June 30, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Bird Watching

Title: Food
Location: Shoreline Lake, Mountain View, CA
Date: June 28, 2010
(Canon EOS 40D camera, Canon 75-300mm lens @ 300mm focal length, f/7.1 aperture, 1/1600 sec shutter speed and 400 ISO. Post processing: cropped slightly and increased contrast)

P.S.: From Monday (June 28th), I have started the series “Bird Watching” on my photoblog. I will post every MWF for next few weeks. I am new at bird watching and hence, don’t know most of the bird species. I will be grateful if you can help me out.

Male Bloggers

So I recently discovered this gender analyzer (via Vector Gaming) that analyzes your blog/site and tell you whether it’s being written by a man or a woman. Lame, yes but still fun. It told me that my blog is written by a woman (Duh!). So next, I went in search for other blogs I read (about 114 odd blogs) to see how they fare on the scale. And that’s when I realize that most of the blogs I read are written by woman (in reality).

I subscribe to 23 male bloggers (4 of them are friends) out of 114  (I don’t know gender for 5 of them, I can guess but then it will be a guess). That’s 20%. And guess what? Out of those 23 male bloggers, only 2 were identified as male bloggers by the gender analyzer. I think its broken.

Anyway, the fact remains that I, for some unknown reason (it wasn’t intentional, I swear), prefer to read female bloggers more than male bloggers. Or, is it that there are more female bloggers out there than the male bloggers (do we have some kind of census/statistics about number and distribution of bloggers?)? Or, may be female bloggers tend to write more personal blogs while male bloggers stick to impersonal blogs as gadget reviews? Or, may be female bloggers are simply better writer than male bloggers and hence, get added to my subscription (its a thought)? Or, is it something about me? May be I am biased against the male bloggers. I might have developed, like Ideasmith says, an “unhealthy level of cynicism” over the years. May be, unconsciously,  I am rejecting the male bloggers for being, well, male.

So here is a request, if you know some awesome male bloggers please leave a link to their blogs in the comment space (but no gadget reviewers, please). I will, now, make a conscious effort to include the male bloggers in my subscription list.

Do tell about the distribution of male bloggers vs female bloggers in your subscription list.

June 28, 2010

Last Minute Post

The reason I didn’t ask any colleague to go through my draft :) (oh well, not really. I had help from technical writing advisor and my advisor. Didn’t think I can handle anymore correction):comichighlighting1 * Image is linked to its source.

P.S.: Coincidentally this one came out a day after my submission..

June 27, 2010

Pride Day

Today is Gay Pride day in US. Are you still there? Well I have been asked in past to refrain from writing (read associating myself) about gay community so I am not sure how many  would read this post, given it’s out and out about gay community.

Anyway, assuming all these ridiculous advices are due to our ignorance about gay community so on the pride day, I decided to go through few misconceptions (at least the one I know):


The first point I want to make is that homosexuals are humans, like you and me. I don’t understand why an out and proud gay usually becomes only gay and nothing else. That’s how he or she is referred in conversations. Their career, their talents, their intelligence, everything is ignored and only one of their personality trait is highlighted. There, I said it. Its simply a personality trait, a personal matter, just like being an introvert or extrovert. You won’t refer a person as introvert at all times when you talk about him or her, then why emphasize so much about this personality trait?

(On a side note, I don’t like the word ‘Queer’ associated with homosexual or gay. The word’s usual meaning is abnormal or eccentric or odd. So to use it in homosexual context is saying that being homosexual is an abnormality, which it is not. Just my opinion.)


Now coming to all those who refer homosexuality as being unnatural. Did you know that a lot of animal species exhibit homosexuality and the reason it has not been reported in scientific journals is due to social attitudes towards same-sex sexual behavior, innocent confusion, or even from a fear of "being ridiculed by their colleagues." ?  Only recently, scientist have started reporting the homosexual behavior in animals and you will be amazed by how many of animal species engage in such behavior (the list has reference to scientific papers as well). So what was it that you were saying about homosexuality being unnatural phenomenon?

(Another reason that we have ignored sexuality of animals is due to our own pride in believing that animal only have sex in order to reproduce, unlike humans that form emotional bonds. Homosexuality in animals prove that animals also, are drawn to each other for reasons apart from reproduction. So much for human superiority.)


Next item on the list is the law. Quite a few friends of mine think that when Delhi High Court overturned IPC 377 in July 2009, it made same-sex marriage legal in India. Well folks, that is sadly not true. IPC section 377 was about criminalizing homosexual activities and overturning that meant that gay couples will no longer be treated as criminals in India(We are now better than Iran, congratulations!). But gay marriage still have no legal standing in India. How does that matter you ask?

It matters because in case of death of one of the partner, the other don’t have any legal standing on the dead body of the deceased, or the funeral procedures, or over the home they build together (in case it was in name of deceased partner). Imagine being thrown out of the funeral of your spouse of 20 years. How would you like it?

(Seriously, after all the obsession Indians have with marriage and premarital sex, they are not bothered about getting gays married and avoid their premarital sex?)


Homosexuality does not spread AIDS or HIV (yes, there is a difference between the two). Unsafe sex does. If we remove the social stigma associated with sex and talk to our children, and people, about unsafe sex practices, we will reduce the spread of this virus. The reason homosexuals have a higher percentage of HIV and AIDS is due to added social stigma associated with them, which makes it impossible for them to talk to any one about safe sex practices associated with homosexuality. There are, at least, few resources for safe sex practices for heterosexual couples, does anyone have heard about safe sex practices for homosexual couples? There in lies the problem, my dear friend. Its our social prejudice that make them vulnerable to this deadly disease and then we prosecute them for having it. How is that fair, exactly?


