Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Seven Gifts to the world - New York City

The gifts of New York City to the world are many, picking seven is a tough task but the people at metro blog have come up with their list of seven things. Agree with it or not, it is certain that these are the things that any New Yorker would atleast appreciate.

No 7:
New York has always been an ideal location for movie settings.NYC is the home of so many famous movie scenes. When you factor in the many scenes from Ghostbusters, Goodfellas, and other well-known classics, NY's role becomes that much more respectable.

New York gives the world a prime location for film and movies! Now lately even for bollywood .
Movie Settings

No 6, I know you better or else:
New York way of Attitude, with a capital Type A. Visitors may find us pushy, loud, rude, and opinionated, but we have to be in order to survive this rat-infested race. How else to get yourself onto an already packed subway, or grab that last cab during a shift change, or get some decent service around here. "I'm walkin' here!" Dustin Hoffman's character shouts in Midnight Cowboy as he almost gets run over, something I want to holler about every other day.

But you know it's nothing personal. When you actually stop to talk to one of us, we're pretty friendly and cool, especially when you need directions, or a recommendation for a restaurant.... Where else can you find folks who'll jostle you out of the way one minute, and the next argue with others about how you can get from the Upper West Side to the Lower East Side in the fewest number of subway changes?
Attitude with capital A

Now for No 5:
If you've only been to New York as a tourist, you may have a narrow view of music and theater here. Our town is famous for Broadway musicals and Lincoln Center extravaganzas, but most performances don't involve $100 tickets, elaborate sets, or dancers in cat costumes. In summer, music and theater are everywhere - from al fresco string quartets, to Shakespeare in the Park, to major outdoor concerts. And the list goes on...
Music and Theatre galore

No 4 on the list is:
Racial Diversity, a diverse place to live. There are more opportunities for people who aren't white here. That says a lot about a country filled with immigrants.
Racial Diversity

On to No 3:
BIG, I am referring to the architecture and infrastructure that separates NYC from every other US mega-city and makes it the most easily traversed and interesting destinations in the world. Everything is big: subways, water supply, transportation, bridges...these were all experiments that NYC did and other cities learnt from it.

The No 2 on the list:
Courage. Not everybody appreciates this, but our courage and our defiance in the face of danger are a true contribution to America and the world.
Every day, our thoughts turn at least once to the gaping hole at Ground Zero. But our courage shows the world how to live when things happen to which you have no control over.

And the No 1:
Our fantastic cuisine, unequivocally our #1 Gift To The World. One of the great things about New York City is cuisine as varied and far reaching as its residents themselves. New York City is home to so many restaurants that it seems you could eat at a different place for every meal of the day for the rest of your life and never go to the same place twice.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Seven Gifts to the world - Chennai

For the past few days... the Metro Blog's around the globe have been dedicated to have 7 things about their city which represent gifts to the world. One gift a day for 7 days, this is a list of the two cities that I know of and love. Chennai and New York city.
Let me start with Chennai...

No 7 on the list is:
We're talking of Madras Cotton, or the Bleeding Madras. Cotton cloth was one of the main reason, the East India company chose to settle down in Madras, and build its factory here. For, here in a sandy tract of land, was "Cloathe, the cheaper by 20p". This part of the land was always associated with cotton, apparently.
Madras Cotton

No 6 is:
I'd say a laid-back attitude. Chennai is a calm, cultured place where raw aggression is barely seen on the surface. Ever since madras was assembled as a loose collection of neighbouring villages in the seventeenth century, the Madras of old, has been a quiet, warm hostess, offering freely of her wealth while holding on to her tranquil lifestyle. Elihu Yale was one of the first to return from India with a fortune and consequently to be accused of sharp practice.

So it is, Ladies and Gentlemen, wealth made on these shores found their way into building one of the world's most famous universities. Yale University
Wealth made from Chennai

On to No 5:
Speech, they said once, was possibly the swiftest form of communication. Although the chances that an Indian cook, when causally mentioning "milagu-thanneer" to his British superior, anticipating that his weird sounding concoction would take cooks of the world by storm - is probably a fate he/she didn't even contemplate.

If that ain't a potpourri of cultures, what else is?
Potpourri of cultures

No 4 on the list:
Indo-Saracenic architecture is described as a style of architecture used by British architects in the late 19th century in India. It drew elements from traditional Hindu and Islamic architecture, and combined it with the Gothic revival style favored in Victorian England.

