Monday, May 01, 2006

Alternate Career Options

I am composing this blog after a long and boring reading session on bone physiology and cell signaling. No wonder I am thinking about alternate career options :D. Anyways, read on:

In case I get bored of my PhD, I thought I should have some alternative career options ready. With a completed MS degree, and a half-complete PhD in Biomedical Engineering; I don't think anyone will give me a job in a Non-Tissue-Engineering field. In case I happen to go back to India, I guess I will have to apply for some call-center job, or may be a clerical position in Bombay Municipal Corporation. I guess I can do bit better than that. Here are some alternative career options I thought would suit me.

I could be:

A barber: Trust me, I do okay haircuts. I have two years of practical experience. And I was doing good in those two years. Well, I recently upgraded myself. (Please control your emotions, and refrain from thinking that I am a mentally gone case). These days, I do my own haircuts. It's not a question of money, but I get amazing satisfaction after doing a good job with my own haircut. I always thought that cutting my own hair would be a big challenge (if you are not convinced, try trimming hair on the back of your head); I brought a trimmer one day and tried. It worked. And it works better with each passing experience. So I guess this would be a good job.

A trekking instructor: At one point (2 years back) I was actually thinking of joining the institute at Manali that trains individuals as trainers/ instructors for Everest Base Camp. During my Rohtang Pass trek 10 years back, I met some of the Everest mountaineers and some of those trainees; and I was totally fascinated with the idea of being close to the ultimate peak for entire life. The whole idea was to stay put at the Everest Base Camp and guide people coming there. I have some experience of teaching people rock climbing and rappelling. I guess this would be one excellent opportunity to pursue my hobby / passion as a profession.

Cook/ Chef: I just about manage to totally mess up food/ cuisine/ dish just at the end. Anything I prepare looks good, but same cant be said about the taste. I guess I (and my cooking) would be a very good example of how NOT to prepare food, and mess up with it. Yeah! even that could be a paid job. Why not ??

Domestic help: I have recently developed this liking with neatness and cleanliness. I guess I wont complain if I get 20-25 dollars per hour for cleaning someone's apartment.

A specimen: I am ridiculously pathetic in swimming, singing, and dancing (yeah you can add 'studies' to this ! ). I could be an excellent example of a lower limit in these cases. Every parameter needs a reference. If one says a certain thing is good / bad; one needs to compare that parameter with some reference frame (that is usually constant and is close to zero). I could be a very good reference. Absolute rubbish can be safely considered as zero. So, I am a very reliable reference frame :D.

Alternative fuel: I have excess of fat and muscle. And I have amazing ability of producing them in abundance. If someone is willing to invent a technology that converts fat and muscle to useful energy resource; I could be a big help to mankind. Seriously.


OK, enough !. I guess I would do well to complete my PhD :D.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Good Days, Bad Days: Part Three: Bad Day

Well, as there are very good days, there are very bad days as well.

Last Wednesday was a terrible, terrible day for me:

1: My laptop suddenly stopped functioning. It died all of a sudden. The tech-support at Case told me that the motherboard needs to be replaced. My laptop is past guarantee period.

2: I was totally upset with that news, and at the same time, I was trying to set up a new protocol for my new set of experiments. It turned out to be way more complicated than I thought. It took my almost half a day.

3: I wanted to send the protocol to my supervisor, so I was composing an email. I got bored, so thought of saving the mail. My first draft is always very messy, it has many short-forms, has tons of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Anyone reading it would find it very disgusting.

Well, instead of clicking the "Save" button, I clicked the "Send" button !!. It was a "mistake" !!. Dam*It !

4: So there was a need of face-saving act. I completed the e-mail, spell-checked it, corrected all formatting issues, wrote a short note explaining the circumstances of previous crap. I thought I should CC that mail to myself (I have this habit of CCing important mails to myself. Dont ask me why. Gmail has unlimited space, so who cares)

Well, instead of sending it to myself, I sent it to the other Vivek (W). I had to send couple of more emails to my supervisor and to Vivek explaining the circumstances. My reputation was seriously at stake.

5: If all this mess was not enough for the day, I broke my MP3 player in the evening.

I was working out on the rowing machine in the gym, something happened, and the next thing I saw was that my MP3 player was lying 3 feet away from me, wide open and dismantled.. Now, I have to hold it up using a band-aid !!!


I just didn't imagine that a day could be so bad. My laptop was very dear to me. The circumstances under which I bought it, the kind of pain (Literally. It weighed almost 9 Lbs with accessories. It almost broke my shoulder one day. But I had this sense of belonging to my laptop, and I would enjoy that pain. Because it was MY laptop) I went thru, some of the unforgettable moments I had with my laptop, and all those Seinfeld memories made it much more valuable than its mere monetary value. I dont think I am going to put a new motherboard in it, as the hardware + equipment cost would be more than its present value.

I am not much worried about money factor (My policy: Money comes, and goes. One should not care too much about the things that are not in our control). Its just that I am feeling a huge void in my life since Wednesday.

I was so used to having a laptop at my disposal all the time. First thing I would do after waking up was switching on the laptop and check news / mail. And same before sleeping. Now every morning and nite seems very strange. I just wake up, take bath, and drive to work.

And same happens at work as well. I used to take my laptop to work everyday, and everyone just assumed that I would use it for daily work. Now, I dont have a computer for me, and have to depend on others' to do simple things like check mails or print a document.

It just feels different. I guess I will get used to it, and will start spending more time with my image-analysis Linux box. Some of my personal things are very dear to me, and my laptop was one of them.


May be its a good thing to happen to me. With qualifiers coming up in a month's time, I guess it would do me a world of good to stay away from Email-Gmail as much as I can.

Its said that whatever happens, happens for good: I dont know if that's always true, but I guess it helps a lot if we think about it in that spirit. Things become easier to digest. What say?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Good Days, Bad Days: Part Two: Cleveland

Warning: I strongly urge all the readers NOT to form any false opinion and NOT to have any suspicion about the intelligence of the students representing either Drexel University or Case Western Reserve University. I also strongly advise the readers to completely understand and bear in mind that even PhD students as well as highly educated and 'corporate' individuals could have a child hidden in them; and they could go crazy sometimes. Socially avoiding the below-mentioned individuals or recommending a mental-healing treatment is left to the discretion of the reader.

If you are not an Indian, I request you to kindly discard rest of the blog.


Well, if meeting old Clemson friends was fun; meeting my very old pals from Bombay the following weekend was a total epitome of stupidity, absurdity and lunacy.

As I was returning from Novi, I got a call from Shubham saying that he's planning to be in Cleveland next weekend with his gang. He also told me that 6 of them (Rohan, Hemang, Ruchita, Shubham, Surendra, Sameer) were planning a road trip over the weekend and the plan was to explore Cleveland. I was hoping to have a sunny and warm weekend, so that we could go to the Headlands beach in Mentor. Its supposed to be a very good lake-side beach, and I was looking forward to visit the place.

But come Friday, and it was fairly clear that the weekend was going to be a cold and rainy one; the beach outing was totally ruled out. So we had no option but to explore Cleveland downtown and surrounding places. Since I am still relatively new to Cleveland, I was kind of excited as well as skeptical about next two days.

Well... they reached Cleveland late on Friday nite, and it was a total riot thereafter for next day and half. We started the next day with a healthy brunch at IHOP, then explored the Coventry area for a bit, then went to lakeside Edgewater Park. After spending some time on the shore of Lake Erie, we moved on to explore the Great Lakes Science Center, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Tower City- Public Square. After spending lot of time in Cleveland downtown, we moved on to Parma and visited Cleveland temple, had dinner at Jaipur Junction. We spent most of the nite at Youngstown Lanes enjoying bowling and sipping some beer. And just before returning home, we stopped by the nearby Baskin Robins for a 3-scoop Sundae. And after returning home, we saw a Govinda- Raveena movie: Dulhe Raja, which is a completely laughing riot.

Cleveland downtown is much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. It was total fun roaming around in the Science Center as well as the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. And for a bunch of Indians, and especially for Bombayites, it was a very good outing. However, the above mentioned description was the most boring part of the day. The main and most interesting part was making of the movie: "Srimaan".

These guys from Philadelphia are heavily influenced by Hindi movies, Mithun Da, Govinda, and Rajni Kanth. They talk hindi movies, walk hindi movies, eat hindi movies... and if that's not enough, they make Hindi movies.

If you have some spare time, you have nothing else to do, and you are really suffering from extreme boredom, have a look at the snapshots of some of the movies they have tried to make:

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Clip 4

And they even take interviews of the audience (this is too much). Check this out:

Clip 1

And these guys were in a process of making yet another movie, and they chose Cleveland as the backdrop. The shooting started in my apartment, it continued in my parking lot, it also took place in the downtown as well as in the temple and the bowling alleys. The most interesting part of the movie and what totally amazed me during the shooting was that they didnt have a story in mind. These guys work in opposite manner. They first shoot different scenes, record fight sequences, write dialogues, and then write a story that fits all these things!!... How amazing!!

Well, they shot emotional (!!!!!!) scenes in my apartment. The dashing entry of the hero (ShahRukh Khan style) was shot in my apartment entrance. The fight sequences as well as the hero-villain climax was shot on the slope of the Science Center. The romantic (!!!!) sequences and dance parts were captured in the backdrop of Lake Erie and The Hall of Fame Museum. These guys don't yet have a heroine for the movie. But that didn't deter them from proceeding.

