January 31, 2010

Tree hates Bigots

The Wesboro Baptist Church (headed by Fred Phelps) was in Stanford campus on Friday morning to demonstrate. It’s one of the worst legal hate group in US. Their main targets: any faith that’s not Christianity or any Christian group that supports Gays. They have been known to make racist slurs against African Americans.

They also maintain a God Hates India website(I don’t want to link to any of those stupid sites. Please search the words “God Hates India”  in Google and you will, hopefully, find the site) They have a link there called “Poster Children for sin”. You know who they are? First in their list is Mahatma Gandhi. That’s right. Then comes Nobel laureate Amrtya Sen, writer Vikram Seth and others.

Then comes another link on the same site: “False Religious System”. And here I have to actually quote them:

80% of India’s population claim to practice Hinduism. ‘Nuff said. A country full of idolatry inevitably results in a nation full of fags and fag-enablers, because that’s what happens when you depart from the Living God!

If you would STOP worshipping false gods, being a fag would not be a complex matter.  Stop going a whoring after other gods and start serving the Living God in truth!

Enraged enough? At least you got the context of what I am talking about. So these guys were here in STANFORD CAMPUS to demonstrate and picket. Ever since their announcement to be in Campus, there have been a lot of activity with in Stanford to organize a counter demonstration (I wanted to be there, but unfortunately, I forgot to put it on my calendar and I missed. Two reasons I wanted to be there: to take pictures and to see the real live people who propagates such things. I have always seen them on TV only). They picked up Hillel Center at Stanford (from Hillel the Elder): It’s the Jew center in Campus (and yes, we have a Hindu society as well that organizes satsang sessions every Sunday).

I am not a religious person (I am an agnostic atheist as Jeff explains here) but I do respect a right of a person to its faith/religion/belief/views. And don’t give me the crap about the freedom of Wesboro Church’s faith. Their religious freedom stops where other’s faith begins as Sparky explains here.

Anyway, I was ecstatic when I saw this on Unofficial Stanford Blog:

For those who doesn’t know about Stanford: The tree you see running around is Stanford Mascot and is called Stanford Tree (Don’t ask!). Stanford Band was there along with hundreds of students. I am so proud of being a Cardinal (nickname for Stanford) right now. I just wish I was there to witness this first hand! GO STANFORD!!

P.S.: I wonder how can someone devote their life to hate. Are culture, tradition, religion or any other principle so important that one forgets the life itself? I thought all these things were designed to help us to get through life and not the other way round.

January 30, 2010


While upgrading my laptop, I forgot to backup my web bookmarks. Result: I haven’t been able to check my quota of comic strips. So I didn’t discover this gem till today. As usual, it’s from my favorite cartoonist Jorge Cham and his infamous Ph.D. Comics.

phd012010s           CLICK TO ENLARGE (Img Source: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1271)

You know, just because they are numbers, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are right. Interpretation of those numbers is equally important. As Jorge Cham puts it: Anyone with basic statistics course would have told them so but then if they only stopped and thought about it, they wouldn’t be journalist, would they?

P.S.: I especially like the last point: What if all polls included the opinion “Don’t Care”?

January 29, 2010

February Friday Favorite: Kali Palak Teri

Yeah Yeah I know. It’s not February yet!However, it will be February in 3 days so I decided to start this special edition of this series. Yep, you got it, I am trying to capitalize on the popularity of Valentine’s day. So next month is going to be Romantic songs only month starting with today’s song:

Please don’t mind the stupid video. I think, apart from Tanjua being in the towel (well, she is sexy but Dharmendra’s stupid mannerism completely spoils the video), the video has no value what so ever.

The best thing about the song is the beautiful lyrics given by Majrooh Sultanpuri. The soft and harsh effects of music given by the R.D. Burman to emphasize the lyrics comes only slightly lower than that. For example, the second stanza:

na to main dor se baandhun, na jaal bichhaun, na tir chalaun
naazuk kamar se lagaon, chhuri na kataari saajana. o sajana
main to tera dil lungi tujhise chhupa ke, nazar ko bacha ke
yun hi zara muska ke kahungi anaadi saajana
roz raat ko tere ghar hogi, teri chori, ho chori

It’s my favorite stanza in the song, especially the last line: roz raat ko tere ghar hogi, teri chori. Simply beautiful.