Lastly, I want to point out that all the homosexuals that are out, are one of the bravest people you would have fortune of meeting. EVER. Just ask this question to yourself: would you stand up against all the social norms and face persecution from society, your own family, in order to be honest with yourself? The decision to not live a lie is a big one and I, for one, admire their courage, their honesty, their conviction and above all, their integrity.

Happy Pride day everyone.

imageThis is rainbow flag flying atop on Seattle Space Needle. (Image is linked to its source)

P.S.: For those of you who don’t know the significance of rainbow flag: it represents diversity and inclusiveness, just like a rainbow. It can be, and has been used to represent cultural diversity, peace etc. It is also used to represent LGBT community.

June 26, 2010

On Culture

Ever since I read this post by Braja Sorensen on Lost and found in India, I have this constant debate going on in my mind and I simply can’t concentrate on work anymore. The topic of discussion in the post was opposition of Burkas in European countries. Braja opined:

…foreigners who enter a new country, a new culture, and yet refuse to adapt to it, preferring to maintain---or even impose---their own culture in that foreign land. Whatever happened to "When in Rome..."? As an expat Aussie living in India, I have a bit of a sore point about people entering a country and refusing to honor its traditions, cultures, desires, directions, or the like. Worse, I find it completely obnoxious, to be honest, when foreigners deem the inhabitants of their new country lower than them, less cultured, less spiritual, less holy---less everything, really---yet still want to live there. Obviously not as one of them, but *despite* them. It seems a rather rude premise to me.

Honestly, I do agree with the author here to certain extent but, there are a lot of “buts” involved. Yes, when in Rome, behave as Roman but does that mean completely neglecting your roots? If not, then where do you the draw the line between embracing the new culture and not loosing touch with your roots. Any one care to venture an answer?

June 25, 2010

Another Filler Post

Am too tired today. Will resume proper posting tomorrow. Enjoy this till then:


he has a point, don’t you think? I love Zach Weiner’s twisted logics!

* Image is linked to its source

June 24, 2010

What Women Want?

So Blogadda has another contest: What Women Want? No, I am not participating but simply thinking a loud.

My problem with the topic (oh yes, I have a problem. Why else will I write a post, if not complain?): who is eligible to write on such a topic?

Men are, by default, unqualified to write about this topic. How can they possibly know what women want? At the most they can ask women in their lives (or speculate, or make sexist jokes/comments) what they want and still I am pretty sure, it will be hard for them to understand it completely, let alone write about it.

Women? Can any woman, or any individual, really know what all women want? there are approximately 3 billion of us. Each of us lives in different society, have to obey different sets of rules, have different life situations and hence, have completely different needs and wants. For example, a woman in war torn Somalia would want not to be raped while a woman in India would simply want the freedom of walking on the road without a frown, to ward off any molestation attempts.  How can one woman tell what all of us want? Isn’t it ridiculous to bundle 3 billion individuals in one and wonder what they want?  And yet, we find so many theories on the subject and all start with the same claim: Women are mysteries or no one knows what women want etc. If you bundle 3 billion individuals into one and then try to decipher what they want, of course, you will be confused. It will certainly seem like a mystery.

You see, here is the thing. Women are not animals that you can study and learn about their behavior, habits, needs or desires (oh well, technically we are all animals but you know what I mean). You can’t go looking for “patterns” among intelligent individuals. We all process information differently, so is it fair that we try to categorize ourselves in such broad classes? Can we really classify the human race in two groups: man and woman, and then go defining the traits of each group? Is the question:  “What women want?” (or the question “what men want?”, for that matter) really a fair question to ask?

P.S.: I have serious objection over comments like: “Even women don’t know what they want?”, or “Even God is trying to find that one out!” etc (and these types of comments are always from, surprise surprise, a man. The individuals that are completely unqualified to say anything on the subject and yet, they have to comment). Do men really think they are better than that? Are you seriously telling me that men don’t have mood swings, or that they don’t take out their work frustrations by snapping at people closest to them, or that they don’t cry, despite all the social conditioning (the things they accuse women of and the reason they claim no one knows what they want)? Because they do. They don’t want to admit it and would probably make fun of any male, who they think does such things but at some point, they all have done that. They are, after all, humans too; and having emotions is a human trait.

June 23, 2010

June 22, 2010

Teaser Tuesday

  Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:teasertuesdays31

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Here goes mine:VAcover

- Love is the most dangerous craving of all, if you ask me, it turns us into people we aren't. It makes us feel like hell, and makes us walk on water. It ruins us for anything else.

- Let me tell you what happens when you cook down the syrup of loss over the open fire of sorrow: It solidifies into something else. Not grief, as you’d expect, or even regret. No, it gets thick as paste, black as ash; yet it isn’t until you dip a finger in and feel that sharp taste dissolving on your tongue that you realize this is anger in its purest form, unrefined; a substance to be weighed and measured and spread.

Yep, I broke the rules yet again. But a teaser in a single sentence is impossible to do.

The book I am reading (actually re-reading. I am not picking up a new book till my defense) is Vanishing Acts by Jodi Picoult

* Image is linked to its source

June 21, 2010


Yet another writing prompt but this time from the world wide web:

What do you collect and what would you say your collection says about you?

IMG_0065-1 I collect magnets. The picture above is one side of our refrigerator.

That was the easy part. Now what do I think that my collection says about me? Hmmm…I guess it says that I like to travel, learn about different cultures and collect tiny reminder of things I saw,

     Specific Paris

or simply found amusing or cute.

Cute EduFunny Funny2

What do you think that these magnets tell about me?

P.S.: I know, I know. I am getting in to the rambling zone now. I am back to work so I guess the quality will improve soon..

June 20, 2010

Today’s media

Public Opinion

(Image is linked to it’s source)

I miss good old days of Doordarshan when the news used to be 20 min. long and used to report only the news. No analysis, no opinions, no drama.

I wish there was a place in today’s world where they only tell you what happened in the world that day, instead of their and some XYZ’s opinion. I can form my own opinion, thank you very much.