Apparently, I am also acting in this movie. They told me that they shot me while I was sleeping. And then we enacted a "parting" scene, which was full of emotions and melodrama. I have absolutely no clue how these two clips are going to be incorporated in the movie. For that matter, I still have no clue about what and why they were shooting a few scenes.

If this is not enough, take this: This movie also has guns and all the ammo. We bought the guns from the dollar store. The hero actually shot a couple of bullets at the villain in downtown itself. There was so much violence!!... We also kidnapped our own driver (Rohan) and his navigator (Surendra) with the guns, demanded water bottle as ransom, we negotiated, and released the navigator only after we got one!!!


As people grow up, we see two types of people: some people become mature and act responsibly. Some others dont grow up and refuse to get mature. I'd never imagined that there were third type of individuals as well: people who grow up and yet act like kids !! (This dialogue is inspired by one in Rang De Basanti).

For a day and half, I guess we all were in the third category.

On Sunday morning, these guys left; and I returned to the first category. Wish I could stay longer in the third one.

Good Days, Bad Days: Part One: Novi

These days, I am having pretty good time, especially on weekends. I am totally enjoying myself, and feel rejuvenated.

It started 3 weekends back with a trip to Novi, MI. Some of my Clemson friends (Archie, Suketu, Vikram, Shruti) moved to Novi a few weeks back. I wanted to meet them, but was kind of lazy to be out of Cleveland on weekends. In first week of April, I realised that I hadn't been out of Cleveland since I returned from Grand Canyon trip in January. That thought instantly unsettled me; in next couple of days I was all flustered, demented and, and I was dying to drive out of Cleveland.

Novi is a nice little town close to Detroit. Its much like Ann Arbour or Farmington. Some places in Michigan have this "feel good" factor: very peaceful-n-quiet, beautiful, not too big-not too small. Just perfect. I like that. It gives a good break from hectic and routine city life. After spending good 22 years in hustle- bustle of Bombay; next 3 years in extremely peaceful, quiet, yet beautiful place like Clemson; and now almost 9 months in Cleveland; I have started to appreciate the occasional breaks from routine life. May be that's why I enjoy places like Ann Arbor, Novi, Dayton, etc. Anyways.

It was great to meet Archie, Suketu, Vikram, and Shruti after a long time. It really feels good to meet good old friends, and catch up after long long time. I haven't been in touch with too many Clemson people these days, and I was totally unaware of things happening there. We had nice time in catching up, and remembering some old stories and "hall-of-fame" incidences. In the evening, after having dinner at a Mongolian place called "Sizzling Sticks", we went for some bowling.

Believe it or not, I 'd never tried bowling before. I was under the impression that the bowling balls are made of very lite-weight polymer, and its the throwing speed that determines how many pins one knocks down. Well, I soon realised that I was terribly wrong with my concepts. In first couple of strikes, I tried to throw a very heavy (12 pound) ball at a super-fast speed. According to my concepts of physics, I should have been able to knock down all the pins. But that did not happen.

I guess something is either wrong with my concepts, or I am applying some wrong principles to this. These Newton, Einstein, Galileo guys make things very complicated. No wonder some people prefer to take up sports as a profession than trying to apply the Newton's second law of motion to analyze the projectile of a home run !

My fingers started hurting terribly after that adventure. And it affected my performance thereafter. Obviously, soon it was a comedy show for rest of the audience. My attempts of making a "perfect" strike included throwing the ball backwards (behind me), almost slipping on the on the alley, and consistently rolling the ball in the gutter, and what not. Well, it was not as bad as it sounds. I did have a few good strikes, spares and some good shots. Even though I could not cross the 100-barrier (my highest was 96), had a lot of fun.

It was a very refreshing weekend. Hopefully I can meet my freinds again sometime in summer. I am planning a camping trip in Upper Peninsula of Michigan sometime in summer. It should be fun.

Monday, April 10, 2006

One more of those unforgettable moments!!

Last week, I experienced one more of those unforgettable moments. It was totally unexpected and unplanned. But I will remember that nite for long time. I'd never felt so excited, so invigorating, so spirited in months...

Here goes the sequence of events:

Background: I am in a process of upgrading my room (and myself as well;) ), and recently bought a queen size bed. I wanted to buy the bed sheet, fitting sheet, etc. for my new bed. Since I am hopelessly bad at shopping such things, I asked my friend J if she could help me out. J obliged.

9.00 PM: I was just coming out of gym, and J called to ask if that was a good time to go for shopping. Since I had nothing else to do that nite, I agreed.

9.45 PM: We enter K-mart. As per my standards, this thingy should have been over in precisely 4 minutes. Make it 10, including all unforeseen circumstances. It was just a matter of choosing the right size, color and fabric.

11.15 PM
: We came out of K-mart. It took an hour and half to buy one set of bedsheets !!. Man, shopping with a girl is *pain*. I try my best to avoid this calamity, but this was an unavoidable case.

11.30 PM: I was yet to have my dinner, and was very hungry; so we went to a nearby IHOP for dinner.

Till this point, the weather was fairly normal: not too breezy, clear skies, temperature in high 30s. The day itself was fairly warm. I didn't even bother to carry my winter jacket.

12.15 AM: We came out of I-HOP. It was very chilly and extremely breezy outside. So we were kinda hurrying up to my car. Just then it started raining heavily. We'd never anticipated this change in climate so fast (45 minutes), and were completely taken by surprise. By the time we settled in the car, it was raining cats and dogs, and we could sense the strong wind as well; as it was pouring from all directions.

12.45 AM
: I was driving towards home. Meanwhile,the mercury went down further, and now there was a heavy snow-storm instead of rain. The snow was coming down heavily, and the wind had actually picked up. It was bit difficult to drive at that time, but we continued.

Any sensible person would have preferred to go home, and relax. But out of nowhere, J said: "you know, the lake would be really beautiful at this time". Hmmm.... heavy snow, very strong wind, and lake..... Somehow I thought it would be really cool. So instead of going home, we were now en-route to the Edgewater Park.

The Cliff Drive near Cleveland's Lakefront State park is one of my most favorite spots in Cleveland. Its a one way road, with Lake Erie one one side, and very high-class bungalows on the other. It probably gives one of the best views and feel of the lake, as well as the city. I was driving on the Cliff Drive, enjoying the snow, wind and the lake. I could actually see huge waves in the lake. Not very often one does get to see that.

1.00 AM: We stopped at one spot; it gave the best view of the lake. I dont know why, but felt like opening my window. I just wanted to "feel" the outside atmosphere. I did it for a moment. I could smell the salty lake. I could hear the roars of the waves. It was almost as if I was on sea-shore; except that it was snowing heavily, and it was horribly windy.

I closed the window. Didn't want to spoil my car. It was indeed a cool experience, I thanked J for the idea, and started driving. But somewhere within I was not satisfied. I wanted more of that "feel". I wanted more of that experience. I wanted to face that wind, wanted to feel the snow, and wanted to smell the lake. I was not ready to leave the place. But wasn't sure of getting out of the car. Any sensible person wouldn't have thought of doing that.

1.10 AM: I did it!. I returned to Cliff Drive, parked my car and stepped out with just a thin pullover. Now I was directly facing the snow and the typhoon. And I could sense the zephyr directly coming off the lake. I stood motionless for a few minutes, until I could not sense my nose, fingers and ears any more.

Boy !!... I don't know why but those moments were one of the most nostalgic ones I've experienced in a while. So many thoughts just deluged my mind in those moments: my past, my present, my future, my hobbies, my passion, my parents, my religion, my friends, my close ones, my loved ones... responsibilities, promises, hopes, failures, dreams... it was a total cascade of thoughts; and it completely swamped me at that moment. I probably cant describe everything in words, but I hope you have an idea of a state of mind one can have while standing in a snowstorm on a lakefront at midnight.

1.20 AM: I returned in my car. I guess my face showed the contentment and everything I felt while standing outside. J thought I was going crazy.

May be I was...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

(Not) Being The Best

I was reading an interview of a famous personality the other day. This person (lets call him the No.1 Dude) is truly on top in his field, and has earned this coveted position with absolute hard work, sheer passion and single-minded quest to be on top. I dont remember the exact quotes, but it was something like this:

"I always wanted to be the best in my field. Since very beginning, my only aim was to reach the no. 1 spot. I worked hard, practiced a lot, and with sheer determination, passion and practice; I am glad to be at the position I am today...

... I've made lots of sacrifices in my personal life, I have missed many other things that other get to do and enjoy... all these years my only aim of life was to see this day. However, I am a satisfied and happy man today"


Being the best in the field, reaching this top spot; and yet being happy and satisfied ??. Really ??


This interview got me thinking:

I am not sure if being the best is the best thing to happen; rather aiming to be the best is the best thing to do. Take the case of this No. 1 Dude. He must have missed so many things in his life, just for his quest of being the best. He must have sacrificed so many other opportunities of enjoying his life. He must have made so many compromises along the road. And since he has achieved what he aimed for, I am sure he must be unsure of his future.

Is it all worth the few moments (may be days, or years) of being on top?