And then, of course, there are Kishore and Lata, the singers. The naughtiness in Kishore’s voice can’t be contained. The only thing that I could find against the song was it’s picturization. But then it also grows on you. I actually like the pink towel Tanuja has.

Anyway, Happy February, everyone. Have fun in the shortest month of the year..

January 27, 2010

Holy Cow

So last night, I was explaining to my flat-mate, the concept of Paneer. In the end, she asked if we use Goat milk to make Paneer as Cow is supposed to be sacred and all.

I explained to her the concept of Cow being sacred: Cow gives us milk and hence is equivalent to our mother. You can’t kill your mother and hence the whole sacred concept (at least that’s how I understand it!). Having said that, I had to add that I don’t understand why Buffaloes, Goats or Camels are not sacred as they also give us milk. What did Cow do to deserve such a privilege?

But then, I didn’t make the rules. I don’t follow them either but hey, that’s another story.

P.S.: On a side note, I grew up on Buffalo’s milk. My brother used to quote that as the reason for the way I turned out to be: Dark and fat. Brothers and their sense of humor! Hmph.

Just FYI, my brother is just a shade lighter than I and hence for all worldly purpose, he is also considered dark. And with age, he has gained a very rotund tummy (he used to be athletic during his younger years). Even though I am a complete angel compared to him, even I can’t resist  teasing him for the football he carries around now. :P

January 24, 2010

Indian Women

The other day my flat-mate, who was reading a book by an Indian author for her book-club, wanted to know few facts given in the book. During the discussion, she brought up the notion of Indian women having it easy as opposed to Indian men, something she gathered from the book, (I haven’t read the book, so can’t comment exactly) and I was shocked! How and why any Indian can say that? And that’s when I realize that the author must be a man. As it turns out she was reading White Tiger by Aravind Adiga.

As an answer to her query, I quoted a simple statistics that I had read a few days ago: Out of all the suicides reported in India, about 20% are committed by house wives. They form the second largest group (largest group being self employed: read farmers) of 'professionals'** in the suicides reported to the police. Note the use of the phrase ‘reported suicides’ here. As suicide is a crime in India, quite a lot of suicides go unreported, especially in states like Bihar and UP. And I have a hunch that suicides by house wives would be covered up more than any other ‘professional’ group.


According this study, conducted in Vellore, India, “the rates of suicides are several fold higher than those reported anywhere in the world, especially in young women”. Instead of relying on police reports, this study was based on autopsy reports obtained from local hospital as well as the reports of community health worker. According to the study: “The average suicide rate for young women (age 10-19) was 148 per 100 000, and for young men (age 10-19) 58 per 100 000”. The number of suicides by girls was thrice of boys! Just FYI, globally the trends are opposite: men are more susceptible to commit suicide than women. Indian women have it easy, eh?

To start with, we already have a very skewed gender ratio in our populace due to female foeticide and infanticide: for every 1,000 boys under the age of four, there are a mere 934 girls. The one’s that are allowed to live, are constantly told about how much burden their life is to their parents. Imagine telling that to a child and that too your own child! Do these people have a heart? And then there is that bias towards the son, shown so openly, so shamelessly. No wonder, by the time these girls reach teenage, they have no self-respect, no self-worth. I am not sure if their deaths are even mourned by their family? May be it’s just a good riddance for them.

At times, I feel so disgusted by the society we live in. I have been told since my childhood that we should be proud of our culture but times like these I am completely at loss of what am I supposed to be proud of? The way we treat our children? Or the way we treat and respect women? The way fear of society becomes more important than love of a child as much as we let our own flesh and blood get tortured and beaten? Or the way we blame the rape victims? What exactly am I supposed to be proud of? And why does our personal freedom to dress, to speak, or rather just to be poses a threat to this great Indian culture? What is so great about our culture?

Oh, I know: Family system, right? 20% of suicide are committed by house wives. 71.5% of total suicide victims were married. Our teens have the highest suicide rate in the world. These statistics indicate that our so called family system isn’t as good as portrayed. And these statistics don’t even include the domestic violence cases or the extra marital affairs.

Anything else?

BTW, did you know that in 2007, 336 suicides took place per day or 14 Suicides took place every hour. That 80 Suicides per day took place due to family problems. That 9 Suicides per day due to Love Affairs. That 5 Suicides per day due to Failure in Examination. Just quoting statistics.

