Month: November 2010

Two days to D-Day

This is going to be a short one, since I have very limited time for distractions right now!

So my thesis defense is in two days- on December 2, 2010. I know there are hundreds of Masters students who defend their thesis every year, but it is always special and nerve-wrecking when you know it is going to be yours!

I get weird jolts every morning as I countdown to the D-Day and I feel optimistic on one hand, that all my hard work of the past 15 months is going to pay off. But on the other hand, there is also some amount of nervous energy, which I guess is natural! I have the first draft of the written document in my hand- 100 pages that basically encapsulate all the work I have done! Actually, I should change that- all the good work I have done. No one writes about their failed experiments and failed ideas..and believe me, there were so many of those! But then, as my professor says- that is research, and only you know what you took away from all those failures!

For now, I just hope everything goes fine on Thursday… It is one hour that I want to go by as peacefully as possible.. 🙂

Wish me luck, dear readers! 🙂

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Attitude of Gratitude

This article isn’t my creation- my mother’s friend sent this as a forward to her. I loved it so much that I wanted to reproduce it on the blog, as a reminder to everyone out there to take five minutes everyday just to say “THANK-YOU” to the people who make a difference in your life…

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Appreciation : What to appreciate, When and How: an Important Lesson!

One young academically excellent person went  for  an interview for a managerial position in a big company. He passed the first interview; BUT in that Comapny, the director did the last interview, made the last decision. 

The director discovered from the CV,  that the youth’s academic result was excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research, never was there  a year he did not score. The director asked, “Did you obtain any scholarship in school?” and the youth answered “no”. 

The director asked, ” Did your father pay  your school fees?”. The youth answered,  “my father passed away when I was one year old and  it was my mother who paid  my school fees”. 

The director asked, ” Where did your mother work?” the youth answered, “my mother worked as cloth cleaner.” The director requested the youth to show his hands and the youth showed a pair of hands that was smooth and perfect to the director. 

The director asked, ” Did you ever help your mother wash  clothes before?” The youth answered,” never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books, furthermore, my mother could wash clothes faster than I could” 

The director said, I have a  request, when you go back today, go and help to clean your mother’s hand, and then see me tomorrow morning. 

The youth felt that the  chance of landing the job was high and  when he went back, he happily wanted to clean his mother’s hands. His mother felt strange. With  happiness  mixed with fear, she showed her hands to the kid. 

The youth cleaned his mother’s hands slowly and his tears fell as he did that.  It was the  first time he noticed that his mother’s hands  were so wrinkled, and that  there were  so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful  that she  shuddered when his  mother’s hands were cleaned with water. 

This is the first time that the youth realized and experienced that it is this pair of hands that washed the clothes every day to earn him the school fees and that the bruises in the mother’s hand were the price that the mother paid for his graduation and academic excellence and probably his future. 

After finishing the cleaning of his mother’s hands, the youth quietly washed  all the  remaining clothes for his mother. 

That night, the mother and son talked for a very long time. 

Next morning, the youth went to the director’s office. The director noticed the tear in the youth’s eye and asked: ” Can you tell  what  you did and learnt yesterday in your house?” 

The youth answered, ” I cleaned my mother’s hands and also finished washing all the remaining clothes’ 

The director asked, “Please tell me what you felt” 

The youth said:
“Number 1, I know what  appreciation is now’. Without my mother, I would not be successful today. 
Number 2, Now I know how to work together with my mother.  Only now do I  realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done.  
Number 3, I know the importance and value of family relationship.”

The director said, ” This is what I am asking, I want to recruit a person that can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the suffering of others to get things done, and a person that would not put money as his only goal in life to be my manager. You are hired. 

Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates, every employee worked diligently and as a team and the company improved tremendously. 

The Lessons from this anecdote:
A child who has been protected and habitually given whatever he needs,  develops “entitlement mentality” and always puts himself first. He is ignorant of his parents’ efforts. When he starts work, he assumes every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the suffering of  his employees and always blame others. These kinds of people,  may/will achieve good results and  may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel a sense of achievement or satisfaction.  

