year end tale

Yet another year has passed. I thought 2007 would be one of the most memorable years of my life, given that I managed to be self sustained; but seems like 2008 was more significant one owing to the miracle my life witnessed – my graduation!

The first 3 months of 2008 can easily go down as the most stressful time in my life…..I was working almost 20 hrs a day with my job followed by long night and earlier morning sessions typing out my thesis report (had I put in 1/4th of that effort when in college, I would not have had to go through all these)….running against time to finish my graduation by deadline to get H1B…..managing to do that (by the mercy of the professor) at the nick of time……lucky enough to be picked in the visa lottery…..as said and done...all well that ended well!

Another heartwarming development in the gone year has been the realization of a small dream of mine - to be able to play cricket with real ball and all the accessories….and to be able to do it on a regular basis...kya kehna!

I made some really good friends (thanks to R!). They have been a bunch of wonderful people and I am having a great time....its indeed a mentionable development given how hard it is for me to make new friends(might sound quite ironic given my general demeanor, but its a fact!)

Got to go home after almost 3 years…..one thing for sure, god forbid, it things are all fine, I will never ever let such a gap between my India trips.

Well, nothing much more I suppose….ok, 2008 may not have been eventful, but just for the fact that I am no longer a most eligible bachelor, makes it the best!

I am refraining myself from mentioning anything about the tragedies and heart burns of this year - both personal and universal. Enough has been written and heard about the latter and none will be interested in the former. In a year marred with fall of streets, hotels and aussies, its highly self indulgent to highlight the synopsis of one’s personal life, well, what the heck, its my blog afterall!

WISHING ALL OF YOU A FABULOUS AND TERROR FREE NEW YEAR!!

AVS

surviving Ike - part 2

(....continues from here)

Next day morning, or rather noon (depending on what you define as morning - the time you get up, or the time sun gets up) we got a glimpse of what Ike had left along its path. A huge tree on the other side of the fence was uprooted and had fallen towards our lane breaking the fence some distance away from our house.

And all along the near by main road, similar sights of huge uprooted trees were visible. To my surprise, fortunately, all the trees had fallen towards the road rather than to the buildings. None of the traffic signals were working, few of them broken and hanging tantalizingly close to the top of the cars, most traffic posts now facing 90° offset of what they were before, many brick walls collapsed, people standing over the uprooted trees and posing for photos, streets flooded were few of the spectacles.

One bad thing with life in US is that without power you cannot survive in US for long. Unlike in India, we cannot use gas stove for cooking since most houses and apartments have electric stoves. And we were hoping to survive on the food and water we had stacked at home for god-knows-how-many-days-without-power. All the grocery stores and gas stations were closed. And fuel for car is as critical as fuel for stomach for survival in US.

All though these we were listening to radio news to know much damage Ike had caused especially to know how Uncle’s house was since we had no idea what was happening in that part of Houston. (Did I mention all the cell phone lines were jammed too? Yeah, cell phone is another addition to a survival kit here).

The Galveston was completely shut for transportation and, call it courage or foolhardiness, about 40% of the people didn’t leave that place despite the mandatory evacuation notice by the Mayor there. So, it was as good as being quarantined for people trapped there.

One good thing about waking up at noon on a ‘powerless’ day like this is that, you have to spend that much less time awake before hitting bed again at night. So before boredom set in, we were back to sleep still without power, without water.

By Sunday Deepa’s house got water supply back; but still no power. We got information that few places have started getting power back ‘Rice University’ where Deepa is doing PhD was one such place. Having exhausted our sadham supply the previous day, Deepa, GK n I set forth with a rice cooker and a vessel full of water to cook Rice at Rice! (No; that is not why that university was christened so ;). On the way we got to know that the roads leading to Uncle’s place was opening up and also that power has been restored at my apartment. After lunch, Uncle could no longer stay back knowing they could return and hence the 4 of them (Uncle, Aunt and his In Laws) decided to return. They didn’t have power there, but water supply was intact and they were using gas stove which was working fine! That left Deepa, GK and I with nothing to do but head to my apartment and finish off the remaining 2 dvds of Heroes!! Due to the damages and debris, we were given Monday also holiday and with power back we were back to enjoying the holiday.