Update: ** (Modified from comments below): National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) described Housewife as a profession which I think is quite appropriate. However, I think being a housewife in India should be the worst profession ever. The parents are expected to pay the dowry to her in-laws for her to become a housewife and then she is expected to serve her husband and in-laws for life. Even in slave trade, the slaves were bought and money was paid to previous "owners" and not the other way around. Even the animals are sold and bought in the same way. Then why the value of woman is so low that her parents have to pay money to get rid of her? What kind of profession is this?  And obviously, in some cases these housewives are treated worse than animals while their parents turn a blind eye and a deaf ear towards their own flesh and blood. Talk about compassion and love!

Aren't Indians supposed to be paragon of compassion and love, at least that's what Manoj Kumar had led us to believe in his numerous patriotic and oh-our-so-great-culture movies (Remember: Hai Preet Jahan Ki Reet Sada)? Or the compassion and love that he talks about is strictly for male only? Why can't parents show some of it to their own daughters? Even animals love their child, irrespective of the child's gender. How can humans be so cruel and heartless?

January 23, 2010

A belated Friday Favorite

I know I am late in posting this but trust me I have valid reasons for doing so. See yesterday was sorting-out day, which means I spent the entire day doing everything that needs to be done: Submit checks, clean the room, post the mails, buy a new mobile as my old one’s screen stopped working, and install Windows 7 on my laptop. The last job on the list is the reason I couldn’t post this on time. As I have complained earlier, I hate Windows Vista. So I decided to take the leap and buy Windows 7 Professional using student discount. I have already gotten a blue screen but it might be due to number of softwares I have been trying to upload on my machine at that time. So I haven’t given up all hope yet! Anyway, coming to today’s song:

Most probably you must have already heard this song. If not, then you must have heard other songs from this movie, the most famous being "Ab tumhare hawale watan sathiyon" and "Hoke majboor usne mujhe". Almost all the songs of this movie are beautiful but this song influenced me the most. To start with, I heard this song first time in my teen years. You know the age when you romanticize the love the most. And then this song, unlike most of the sad songs, doesn't blame anyone or try to gain sympathy from the audience. It simply tells a tale of a relationship, a real relationship and the regrets for breaking that relationship. The pain, the regret is beautifully rendered by Rafi. The words were given by Kaifi Azmi and the music by Madan Mohan. The movie was Haqeeqat (1964). Hope you like it.

January 21, 2010

The Decade Tag

Tag-1Shilpa tagged me.  This is my first tag for 2010 so it’s but natural, they are tags about the last decade. The first tag is:



-  Hmmm..the first one on this list should be age.  I know, I know, it’s an obvious one but in my case, it transitioned from a careless early 20s to a bit more ‘responsible’ early 30s. With age comes few gray hairs (3, to be precise) and some physical aches and pains that will now remain with me for life. So yeah, those are big things that I gained in past 10 years.

- Career wise, I gained my masters degree and some work experience (2-1/2 years, to be exact).  Gained admission in an ivy league for my PhD and gained some of that ivy league arrogance everyone keeps talking about (as you can tell!).

- Socially, I have become independent. In 2000, I was a master’s student and was still living in my hometown. I had never lived any place outside my home-town till then. And then, I spent living outside my hometown most of the last decade. Initial time wasn’t too good as with the independence comes a lot of work and responsibilities but once you get used to it, you don’t want to loose that independence, ever.

- In my personal life … oh well, that’s personal. All I can say is that I learnt a lot in past 10 years. I think this is the area where I gained and, lost and learned the most. The most important lesson was: Life goes on.

- Culturally, I am a complete different person now. For example, at the starting of this decade, I didn’t know that the word called “Gay”  existed, let alone know it’s meaning. At the beginning of the decade, I used to refer all South Indians as Madrasi (Sorry folks!). After living in Chennai for 2.5 years, I know better. I gained quite a lot of knowledge about South India and it’s traditions along with few good South Indian friends.

I had never met and befriended a “Gora” or a “Kalu” or any other color (I know it’s politically incorrect and very racist. I apologize. I just want to emphasize my ignorance before). Now, I have few very good friends who fall under those categories and I get offended if someone refers them as Gora or Kalu or Chinki. The knowledge, the exposure and the experience gained in this sector is tremendous.

