bulb above the head

Have you ever felt like a genius and stupid at the same time? I mean, you have an "eureka" moment all of a sudden and a minute later once your euphoria has calmed you feel stupid. I know, one Mr. Archimedes would have felt after the real eureka moment when he looked back and realized how embarrassing it was to run naked. Not to the same scale but till I do get my moments of contrasting emotions.

I usually have a light dinner during weekdays. One - a heavy stomach makes it hard for me to sleep early two - spares me the pain of cooking proper dinner. So I either have some fruits or bread or milk and biscuit. Before I get any sympathetic sighs for my bachelorhood, let me say I have no regrets. (I rather cry when I have to eat cereal in the morning, so if anyone needs to sympathize with me, let that be the one to take it). I used to have steamed vegetables for lunch on some days and over the course of time, I started cooking for my lunch so that I can have proper food once a day. Moreover it was a pain to buy raw vegetables, cut them into pieces and steam them and all. And I didn't want to buy sliced vegetables since it was not 'value for money'.

So, few weeks back, I was with a friend of mine (a fellow bachelor) and casually, just as a conversation piece, I asked what he usually does for dinner and I was told he has steamed veggies and chicken usually. As I gave a "cool" remark and that was it.

A week later I was in my bed at night trying to fall sleep and suddenly I felt hungry. I already have my milk n cookie dinner so somehow my thoughts drifted to the conversation I had with the friend and there it was "voila"! I could have steamed vegetables for dinner!! It just opened up a whole new source of food and adds variety to my diet!

The very next second I felt stupid...my fridge has been stacked with many packs of frozen vegetables which I use to cook my lunch as use it in my noodles from the very beginning. It was always there and it never occurred to me to steam them and eat! Since I always need them to cook, I always have it handy in my freezer. And here I was struggling on many nights wondering what to eat and settling for something just enough to satisfy my appetite or something which will not make me hungry again at the middle of the night.

Now I know what they mean by "Buddha got enlightenment" or whatever Newton or Archimedes felt! It’s the bulb above your head turning on, that’s all it is! And it took more than 3 years for that bulb to start glowing for me.


what dreams may come

I am a dreamer. I mean literally; I do tend to see a lot of dreams while asleep and many times I can recollect them with quite close accuracy. As weird as it has been most of the times, I do have seen some sensible ones too. But never before have I seen one which remained sensible for its entirety and was able to remember it vividly up until last month.

Ours is a loud family; more precisely, my brother and I are loud. When we argue, we usually take the intimidating path of arguing in a louder octave. So, here we were – my brother, my mother and she - travelling to somewhere in a car. I have been told by her sometime back that she gets intimidated when someone raises their voice, even if it’s not directed at her.

My brother is sitting in the navigator seat and in the back seat, I am sitting behind the driver and mom is right behind my brother. She is in the 3rd row of the SUV behind my mother (it got to be a SUV to have that many rows of seats). Our occupied position relative to each other is a crucial information, since I am at a vantage point of being able to see the other 3 fellow passengers with just a sideways glance.

So, as usual, some conversation had escalated into an argument and my brother and I have started arguing with our mom. That’s when I notice her behind my mother petrified at the audacity of two boys launching a joint verbal assault on their mother. Mind you, of the 3 of us, only I am aware of her aversion to confrontations; and neither my mom nor brother knows about it. Here I am in the middle of a heated argument with my mother in the company of my brother, who is oblivious of the reaction of others since he is in the front seat of the vehicle. And my mother can see only me who am sitting next to her.

So, here I notice the reaction of her and suddenly realize that it is making her uncomfortable. This puts me in a pickle since I need to make a quick call as to whether continue with our argument since it was something important and we have to drive in our point. But at the same time I need to make sure that she does not feel bad. And thus, when I was struggling with my moral dilemma (which I would, unless someone raises an issue about it, gladly compare to the predicament Arjuna faced with in that battle field). It could have been the pressure of being at the vantage point or just my alarm going off, I suddenly woke up from the dream before I could make a judgment call.

In fact, I am glad that I woke up before I could visualize in which direction I would have swayed – not the best of options when you have to choose between whether you care for yourself or for the other person. You should not be giving up on something you feel strongly about and at the same time, you do need to be considerate. And given that this dream is as realistic as any of my dreams can get, such an event is highly likely in our real life. I am sure a déjà vu moment will present itself in the future and I would have to make a quick decision then. And I hope I would by then what it is going to be.


the hamburger moment

Remember that scene in Pink Panther (Steve Martin one) where Inspector Clouseau has the hamburger for the first time? Initially he is dismissive of it saying it’s a stupid food made by Americans. And as he takes his first bite, the whole world starts the spin around him taking him to a phycadelic trance with the taste of hamburger. For some reason I just love that scene. I believe it’s exactly how I would feel if I am to taste something exquisite and that's what happened earlier this week to me. Though it makes me feel naïve, the experience was so sweet (pun intended!) that I don’t mind it.

