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?

Friday, February 17, 2006

Dear God, You Are NOT an Engineer.

Being a Biomedical Engineer, I often end up reading about human anatomy and physiology. Most often than not, I study the cellular level signalling and also tissue level functionality. Each time I read that stuff, I wonder how can everything be so perfectly organized. Even if you go to the cellular or molecular level, each particle has its own function and each action has a specific role to play. Each time I learn something new, I am flabbergasted to experience the mystery of human evolution.

I don't know who invented the human body. (While some people say it's God who created the world; I believe it was science. I am more inclined to link the human evolution to the probability theory and thermodynamics). However, lets for the moment believe that God made everything.

In that case, God is great. It must have taken immense amount of planning, knowledge, thinking, application, precision, accuracy to come up with something as complex as a human being. Being a PhD student (nothing can be more complex than a PhD student, by the way!) I often wonder what educational background did our dear God have?. Umm... probably medicine, or architecture, or biochemistry, or cell biology.... there are various possibilities; but I am damned sure that God was not an Engineer.


Even the dumbest of engineer would make sure that he gets some quantitative output at each stage of a process. In engineering, we are taught to see to it that we get the output at every possible data processing point. Whether your algorithm is right or wrong, you need an output. It's as simple as that. Take an example of any programming language: first thing we learn is how to print the output. Everything else comes later. Any engineer would agree with me about the fact that first and minimum requirement of any engineering development is an output.

But strangely, our body has no quantitative output !!. How unfortunate and unthoughtful was that !!.

Imagine if some engineer was to make the human body... He would make sure that we have outputs at every point. Just imagine:

If you are not feeling well, there will be a digital display on your hand showing "how much" you don't feel well. So if the value is within a normal range (what can be the unit of "wellness"??), you can still go to work. Otherwise, you have to take the day off. Our mood swings would be quantified as "negative 4 percent as compared to normal" or "positive 6 % as compared to normal". It would be so much easier for other to judge your mood: just look at the display on the forehead, and know if your date is in romantic mood or not!!

Thinking of that, I let my imaginative powers take control of my brain.

I could have seen a barometer on my stomach, to indicate how full or empty it was. There would have been a pH meter coming out of my intestines to see if I had acidity. I could have had a speedometer as well as an oxygen sensor on my back showing the activity of my lungs. Oh and my brain would have been full of displays: showing what was going on. Every particle of light captured in my eyes could be printed on a photo-quality paper and I could get got exact print of what I just saw. Wow!!

How helpful would that have been !!

Dear God, you made such a complex world. Couldn't you add a simple display system for us??.. So silly !!.

A Perfect Sunday Afternoon

I have to tell you this:

(The phrase "I have to tell you this" is copyrighted by Aditi Herwadkar of Cleveland, Ohio. Every time "I have to tell you this" comes from Aditi, we know that some interesting story is coming up. Since last Sunday Afternoon was Aditi's plan; this had to start with "I have to tell you this". And it started just like that... Anyways...)

Last Sunday, Aditi felt like putting up chef's hat, and making her trademark Goan / Saraswat shrimp curry with white rice. She wanted some company to enjoy this delicacy, and since there are very few 'fish fanatics' (I am one of them. For me, fresh fish comes first, then chicken, then lamb, etc.), we were invited.

I woke up at noon, and it was snowing heavily at that time. It somehow felt very nice to see some fresh crispy snow after so many days. I had a voicemail from Meghna, asking me to be ready by 1.00 pm. Gautam and Amita were to join us at Aditi's place.

I made some Irish creme flavored coffee for myself, and stepped out in the balcony to enjoy some snow. It was not so cold, but was windy, and somehow felt very nice. I was simultaneously planning my day as well; it was supposed to be just an afternoon lunch at Aditi's place. So potentially the day was open for me.

Anyways, we all reached Aditi's place at 1.30 pm. I could smell coconut curry as soon as I entered the apartment. Food was ready, and without further delay, we latched on food. The menu was simple: coconut-shrimp curry (made with coconut milk, green chili, salt, shrimp. No red chili or tomato etc), mussels with green chutney / coconut stuffing, and white rice. We had some nice wine to go with that. ( It was Blue Marlin- Shiraz; one of my favourite ones). And we had some deliciously royal Baklawa as dessert.