- Religion wise, I started as a pretty religious, God-believing person at the beginning of the decade. This decade has seen me turned into someone whose belief lies somewhere between agnosticism and atheism. The change was gradual and had a lot of influencing factors even though my close friends believe on the contrary. According to them, I changed after reading Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. While it was yet another influencing factor, however it’s overall effect on my decision was considerably small. That book simply helped me to articulate my thoughts clearly and stand up for my beliefs. You have no idea how hard it is to be an agnostic/atheist in our society! You are tested at every step.  (Just so that we are clear, this change in beliefs happened long before I landed in US, which incidentally was another major event of the last decade.)

- Materialistically, I gained quite a bit in this area as well although I have remained a student for most part of the decade. I have my dearest Canon D-40 (my D-SLR); Shivani-II, my second laptop; Pratham, my first desktop and my car, a $1300 93-Toyota Corolla.

- Athletically, I have become more active. In past few years, I have played badminton, tennis, joined Karate and broken some wooden boards and gained 5 belts. I think despite my aches and pains and my age, I have become fitter than I was 10 years ago.

In short, my life has changed completely in past 10 years. I think this has been the most eventful decade of my life so far. I am glad that I did this tag. Thanks Shilpa! Now, the second tag:




- First and foremost on this list will be my Shivani-II and Pratham (my laptop and my desktop, respectively). Well, technically, we had a desktop at home but it’s main usage at that time was playing “Prince” and spending nights trying to connect with internet.

- Internet will be my second choice. I know it’s related with computers however, once you are in the internet space, you forget the existence of computer. It’s completely different world and the amount of time I spend there, well, it needs a special mention. again we did have internet back then but the extensiveness of the web wasn’t as huge as it’s now.

- I think cell phones (or mobile) come third. Although I spent major part of my last decade making fun of people who are at all possible moments are aware of their cell phones, for past two years or so, I’ve become quite dependent on mine as well.

- Since we are talking about phones, Vonage has become an integral part of my life for past few years. The number of phone calls I make outside US, wouldn’t have been possible without it!

- My D-SLR comes next. Well, I don’t use it as often as I would like but still it has become an essential part of my being.

- As much as I hate driving, I still can’t live without my car. Though, it has more to do with living in US than my fondness for my car.

- Last but not the least, exercising. I didn’t use to exercise 10 years back and now it has become part of my weekly routine. 


That’s all folks! Again a free to all tag. Do take it, it’s fun to relive 10 years of your life again.. *sniff*


Ever since I watched the movie ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, every time I hear this word, namely tradition, which is quite often when one is Indian, my mind starts playing the first line of the song in a loop:

Tradition, Tradition!    Tradition!

I love this musical, well, just like most of the musicals I watch. If you get a chance to watch, don’t miss it. If you are an Indian, you will be able to relate to this musical.

P.S.: I got reminded of this word, again, namely tradition, by Apu’s latest post: “The Effect of not wearing Mangalsutra” and the subsequent post linked in this post: “Demonstrating Marriage”. Honestly, the entire time that I took to read the two post, the first line of the song kept looping in my mind:  Tradition, Tradition!    Tradition!

January 18, 2010

2 states: So True!

I have been searching for ‘2 States: The story of my marriage’ by Chetan Bhagat for past two months. A friend of mine recommended it, telling me the base line of the story: A north Indian boy and a South Indian girl fell in love and want to get married AND they want their parents to be okay about it! Out of many personal reasons I was interested in reading the book, one was: I have lived in both the areas mentioned in the book and am very familiar with both the cultures and associated stereotypes, even though I don’t belong to either of the culture.

The storyline was a simple one so I didn’t expect much from it: Girl meets boy, fall in love and want to get married. Their families don’t accept due to the cultural differences between them. And as you know, good children don’t abandon their parents but work with them and show them the light of reason. Something I like to call “DDLJ-effect”. True,  “Ek Duje ke Liye” had a similar story line but the tragic ending of the movie made it hard to convince anyone that it was the right approach (On the side note: what’s up with Kamal hasan and tragedies). DDLJ, on the other hand, with it’s “Ja, Simran ja, jeele apni zindagi ”, had a better impact. Hence, the name “DDLJ-effect”. But I digress.