What say you? Would you prefer the over-analyzed news programs that ignores the smaller news articles or the to-the-point news reports?

June 19, 2010

Writing Prompt: Time Travel

Well I haven’t done a writing prompt for quite a long time now. I guess, it’s about time I revisited them. And look what I found (actually chose out of many):

If you could go back in time and meet your 16-year-old self, what three things would you tell yourself?

Gosh! 16 year old me! That silent, shy, extremely introvert girl with zero self confidence or self esteem. I think the first thing I would tell her is that she is pretty. No matter how much people point to her dark skin tone or to her non-existent fatness, and remind her how ugly she is. She is pretty. Those people have a very screwed up idea of beauty.

Second thing on the list would be a bit tough to explain. How can I explain my 16-year-old self that she is not responsible for the action of all the perverts roaming on the Indian road? It’s not her fault. It’s the failure of our society that not only fails to protect our girls and women from such scum, but it instead dares to blame them for its failure.

This concept would demand her to unlearn everything she knows in matter of minutes or hours (depends how much time I am given to explain it to her). I don’t think it can be done in a short time period. After all, how wise can you expect a 16-year old to be? Nevertheless, it remains in the list. It’s worth a try.

Last thing that I want to tell my 16-year-old self is that no matter how bad things become, no matter how much she feels that she can’t make out of it, SHE WILL. And it’s worth it. This one is for the darkest hours of her life yet to come.

I know I can expand a lot on all of them and the last point is a bit anti-climatic, but these are my honest replies to the question and in that order. And honesty wins over the aesthetic sense any day. At least in my book.

So is there anything you would like to tell your 16-year-old self? If you would like to do a post about it, consider yourself tagged (it’s an interesting topic), otherwise put it in the comment here. :)

June 18, 2010

Conversation with a six year old

- While accompanying her to the Jungle gym, she asks me to do what she is doing. I confess that most probably I won’t be able to do it (due to back ache), she tells me “if a six year old can do it, then then then..how old are you Richa.”
Me - “31”
J - “then a 31 year old can do it too.”
Me - “Right.”

- 10 minutes later she asks me, “Richa, are you married?”
Me - “No, I am not.”
J- “But you are 31!”

- “How do you say one in Hindi, Richa?” She has an Indian boy in her class now.
Me - “Ek.”
J - “Huh?”
Me - “Ai-k.”
J - “Like stomach ache?”
Me - “Yes, exactly like stomach ache.”

- J - “C (her 2 year old sister) is sweet.”
Me - “Yes, but you are sweeter than her.”
J - “Really?”
Me - “Yes.”
J - “Okay. But don’t say that when she (her sister) is older.”

- “Why were you standing behind the Indian flag instead of US flag on the international day at school, J?”, her mom asked.
J - “Because Richa is our family and she is Indian.”
Her mom - “No. We love Richa as family but she is not related to us.”
J - “oh..”

:) Is it a surprise that I look forward to spend time with her?

June 17, 2010

American or Indian

Lately I have been told, more often than not, that I have become an American. This has nothing to do with my current visa status, or green card, or citizenship. No point arguing on those front. The reasons for which people have announced that I am no longer an Indian but have, in fact, transformed into an American never made sense to me. May be they will to you. So here they are:

1. My best friend in Stanford is an American and that too, gasp, an African American. Not that I don’t have Indian friends. I simply get along with her more than any Indian friends in Stanford.

2. My room-mate/flat-mate is also an American. In fact in US, I rarely had an Indian room-mate and to be frank, for the brief times that I had one (Indian room-mate), I didn’t get along with him or her, anyways.

3. I love peanut butter. I am actually in love with peanut butter. I will eat anything if it has peanut butter in it (Peanut-butter is to me what chocolate is to most people). I agree peanut butter is an American/western food (so is chocolate and yet I am the one who is American). In my defense, I have always been a big fan of peanuts. Even in India. So is it so surprising that when I found peanut butter, I fell in love with it?

4. I watch movies like Shrek, Alice in the wonderland, Avatar etc. which according to Indian populace are kids movies. If you argue otherwise, you are too Americanized.

5. I go for Karate (oh ok, I used to go for Karate) and absolutely love it. Indian girls aren’t supposed to like sports, you see. And then karate is, oh my God, a contact sport, and hence a complete no-no (was told so by an Indian guy who disapproved of me going for karate).

6. I go for a run.

7. I wear shorts when I go for a run (in summer, of course). Completely American, or so  I have been told.

8. I like Photography and usually travel alone to take photographs. Too American (I think they meant too independent).

Do these make things really make me American? Why?

June 16, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Special Edition

PB, as per your request. :)
Title: Accomplishment
Date: June 16th, 2010
Location: Stanford, CA

P.S.: 1. Unlike most universities, Stanford has a system of submitting the draft copies of the thesis to the committee instead of final bounded copies before the defense. The final copies are made after all the corrections have been incorporated. This makes sense to me: What’s  the point of making final bounded copies if there  are going to be correction anyways? Hope other universities will someday follow this tradition and make life easier for the students. And yes, this is the draft I submitted today.

2. Note I didn’t put a copyright sign on today’s photo.

Wordless Wednesday: Walk

Title: Nostalgic
Location: Mountain View, CA
Date: June 12, 2010

June 15, 2010

A filler post

Submission is tomorrow. So today I am cursing the day I signed up for NaBloPoMo (I have assigned fifteen minutes to write this post. I have already spent 5 minutes to find the video below). But the good news is, that I have already crossed the half way mark. I think taking one-day at-a-time approach is working. Guess I do have commitment tissues. I haven’t had to resort to a filler post so far. Well at least till today. (I know I am rambling. You try be creative  in 10 minutes).

So today I am filling up this space with this video and keeping my commitment with NaBloPoMo. It is a great comment on the social networking. It’s funny, and quite sad, to see how relationships in virtual space have become more important than the real world relationship. How number of friends on such sites have become the measure of “coolness” in this modern world.