Food was simply Divine. We kept eating till food was over. Of course, the topic of discussion was fish and food. Hot white rice, and some very well made fish curry is worth more than a million dollars. I probably wont be able explain my feelings here. Only true fish lovers will know it. But I had very satisfied expression on my face all the while.

After the hearty lunch, we were all set to go in the "hibernate" mode, but Dr. Gautam Shetty proposed a visit to Cleveland Botanical Garden. Unfortunately for us, and fortunately for him, Gautam is about to leave Cleveland to pursue a more lucrative career after spending 5.5 years here. He had never been to this place, it was on his to do list. It was a tempting offer, and even though it was cold outside, we decided to do it.

Cleveland Botanical Garden features a Glasshouse, which is a world in itself; a world of beauty and wonder. Its a crystal-peaked conservatory that beckons visitors to explore two of the world's most fragile and fascinating ecosystems: featuring the flora and fauna of two diverse and contrasting environments: the spiny desert of Madagascar and the cloud forest of Costa Rica. It features more than 350 exotic plants and more than 50 butterflies, insects, birds and other animals.

Both houses have been excellently maintained and give a perfect experience of a hot, humid tropical weather. One could see all the hard work that was put to made somethings as wonderful as that. It perfectly felt like a humid monsoon day in a jungle somewhere in Sahyadri, with that particular aroma filling up the space, all kinds of creatures showing the richness of nature, and some very specific tropical things that one doesn't get in the US. What mesmerised me was the fact that it was all snow and cold outside; and perfectly sunny and warm inside.

It was a very special experience to be at the glasshouse. It was beautiful, and yet quiet. I am actually planning to go there for studying once summer starts. It somehow feels nice to be there, may be because I am used to hot and humid India.

I will remember this Sunday Afternoon for Aditi's shrimp curry, and the world of Madagascar and Costa Rica.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Don't go, Sachin.. Keep playing.

After India's defeat in the recent Karachi test, there were reports from India about people demonstrating against Sachin Tendulkar, and few even demanding to throw him out of the team. There has been a nationwide debate about Sachin's form, with many claiming that Sachin is finished, and its the beginning of his end. It happened for first time in past 16 years, that people wanted Sachin to stay out of the team... They wanted him to retire. Sachin never received such a treatment any time in the past.

I was agape and confused after reading these reports. Somehow my mind was not yet ready to accept Indian cricket without Sachin. I cant imagine someone else coming out for batting at no. 4 in tests. I cant imagine someone else killing the bowlers in one dayers. I cant imagine not listening to Sachin's voice once in a while. I cant imagine Sachin being thrown out of Indian team.

No way, not even in my wildest dreams.

Sachin is God. How can someone throw him out of the team?. I dont think anyone is good enough to fill-in his place in Indian team. And above all, I don't think Sachin is over. Sachin WILL bounce back to his best once more, and will bid adieu to cricket on his own terms. He has to. He's not a normal cricketer, he's special; in more than one ways, he's exceptionally gifted than mere mortals. He simply cannot go wrong in scripting his own destiny.

Sachin is probably the most complete batsman that we have seen till date. Yes, he may not be the best (Lara is more graceful than Sachin, Steve Waugh and Rahul Dravid are more reliable than him, Viv Richards was more aggressive, the list goes on...), but he is certainly the most complete batsman. No one else can match the array of strokes he possesses: his shots are as perfect as one can play. His hunger for runs, passion for the game, concentration, and dedication towards a team and nation is unparalleled.

Sachin survived all the transitions, storms, and controversies in past 15 years. Note this: he was never ever suspected in any of the scandals; be it off the field or on. No on has ever been able to find out any technical flaw in his cricket. There hasn't been a single instance on field in past 15 years when it appeared that things were out of his control. Noone ever wrote or said about 'how' Sachin went wrong in his game. He has been master of his domain all the while. He is probably the only bowler in contemporary cricket, who can bowl all kinds of deliveries. I am sure that if he tries, he will even bowl left-arm chinaman, and will get a wicket too.