The only thing that is certain after reaching the top spot is failure. Absolute failure. No matter now hard you try, one day you have to relinquish the top spot. after that, its all downward path. Being on the top spot comes with extreme pressure to perform, the fear of failure, and even more sacrifices. Then whats the point in dreaming about being the best?. And all the happiness and pleasure that this No.1 dude claims to have got, is it really the true happiness, or is it just a state of hallucination?

OK, One may argue that the whole process is worth the happiness and ecstasy one gets after reaching the pinnacle. Point noted. But what about all the sacrifices one has to make?.. What about all those missed opportunities, and missing all the pleasure a common man gets from just being a normal man?.

Is being single mindedly passionate (and in the process forgetting about other things in life) the right thing to do?. Many of us tend to do that.

I am not quite sure about it.

In many ways, I am an aesthete person, and believe in living an aesthetic life (except in case of love, commitment, and friendship. I am very much an ethical person in these things). Kierkegaard defines the aesthetic stage as the stage in which man acts in such a way that will bring pleasure or happiness to himself - that is his main motivation and concern. I like being in that stage. I like to live every moment of life, experience new horizons, and enjoy small things along the way. I play this game of life for the sake of enjoyment and experience, and not to win. I believe that life is too short to aim for one particular goal in life sacrificing others. The whole idea of being the No. 1 does not quite excite me.

Does it mean that I lack skills or I dont have the desire to achieve something?... Not at all !!

I very much enjoy being at No. 2. Its my favorite position: the position which shows the promise and capability of being the best, yet not striving for it. There is no pressure, no sacrifices. Nor does it have any compromises, yet it is full of promise and potential. I just like to hang-in there. I probably dont want to be the richest in the world, or the most successful, but I want to be happy and satisfied.

When I am on the death-bed, I dont want to get a feeling that I missed living (and experiencing) something in this process called life. I would hate to have that feeling. My No.2 position lets me enjoy my life the way I want, and also puts me in a position where I am comfortable and successful. For me, its a win-win situation.

May be that's just me, the way I am !

Friday, March 24, 2006

Getting Into a Perfect Routine ??.. You're Kidding. You Are Just a Human.

Have you ever tried to be a perfectionist in daily routine?. Have you set certain strict personal goals for your immediate future?. Have you ever been able to achieve your goals?. Do you give yourself any allowances while analyzing your quest of being a perfectionist in personal daily routine?. What do you do when you disappoint yourself in that regard? Do you think about all these things at all?.

Sometimes, I do.

I will give one example (And this time, it's from my own life !!.. And it's absolutely personal and true, Mr. Anonymous :) ):

Ever since I came to the States, I have always been a 'nite man'. I was a regular in the 2.50 AM bus in Clemson; and even otherwise I would be awake till 3 AM or so. It was a habit, and I thought that schedule suited me the best. I used to really concentrate well in the 10 PM to 2 AM period. This habit continued in Cleveland as well (well, I had too many home works and assignments to do; I have spent more nite-outs in past 8 months, than any other period of my life so far)

Anyways, on January 1st 2006, on the new year's eve, I made a resolution that I would be a 'day man'.

Everyone in my lab comes early (Cynthia comes at 5.30 AM, and Rick comes at 6 AM), and everyone else is generally there by 9 or so. I come pretty late, and leave late. I wanted to change that.

My 'concept' of a perfect day is to wake up at 7, be in the lab by 8, work, take a lunch break at noon, work, leave at 5.30; then go to gym in the evening, play racquetball or work out, come home, have lite dinner, relax a bit, read some book, and go to sleep at 11.

It seemed to be bit too perfect, but I thought it would be really good to get into this routine, and make it a habit. It was fairly challenging to me to change my daily routine, and habits; but I wanted to give it a try. I was striving for 'that' perfection in life.

I tried, I am still trying, but I haven't been able to achieve what I wanted to. I tried hard to hit bed at 11, but something or other prevented me from doing that. I tried the extreme self-control methods as well: Stopped doing nite-outs, stopped doing Thursday nite outings, switched off my mobile at 11, made it a habit to read something interesting every day, completely stopped chatting... I improved my eating habits, I started working out regularly... yet... I am yet to have "that" perfect day. Invariably I dont sleep before 1 or 2. My brain just refuses to stop working before that. Nite time is my favorite time: I sometimes do blogging, sometimes catching up with things happening around the world, sometimes watch a good game a cricket.

Even in daytime, something or else comes up: like home works, quizzes, or problems with experiments and data analysis; you name it!!. But "that" perfect day hasn't yet arrived.

Why is it so difficult?... It seems to be a really trivial thing to maintain a normal "perfect" routine; Then why??... Am I setting my goals too high??... Am I trying to get something that is beyond my reach?... Is it impossible??. I havent given up yet.


I tried talking about it with A.

A Said: " Buddy, you are thinking too much. Dont think so much about these crappy things. Just enjoy life. Go clubbing, have some drinks, have fun. Some girls are pretty hot, I enjoy dancing with them till late... may be till 2 or 3. You must be a fool to try sleeping at 11. Get a life for yourself".

Fool.. I was not. I want to be a "day man". And I also enjoy my life totally the way I want ( I am writing a blog on that as well) , may be my ways of enjoying life are different than A's.

Then I asked B about it.

B said: "Vivek, you know where are you going wrong?, You are not being yourself. You are trying to be someone who is totally different than what you are. May be you will get a good routine going; but will that make you happy?. Happiness lies in just being yourself. There is nothing wrong with you. You are doing very well with your work and studies; and that should be a good enough reason to be happy. Why do you want more?. Why are you striving for perfection. Dont worry about it, this is just one phase in your life, I am sure you will be on a good routine once things start getting less hectic, you are done with qualifiers, and your research gets more organised."

Sometimes B talks sense. May be B was right.

Yet, I am not able to find a satisfactory answer on whether to strive for perfection or just live life the way one pleases to.

I am liking this new phase though; am feeling much healthier and energetic. I guess at the moment, I am in the purification phase :D. So I dont know if I will resume my favorite nite outs and Thursday nites; at the moment I am happy with the way it is going.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Past !!

Priya and Chetan (names changed) were my good friends in Clemson.

Priya and Chetan joined the school in same semester, and were in same department. But were single at that time. Slowly,but surely, they became good friends. They started spending a lot of time with each other, started sharing their thoughts and emotions with each other. Their friendship grew day-by-day, and in next 6 months, they were very close friends. One fine day, Chetan asked Priya if they could be more than friends; and Priya was more than happy to accept the proposal. We all were very happy to see them together; as they were perfect for each other, and made a very good pair. It all went well for a while. Priya and Chetan were now totally, deeply in love with each other. Priya and Chetan was a perfect couple one could get to see.

One thing was bothering Chetan somewhere within: he did not know much about Priya's past, and he never asked her about it before. One day, he made up his mind, and asked her about it. Priya did not want to hide her past from Chetan. She told him that she had a boyfriend in her college days; they were together for three years, and they broke up couple of years back. She told him everything she could about her past relationship. Priya thought it would be unfair on her part to hide her past relationship from her new partner.

Chetan was totally shattered to hear all that from Priya. He could not digest the fact that his girlfriend had shared intimate moments with some other guy. He could not accept and digest Priya's past. Even though he trusted and loved Priya very much; he could not get over that. He lost his composure, forgot all the nice time he had with Priya, and one day broke the relationship. Chetan wanted to break all the romantic links with Priya, and his reason was that he could not imagine his girlfriend having a past with someone else.


Past sucks. Past hurts. Past haunts.


Past is something that you can not dissociate with your personality. You have to live with your past all the time; you always have to carry it on your back.

Well, past is not as easy to think about as it seems. There is a good past, and a bad past. Somehow people tend to neglect one over the other. We see so many people who live IN past, and so many others who live ON past. There are so many politicians, cricketers, film stars living IN and ON past. Noone remembers them for their 'bad' past; they will always be remembered for their legacy and great things they did. Its all part of life.

However, generally speaking, in most cases we tend to quickly forget the 'good' past of an individual. But 'bad' past sticks to the personality forever.

The other day, I was talking with my engineering friend Dipak (name changed). Dipak had recently arrived in the States for on-site job assignment thru his company in India. Dipak was out of touch with our other classmates, and had no info. about what others are up to. We started talking about our other friends in US, and there was a mention about another friend of ours, Prachi (name changed). Prachi is pursuing her PhD in a very interesting subject at a very reputed university, and is doing very well.

When I told Dipak about Prachi; he was in utter disbelief and shock. He told me that he didnt believe Prachi could be a good PhD student. He also told me that he didn't think Prachi had a required acumen for completing a degree in US, let alone doing some path-breaking research. I asked Dipak why he thought so, and he answered that Prachi's past proves that she's is poor student and a very shallow human being in general.

Yes, Prachi was not a good student in her engineering days. She was in bad company; she was also into drugs and other addictions at a point. She never scored good grades. She never applied herself. And in general, she was 'wasted' in her engineering days. Her past was not encouraging at all, rather it was shameful struggle.

But things changed after Prachi came to US. She developed the liking for her subject, she got into a good decent company, and she was indeed doing very well with her studies, and her personal life as well. I, in fact respect Prachi a lot, for what she has achieved in past couple of years. I hardly knew Prachi in Bombay, but she's my very good friend now. In spite of knowing about her character and past, her present has made me respect her a lot. I always think of Prachi as I know her with her present, than past.

