Sunday, January 31, 2016

Could this be true?

This was a forward in one of the WhatsApp groups in active in. I can't help but wonder if it isn't true..

Sail to India

Something that packs a punch in a tiny package. I was actually fooled by the size of the game and thought it wouldn't be too difficult or strategic.

The objective is to collect the maximum victory points while discovering new destinations, collecting goods and acquiring skills or buildings. While you need wealth for a few things, it's not always what will help you. You have to balance getting wealth with collecting victory points and also grab skills before other players take advantage of them.

The rules are a little difficult to follow if you try to read it and then play. It becomes much easier to play and figure out. It's a game meant for 3-4 players, and it is addictive enough to keep you playing for hours even if the end is in sight. We had a pretty long game partly due to a few breaks we were forced to take, but largely because we didn't want it to end!

We enjoyed it despite the length. None of us had played before and that definitely added to the fun.

A great one. Definitely meant for people who want to try out different strategies.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hey, that's my fish

This is a very quick one and a great game to start a game day with. It sets the mood, gets people interested, is very easy to learn and can still involve some strategy.

The idea behind the game is to collect as much fish as possible before the ice melts and someone takes the fishes away. There are tiles with one, two and three fishes respectively. You start on a one tiled one and then move around in straight lines in any direction collecting fishes in the tiles you stand in.

The catch - you can get cut off if you're not careful. Getting cut off in an island with a lot of fish is a great advantage, but if your opponents also have the same plan, it's a race to finish.

A game I'm glad we got as I look forward to a lot of gaming days.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The uphill battle

I am reading an amazing book called my gita by Devdutt Pattnaik. 

One of the lines goes, "The wise can spot action in inaction and inaction in action".

It stuck a chord with me as I've been going through an uphill battle in resisting the temptation to eat chocolate covered raisins. I love raisins and I love chocolates. But both ain't good for me. The combination of the two is a definite no-no. Here I was sitting and munching on it directly and in stealth mode as I was not able to resist it at all.

In my action of eating, there is the inaction of ignoring my health. Today, I managed to stay away till now and in the inaction there is action as far as I'm concerned. Maybe my world view is skewed by how I define action and in that I'll have to be careful.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Maturity

Sometimes, does it simply boil down to doing the right thing, no matter how irritated you are?

Lets say A told you that B has been abusing you constantly in a public forum. Do you abuse B or do you actually go talk to B and ask him what his problem is? Or do you do neither and just forget about it until B faces you?

If something bad happens to B and you actually feel sorry for the guy, does that basically mean that you have learnt to grow beyond things in a certain way? Is that maturity?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tolerance

I like to think that I live among educated, sophisticated people. Rather, that was my delusion when we bought our own house and moved into a gated community. Over a period of time, I have gotten to understand that a degree and a ways to earn an income does not necessarily mean education or awareness and it definitely does not dictate sophistication and tolerance.

There is this small area where we let the dogs run. It is enclosed and there is a lesser chance of them chasing someone. However, there is this one gentleman with two kids who keeps hounding us every time we let our doggies play there. He is convinced that we use the area to make them poop and keeps coming to check in on us. This is funny because no sensible dog usually poops in the area it plays. This educated individual, does not get that.

Today, he was trying to show us the breadth of his vocabulary and called all pet owners M#%^&$ f&*(^%. I am surprised. I just dont get it. Why is there so much of intolerance? Why do we think that because we have reached a certain station in life, we can put people down? If something as simple as having a dog can lead to discrimination, then what else is out there that i have no idea about? The thought scares me.

Conversations

In the last two weeks, i have met some of the most interesting people through one medium. Much to my surprise, it was actually Uber. Unlike in India, in the US, most of the Uber drivers are part time. Their full time jobs are very diverse - I was picked up by a security analyst, a naval officer, an ecommerce entrepreneur, a retired teacher etc.

Everybody had driven other Indians around and had quite a few questions about the country. One person who was full time in fact took my inputs to plan a trip here.

