Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Tribute to Mumbai and all Indians

This is a creation of Awasthi. Dedicated to Mumbai,India.

This is my way of paying homage-

This is a tribute to Mumbai, Kashmir, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Chennai-- India and her citizens.

This is dedicated to all our army, Navy and Military personnels who have devoted their lives to save ours.

This is in remembrance to all Police servicemen and Firemen who face danger so that we remain safe.

This is to our mother: India whom we need to protect and preserve, love and cherish, Respect and worship.

This is to all the innocent 400+ victims of terrorism in the year 2008 and the countless human lives that have been lost and beloveds left alone due to the inhumane, brainwashed theories of the psychotic fanatics.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Facebook, Friends and Faith (in ourselves)

Every Indian has a strong feeling of nationality which is very complex namely because it is entiwined with our religion, regionalism, language, castes, social standings (for some its pure economics). Wednesday night attack on Mumbai(India) brought many of us together for a larger cause. Twitter was abuzz and still is (a bit). Facebook/Gmail statuses of friends were charges with emotions with their individual ideas and thoughts. Being away from India, our Motherland, makes many of us feel helpless and this was one way we could make our voices heard.
So when Pandora's status read the following; there were many emotions running high.
My friend Pandora’s facebook wall read - P believes these terrible terrorists are making things difficult for her good Muslim friends! 1:06pm
S said at 1:20pm November 28
Thanks for your empathy P...these are one of the times when one is lost for words!
Spontaneous Mini at 3:39pm November 28
Right now my sympathies are only with India and the victims. did u watch CNN and Pak medias anger?
S at 6:14am November 29
India also has a good number of Muslims who are just as tolerable and shocked as the rest of's not wise to confuse them with Pakistanis!!!
H at 11:14am November 29
I agree with Sahar.......
S at 11:31am November 29
Spontaneous Mini at 2:30pm November 29
Hi S and H, Have not heard from you guys in ages. Plz do not defend yourselves my friends. I adore and love both of you like my sisters. You both are a part of my childhood that is ever so dear to me. Both of you know my best friend and sister is Zaheera, whom I love like I love my brother and parents.
Pakistani civilians are not to be blamed here nor are Muslims. This war/attack is not about religion.Terror and terrorism has no religion. Plz do not drag any religion or religious belief here.
India is secular. We are Indians first even if we speak different languages, pray to Allah, God and Bhagwan, live in various parts of the world; we strive and live for India as Indians. No blame game is needed. We just need to be educated and vigilant citizens. Jai Hind!

Since this is my blog I will explain myself. I maybe incorrect but I have a viewpoint that must be voiced and needs to be heard.
1. Why do we have to be patronizing towards anyone? Who has (has not) suffered meanness or bias in their lives. Ask the person you patronize have they never rebuked anyone? Have you never witnesssed prejudice?
2. What are you trying to defend here? After 9/11, Sikhs were and still are often mistaken for arabs they have still stuck to their attire and customs. So have faith in yourselves and educated people.
3. When I say,"My heart goes to all Indians." I am sure I mean everyone who believes that he/she is and India. Religion has nothing to do with that. Please understand people Hindus are not the only ones who are affected by the terrorist attacks in India.
Have confidence in yourselves and in others. You may think that the other persons actions are meant to insult you. But have you ever thought that it is just your thinking in someway that makes you just as biased?
4. What is the definition of tolerance? How do we say that we are tolerant while the other is not? How and when can we decide that stretch of tolerance that is all inclusive? If we say the other is not tolerant, are you still able to tolerate them and how? Are you able to hug them. Have you even spoken to them?
5. My family hails from Lucknow (now), Gonda, Gorakhpur- My family speaks bengali, often mistaken to be a Muslim because of my surname and my Hindi diction. I am proud to be an Indian! A multilingual.
In US I have often been mistaken for a Hispanic, as must be true for many other Indian girls. I feel proud of this fact. Yes, I am an international citizen.
My identity is as an Indian. Not as a UPites or Mumbaikar, Kasmiri or Assamese, Bengaluru or Manipuri..
I am an INDIAN!

Why do we lack such confidence in ourselves, then so ready to blame the other person for our own wrongful thoughts? Have we ever sat and made an analysis ourselves before we get upset with others actions and severe the ties of friendship and walk into the pit of enemies. We need to stick together people and remain friends forever.

Unity and sticking close together, is one of the laws of nature. Even wild animals live in herds, fleets, schools to keep the enemies at Bay (slight pun!).
This is atleast one lesson to learn.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Not again

I am constantly watching this:

watching the encounters live on NDTV live is such a scary ordeal.
its 10:35pm at night.
Added: We were awake the whole night. following the ordeal till 4am on Twitter and NDTV mostly. The CNN IBN just would not work. Morning has been just the same. I forgot to take my medicine as well as get up tp make tea.
God has to be on our side only because the terrorists do not have one.
Allah, God, Bhagwaan, VahiGuru, Christ.. who is on their side?