If we happen to be this kind of (protective) parent, this is the time to ask the question- whether we  did/do love our kids or destroy them. 
-You can let your kid live in a big house, eat a good meal, learn to play the piano, watch a big screen TV but when you are cutting grass, please let them experience it. 
-After a meal, let them wash their plate and bowl together with their brothers and sisters. 
-It is not because you do not have money to hire a maid, but it is because you want to love and show them the  correct way.  
-You want them to understand that no matter how rich their parents are, one day they will grow old, become weak and that their hair too will grow grey,.


-The most important thing is for your kid to learn how to appreciate, experience and learn the effort and ability needed to work with others to get things done. They should also value, appreciate what the parents have done and love them for who they are!

A Few Good Blogs

One of the interesting after-effects of quitting Facebook is that now I use my blog as my window to the world- and in this case, my social world comprises of fellow blogger friends. In the past few days, whenever I crave for some FB-isque timepass, I check the latest updates on my blogroll and then navigate to other people’s blogs through them and so on and so forth.. What is enjoyable about this is that I have come across such well-written, innovative and thought-provoking posts! Satisfies my craving for good reads and is definitely a lot more enriching than Facebooking! 😛

So, I thought I should direct some of you to some of the posts/blogs I particularly liked..

1) Nupur just wrote the most amazing post today- I think women need posts like these to remind themselves how strong and capable they actually are. I mean, I did not ever have even an iota of doubt regarding this, but posts like these make you appreciate and respect yourself as a woman, a lot more! Hats off to us! 🙂
2) Sometimes even the most mundane happenings around our life can become food for an interesting blog. This article is a really hilarious take on how arranged marriages work in India. Another amusing story here.
3) I love this blog !!! Got some very insightful posts, some are very creative too- which is expected, given he just published his own book! But while on the topic of arranged marriages, I love this very filmy, but true story- It’s not easy for a guy to write from a girl’s point of view, but this guy has done it really really well.. (Requires guts to do that, too!)
4) I’m sure a lot of frequent bloggers know about Sayesha and her bar! 🙂 She is probably the most vibrant girl I know- and I know her only through her blogposts! But they go the whole nine yards- from sport to movies (of course!) to family to work etc. Definitely worth spending some time!
5) This is the blog of a fellow COEP-ian. He was my junior and from another department, so I never knew him personally. But his blog has some very motivational and thought-provoking posts. Now, this guy is doing some big stuff at MIT and some of his posts are just accounts of his interactions with some rather influential people- those are definitely some good reads!

Well, that is it for now. I hope you enjoy some of them! I would have liked to put some technology/politics/world issues related stuff too- but somehow I never come across anything that makes an impact. If you do know any blogs focusing on these aspects, then please direct me to them.

High School Music

Okay, so I write this post at the risk of completely changing the image most of my friends and blog readers have had about me!

I have always been into music- played the synthesizer for about 5-6 years, dabbled in singing a bit, was in a “band” in school and engineering college. I do not have any particular influences as such because my interests have ranged from Indian and Western classical to hard rock and somehow, I still have favorites in each of these categories! What happened was that at different stages of my (rather short, but memorable) musical journey, I met people with such different interests, and each of them introduced a new dimension to my awareness. Like, my very first music teacher was into hardcore Carnatic music. My mom has always been more into Hindustani and was the one who introduced me to Marathi classics too! Chirag- who is one of my very good friends and the most amazing musician I know- is a huge fan of Yanni and I was addicted to his music at one point of time, thanks to Chiggy! The music class I went to in Pune focused more on Bollywood music and stuff.. Then, in my first few years of engineering- I got introduced to all kinds of rock music because of Nish- he also taught me to play a bit of drums! But the biggest constant through all these years has been my sister. She doesn’t really sing or play any instrument- but she has always been into music of all kinds. Sometimes I’d wonder where she found out about all these songs! So my tastes in music have probably been concurrent with what her current favorites were. Of course, then- it is no surprise that there was a point of time when all we used to listen to was Britney Spears! I mean, she was a big thing when my sister was in her pre-teens !! Then, I remember this time when she was obsessed with High School Musical- when it released- like a zillion years ago!