We camped at my apartment that night and Monday returned to Deepa n GK’s house just to assess the situation. And when we were loitering there deciding on he next plan of action, Voila! The power was back!

After playing tennis for sometime I returned home and we all lived happily there after :)

My office and Deepa’s college resumed the next day; GK’s company gave him off for one more whole week! But, even after 2 weeks, normal life has not been restored in Houston to its entirety. Uncle’s house hasn’t got power yet as I write this and it’s true about many other parts of Houston too. Traffic signals still have not been fixed and we still have curfew at night after mid night.

But I realized the real extend of damage caused by Ike only when I saw these pictures.

Having seen these, I thank God that we were indeed spared. I know we have had worse natural disasters, but I haven’t lived through one in such close quarters. Was quite an experience indeed.

This is basically a mail I posted in a yahoogroup. Given the non activity in my blog, I am forced to utilize it as a blog entry. (I was so close to posting some of my office emails as blog posts, since those are the only things I draft now a days!)

AVS

surviving Ike - part 1

Warning: This is a very very long post.

I don’t know how many of you were aware; Houston was hit by a rather nasty Hurricane ‘Ike’ couple of weeks back. Being the south of US, and facing Gulf of Mexico, Texas and near by states are rather notorious for being hit by hurricanes and tornados. You might all remember Hurricane Katrina, Rita etc, which affected this part of US few years back.

This year also we have had few hurricanes originate in the Gulf of Mexico, but many of them had deviated away from us as it moved along the sea (last month we had hurricane Edouard and Gustav, which was heading towards to Texas but eventually it the nearby state of Louisiana. So we were really hoping that this one would also spare us. Unfortunately it didn’t and Houston got hit real bad. The eye of the hurricane hit Galveston which is the coastal area in Houston which is not much away from where my Uncle n family lives.

I would think that, having been on the receiving end of Hurricane Katrina 3 years back, Texas was much better prepared this time around for they evacuated people from Galveston and nearby areas well in advance (Apparently during Katrina, the evacuation process was so bad that people were stuck up on the road and highways and travel to safer places like Dallas, which would have taken about 4 -5 hrs on a normal day, took about 22 hrs!). It was supposed to hit land on Friday night and hence we all were given holiday from work on Friday. Since my uncle n family were the closest to Galveston of all of us, we decided to camp at Deepa n GK’s (my cousin and husband) house. Uncle’s house was not in the mandatory evacuation zone, but the nearby zip codes were. Moreover, all the roads to that part of Houston were to be blocked anytime, so it was safer and wiser that they move further away from there. So we all assembled on Thursday night itself with lots and lots of water and other food items since the power and water supply was expected to go of anytime the hurricane hits the land.

Deepa’s house and my apartment were not to be affected by hurricane, so we were not much worried. Moreover I, GK and Deepa got a holiday on an Onam day!!! We were all set for a real party time. There is nothing good about natural disasters; but from a trivial view point, it was an ideal day I often dream of - no work even if you want to, no going out; just sit at home, eat and watch TV…which is exactly what we did! GK got 9 dvds and all we did on Thursday night and Friday was watch those dvds and eat the great Onam Sadya!!

As expected, we had power and water outages Ike hit Houston by late Friday night. I think we all dozed off as soon as the power went out. Watching dvds was the only thing which could keep us awake after heavy lunch and dinner….so no power, nothing better to do that sleep! There is a TV show named HEROES which is about a bunch of people all around the world with special powers which is an excellent show. This is as exciting and thrilling as any movie and we had finished 5 dvds of the 7 before the power cut. So, our disappointment was more because we were at a crucial juncture of the serial.

Before dark we had our cars parked in a confined area as the hurricanes have a reputation of toppling over the vehicles of uprooting the fences and trees (The housing management issues a warning asking all the residents to remove the flowerpots of any objects kept on the balconies due to the danger of them flying and hitting near by windows or objects).

I had no clue how strong the wind was since we couldn’t feel much from inside the house. My attempt to experience the strength of wind by stepping outside the house was thwarted by my aunt. And this was many hours before the hurricane hit and even then the wind was strong enough to knock down relatively less solid objects.

I could see huge trees in front of the house swaying violently when I looked out through the wind when I woke up during middle of the sleep.