P was in town for the weekend and I went to meet her at an Indian restaurant for lunch. And one of the desserts there for the lunch buffet was this thing which looked like milk soaked break called Sahi Tukda. Since I had my eyes on gulab jamun and the payasam, I didn't pay much attention to this item and I went about stuffing myself with the crispy vadai, masala dosa, naan etc. It was when I had just about a bit of space left in my tummy for just tasting the desserts that I went back for the final round. Since I am a sucker for trying out unique items, I thought I will give this Soaked bread and see how it was. All it took was just a single bit of it for me to fall in love with it. It was neither too sweet nor too bland. It was perfectly smooth and it literally dispersed in my mouth. But P didn't share my enthusiasm for the dish, not because she didn't eat it, but because she was familiar with the item. Apparently, it’s also called Double ka meetha and is a popular sweet in Hydrabad.

I am not a great fan of sweets and desserts; but I had reached that conclusion having tasted pretty much all common sweets and have not developed a liking for it., but this one was different. The world was spinning around me and I was sitting there alone savoring the taste of milk and bread fighting to occupy a place on my taste buds.

Later that day I raved about it to M & R and it turned out they have also had it in spite of them being from Chennai (so, it’s not just Hyderabadis who know about it). Coincidently when I went to work on Monday, my colleague offered me a bowl of a dessert which her Aunt had made over the weekend and guess what...it was Shahi Tukda again! Of course she was also from Hyderabad. Thus, in a span of 2 days, I got to have something twice which I had not even heard about till last week. This one was a much more sweeter version and also more diligently made than the one in the buffet.

It was a pleasant happenstance that I got to eat two different variations of the same sweet which I fell in love with a day before. And sure enough, as of now, it has taken up the unoccupied position of my favorite dessert.


apparently so

Don’t you use a phrase or a word quite a lot in your conversation? “Like”, “whatever”, “you know what” etc. being some of the common ones I get to hear here in US. Little did I realize till some time back that a word had crept into my vocabulary as well which I tend to use it quite frequently. Apparently, I use the word “apparently” a lot. I was notified of this by my brother sometime back. He was telling me how he mentioned it to my cousin and she also concurred with it. And since, I am conscious of it whenever I use it. Not that it has stopped me from using it or I have deliberately tried not using it; I just chose to ignore what my brother told.

It’s been a while after that and recently when I was chatting with her and I used the word. Since I was weighing what I was saying so as not to make a fool myself (well, at least not more than what she knows!), it occurred to me that even she might have noticed it. And so as to be cool about it and give a “all part of game” feel to it, I confessed myself so that she knows that I am aware of it. And that’s when she said that even she was about to say that I used it a lot.

So it wasn’t just my brother being whimsical or my cousin just agreeing with him to pull my leg. There was some validity to the inference. But when I think back, the word apparently fits well into the structure of sentences I make. I never give a thought about the meaning of it or if I can say the same thing without using that word…it just flows well out of my mouth I suppose. And it does not for most part stand out like a lump. Well, apparently people do notice ! (see, this is what I am talking about)

I don’t know if it is as annoying as using ‘like’, or ‘whatever’, at least I don’t feel that it’s a word I am forcing into my vocabulary. It is something which comes naturally to me (at least after I have started using frequently). I have no plans of making any chances to it.

Update: I have been told that my frequency of ‘apparently’ had reduced and has been replaced by excessive “oh crap!”


alarm for an alarm

I am not at all an early riser. My tussle with alarm to wake up has been well documented here before. I still continue my 3 alarm pattern, however, the only problem is, on first look, what can only be described as a case of my cell phone developing its own personality or intelligence. I recently got a smart phone on which I can set many number of alarms and can schedule to ring at that time on the days I want them to beep. It worked fine for couple of days. I realized something was wrong when I woke up an hour late than usual. I thought it was one of those days where I was very sleepy and switched the alarm off in my sleep. Since I keep my cell phone beyond my arms reach just so that I don’t turn it off while in sleep, still I gave it the benefit of doubt and took the blame on myself - given that it was a new phone and I was a deep sleeper.