Finally its over. There is a deluge of news updates from all sides. I am recording most of it on my twitter onliners. will have to sit and compile all of the info simply because enough is enough. this time it will not be forgotten and never forgiven.
Ofcourse we are resilient... we will never give up. Never giveup on our hopes and dreams. Never giveup the brotherhood that we have among ourselves inspite our our diffrences.
Who is this person who thinks that he can scare us, kill us and it will make me forget my sister??
Zaheera you are my sister, I am Kasib and Ali's Khala. That will never change.
Who is this evil who thinks that he can change the truth by the tip of his evil gun?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mumbai bomb blasts and Indian Determination!

How does it feel to be hit on your gut just when you do not expect it?
I was peacefully watching "Who wants to be a Millionaire" on ABC, when there was an national emergency alert about the numerous Bomb blasts in Mumbai. I immediately switched over to CNN and have been following the constant news about the Mumbai bomb blasts since morning. It is now almost 12 hrs since the first breaking news. My stomach churns at the thought of what the people of Mumbai have to go through and more specifically for the people who have to go through such a tragic ordeal.
No one really has any concrete news and its all quite confusing. Whatever I have been able to understand till now is that : there is now a new terrorist group added to the long list of dirt people the “Deccan Mujaheddin”. This is the group that has taken the responsibility of now in total of ten attacks in various tourists and heavy populated areas. 2 Hospitals, 2 Hotels, Restaurant, movie hall, major railways stations and other areas. We living in US have to depend on the international News channels which in turn have to depend on the Indian news correspondence so it is very scattered.
At this time its reported that 101 people have lost their lives while more than 200 people are injured. What is even more worrisome is that the Indian/Mumbai police has lot three of their top officers. The Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) chief Hemant Karkare, two Indian Police Service (IPS) officers - additional police commissioners Ashok Kamte and Sadanand Date and Mumbai Police “encounter specialist” Vijay Salaskar were also shot dead in these terror encounters. US intelligence officials have lost their lives in this encounter. Many innocent lives of people who were going about their lives having dinner, attending a party, leaving or arriving in the city that they loved or would grow to love soon. So many dreams, opportunities, expectations and happiness are all lost.
I am watching the constant barrage of news the videos and pictures sent by restorers as well as amateurs and cringing as I sit in my cozy living room and imagine what is wrong with the world that these terrorists mean to solve by bomb blasting and killing innocent people?
They have also been showing the pictures of a couple of terrorists. They look like college students. To be precise to my eyes they look like bright youths from well to do families. This is my inference from the way they are dresses, their physical assessment and their body postures. Why would young men like them do something like this? What may have happened in their lives to make them take such a drastic and demonic step? What must these youth feel when they were gunning down surprises innocent people?
They were supposedly looking for American and British citizen. But now we hear that many of the hostages that are yet to be rescued are Israelis. If their intention was to take foreigners hostage why did they target hospitals, railway station and movie halls? What is the real intention of these terrorists and how can they call these evil actions as holy war?
My head is swirling and blood gushing to my brains every time I am thinking of what the people have to go through each time constantly, consistently. These are the times when I think and repeatedly call my God and ask him for action to tell me and everyone else what is the right path.
For all like me, we have to pray for the well being of the world. We have to rise above all the negative doings of the people who understand no better and bring down the evil spirits. We have to keep our sanity and face these religious fanatics with our constant resilience that makes us the Proud Indians.

We Indians will never give up!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Week went by.....

.. in a blink, giving me no time to scribble my updates.
I am worried because I do not want to forget. With age catching up I need regular dosage of Brahmi to remember every moment that I am alive and happy. Since I am unable to get my hands to the Himalaya Ayurvedic capsules I will do the next best and keep an account of my life.
The weekend was a very happy and content one. It was dedicated to good food, good conversations and excellent company.

For a while I have wanted to eat luchi- alloo dum just like it’s made at home. I had luchi and chola r daal a couple of times during my Indian holiday. But not luchi- allo dum homestyle.
SH had luchi-alloo for breakfast during our long stay at Hyatt, Kolkata and I shared it with him until we discovered their gobi and methi parathas! (was so yummy, thats for another post)
So this was the week when I finally decided to have luchi and allo r dum for brunch. Woke up very late on Saturday and was quite flustered precisely for the same reason. I made hurried uttapam and had it with leftover sambhar- chutney. I had no time to prepare luchi-alloo r dum because Sh had to leave for a group project. It was a bright day and after SH left I decided to take off. I went for a real long walk which did not seem that long with the pod classic for company. One of the neighbours were cleaning their apartment their pet was left to bask in the balmy sun. I spent some time talking to him and then I caught this fabulous sight and spent the rest of the time looking up towards the beautiful blue sky. Remember the airship Hindenburg and the midair fire and then crash? It is similar technology. Well, it was gliding over the sky in a slow motion similar to a hot balloon, a beautiful sight and so unique. I totally have to do this now that i have seen it.
You can check better pics of the Zeppelin airship and the article by clicking on the pic.

