Column: Turning 30, Disappearance of YSR and Inglourius Basterds

Some days are just plain old days, nothing much happens in them, no memories, no funny incidents, no association. And then some days are just too much to handle. As if, they were designed to compensate for all those inglourious days, that have gone by, or are waiting to happen next.

This september I turned thirty, officially! It was uneventful yet full of memorable moments. For instance:

  • This year my wife arranged my birthday, though it was just for two of us, but it was first birthday with my wife.
  • Watched yet another great performance by Brad Pitt and a superb direction by Quentin Tarantino called Inglourius Basterds. What a movie!
  • A sad event that happened on my birthday was disappearance and death of YSR Reddy, erstwhile Chief Minister of Hyderabad. I have had the opportunity to meet him last year and even though I didn’t subscribe to his ways and ideas, it is a shame indeed that he died such a violent death.

I guess these events have sort of marked a milestone for the years past. Turning thirty has been a long journey, with so many transformations, from a kid to a boy to a man to a married man. It appears as if it was yesterday, when I fell down from the bicycle I was trying to learn, even thought it is more than 20 years since that happened. In other words, it is 3 decades of long journey so far and has been worth every minute. I am glad to say that I regret nothing and that I am excited to see what comes next.

It only feels apt to quote this, ” If it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger.” And it goes for everything that happens  in my life.

Column: LUV PUNE

Living in America, the US and especially in San Francisco Bay Area now a days is quite an experience. You are always torn between the feeling of being at home, literally every 7th person you come across is from India as the census goes, and feeling like an alien in a world of highly developed infrastructure and high speed cars, public parks groomed like private lawns and high-rise buildings illustrating the affluence and technological advancement. Yet, living in US is far different from what one imagines as an outsider.

The real American life, or the real life for a person living in the US is no different than the life elsewhere, and here I refer to life as ones ability to extract out of life, whatever one can. There are homeless people in the US too. And in my observation, their level of disorientation is no different (or better) than that of an Indian beggar. In India, being homeless is not that big an issue, some people live without a home by choice. People here drive the ugly, scrap metal cars too. People here also skip eating-out to save money like our parents always tell us back home. People do ask for help from neighbors and friends, and family when they are in need. People are unhappy about certain decisions made by the government and do express their displeasure in all the usual ways that we do back in India. So, what is the difference of living in the US. I believe the difference is freedom of personal expression. “I am who I am and no one has the right to make me feel ashamed for who I am.”

I was driving to work the other day when I saw a license plate on a car ahead of me, it said “LUV PUNE” and what a pleasure it was to see PUNE embossed on the license plate of that sedan.Why the heck didn’t I see that ever back in India? Why?

For starters Regional Traffic Office, the Indian counterpart of DMV, doesn’t even allow one to have a personalized license plates. And even if they did, I don’t think anybody would ever put up a license plate saying “LUV PUNE” or “LUV DELI” or “LUV JAPR” because  we are too proud to associate with anything that is local. It is considered as a sense of low self esteem.

Secondly, it certainly looks more cool to have a the firebrand Metallica poster on your car rather than printing “I listen to Laxmikant-Pyarelal.” Now come on, who listens to them anymore. If you asked the kids, they would faintly associate it to some musicians that their grandfather might once have possessed a broken record of, without realizing that their parents were singing the songs composed by the duo to woo each other back in the 80’s. As a matter of fact, that is the time when Metallica was just beginning to form a band. I guess, as long as you keep banging your head and no one can see your lips, to check the lipsync (or the lack of it), you might as well pretend that you are the greatest fan of Metallica and advertise it on the back of your car.

Dear readers excuse my ancient views, but I feel strongly about the old times, for the quality of life and artful existence, which is being replaced by strong economic focus and mechanical way of life!

Anyway, moving on, I tried to think what made that person put such a license plate on his car. Was it nostalgia? Did it emerge from the need of associating with one’s roots? Or was it because it was exotic to use a name that most of the people (here in the US) wouldn’t figure out easily?

Whatever it was, I just felt good to see that someone had dared to express themselves. This post doesn’t have any point as such, just a random rambling. I just wanted to praise the person for having expressed their love for their roots.

Keep up the Luv!

Column: Marley and Me – Pet Catharsis

It wasn’t a very bright day yesterday. Especially because my wife and I were not looking eye-to-eye for some difference of opinion on a matter of principle. No! This is not a post about what we were fighting about or how we resolved it. So take it easy.

As the day ended, I decided to burn all the negative energy in the gym and spent an hour on cardio. It felt very refreshing and I could once again admire the beauty of life. Apparently, my wife chose to take the cue from my workout session and went for a long walk herself, only to return with what I can call the best animal experience I have had until today. She had found a stray cat and decided to lead it to our home, as it appeared to be famished. It turned out that she was correct in her evaluation, the cat was able to gobble up 100 ml of milk and a large potato fry followed by some 20 gm of minced lamb and felt all happy and gay afterward.

Now, I don’t call it the best experience just because I had found a fellow gobbler in another specie (for those who don’t know, I can eat a substantial amount of food in one sitting), it was because the cat appeared to be not that much of a stray. The nicely groomed fur, friendly nature and good manners were quite an evidence that the cat had probably lost its way on one of its adventurous prowls. It responded quite well to commands meant to keep it in discipline, at the same time it was happy to be around us and be naughty.

The best part was my wife and I were instantly able to forget the difference of opinion we were observing for last 24 hours and had our attention completely focused on this cute little meddler.

For the first time I realized what a therapeutic effect a pet can bring about. I have never been in favor of having pets, primarily because for most part of my life I have been scared of dogs and secondarily, I don’t like to be committed to taking care of something that can’t survive on its own. However, yesterday I realized the message conveyed in the movie Marley & Me that a life can be enriched by having a pet around. I believe one can achieve catharsis by owning a pet that doesn’t mind to play by the rules set by you. Also, it gets your mind off the stress you observe in your personal and/or professional life and subsequently enables you to focus on brighter things in life.

The cat, however, decided not to stay with us, as it was too impatient to sit back and sleep easy for the night. And since our apartment complex has a “No Pets” policy, we decided to leave the cat outside our apartment so that it was free to chose its way. The good thing is that the cat had finished all the food and water we had left outside for it; the bad thing is it was no longer there when my wife went to check on it this morning.

In a strange way that it happened, I believe the cat was a cosmic intervention in our lives, especially mine (my wife loves pets and has had them since childhood) to let us know what we need to fill our lives with constant love and companionship; a friendly pet.

Even when the two intelligent human beings with the most advanced communication skills and capable brains can’t make the sense out of each other, an intellectually less capable pet can go a long way to bring some sense, in its mute and playful ways.