Saturday, April 30, 2016

Conversations

It's funny how sometimes you have these wonderful conversations with people you hardly meet and feel so connected. How is it that you lose the ability to have it with those you see almost everyday? How and why do we lose that connection? Is it because we don't want to accept that you can be miles apart even if you are right next to each other? Or is it because we don't want to accept that what seems right is not always what feels right?

Friday, April 29, 2016

A simple thing

Firstly, I dont do cloud back up of my pictures as I am always scared of my account being hacked. Anyway, my awesome nexus 5 has a power button issue and is refusing to boot. So, I have started using my even more awesome 6p which I bought last week. (I am not a gadget fan, if it breaks, i replace)

The problem is, all my Yosemite pics are in my nexus 5. Thankfully my diary is safe, so I am happy, but I have lost all my moneterey bay and yosemite pics. I hope the phone magically starts working once I am back in India. If it does not, I am going to be one sad girl. My Nexus 4 was destroyed after one of my US trips in 2014 and I still haven't recovered the pics from that trip yet. :(

The land and its people

The land and its people,
the people and their land
they are one and the same
They always will be
One makes the other
One way or the other

Not all change is good
to the one causing it
The land always triumphs
for it creates, preserves and destroys
no matter how much it is held
or held further away

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Magnificence

From 2012, I've wanted to go to this place.

I finally got to go this time around and nothing prepared me for this beauty. It made me wonder how insignificant humans are in geological terms. We are almost like the flicker in the TV when it switches on, compared to a three hour movie we watch. Irritating but definitely forgettable. How are we living with all that we do to the world around us? I don't know.

Yosemite.. You own a piece of my heart.

What I see

We were in a beautiful part of the SFO called Crissy fields and the first thing I saw was a Labrador. He was running off leash, playing with the water, coming back and then going in again. There were so many other dogs around and they were all busy playing and having fun with the waves without fighting. This guy got my attention because he ran ask around the beach and was very friendly. Even without petting him, from just the way he circled me and ran back, he made me feel loved. He was so happy and in tune with the world around him.

I missed the two jokers then and wished that there was some way I could spend a lazy afternoon with them in a beach. Share my love for the waves with them. Sigh.

Labbie, wherever you are, thank you. For sometime, you reminded me that wherever I go, I'll always carry a piece of home with me and that all you need to have fun is an awesome attitude.

Youth

On Saturday, I walked around parts of SFO with my friends. We went to the palace of fine arts and saw what we thought were multiple weddings happening in the open ground. We were very surprised and wondered if there was some auspicious occasion or some funky date (given it was not India) that drove couples to tie the knot that day. A part of us was also excited to watch all the beautifully dressed people. They were just so lost in themselves.

We had to leave to go to another part of town and a good Samaritan offered to show us the way. I asked him what the occasion was for so many people to be at the palace and he said it was prom day. We were so surprised. Those were high school kids! They were so confident and self assured. They dressed so well and had professional photographers shooting their big day.

While a small part of me wanted to judge all this and call it materialism, another part was really glad to see the joy that only youth gives you.

What it takes

When I was a kid, all I wanted to do was excel in school. I loved studying. I'd rather study than go out and play. I always saw the results of the hard work immediately. I either stood first or second in class (third in a few depressing occasions).
After I went to college, I changed. Or thought I did. I just found a different thing to obsess about. A different kind of success. It became all about pushing myself to excel in areas I knew nothing or very less about. Again, results were relatively short term.

Now, as I'm accepting that I'm an adult, I've not made my peace yet with the fact that success is not just about your work. I mean, in a way it is, but work here is a combination of how you behave towards someone, how you decide to interpret things, how someone decides to react to you, how much you help or hinder each other, how much you are able to actually do something, how much you are ready to sacrifice and how much you're ready to evolve.