Off the field, he is probably the best example of a public personality. He's down to earth, absolutely well-mannered, never shows his emotions and anger in public, and sets a very good example for the ones who look up to him. He's a perfect father, a good husband, and even better businessman. He has hardly done anything wrong in his life.

Its not easy to reach perfection of this precision.

Imagine how thoughtful and imaginative he must have been to carefully plan his career and write his own destiny. Coming from a middle class family, it would have been very easy for him to go crazy with all the money he was getting, and the kind of talent he has. But he didnt. He made sure that he's always on top of everyone. It needs a great brain, and that too a very level headed one.

Sachin has been a role model for me since past many years. I have taken some very valuable notes for myself from him- and the process continues till date. Whenever I am in doubt or am unsure of something in life... I think of how Sachin would react to such a challenge. So far Sachin hasn't let me down. I still look up to him to learn a thing or two.

I want Sachin to play at his best yet again. Just to prove that he can do whatever he pleases to, just to prove that he is still a genius. Just to give us immense pleasure of enjoyng a game called cricket. I remember the world cup 2003 India-Pakistan game: there were about 50 guys n girls in a small room watching Shoeb Akhtar running in like a horse, and Sachin facing him for first time.... Sachin hit the first ball his over point and into the stands... and there was an eruption in that small room. Those couple of minutes were the most thrilling moments of my life so far. I remember how I could not sleep after watching Sachin's heroics on that sand-storm nite in Sharjah. I remember Shane Warne's comments on Tendulkar after that innings: "These days I get nightmares of Sachin hitting six off my bowling".

I would hate to think Sachin as a failure, I would hate to see him being anything less than perfect.

I would hate to see cricket without Sachin... I am not used to it.

Don't go , Sachin... keep playing. We are there for you!

Sunday, February 12, 2006


I have been writing PJs these days!!... I know most of you got a shock of lifetime reading this. I know, I know, my sense of humour sucks.

Well, it all started on DesiCase, an Orkut community that Sruthi started for the junta at Case. There are not too many Indians at Case (may be 50 or 60 or so), so most of us know each other; and it was definitely fun to know their 'other' side on Orkut.

Soon, Gautam, Prasanna, Sruthi, Prachi and Siva started a forum called "DesiCase Jokes", and we had some nice Pjs on it soon. Not all were original, but they were different, as they tried to add a local flavour to them. Many others joined in, and soon it was a very active and entertaining forum.

I was too tempted to try one myself, couldn't hold myself back. And I enjoyed the whole process: thinking about a PJ, then thinking of people who would fit in it, then developing a small story around a one line PJ, and trying to make it humorous. Not all the Pjs were original, but some of them were, and the story and screenplay is definitely original. Believe it or not, there were days when I would actually think of a situation, and try to cultivate a nice story.

I know that my sense of humor sucks, and I am not a guy who would come up with instant Pjs., It takes me bit longer to think out of the block. However, Its been a very entertaining experience so far. Good thing is that everyone takes it in that vein, and often we end up developing the story. I always look forward to new entries whenever I log on to Orkut.

Here are some from my side:

1: BhandareJi counting 10...

Let me add a bit to the story:

(As far as the story goes, the plot is: BhandareJi and Siva are fellow students of Ms. Sruthi. BhandarJi is totally confused with counting, whereas SivaBhai is a Master of counting {he once even counted # of posts on the DesiCase jokes thread}).

So as usual, BhandareJi had a problem with counting 10. Ms. Sruthi taught SivaBhai how to count 10 by using fingers. So, when BhandareJi came to Ms. Sruthi to seek help in counting 10, Ms. Sruthi sent him to SivaBhai, who showed him how to count 10 using fingers (in case you dont know how to count 10 using your fingers: 1 means 1 finger up, 2 means 2 fingers up.... for 6, go to the other palm/ hand, etc etc).

BhandareJi tried it himself and was fully convinced with that.

A few years later, BhandareJi joins army. He was taking training of using hand-bomb. The instructor told them that the bomb would explode after the count of 10.

BhandareJi remembered his count of 10 taught by SivaBhai. BhandareJi had the bomb in one hand, and started counting...1,2,3,4,5...

