January 31, 2011


..thats what I have come to call the weather in Houston, TX. If you don't believe me, then have a look at this  week's forecast:
(Credit: A snapshot from the weather channel website)

The lowest temperature is going to drop from 17 C to -6 C in 24 hours! Crazy, I tell you. 

Its not that I can't take the cold, or heat for that matter, I just can't seem to adjust to these temperature fluctuations. By the time I get accustomed to the cold, I will be again sweating. By the time I adjust to that, I will be again shivering. Simply crazy. I can take extreme weather conditions but this fluctuation from one extreme to the other is driving me completely nuts. 

P.S.: This is just one example. The temperatures have been fluctuating like crazy the entire winter. 

January 27, 2011


So I just got an email from NaBloPoMo. They have an interesting theme for February. To quote them:

Greetings, bloggers! The theme for February blogging is CHARACTER. It's a flexible theme, allowing you to blog about all sorts of things:
 1. The people in your life who stand out in regard to their outstanding (or lack of) character -- the use of pseudonyms might be prudent here;
2. Experiences in your life that have helped you build moral character, and the work you might still need to do;
3. It's a chance to try writing in character -- try on different personas and voices for fun, or to address things you might not normally talk about;
4. Character is another word for a letter or symbol, if you feel like it's finally time to indulge in some font nerdery.
I think its an interesting theme. Don't worry I am not going to do a NaBloPoMo again, especially with the way quality of my posts deteriorated last time I attempted it (December, 2010). But I can work with theme. I can produce a post or two on the subject matter. How about you? Think its an interesting topic? Want to attempt something? 

January 26, 2011

Revised view

I have often said that a good photographer can take good picture with simplest of the cameras. Photography is an art while camera is a tool. It helps to have good tools but again an artist can make a piece of art with limited tools as well. A great example is this project by Mindy in which she uses her iPhone to take the pictures.

I just want to add the vice-versa. With D-SLR becoming affordable and people becoming aware of their existence, they are buying them left, right and center. They take pictures with those D-SLR and upload them on, where else, FB. After going through numerous such albums, I think its time for me to state the obvious vice-versa: Having a good camera doesn't automatically make you a good photographer. Again Photography is an art. Unless you have an eye for the art, you can't take good photographs. Expensive cameras can't teach you the art of photography and composition.

P.S.: Pardon my outburst. I certainly don't mean to discourage budding photographers. I just went through another album where people have tried using the D-SLR to take pictures without thinking about lighting, composition, positioning etc. It was a torture to go through it. Out of the 73 photographs in the album, there was only one that I could honestly say was a bearable photograph. I think it was sheer luck instead of any thinking on the part of the photographer. It just got to my nerves eventually. 

January 23, 2011


Spoiler Alert

I just finished Män som hatar kvinno (Men Who Hate Women), or as we know it, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. It’s a thriller with the violence against women as its central theme. I think its Swedish title, aka, Men Who Hate Women is more appropriate than the English one.

The main story, or rather the story that occupies the majority of pages in the book is about a murder/disappearance investigation of a 16 year old girl, Harriet Vanger, who disappeared without a trace in 1966 under mysterious circumstances. Her great uncle, Hernik Vagner, a leading industrialist of his time, is certain that she was murdered by one of the family member. He hires a journalist, actually a financial journalist (don’t ask the logic behind that one), Mikael Blomkvist to investigate the case after 37 years. Mikael unravels a well hidden family secret involving serial killers during his investigation and is finally able to figure out what happened to Harriet on that fateful day.

Yet another central character of the novel is Lisbeth Salander, who is a genius private investigator. The book alternate between Mikael’s and Lisbeth’s perspective of the events around them.

The book is certainly a page turner and is worth reading. However, I found the book to be a bit disturbing. The details of the violence against some of central female characters were particularly revolting, which I guess, was the writer’s intention. It was a bit unnerving to read through some parts of the book and I had to put it down for a while before I could read again.

I think the reason it affected me so is that I can’t put it pigeonhole it as “work of fiction”, or something that never happens in real life and move on. I know for certain that each and every incident described in the book can be and has been happening in the real world. That’s what, I think, is the scariest part of the book.

I think I need to take a break before I start the second book in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire. I am scared enough for next few weeks..

January 20, 2011

The Corrupt World

Don't ask me how (I think I was looking up something on economy), but I landed up on this map of corruption perception index. I was amazed to see how few countries are actually non-corrupt in this world. I really never realized how widespread the corruption really is. It was an eye opener for me. No wonder people keep crying end of the world.