Anyway, like any Bollywood movie, the book had a happy ending as well. Honestly, if you think about the storyline of the book, it was pretty much predictable. However, the treatment of the subject by Chetan Bhagat was simply superb. The stereotyping, the descriptions of different places and the subtle differences between the cultures were very acutely and very hilariously pin-pointed by him and that’s what made the book a great read. For example, the treatment of buffet by the two families:

Few things bring out the differences between Punjabis and Tamilians than buffet meals. Tamilians see it like any other meal. They will load up white rice first, followed by daal and curds and anything that has little dots of mustard, coconut or curry leaves.

For Punjabis, food triggers an emotional response, like say music. And the array of dishes available in a buffet is akin to Philharmonic orchestra. The idea is you load as many calories as possible onto one plate, as most party caterers charged based on the number of plates used. Also, like my mother explained since childhood, never take a dish that is easily prepared at home or whose ingredients are cheap. So, no yellow daal, boring gobi aloo or green salad. The focus is on chicken, dishes with dry fruits in them and exotic desserts.

As I said, I have been to both the cities mentioned in the book: Delhi and Chennai. I have visited Delhi more often than I would like to admit and I lived in Chennai for 2-1/2 years. I especially loved the way Chetan Bhagat describes the experience of a North Indian landing in Chennai for the first time as well as the second time. I recognized all the neighborhoods mentioned in the book. I remember, just like Krish, how difficult it was for me to pronounce the names like Nungambakkam and Kodambakkam and how easy I find them now. The sense of awe you experience when you enter the Ratna Store, which Chetan Bhagat aptly describes as:

We had come to Ratna stores in T. Nagar to buy steel plates for my chummery. I needed four, this place had four million of them. Seriously, every wall, roof, corner, shelf and rack over two floors was covered with shiny steel utensils.

Honestly, you can’t describe Ratna store in a better way.

And honestly, what’s up with every Chennaite reminding you that Marina beach is the second largest beach in the world. Seriously, my friends from Chennai will state that fact the moment you mention ‘Marina Beach’. Ananya mentioned it more than twice in the book. And then she tells Krish to meet her at Marina Beach without mentioning where in Marina Beach! That was my first reaction when I read those lines: how will he ever find her on the Marina Beach? It’s like trying to search for a needle in the haystack. Seriously. I kid you not. I guess, I have invariantly become a Chennaite myself.

The second stereotyping: the Punjabi was also so apt, for instance:

I had brought a gift pack of biscuits, as my Punjabi sensibilities had taught me to never go to someone’s house without at least as many as calories as you would consume there.

And the reaction of Krish’s mom and her family to Ananya reminded me of an incident from my university days. One of my Punjabi school/college friend had gone through exactly the same thing when she decided to marry a South Indian: a mallu in this case. I remember visiting her home during one of those stressful days of her life. Her mom gave a scathing looked at me when she realized how dark I am and asked me, very rudely, if I was a South Indian. When I replied in negative, giving her exact details of my parents villages, she further enquired that how, then, am I so dark? North Indians are fair, you know. She also hinted on some kind of black magic used by South Indians during her talks so much like the book. I could completely relate to each and everything in the book.

I also understand Krish’s exasperation on being only non-Tamil speaker among all the Tamils:

Tamilians love to irritate non-Tamil speakers by speaking only in Tamil in front of them. This is the only silent rebellion in their otherwise repressed, docile personality.

However, I think this stereotype extend to more than Tamils. I have been fortunate enough to befriend people from every corner of India and know that this is true beyond the stereotype of Tamils. At those times, I seriously wish I knew a third language in which I could converse with my friends, just so that I can inflict the same sense of abandonment and desolation to my third-language speaking friends. Why, in heavens name, don’t they realize that I am getting completely bored among their friends? And then they are surprised when I refuse their invitation next time. They couldn’t imagine any reason why I wouldn’t want to be in their company, they are, after all, so much fun to be with!

And then, there were other thoughts, which I think, can be applied to rest of India as well, just not South or North Indian as:

- Psycho relatives are constant across cultures.

- Indian men slam their wives for their sisters with zero hesitation.

- We never talk, at home, my mom and dad, they hardly talk. We’ll talk about the news, the food, the weather. But we never talk about our feelings.