Yet, in Dipak's view, she is wasted, and hopeless !!


Why do people judge others on the basis of their past?.


Yes, I do agree that knowing someone's past helps you to know that person better. But at the same time,doesn't it encourage you to be judgemental about that person?. Its probably unfair, and not justified.

It biases the entire judgement about (and the following interaction / communication with) that person. There is a great chance that knowing past may provoke you to maintain a certain distance from that person; which actually prevents you to know that person in a better manner.

I personally judge and understand a person on the basis of his present (and future, if he holds one); and I really prefer others judging me in a similar manner. I am not a person who dwells in past too much. Past is past. I learn a lot from the past, enjoy the better moments, and move on. I don't have too many problems with my past (and I am proud of whatever I have done); yet I guess I would prefer to be defined by my present, and future; than my past.

Jan Glidewell has made a very nice quote on past:

“You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the present.”

Thats the mistake many of us commit, don't we?

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


Two blogs are missing from my list: Reports of two of my recent hiking trips; to Kuari Pass and Grand Canyon-Death Valley.

People often ask me why am I not writing those, especially when I insist that those were some of the best days of my life so far.

Well, the report of the Death Valley and Grand Canyon trip should be up soon. Ramya is writing a 300 page novel on the trip, and I hope she finishes it up sometime soon. I will post the edited version of that when it's done. Ramya is a fantastic writer, and I am sure she will do a great job in putting those 10 days in words.

Kuari Pass trek... I have made several attempts to write about this one, but my very ordinary writing skills and extremely limited vocabulary do not do a justice to those 20 days. I have tried several times... But I am not able to put up a nice report.

I get nostalgia; I choke up; My fingers freeze.


I cant describe my state of mind, all the emotions I had, when I got that first glimpse of all those Himalayn peaks from top of the Kuari Pass. I cant describe how I felt to reach there. I cant expound all those those moments I lived in those 20 days... those moments for which I went all the way from US to India, walked almost 100 kilometers, climbed 8,000 ft. to reach the elevation of 14,000.

I can not.


I want to enunciate the feelings I have for those 30 people whom I didnt know before the trip... those 30 people who were part of my my life in those 20 days. I want to write about Milind, Amol, Sushant, and Sripad... I had never met these 4 guys in my life... we met, lived those 20 days together and parted after the hike was over... but they gave me some of the most treasured moments of my life. They redefined the meaning of friendship to me.

I cannot forget those three nites we spent just below the Kuari pass... it was windy... at times we feared that our tents would just blow away with that wind... we would have been dead in a minute had that happened... it was so freezing cold that we would think twice even before taking a pee... we kept ourselves awake by playing cards, singing songs, sharing our stories and dreams, till the wind receded.

I sometimes feel terribly short of words to express these things.


I guess some moments are just to be cherished and remembered.. forever.


I am sure that a 67 year old man, Mr. Kulkarni, would remember these moments forever his life; I am sure that a certain gentleman; whom we nicknamed 'Motilal', would remember all the pranks we made on him.


I am sure that Devang , a 9 year old kid, will remember this for rest of his life. Devang, who puked several times because he could not take the exertion; but, like a brave tiger, reached the summit before everyone else did; On top of Kuari Pass, when everyone was mesimerised and overwhlemed by everything that was on display, this kid innocently asked his father "Baba, Is the trek over?". !!

I wish I could meet these people again... I dont know how it would be; if it would feel same or otherwise. I dont know if I can meet them at all.. but they will always be there with me.

Friday, March 10, 2006


World population: 6,597,883,766
India's population: 1,027,015,247
Mumbai's population: 12,622,500

Yet most of us take so long to choose ONE partner for rest of the lif; and have a happy, healthy, and long lasting relationship.


Isn't that interesting?.

We should thank God that he assigned us our biological parents, and other relatives. Otherwise, our entire life would have been a very messy affair with so many complexities, personal problems, mental suffocation, indecision, an inferiority complex, and with so many options to choose from.. some failures and broken hearts. Of course, there is also happiness, love, satisfaction, security and all those goody goody things. But they all come in a package. You cant choose gold and discard the trash.

Relationship... Why is it so complex?... Is it really that complex?? Or are WE making it complex??

(I am not discussing my personal life here. These are just thoughts that came to my mind while deeply thinking about the whole issue. Actually, I am learning all about these complexities from people coming across at various points in this journey called life. Just tracking and observing some individuals teaches so many things in life, which cant be understood by reading books and getting degrees)

I was sitting in McNulty's the other day with some of my buddies. After couple of beers, two of my friends, Priya and Sachin (names changed, of course) started a very interesting conversation (Thoughts just start flowing after couple of beers, don't they :). Anyways). I was the third person involved in the discussion:

Priya: "Hey Sachin, you have been in Cleveland for about 8 months now, you should get a steady girlfriend"

Sachin: " Well Priya, I haven't found one yet. You know its not as easy as shown in movies. We are talking about real life here"

Priya: "Cmon, there must be someone. Look around, spend some time with someone you have in mind and you will find one"

Sachin: " May be I will"

Sachin: "Tell me, why does one need a girlfriend?" (Beer effect !!! Sachin gets philosophical now)

Priya: "Well, don't you need someone to open your mind, talk about some things which you cant share with everyone?"

Sachin: "I have some very close friends, with whom I can talk about some serious stuff. For that matter, anything close to my heart. Why do I need a girlfriend for that??"

Priya: "Don't you want to take someone on a date, and have nice dinner and a movie with her?"

Sachin: "Well, I go for nice dinner and movie with people I enjoy spending some nice time. Why do I need to get into the relationship for that??"

Priya: " Sachin, You are impossible. You are never going to get a girl if you think like this !"

Of course, this conversation was in lighter vein. But I thought about it later on.

Why do we need a life partner?. There are so many options available these days. There are singles clubs, blind dating, gentlemen's clubs, and all that. With some money, you can pretty much get anything you want. Then why to go throught the whole process of finding 'the' right one?

Here are some of my thoughts on the whole thingy:

I am a big believer in love. Pure, selfless love. I am also a big supporter of having a steady partner in life, and living a life with one partner. It makes things so much easy. In today's world full of complexities, compromises, selfishness, politics and all that crap; one needs some security, some sanity, some devotion in life. And that's precisely the reason we need someone with us. Someone who would understand us, guide us, help us, give some frank advice, settle some nerves, critique us, laugh on our jokes, cry with us, and share a laugh too. And how nice it is to have someone whom we can understand, have faith in; for whom we can be there to share their happiness and sorrow.

I believe that relationship develops from love; and relationship (and for that matter love)is a mutual process, a mutual feeling, a mutual emotion: One sided love, or one sided affection has no meaning as such. You may like someone; but it is equally important to have the other person share same feelings about you. I do believe that all successful relationships are built on these pillars (All relationships are not successful. Just because a couple is married for many years, does not imply a successful relationship. Many a times, its pure adjustment; which to me is the biggest failure in life).

I firmly believe that a successful relationship is built on trust, understanding, and passion. Without these three; it becomes fragile, susceptible to failure and impotent. And these things don't come easily: it takes time to develop an understanding between two human beings; and so is the case with trust and passion.

After all we are talking about spending rest of our life with that person; who was completely unknown to us just a few days back. It takes time to know the habits, likings, circumstances and emotions of other person. It takes even more time to digest all of them, and be mentally and emotionally ready to "accept" that person in our life.

Developing trust and passion are even more difficult. I am not talking about physical attraction and sexual desires here (even though I do believe that they are integral parts of a relationship). One can be attracted to opposite sex for a while, but passion and trust are long lasting, and always developing. And they should come in exactly right proportion.

One cant really plan these things: they just happen. Love cant be planned, it just happens. So is the case with relationships. They happen. And that's the beauty of the whole thing; and I guess that's what makes our lives so much more interesting.


I sometimes find our relationships (and for that matter whole life) so similar to cooking. To make something really nice, we have to be really well prepared; we need all ingredients in exact proportions, and at right time; we need to let things settle and simmer for a while; we need to trust our guts while adding spices; we need to be really patient to get the perfect blend and taste; we need to apply our soul for that; and we need passion for cooking. And if anything goes wrong, things turn sour (or bitter, or salty), and the whole effort is wasted.

Isn't it true?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

A story of emotions, trust and faith....

Got a shock last week when I heard about this story.... It disturbed me somewhere, even though it was nothing to do with me personally. I normally don’t get emotional.... But, this news was completely unexpected for me.... It shook me up totally. Especially because I thought I knew Andy, Bryan, and Tina very well.

It goes something like this:

Andy and Bryan (both guys) are very good friends for more than a year. Andy is kind of emotional, hard working, worthy of a commitment and innocent... someone who blindly trusts others. Bryan is still immature, believes in living life to the fullest, likes to play pranks on people, doesn't take life very seriously, and someone who you normally think twice before taking seriously. I happened to know Andy & Bryan equally well.

A few days back, Tina came into picture. Tina is stunningly beautiful, absolutely adorable, and very attractive girl; with innocent looks and deep eyes; but still not a mature woman for her age.

Andy, Bryan, and Tina became very good friends. To start with, it was all fun and nothing special.

As time passed by, Andy started spending a lot of time with Tina ... first as colleagues and then their friendship grew. They started interacting more with each other, and became very good and close friends. After a while, they started spending a lot of time together and seemed to be very comfortable with each others' company.