When it came to 6, he needed another hand to count. Since he was in standing position, he put the bomb between the thighs. And resumed counting 6,7,8, 9, 10...

Well, rest is history...

2: BhandareJi in school

How do you recognize a BhandareJi in Case Primary School?

BhandareJi is the one who erases the notes from the notebook when Ms. Sruthi teacher erases the blackboard.

3: Siva and Eggplant

Siva, being a strict vegetarian, did not touch the eggplant pizza ever since he came to USA, as he always thought that there would be an egg in it.

On day, Vivek- Siva's best friend, saw that, and convinced him that eggplant does not have egg and its pretty tasty.

So Siva tries eggplant pizza at Guy's pizza on Coventry one day, and likes it. Next day he tries eggplant Parmesan at Tommy's-Coventry, and likes it. Third day, he tries eggplant sandwich at Dave's- Coventry, and loves it.

Siva, still being a graduate student (his OPT is yet to arrive, so he hasn't joined Bloomberg yet), is out of money to buy any more eggplant dishes.

So he goes to Apt 617, Fairhill Towers (voted as the most high-tech apt of Cleveland {HTAC}) and borrows 10 eggs from Vivek and Tejas.

A month later, Siva returns to HTAC for 10 more eggs. Again, a month later he comes back to HTAC for 10 more eggs (still no OPT, Siva is getting poorer).

Finally Vivek asks him whats the matter. Siva says: "I am trying my best to plant the eggplant using the eggs I got from you, but no luck yet. But I think I know where I'm going wrong,' says Siva, 'I think I'm planting them too deep and giving it too much water, and may be too less sunshine, and ......'

Vivek faints.

4: HTAC and battery

Since Siva was responsible for having HTAC in a messed up state, and since HTAC is a Cleveland heritage, Siva took it upon himself to clean the apartment.

He called Prasana, Ghauthamh, and Moiz for help. Calling Sruthi and Meghna was of no use, as girls never do any hard work.

Since there was no detergent at home, Siva requested Janki to get some of it. Janki started driving his car to Giant Eagle, but his battery failed soon.

Since he had Geico, he called roadside assistance. Surprisingly, the mechanic was desi. His name was Aditya Ranade.

Janki: "RanadeBhai, battery change karma hai"

Ranade: "EXIDE (in ghaati accent, Ek Side)- lagaa du?"

Janki: Kyon, doosraa side tera baap lagaayegaa?

Ranade took his mobile and tried to call India... #%%^%$^%$^

5: Siva and DeviPrasadh

I overheard this conversation in yesterday's party:

Siva: Maccha, how do you spell "Philadelphia"?

Prasadh: "F-I-L-A-D-E-L-F-I--A"

Siva: No, that's wrong

Prasadh: Maybe it's wrong, but you asked me how I spell it!

6: Orange Juice

So I came late for the party. Since I was hungry, I went to the kitchen to grab some food. I saw Sruthi statued near the fridge.

I waited for a bit, but Sruthi was very seriously looking in the fridge. So I had a closer look at what she was upto.

So I asked: "Sruthi, what are you staring at?"

Sruthi: "Its a bottle of Orange Juice".

She didnt even blink. As usual, her face was very serious and confused.

Vivek: "So, why are you starting at an orange juice container?"

Sruthi: "Because it says 100 % CONCENTRATE"

7: Bday gift to Siva

I overheard this a few mins. back.

Prasanna: Hey Siva, Happy B'day. (grabs a big chunk of cake, and also reluctantly gives Siva a gift)

Siva: Thanks (kinda irritated seeing Prasanna eating the cake as pig (or tiger??) )

Prasanna: (not happy with that look) BTW, how do you know that its your Bday??. Do you still remember it?

Siva: My mother told me. So I asked father, and he also told me same day. So I asked my grandfather, grandma, uncle.. and they all came up with same day. So I thought, its a high degree of coincidence that all of them have come up with same answer. So I had no choice but to believe them. How do you know that you actually landed on earth on 24th Nov??