What it takes to succeed is a complicated recipe which deludes us by looking simple. Succeed in forming a relationship, retaining one, reaching a personal goal, a professional one, it doesn't matter. I just don't know how to simplify life. It looks complicated and I'm enjoying it for sure, but sometimes for a few seconds, I want the ideal.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Imagination vs reality

Today, I was walking towards the pier 39 in SFO. Before we entered the place, I noticed this beautiful statue of two sea lions.
Then, inside the pier I saw so many lying down sunning themselves completely ignoring the many standing and watching them. They were so comfortable and not at all scared of the humans.
When man decides to live in harmony with nature, so many wonders occur! This is right in the heart of San Francisco.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Lost in a brewery

It's a well known secret that I don't drink. So imagine my surprise when I had to attend a meeting in a brewery. The conference room was actually nice as there was a lot of space and it was well ventilated. But putting me in a brewery is seriously a waste of space. I've been hearing so many envious comments and wondering why it's such a big deal!

Bombay grill

Yesterday, I went to this vegan place in Santana row called veggie grill. I looked through their menu and was curious to taste a dish they called Bombay grill as it had kale(a green I started eating post our organic farming experience) and coconut milk.
The dish tasted divine and made me wonder how much we can possibly experiment with food.
Such vegan places really push the bar on imagination.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

My new friend

Apparently, octopus can express emotions. I didn't know that. This particular one danced around his enclosure when I went to see him. My phone died then, but my friend got a good picture of him dancing with me. OK, he was maybe not dancing for me, but I like to think so. It makes me feel so connected to something so much bigger than myself.
My friend the octopus with his friend the sea anemone.

Finally

I've always wanted to see penguins. I finally did when u went to the Monterey bay aquarium. I'm so delighted with the experience. The best part was the one that posed for me as I clicked it's picture. I want to learn more about the world around me. There is just so much to know!

Hues

Just look at the number of colours on that picture. I watched the sun as it set over the Pacific ocean and I was so spell bound. There was so much in that moment. I felt whole, beautiful, blessed, tiny, insignificant, hope, despair and so many more emotions as I stood mesmerized for the entire performance.  It was a beautiful evening.

Why I love flying

I'm in the US for work and I flew over the weekend. While a lot of my friends complain about flying, I usually love the experience. 

1. I get so much free time. Usually there's always a to do list. This time there is nothing.I read a lot.
2. I get to watch things I normally wouldn't. Emirates has a very extensive collection of videos. I love watching random television series I've never heard of and even movies I normally wouldn't (it was puli this time, so you know my standards). Even within the country, I try to catch something on my phone
3.I like watching people in an airport. It's funny how everyone tries to run fast though they have a seat in the plane and them cutting the queue is not going to help them at all
4. I like the feeling of flying. I feel elated when I imagine myself coursing over the seas.
5. I'm happy for the opportunity to be able to do this. Every single time.

There are a lot more, but I think this is a good list to start with

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A beautiful quote

Everything tells me that I'm about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn't have the courage to say "yes" to life?
When you find your path, you must not be afraid. You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes. Disappointment, defeat and despair are the tools God uses to show us the way. -Paulo Coehlo

Now the question to myself is, do I really know my path? Do I have the courage to follow it? Am I ready to sacrifice everything for walking down the path? Is it even worth it?

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Rules

Anyone driving in India can see how rules are ignored even by the most educated. Doesn't matter what you drive or how long you've been driving. You get a strange joy out of over taking, cutting someone and generally being a pain. I'm scared of someone hitting my car, so I'm overly cautious.

But I've come to accept that not just in the road, but even in other places, people are happy when they manage to break a rule or two. They can't help bragging either. What dictates this behavior? This from those that seem very polite and decent. Squeezing in extra hand baggage, boarding in the wrong zone, forgetting to pay a bill and getting out of it the list goes on.
Perhaps if I understand this need to rebel, I might understand human behavior better and adapt or at least stop complaining.

My love affair

I am addicted to Temple run. Rather the game is like my toxic lover. Either I can't stay away or I completely ignore it as I'm bored or I've accepted that the relationship is toxic.

This has been going on for a few years now. Installing and uninstalling it in my devices. I'm now in the completely smitten phase. Starting and ending my day with a few games.

The funny thing about the game is that you've a choice of characters you can buy and run with, but none of the characters have like a special power. All of them, keep running. They do a lot of things like collect coins, power ups, avoid dangers posed by fire, water etc, but they just keep running.

