my temptation and became one of the numerous sheep who now own their very own Macbook Air. In fact I didn't even take the macbook back to my room, but my first stop was a local Starbucks. I've now unwrapped my Mac and am sitting waiting for the spirits to talk to me, but I feel nothing. Oh great spirits talk to me, tell me the secrets of life and more importantly tell me I'm not a sellout.

I feel nothing.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

This is heaven

With India having a terrible start to the Lord's test match, I decided to seek solace in new version of old jazz classics. Coming back to Madeleine Peyroux, I stumbled onto her take on the old Billie Holiday classic this is heaven.

Putting the old and the new side by side for your enjoyment



Sunday, July 10, 2011

Giving up is hard to do

I'm probably never going to be strong enough to follow Buddha's middle path of giving up all temptations. However on my last trip back to Chicago, I decided to try my own middle path of giving up most of my non important possessions.

Obviously some things were much easier to give up, and if it wasn't easy, then my trusty hacksaw did the rest. But it's funny how the most worthless trinket are the hardest things to throw away. I had no problem throwing all my music CD's and cutting up the computer table, but the TV that hasn't worked since 2003 is still standing. The Buddha obviously did not have to deal with these kind of issues.

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For people comfortable dealing with philosophical issues regarding the presence or more importantly the absence of god, you should watch this brilliant movie - The Ledge

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Death of a Qatari

The monsoon's have started in Mumbai bringing life to a parched city. In this time of life, we look back at the death of an Indian or more accurately Qatari national in London - M.F. Hussain.

I've been incredibly proud of India's tradition of inclusion. Unfortunately since the arrival of the Shiv Sena and the Thackeray's, Mumbai has become communally divided. After their desperate attempt to rewrite history books, try to shut down any scholarly thinking by attacking the historic Bhandarkar Institute in pune, constantly attacking all free press and movie theatres, they effectively exiled India's most prominent artist.

Unfortunately the so-called liberal elites stood disunited while the government which already has lost the moral authority to lead, stood in silence. In the end M.F. Hussain died in a foreign country, pining for his country of birth, as a Qatari national.

A lot of people dream of living again in the Satya Yuga, in the time of Dharma, but how can we when we have lost the moral right.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Is the road less traveled on worth it

I've been talking to a dear friend of mine on the need to keep challenging yourself and do things out of your comfort zone.

Last weekend I climbed to the abode of gods at Mount Olympus here in Salt Lake City. It was definitely one of the more strenuous hikes I've been on recently as it makes it way up to about 9000 feet.

Last night was my first desi party in SLC. I generally don't go to desi parties as its generally a sausage fest with way too many guys and girls in tight dresses trying to get the muffin top look in style. Ofcourse, I did see a girl who's unfortunately been on my mind since. It's funny how much ever you try to rationalize that your brain is projecting certain characteristics on someone you've never talked to, you can't shake off that feeling that she was perfect.

I know I've wanted to do things radically different, I definitely didn't want to change from being an anti-establishment type to a lovestruck teenager. So till I climb olympus again or do something similar, I'll let James Blunt do the talking for my miserable heart.

James Blunt - You're beautiful


Enough.

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Kramer and the car

After taking inspiration from Seinfeld's episode where kramer drives a car till the tank is almost empty, I decided to doing the same to make my trip back from Moab more interesting.

Ofcourse trying this in New York City is much different from doing it in central Utah. It's interesting to note how your reaction to the situation changes slowly.

It starts with excitement on a new adventure. You start of admiring the beauty of the stark nakedness of Utah and love the way the shrubs and the desert sand look against the mountains in the distance. You see a few cars, but no civilization at all.

Once the excitement wears off, the excitement turns into nervousness. You gaze more on the fuel indicator than on the road. You try to summon previously unbeknown powers of mental control and try to make sure the indicator does not tick lower. You shut off air conditioning, but can't roll down the windows in this hot desert air for fear of drag.