Slowly, Andy started liking Tina. But he was not sure if Tina has same feelings about him, as she did not talk of longer commitment at any point of time. But still Andy thought that Tina would be his best partner for life, as they shared so many things in common. Now Andy was in love with Tina. But still he wanted more time to formally open his mind. Since Andy thought Tina wasn’t involved with anyone else, he could afford to take some more time.

Meanwhile, during casual discussions, Andy declared amongst his close friends that he likes and loves Tina. Bryan was there as well. Bryan being a funny guy, took Andy's case too much and eventually everyone started teasing Andy with Tina.... Bryan played a big part in spreading the news.

Came Valentine's Day....

Andy thought that this was the best opportunity to propose Tina. He prepared himself for that.... and with a bit of hesitation, asked Tina if she likes him.

Here comes a twist in story:

Tina casually answered that she’s seeing Bryan since past 3 months, and they are planning to get serious about their relationship. And on top of that Tina said that she does not like Andy as such, and is comfortable with him only as a friend.

This was a big shock for Andy; his best friends had back-stabbed him. These were two people two people he trusted the most. Bryan and Tina purposefully played with Andy's emotions, used him and then just trashed him when he was of no more use.

After hearing this story from Andy, and another version from Tina, I was in a state of shock. All of a sudden, I felt as if I was loosing faith in love and humanity. Till this date, I am not able to understand:

1: Why did Tina not tell Andy earlier that she was dating Bryan, when she knew that Andy was interested in her ?

2: Why did Bryan play with Andy's emotions, when he knew what was happening?

3: How would Andy feel after being cheated by two of his close friends?

4: Should I trust Bryan and Tina anymore?

5: What did Bryan and Tina get after all this?

6: Does faith exist in today's world?

7: On what basis should one trust a human being?.... Are we so materialistic that we can play with anyone as we please to?

8: Can this love be true love?... What's the point in loving someone at an expense of someone else's life?

9: Do people really care about others these days?

This was very baffling for me. Especially the way Bryan and Tina turned their cold shoulders towards Andy after playing with him. Both Tina and Bryan are still good friends of mine... but I will think twice before trusting them.


I sincerely hope Andy gets over this soon, and starts a normal life.

This hurts... a lot.


Monday, March 06, 2006

Action... Interaction...

We interact with so many people every day. And there are many who keep meeting us. They may be your friends, acquaintances, colleagues or neighbors. But our "interaction" with everyone is not same. It varies from "Hi-Hello" and animated smile to a hug or some hearty talk. Whatever it may be, but one things is sure, that we interact with each one differently. And most of the times, this level of interaction or communication is set in first couple of meetings; and it stays like that for long time.

Have you ever wondered why do we hit it off instantly with some people and never seem to click with others? Why is it that there are some people we feel as if we have known them forever, and we are able to understand them; and others we can’t seem to relate to even after years of contact? We somehow feel that there could be no conversation beyond hi-hello and may be weather.

Lets consider the second case, and think about it:

I guess this degree of interaction comes from a pre-defined expectations from a person. Meaning, every person we meet, we expect that person to behave in a particular manner. Why only meetings, whenever we write emails to people, we do expect a certain type of reply / response from them. If you know a person well, you know that you will receive a certain type of response. I have often observed this thing, and that's where it becomes even more interesting when we get a response from a relatively unknown person (say a colleague, or someone we just know "indirectly").

Have you ever been in a situation where you’re so excited about presenting an idea to someone else and the response to your idea is the least of your expectations?. Say you do a nite-out working on report, you do your best and write an excellent report defying your mediocre writing skills; and send it out to your project partner at 5 AM to meet the meeting time of 8 AM. Your project partner looks at it, his face shows that he is least impressed by it; and on top of it he says that this work is totally crap and needs to be redone from scratch?

What do you think at that point? Is it something like: “Poor kid doesn't really know what he is missing out on... he doesn't really know the meaning of hard-work and efficiency”. Or is it like: “Maybe I didn’t make myself very clear.”

When we impose our own expectations onto others, we expect a particular reaction that we think should be an appropriate one from that particular person. People respond in ways that are acceptable to us or they don’t. If they do, we feel we’ve connected. If they don’t, we think the other person either has a problem on his head, or he is mentally slow, or he has had brain damage, or something is wrong with that person. Very seldom we try to simplify our point, and restate it in simpler manner.

When we’re attentive to others, we don’t impose anything on them. We allow people whom we like to be who they are and don’t take offense at their responses. In fact, we often find ways to meet their needs and expectations. We want them to feel good; and we do that much more to make them feel good. We develop that sort of "understanding" with those "favorite" people. Most of you would agree that this understanding is at the heart of all good relationships.

One way to promote it is to provide attentiveness in ways that are noticeable and welcoming. If you want to be remembered in a positive light, give others your attention. What others crave from us is the attention, perception, and responsiveness that few others provide. IF you are the person to provide that; you would be their friend. This, I believe, is the key to strike a successful, healthy and comfortable communication. Rapport building can be a very herculean task, yet it is so interesting, much like arithmetic additions (more on this later)

So, if you see that you don't really "communicate" with someone; do make an attempt, and watch your reaction!

(PS: I got a related article from a friend couple of days back. I found it interesting, so thought of developing it. So this is not my original thought. I have just developed it.)

Sunday, March 05, 2006


This blog is dedicated to my favorite comedy show: Seinfeld.

Some of my friends laughed at me when I told them that I am reading 'Seinfeld and Philosophy: A Book about Everything and Nothing.'

"Seinfeld and Philosophy???. Get lost. Seinfeld doesn't have any philosophy in it. You are wasting your time"

"Dude, Seinfeld is not to be taken too seriously. Watch it, laugh, enjoy, and forget. There is no need to get anything out of it"

"Do you also see FRIENDS??"

"I like South Park better than Seinfeld"

These were some of the reactions I got. I realised that for many of my friends, Seinfeld was just one of many favorite sitcoms. Even though they claimed that they were Seinfeld fanatics, they actually didnt go beyond having a good laugh. They did not relate themselves with the characters. For them it was just another sitcom. after all, its just a show about nothing.

No, that's not the way how I look at Seinfeld. For me, it is much more than "just a show about nothing".

My association with Seinfeld goes back to February 2005 (yeah, just an year back). Before that I used to hear my old friends Sunil and Vipul having a hearty laugh discussing about Seinfeld. Even though that sounded funny, I could not understand much of it; as I didnt know what Seinfeld was. And at that time, I did not have that much of spare time (Sunil and Vipul didn't have anything else to do in those days. Am I right guys?) for Seinfeld.

That time came at the start of last year. In those days, nothing much was happening in my life, it was a depressing and hopeless situation. In those days, even your better friends desert you. I didn't have much to do, and wanted something as a past time. I somehow got an access to all the Seinfeld episodes; and then there was no looking back. I have watched Seinfeld at home, hotels, airports, plane.. and it has been one exhilarating experience so far. I have seen ALL Seinfeld episodes (180 in total), and am now on repeat run :). I am not bored yet.

I like to watch it season by season. I sometimes watch one complete season in a day (20 odd episodes at a stretch, 22 minutes apiece). After couple of seasons, I unknowingly picked up some habits and dialogues of the characters.

I remember I was in India.. it was May 2005. One day my parents got into some trivial petty argument (ah, these parents!! They HAVE to argue on smallest things in this world: like what to cook for dinner, which channel should be played on TV, what should be the room temperature.. you name it !!!)... It's been 5 years since I am away from my parent now, and I was not used to all that. I was watching Seinfeld on my laptop, and even though the whole scenario was pretty funny, it was disturbing me. I took off my headphones and started in the Jerry style: "hey, hey, hey... whats going on!!... you guys have nothing else to do?? ". Then there were numerous moments in that trip when I acted in Kramer style..... It just happens. When you see same four people for so many days together, you are bound to pick up their style. But not many in India follow Seinfeld. I am sure they must have thought that I was mentally retarded or had a major brain problem, etc.

These days, my father strictly avoids any discussion whatsoever about my next India trip .

has given me so much. I have had some unforgettable moments with Seinfeld. Seinfeld has given me joy, laughter, a new hope to live life, and an introduction to four very interesting characters in this world: Jerry, George, Kramer, and Elaine. I cant help myself but I find Elaine very cute, George a big idiot, and Jerry a very simplistic common man, And I choose not to comment about Kramer. HE is special. I sometimes wish I could be like him. Would have enjoyed my life so much more. Apart from everything else, Seinfeld showed a whole new approach towards life... There is fun in being happy even without being successful. I learnt that from Kramer. I also learned to look at everything with a lighter prospective. There are so many a*s*hol**s around who would normally be very irritating and avoidable. I look at them in a Seinfeld way, and they become tolerable. Whole life becomes so tolerable when you look at in in that way.

I don't need to write about how great the show was. I can't exactly describe the feeling, but there is something in it that attracts you towards it. May be its simplicity, spontaneity, or humor... I don't know what makes Seinfeld so good. But it is good, for sure.

Anyways, now I am tempted to see one more episode. Its going to be "The Glasses".


Friday, March 03, 2006


I know I am going gung-ho off late and blogging about complexities in life. Its not all about nothing, it all about something. And they are getting more serious (and obviously boring for readers, I guess) these days...