Last month, when for the nth time I woke up late since I started using this phone, I started doubting something wrong with my cell phone. This time, I didn't hear even single one of the 3 alarms. Even though I tried to tell the weirdness with which my phone acted, they blamed it back on me saying I would have switched it off in sleep. I installed an alarm app just in case if it was some problem with the default phone clock. Guess what, none of them beeped again and I overslept for the second consecutive day!

Just as it was trying to play with my mind and making to start to wonder about myself and take the blame back on me, at last, last week I got an opportunity to verify what was wrong. Last week, one day, I somehow managed to wake up with 5 mins to for my first alarm. Since I didn't want to oversleep, I somehow tried to stay awake to see if my alarm really does ring or not. And it did ring. Since my second alarm was only 15 mins later, I stayed up again fighting my sleep off (the secondary objective of keeping multiple alarm is just to wake up and realize that you can go back to sleep for few more minutes! If you have not tried it, please do...it’s a heavenly feeling!) And then, proving my suspicion to be true, my alarm didn't ring at 5.45 am! It cleared my mind up and immediately I woke up and reassigned the alarm to 6.00 again. And sure it did ring at 6. But it was good enough proof for me that my alarm was not all perfect.

Off late I have been waking up right before my first alarm goes off and reassign the times and ringtones. As D said, I have been waking up the alarm for last few days. The height of it was today morning. I had stopped scheduling my alarm to ring all days of the weeks and had started to set it ring for that particular day before I went to bed which I forgot to do last night. However, owing to a disturbing dream I had, I woke up at 5.20 am. Just as I was about to drop back to sleep did I realize that I had not turned on the alarm to ring for today. Immediately i turned it on, wondering even in such deep sleep, I had started to care and think about my alarm details. The thing I forgot to do when I was fresh last night occurred to me in half sleep! It was indeed as D had joked...I have started to wake up to wake up my alarm!


obsessive compulsive driving

I am not superstitious...okay, maybe a little bit. Of course I have my own share of tiny obsessive compulsives, but nothing that would disrupt my well being or those of my fellow beings. One such thing which I do regularly is taking my car forward when I take it out for the first time in a day. I have to obsessively put the car in the drive gear and move it a step forward before I can reverse it out of the parking spot. I have been doing it since the day I bought my car.

I think it started with the ritual we Indians usually follow of doing this right the first time. And since it was my first car in my life, I didn't want to piss of any superior powers that might be watching over me. And something which was meant to be for the first time only became a first time everyday thing.

Come to think of it, it might have been my horrible attempt at drive right the next day I got my license. I learned driving in India when I was in college. I learned it in a good old ambassador car with huge stick gears which you had to literally pull and move into the required slot to change the gear. And turning the steering meant using all the force you can gather on your hands plus the added push by swirling your body in the direction of the turning of wheel. And once we managed to get the license, a roommate of mine had a maruti car and he encouraged me to take it out and take it for a spin. The thing he never mentioned nor I thought about was that it was power steering. It was parked in front of our hostel facing our room window. So, here I step into the car and changed the gear to reverse. The smoothness with which the gear shifted was a new experience for me. And like I had done for the last few months in the ambassador, I pressed the accelerator as hard as possible and the car just jerked back. In the panic all I could do was pull the hand brake with my feet still rooted on to the accelerator. Don’t ask me if it is the safest or wisest thing to do, say if it was on a road, when your vehicle speeds up uncontrollably, you have no idea how mind works in panic. And his almost new maruti skidded back and halted at 90 deg. from its initial position with the hood now facing the wall. It still is a mystery how I managed to do that given that there was not much space available there to perform such a maneuver.

I immediately stepped out of the car and handed over the key to my roomie. Surprisingly he didn't appear to me much ruffled, most likely because he, being a new driver himself, might have pulled off such a trick before. Anyway, that day I decided not to drive someone else's vehicle so that I don’t end up in the wrong side if i cause even a slightest scratch on it. And mind you it was my first attempt at driving a car without any supervision and i felt I should have started on the right note - in this case a move forward. Hence, when I got a car of my own car, I wanted to take it forward as a good omen for my future rides. However it had gotten to me like a habit which I cannot get rid of. And the sad truth that I don’t know how to reverse parking is presenting me with opportunity to continue doing it every single day.

A small foot note: For the most part I have stuck to my resolution of not driving someone else’s personal car. I have done it only on 2 occasions in the last 8 years; and need I say I was extra cautious taking it up.


up in the air

I feel jet lag is an overrated concept. I have come to the conclusion over the course of last few years with my trips to India as well as those by my friends. If you can sleep timely and comfortably in the flight; I am sure it’s possible (maybe in the luxury of first class!). Though I know that people get bogged down by traveling across time zones, and I, myself, am a victim to that, though I have wanted to prove that people give undue respect to jet lag.