(........to be continued)

AVS

6 classics explained in 6 words

An attempt to explain 6 well known classics/legends/myths in 6 words.

Disclaimer: Not at all an ingenious idea; though the topics are.

1) Brothers kill relatives and wins kingdom

2) Ideal man lost wife to demon

3) Prince loves courtesan, gets her murdered

4) Disciple betrays prophet for silver coins

5) Moor trusts lieutenant, kills wife

6) Ten incarnations for universal peace restoration

Anyone can do a better job....so please!

AVS

pop the corn

For all those who max out their cell phone minutes regularly and spent long hours on phone.


video


I don’t know if this is fake or not; if its not, then its good luck all!

AVS

sitcomer

I have been watching a lot of sitcoms now a days. Since I have not got a TV in my apartment yet (yeah, I am not kidding!), I utilize the time to catch up on previous seasons of few of the on going sitcoms on the net and I have reached a stage now where, come this fall, I would have 4-6 sitcoms to watch every week other than the unlimited re-run of the laugh-my-ass-off-every -time-I-see-it F.R.I.E.N.D.S, which I can watch as many times as they show it on TV.

I wonder how my preferences (or rather patience) have changed over the years. Till I came to US, desi moves were my bread and butter. I could sit through a Mera Naam Joker or Lagaan (those 2 being one of the longest movies in the history of world cinema spanning over 4 hrs run time) without even moving a muscle.

It took 1½ years, after I set foot in US, for me to see an English movie in a theater; but since then I can proudly claim to have compensated for the lost time by having caught up with majority of the really good movies of my generation. At a point of time, during my UC days, I used to watch at least 7-10 movies a week. The result was that it got difficult to sit through Indian movies which stretch to over 2-2.5 hours easily. Off late, I have not been able to watch any Indian movies completely at a go. This is quite a change, given how much irritated I used to get if there was a break in my movie watching when in India.

Thanks to the small dosage of ½ to 1 hr capsules, I am finding it hard to watch a whole English movie in one sitting. In theaters, its fine, since I cannot pause the movie and go out; but at home, my English movies’ fate is fast becoming that of desi films.

AVS

divine intervention

Staying on the topic of my last post.......

Till last year, though I used to wear seat belt always while seated in the in the front seat of a vehicle; I hardly used to do the same while traveling in the back seat. It all changed thanks to a trip in a van in San Diego last July.

While seated in the back seat of that vehicle, I noticed a notice sticker on the side window. It said it was a state law to wear the seatbelt irrespective of wherever one is seated. I ignored the message since I was seeing it for the first time in a vehicle and I thought it was just unique to California. However, the very next day, I had to travel in another van in Cincinnati and was seated in the back seat again and I happened to notice the same law sticker in there too. This surprised me, since, having lived in Cincinnati for almost 3 years till then and having traveled in van on many occasions, I hadn't noticed such a notice before. Call it intuition or fate or judgement, I just felt like wearing the seat belt on that occasion. In about 10 mins, as my van was crossing a traffic signal; a car came cross us breaking the traffic signal and collided with the van in spite of the effort of the my driver to apply brakes. The impact of the collision was such that the book and my cell phone in my pocket were thrown to the wind shield.

Had I not worn it, I am certain that I would have accompanied that book to the windshield. The collision was so severe that the car had to be towed away. From that day on, in spite of being made fun of for being too scary and being called a paranoid by my friends, I make sure I wear the seat belt anytime I am seated in a vehicle. I am sure had I not done that, my friends would not have had me to make fun of!

On a philosophical perspective, is this what is known as divine intervention? I am not sure; but, being a strong believer of God, I can’t think else wise.

AVS

save your talk, save your life

I am posting this link at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite for I am also guilty of committing the same; but I had to utilize my blog at least once for useful purposes.

save your talk, safe your life

Driving is the only time I put my Blue tooth headset to any use. I am really trying to get rid of this vice of mine; one which is much more injurious to health that the other vices which I don’t indulge in.

AVS

sleepy head

My work starts as early as 7 am. Being an incorrigible nocturnal I am, I find it hard to sleep ‘early’ (10 pm is too early by nocturnal standards) and also to wake up before sunrise (an utter sacrilege in the nocturnal law book!). In spite of doing it for the last 6 months, I still haven’t adapted to the early-to-bed-early-to-rise-routine. So, to maximize my sleep time; I wake up just early enough to get ready. Within the 45 mins, I manage to finish my daily ablutions, eat my breakfast and even find time to press my dress for the day.