Watched a wonderful movie named “Venus”. With a name like that I expected something different. But after a while I realized it was an offbeat, art imitating life movie. It had one of my favorite (my ever favourite) songs which kept playing in the background. The movie was very British, dry humor, achy breaky emotional doses on relationships, friendships, old age and infatuations. I have come to love that kind of stuff by now- remember the “Office”, the Kumars at no 42 on BBC, well these were my favorites. Then “Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging” that I watched on the flight back to SFO. The evening was warm and cozy with SH coming home with veg patties and I made cardamom flavored tea. Later the dinner consisted of fried rice, potato crisps, cauliflower, raita, payash. I call that quite a potential day!

Sunday I literally dragged myself out of bed to make luchi and alloo r dum and boy were they good! We absolutely were smacking our own fingers. My ego is all puff up with this experience. The taste reminded me of weddings where luchi, cholar daal, allor dum and jilepi is the morning breakfast/brunch for the days that lead to the wedding. So the day started on a great note which continued. Sh was so happy and content and in spite of his workload office/school, he insisted we go out: any place I like. So, we went shopping! I am avoiding eating out and so meals were all home made however oily and spicy but mostly veg.
Monday: I wake up early morning only to be told that I can go back to sleep because SH was working from home. And I did. So the, breakfast was once again luchi-alloo r dum and payash (remind me this when I complain that I am fat). So the day went into a flurry catering to you know who! Monday seemed like an extension of the weekend if I can say so.
I spent quite a lot of time reading blogs and making friends with the blogger in my mind because Ipresume our similarities or applaud their talents.

Also a lot of time was spent making holiday plans once SH graduates from school and finally completes his MBA program.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Post instead of a Gossip session-

There was a time I looked forward to some much needed harmless gossip sessions till they turned dangerously on me. So I have decided to post my gossips on my blog. I have rather few regular readers and I will share my silly mindfuls with the friends that I have here.
So the infamous Gov. Spitzer and his Prostitute scandal is back in media with Ashley Dupre agreeing to sit for an interview for 20/20 on ABC channel. The interview will air tonight and there is a constant buzz about it.
But that's not the point. What I want to say is that, Ashley Dupre reminds me of Vidya Balan. I am not saying that they are look a likes - just a sharp resemblance. Check the picture of the two next to each other and it will be clear what I mean. You can click on the pictures and check the story on Dupre as well as Balan's official website.


Disclaimer: I request to be forgiven if this comparison hurts anyones feeling. Well, this is my personal space where I am allowed to unleash my political, apolitical and unpolitical rants and raves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

My Daily Routine is ....

.... Something like this. Since I came back I have become the ideal person, I always wanted to be. Really!! I go to bed long before midnight and wake up around 6:30- 7:00am.

My first chore is to put hot water for tea and take my early morning medications while SH starts getting ready for office. Then I get busy preparing breakfast and pack lunch for Hubbz. SH leaves for office around 8:30 am. This is when I start with my, my day. I do Suryanamaskara and pretentions on staying fit with my on demand exercise channel.
After this I prepare my breakfast, which generally consists of milk and cereals or wheat bread, peanut butter and jelly and on some days,an egg. At 10 am I watch my daily dose of “The View”. This is one of my favorite programs and gets my vote for the best reality drama. I only started appreciating Barbara Walters on this show, which made me read her autobiography “Auditions”. But the main person who got me hooked was Rose O’Donnell and her obsessive nature to meddle into everyone’s business and the opinion everyone had of her including Donald Trump. I am still hooked once she is long gone and the groups drastic changes. People who know about the show will understand my enthusiasm about it. With Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Walters and the Republican Elizabeth Hasselbeck, enough of discussions and catfights. Also this show keeps woman who stay at home, have only weekend friends and dislike phone conversations, updated on all the hot topics of the day.

By the time the show is over I am ready to start with the chores for the day. Firstly, I take on the outdoor jobs. Post Office, Library, doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping etc. I come back home and this is when I dabble with my laptop, emails, social networks, deliberate as well as random curiosity researches. I chat with my friends who care to buzz me.