I think I have a certain luck. Irrespective of the country, I end up having a very enlightening conversation with people from different walks of life. Perhaps it is because I am open to it, perhaps it is because I love to talk to a variety of people irrespective of their background. I know not.

These conversations often open a whole new world to me. I met this young boy while waiting for a train. He told me that his parents in Mexico had not been ready to support his lifestyle and hence he came to the US to drive  a car. He is planning to grow marijuana with his brother. Now, I don't know if it is legal. But in the few minutes, I was talking to him, I thought he was a nice human being. All of us have so many aspirations.

Some come true, some do not. But once we recognize that at the end of the day, we are all the same because we imagine and that inspires us, life becomes much simpler.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What it boils down to

I read a book called "The Bette Davis club". It's about a lady who goes chasing after her niece who has run away from her wedding. Margo is desperately in need of money and her step sister's offer entices her to go on a cross country road trip to locate the run away bride. The only catch, she has to travel with the jilted groom.

Margo and Tully have interesting adventures. But to me, this book was more about what it all ultimately boils down to. It reiterates one of my favorite messages - At the end of the day, every damn thing is connected in a way we never imagined possible.

I reconnected with a friend after ages. If my trip hadn't happened when it had, if she hadn't been available like she was, if one of us had chickened out, I'd have never had a chance to talk to her and get to know a few things which have been rankling me for a while. It was a strange coincidence that I was reading a book about a road trip and enlightenment when the same thing happened to me. Life is strange.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A slice of a snowy heaven

Today, I saw snow for the first time in my life. I visited lake Tahoe which looks like a piece of snowy pristine heaven. It was really beautiful, peaceful and calm.

I took skiing lessons and skied down a slope (for a small distance) and built a snow man. More than anything else, I reconnected with a friend I'd not seen in 5 years. Overall a very great day.

Soon, I'll write about my whole skiing experience. But for now, I'll bask in the glory of a job well done and evaluate whether I should do one thing I'm scared of every once in a while.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Pandemic

After forbidden island, I really fell in love with cooperative gaming. Last night, I played pandemic with my friends.

It's quite similar to forbidden island but also a wee bit darker. (That's my imagination at play there)

The world is on the verge of an outbreak. You play on a map of the world and all the places are marked with different colors. You have to find a cure for each disease (represented by a color) and then eradicate it. Once a disease is eradicated, it never comes back.

However, eradication takes strategy and we have to work together and use our four actions. To make things difficult, we have epidemic cards that can really shift the balance and reinfect places you just cleaned. Definitely interesting if not for how dark it was.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Serendipity

Years ago, I watched this movie in college. I liked it as it had a happy ending. It's a typical romantic comedy with a twist - girl meets boy, likes him, but decides to not let it move forward unless fate intervenes and helps them.

I know that everything happens for a reason - however there the similarity between me and crazy Sara ends, as I cannot leave my life to fate.

It's not supposed to be a movie you over analyze - agreed. But i want to remember one of the last scenes where Jon reads his obituary. His friend writes, "Life is a tapestry of events that result in an exquisite blend".. I like that!!

Once in a while it's nice to sit back, not think and have fun watching something that just wouldn't make sense on a normal day.

Finally

Finally.. I got this game I've been itching to play. To say that I've been a fan of Pratchett is probably an understatement. I've loved his writing, worshipped his words, reread whole books and parts of it so often that I've lost count.

But I never thought of getting the game as firstly it wasn't available in India and secondly it was expensive.. Now that gaming has become a hobby in a way and I'm in the US and the game was discounted, we got the game from awesome amazon. I can't wait to play!!

Reminders

One of the things with working for an international organization is that folks you work with know your name, but not your face. So when you are actually in a face to face meeting as one of the participants, you don't recognize them and by the time you do, they don't always recognize you and you have to remind them.