I am not necessarily against these social networking sites. I have found so many friends due to the increased contacts with old friends. (Once, via a common friends I found out about an old friend living two blocks from my place!) I also like sharing photos with my friends and family all at once, instead of sending an individual email to each of them.

Social networking has a lot benefits (a cousin of mine reconnected with an old friend via facebook and now, they are getting married!) despite how much media makes fun of it.

Your thoughts?

June 14, 2010

Absent mindedness

As I am nearing my submission date and then defense date, I am becoming more and more absent minded (not to mention, sleep deprived and extremely cranky).  But don’t they say that you ain’t defending your PhD if ain’t absent minded yet. Oh okay, I totally made it up but it still remains more or less true. I have heard quite a few incidents from friends and acquaintances about their days before defense.

Anyway, so the worst thing I have done yet (I still have more than a month to go), you ask? I introduced myself as Rachna, instead of Richa. Yep, I forgot my own name! Not that I have a long name. In fact I don’t even have a second name (surname), or a third name (middle name) to remember. I have a simple five lettered name: RICHA. And I love my name too. And yet, I did that.

How about you? What’s the worst absent minded thing you have done? I bet you can’t top mine..

June 13, 2010

Written Hindi: कि or की?

Yet another post for Red Marker Blogathon.

If some word/phrase/idiom/spelling/syntax/punctuation incorrectly used drives you up the wall, blog about it.

The only rule is that you must explain what is wrong with the usage that it bothers you so and you must also explain the proper usage.
Today I am talking, er, writing about a mistake that even native-Hindi speakers make all the time while writing Hindi. This mistake has been driving me up to the wall since I was a kid.

The mistake being interchanging the words की and कि (sorry have to do this one in Devnagari script. Can’t explain this in Latin alphabet system). A mistake in matra usually irritates me a lot but this mistake takes the cake. So what is the difference between the two, you ask?

कि is a conjunction and is equivalent to ‘that’
की is a postposition and is equivalent to ‘of’

For example:
ध्वनि ने कहा कि प्रथम के पास उस ताले की चाभी है|
Dhvani said that Pratham has the key of that lock.

So कि is used to connect two phrases like ध्वनि ने कहा and प्रथम के पास उस[…]  (conjunction), while की is used to connect two nouns (or a noun and a pronoun) like ताला and चाभी (postposition). Simple, no?

Anyway, that’s all from my corner on Red Marker Blogathon. If you have, your own peeves with something you don’t like in any language, do share.

P.S.: I am confused about usage of equivalent. Whether it should be कि  is equivalent to ‘that, or कि is the equivalent of ‘that’? Or, are both correct? For some reason, I am always confused when it comes to English.

June 12, 2010

Spoken Hindi: ka, ki, or ke?

So Sue has this Blogathon going called Red Marker Blogathon.

If some word/phrase/idiom/spelling/syntax/punctuation incorrectly used drives you up the wall, blog about it.

The only rule is that you must explain what is wrong with the usage that it bothers you so and you must also explain the proper usage. 

rmb Unlike most of the entries in the marathon, I am writing about my peeves in spoken Hindi: some very common mistakes made by non-native-Hindi speakers while speaking Hindi. I wouldn’t say that all of them drives me up to a wall but I have this uncontrollable need to correct whenever someone get these wrong.

So what are my peeves, you ask? The use of postpositions ka, ki and ke (in Hindi, we have postpositions instead of prepositions as  they are placed after the noun or pronoun: just FYI). You see, most non-native-Hindi speaker often get confused whether it’s, for example, tale ka chabhi or tale ki chabhi (key of lock); uska patni or uski patni (his wife), etc? So how do you decide?

The rule of thumb in this case is very simple:
Gender of the postpositions ka, ki, or ke is same as the gender of the noun after the postpositions ka, ki, or ke.
So in case of chabhi and tala, the noun after the postposition, chabhi,  is feminine so it is tale ki chabhi. Similarly, in the second case, since patni is a female, the right form here is uski patni.

Now coming to a very good example, my special peeve:
- aloo ka paratha ( paratha of potato),  aloo ke parathae
- aloo ki roti,  aloo ki rotiyan.
First thing first. Yes, there is a ‘ka’ in the middle of aloo and paratha. Calling it ‘aloo paratha’ is wrong Hindi. And this one gets me to grind my teeth and close my fist while trying hard not to hit any thing. (Deep breath, count backwards. Okay. Where were we? Right..) Please don’t use the term, 'aloo partha'. It takes a micro second more to add a ka, ki or ke in middle.

Moving to the second point. Did you notice how ka becomes ke when we have multiple parthae (mmm, yummy), but ki remains ki even if the quantity of roti changes? Yep, you got it. The plural form of ki is also ki, and not ke (another fairly common mistake).
Similarly, we say gobhi ke pakode and diwali ki mithaiyan.

Hmm, I don't know about you but all this talk about parathe, pakode, and mithaiyan have made me hungry. I am heading to the kitchen for a mid-evening snack while you digest this information.

P.S.: 1. I refrained from using Devnagari script here as I was not sure how many people can read Hindi. Hope that's okay.
2. Just to be clear: ka is का;    ki is की;  ke is के|
3. Another post on the subject matter by yours truly is here.