How about you? Did you know that we lived in such a corrupt world?
 Map of Corruption Perception Index. Red are corrupt while blues are non-corrupt countries. Click to enlarge. (Source: Wikipedia)

January 18, 2011


Did you hear about the 13th Zodiac sign? Ophiuchus. So apparently if you were born between November 29th and December 17th, you are no longer a Sagittarius but an Ophiuchus! Guess who just became an Ophiuchus? Yep, you got it. From this morning yours truly is no longer a Sagittarius but an Ophiuchus. I knew I was different but so different that they had to create a 13th zodiac sign to explain! Who knew?


Any other Ophiuchus out there? May be we can get together and plan world domination or something?

P.S.: Does any one know the characteristics of an Ophiuchus so that I can start behaving like one?

January 15, 2011

Saturday Shot: San Francisco

Title: Foggy Morning
Location: San Francisco, CA
Date: 2010

I don’t agree

…with most of the things said here (its an HT article about how NRI behave when they visit India). At least, I don’t behave in that way. And I am sure quite a few of you don’t either. Let’s go through the list, shall we?

1. They come with bags of foodstuff for themselves: Why in the world would we carry foodstuff to India for ourselves? Honestly? I want to eat at home and eat proper Indian food for once. I do carry chocolates for friends and families but that’s about it.

2. They want to eat. ALL the time: Whenever I visit India, I make all kind of excuses to not visit and eat at all the neighborhood aunties. I usually leave with a lot unsatisfied and angry aunties in my wake. Yes, there are few things that my mom make that I like to eat but gosh, I never eat all of it or all the time. Also don’t you think it contradicts the with first point?

3. They complain about the prices of EVERYTHING: Okay, I haven’t been to India recently, but don’t Indians living India also complaining about the same thing? We are undergoing inflation big time at the moment. But even then, I can never complain about prices in India after the prices I pay in US.

4. They’ve got weird accents:  To start with, I always had a weird accent. It might have gotten weirder over the years but then as far as I know Indians in India have an accent too. And if everyone has got an accent why are they complaining?

5. They want to shop. ALL the time: Yeah, the prices are so low, who wouldn’t? I think its an innate Indianess in all of us that we look for the cheapest deals and prices. So if we do shop in India, what’s the big deal?

6. They come with their dirty clothes: The only dirty clothes I have carried over the years are my precious saris for dry-cleaning. And that’s because I don’t trust the dry-cleaners here to understand Indian clothes and embroideries to take care of them. Not because of the price but the care. What if I do take a chance  and they ruin it for me. And its not like I am asking any of my relatives to do it for me, or pay the dry-cleaning for me.

7. You realise they know more Hindi songs than you: Well I don’t. I have no idea about latest bollywood news. BTW, don’t the Indians in India know about latest Hollywood or English albums?

8. They think India is just a stage for a wedding: Yikes! I hate weddings.

9. Their weddings mean more work for YOU: Never gonna happen. Even if I do get married, it will be a court marriage. And please, I request all those Indians in India not to complain about the lack of ceremony.

10. They want homely, same caste Indian brides and grooms: Huh? Okay dude you have seriously backward relatives.

11. They come with cheap stuff you’ll never use: Again, no idea what you are talking about? I will never buy cheap stuff as present. I will never give anything to anyone unless I use the same brand and stuff myself. But then, may be people in India are more brand conscious than I am.

12. They get ultra nostalgic – and traditional – at weddings: Hate weddings, remember?

13. They don’t want to go malls, just bazaars: Oh well, you must be talking about metropolitans where they do have malls. I don’t think the small towns, like yours truly’s, have malls yet. But then when do big city people think about how the rest of India functions? If they have it in big cities, the entire India has it, right?

14. They complain about the weather: You should visit Southern California someday dude, and then we will see who complains about the weather. They have temperatures of 45-50 C there (spent a summer there with no ac in the car). You see, not all of us have luxury of living in New York. Some of us do live in part of US where the weather is worse than India.

15. They’re bringing us less chocolate than usual (thanks to the recession): I haven’t been to India, thanks to the recession. I haven’t seen my family for three years, thanks to the recession. I have been homesick for past two years, thanks to the recession. I have friends who are out of job for six months, thanks to the recession. And you are complaining about chocolates?

16. They complain about how India’s getting more crowded, hotter and dustier, even if they’ve NEVER lived here:  Oh I never complain about the crowd or heat or dust in India. I do complain about the daily molestation going on Indian street and no matter how much we progress economically, I don’t see that going away.And when I do complain about it, I am the one who gets blamed for attracting attention of such people. As if its my fault.