Some of the many other Indo Saracenic buildings in Chennai include: the Madras University Senate House; the High Court (and another picture here); the Government Museum; the General Post Office; Egmore Station; Central Station
Indo-Saracenic Architecture

No 3 is none other than:
A.R. Rahman... need I say anything else. Music!
A.R. Rahman

on to No 2:
"I maintain that no organization can lead man to spirituality.
If an organization be created for this purpose, it becomes a crutch, a weakness, a bondage, and must cripple the individual, and prevent him from growing, from establishing his uniqueness, which lies in the discovery for himself of that absolute, unconditioned Truth.
So that is another reason why I have decided, as I happen to be the Head of the Order, to dissolve it"
That was Jiddu Krishnamurti, disbanding the Order of the Star of the East, the Order that was specifically formed to declare him as the Maitreya Buddha, the World Teacher.
Maitreya Buddha - World Teacher

And the No 1 thing that is chennai's gift to the world:
The beaches of Chennai, right from the isolated ones Kovalam, to the crowded Marina and Beasant Nagar, are an integral part of the city. Any visitor to the city has to visit the beach as a part of every trip, someone who does not live in Chennai will find it hard to understand the why every chennaiite loves the beach, its not spectacular, its definitely not picturesque, and its dirty, but the beaches despite their drawbacks do have an aura, just sitting in the sand, under the stars, with not a single soul in sight (yes this is possible in the isolated beaches along ECR, late at night), and listening to the waves. Walking on the beach, late at night is absolute bliss.
Chennai Beach

There you have it, 7 things that are a real gift to chennai. I am sure you have other things that you can think of, you can write about them in comments.

Next up is New York City.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Life's Greatest Lessons

Success is more than making money

Life is hard....and not always fair

Life is also fun...and incredibly funny

We live by choice, not by chance

Attitude is a choice - the most important one you will ever make

Habits are the key to all success

Being thankful is a habit - the best one you will ever have

Good people build their lives on a foundation of respect

Honesty is still the best policy

Kind words costs little but acomplish much

Real motivation comes from within

Goals are dreams with deadlines

There's no substitute for hard work

You have to give up something to get something

Successful people dont find time - they make time

No one else can raise your self-esteem

The body needs nutrition and exercise - so do the mind and spirit

It's ok to fail - everyone else has

Life is simpler when we know what's essential


Essential # 1, is being a good person

Friday, November 17, 2006

Oops sorry - excuse me!

Imagine…people jostling for space, yelling, cursing under their breaths, giving each other the nasty eye glare and all this within a span of few minutes. These are the few minutes one goes through every time one boards a crowded bus in India.

These same people who yell and curse at each other turn all respectful once something happens by accident. It involves in somehow being able to kick them or accidentally let their foot touch us. This simple act will banish whatever thoughts they had of you...well at least for 3 seconds. During these three seconds, you will find that we Indians will make a quick gesture of apology and actually will touch you with our right hand and then moving the hand to the chest and to the eyes like you are some sort of God.
Isn’t it a wonderful when someone does that to you, well at least it is for me. You feel good, you feel like you are being given respect. In New York I am used to hearing “excuse – me”, “pardon me” or just plain old “f*** off” while being bumped by someone. This is such a wonderful change but it does make me wonder what silly things can arise from this.

As I was discussing this topic with a co-worker of mine, he brought up a story which was pretty funny and I imagine many of us who have evil thoughts (yes you) can agree and might enjoy doing this. One guy was adamant on doing this gesture while he was in school and lo and behold, he usually and purposefully got kicked by the school kids or the kids would let his foot touch them. That would set off something really funny where the school kids would run off and the chase would begin :-) This guy had the habit of doing the gesture not just once but three times, so that made matters even worse even if he caught up to them, after he completed once, the evil kid would run off again.

We Indians give respect to paper as well, if we happen to step on it by accident, we will bend down and touch the paper and do the whole gesture thing again. Though it is religious because paper (knowledge) is considered to be a form of Hindu God; even a Muslim, Christian would be doing the same because of customs and not due to religion. Living in New York for a long time, I had lost touch with all these things, small things that actually brings in discipline in an individual.

From now on I will try to give respect to the person who I accidentally bumped into and chase him down if they try to run away from me. So if you happen to be near me, please don’t run away as I am not trying to touch you to get a feel or anything. I am just trying to be nice and respectful Indian ish - styleee.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ye jo desh hai mera - this country of mine (India)

So this is my first post in 6 months...just so you know the last post that I did was in New York and right now this post is being written from Bangalore, India.

Its already been 6 months in India, so many experiences and many more stories that I can share. I will slowly think all of them through and eventually write them down. Most are funny, the way I saw things in India and some insightful even.

To start off this blog again,

I seriously thought to myself... heck we cant have that many relatives, but alas we do and its not ending at all. People get married and new relationships are formed and more aunties and uncles are included.

Even the 1st month had not passed by in India, I had attended marriages of two of my cousins. Just being there at their wedding was like a trip back memory lane. Hoards of people with each blink of an eye passing and conveying their hi's and hello's to me at a dizzying pace.

Who are these people I wondered - are they all my relatives, where am I??? I dont belong here at all. I dont know these people.

During the same month, I had visited lots of people and along with visiting each and every relatives house comes the oh so symbolic tea drinking ceremony. If we don’t drink atleast tea in one’s house, they get upset and feel that I have somehow insulted them.

Dont get me wrong I dont mind drinking tea, infact I love tea/coffee but uggh I began to loose the love for tea/coffee because of the way it was prepared; that heavy milky concoction ladled with lots of sugar. Not all was lost though, I finally had to step forward and tell them exactly how to make tea or coffee especially for me :-). I know what you are thinking, oh yes the american going there and demanding stuff to be done for him. It was not that way at all, i just didnt want to lose my love for tea/coffee.

