April 29, 2010

The point of exercising

Like it or not, we live in a weight obsessed world. It’s a world wide epidemic now, especially among women (for some reason, a man with weight problem is more acceptable in any society than a woman with weight problem).  And obviously, there comes in diet and exercise as the solution to anyone’s weight problem (let’s assume that we all have common sense and hence, we don’t fall for stupid, unhealthy weight loss products).

Recently, for some reason (I think it has something to do with approaching summer), most of my friends have been talking about reducing weight by exercising. And no, I don’t have a problem with that. The point of this post is the way almost all of them discuss SuperStock_1042R-9813~Silhouette-of-a-Woman-Exercising-Posters[1]exercise as a short term task. They talk about the time when, after they have reached their desired weight or loose certain amount of body fat or whatever their goal is, they don’t have to exercise anymore. That’s what gets me.

See, I was raised with the notion that exercise, like brushing your teeth, is a part of the daily routine. Yes, that was the parallel I was given: Just like how brushing your teeth regularly keeps them healthy and help you avoid aches and pains and other tooth problems in long term, exercising daily keeps your body healthy and help you avoid aches and pains and other problems in long term, especially in the old age.

And please, this is not about how long you are going to live (that’s what most of my friends argue in their defense: they don’t want to live till the old age). It’s about how healthy you would be towards the end of your life. I am sure none of them want to be bedridden and be dependent on others for their basic necessities. I know there are no guarantees, even with the exercise and healthy diet, but by living healthy you decrease your probability of going that bed-ridden way.

And that, my dear friends, is the point of exercising. At least, that’s what it should be. Keeping yourself healthy. Exercising and stretching your muscles, so that they keep moving. Think of it like oiling your bicycle (or any other machine that you use). If you keep it well oiled, you don’t have to spend as much energy while riding it. It will run smoothly. Your body is also a machine. And worse, you can’t replace it, unlike your bicycle. So keep it well oiled.

And then, there are other advantages of exercising: keeping weight in control is one of them. It’s good for relieving stress. It certainly builds up self-confidence and self-esteem. And yada yada yada…

*Image is linked to it’s source.

April 28, 2010


As I have been mentioning so often now, I am writing my thesis at the moment. A thesis with six chapters (apart from introduction etc.) for six years of my research life in Stanford. I have facts and results. Papers from previous researchers to quote. A guideline to write a thesis provided by the school and examples of theses of students before me. And yet, I am going crazy trying to keep everything flowing from one chapter to the other, to explain things in a way that people, who are not expert in the area, can understand. Okay my target audience is still scientists and not economists or lawyers or artists. But the scientist category is also very wide.

Why am I ranting about this? Well, I was reading this article by J.K. Rowling on the current elections in UK (yes, I keep up with the news across the world. Okay, you got me. I got the link via Sparky.). It’s about one of the political party in UK called Tory party (or the Conservative party, currently lead by David Cameron. They were in power from 1979-1997, first lead by Margaret Thatcher (1979-1990) and then by John Major(1990-1997)) and how they disapprove of single mothers (It is also called ‘nasty party’). In the article she mentions about the time in her life when:

Between 1993 and 1997 I did the job of two parents, qualified and then worked as a secondary school teacher, wrote one and a half novels and did the planning for a further five. For a while, I was clinically depressed. To be told, over and over again, that I was feckless, lazy — even immoral — did not help.

One and a half novels, and planned five novels! Despite being depressed, having added responsibilities of being a single parent AND working a day job. And yet, she created this amazing world. And yet, the books flow from one to seven seamlessly. Honestly, I am in awe! I have a new respect for that lady.

P.S.: I can’t end this post without quoting few more lines from her article that I think is true in any society (emphasis mine):

“one of the biggest social problems of our day”. […] Women like me (for it is a curious fact that lone male parents are generally portrayed as heroes, whereas women left holding the baby are vilified) were, according to popular myth, a prime cause of social breakdown, and in it for all we could get: free money, state-funded accommodation, an easy life.