June 11, 2010

Friday Meme

I stole this one from PB. It seems interesting and as I am currently swamped with work, so small talks, I mean, small posts have to do.
BTW, I loved doing it. Hope you like reading it. Just a bit more stupid things about my life..
1. Graduated high school. (Thankfully!)
2. Kissed someone.
3. Smoked a cigarette.
4. Got so drunk you passed out.
5. Rode every ride at an amusement park.
6. Collected something stupid.(Photographs from newspaper. And wedding invitations. Don’t ask..)
7. Gone to a rock concert.
8. Helped someone.
9. Gone fishing
10. Watched four movies in one night.
11. Lied to someone. (Not good at it though. I usually confess pretty soon.)
12. Snorted cocaine.(And somehow, I don’t want to either. Call me crazy.)
13. Smoked weed.(I will pass, thank you.)
14. Failed a subject.   (Oh yes. English. Class III.)
15. Been in a car accident.(More than once.)
16. Been in a tornado. (Not looking forward to it either.)
17. Watched someone die.
18. Been to a funeral.
19. Burned yourself.
20. Run a marathon.(Though I want to..)
21. Cried yourself to sleep.
22. Spent over 10,000 bucks in one day.(Bucks can be Rupees too, right?)
23. Flown on an aeroplane.(Want to fly one now..)
24. Cheated on someone.
25. Been cheated on. :(
26. Written a 10 page letter. (And never got a reply back. Yes, my life is a tragedy.)
27. Gone skiing. (And hated it.)
28. Been sailing.
29. Cut yourself. (Not intentionally, though.)
30. Had a best friend. (Still have one. I think.)
31. Lost someone you loved. (Yet, another tragedy.)
32. Got into trouble for something you didn't do.
33. Stolen a book from the library.
34. Gone to a different country. (Living in a different country now.)
35. Watched the Harry Potter movies. (Each and everyone of them. I am a die-hard HP fan.)
36. Had an online diary. (It must be somewhere around. Let me look.)
37. Fired a gun. (And loved doing it. Turns out, I am a natural at shooting (in shooting range))
38. Gambled in a casino. (And never will.)
39. Been in a school play. (Wanted to but they wouldn’t take me. I wasn’t pretty (read fair) enough.)
40. Been fired from a job. (Have been on the bench though.)
41. Taken a lie detector test.
42. Swam with dolphins. (I think I will be scared to death.)
43. Voted for someone on a reality TV show.(I don’t watch reality shows.)
44. Written poetry.(if Haiku counts.)
45. Read more than 20 books a year. (It includes course books too, right? Just kidding.)
46. Gone to Europe. (Yay!)
47. Loved someone you shouldn't have. (Tragedy!)
48. Used a coloring book over age 12. (Still do!)
49. Had a surgery.
50. Had stitches. (In my jaws, no less.)
51. Taken a Taxi.
52. Had more than 5 IM conversations going on at once.
53. Been in a fist fight.(if mock fist fights during Karate practice counts. Otherwise, if fighting with siblings count..)
54. Suffered any form of abuse. (I am counting the daily abuse that women suffer on the Indian roads)
55. Had a pet.
56. Petted a wild animal. (A wild deer. At India-Pakistan border. Some adventure.. )
57. Had your own credit card & bought something with it.
58. Dyed your hair. (Want to. Wondering how would I look, if I go blonde.)
59. Got a tattoo. (No, thank you.)
60. Had something pierced. (My ears.)
61. Got straight As. (That too at Stanford! Yes, I am rather proud of it! Call me arrogant, or whatever you want to..)
62. Known someone personally with HIV or AIDS.
63. Taken pictures with a webcam. (I take pictures with any and every camera.)
64. Lost something expensive.
65. Gone to sleep with music on. (And I love doing it. I also love waking up to a nice melody)
Again a free for all tag! Have fun..

June 10, 2010

American Birds and Human Lives

I have been refraining myself from commenting, blogging or tweeting about the recent Gulf of Mexico oil spill in US. So much so that I have been refusing to follow any news these days as they do pop this topic more often than not. I know, sooner and later, it will get me.

What got to me finally wasn’t the news about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill but the news about the rejection of extradition of Warren Anderson, former chairman and CEO of Union Carbide. Let me put the two news pieces in perspective for the readers who don’t know about one or both news articles.

So on April 20th 2010, a drilling rig in Gulf of Mexico (offshore US) exploded killing 11 workers. The oil from this well has been spilling in the Gulf of Mexico ever since. There have been many attempts to either cap off the spill or to collect the oil. There have been huge cry about this spill in US news. There is a public outrage against the company, which happen to be a British company operating on the US soil. The reason: there have been photographs of oil soaked birds on the front page of all the newspaper and American people, being so environment friendly (and yet, consuming 25% of oil production of the world) can’t bear and hence, the outrage.

Let’s go to the second news piece now. The year was 1984, place Bhopal a city in center India. On December 2nd of that year, there was yet another leak: Methyl Isocyanate Bhopal Gas Tragedyescaped the plant of Union Carbide company and spread through the city killing, killing, about 22,000 humans. 22,000 human lives! After about 25 years of that leak, the region is still suffering from it’s aftermath in form of eye problems, respiratory difficulties, immune and neurological disorders, cardiac failure secondary to lung injury, female reproductive difficulties and birth defects among children born to affected women. Yep, even 25 years later. The cause of the leak? Cost cutting by the company leading to safety issues that finally resulted in the disaster.

A physiotherapist holds the leg of a seven year old child at a clinic run by a non-governmental organization to cater to victims of the gas tragedy in Bhopal, India. (AP Photo/Saurabh Das; Nov., 2009). Image is linked to the source.

Yet again, it was a foreign company operating in the country of disaster. Only the company was American, Union Carbide. 25 years later (yes, I know. Indian Judicial system sucks. They took 25 years to do so..), Indian government requests for the extradition of then chairman and CEO of Union Carbide, Warren Anderson, an American citizen. They are rejected by US government!

The man responsible for the 22,000 deaths is going free while Americans are shouting themselves hoarse for few oil soaked birds.

How is that fair?

P.S.: 1. Warren Anderson was arrested on December 7th, 1984 and later let out on the bail. He is absconding ever since. Wish we had stringent airport securities back then!