- The only time grown-ups get excited about young people is when young people are getting married and the old people control the proceedings.

- It is amazing how people can feel insulted even after being welcomed by elephants.

- This is one of the huge downsides of getting married. A guy has to get involved in discussion about saris and gold.

- No matter how mad they are, army people still believe in courtesies. I am sure Indian and Pakistani officers wish each other before they blow each other’s brain off.

I especially love the last line. As a kid, I used to think about this, you know, the reason why Army people are required to be so courteous? It’s not like that it counts during the war. This is the first time someone actually articulated my thoughts exactly.

In all, I loved the book. I don’t remember laughing this much while reading a book, ever. Chetan Bhagat does have a great sense of humor and he definitely has a way with the words. I am looking forward to read rest of his work now..

P.S.: On after thought, I want to add that I don’t condone any of the racist comments in the book. I merely think that the behavior portrayed in the book are very near to the truth. Having said that, I also want to request that please don’t stereotype people around you based on the book. Individuals can differ immensely from the stereotype described in the book.

Remember we all are first and foremost humans so let’s please try not to be hurtful to each other…

January 16, 2010

I miss fog

I grew up in the foothills of Himalayas. One of the feature of winter in that part of India was fog. Every winter, there used to be at least a week when an envelope of dense fog wrapped our town. Being a winter child (mid-December on that one), I have always loved winters including fog, lantern-like sun and the chilled wind along with Gajar ka Halwa, garma-garm Mungfali, Aaloo ke Paranthe, Matar ke Parathe, Matar in every sabji, Gobhi ke Parathe and spinach in almost everything. Yes kids, believe it or not, once upon a time, we used to eat season-specific vegetables and fruits.

Ever since, I left my hometown 8 years ago, there have been very rare occasions of encountering fog, even though I now live in San Francisco Bay Area. The problem is that most of the fog remains in the city (San Francisco) and never crosses over to the Farm (Stanford). So today morning when I stepped outside to go to work (yes, on a Saturday), I was pleasantly surprised to see the fog though not too dense. Luckily, I had my digi-cam with me, so I went for a photo shoot around the campus, instead of working, I should add.

Anyhoo, here are the two  shots from today morning’s venture. It now feels like Makar Sankranti and Lohri! So Happy Sankranti, Happy Lohri and Happy Pongal to everyone. Or, to be more politically correct and concise: Happy Harvest Season, Everyone!



P.S.: The strangest thing about today was that the number of runners and walkers out today was way more than a normal Saturday morning. The number of tourist, however, were far less. I expected the opposite when I went around as this is a long weekend. Monday is Martin Luther King day.

Friday Favorite - II

Do you remember the movie Bombay to Goa? One of early Amitabh Bachchan's movie? Do you remember any songs from the movie? Okay, except the famous song "Dekha Na Hai Re"? Well my favorite song from the movie is a duet by Kishore and Lata and that's the Friday favorite song of this week. The song is "Tum Meri Zindagi Mein Kuch":

The music for the movie was given by, one and only, R.D. Burman and the lyricist was Rajinder Krishan and the song is beautiful on both account. It surprises me why this song is unknown to so many people (at least to people I know). In my opinion, it's one of the best duets by Kishore and Lata. I simply love the Mukhada of the song:

Tum Meri Zindagi Mein, Kuch Is Tarah Se Aaye
Bhula Sa Khawab Jaise, Sach Ho Ke Muskuraye

Beautiful, isn't it? I also like the emphasis (that's the best word I could think, that fits; again I don't have any 'music education' so I can only write in a layman language here) given in the second lines in each Antara. It  adds spice to the song in a beautiful way. The monotonousness of the song is broken by that emphasis put on the two words (yep, just two words: listen again) of the second line on each Antara. It makes the song different, unique and beautiful. Well, at least according to me!

Again, hope you like the song as much as I do. I would love to hear your opinion of the song...

January 13, 2010

Family Standards

Recently, I was talking to my mom (yes I do that at times) about one of my cousin who got married few days back. I commented on how much weight she has lost when my mom told me her secret: she found some churan, that she takes whenever she thinks she is gaining weight. That so called churan, gives her loose motions and she looses weight. I was speechless.