April 21, 2010

If I were…

PB did this tag few days ago. I contemplated doing it then. Then Titaxy picked it up and now I couldn’t resist it any more. So here is the tag, ‘If I were…’

  • If I were a month, I’d be December…as approximately 1/3rd of the month is vacation time for all, whether you are a student or professional. Got to love that, don’t you think?
  • If I were a day of the week, I’d be Friday…relaxed and promising a weekend.
  • If I were a time of day, I’d be Night…with silence as my companion.
  • If I were a season, I’d be Winter in India… where you enjoy the sun on the terrace while eating matar ki roti (peas-stuffed bread), gobhi ke parathe (cauliflower stuffed bread), gajar ka halwa (carrot desert).
  • If I were a planet, I’d be Jupiter…with pretty rings.
  • If I were a direction, I’d be West…as that’s where I would have loved to live had I been a woman (I am a direction, remember? Keep up, will you?)
  • If I were a piece of furniture, I’d be a Bed…oh what can I say, I love sleeping. (Alone, sleeping alone. Keep your dirty minds off.)
  • If I were a liquid, I’d be Water…plain and simple yet essential.
  • If I were a tree, I’d be the Banyan tree…with centuries of wisdom in me. And I get to live like 100s of years.
  • If I were a tool, I’d be a Scissor…cutting pretty shapes.
  • If I were a flower, I’d be Poppy…beautiful and controversial.
  • If I were an element, I’d be Carbon…as in Diamond.
  • If I were a gemstone, I’d be Diamond…as in Carbon?
  • If I were a kind of weather, I’d be Partly Cloudy…perfect conditions for outdoor photo shoot. Now where is my model?
  • If I were a musical instrument, I’d be a Drum…giving a beat to all the tunes.
  • If I were a color, I’d be Blue…as in Blue Moon, Blue Heart, Blue Jeans, Blue Sky, the Blues. Oh well, you caught my drift.
  • If I were an emotion, I’d be Pensive… ... … …. … … (I am being Pensive)
  • If I were a fruit, I’d be an Amrood (Guava)…that too a bit unripe and stolen. Love the taste of that one. (What? You never stole fruits as a kid? Really? :-O )
  • If I were a sound, I’d be a telephone ring…connecting people. Wait, that came out like an advertisement. I meant telephone ring…that connect hearts (ask the couples in a long distance relationship).
  • If I were a car, I’d be a Mitsibushi Pajero…serious muscles on that one. Have you seen that car?
  • If I were a material, I’d be Silk…everyone yearns to touch.
  • If I were a food, I’d be Indian…pretty much like I am now. Indian, not food.
  • If I were a taste, I’d be Delicious…what? You thought I would be anything but delicious?
  • If I were a scent, I’d be Hugo Boss Deep Red or Victoria’s Secret Amber Romance…hmmm love the smell already.
  • If I were an object, I’d be a Laptop…a universal addiction.
  • If I were a song, I’d be an A.R. Rahman’s song…do I really need to tell you why?
  • If I were a body part, I’d be Tongue…the only part of the body (apart from brain) that multitask: taste and talk.
  • If I were a place, I’d be my Hometown…as Dorothy said it: “There is no place like home”.
  • If I were a facial expression, I’d be a Frown…as it’s usually followed by some strong, passionate emotions.
  • If I were a pair of shoes, I’d be Prada…even Devil wears it!

Feel free to pick this tag, if you want to. Me going back to my cave. Ciao..

April 16, 2010

The Good and the Bad

Can you tell me about a time when you eat a whole cookie and not feel guilty? or get a whole pint of ice-cream and still not feel guilty? or the day when you can come back a little early even though there is tons of work pending and still, yes still, not feel guilty? And yes,  all these events happen on the same day! I will tell you when: the day you donate blood. It’s a guilt-free day for everything.

Yes, you got it. I donated blood today, after six months I might add and got a voucher to buy a pint of ice-cream while I was offered free cookie and orange juice at the blood mobile. The downside of donating blood, you ask? The nausea (at least in my case) so you don’t enjoy all the cookies, the ice-creams and the time off. How ironic is that? Just my life…

Stanford Blood Center's new bloodmobile(Image from: http://bloodcenter.stanford.edu/press/releases/2008_09_BloodMobileLaunch.html)

P.S.: Just FYI – Quite a few people have asked me about how it feels to donate blood and how much it hurts etc. Honestly, despite all the nausea and poking (my veins are hard to find so I get poked a bit more and/or have to spend more than usual time than other people), it feels great to donate blood. It doesn’t hurt. Honestly. So if you have been thinking about donating blood, it’s time that you act on it.

April 14, 2010

An itinerary, a daydream

As I have often posted in past few months, I am writing my thesis at the moment, which means I am working, working and working. Remember the exam days from school days? The two-three weeks when all you get to do is study and remember how during those weeks you would make list of things you would do once exams finished.

Now imagine extending that two-three week period to six months. Yep that’s how I feel like at the moment and yes, I have been making lists of things I want to do. I know a lot of them are not feasible or practical but that doesn’t stop me from day-dreaming.