17. Just when you think it’s safe, they come back for good:  Never gonna happen. I can’t live through that daily torture of being blamed for being a victim. Not when I now know its not my fault and there is a better way of life out here.

18. They think they have all the solutions to Indian problems: Nope I don’t. I think the reason I am an NRI is because I am running from all the problems we have in India. True, they have some problems in every society but I think I can face these problems because, at least, I am not blamed for being a victim here.

19. They are more Indian than Indians (they’re like Indians in the 12th century): Again, dude, you have weird relatives.

20. They behave like tourists in their home town: Huh? Okay, I no longer eat ghee (I can’t digest it anymore), but olive oil? I go back to all my old haunts including the punjabi dhaba next to the bus-stand. Yes, I have upset stomach all the time I am there but its totally worth it.

P.S.: One day, I am going to write a post about how Indians in big cities assume so many things about rest of the India. Not all of Indians come from Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras, Hyderabad, or Bangalore. And not everything that you find in these cities is true for the rest of India.

January 14, 2011

About Sleep

I learned a new word today: Hypersomnia. It refers to the disorder characterized by excessive amount of sleepiness. By raise of hands, how many of you feel that you are hypersomniac? I certainly feel like one.

P.S.: 1. Its a real disorder and can lead to brain damage. I am certain none of us have it, its just my love for sleeping makes me feel like one.

2. I should add that I wrote this post early in the morning (6:30 AM) from work. Hence, the shortness and the subject of the post. 

January 11, 2011

Test Driving

..that’s what I have been doing for past few days. Yes, I am finally replacing my first ever car, my dearest friend a 1993 Toyota Corolla. So I have been shopping around.

I guess I should put the disclaimer right here that I am not a very car loving person. I actually hate driving and do it more due to necessity than anything else. Oh ok, I also like the freedom and independence it gives me but still not loving the driving or the car. So this is a chore I have been postponing for a long time.

I was also scared of those hagglers called car salesman. But I finally plunged in. I have been around quite a few dealerships and read a lot about different cars before entering the dealerships. I can actually quote the generation and features introduced with each generation for all the cars I test drove which includes Ford Escape, Honda CR-V, Toyota Corolla and Toyota Rav4.

I test drove, I discussed deals, I got the information and then gave them the dose of  “I have to talk to my fiancé” and walked out. In a manner, I used to my advantage the belief of the other sex in my sex’s lack of car knowledge and inability to take decision in these matters. I am not sure what I did was right or wrong but it certainly was haggle free. I know I had to act like all those women whom I despise but somehow I don’t feel guilty. I am simply relieved.

Am I doing something despicable? Should I feel guilty?

January 8, 2011

Saturday Shot: Christmas


Title: I won’t smile

Location: Baton Rouge, LA

Date: December 25, 2010

Fat Phobia

“Can I have a packet of juice?” three year old asked his parents.

“No, you already had one. That’s all.” Replied the parents.

“Please, can I have one more?” asked the kid again.

Mom melted and said, “okay”. Dad didn’t like that and told the three year old that he will become fat (accompanied by the hand gesture showing him how fat he will become).

I was speechless. An extra packet of juice! And that too a 3 year old who, btw, don’t show any sign of obesity. I mean, I understand if parents want to restrict food intake for kids with health problems but this was utterly and hugely disgusting.

I don’t even know where to start. It was a pack of juice, not even ice-cream or cake! He is three years old and very active kid. He burns off more calories during his daily activity (which is running around 10-12 hours a day) than we adults ever can. He is a growing child. And it’s a pack of juice!

Worst of it all: they are inducing a good amount of fat-phobia in him. That’s exactly what the dad told us when some of other protested about his behavior: “Just inducing the fear of overeating in him. Its good for him”.

In a child who doesn’t need that fear in him, he is introducing it. What they are really introducing to him is called fat-hatred. I simply cringe at the thought of the kind of person he would be when he grows up, unless he somehow outgrows his family’s influence. I hope, he does.

P.S.: The couple are big time fat-phobic people. They once told me that I need to loose weight (and become stick figures like them). And then they ask me why I haven’t contacted them in past 3 months I have been here.

They were also one of those people who attacked me because I became good friend with someone who is obese. Actually whenever I mention anything about her, their first comment is usually: “She is so fat”. They are not interested in anything else, I guess. It doesn’t matter that she is far better person than any of them.

January 4, 2011

In case you haven’t heard…

A beauty queen who has brains, who stands for what she believes in and who is actually doing something good instead of talking about “world peace”.