Actually, I am in a very relaxed state of mind these days.. there is a certain feel good factor and contentment with day-to-day life; and am thinking totally differently than what I have been writing in my blogs.


I had thought (and sometimes still think) a lot about these small and insignificant things in life. Somehow things got too busy, and never got a time to relax, sit and write them down. Also, at times, the situation was not favorable or I was just not at peace to express myself.

I am not done yet. Have a few more of these; they are ready in my mind, just have to type my thoughts.

I like to see the blog exactly the way I thought it would be. I like each and every word precisely the way it originally came to my mind.

I want to express myself, I want to let my thoughts come out of my brain. I want to hit that avalanche of thoughts and sail through them.

It feels good to do that.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Love... Crazy Love !

Take One: Place: Cleveland, Ohio.

Su is a friend of mine. Su is American. A few months back, Su was dating Eric and they were doing fine. One day, Su met Harry in a pub. They danced together, chatted, had nice time. A few days after that, I met Su in the same pub. She was there with Harry. Su told me that she is now dating Harry, and she thinks she's in love with him. She also told me that, after "that" nite with Harry, she found him very attractive, and it was too much to be away from him. I asked: "Ok Su, what about Eric? I thought you guys were going along nicely". Su told me that she was getting bored with Eric, and didn't feel that she loved him anymore. She was always looking for a better option.

Incidentally, Harry is Su's 5th boyfriend.

Take Two: Movie: Mughal-E-Azam.

Salim, the prince of Mughal empire, gets a glimpse of Anarkali, a court dancer. He falls in love with her, and she also dreams of having a life with Salim. King Akbar does not approve the relationship, and even declares Saleem a traitor and sends his armies to crush him. He tries to kill Salim and Anarkali, even manages to separate the, but he cannot kill their love. Salim and Anarkali sacrifice all their happiness, their dreams, their life for love.

Mughal-E-Azam is considered to be an epic of love, sacrifice, and pain.

Take Three: Place: Mumbai, India.

M is my college buddy. He got a decent job after completing his engineering, and got settled in life relatively earlier. Last year, his parents wanted to get him married, and he was not beyond their wish. Six months back, M got married to P. It was an arranged marriage. M and P did not know each other before that, and did not get a lot of time to spend with each other before they got married.

I asked M about how he could take such a risk in choosing a partner for life, and if he was comfortable with P. He said that P was not his best choice, but his parents wanted P. Since he had no other choice, he trusted her, and after marriage got to spend lots of time with her. Now M says that he likes P very much, and in fact loves her a lot. He, however, confessed that there were some things which could have been done in a different way.

P believes that its a part of adjustment, and everyone's got to do some compromise with life.

What is love?...

Is it just sex?, is it physical attraction?, is it a pleasure?? s it crush??

Or Is it sacrifice?? hurt?? bitterness?? dissatisfaction??

Or is it adjustment??

Intriguing question indeed.

How does one 'fall' in love?... What makes us produce those hormones that would initiate the feeling of love about a person in our mind?... Why do we like a particular person , and not any person as such?... How do we decide that "that" would be a dream love for us?

Does everyone even think that much, and that deep?... Or they fall in love just to get the experience and have a steady physical relationship?...

Why does love 'fail' sometimes?... If we love a certain person so much to start off with, where do those feelings vanish after things go sore?... How do we prepare ourselves to taking that decision?...

Is first love the truest love, and everything after that a compromise??. Someone said that love can happen only once in life. Is that true?... If so, why??...

Why is love so complex??...

Does it need to be this complex at the first place??

My views
(please do not draw any conclusions about my personal life. These are my views, NOT my story):

I try to keep love as simple as possible. I hold a copyright for "Do not confuse your liking with love. You may like a person, feel attracted to him; but that doesn't necessarily mean that you love him" advice for my friends. And I follow that in my personal life a well.

For me, love is a tale of two C's:


I guess everything else follows these two.

I would find it difficult to love a person (a girl, of course, I don't have any feelings what-so-ever about brotherly love) unless I know her pretty well, and I get some kind of commitment from her. I prefer to have that comfort zone, that security in a relationship. And I also strongly believe in it being a life-long one. Would like to be steadily in love with one partner than trying out a dozen. If two people are mutually committed, I guess the trust, passion, understanding, family adjustments, career etc. fall in proper place. For me love is about commitment, loads of happiness, sharing life, and sharing bit of pain as well. I consider love as a steady feeling, a feeling that should be a part of life rather than just being a phase.

This is MY concept / theory of love.

Is it too optimistic??... Is it being too choosy??... Does it work in every case??...

Apparently not.

If my theory was always true, their would be no broken relationships, no break-ups, and no hatred. But it happens. I have seen broken relationships very closely. It hurts. I have seen people going thru a trauma. I have seen their life getting destroyed after a break-up. There is so much of bitterness, hurt, pain involved in this process?

Why do people break up?... How can they suddenly dislike a person they loved so much just a few days back??... Why do they make it so complex??. If they wanted a broken relationship, why do they fall in love at all?... Do they actually think about what the other partner may have to go thru in digesting a break-up?...

I guess we human beings like everything complex, and we ourselves make it that way. I dont know if I can find out answers to all these questions... it will drive me crazy if I try to.

May be that's why love is crazy.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Suicide.... A cowardly act or bravery ??

Ok, please dont jump off your chair, and start dancing. I have absolutely no plans of committing suicide or anything like that. You don't need to be so happy. Also, please do not draw any conclusions. I am not even going into depression, etc. Nor did I have a heartbreak.

I am a regular reader of Mid-Day. Mid-Day has been my favorite local newspaper. It was fun reading it in train from Borivali to Bandra; people from Bombay would know what I mean. A few days back, there was a flash news of Kuljeet Randhawa, a small screen actress, committing suicide out of depression. She hung herself. An year back, former Miss India Nafish Joseph did a similar act. We read / hear of so many suicide cases. We spend a minute for them, and move on.

However, suicide has always aroused a great interest in my mind. I find the whole phenomenon very interesting, intriguing and very abstruse to understand. If you put yourself in the shoes of the person who commits the extreme act, you would probably have an idea of what he must have been through to take such an extreme decision. I am sure it would be a very intricate state of mind, something that one finds difficult to cope with. Some people are not brave enough to fight with it; and accept the defeat.

I was discussing the whole thing with K that day. K thought that people who commit suicide are cowards. She thought that such people do not deserve any respect or sympathy whatsoever, and its absolutely disgusting even to think of them with any esteem whatsoever. I was bit surprised to hear such a strong reaction from her. She strongly believed that suicide is a cowardly act; and I strongly disagreed with that.

I actually have a lot of respect, and a bit of sympathy towards these people. I always thought that committing suicide was a very brave act, and only a very strong and stubborn mind could think of doing something like that.

It takes lots of guts to hurt yourself physically. Try poking a needle in your finger... you probably wont dare to do that on a normal day. Try cutting yourself with a knife... you will think twice. Its not easy. It takes a very strong willpower to do anything of that sort. If this is true, then how can those people be termed as cowards??

I distinctly remember this: A few years back, I was rappelling the Duke's Nose at Khandala. Its more than a 1000 ft. vertical rock patch at an elevation of approx. 3000 ft, and the valley beneath it is literally fathomless. A small mistake there would take you 4000 ft down straightaway. After initial positioning, I was taking my own time before the moments of avalanche. I looked down, and a thought came to my mind: what if I fall down?.... I remember getting shivers and goosebumps at that moment. I could not even imagine anything like that. I realised that I was not the ones who could commit suicide. By jumping off the cliff.


Everyone faces difficulties in life... life is not easy. But most of us somehow overcome the trauma. Sometimes you have to face a few facts in life. Sometimes you need to be patient and let the time take care of everything. Sometimes you need to move on. I don't think ending the life is a good option though. There is more fun in facing the challenge rather than avoiding it. I guess that defines an individual and his character.

One also needs to consider others before thinking of such an extreme step. Often we have our family and parents who are dependant on us (not necessarily financially, but more emotionally), we have our career to take care of, and dreams to chase. Why should one leave everything incomplete and just walk out of the game??. I dont think its the right spirit.

Having said that, I still immensely respect the guts and mental strength of people who commit suicide. Hats off to ones who jump off from a building or hang themselves, or even for that matter ones who consume poison. What must be going through their mind in those last moments? (e.g. just after jumping, and just before hitting the ground. Or in those moments when you feel that the poison is killing you and you cant do anything. Or in those moments when you see your lungs are choking and you feel the oxygen deficiency in your blood). How do they feel?.... Do they feel relieved, or they feel bad?.

Does a human being have a last smile just before death?. I dont know.

I have to mention this story here:

There is a heavenly place in Sahyadri mountains, called Harishchandragad. I haven't seen anything more beautiful than Konkankada on Harishchandragad on a wet, misty day in peak monsoon. Its a massive concave shaped rock patch more than 2000 ft in depth. The feel of Konkankada is simply mesmerising... I probably cant describe that in words. I am sure people who have been to Harishchandragad exactly know what I am talking about.

Some people say that there was a guy who fell in love with Kokankada so much that he just jumped off it.

I dont know about anything else, but I would say he was lucky to experience the ultimate ecstasy in life. I am sure he had a last smile in those 5 seconds.