In my extended family, I am supposed to be fat, according to almost all of my relatives and quite a few friends. Medically speaking, I have a BMI of 21.6, which falls right in the middle of “normal weights”. But I have always been told by my extended family that I need to loose weight . For some reason, all my cousins, especially girls, falls under the category of skinny. This aforementioned cousin has always been a bit towards plump side, again according to my relatives (she is still skinnier than me!). So I was surprised to see her skinny in her wedding pictures and hence commented on it. I was shocked to learn the reason. The saddest part: I can’t do anything about it. Sure, I will try to talk to my aunt, her mom, about the potential health risks. I will even try to talk some sense in her but I don’t think I will succeed. After all, I am the fat one who thinks she is normal weighted.

For every thing I will say, there will be only one counter-argument from all of them: She is thin, so she looks pretty. And then I would be advised to join some weight losing classes or take some of those dubious dieting pills to reduce weight: I might look pretty if I loose weight. I, any way, have a dark complexion, so only way for me to look good would be by losing some weight.

I am honestly quite worried about my cousin but I am helpless against these ridiculous beauty standards. I have no way to refute them. I hate feeling so helpless. I wish I could do something about it, except writing a post about it.

Credit:                                                                                                                                                           Img from: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/thisweekineducation/2007/06/national_yawn_standards_again.html

January 10, 2010

Point Reyes


I went there last Sunday and wanted to go back there today for some more pictures but unfortunately I had to work. I will go back there and I will go back there soon. Till then enjoy this…

January 8, 2010

Friday Favorite

or, Favorite Friday? Most of the people I know, have Friday as their favorite day of the week! But that's not the point of the post. I am starting a new series today. Yes, I know that I have miserably failed in following up any of the series so far, whether it was Project Snapshot or Tuesday Tags. I have excuses reasons for discontinuing both of them but I am not getting into them now. All I will say: Most of the things I try, I usually don't succeed in my first few attempts. I deleted my first 2-3 blogging attempts and here I am blogging continuously for past 2.5 years now! So let me give another try to this series thingy.

So the idea behind this series is simple enough. I will pick an old bollywood song every week and give some details about the song and embed the song here or provide the link for you to listen. Let me put a disclaimer first: I am no expert in music and raagas and all that stuff. To be fair, our school did have music teachers and they did try to teach us some classical music too (I know my SaReGaMa, thanks to them) but as the grades for music didn't count in the final grades, most of us didn't take it seriously. I always got a C in my music classes (lowest passing grade), though my fear of public-singing can be a contributing factor in that. But then, I don't remember any of the raagas from those classes, so may be I am simply tune-deaf.

However, in my teenager years, I used to be a music maniac: the bollywood kind of music. (On a side note: I wonder why don't they use bollywood songs to teach us music, it will be so much more interesting and easier). My specialty was old bollywood songs. However, over the years, I have lost touch. So I am starting this series to get in touch with this old passion of mine. So here we go:

Today's song is "Chuppa lo yun dil mein pyar mera" (Click on the link for listening to the song.) from movie Mamta (1966). The music for the movie and this song was given by Roshan. It's a beautiful duet sung by Hemant Kumar and Lata Mangeshkar. The beauty of this song lies in the absence of noise of musical instrument. A constant beat of ghungroo accompanied by few instruments (flute? violin? ) while the voice of the singers carry the song. I especially love the lyrics:

Chuppa lo yun dil mein pyar mera, ki jaise mandir mein lo diye ki,
Tum apne charano mein rakh lo mujhko, tumhare charano ka phool hoon,
main sar jhukaye khadi hoon pritam ki jaise mandir mein lo diye ki

Oh yes I love the second line of the song as well. Even though the lyrics of the second line are humbling, the pitch of song rises (rendered beautifully by Lata) giving it quiet a contrast and then it drops down with "main sar jhukaye khadi hoon pritam", giving the beautiful effect of total submission (note the emphasis on the word "khadi"). It's just perfect.

And I can't even start the beauty of the words "jaise mandir mein lo diye ki". Trust Majrooh Sultanpuri to come with such beautiful words.The rest of song is also very well written and obviously very well rendered by Hemant and Lata. This song has been one of my favorite songs from the moment I heard it. Hope you like it too.

Okay, enough procrastination. I need to work now...