Link via @ Joe

January 3, 2011

Next Life

So the other day I was talking to a friend and she mentioned a game going around in her circle. The game is basically to answer a question: Who do they want to be in their next life? (The question already assumes the validity of next life existence and all that.)

So she asked me the same question. Who would I want to be in the next life? The first answer that popped into my head was: someone normal, doing normal things. You know someone who blends in and is not different.

Her next question was so you want to be T. Now T is an acquaintance whom I despise. But by all standards she is one of the most normal, conforming person I know. She got married when she was 25. She had a kid when she was 29. She has a career and family. She never had any parental or childhood or any kind of issues. EVER.  She is not bothered by what’s going on in the world, she has no inkling about the latest news. But then she also don’t have any common sense or sense of humor.

So yeah, may be like her but with a bit more common sense and sense of humor. “But then isn’t that the catch?” My friend asked. “As soon as you have common sense and sense of humor you are no longer normal. You don’t conform. You don’t fit in.”

She has a point, doesn’t she? What do you think? Does having common sense sets you apart from the crowd?

And what would you want to be in next life?

P.S.: 1. If you are wondering, I went to a desi party on new year and was surrounded by the typical normal desis. I felt really out of place which explains my answer the next day.

2. The most asked questions in the party were:

  • So your husband work in which oil company? (Houston is the world’s oil capital, hence the assumption about oil company).
  • You are not married! Are you engaged?
  • You live alone and you cook everyday?

Not that I was surprised by the question, just out of place.

January 1, 2011

Resolution Time

Its that time of year again: Time to make resolutions and hope to change to a better way of living. And every year, after few days, or few weeks, or few months these resolutions are either broken or completely forgotten. So this year, in an effort to remember and follow my resolution, I have decided to put quantative resolutions instead of qualitative. I mean, I am going to put a number and quantity with each resolution. I hope it will help me follow the resolutions better. So here it goes:

- Drink less soda. Last year saw a drastic increase in my soda intake. I attributed that to anxiety and stress associated with finishing the Phd and then with moving. But its time for me to quit.

I am going to limit my number of sodas to once a week unless there is an all-week long meeting or course. In that case I would need something to keep me awake and motivated.

- Exercise better. Again last year saw a major decline in my exercise routine. Even though I have been exercising for past 2 months or so, I haven’t been doing as much as I used to.

I am going to include some aerobics in my routine: 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes each. Continue with my strength training with 2-3 times a week and no matter what, do stretching 6-7 times a week.

- Eat healthier. Again I have been good about it for past couple of weeks but I still need to improve.

I am going to limit my intake of Maggi to once a week. I will not eat out more than once a week unless, of course, I am in a meeting and I don’t have a choice. I will not skip breakfast on weekends.

- Read more. I do like to read but am no reading buff. Lately, I haven’t been reading much, even though I have now transitioned to job life which means no more work at home..

This year I will read at least 2 books per month. I would need to make a list of book I want to read. This month, I am going to read “The girl with the dragon tattoo” and “Lord of the ring”. I have had both books for a while and have been wanting to read both of them.

- Be more social. I am a social-phobe. Unless I am very close to someone, I usually back out from going to parties, meeting people, and generally being social.

This year I will call up friends more frequently. Saturdays are for friends. I will call at least one of my friend every Saturday and talk to them, and if possible, meet them.

- Call home. I have been very bad about it past year. Again PhD and moving but I can’t use that excuse now.

So am going to call home more frequently: at least twice a week.

- Read scientific journals. I know I should to keep at breast with latest research but guess what, I don’t.

So I will read at least two of the most popular journal, whenever they are published. And actually read the papers and just not the abstracts (this will be the first of the resolution I will break, I know it). I will also start attending monthly Special Interest Group meetings. Its always good to be part of a scientific network.

- Blog regularly.

I promise to post 15 posts every month but I also promise that I will not write a post for sake of writing a post but I will only post when I have something significant to say. So no more NaBloPoMo but I will still post regularly. Also I will log on to my Facebook account associated with the blog more regularly.

- Take more photos. 2010 has been kind of slow year for photography except for the times I visited some places. I need to be more regular about taking pictures and not restrict myself to the times when I visit some place nice.

I will get out and explore Texas. Enough of moping and criticizing. I agree landscape and culture are completely different but that adds another dimension to photography, doesn’t it? So from now on, I will go around every other weekend and explore the area I live in.


I guess that’s about it. I don’t know how many of these resolutions I am going to keep, but at least now I do know things I feel guilty about. That’s a good start. Acceptance is the first step towards the change..

Saturday Shot: Diptych

Title: Cycle of Life
Location: Texas, US
Date: 2010