Speaking of tea and coffee, that is for another post which I have in mind about my love for coffee/tea. Just thinking of having a hot cup on a cold breezy evening with clouds hanging over like a bedspread over the soft skies feels soo warm and comforting. hmmm..

Now where was I, yes relatives lots of them…not all of them are as annoying as I first had in my mind while coming from NY. Some are quite nice in their own merry ways. Though they were nice, dealing and getting used to all of them and their personalities was quite a challenge. I feel now that since I have been here for 6 months, I have adjusted pretty well. Got along with them, finally be able to feel them as part of my family and see myself as one of them.

I think being born in India does this to you, the fragrance and the soul of India seeps inside your blood and though you lose touch with it while you are in some other country, it still lingers and waits for the right opportune time to reveal itself. Hmm am I making sense or am I just copying the thoughts that came when I was watching the movie Swades. I believe I am currently living that movie.

Yeh jo des hai tera this country of yours
swades hai tera is your motherland
tujhe hai pukara and is calling out to you
yeh woh bandhan hai this is a bond
jo kabhi toot nahin sakta which can never break

Mitti ki hai jo khushbhoo tu kaise bhoolayega how can you forget the scent of your earth
tu chaahe kahin jaaye you can go anywhere
tu laut ke aayega but you'll always come back
nayi nayi raahon mein dabbi dabbi aahon mein in new paths, in every sigh
khoye khoye dil se tere to your lost heart
koi yeh kahega someone will say

Nice song isn’t it. If you want to hear it.. you can click on this link. Swades songs

This is like me stuck in the middle when I go from bangalore to chennai in a local bus :-)

Friday, May 05, 2006

A start of a journey

There comes a time in everyone's life when things change and a point where either you can go for it or hide behind it and miss that chance. I am taking that chance and going for it.

I am leaving all the things that I know and going to a place of the unknown, a place that I have not been for years but a place where I grew up. I hear of the changes, the westernization of India, the loss of culture. How will I deal with the fact that the place and people that I remember have changed.

I take it as a challenge, a chance to get experience. To realize myself and find out who I am. This IS the real world and I can either play along or cry and call foul. I choose to play and play I will do till I will succeed.

So I am off to Madras ( Chennai ) with a new job in hand and leaving family behind. I will miss them the most, along with friends who surround me with a comfort zone that keeps me intact through the rough and tough times. They will still be there in spirit and in thoughts and of course constant calls back and forth.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Day After V-Day

V-day, unlike the famous D-day, is not about war but about love. Is it really about love...does love needs to be really delegated for one day?

Do we need to take a day just for celebrating love....shouldnt it be everday. Some might say that it might not be a bad idea to remind people that there is something called love and that we should celebrate it. I agree with that but what makes is not so "lovely" day is how even a day of love has turned into a marketing ploy. Hallmark, Godiva, and of course Flower shops.

I am all for public affections.. but I dont want anyone to tell me that I should do this and that. Dont tell when I am watching tv...oh for your valentine, get this... I dont want to. I want to think on my own and get something that really matters. And that doesnt have to be bunch of chocolates.

A scene at a nearby Duane Reade the day before V-day might explain some meaning or should we say lack of, for this day. Guys standing in line with a flower in one hand and a pre-filled card in the other just waiting for their turn to buy, let the day do its thing and get it over with. What a meaningful, inspiring, loving, caring scene. Some might not even have read what the card - which they will be giving to the love of their life - says. It is just a routine. You have to do this...why? oh its V-day.

Instead of doing it all in one day...why not spread the love throughout the year. If you are so inclined for a day to be V day.. let it be every week, every month. I dont want to wait for it once a year.. that too much pressure, we have birthdays and anniversaries to worry about. :-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Friends....worth their weight in gold.

I am 25, over the last 20 years, I have had all types of "friends." The first 5 years dont count. The people that were there those 5 years will be there throught my life.. mom, dad and sis.

So the last 20 years I have made friends with different types of people. Some are worth keeping for a few decades, others a few seconds. Some are superficial, others are just super. Some keep lending, while others keep borrowing. Some call to say hi and others only when I am needed.

Many of these so-called friends weren´t real friends after all. Indeed, the word "friend" is one of the most misused words in the dictionary. It is so easy to be called a friend. Many people take advantage of it, group gathering and people being introduced and have yourself a "friend." Do they even know me well enough to know my email address.

They take the liberty of calling you "buddy" or "pal" or "dude." They start asking you personal questions, such as what you think of Anna Kournikova and isn´t she the best thing to happen to tennis since the invention of the ball? lol. How dare a stranger ask such personal questions.

Truth is, a good friendship takes years to develop. You have to invest your energy, your time and yes money into it as well. Through all this you eventually get something special, someone that you can relate to in a level beyond words. A friendship that will give you more job than playing the latest game on XBox or a Playstation. At least in the long run.

If there´s one thing I´ve learned about friendships, it´s this: It´s better to have one good pal than a thousand lousy pals. Good friends are worth their weight in gold.

Okay "friends" lets see the gold or cash will do just as well. ;-)