... To the Core ...

I was going through some profiles on Orkut the other day, and found some of them describing themselves as "Maharashtrian to the Core" or "Maharashtrian at Heart". This claim of theirs aroused a curiosity to know more about them. I wanted to know why they claim to be "Maharashtrian to the Core". In general, I observed that they listen to a lot of Marathi music, they read Marathi books, they have seen many Marathi movies, and they like Maharashtrian cuisines. I didnt find anything special in that (in fact, many of us have same interests). However, I also observed that they had mostly Maharashtrian friends in their friend's list, their testimonials were mostly in Marathi-English, and so were the scraps (in fact, some even wrote their names in Devanagari). I directly/ indirectly knew some of them in my old days, lost touch in later period, and now Orkut was helping me to know more about their recent past.

Please do not get me wrong: I am not trying to be judgemental here. I also now that Orkut profiles does not completely illustrate a personality, in fact it's sometimes very misguiding. Also, I am not even trying to prove anything write or wrong. Even tough this was just an observation, I did observe a definite trend in these people. I somehow felt that they had a very restrictive personality, and a close-bracketed life, however they were strongly associated to Marathi world.

Next obvious step was introspection: Am I a "Maharashtrian to the Core" ??

I guess I WAS. Not anymore.

Coming from a very simple and well educated Maharashtrian family; and given the fact that I was in a Marathi medium school, and my mother is a teacher; I was introduced to Marathi literature at a very early age. Even though I was never introduced to Marathi movies or songs, I developed a liking for Marathi books when I was in school. My parents also encouraged me to follow and participate in prolific Marathi theatre (believe it or not, I have won couple of awards-n- trophies for acting at inter-school level; and I was also there on All India Radio :) ). My parents always believed in living a simple life, and were never gung-ho about dining out. My taste buds were very much tuned to typical Maharashtrian food. So in every sense, I was very much a Maharashtrian.

It all changed in my engineering days though. Our group was pretty much cosmopolitan: got very good friends who were not Maharashtrians, and I got to learn a lot in those days (especially about their traditions, food, habits, culture, etc.). After 4 years of engineering, and some very significant time in Johnson Controls, I had a few more dimensions to my personality. Couple of years at Clemson introduced a whole new world to me. I actually value Clemson more for the enthralling experience of knowing more about people, their background, their cultural diversity.. actually about everything. Also, having loads of non-Maharashtrian friends helped a lot to realise that this world is full of diversity. Like a kid, I tried to grasp everything that came my way; tried to absorb some of those things in my psyche. I was always a keen observer, and an astute learner. That helped a lot. Most of my present identity is in fact developed at Clemson. And the trend will continue at Cleveland and wherever I go after that. Life is a learning process, no matter how old or experienced you are. At this stage thouh, I dont think I am a Maharashtrian to the Core anymore.

Did I loose anything in the process??

I dont think so. Not at all. May be I lost my Maharashtrian identity, but I would like to consider it as a part of the process.

I have always believed in having multiple traits in life. I get bored of doing same thing for a long time, and also like to try out a few new ones. I, in fact like to experiment (not again !!!) a bit with my daily lifestyle, and I immensely enjoy the whole process. One is bound to change in the journey of life. Changes are inevitable, and the moment one shuns from changes, I guess the whole purpose of life becomes obsolete. I firmly believe that life is all about expanding the horizons, and enjoy the whole experience, and I will stick to them for now.

On a deathbed, I dont want to feel as if I missed experiencing something in life that I always wanted to. I would hate myself if I have that feeling at any moment of life. After all, the destination is not that significant; but the journey definitely is. And I want to enjoy every bit of it.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Vivek??.. Who's Vivek??

Chizu, one of the PIs in our lab calls me Vivik. In fact, most of my lab-mates call me Vivik. I tried explaining Chizu a couple of times that I am Vivek, and not Vivik. But that didn't change anything. I can, for once, understand that people have difficulty in pronouncing my name, but Chizu even addresses me as Vivik in her emails. :).

I actually find it very funny, in fact kinda like the way she says "Vivik". And Chizu has been very very nice to me. So no problems Chizu.

But I sometimes feel that, as far as my name is concerned, I have lost my unique identity in the past couple of years, especially since coming to Cleveland. I go by any name but Vivek...people (I am talking about non-Indians, of course) call me Vivik, Vivaek, Veevek, Vivak, Viv, V,... anything... but Vivek.

Even in the desi community at Cleveland, I don't have a copyright for my name. I go by Vivek R. There is a certain Vivek Walimbe, who has got all the copyrights for the name Vivek (Vivek W is my very good friend, so I dont mind that. Poor guy also has lost the sole copyright on his name.. he now goes by Vivek W). So my last name invariably comes into the picture.

Let me make couple of things clear: I am not very possessive about my name at all. I admit that there is nothing great or special in my name, and Vivek itself is a very ordinary name. But whats so special about Vivik, and Vivaek ??... If people can pronounce Vivik, what is it so difficult in Vivek??

Also, very strangely no one has any difficulty with my last name. I also agree that Raut is also a very ordinary last name. There is no "personality" associated with Raut. I would have loved to have a last name like Khan, Kapoor, Mukherjee, or even for that matter Tendulkar, Kanetkar (actually I will settle with any Kar)... but I did not get a chance to choose my last name... so I have no option here. I am not too fond of my last name though. I guess Maharashtrians in general prefer to go by their first name, and not the last name.

I hope, one day everyone calls me by my real name... VIVEK.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Where to stop?

K was my school-mate. He dropped out of school in std X. He got married, and is a father of two already. He works as an 'assistant' to a local cable operator, and shares a 1 bedroom flat with his parents.

M, another childhood friend of mine, didn't go beyond Std. XII. He got married a couple of days back, and works in an import-export company. He told me that even though he was not stable in life, his parents wanted hom to get married, and he is not beyond their wish.

Many of my mates from engineering days are in Bangalore. They got jobs in big software companies, and are doing good for themselves. They say that they are happy with their lives, and are satisfied with whatever they are doing / getting.

Most of my friends in Clemson were from Electrical Engineering- Computer Science stream. They completed their Masters, and are earning big bucks now (no, Bioengineers dont like big money). Some of them even bought new BMWs, and are living royally. They have no plans on studying any further, and are content with their jobs.

I know people who took 5 years to complete PhD, and are now doing a Post-Doc. They haven't yet started making big money, and but are still content with their work. They say that it gives them an utmost satisfaction to work in the area of their own liking, and do something that no one has even thought of.

My lab-mate Sandra is in her 6th year of PhD and has at least 1.5 years to go before she can graduate.

I have just started my PhD. It will take me at least 4 years to finish my work. I am not even in a position to think and plan my life after earning PhD. I have been asking this question to myself plenty of times in past 4 years: "Where to stop?" and "Why to stop?" and I don't have definite answers to those.

"How do people choose their ultimate career?... How do people zero down on a profession?". Thinking and making observations related to these two questions is a favorite past-time of mine.

Lets start from India, and lets start from people whom we come across in our day-to-day life. How did a bus driver decide that that was going to be his job for life?. How did a newspaper vendor end up deciding that he wants to sell papers in a small corner of a busy street?. We come across postmen, hawkers, peons, etc. What prompts them to choose THAT particular profession over others?. Its a very intriguing question.

Now lets think a bit about the higher-end (only in terms of education) people. How do they figure out the million dollar question "where to stop?".

Here are my thoughts about this thingy:

There are many factors that compel you on zeroing down on the ultimate career option. I think the first and most significant one is the "socio-economic" factor. Many a times one is financially handicapped. He is responsible for entire family, and that burdens him from pursuing their ultimate dreams. I have seen so many people who wanted to do much more than they ended up doing, either because they did not have financial back-up or they were compelled by their family background or merely peer-pressure. They succumbed to social norms, and their career was ultimately decided by others (say parents or relatives) and not by themselves. I have also seen many (especially girls) who had to abandon their pursuit for higher studies just because they wanted to "settle" in life.

For those who cross this hurdle, the next hurdle was (or could be) their ability. Not everyone is born with same intellect or acumen. As one climbs up the ladder, often one realises that they cannot go beyond a certain point. There is an upper limit for everything, and the threshold is different for different individuals. At one point they realise that there is an element of risk involved getting to the next level. One often prefers to play safe than taking risks. Its human nature.

Another factor is ambition. It is one of the strongest driving forces in pursuits of an ultimate career. Some are happy with being just one of many, other want to be just a notch above others (more on that later).

Then comes work satisfaction. For some individuals (I can definitely say that about PhD students, and even for that matter for individuals pursuing medicine. I have ample of samples around me to prove my point :) ), work satisfaction comes first. Money, family life, etc. take a back-seat for a while, because they do not want to settle for anything less than the best. Its the quest of knowledge that gives them the energy to keep going (yeah, I know many of you are feeling sorry for these maniacs. But sometimes you cant help).

The least (or the most, for some) but a very important factor is money. Lets admit that money drives everything. One cannot survive without money, and no amount is sufficient amount for being happy in life (very unfortunately, our dear God forgot to create the real-money plant. I would have developed acres of those, and spent my entire life watching Seinfeld).

And then there are others.