Prasanna takes his gift back and walks out


8: Detective N. Moiz

Good to see DesiJokes entering the 4th hundred. Here is another one:

Our most beloved friend N. Moiz decided to start a detective agency in Cleveland, Ohio. Given the crime rate in Cleveland, his business had some prospects. Even fellow-detective T. siva decided to join hands with N. Moiz, leaving behind his Bloomberg job, Lexus and even Suneeta.

However, as soon as detective N. Moiz announced the company, he placed a big order of Red Color ka Asian Paint (yeah, Meghna wala red). Sruthi teacher was quite amazed to hear that. Unable to hide her feelings, she went to detective N. Moiz, and asked him:

Sruthi: Detective N. Moiz, why this?.. Do you know what you are doing??

N. Moiz (chewing pineapple) ( Moiz doesn't like carrots, and he also wants to be original): Yes Sruthi, I know what I am doing. I want lots of red color, as I want to catch everyone "red" handed.!!!

9: contd..

At this point, detective T. Siva and detective N. Moiz had a split...

The reason:

Detective N. Moiz, being 7 ft tall, had lots of problems in getting DOWN TO EARTH. In spite of trying his best he could only go DOWN TO HIS KNEES. So detective T. Siva started operating from basement and detective N. Moiz started working in same office.

But one day it all changed. One day, detective N. Moiz came running to detective T. Siva's office, with his 2 India suitcases and what not, as if he's going to spend rest of his life in basement. Detective T. Siva asked detective N. Moiz about the urgency.

Detective N. Moiz said " I have got a new project, where I am supposed to be UNDER-GROUND. So I am here !!!"

10: Bombay girl

So the question was:

What are 4 stages in a life of a Bombay girl??





hamaal (saari duniya ka boj uthati hai)

11: Vivek W and Vivek R

After waiting for so many years, Vivek W finally bought his dream car, an Audi V 6.

He was thrilled, excited, and on top of the world driving his V6 to Fairhill Towers.

He asked his best friend, the most trustworthy man in NorthEast Ohio, and a car guru, Vivek R to come down and have a look at his car.

Vivek R had a look at the car.

And then Vivek R told Vivek W :"Dude your car looks amazing. It has everything that one can dream of. You have been very thoughtful in your choice".

Vivek W told Vivek R: "Yeah dude, it has everything that should be there in a car. Bose speakers, 3 CD music system, GPRS, a mini screen for movies.. everything!!"

Vivek R asked Vivek W: "But why does it NOT have air conditioning??"

Vivek W said: "I dont need AC in my car. Dude, Its a COOL car."


There are many others and better ones from other people, but I would like to put a few PJs by our PJ guru, Dr. Gautam (hope Gautam doesnt mind this. If you are reading this Dr. G, the copyright is still yours). He even made couple of them right in font of us. And that IS some skill.

12: Return of detectives T. Siva and N. Mois

So these detectives solved a tough case. The university decided to felicitate them on their great achievement. Since both of them had contributed equally towards the solution of this 'Case of missing donuts', both of them were to be felicitated in the Strosacker auditorium.

On the day of the ceremony, N. Mois walked in T. Siva's room. T. Siva was getting ready. He put on a nice suit (same one he had put on for his Bloomberg interview), and he put some limes in the pocket. N. Mois was puzzled to see this. Being a very inquisitive person, he asked T. Siva, " Why are you putting limes in your pocket?"

T. Siva said, " The organiser of the felicitation function called me and said that you and me, both of us will share the limelight in today's function. I am taking some extra limes so that there will be enough limelight for both of us!"

N. Mois started rolling on the floor!!!

13: Contd.

N. Moiz and T. Siva solved their first case successfully (someone had stolen Meghna's Einstein Bro. bagel while she had run down to say hi to someone in ISS office, N. and T. found out who that was! After solving the case, N. Moiz said "Elementary, T. Siva" exactly in Sherlock Holmes style, to bring a little novelty he replaced Holmes' tobacco pipe with plastic pipe).

After their success, T. Siva insisted that they move their detective agency office to the basement. N. Moiz was puzzled. T. Siva was very adamant on doing that. Finally N. Moiz asked him, "Why? Why do you want to move to basement suddenly?"