So we had this ritual okay- my mom, sis and I would have lunch every afternoon (on holidays and weekends)- and then mom would go off to work and she and I would be “allowed” an hour of break time (Well, if you have a teacher mom, you understand what I mean! :P). So in that one hour, we’d watch either some serial episodes or part of a movie on the computer. Most of the time, my sis would decide what we watch. So she’d download some stuff on Limewire and Napster (it was free then!). She was the one who introduced me to Friends- I used to think it was cliched and sexist before she had me hooked! She also made me see movies like Bend it like Beckham and of course, High School Musical!

So what’s the point of all this?! Well, so turns out I haven’t updated my iPod playlist in yeeaaarrrsss… So even though it is the end of 2010, I still have some HSM songs on there, which happened to come up this morning in the shuffle list thingy! I couldn’t help but smile when I heard some of those songs- remembered all those times when we used to actually learn the lyrics and try to imitate the scenes and stuff !! Yeahhh well, we still do that sometimes- what’s life without a little goofiness eh! 😛

So this goes out to my lil’ sis who is unfortunately not so lil’ any more! 🙂

Remember the days when we believed with all our heart and honesty that we’d grow up and do something so “different” from what everyone else was doing and believed that the guy who was our “best friend”, would end up becoming the love of our life !! Ahhh…the good times! :D:D

Notes

  1. Exactly a month from today, I will be in India !!! I cannot wait! I know I am luckier than most students because I have got the chance to go to India every Christmas since I arrived in the US- but this time’s trip is more valued because for the first time, I have a crazy, maddening urge to see my parents. I saw my mom six months ago during her trip here, but I think I have never missed her more. So much has happened in the past two months and I think we as a family, have been trying to get over things just through conversations over the telephone. I really really need to feel my parents’ physical presence and support around me.
  2. Point 1 brings me to my second point- It’s funny how you realize the value of every friend and family member when times get a little difficult. In the past two months, I have been at my communicative best with my friends, some of whom I haven’t spoken to in over 3 years- got in touch with so many of them, and it sure feels good! I intend to keep it that way.. 🙂
  3. I have also realized how some people can get so superficial- people you thought you could bank on at any time of day. This has been one of my biggest lessons since coming to the US, but I think this warrants a separate post.
  4. Three weeks from today, I will be done with my thesis defense! D-O-N-E !!! Yesterday, my thesis advisor asked me how it felt. I told him I couldn’t believe it was over! O-V-E-R !! Work that have been doing since March 2009 is finally coming to an end!
  5. Before I rejoice over point 4, one of the biggest things I need to do in the next three weeks is write my document and funnily enough, this time writing isn’t coming easily to me! I think I should seriously consider Gauri’s advice of treating it like an 8 hour job and just getting it done with, once and for all!
  6. Even though things didn’t go as planned on some fronts of my life recently, there are still so many other things that have gone way better than I thought they would. I am a person who believes in signs and if the signs of the past few weeks are anything to go by- then I am grateful and thankful to God. I know things are changing for the better! I can feel it. Amen.
  7. I also believe in jinxes- which is why I hate people telling me that I am lucky or constantly talking about any minor successes or good things that come my way! It scares me. I know it is paranoia, but I have had some experiences which have made me believe in these things.
  8. I am so tired of living alone- I think that has made the past few months a lot worse than they should have been. I cannot wait to live with some people and have a social life again… 😛
  9. Another thing that is funny is how you realize so many things about yourself in times of adversity. Even things that were glaringly obvious in the past, but you never chose to pay attention to them. I seriously think that if we really believe in this, getting over difficult times becomes a lot easier.
  10. I have been off Facebook for three weeks now- for multiple reasons which I do not wish to get into. But I don’t miss it now at all! I did have withdrawal symptoms for the initial few days (sigh!), but now I am happy to be away from all social networking stuff! It gives me more time to do productive things. I think I’ll be back though, just because it’s a good way to keep in touch with some school friends living in other countries- maybe after 3-4 months.