After still not seeing any signs of civilization, you give up. In the stage of reflection you look back at your life and wonder if the trip all the way from India to the US was worth it; if the end was in Utah. You speed up, not in hopes of fuel economy, but when the car stops you will roll that much longer. You will of course be pleased that when future archaeologists are working with dinosaurs they'll be completely surprised on finding remains of an Indian amongst them. Of course by then evolution will no longer be a theory, so survival of the fittest will easily explain why he didn't survive.

Subway! Subway and Philips-Conoco! I've never been so excited to see you. Price, Utah, I've no idea what you are doing in the middle of nowhere, but you are priceless!!

Full tank and full stomach, mind and body rested. Lets see how far I go this time!!

moab

IMG_20110430_151750 by kulkano


After being stuck indoors in Salt Lake City for a few days, I decided to take a day trip down, last weekend, to Moab, Utah. Moab was spectacular. It was busy and such a pleasant surprise seeing all the people on the streets after the relative emptiness of SLC. The hikes were great and its definitely a place where I'll be back again soon.


IMG_20110430_152013

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

That's money, honey

I've been trying to figure out why I haven't turned out to be a world class athlete yet. After a bit of analysis, the only reasonable conclusion that I could come up with is - sea-level.

See I've lived my life in two sea level cities, Mumbai and Chicago, the lack of rarified mountain air must be the reason for my lack of athletic ability. So now that I'm in Salt Lake City, I have to make up for lost time.

Now you must be wondering that sea level can't just be the only reason and I thought about it as well. Using shoes to run might also be a contributing factor. The Tarahumara Indians (no not from India but from Mexico) are famous for their long distance barefoot running, so maybe I should try that as well.




To ease my transition to barefoot running, I decided to purchase Five Finger's vibram soles.

Now that I have everything planned out, I started for my first run from my base at the base of Wasatch mountain. A few minutes into the run, I'm completely out of breath and the blisters on my foot are getting increasingly painful.



Well my order of two large pizzas must be going cold, so I guess I can wait a few days and try again.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Is reasonableness too much to expect

I've had my views on the gujrat riots, but there seems to be a disquieting trend to silence differing opinions. It recently happened with Anna Hazare who praised development work in Bihar and Gujrat and with Maulana Ghulam Mohammad Vastanvi of Darul Uloom.

The Maulana will probably resign sooner or later, but unfortunately both of them have had to resort to immediate clarification of their intent and statements. Now neither of them have praised Mr. Modi personally or given him a clean chit for his role in the gujrat riots, but it seems that they are now being forced to distance themselves from a position that neither of them took.

Ofcourse its not always the left silencing praise of the right. Mr. Modi's gujrat has gone ahead and banned Joseph Lelyveld's book 'Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India' for its perceived biases.

Different opinions might exist which are completely unrelated to touchy subjects, but is reasonableness of reaction too much to expect from our current 'civil' society...

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Howz that?

Like the millions of Indians worldwide, I did my share of supporting Team India in their wins against the Australians and the Pakistanis. The Indians are in the final of the World Cup and I'm tired. If I feel tired doing nothing, can't even imagine how the players must be feeling.

Other than the dreadful fear of one terrorist strike removing the leadership of both India and Pakistan, the game was amazingly event-free. Sachin Tendulkar, played his part in both the quarterfinal and the semis.

I came across this article by Wright Thompson, which epitomizes Sachin as a player and a person

His agent told me he's aware of what he means to people, of the symbolic importance of being both the beginning and end of something. He is a bridge, and it is vital to the psyche of a nation that he remains intact. He gets it. That's why he never loses focus.

I need to take some time off to recover from the pakistan game, but I would encourage you to read why you should care about cricket

Update: India won the cup !! Now you really should care about cricket.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Two to an apple

I spent the weekend in the Big Apple and realized that it's been almost a year since I last talked about the other Apple. Well it is rumored that her new album is coming out in spring, so in anticipation here's another fiona track