T. Siva replied, " 'Cos even after any success, one should always stay DOWN TO EARTH!"

14: Siva joins Bloomberg!

So Siva defended his MS and was all set to move to NY to join Bloomberg. He decided that he'll drive to NY, so he rented a SUV that could fit all his stuff. Prasadh, being a thick (not literally) friend of Siva, was helping him in packing etc. The day of his moving came. Siva and Prasadh loaded all the bags in the car.

Prasadh asked Siva, "Macha, did you take directions to your new apartment?"

Siva replied, "No, I am fine."

Prasadh asked, "What do you mean you are fine? Won't you need to know the route?"

Siva coolly said, "No raa, I don't need all that. I'll reach there without any trouble."

Prasadh was confused, "What are you saying? Why wouldn't you need to know your route?"

Siva smiled and said, pointing at his rental car, "Look, I've rented a Nissan Pathfinder. It will find its own path, why do I need to know it?"

Prasadh fell at Siva's feet!

15: Another one at the party

Prachi and Sruthi had already had 3 rounds of eating, and are pretty full.

Prachi: Sruthi, I am really stuffed, but I can have a dessert. Do you want to go for one last course?

Sruthi: Course? Sorry Prachi, I am already done with my course-work, I won't take any more courses...

Prachi starts singing 'kajra re' in 'aati kya khandala' tune...

16: Vivek and Tejas

Another conversation overheard...

Tejas: Aditya sings so well, I want to learn singing too, Vivek.

Vivek: (gulp- takes another sip of his beer)

Tejas: But I don't learn things so quickly, I take time to learn anything new...

Vivek: (another big sip) Hmm...I used to be same, but not anymore, no problems in learning anything new now...

Tejas: why? what happened?

Vivek: (Empties the can) 'Cos now I work in the learner research institute at Case!

17: continued...

One day, prasanna explained to bhandare that he meant 10 hr 11 min, and bhandare got confused 'cos 10 and 11 are successive no.s.
Bhandare decided to pull the same prank on someone else. Two hours later he met Siva. Siva asked him the time. Bhandare said, "Its twelve-thirteen". Siva said, "fine, thanks." Bhandare got confused b'cos Siva did not get confused! He repeated 2-3 times, "its twelve-thirteen". Siva said thanks each time. Finally Bhandare got mad and shouted at Siva," Oye, aren't u confused if time is 12 o'clock or 13 o'clock? Why aren't u giving me confused looks?"

Siva just ran away!!

18: Wake up everyone!

Level 0.1 joke...

Why does Meghna prefer a basement apartment?

'Cos she is doing PhD, and PhD requires a study of a subject IN DEPTH!

There are many more, which you can read on the community forum.

And Siva's PJs need a separate blog for themselves. More on that in coming days...

Friends and Friendships

I had a very interesting conversation with a friend that day. This friends of mine... ( I don't think is it necessary or relevant to reveal her identity here, lets call her P )... has been one of my closest friends since past 3 years. She knows me pretty well (and I can say same about her), and we often have healthy discussions about various things.

P: " You don't call me often these days"

I: "So?"

P: "And you don't call your other old friends either"

I: "So?"

P: "You will loose your friends and dear ones if you don't call them once in a while"

I: "I don't think so. For me, a friend is always a friend, and I will always care for my friends. I don't need to call them every week to prove that they are still my buddies".

P: "Yes, but you have to show that you care for them. You need to make an effort to know if they are doing alright, whats new in their life, etc."

I: "I don't think so. What makes you think that I will loose my friends if I don't get in touch with them regularly?"

P: "That's how the world works. If you don't get in touch with people, they feel that you don't care about them anymore"

I: "Whatever!!. I anyways don't follow the rules that the world sets for people."

And we agreed to disagree at this point.

But this conversation made me think about my friends, and the concept of friendship in general.

First of all, I don't think one needs to catch up on friends every now and then just to prove that the friendship still exists. I don't think it works for me: firstly because I don't think friendship works that way, and secondly, its not possible to be in touch with all old friends. And I am not very talkative person as such, who would go on and on in an animated conversation.