Anyway, I have been planning this hypothetical cross-country road trip that I want to take. I know I won’t be able to make it and have to settle down for something less (probably a west coast road trip from San Francisco to Seattle: its more practical.), yet I have been day-dreaming. I have a rough itinerary as well:


(Courtesy: Google maps)

A- San Francisco, CA: Starting point

B-  Death Valley, CA:

Eric-Moore-Death-Valley(Image from:http://www.und.edu/instruct/mineral/Eric-Moore-Death-Valley.jpg)

C- Grand Canyon, AZ:


D- Arches National Park, UT:

 (Image from: http://fruitfly.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/delicate-arch-arches-national-park-utah.jpg)

E- Salt Lake City, UT:

SALT%20LAKE%20CITY%20SKYLINE[1](Image from: http://www.wfrc.org/cms//images/photos//SALT%20LAKE%20CITY%20SKYLINE.JPG)

F- Craters of the moon, ID:


G- Yellowstone National park, WY:

ecophoto(Image from: http://www.greensolutionsmag.com/back_issues/GSM-Aug08/images/ecophoto.jpg) 

H- Mount Rushmore, SD:


(Image from: http://www.welcometothepond.com/American%20Symbols%20WebQuest/mountrushmore.jpg)

I- Chicago, IL:

info-Chicago_river (Image from: http://www.essential-architecture.com/A-AMERICA-N/USA/CHICAGO/CHIC.htm)

J- New York, NY:

travel_g_newyork_580(Image from; http://sports.espn.go.com/travel/cities/index?city=new-york-city)

K-  Washington, DC:

washingtondc20cherry20blossoms202(Image from: http://jimwickre.blogspot.com/2009/03/cherry-blossom-festival-time-in.html) 


Well someday, I will visit all these places, even if I can’t take this trip…

Yeah, yeah. I will make the west coast road trip itinerary too.

April 12, 2010


A dead rose, finally discarded away. A cycle of life completed. We move on. Life goes on…
Taken on the first death anniversary of my favorite uncle. I owe my passion for photography to him. He is missed.

April 10, 2010

Tag: Seven random facts

I know, I did the disappearing act again. I am trying to finish writing my thesis at the moment and have been working very hard. I should be done next 2-3 months. Till then, expect a post or two once in a while but don’t raise them (the expectations) too much.

PB tagged me to do a post about seven random facts about me. The word “random” is a curious one: you can fit anything in that category.  It’s like having a blank tiles (wildcard) in scrabble. You can choose any letter to represent it. Though once used, it can’t be changed. While here I have freedom to change the topic from point to point. Yet I think I will stick to one theme for this post. So my wildcard for this post is things that irritate or enrage me. So here are the seven things or people that irritate or enrage me:

1. ~>  Husbands who don’t “let” their wives, or to use Indian term, give freedom to their wives to wear certain clothes. The reason they usually give is that other men especially Indian men would get wrong ideas about their wife if they wear certain clothes. And with Indian husbands, these clothes can be as decent and harmless as a knee-length skirt or a sleeveless top.

My problem is here two fold:

1. Freedom is not theirs to give. Clothes are a personal matter and everyone has a right to choose what they want to wear or what they feel comfortable in. How can anyone has a right to give or take away that freedom from anyone?

2. Their objection about what other men will think and hence the woman should dress in certain way: don’t you get reminded of Taliban and similar groups when you hear that phrase? Isn’t this punishing the victim? Instead of checking or punishing the predators in our society we have a habit of punishing the victims of those predators.

On a side note, I also have problem with the in-laws proudly announcing that they give their DILs all the “freedom”. When will they realize that till they think that it’s their prerogative to give freedom to the DILs, they can never truly be okay with the DILs independence.

2. ~>  People who demand respect. Growing up we were often told that we should always respect our elders. I had to unlearn this lesson the hard way. And yes, there is a difference between being polite and respectful, and actually respecting someone. The first two come under the category of manners, which I agree one should possess however, respect is an attribute that one needs to earn.

For example: If a MIL go around spreading vicious rumors about her DIL or keep interfering with her life, she might receive a polite behavior from her DIL but she will never earn her respect. No matter what “tradition” says.

I think, people who demand respect are the ones who don’t deserve it. The one’s who deserve it, don’t have to demand it.

3. ~>  The religious kinds (okay not all but quite a lot of them). They bug me as most of them are horrified by my lack of faith and think I don’t have any religious freedom.

See being an atheist/agnostic (I haven’t picked one yet) some how means I shouldn’t hurt other people’s religious beliefs. Hence I am supposed to go to the temple when I am with them, bow my head and go through all the rituals to protect their religious freedom and beliefs, because my beliefs on the subject matter don’t count.