2. And yes, he knew about the possible safety risk. An year before the tragedy happened, a worker died due to a leak in the plant. And to quote then Bhopal police chief Swaraj Puri, who arrested Warren Anderson and later died due to the exposure:

“When an employee dies, the whole management knows about it. So, it will be a lie if Anderson says he did not know about the leak and the death of an employee.”

3. A better post, by Annie, on the subject matter can be found here.

4. I don’t mean to belittle the suffering of the families who lost their family members on April 20th, 2010 or the fishermen who are impacted by the oil spill. I just want to draw attention to something else, something worse, by contrast.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy is just one such case (though one of the worst), there are other such cases where an American company got away after doing lot worse than what’s happening in GoM, without paying ANYTHING (honestly, they didn’t pay anything for human lives lost or for cleaning up the mess after them, unlike BP). As long as it doesn’t affect US environment or US people, it is okay. American birds are more precious than the human lives around the world.

* All images are linked to their source.

June 9, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Evening Walk

Title: Day meets night
Location: Mountain View, CA
Date: June 03, 2010

P.S.: Taken using iPhone

June 8, 2010

Nostalgia, Anniversary etc.

Usually, I don’t believe in celebrating blog-anniversary though I do remember the anniversary of this blog every year. Just because it falls on the Marriage Anniversary of my parents: 9th June. Yeah, yeah, I know I am a day early in writing this post (well technically it’s the eve before, so I am ok, right?) but I don’t think I will get much time tomorrow and this year it’s kind of important.

You see, three years ago when I started this blog, I didn’t think that I will last this long. This is my third blogging attempt. So when it came to picking the name for the blog, I simply picked the first thing that came to my mind. And that’s how “Grad Life” came into being. It was just a fling. And yet, here I am three years later still kicking and blogging. Okay not so much kicking due to the back pain that this grad life has given me, but still blogging.

So why is it important, you ask? Oh well, the trouble is that now my real grad life is coming to an end (FINALLY!). So I can’t continue a blog named “Grad Life”, can I? Oh, don’t worry I am not deleting the blog. I simply want to rename it and yes, change the decor too. But that has to wait. My official date of graduation is September 23rd, but unofficially I finish in July. And I want to officially change name of this blog then (in July). I will finish up the decor work later.

Anyhoo, my problem is that I need to pick a new name for my blog. The ones I could think of so far are:

- Post- Grad Life (Lame, I know)

- Just Life ( I actually do like this one)

- Daydreamer

- My Dhvani (I am leaning towards this one. Yes Rachna, I do love the name Dhvani.)

Do you have a preference? Or a suggestion? I will appreciate any comment on this subject matter. Also, as it’s my blog’s third anniversary, I will appreciate it if, for once, you please comment on the blog. That is, if you do read my stupid ramblings and I am not simply talking to thin air (This is my feeble attempt on emotional blackmailing, please relent).

June 7, 2010

Quality of Posts versus Frequency

The downside of participating in NaBloPoMo and writing a post a day, the quality of posts decreases drastically. I have 2-3 topics on which I can possibly write post and all I could do is rant. Not that I don’t always rant but those rants are still have some creativity, some flow, some meaning. All I have been able to come up since yesterday falls in the category of “Please stop writing” (See the graph). It might be due to the approaching deadlines, lack of sleep, irregular meals or may be just the frequency of posts. Anyhoo, I thought I will make the graph that at least reflect my quality of posts versus frequency of posting..

QualityVsFrequency          (The graph is made using Cheezburger.com.)

So what do you think? You agree with this graph?

June 6, 2010

Haiku: A Syllable Dilemma

Warm Saturday night
Neighbors party raucously --
I work quietly.

This is my first attempt at writing a Haiku, a traditional Japanese poetry form. As I have often said, I can’t rhyme to save my life. So here is an alternate form of poetry for people like me. YAY!

So how does a Haiku work, you ask. Oh well, it is a three line poem, which is usually divided in two parts using a colon or a dash. While both sections must enrich the other, they should be independent of each other. Usually, each Haiku contains a season word as cherry blossoms indicate spring, snow indicate winter, and mosquitoes indicate summer. 

That’s the easy part.

The difficult part is that each line of Haiku has to have certain number of syllables. So instead of rhyming, it’s syllable counting. The total number of syllables in a Haiku must be 17. The first line of the Haiku should have 5 syllables, the second line 7 syllables, and the third line 5 syllables.

So what do you think? Any Haiku expert out there? Or, a syllable expert?

P.S.: I used a syllable counter for this one. Not that I don’t know how to count syllables. It’s just that English is a funny language, and my second language. So I would like to be extra sure.

June 5, 2010


So the writing prompt for June 4th, 2010 by NaBloPoMo was:
(Don’t know what I am talking about: read this)

What's the first thing that pops into your mind when you think of your father?

 Father1  Father2 Father3

Well that’s what pops in my head. How about you?

P.S.: 1.Yes, I know, I am a day late in posting this.

2. BTW, these are sketches and not photos.

June 4, 2010

The story of New World

Long ago, far away, there lived a girl, let’s call her Dhvani. She was a normal girl living in a normal world. However, Dhvani was an adventure loving girl, just like Dora the explorer. So she used to seek out adventures in the normal real world of hers.

One day, one such attempt led her to a gate. A majestic gate. Being the adventurous, courageous girl she was, she went through the gate and viola, she was in a completely different world, just like in the chronicles of Narnia.

This new world was really new. She could see the construction sites everywhere. They were expanding it fast. She loved this new world and started visiting there often.

imageOne day, while cruising through this new world she came upon a town called Blogspot and what an amazing town was that. The towns folk had a peculiar tradition, they  would   put the pages of their personal diary on the door of their home for everyone to read. Dhvani was hesitant at first. She didn’t want to read anyone’s personal diary but it seem to be the custom of this town. People would come by from everywhere and read these pages and leave their comments on little post-its for the owner.