We all make friends all the time, at different stages of life, at different places, and for different reasons. We have nice time with them, have loads of fun, and then things move on. Often it is not possible to maintain the same level of interaction-communication-understanding with your old pals, because you relocate, your interests change, you meet new people, your priorities change... whatever may be the reason, but you cant maintain same level of 'closeness' with same set of people all the time. It cant survive every transition of life.

I had school and colony friends with whom I spent good 10 years; then I had new friends in VESIT and we rocked for 4 years; then a few more friends when I was working in Johnson Controls; then lots of new friends from Clemson days; and now a gang in Cleveland. Very unfortunately, I was the lone traveler thru this journey (I really feel I am a bit unlucky in this matter. I always had to start from scratch. Everywhere I went, I didn't know anyone, had no group to start off, its a painful process every time you are left on a lonely island) . There was not a single friend of mine who was with me thru these 'phases' of my life.

It is not possible to be in touch with everyone you've met in past on a regular basis. If I were to do that, I would be spending my weekend on phone catching up with people, which I dont think is the nicest idea. Besides, there are so many other ways to keep yourself updated with your old pals: there is Orkut, there are Yahoo-groups, and there is Gmail.

Yes, I have been bit lazy and laid-back when it comes to calling people- even my close friends and ones who will always be my special dear ones (partly, the blame goes to my Grand Canyon and Death Valley trip as well. My mobile was switched off for almost 2 weeks during that trip, I was completely detached from my routine world, and it felt so nice at that moment. I was so peaceful and content with being away from hustle-bustle... never felt like using my mobile ever since I returned from that trip. Most of the time, its either switched off, or is in silent mode. anyways...), but I am in touch with them thru Orkut, and emails. I occasionally read their blogs, send an email or so... Is there still a need to do anything more than that??

I really cling on my friends and cherish their friendship. I guess most of my friends who know me well know that. I hope they know that they will always be my friends and dear ones.

But one cant get everything in life. I sometimes feel helplessly morbid to digest the fact that I am no more in touch with same people with whom I have spent almost every day together for 10 years. We were in same class; we used to play cricket together; we used to spend our summer vacations playing cards, carrom, hide-n-sick; we live a block away from each other... but I don't know anymore what those people are up to. I cant help it... things changed after school... our interests changed; our friend-circle changed; our hobbies changed; our philosophy changed. It part of life. Change is inevitable. And not everyone survives thru changes. Its the fact of life.

I am not in touch with some of my engineering friends... we had a very good hiking group in my VESIT days, and we have done zillions of hikes, and rock climbing, and rappelling together.. .have spend some unforgettable moments; have experienced the sheer beauty and mystery of nature... There were so many instances where it was impossible to climb a peak without help of, and absolute confidence in these friends...

Almost same thing is happening with my Clemson buddies... work-load, career, personal life, stress, circumstances, ego.. whatever may be the reason, but I am not able to catch up with them as often as I would like to. I thought I knew a few people pretty well in those days. Some others had very interesting personalities, and it was very tempting to know more about them... But as days passed by, it was not possible.

But that doesn't mean that I don't care about them. Friends are friends... how can the friendship change?... At least for me, my friends will always be my friends, no matter what !!. If we happen to meet one fine day, I am sure we will have nice time catching up, and everything will be same as usual.

Someone has rightly put it in these words: "True friends are ones who survive the transitions in life". I would add a few words to it, and say that "True friends are ones who understand the meaning of friendship, and friends".

So P, got the point?

Beyond Positive Thinking

I was looking for something nice to read, something that would make my brain cells active and pumping again... So Googled a bit for some 'self-analysis' type books, and came across a nice title "Beyond Positive Thinking". It sounded interesting enough, and I was eager to read that book after getting it thru OhioLink.

Well, to start off, its a crappy book. Most of you won't probably even read it beyond the first few pages. For a book with such an interesting title, I expected it to be something logical, interesting, factual, and thought provoking. (another book that I am reading, called 'Three Boxes of Life, And How To Get Out Of Them' by richard Bolle, is a very interesting book though). On the controrary, it felt as if I was watching the "Miracle Network" channel, one we used to get through the cable TV network in India, where a guy would go on and on preaching about Jesus. The author, John Baughman is actually a spiritual healer (which I learnt once half through the book already) and it didnt surprise me at all.