I manage to do these thanks to the 4 alarms I set in my cell phone; all with different tones, the first two set at 15 min. apart and the last two being 5 min. apart. (idea being not getting used to the tone or the periodicity of the alarms). Also the cell phone is kept at distance which cannot be accessed without getting up.

I hope you all would be thinking that in spite of all these struggles, if I still manage to oversleep then there has to be something terribly wrong with me. And yes I did manage to oversleep last day....good one hour.....Reason: I forgot to activate the last of my 4 alarms... Sigh!

AVS

triolet

Taking a lead from this which led me here

State of Mind

I wish I wasn't in this state
Makes me yearn everyday
Its all my fault to make it late
I wish I wasn't in this state
I would have a better fate
Just a wait till next Monday
I wish I wasn't in this state
Makes me yearn everyday

AVS

Update:......and it made it to the list

napster at work

Catching a nap at work is not just the trait of college students. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional or a student; irrespective of age, the temptation for sleep is irresistible. This is one valuable lesson I learned after getting out from college.

People who know me well also know well how good a class sleeper I am. It is more comfortable and easy for me to sleep sitting in a chair, with someone shouting at the top of their voice, than say, in a bed in a quiet room. I can proudly claim to have dreamt during some of my drooping sessions. Ok hope you all get the picture.

When I landed a job few months back, the only thing I carried over from my college life to my professional life has been this small naps (Of course frequenting the restrooms in the pretense of loo breaks is also there, but hey, most of the time it is for real!) On most of the mornings, during my part time employment on campus at UC, I have had this thought of taking a nap in the restroom. But I did not resort to such ‘gross-some’ activity. Hence, I have had many mornings at work where I have struggled to keep my eyes open with dose after dose of strong coffee. I believed I had got a grip over my addiction to sleep till I started working full time. Not only my tendency to sleep in front of the comp. reappeared with more vigor and venom, but, being at work more time than ever before, it happened more frequently too. Big and clean restrooms became too much of a tempting for me. I had all planned that if I cannot get over this sleepiness in a weeks time, I am sure heading to the restroom.

I was all set to perform the test act, till my colleague returned from restroom the other day. He was all giggling “Someone is sleeping in the restroom”, he said. I was pleasantly taken by surprise to know someone was already putting my idea to use. I was in complete taken aback when I heard his next sentence “….and he is snoring”. Wow now this is called taking it to next level! The person in the restroom was not napping, it was a solid ‘sound’ sleep! This also means my idea is discarded. Being notorious for my snoring, I am pretty certain that there would be snoring, irrespective of where I sleep. This means more coffees and back to the drawing board for fresh ideas (isn’t it an irony that I am looking for fresh ideas to be lethargic)

(If anyone is wondering how come a person who’s blog - which was on the verge of extinction; where the longest posts, off late have been at max. 2 lines- has two quick updates, it is due to those work-less mid-week days. Most of the sites are blocked here and all I can do to act busy is ‘draft emails’! Or maybe I am out from the drawing room with a new test run :)

AVS

stupid is as stupid does

My relation with the HRs of this company is jinxed. Whenever I have been in need of help they have let me down. The first person who handled my hire has already quit when I wanted to process my OPT; followed by another who took up from him, who too quit at a time when I had to get my full time employment details and I have had hold ups in getting things done including the denial of my relocation amount which was promised initially. For the last 3 months till date I have been after my current HR person to get some tax refunds and every time she has carelessness or excuses. So it was just a matter of time before the present one quit or go on indefinite leave and she chose the day to be today.

I have not been doing well with a sore throat and congestion for the few days and being a total anti-hospital guy, I was managing myself with some home remedies and self suffering. Since my situation wasn’t getting much better even after a week, I decided may be it was time I utilized my insurance. After all, I am now a professional and paying more to my health care than when in college! As a first step, I decided to figure out the list of physicians and hospitals which work be ‘within the network’ for my insurance (My vision has gone from bad to worse and my wait to go to India to new eye check and glasses isn’t seeing any light).