Though not everyone would put the pages of their personal diary on their home, some would instead put an article about current affairs, few others would put their outrage at some social issue, while few others simply wrote about the latest market products.

Slowly, Dhvani also gave up her hesitation and started leaving comments for the owners. Then, one day, it occurred to her that sheimage can also own a home in this town and put pages from her personal diary there. So she started building her own home. Once she was done, she started putting up her thoughts on the paper and display it for everyone to  see. It was a curious feeling. She felt exposed and very uncomfortable, initially. But with time, she got over this feeling. The comments from kind visitors helped her.    

Initially no one knew about her home and hence, she had very few visitors. Again with time, she found people who thought like she did and she made friends. Some neighbors became regular visitors and some friends from the real world joined in too. She now had friends in this new world.

One day while cruising through the town she came across a board saying

image image

She was amused and asked the people around about this new site. It turned out to be another town like Blogspot but with fancier apartments. She was intrigued and poked around a bit. The plans looked great and she thought she will come back when they are finished. 

Meanwhile, a friend of her invited her to another town called Orkut. It was yet another strange town. All the homes had a notepad attached to it. They called it a scrapbook. She found a lot friends of her from the real world cruising around in this town. She had lost touch with quiet a few of them. She was so happy to see them that she decided to build a home in this town as well.

In the neighborhood of this town, she found yet another town. This town was called Facebook. It was a much sophisticated town. The notepads here were magically  imageenchanted so that only the friends of the owner can read what was written there. Dhvani liked this idea very much and hence made a home in this town as well. This new town had a lot more facilities than Orkut. It also had a big playground where they had several games as Sudoku, Farmville, Cafe world etc. But the best feature of this town was the marquee sign board in front of her house. It displayed the latest statuses as well as any other news from her friends. She could keep in touch with all her friends from one place and wouldn’t have to travel from home to home. She started spending a lot of time in this town.

One day while she was travelling from Blogspot to Facebook, she discovered another town on the highway. This town was growing very imagefast. So one day she decided to check it out. The name of the town was Twitter. Like Facebook, Orkut and Blogspot, it also had notepads in the front of house but they were much smaller in size and they were magically enchanted so that no one can write more than 140 words  on one page.  Technically one can use several pages to write messages lengthier than 140 words but there was no way to stick these pages together. Although fascinating, she was not too enchanted by this town. Yet, as she already had so many homes in this new world, she build a small home here as well, though she didn’t visit it too often.image  

Years passed by and a lot of things changed. Some of her neighbors, some friends moved from Blogpot to Wordpress that has changed to a posh  city. Being an the sentimental fool that she was, she remained in the old town. Some of her friends moved to suburbs that offered them their own street names (known as ‘domain names’ in the new world).

Her number of friends both on Orkut and Facebook increased to hundreds. She found a lot of long lost friends that she never thought she would see again. All of a sudden the real world became a very small space that can be fitted in this new world.

Some of the people who were famous in this new world, started writing books in the real world. Some other bloggers (the resident of Blogspot and Wordpress) started taking part in umpteen number of competitions. Some other simply started writing in preset formats as 55-fiction or Wordless Wednesday.  Being the old-fashioned type that she was, she initially resisted such things and then realized how fast everything had been changing, anyway. Who can decide the rules of this new world? This was a complete and absolute anarchy at work. Who decides, then, what is good and what is bad, what is right and what is wrong here?

Now she is waiting for the next town to finish construction. She has no idea how that town will look like or what adventures will it behold but she is waiting for it to unfold. image

Disclaimer: 1. All the characters in this story are fictitious and any resemblance to any person, live or dead, is completely coincidental.

2. All the logos are trademark of the companies and author do not claim to own any of them.

3. The art works were made using Microsoft clip art. Most of the Microsoft clip arts are in public domain.

P.S.: No writing prompt for today. This was the bed time story that I told myself last night. It sounded like fun in my head. I am not fiction writer, just putting a bed time story in words..

June 3, 2010


So the writing prompt for June 3rd, 2010 by NaBloPoMo says:
(Don’t know what I am talking about: read this)

Define Freedom.

Even though, at first sight this seems like a silly question, of course, we all know definition of freedom; I think freedom is not as easy to define. It’s like a double edged sword: it will cut you either way. Consider these two examples:

- Today’s news include this piece about how religious freedom is endangered if US allows soldiers in its army to be openly gay (the infamous DADT repeal case). Translation: in order to secure the freedom of a highly privileged class, we should oppress the less privileged class: Oppression in the name of freedom.

- Did you know that according to the Indonesian law it is illegal to ‘publicize, recommend or organize public support’ for any religion other than or different to the orthodox versions of six sanctioned faiths: Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism and Confucianism? Yet again a highly privileged class trying to oppress the minority but this time it’s the religious freedom of the minority is in question: Oppression resulting in denial of freedom.

As I said, freedom is a double edged sword. It makes defining freedom, or rather, defining the boundaries of freedom utmost important, doesn’t it?

The answer is simple: every adult has a right to freedom of doing whatever they want to do, as long as it doesn’t violate other people’s property, privacy or freedom. The realization of this statement, however, is not so simple. The reason being: we live in a society and unless we are tolerant about other people’s way of life, the freedom of different sects of society can easily become mutually exclusive. And that’s where most of the conflicts start: intolerance.

Intolerance and freedom are mutually exclusive. Intolerance usually results in oppression of someone’s freedom, or at least, an attempt to oppress someone’s freedom. Only a tolerant society can boost itself to be guardian of everyone’s freedom (but wouldn’t that be Utopia? Oh well, I am day-dreaming again…).

Do you agree?

blog1 (Image is linked to it’s source)

June 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: Jungle Gym

Title: Time to play
Location: Mountain View, CA
Date: May 27, 2010

Do it now

So the writing prompt for June 2nd, 2010 by NaBloPoMo says:
(Don’t know what I am talking about: read this)

What's your favorite poem? (And if you don't have one, why?)