Back to some thesis writing now.. 🙂

Happy Diwali !!

Happy Diwali to all my amazing friends and readers of this blog! Wishing you a year full of lights, prosperity, happiness and success.. :-):-)

Diwali is my most favorite festival of all time. Not that I don’t like other festivals, but there are some occasions that resonate more joy than others- Diwali is one of them for me. Like I know Ganesh Chaturthi is a big deal in Maharashtra, but some how it has never been a very big deal in my family because we never kept Ganpati at home. I like Dussera too, but somehow the excuse to light lamps and Lakshmi Pujan and everything just make Diwali a lot more festive for me! Surprisingly again, while most people like Diwali for the faaral, it was again never a big thing in my family. My grandmother would make some faraal type items, but my mom was always so busy around this time of year that she had time to only make one sweet or something like that.. And to be frank, that was completely fine with all of us in my family. We still had such a good time getting together and celebrating!

Obviously, such days make me miss my family even more. It’s funny how every family has these peculiar stories associated with certain traditions or days. My family is not very ritualistic- I mean, my grandparents are, but my parents’ generation downwards is ritualistic to an extent. We do all that is needed to be done, but suitably modify it to our comfort level- which I think is a good sign of evolution. My extended family consists of 14 people in all- 8 adults and 6 children- which is quite okay compared to those Big Indian Family standards! So, every Diwali day, we all gather at my grandparents’ house for the aarti.. And we’re talking like 5 AM! Of course, even though we all stay within a 3 mile radius, we always end up getting late to reach their place and eventually can start the aarti only by 6 AM or so! At home, mom is yelling at my sister and me to put on a bindi and some jewelery, which we never want to do! My grandfather gets agitated coz we’re all late, but eventually everyone gathers around the small little devghar they have and start singing the bhajans (which I don’t think any of us cousins know! :P) Finally, about an hour later, we’re done with everything. We all ask for out elders’ blessings and the usual hugs and wishes follow! 😀

Then, we have another ceremony where the women in the family are supposed to perform aarti for all the men and then the men do the same for the women. Now, I don’t know what this part of the ritual is called and why it is done, but it’s always nice for the women coz that’s when they get loads of cash as a Diwali gift! 😛 This is again a hilarious ceremony. First and foremost, out of the 7 men in the family, 3 are kids (my cousins), so getting them to gather in the living room is one big task! Meanwhile my grandmother is bustling around the kitchen getting the puja ki thali ready, coz frankly speaking, she’s the only one who does this ceremony with all seriousness! So finally, the aarti begins. Now in India, when performing the aarti, you are supposed to sing a hymn or song too. We, being from Karnataka, sing a Kannada song- which again only my grandmother knows the lyrics too! But this is the song she’s been singing for centuries now, so we (my mom, aunts, sister) kinda know the distorted Kannada words and the rhythm- so we just sing along with her, basically messing it up more than required! And of course, this is accompanied by a lot of laughter and very amused expressions on the men’s faces, demanding a more sincere aarti from the womenfolk! 😛

So anyway, the aarti is done, the thali is full of money and now it’s time for the men to repeat the same thing for us. This part of the ceremony is a lot funnier because well, the guys don’t know what they’re supposed to do! And my grandfather cannot participate actively because he cannot stand for long without support. So he sits on his “throne” in the living room, presiding over the function and giving out instructions to the others. The men mess up the aarti song even more and apply huge tikas on our foreheads with their giant hands and it’s all one big laughter riot! Finally, the ceremony is complete and everyone heads to the dining room to eat the faraal my grandmother has laid out on the table.