My recent trip to India gave me an opportunity to test my theory. It was a very short trip for a week and I was sure that I would not have the luxury of taking time to get over my jet lagging at home. So, I was all prepared to 'sleep tight' in the flight. I was optimistic of catching a good sleep at some point of time of the flight given it was the longest ever time I had spent on the single leg of a journey. Mind you given my long legs and wide torso, just about managing to sit in the flight seat comfortably itself is a big deal, forget about sleeping well sitting. And adding to my misery was a severe and literal pain in the neck. I just could not keep my head leaning against the support and take even a small nap without feeling a pinch on the back of my neck. It was the most excruciating 18 hrs I have had to spend on a flight so far. I ended up watching 5 movies and about 3-4 one hour TV shows goes to prove that I just could not sleep at all!. I could not even sleep during the multiple layovers and ended up sleep deprived for good 32 hrs and more.

Despite of the self inflicted insomnia, I was determined not to sleep during day time in India and wait till its night there to sleep so that I can negate the effect of jet lag screwing up my biological clock and I was indeed successful in doing so. I was out of the house the very same day I landed and was back home only by night and went to bed when others in the house did. I woke up fresh the next day morning and for the next one week I was there I was successfully following the Indian timing. I was glad to have proven once and for all that jet lag was indeed not a big deal and yeah, I did spoke volumes about it to anyone who asked.

And my equal long return flight could not have gotten any better for me. The seat next to me was unoccupied and I had the luxury of lifting the hand rest and lying down and sleeping. And I did utilize my space well. I watched only 2 movies in the entire flight time is good enough testimony that I had good rest and sleep. And one of them I watched just for the heck of it. And back in US, I was again back to my US timings for I could not catch any more sleep.

Just when I was feeling jubilant for having successfully beaten the jet lag; not once but twice within a span of a week; it came back with vengeance. Two days after my return, I was walking around like a zombie in the afternoons at work - many cups of coffees having no effect on me. And for straight 2 days I was out as soon as I reached home and work up only to see the dawn of next day. Fortunately for me, it was the week of New Year and work wasn't heavy and the week was short. And within 2-3 days I was fine.

Given that I had slept for over 10 hrs in the flight, I am sure that the fatigue I was feeling was not from the return trip but from the 32 hrs vigil during my on flight to India. It took a week and more I succumbed to the jet lag. Not bad given the hectic and long flights I had! Though I didn’t prove conclusively that you can beat jet lag, at least I partially proved what need to be done to do so. Had I not had neck pain or if I had the provision of more space to sleep, I would have felt anything after a total of about 50+ hrs of air travel. And I look forward to my next trip to close this once and for all.


meri awaz suno

Last week I came across a news article about a homeless guy with a radio voice – the unique tone of speech which you can get to hear only from a radio host. And sure did he not look anything like what he sounded, which made me reconsider writing a blog on a related topic which I have had in my mind for some time now. Many months back, I thought of writing a blog post about one's voice and had started drafting it couple of times. But for some reason I scrapped it. But this news article was sort of a divine intervention; or so I feel; that – (1) I need to do something about my dormant blog (2) I had to get this thought out of my mind into my blog.

Every person has a fitting voice. Like, you cannot imagine Amitabh Bachchan with Sachin Tendulkar's voice, right? I tend to assign a face and a vague image to a person, whom I have never met, based on their voice or what I have read about them. I am sure that I am not the only one who does it (and I have checked it with few of my friends just to ensure that I am not weird). And invariably the person would be nowhere close to resemble my mental image of them. A colleague of mine from our overseas office who appeared to be a 6 footer with a thick mustache over the phone turned out to be clean shaven 5 footer (just quoting one to prove that it can be as different as chalk and cheese).

The city where I live in US had a high density of desi population and hence a number of desi radio stations which I listen to whenever I am driving. One particular station which I tune to most often had this radio host with a deep voice. Sometime back, I happened to see a photo of his in a news paper and to my utter surprise, he was EXACTLY the way I had imagined him to be. What is more baffling is I had even imagined him to have a goatee which precisely resembled the one he had! (he was a tad thinner than what I had figured, but it was certainly within the ‘uncertainty limit’ of the estimation)

Okay, I don’t what to make any claims of having gained sudden psychic power or anything of that sort; neither am I admitting to the possibility that I might have seen his photo somewhere sometime back and it might have forgotten about it. Let’s say it was just coincidence – after so many misses by a mile, the law of probability had to catch up with me at some point of time or other. But, just the fact that I am a huge fan of spooky movies and what I had conjured up was eerily close to reality makes me marvel at my revelation.