If I stopped them and asked, they won't know what they're running from (a big gorilla, but why is it chasing you? The source of conflict is outside the game) or where they're running towards.

Maybe they're like all of us. We look different, come to our personalities after different experiences, but our struggles and joys are similar.

I wonder at times if I'm also leading my life like the characters in the game. Enjoying the smaller challenges and running all the time.

Am I running from something or towards something? Or is it that everything is about just the joy in the act? I can only wonder and pick an answer that will suit my mood at that point in time. :)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Home

Is home a place? Or is it an atmosphere?Sometimes, I am not really sure. There have been places where I have been instantly at home though they are nothing like where I have been before (the Precious paws shelter with the 50 odd dogs comes to my mind). Then, there are a few which I have disliked though they are very similar to where I usually live (houses of a few friends i have visited). 

Over a period of time, I don't really feel at home in places I even grew up in. Memories from a distant past tell me that this was something I used to love, but reality tells me that it is nowhere close(visiting a few relatives I used to love spending time with, but with whom I dont have much in common now). Most times, I can let my memories dictate what I ought to ideally do, but at others, it is really not possible. We seem to have outgrown each other. The affection is still there, but it is for the past, not the present.

I am currently evaluating something - since home is where my heart is, perhaps if i have an open mind, the whole world might feel like home. But then, can I really change the core of who I am and be comfortable in places that are not necessarily in line with my thinking? I dont know. I can only experiment. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Restless

I'm feeling so restless this instant. Everything is going the way it ought to, but I feel that something is off. Am I deluding myself that something is OK when it's not? Or am I actually looking for greener pastures as that's just my habit?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Pragmatist vs. Idealist

I am an idealist (or so I liked to think). But being an idealist at all times isolates you from the world around you and actually places you at a disadvantage. Also, once someone knows you are an idealist, you become easy to predict and they try to take advantage of that. 

Over a period of time, as I have evolved, I tried to be pragmatic. Every time I think i have been pragmatic, my friends have pointed out that my reaction has been idealistic and even naive in a few instances. 

So I have come to the conclusion that there is just a relative scale. It is like someone telling me that a lady who says "idiot", "stupid" is foul mouthed when I am so used to hearing the f word. So while I might think I am being pragmatic, someone is actually calling me an idealist and while I am calling myself an idealist, someone else is calling me an opportunist.

Life can never be black or white and these shades of grey, will drive me crazy if I continue to keep staring at them. Labels have to be banned..

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Untitled

You walk towards the golden stage
The beautiful red carpet laid out for you
All set to collect the prize
That is just yours
When you reach out,
The carpet is pulled right under your feet
Just in time, you lose your face
And your prize disappears magically..

You're climbing up a crazy peak
You reach the summit
Months of work, training and patience
Just as you take the last step,
An avalanche strikes and you fall down

What do you do?
Lie down and mope?
How long can you?
How much can you?
Perhaps until that's all there is left
The memory of what was
The hope, pride and joy,
Now a bitter after taste
Joy morphing into sorrow
That just cannot go away

You're much more than your disappointments
You're much more than your success
Keep moving forward
For nothing else makes sense
Keep hanging on
For hope is a beautiful thing..

Saturday, April 09, 2016

A bird in hand

When I was in 10th standard, we had this exercise for our Tamil class. You were given an English proverb and you had to find its Tamil equivalent or vice versa. The younger me, did not realise that this was also a philosophical exercise. The same things are said in a million different ways in different parts of the world. We all think that our experiences and lifestyles are so different, but in reality, everyone irrespective of who  they are go through similar motions in life.

One of the proverbs we had to translate then was " A bird in hand is worth two in the bush". I forgot the translation now, but it was one of the toughest then.

Younger me wondered why that would be so.  Now I know that this talks about appreciating what you have and not losing it because of dreaming about what you do not. But then, the optimist in me asks, why cant I have the bird in hand and find the ones in the bush? Is it because in my attempt to search, I would let this one go(conflicting ambitions)? Or is it because there might not even be those two birds in the bush in the first place?