It’s funny that this is the part of Diwali I miss a lot because to be frank, it is just something we do because our grandparents want us too- none of us understand the significance of it all! But still, it is one of those unique family bonding things- it makes us all come together at 6 AM on a weekend morning and laugh and be merry! And frankly speaking, even though we stay so close by, it is only occasions like these which cause the 14 of us to gather under one roof..

At nights, we are all in our separate houses, getting ready for the Lakshmi Pujan- my mom gets out all the jewelery and does the prep work. The actual puja is pretty short- maybe 30 minutes at the most. The beautiful star shaped aakashkandil is burning outside our house. Finally, my sister and I go outside and light lamps around the whole house- in the windows, at the doorstep. The whole housing community is filled with such pretty lamps and lanterns- truly like the festival of lights! We have never burst firecrackers during Diwali because it’s harmful to the environment and is a waste of money. And most importantly, we have a cat who gets petrified of crackers, so we’d never make it worse for him! And that is it- we all just spend the evening chatting or watching a movie or taking family pictures!

Sometimes I wonder what will happen when my grandparents are gone- will we all meet again on Diwali morning for the aarti? Will all of us even be in the same city/country- coz I’ve already missed two Diwalis now! I guess my mom will carry forward the tradition coz after my grandmother, she seems to be most inclined towards these rituals. And besides, I think when you grow up watching these rituals, then you gravitate towards them without realizing it. Like for example, my mom always says that you’re not supposed to leave your house dark and empty on the night of Lakshmi Pujan and so on instinct, I refused to go out with my friends last night coz the idea of leaving my apartment empty was unacceptable to me. It has become a part of my belief system now- regardless of whether it’s true or not..

I guess for now, I thank God for all those wonderful memories! This has been a very quiet Diwali for me- I went to school in the morning (wore a salwar kameez after months, which was enjoyable!), got a small box of sweets from an Indian store, did a quick Lakshmi Puja in the evening and then lit a whole bunch of scented tealight candles all over my room. I had a long conversation with my family and got to speak to a childhood friend who I had not spoken to for more than 15 years and chatted with a few other friends online. I was happy and content. This is Diwali, just the way I like it! 🙂

Attraversiamo !!!

There is a lot of construction work going on an RIT for the past few months. Because of that, the usual route I take to go from the Industrial Engineering department (where I belong) to the Color Science building (where I do my thesis) has been blocked, forcing me to take an extra long road through the Quality department. Now, on my long walk, I also pass by the Center for Access Studies. For the past month, every time I pass through those corridors, I find this amazing bumper sticker on every professor’s office door- “Don’t postpone JOY”. It is written in bright purple with the most exuberant font ever! Every time I see it, I smile- I don’t know why, but I have always loved that sticker- such a simple message, yet so powerful.

Today, I managed to get one of those stickers for myself. I plan to paste it on my wall- directly above the makeshift mandir in my room. The reason I decided to put it there is so that I can see it every day and remind myself that nothing/no-one is worth my happiness and peace of mind.

I don’t want to get too philosophical, but the past few days have been sort of a glaring revelation for me. I have been thinking a lot, contemplating on various issues- past and present. And I realize how easy it is for a person to join his happiness to that of another person.

If you’re happy, I’m happy.
If you’re sad, I’m sad.
Why?

I know we all are social beings and that is definitely a good thing- but it does not mean we wait for someone else to give us happiness. Dependence is good, but only as long as you don’t make it your slave. I think I’ve been spending some time lately, really thinking about what I want to do, what I would feel happy doing! And even though I may not have all the answers, just devoting this time to myself gives me a very big sense of accomplishment. I think I am about to bring in some very big changes in my thinking and my belief system. And they are all changes for the better. It is going to be a slow, gradual process with every possibility of me reverting to my old self- but I think just writing it down here makes it seem a lot more serious. It feels like a pact I’ve made with myself. Which brings me to the title of my post- Attraversiamo is an Italian word I came across in Eat, Pray, Love. It means “to cross over”, actually in the sense of crossing a road. But just like Elizabeth Gilbert, I prefer to take its more cosmic meaning of moving over to a better side- transformation!