These reminders are not always easy especially when the folks are senior, but I feel that in general this is a great lesson in humility and patience. I always mention my name and how we interacted and that usually helps. ( until the next time we meet in a few cases)

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The jog wag

Today, I was outside my service apartment when I saw a dog looking like Zoya (much larger version) come running towards me. I stopped to pet him. There were a few other people in the road, but some how he picked me. It was such a nice feeling and I did miss the jokers. I felt that they were trying to tell me Hi through their canine network.

I know this is perhaps an exaggeration. But I want to believe that there are so many such messages sent out in the world every day. We have to watch out for the ones meant for us and make peace with the ones we want but that never arrive.

Sticking to your guns

So.. When you are normally talking to someone.. They express a difference of opinion. What do you do?

1. You feel passionately about the subject and you argue, try to make that person see your point of view until they give up or you give up
2. You aren't that interested in arguing, you just accept the different opinion, call it perspective and move on
3. You don't express anything as you feel talking to a fool is a waste of time

Irrespective of which bucket you fall in, after the conversation is over, did your opinion truly change? Are you able to distinguish between situations that make you contemplate and those that remind you why you had the opinion you have in the first place? Are you sticking to your guns and holding them so tight that you're hurting yourself? Or are you sticking to your guns and protecting your personality? Opinions shape us every single day. Opinions on life, the universe and everything. Without it, we are not just boring, but also as good as dead.

Interesting question. I wasn't attempting to answer it anyway.

Absolutism

A friend told me today that I'm an absolutist. I make sweeping statements. I take a stand and stick to it. I know decisions are subjective, I know all of us come with biases. When the biases are common for everyone, then it becomes a generalisation. When it is not, it's called a bias.

Is there anything wrong with making an observation and sticking to it come what may? I think not..

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Being Indian

What does this truly mean?
Something you are by virtue of birth?
By virtue of lineage?
Or is it a tag given by virtue of living?
Is this tag aspirational?
Or is it inspirational?
Perhaps none of the above

Living miles from the country
many are more Indian
Than some occupying the land

I wonder when I watch
Some working hard to renounce the country
But still clinging to the tag
A few aspiring to be known by the tag
But nowhere near close to the land
Or the people..

Monday, January 11, 2016

Top contributor

I'm a top contributor in trip advisor now. I know that badges don't always mean much, but I'm so proud of this one. I'll have to sit and write a few more reviews. I can't wait to improve. I'll seriously work on sticking to my decision to write reviews where possible.

The dilemma

Yesterday, Zoya ate butter and raw rice from a location we thought was inaccessible to her. Sachin and mom had a tough time cleaning up. I'm still upset about it as I don't know how much she's risked her life. She's already sick and we've been unable to predict what she'll eat and from where. Her IQ is developing at a rapid phase and we're not able to cope.
From today, she's going to be left outside when we go for work. We usually don't do that as there are people who try to set them loose, but given her condition we don't really have a choice.
I hope she becomes better soon and that I don't feel bad about leaving her home and traveling.

Random questions

What matters?
What makes a few moments special?
What really motivates me?

How is it that things from yesterday
Are long forgotten whispers
But a few seconds from years ago
Send goosebumps all over my body?
Why do I bother when I know the futility?
And why do I give up when I know hope?

Life just refuses to pass me by..
I refuse to let it go too
As we continue to interact and change
I wonder
And I just don't get answers
That are deceptively simple

Lovely lemon tree

There's a song I've heard which goes, "lemon tree very pretty and the flowers smell so sweet but the fruit of the old lemon is impossible to eat.."