Pausing to think makes a simple proverb so complicated. If the bird is going to fly, what gives me the right to hold it? Would what is mine truly want to leave me? Would I actually even let go of it if it felt so right in the first place? Why would I search for the bird in the bush? The fact that I am searching implies that something is missing right?

Lets now think about the bird in the bush. Is it going to be waiting around for me to find it? Or is the bird actually going to take some initiative and find me? Again, this is considering the bird wants to be found and that it wants to be found by me. Would I lose the bird in hand and go search in the bushes and find that what I found is what i already had? Or would I find a brand new bird that I never even knew existed, only to realize that this was enough, I dont have to look further? Or would that brand new bird be so incompatible with who I am that I would not even want it? I mean, I would still be enthralled post the chase, but after a little period of time, it would become the bird in hand and I would start looking in the bush again.

Ambition is a strange thing. A thousand things can be the bird in hand and a million more can be the birds in the bush. Should I actually avoid looking for fear of losing all that is? Or Should I embrace my ambition and continue to look with the conviction that what is mine, can never truly be taken away and what is not mine, was but an illusion in the first place.

Acceptance

There is this story which I used to love. There are different versions of it. But the one i remember vividly is what I am writing here.

There was once a king who had a son after a very long time. Needless to say, he loved his heir and took great care of him. The king had a wise teacher who was also entrusted with the care of the son. The prince grew up and was a blessing in many ways. One day, he had an accident and he lost his finger. The King told the teacher and was very upset over the incident. The teacher told him, "Everything is for the good." The lack of sympathy, upset the king so much that he sent the teacher to prison. The teacher still said, "Everything is for good. (Ellam Nanmaikae)

A few weeks later, the prince was out hunting when he was captured by a group of cannibals who wanted to sacrifice him to their gods. Since he was royalty, they were sure that the sacrifice would get them great results. Now, they had him all primed for the sacrifice when they noticed the missing little finger. Disgusted with his deformity, they sent him back as they did not want to anger their God. The king released the teacher once he got to know of this incident. The teacher's house was destroyed due to a freak accident and he had survived only because he was in jail.

Now this story is morbid in a lot of ways and perhaps a little too exaggerated. Come on, cannibals and a teacher's house getting destroyed in a supposedly secure kingdom? Well, remember one of my favorite theories? The form survives, the idea disappears? I think the idea here was of acceptance. When you truly accept what the fates have in store for you and perhaps sacrifice your idea of perfect, maybe then things will be easy.

It is easy to say but so hard to implement. If I accept that this is as good as it is going to get and keep smiling and moving forward, will things actually move? Would acceptance prevent me from striving for perfection? Is that a bad thing? How much do we sacrifice in an attempt to find that perfection? The idea of something in our head that is so fixed, that we cannot see beyond it. Is it ok to accept and embrace your reality? I have always swum in the direction I wanted, irrespective of where the currents were. Sometimes, I went along with it, sometimes I went against it. I have been battered and bruised in both instances. I believe that everything happens for a reason. But can I truly believe that everything is for good and not try to change things? Or am I reading too much and in a different direction for a folk tale? I dont know..

Am I like the king who is angry with the counsel of a perceived wise man? Or am I the wise man who has accepted and is ready to face anything that comes? Or is the wise man only supposedly wise because he is a coward and is not truly ready to accept that life is not easy and that it is going to keep hitting everyone? Is the wise man actually being insensitive? Or Am I the prince? Supposedly the cause of all trouble but actually without a role to play? Something without which there is no story, but something that truly does not have an identity beyond the creation of the story? I dont know.

I wanted to write about acceptance and moving forward with the bird in hand, but the post took a different target altogether.

Friday, April 08, 2016

Of models and mind maps

I'm an analyst by profession. One of the things that I do is to try and predict a certain behavior using a combination of variables. Eg, can I say that someone will buy product x if they do a,b and c? What are all the things which can affect an end outcome? How do we influence the factors to get a desired result?

These are some of the questions that I try to answer time and again. Now, today, I was trying to come up with a model to predict behavior when I realized that our state of mind can also be modeled. I mean, it's going to be far more complex, but the concept is the same.