I often see this world as a game of Monopoly. Our life is the board, we are merely the players, our destiny the dice, then there are various places that you can live- own- build houses and hotels, etc. We keep playing this game for our entire life. We know that ultimately its something we cannot win forever, but we keep playing it just because we don't want to loose. Others come and go, some players hit big, some don't. Some show great potential but loose everything in one move. Some make calculated moves and win. Some loose.

And the game goes on...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Tied to a Rope ...

I recently came across a very interesting article. It was a simple observation in day-to-day life; yet made so much sense out of it.

Read on:

Failed Once- Failed Forever!!

As I was passing the elephants, I suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at anytime, break away from their bonds but for some reason, they did not.

I saw a trainer near by and asked why these beautiful, magnificent animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. "Well," he said, "when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it's enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away.

They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free." I was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn't, they were stuck right where they were.

Like the elephants, how many of us go through life hanging onto a belief that we cannot do something, simply because we don't believe we can do it?"

Doesn't this apply to human beings as well?. We don't do many things because we have a pre-defined mindset towards certain things, and we don't even try to break free out of it.

Do you ever have a feeling of having a limited horizon for your dreams and lifestyle, just because the way you are brought up??.

I have thought about this thingy so many times, especially after coming here. I got to meet so many new people from different parts of India, and for that matter of the world. Everyone was so different. Their thinking pattern, their ideology, their philosophy, their maturity, the way they react to a particular situation, the fear-factor... all such small things vary so much person to person, country to country...

We all are basically same human beings consisting of same flesh and blood and brain. Then why are we so different?.

Here is my short theory for it: Since all human beings are essentially same, they should be able to adapt themselves to different conditions/ cultures /diversity/ people. It sounds very simple and trivial, but its apparently not. We cant adapt ourselves overnight, and more importantly, we cant adapt ourselves to everything. There comes a threshold in life, where you are not willing to go beyond a point. You cant accept a certain things, and you choke up.

I myself did some small "experiments" on myself, tried to expose myself to different cultures, situations, and challenges. The whole purpose was to see how do I react to them, and if I am equally comfortable with all these situations. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it did not. After giving a sufficiently long time for the experiment, I realised that I am different, I do have my own personality, philosophy and vision. It was not possible for me to adapt to a certain things. Some things were imbibed on to my brain, and they are going to be there forever!!!. I could not break those shackles.

I guess it's all in mind.

Those "in between" times

What do you "think" in those "in-between" times?

Throughout the day, we keep doing different things; but there are some things that we do subconsciously, and we really don't need to apply our brain for them. We kinda go through motions. Our brain doesn't keep track of the things happening around us. Our brain is working, but we don't exactly remember what we were doing. What do we think during that time?. What does our brain do?

I don't have a definite answer for this one, so please drop a comment if you have one.

What do we (i.e. our brain) think when we:

1: Walk through a corridor or on a daily route
2: Take bath
3: Drive alone on an empty interstate
4: Take a pee
5: Take a dump
6: Tie our shoes
7: Stare at a computer screen
8: Attend a boring lecture or seminar
9: Get ready to sleep, just after hitting bed
10: Make a call and wait for the other person to pick it up
11: Eat
12: Wash dishes
13: Stand in a queue
14: Ogle at a girl
15: Listen to music

Any thoughts?

Sunday, February 19, 2006

I would like to:

Here some additions to my Wish-List. There is no time frame for trying these things out, but I would like to do them sometime in my life. And would like to try them out sooner than later. No, these are not my retirement or old-age plans. Hopefully in next four years I will see some of them coming into reality.

I would like to:

1: Have a pet: Most likely, it would be a turtle. A turtle matches my personality: its slow-n- steady, eats a lot, doesn't make too much of noise, its not irritating, doesn't need too much of attention, doesn't get noticed too easily, considered to be very intelligent and mature species, very loyal, and trustworthy.

2: Try wood carving: I want to get a big block of wood, and carve something special from it. Something like a laughing Buddha, or mount Rushmore. It would be kinda big-n-huge. I would also like to put a layer of varnish to it, and would like to keep it in my drawing room. I used to try carving a chalk (my mom is a teacher, so I had unlimited supply of chalks :) ), but never worked out the way I wanted. I have also tried a bit of carpentry. Wood is better.

3: Draw a landscape on canvas: After swimming, drawing probably comes last in my skill-set. My drawing is pathetic. even though I am a certified intermediate grade artist, my drawing sucks. But that doesn't mean that I cant do it. Somewhere within I feel that I can do it. I want to draw a nature landscape, preferably taken from one of my photos. It will have some very bright and dark colors, and most likely it would include a mountain, a tree, lots of greenery, and nature.

4: Learn a guitar or mouth organ: I would be very happy and proud to be able to play Hotel California on guitar or Piano Man with mouth organ.

5: Start a small size restaurant serving my own specialities: I always try to experiment with my food. I like to try to cook something different, unusual, and distinctive (my sincere apologies to Sunil, Deep, Naren and Tejas. I can understand why you guys have lost your appetite in past couple of years :) ). Sometimes they turn out pretty well though. My restaurant will look something like a Goan shack, and will serve 15 varieties of omelets, 15 of chicken, and 10 of red meat. Some Classic Jazz or Soft Rock will be played in background, and it will have a cozy-romantic atmosphere.

(For those who are not a part of Orkut family, here is my hiking/traveling Wish-List):

1: Go on a road trip from east coast to west coast

2: Do the 'Kailash-Mansarovar' trek in the Himalayas

3: Go on the 'Europe tour' just for photography

4: Revisit all the forts in Sahyadri, where I have been in past, and capture them in my camera.

5: Go to Kashmir, Leh and Laddakh.

6: Do the Complete Grand Canyon Hike: From South Rim to North and back.

Very much achievable, eh !!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Maintaining a public image: Is it necessary?

A few days back, I was playing a game of Mafia with some friends. Its a game of logical arguments, intense discussions, and smart guesswork. After couple of rounds, the game got interesting. I tried to put forward a very logical argument about why 'C' could be a mafia. I was trying to explain my point, however, some people were not convinced about the logic. As usual, I was trying to make a point with some humor involved in it, and people thought I was being funny. At that point, 'P', a good friend of mine, said: "Shut up Vivek, no one amongst us takes you seriously !!".

That comment really took me by surprise. For first time in many years, someone actually told what people think of me. I was not sure how to react to that comment. I was kinda amused to hear that; was also disappointed as my very valid point was not being considered; but at same time, somewhere within, I was also pleased to know that I have some public image now.

Wow !!.

I have never tried to have one particular image of mine. As a kid I was very quiet, intense, subdued, and introvert. Even though I was active and forthcoming, I was anything but brat, wasted or arrogant. In engineering days, people would associate me with my laughter, and my monomania for trekking. As far as I recollect, I was always a trustworthy, modest, and happy-go-lucky person. I was part of a famous group in library, had amazing fun enjoying those 4 years, and was very content the way my life was going.

In Clemson, however, I tried not be be confined to any particular group. The reason: I wanted to experience whatever was on offer. I tried to be equally active with various student organizations, especially CISA, Surabhi, ISA and of course AID. At the same time I was there with crazy friends enjoying some barbecues, road trips, parties, playing cricket, and what not. Those were the days when I would live every day as if there was no tomorrow. Every experience was different ans vastly satisfying, and that kept encouraging me to venture new things all the time.

and now Cleveland. Here I tried experimenting with myself. (it's another story altogether). Anyways...

Is it really necessary to have a particular public image?. Or do people really have a defined public image?

Apparently many people do have one. Some are known to be street-smart, some poetic, some cultured, some talented, some wasted, some eccentric, some antagonists, some protagonists, some shallow and some deep. Some are known to be singers, some mimics, some dancers and some are know to be drunkies. When one goes to a public function / social event, one carries a specific personality with him. And he is expected to be just that. Anything else is neither accepted nor acceptable. I have often observed one thing in social events: certain individuals are 'expected' to act/ react in a particular manner. Often one would observe these personalities who would always debate about politics, some others would always start bitching about some thing or other, someone else would always sing a particular genre of songs, and someone would always start dancing the moment he enters the party. Some specific group would always discuss some specific topic (such as cricket, football, studies..) and there are a few who would just be in their own world.

Why do we have these pre-defined notions about people?. Are these people really like that in day-to-day life?... Do they reflect their real self?...

Probably not. I have known so many people who are completely different than what they show off. I have known intensely intense people being perceived as frivolous individuals. I have known extremely sensitive people being publicly recognised as rude and heartless. I have known really harmless people assumed to cause problems.

Do we ever bother to know them closely?... do we even try to understand why an individual reacts to a particular manner each time a situation arises?. We don't.

Why? (I actually don't have an answer to this one. Let me know if you have one).

In today's world it is very important to develop contacts, exchange your thoughts with others, be professional and perfect, be famous... most importantly to 'sell' ourselves. The mantra is to 'get noticed' somehow. It is very difficult to survive the fierce competition of today's world if we don't do that. Some people are quite smart and comfortable at it and some are not. And the ones who represent the second type often end up at the receiving end. Probably this is the only way life works and there is no apparent solution than self-belief and hard work.

When we go out for shopping, we often end up buying the stuff that looks good rather than what has more utility. When we go out to a fancy restaurant, we tend to order a dish that looks good. When we try to find a partner in life, we first shortlist ones who look picture perfect and gorgeous. Don't we?