However, the book was thought provoking for sure. It said simple things in simple words. The book says that everything you do in life should be thought of with a neutral perspective. At every point in life, you should have a clear vision of a task, and you should perform it the way Jesus would like it performed. It is your duty to put yourself in a position to know what Jesus wants you to do and you should prepare yourself to complete that specific task. It's got nothing to do with your skills as you are just performing your duty. If you follow this, you can achieve anything in life. In other words, you are the messenger of the God, and you just have to do your duties.

Well, I didnt agree to the "Jesus" part of the arguement. I am an atheist. Mr. Baughman claims that he has healed cancers and tumors with his 'therapy'. I don't agree to this claim either. I firmly believe in science, and science does not believe in God. Its simple. (More on that later).

But his idea of thinking as a third person made me think a lot. And I tried to implement that a couple of times, and it worked for me!!

Very often, we are not able to complete a task with perfection, somehow it doesn't happen. We sometimes don't know HOW to deal with the situation, either getting confused or misguided or helpless. We come at a point where we don't know how to tackle the situation, and we falter. Many a times, it happens because we involve ourselves too much in that situation, either trying to get something out of everything we do or trying to make it too perfect. In either case, we are well below our best.

The concept of cultivating yourself as a third person is pretty interesting, and it makes your life so easy. At every point, you simply have to do only three things: 1: See WHAT is to be done , 2: know HOW it is to be done. and 3: DO it. Your job ends here. You are not emotionally attached to anything you do, and hence there is no scope of you thinking negatively in this case. Potentially, this can be applied to anything in life, and that means that you can do anything is life, IF you know your steps 1, 2, and 3.

It actually becomes a very analytical situation. Every task you perform every day, has to have some cause. Every decision you take in your life, has to have a reason. Every day you live, has to have a purpose. What is this cause, this reason, this purpose... we don't know about it... but we don't need to know about it either. We just have to do it.

In short, be a clerk, or a typist. Do your job, don't think much about it.

For once, I found it pretty interesting.

This thing reminds me of one fact that I read somewhere long back. If you put a newborn baby in a bath tub, he will start swimming because he doesn't have the fear of drowning as he doesn't know how to think negatively. Its an interesting enough fact, and there is lots to be learnt from it.

I would like to see my own kid doing it one day, provided:

3: my wife permits me to do this
2: I have my own kid
1: I get a girl who's willing to marry me.
0: I get a girl

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Season Two ...3..2..1..0...

I am blogging after 5 months and 7 days.

Yeah, Its been a while...

I was too occupied with a few things in past 6 months.

This year has been a bit better so far, so I am back.

In a way, it was a good break from blogging. If you read my first few blogs, you would have noticed that there was no particular theme to them. In true sense, they were "random thoughts". Off late, they merely became my travel blogs.

I never made an attempt to open up, never wrote anything about my feelings, thoughts or philosophy. The reason: I was a bit apprehensive to open up like that. I was not sure if this was a right forum for it, and also thought that one may get a different impression about myself if he/ she comes across the blog.

But then I realised that people hardly know the real Vivek (not that I know it myself completely either)... Since past few years, I have been consciously trying to experiment with myself, and my life. Even though it has been a truly amazing experience to be exposed to different lifestyles and personalities, I thought there is now a need for expressing myself, the real self, before it gets dumped.

There are very few people who know me well, and know me completely.


Dont take it personally, but if you know me only since past couple of years, it is more likely that you have come across only one dimension of me, or may be couple. My real self was hidden somewhere else.

It was a conscious decision to mask my true self. First of all, there was no need for everyone to know what kind of person I am, and secondly I wanted to see how I react if put in a totally unfamiliar scenario.
OK, enough of that.

I am planning to blog regularly this semester, and would be writing more about myself, my experiences in past, my views on politics, cricket, my country, my friends, and things like that.

I would also be scrapping about few things that come to my mind... like relationships, friendship, commitment, compromises, etc.

So, season 2 starts...

Stay tuned.