John Doe

A friend today asked me about Indian equivalent of names “John and Jane Doe” and I was completely stumped. Would it be Anaam and Anamika? What about their surnames then? That can become very controversial very soon. Any ideas?

On the side note: with the name Anaam, an image of Amitabh Bachchan in his hey days of angry young man pops up while Anamika, obviously, reminds me of the songs “Bahon Mein Chale aao” and “Kahe ko rootha deewana mera” and a very naughty Jaya Bhaduri. May be it's just because they are married, I get reminded of those two.

January 7, 2010

Few Random Definitions

Twitter: Never-ending, time-consuming, nonsensical, extremely-popular, one-liner competition.

Facebook: A tool to convert normal humans into obnoxious peeping-toms, with no personal boundary or sense of privacy.

Orkut: A place on the internet for making holiday announcements, wedding announcements, baby announcements or any type of announcement, completed by  photographs and comments. It is also a good platform for wishing birthdays, anniversaries, Diwali, Holi, Dussehra, Pongal, New Year or any other festival (except, may be, Rakhshabandhan) to all your acquaintances. 

Personal Blog: A personal diary which is anything but private.

Blogosphere: A community of procrastinators.

E-mail: Emergency-mailing system. 

P.S.: 1. I think I have heard the above definition of Facebook somewhere but don’t remember where. A friend might have mentioned it. Oh well, the wordings are still mine…

2. For the credits for above icons, please refer to credit section in the left side bar (Go way down).

January 6, 2010

Animal Cruelty?

Okay, this is a screen capture of my Farmville animal’s section. I feel very guilty when I put yet another adopted animal among them. It’s so overcrowded that I think soon PETA will sue me for animal cruelty (Especially if you look at the sheep). I don’t want to sell these animals as the last time I sold my cows and chickens, the very next day Farmville introduced cow sheds and chicken coops for them. But I feel very sorry for my poor animals! Life must be so miserable for them in this overcrowded ranch. I pet them often though! Hope it helps them..

January 5, 2010

Internet causes divorce

No Kidding! According to this report, and I quote,
One law firm, which specializes in divorce, claimed almost one in five petitions they processed cited Facebook.
20% of divorce petitions sites Facebook! And there I thought it’s harmless fun. Although I shouldn’t blame Facebook entirely. According to the report:
Amy Taylor 28, split from David Pollard after discovering he was sleeping with an escort in the game Second Life, a virtual world where people reinvent themselves.
Now I am not sure what are the ethical values about virtually sleeping with someone (at least that’s how I understand these lines). But is it really considered evidence in the court of law? I mean, I get it that it means that that person have an intent to cheat his wife but he didn’t really cheated on his wife, did he? I understand the rage of the wife but again the question is: will or rather, should this hold up as an evidence in the court of law? I mean, people kill hordes of other people virtually every day through these games, are we going to try them next for the intent to kill? If not, then how can they use the same argument for a divorce case? Unless, of course, there was more to the case  than “sleeping virtually”.
Anyway, I am curious that if social networks can wreck such an havoc, what about blogging? I couldn’t find anything on net but I bet it should have more impact on relationship breaks than anything else. After all, no matter how hard you try, blogs become very personal.

January 4, 2010


Yes, yes I am still here even though it doesn’t seem so . Since I missed the NaBloPoMo, I decide to give myself a two weeks break. True, I should have mentioned it here and am truly sorry about that. I hope you trust me when I say, I deserved this break. I wrote 180 post last year. Even though it is not as many as year before that (246 post), I still wrote one post per 2 days on average, which isn’t bad, isn’t it? I will try to do better this year though I am not making any promises.

Anyway, I am back to work today and at the moment trying to make sense of the work I used to do. As you can tell, I am not having much success and hence I am procrastinating by writing this post.

Anyhoo, the point of this post: I am going to be extremely busy for next six months as I am trying to finish my thesis, hence I expect to post a lot unless I get too consumed by my work. Let’s all hope that that doesn’t happen. Hope I will continue to have a life for next six months. I am planning to take a day off every week and either go for a photography trip or to a movie so that I don’t get too consumed by my work. In any case, these are my last six months in the bay area so I should make most of it and take as many pictures as possible. Let’s see how that works out!

Oh yeah, Happy New Year ya'll! Hope it’s better than the last one and you keep all your resolutions…