When I called up the health care providers, I was told that they could not locate my records and I contact my HR. I was not surprised and was sure that my HR person would definitely have messed up again To add to my misery, she had gone on maternity leave (she would have anyway gone on maternity leave even if it was just her 4th month of labor… thats how jinxed stuffs work)

I conveyed my issue to the lady who was in the next cubicle and hearing me 2 more ladies joined her. They searched all around the place to find my record without finding anything. They asked if I submitted it to my HR person or not and I went in detail how I had opted for ‘Plan A’ and not ’Plan B’, how I filled up the 20th rather than wait till the 23rd etc etc. The ladies started worrying if my benefits were submitted of was misplaced from their record and a series of phone calls and email searches ensued. To substantiate the claim for irresponsible attitude I have had to bear from my HR-on-leave, I poured out my chapter of 3 month old struggle to get my ‘un-refunded’ tax. When the ladies were not able to lead anywhere and I was sure that they were convinced of my HR's incompetence, I decided to make their life easier and offered to go up and get the copy of my enrollment form I had submitted for that they can redeem their department in general.

To my utter dismay, what I found in my folder was not the copy but the original health insurance enrollment forms. I never made any copies of them and what I had filed were THE originals and the truth was I never ever submitted it to the HR. Its true I filled it on 20th and I opted for Plan A; but all these matters only had I submitted them.

I ran down with the documents and backed it up with lots of apologies to all 3 of them and was told by them that they were almost starting to censure my HR for her ignorance. Thank god that she had gone on leave, or else she would have killed me for my allegations. I had made a complete fool of myself today and felt like a stupid for wasting good half an hour or more of 3 others. For all my complaints about carelessness and irresponsible behavior, I ended up on the receiving end today.

Mistakes are bound to happen with anyone, after all we are all humans (verbatim: one of the HR ladies); but what is more scarier is that all these months, I have been driving around without insurance in a country where having a health insurance is the first thing a person has to do after arriving in this world. Fortunately, by god’s grace, I have been safe and driving defensively so far; but the very thought of what did not happen freaks me out. This would also mean that till I get my paper works into the system (which might take from a week to two), it would be all walk in the park. Not having an insurance will always weigh in my mind and I don’t want to risk anything now. I would not have given a damn about such things if I were in India, but not in US!

Well, I think this is what insurances are meant to be, isn’t it? Not something which you should expect to be utilized, but something which is there on your back as an assurance that nothing would go wrong with you.

AVS

'pet'ty thoughts

From my childhood days on, we have had a pet; be it a cat or a dog. May be my love for the pets have generally extended to a love for animals. I love seeing animals or interacting with them. May be that’s the reason, when people used to ask me about what is so great about Cincinnati, I used to say very high about the Cincinnati zoo and been the recipient of many a weird looks from the listeners.

In fact, one thing that I am so glad and proud about my upbringing has been our love for animals especially dogs. And it just baffles me when I people say they hate pets….how can someone just hate pets? It is one thing not liking pets and hating them! I have many close friends and relatives who freak out or panic as if on seeing a monster or a ghost while visiting our home. Imagine someone scaring looking at a door behind which we have locked our dog and worrying what if it comes out…and that too for a dog who is scared of news paper!!

There are few who refuse to come to our house for the same reason and I am more that glad they don’t. I treat my dogs like my family member itself. In fact Veeru and I used to eat together. He would eat anything if I act as if I am giving it from my plate!
Why such a senseless post? Having not gone home in 2 years, I miss seeing Veeru the most (it not the ‘mostest’!) To add to my misery my lab dog, Jean, gave birth to 5 puppies last week :(...had to take my helplessness out on someone!

AVS

happy new year!!!

Wish you all a WONDERFUL AND MIND BLOWING NEW YEAR!!!!

Yet another year as passed by. Was a theek-thak year for me. Not the greatest one, if I could script it again, I would have done a much better job. But, hey...how can a year be tat bad in which you got a job and brought a car for the first time in your life. It was indeed a milestone year on a personal note.

For me New year comes with some roll-over unfulfilled challenges from 2007. Few resolutions which I have to address in the beginning on the year itself.
As I have been wishing all...may this year be the bestest all have had in our lives so far!!!!

WELCOME 2008!!!!!!

AVS