I saw this today morning in a friend's garden and was reminded of the song. I'm so hoping that the one I've planted grows up to look like this some day.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

How cool is this

I'm getting complimentary internet in the flight. So couldn't resist writing a post from an altitude of 38960ft. I've watched enough television shows in this trip and actually attempted to socialize with the person sitting next to me. Not bad at all.. :)

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Same story different actors

Maybe it's the vacation time..I saw a lot of families traveling with children today. The queue at the check in counter was also pretty long. Right behind me was a Tamil family with two kids. The mom was showing the kids the exact location they've to reach. Impatient as they were, they kept asking the question once in a minute.
At immigration, it was someone from the north who had settled in the US. I could see it from their accents. The same question again and at the same frequency.
Then at security, it was a European family with a slightly older kid. Same question with a very irritated tone at a lower frequency.
We may all live in different places, but our similarities are definitely way too obvious.

First step

One of my frequent rants is about relationships. Whether intentional or not, analysing them seems to have become a life goal.

Recently I decided to get back in touch with people I fell out of touch with. There is no dearth of friends now, still, sometimes not knowing what happened just because you were lazy seems to be a ridiculous excuse. Especially to those that in a way strengthened my attitude.

I'm traveling to the bay area after three years. There are a lot of people to meet and trouble.
The one in most curious about though is someone I've not stayed in touch with. Someone who I used to really believe and confide in during the crucial years of my life.

My life is different now and I'm sure it's the same case there as well. Would what brought us together in the first place when we were eager college students still be there? It's going to be an interesting thought experiment.

It's also the first step in my life long journey to consciously cherish relationships. I'm hoping it's positive.

The premium world

I'm traveling for work to the US and I am sitting in a lounge watching people. I thought I'd try existing without a smart phone as I don't have a sim in the US. But then the lounge emptied and I'm back to my phone.

While observing folks I realized that all were business travelers. At immigration and security, there were a lot of families. I wonder if there's a separate waiting area for them in lounges. I should ask around.

I love these comfortable seats. I've been really tensed the last couple of days due to one reason or the other.

All my apprehension about this trip is temporarily gone as I relax and slowly start looking forward to doing awesome work, meeting friends and making more. Just a few minutes alone can sometimes change your state of mind from regular to premium.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Mountains to Scale

A couple of years ago, I never thought I would be where I am today. I still keep aspiring for better things, but today being the day when thankfulness seems to be the key word, I was basking in the glory of the past.

Since I am travelling this weekend, I was out shopping for a few items and on the way back, we started discussing how our life will change if we take a few decisions. I am not sure if I am going to follow through with some of those ideas, but there are just a lot of mountains to scale and even if they are not all meant for me, packing a bag to explore should definitely be something to attempt. :)

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

The new hobby

As of yesterday, I started writing reviews about places I visited in trip advisor. I already put up 10 reviews of places, monuments, hotels etc and I cant seem to stop writing. It is a different story that the reviews arent that long - still I think I like this new hobby. I do see quite a few places almost each quarter but never really write about it. This is going to be hopefully slightly longer lasting than a few of my other passing hobbies. :)

Monday, January 04, 2016

Happy new year!

I wanted my first post to be about the new year. But I could not find a right topic to write about, so I had to wait for a few days for my first post. Today, I read a very interesting article which told me that rather than wonder about what I want to do, i should contemplate about what pain I am ok taking. I thought I would base my wishes on the basis of something we all try to avoid - pain.

Nothing in life comes free. There is always an opportunity cost and some kind of sacrifice to be made towards anything. If I have to walk my dogs twice a day, I need to wake up early, leave for work early and head back early, so I get time with them. If I want to play badminton/ps3 or any board game, I need to wake up earlier and cook in the morning, so my evening cooking time can be made available for play.

Now, giving up my morning sleep, that to me a few years ago was a big pain. Now, I really dont find it strange that I am up by 630 and aiming for 6. That is a pain, I am ready to endure.

For this new year, I want to wish everyone reading this blog that they are ready to open their arms and embrace pain in its different forms. I hope that you find what pain you want to take, what you don't and are willing to experiment to figure it out.

I hope that somewhere along way, some dreams come true, some disappear and some become more realistic.

Happy new year folks - it is a chance for new beginnings and I am sure it is going to be just amazing. There might not be enough clean slates, but even smudged  backgrounds can create different images. :)