Not having faith in God = not having any religious freedom.

And when I object, they are horrified and hurt. Most of them ask me, “What’s  the big deal? If you do all these things, it shouldn’t matter to you one way or the other but it will mean so much to XYZ as they believe in all these things”.

I don’t have any problem with XYZ having whatever beliefs they want to have and I am not stopping them to do whatever they want but why, why on the Earth, do I have to do it because XYZ believes in it. I don’t believe in them, and I don’t want to do all those things. Don’t I have a right? Why do I have to respect other’s beliefs when they don’t respect mine?

And yes, it does matter to me to go through those rituals as I feel like a fraud while doing that. I feel like I am disrespecting my beliefs as well the beliefs of XYZ by going through that. Is that what they want?

4. ~> The clueless types. These are the people who have no idea, what-so-ever, about what’s happening in the world around them. Okay, I admit that I am not an ardent news-bug like quite a lot of my friends but I do keep up. I don’t get the people living in this shell where they block off any news about the world. It doesn’t affect them hence it doesn’t concern them. And even if it affects them, well, it doesn’t matter as they can’t and won’t do anything about it. If you ask them, their simple answer would be: “Politics doesn’t interest me.” or “Politics is too slimy and I don’t have any interest in it.”

Well, politics doesn’t interest me either. I find it too slimy, too and yes there have been days when I have refused to find out the news as I didn’t want to get more depressed than I already was. But reading news isn’t about being interested in politics or enjoying it. It is about being aware of your surroundings: the injustice and the stupidity. Unless we are aware if these things, how are we supposed to change them or at least try to change them. And if we don’t change them, aren’t we in danger of becoming a stagnant society?

Oh yes, we all want to be happy. We don’t want to be angry, frustrated and enraged at all times but is it really right thing to do?

The worst thing about these clueless people is their utter lack of any reaction to any news. At times, I simply want to shake them up. How can anyone be so indifferent?

5. ~> The oh-so-great-Indian-culture types, or rather, “the second-handers”. Don’t get me wrong. I am proud to be an Indian. No, really I am. There are quite a lot of things I do like about our country: for example, our school education system. I see children in Western world and their primary education system and I thank my stars that I was born in India. At least our 12th graders can read! But I digress.

I was talking about the second-handers, the oh-so-great-Indian-culture types. The types who do read the newspaper, but are incapable of forming an opinion. They have never stopped and thought about anything in life, simply accepted and parroted the opinion of others. So for them, everything about our culture is so great because they were told so.

For example: Remember the movie “Pardes”? The dialog between Atul Agnihotri and Mahima Chaudhary in Las Vegas hotel where he blames Indian culture of being so hypocrite? Remember the only answer Mahima Chaudhary came up with? A slap and a dialog: “Mere Bharat ko bura mat kaho” (don’t say anything against my country) or something similar. And somehow it was an acceptable answer! No counter arguments were given. Somehow, patriotism is an answer for logic.

6. ~> The oh-I-am-so-smart types. These are the calculating, shrewd creatures who want to use you. Friendship don’t mean anything to them. They meet you, measure you and think of all the ways they can use you. If you are helping kind, then for them you are an easy target and not a nice, helping person.

My problem: if I can help someone, I will and I don’t have time or energy to think about all the calculated moves they are making while congratulating themselves for my gullibility. And honestly I don’t mind helping anyone (even a stranger), the thing that pisses me off is their oh-I-am-so-smart  attitude. That’s something I can’t take. I am taking out time to help them, least they can do is show some gratitude, instead I get this attitude, as if I am meant to serve them as I am so dumb while they are meant to rule the world as they are so smart. And surprisingly, world is full of such people. Or may be, I just keep bumping into such people.

7. ~> The gossipers. Do I need to elaborate more? Their only interest in me is getting a juicy piece of gossip, and then they wonder why I avoid them? Really? And it’s just not about gossiping about any personal details of my life that they can get access to but also the way that simple fact is twisted so that people can laugh at it. Whenever I am with these gossipers, I feel like I am on the stage while these gossipers and their community is pointing and laughing at me. Every sentence I speak in their company will be twisted and made into a joke.

They don’t stop at that either. They take pains to contact gossipers from my past and get details of my then life and then ask me about it. Again any statement I make will come back to bite me. I don’t know what they get out of all this. Do they even know the meaning of friendship?

There. I am done with the tag. Again, it’s free for all tag. If you want to write about 7 random things about yourself. Go ahead. Take the tag…

Am going back to my slumber. Will surface in 2-3 weeks again. Will see you then.