At any given point in time, multiple factors affect our state of mind. We're happy or sad or whatever depending on different things. Parking a car delights me while something someone said puts me off. If I assign equal value to both the factors, my mind set can actually be neutral. The high compensated for the low. A healthy mix of actions can help me maintain a balance. That is, if I knew all the things that have an influence on my mind.

Unfortunately, things aren't so simple, because there are derived variables. Things which seem inconsequential by themselves but which affect a host of things. Not eating orange seems inconsequential, but the lack of vitamin c due to that, causes blisters which pain and keep preventing me from focusing on anything else.
How many such small things are there? Given long enough, taking into account lifestyle, emotions, relationships and financials, can I actually build a model to predict the state of mind of a person, a group of people or even a nation?

Is it possible to influence it? Or do we already know what are the things that are part of the secret sauce for contentment? I can only theorize.

I think we all know the factors which influence our emotions. We still persist with a negative behavior, because some part of us is hoping it can be that curved ball that gives joy though it's meant to destroy everything in its path. Is optimism actually a bad thing? Or is this just sadism?

The parking monster

I drove 1000 km in 24 hours. I can change a flat. Drive in any kind of road. But ask me to park in an mlcp and I'll not even start the car. I'm scared of parking the car. I've mentioned it time and again.

I also hate driving alone. So you'll usually see me car pooling with someone. I didn't even know where my company's parking was, though I've been working in this place for more than 6 months. Today, most companies, were off for ugadi. I however had a lot of things to finish so very reluctantly, I took the car to work.

All was well until I hit the campus. I had to go and find the parking. To the over imaginative me, it looked like a huge crocodile waiting to swallow me with the car, my sister had bought with her blood and sweat. I persisted and drove very slowly inside. Huge signs proclaimed that parking was at owners risk and that the management was in no way responsible.

Other victims had parked their car unaware that the owner's risk was entering and coming close to their vehicles. To cut a long story short, after what seemed like eternity, I managed to park in the MLCP.

I was so delighted. Evening, I took the car out without maiming an Audi and a BMW. I'm actually really happy right now. Small victories right?

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Doggy love

Zoya has been sick for a long time now. She's a skeletal self of the dog she used to be. I still love her the same, perhaps even more because a part of me feels she's taken on pain that could have come to me otherwise, like a guardian angel. I hope she recovers soon. I miss the active naughty baby she used to be.
Post dedicated to the one who found me and taught me to love the smallest of things and changed my world.

Obsessions

I remember a conversation I had with a friend a few years ago, like it was yesterday. I'm no longer in touch with the said person, but this is one of my pleasant memories of him. Our effortless conversations about anything under the sun.

Now, I had just gotten out of a very uncomfortable bus journey. You know the type where you are stuck in traffic for so long in a inter city bus, that in an effort to save fuel, they switch off the damn AC? This was a trip like that.

My friend called me to tell me that he was still obsessing over something he'd told me he'd gotten over. He felt empty without the obsession. It had become such an integral part of who he was, that without having something to think about, he was going crazy. The obsession was not something positive. I'd seen it destroy him as it was his adoration for something that could never be his. He still persisted because he loved it so. The emotion kept him going.

That day, though I was super irritated, or perhaps because I was, I realized something. You always long for what you cannot have. You don't notice what's right under your nose waiting for you to grab it with both hands and just own it. You look for that something that is so far away and is half the time out of your league due to some ridiculous inevitable reason. But we all need that one thing we cannot have.

Because in our attempts to reach for it, we discover and come to terms with parts of our personality we never knew we had. Ultimately, we might end up finding other things that were meant to be. But usually it's in the process of reaching for something else.

Being the optimist that I am, I feel that we end up getting what we seek, even if for a few seconds in a fantasy realm. A parallel universe is created when we really want something we cannot have in this realm. So let's give power to that alter ego of ours and continue to obsess.

Why relationships are like ladders

I wrote this for a post on relationships at work..