Did I ever mention that English was my least favorite subject in school, owing to the English teachers I had? Now top it, with my impatience with the rhymes. Yep, I don’t have any favorite English poet.

However, being bilingual has it’s advantage. I do have a favorite poet in Hindi (oh well, it’s almost Hindi): Kabir. My fascination with Kabir and his dohe (two-line verses) started at a very early age (about 3), thanks to the age gap between my brother and I. When I was learning to write, he was learning dohe of Kabir, Rahim and others. My mom used to explain the meaning of those dohe, which increased my fascination ten folds. As a result by the age 6 or 7 I had memorized almost all of dohe of Kabir.

The reason I got more fascinated by Kabir than rest of them, was due to his sarcastic spirit, his contempt towards the superstitions and above all, his complete disregard for the norms of the society. Some examples:

जाती ना पूछो साधू की, पूछ लीजये ज्ञान
मोल करो तलवार का, पड़ा रहन दो म्यान
[Don’t ask the caste (or bloodline) of a wise person, instead ask for his wisdom
Just like one appreciate the sword while ignoring the sheath]

बड़ा हुआ तो क्या हुआ, जैसे पेड़ खजूर ।
पंथी को छाया नहीं, फल लागे अतिदूर  ।।
[In vain is the eminence, just like a date tree
No shade for travelers, fruit is hard to reach]

पाहन पूछे हरि मिले तो मैं पूजूँ पहार ।
ताते यह चाकी भली पीस खाय संसार।।
[If worshipping a stone can get you God, then I will worship a mountain
The grind stone is better than that, it grinds and feeds the world]

बुरा जो देखन मैं चला, बुरा न मिलया कोई ।
जो मन खोजे आपना, मुझसे बुरा न कोई  ।।
[When I started to search for flaws in the world, I couldn’t find any
Because when I searched myself, I was the most flawed one]

And, of course, the famous:

काल करे सो आज कर, आज करे सो अब  ।
पल में प्रलय होएगी, बहुरि करोगे कब     ।।
[What needs to be done tomorrow, do it today, What needs to be done today do it NOW Circumstances changes in seconds, you might not be able to do it later]

Don’t ask me to pick one among his work. I simply love all these verses. The most amazing part is how the wisdoms stored in these verses still hold true even after hundreds of years (500 years to be precise). Makes me admire him even more.

I know, I have twisted the topic from favorite poem to favorite poet but don’t they have something called creative liberty?

June 1, 2010

Ambition: Then and now

I think I have cracked up or something. Honestly. For some very unknown reason, I have signed up for NaBloPoMo, yet again (short for “National Blog Posting Month” :in order to participate, you need to post at least one post daily for the entire month). Knowing my track record with doing any kind of disciplined writing, this is ridiculous. Especially now, when I don’t have time for anything, anyways. And yet I signed up! Told you, I have cracked up.

Anyway, it seems like Nablopomo has changed quite a bit since the last time I signed up for it. They have a theme now, now. No, it’s not a typo. That is the theme for June 2010: Now. And they have a writing prompt (hopefully, they will have it everyday. It will make writing daily so much easier, not that I am promising anything. Let’s take one day at a time). Today’s writing prompt says:

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A very straightforward question, I must say. Especially when asked to an Indian middle class kid. We are usually given two option with that question: engineer or doctor, and depending on whether you are strong in mathematics or biology, you pick one of them.

Even though, I always picked engineering as a kid when asked this question, yet I never really wanted to be one. Or, more honestly, I didn’t know what exactly being an engineer meant. I simply said that as that’s what was expected of me. Yet, during those times I secretly nourished yet another dream: to be a photographer for National Geographic magazine. Well that’s how I used to think. Now, at least I can correctly formulate that ambition: I wanted to be a wild life photographer. Of course, I never said that one out loud. I didn’t know how to achieve that ambition, anyways. Though I don’t think that that would have kept me from trying it.

My dream was shattered by a Discovery program. Yes, the Discovery channel’s program. The program I am referring to, was a showcase for exotic foods from different parts of the world. In this particular episode, they were eating FRIED COCKROACHES! The 15 year old me was terrified. Not because anyone could ever make me eat one of those, even if I was dying of starvation (Fried Cockroaches =  Exotic food? Really? ), but because this episode made me realize that working as a photographer, visiting different countries and rain forests etc., will also mean eating a very different kind of food. I wasn’t sure that I could cope with that.  And that was the end of that ambition.

Now, fifteen years or so later, I know I was right. Over the time, I have discovered that I can’t digest red meat and hence, I can’t eat anywhere and everywhere. Yet, I never gave up on that ambition entirely. Over the Reyes_070 years, I have acquired a nice camera, the skill and techniques required. While doing that, I have also realized that I am happier while taking pictures of people than wildlife or nature or monuments.

The ambition has become a hobby (border lining with obsession, at times). There are good parts and bad parts of photography being a hobby and not a profession. Good part: I don’t have to deal with stress of getting a good photograph and hence, go for the “typical shots”. I get to experiment and take the pictures I would like to take. Bad part: I don’t get as many opportunities to hone my skills as I would have gotten being a professional photographer.

Life is so unexpected that way. So how about you? Any childhood ambitions/day-dreams that you might have given up or achieved?

P.S.: 1. As a kid (well a teenager, really), when asked about hobbies, I used to say, “Photography, even though I don’t have a camera, yet” . So my parents took the hint and gifted me a Kodak film camera on my 18th birthday. The best birthday present EVER.

2. Even though I didn’t follow my first ambition, I did find yet another field I was passionate about: Geophysics (it took me a while though). It has the right mix of mathematics, physics and field work for me. Besides being a day-dreamer, I was also a geek. I always loved mathematics and physics as subjects. I would have missed them, had I strayed away from science.