People in a relationship, are like the two poles in a ladder. For ladder to be functional, the two poles making up a ladder should always be parallel to each other and at the same height. Not just that, the steps have to be spaced properly. There will be a lot of discomfort if the space is either too much or too little.

A ladder is such a common place thing, that we rarely ponder on how exact the measurements that go into making it should be. How useless it would be if some small measurement was miscalculated. Every relationship, no matter who you have it with, is like a ladder.

Both of you, have to be growing at the same rate with respect to that relationship. There has to be frequent communication that would serve as steps and help strengthen the relationship. Long periods of silence or over communication can play an equal part in the destruction of the delicate balance that is needed.

Often, we notice that our relationship with our friends has changed so much over the years. With a few of them, even if you run into them after a long time, you can have a conversation like time did not matter at all. These are those that have the same rate of growth as you. With majority, you cannot connect after a point in time. You either feel slighted or bored. These are the ones who have grown either much more or much lesser than you have.

How you choose to handle the situation is always up to you. But the thing to remember is, lack of balance can cause you to fall. Whether you make adjustments to retain balance or just let it go or keep going up before a steep fall, is up to you. When a balanced ladder is formed, there is always upward mobility not just for the two parties involved in the relationship, but also for anyone else relying on them.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Beauty

Vanity about my appearance was never my vice. I never knew there were jeans just for women. Over a period of time, I have started trying to look a little better groomed because sometimes, only then do people take you seriously. Anyway, all this rambling was to just drive home one point - I have never given importance to my appearance. I always felt it was secondary to who I am. My brain and other things took precedence.

The last one week, has opened my eyes to a reality of a different sort. I have bleeding lips thanks to the vitamin deficiency and me, the person that doesn't care about how I look usually, is hating getting out of bed and going to see people. (That means I am hiding under the bedsheet, wailing and making life difficult for anyone trying to come near me when I wake up. Zoya is confused. For a change,she wants the walk more than I do.)

I mean, I do look like a vampire that just finished feasting on young meat. Perhaps, I am going to scare a few people away. (Not perhaps, I am definitely going to scare people away). I have looked scarier in the past (walking 2 dogs with uncombed hair can look super scary, let me tell you). But this was a different feeling. I felt incomplete and so unhappy to be going to face the world looking like that. Not to mention the fact that lack of food was also driving me crazy. I can rationalize it now ( I still look like a vampire). It was my reluctance to go to office looking like this that was my wake up call (I love going to work. It makes my day!)

If someone like me with oodles of self confidence and usual devil may care attitude can be ashamed of one's appearance and scared to face the world, what about people who dont know any better? Have we screwed everyone's heads with a certain vision of beauty? Is there any way around this? Is breaking all mirrors (metaphorically) the only solution? Beauty is seriously over rated. (I am sitting in office and staring at anyone who stares at me though I am grimacing internally)

Monday, April 04, 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3

I love animated movies. Given a choice, I will just watch superhero ones or these all day ( I have been known to do that like a fiend in college)

When the release date for Kung Fu Panda 3 was pushed, I was so upset to say the least. Anyway, this one was definitely worth the wait. The movie had me in splits from the very first scene. The dialogues were amazing as usual. Be it Po's theory around dramatic entrances or Oogway and Kai's discussion in the middle of a battle, or our dear master Shifu's lessons - all the scenes were thoughtful and so well crafted. I have definitely fallen head over heels in love with this universe. 

A few beautiful lines - "If you only do what you can do, you can never be more than what you are now"
"When will you realize, the more you take, the less you will have"

The plot has a new villain - Kai. 

Kai, Oogway's brother in arms has defeated all the masters in the spirit realm and uses their combined energy to come to our world from the spirit realm hoping to conquer and destroy the Chi of all of Oogway's students. Chi, is the energy that flows through all living things. Only a Master of Chi can defeat him and hence Po heads to the secret Panda village in the mountains to get to know himself and master Chi. 

The Panda village scenes are hilarious, but I did miss the 5 warriors and their effortless banter. I am surprised to see how much this movie has evolved over the series, handling more difficult concepts with ease. 

I still love the second movie best. However, I will watch this one atleast a few more times. :)