On days I do not have outdoor chores, I am busy indoors - arranging the dishwasher, washing and drying clothes, ironing shirts, vacuuming the rooms, thorough cleaning of the kitchen, arranging the wardrobes/cabinets/chests, changing bed linens, folding clothes, dusting, cooking. No I don’t have to do all of them every day. I have arranged all the chores according to the days and that is the only help I have. I don’t miss maid service, mainly because I will always find some flaw and then tire myself anyways.

Since I am back I have tried to give a slight twist to my eating habits. Before I begin my work and after my morning break is over I eat some fruit, apple, banana, pear or avocado. Sometime this is replaced with fruit juice. And in between, the chores, I find some time to prepare my lunch which is mostly leftover rice, veggies with curd. But if I have to cook something then it is generally uttapam or upma, and curd. Then I take my bath and sit down to watch Oprah Winfrey’s Show that airs at 4pm PST. This is the time I also do my creative stuff. I work on Photoshop, Illustrator; crochet, or knit- like I am doing right now. I am working on a men’s sweater. Sometimes I sit on my synthesizer and croon but that’s seldom mostly my music session happen when I work on my house chores when I blast the speakers.

On days when SH does not have classes he is home by 6-6:30pm and we have tea and samosas and pakoras together. But when he goes directly to class I skip the evening tea.
Our evening outings are restricted for now. Dinner is usually earlier than the Bengali standard time of 10/11pm and after catching Larry King and a bit of Jay Leno I am off to bed.

Ps: I blog anytime of the day other than sleeping hours. ;-))

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Flower

During my undergrad days I completed a year long graphic designing course from Arena Multimedia. Even though I was not the best student of the class I still got the opportunity to teach the course to later batches for a year. That is when I really learnt interesting facts and materials about graphics, designing, advertisement world and art.

Its been ages since then and now the softwares itself has evolved a lot. Illustrator, Photoshop, Page maker, 3 D Max, Premier, Flash. I don't even remember most of the commands and tool boxes anymore. This time I was able to upload Photoshop CS and Illustrator in my laptop as well as Premier. I would have uploaded much more but the person who helped me with my uploading did not have Vista compatible softwares. And I just started brushing up my memory with the tools. My first silly creation, is this flower.
But more serious is already happening. I have been helping SH create the website that he has to make for his class project. Just about finished working on that and am in quite an exhilarated mood right now. While hubbs is busy with his group meet I am working on the creative corner. Not a Sunday I envisioned for myself but I got to learn few tricks on the job which is good.
So here is the flower for all to smell, oops behold ;-))

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Its A New Day- And We Will- Since we must

Today it is Veteran's Day. The day we studied as Armistice Day, that is celebrated all over the world celebrating the end of World War I.
The 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of every year is declared as a holiday in remembrance of all war veterans in America.
A good day to record my first American election day experience which has changed a large chunk of history.
I landed back home on a memorable day for American citizens, the voters- Presidential Election Day. A day that will forever be etched in History for making a dynamic change, that the world expected but was not sure of. And so I will make this a special blog post.
I landed at 10:30 am, and was driving homewards by 11am. Reached home. Took my time to looked around and smell my belongings. Everything looks wonderful. In spite of my tiredness I had enough energy to open my luggage and pullout the gifts I bought for the house and SH. But more important than that was the American Elections and SH’s first opportunity to exercise his right as an American citizen. He wanted to share the moment with me. He knew how excited I was about the whole event. Be a part of history and feel as if even we are making history. Before we left for the voting booth we checked on the updated at CNN. Till then it looked like the decisions could go either way. I joked that Obama really needs you so let’s go. The news was that there was overwhelming turnout at the voting booths. That bit of news was worrisome since SH had to go for a Project meet. After a quick change and lunch at our no brainer “Chipotle Mexican grill”, we headed for the voting booth expecting a long line. But there were barely anyone other than the volunteers. There were 4 makeshift voting booths, 2 of them vacant. SH after the usual instructions given went into the privacy of the voting stalls, while I just lingered around. Watched SH drop his vote into the ballot box. It was fun but no, jiggles and drum rolls really. It felt normal. When we got back, the election results had tilted heavily on Obama’s side and I joked with SH about his weighty vote.
We spent the evening in front of the TV switching between news channels- CNN, CNBC , MSNBC and sometimes FOX just to laugh at the grumpy faces there. To watch the Obama family on the 4th Nov evening while Barack addressed the crowd at Grant Park, Chicago was a unique experience- Such a crowd, such influence and such expectations from one man. All that charisma, attractiveness, ivy league education that screams intelligence, perfect loving family and such wonderful smiles. I am still not jealous. because the reality begins now. America and the rest of the world is still riding on adrenaline. Another couple of months. once we are past the 20th of January 2009, and the First family, the first Black American Family settles into the White House, the world will not wait any longer to see their raised expectations to form some concrete shapes.
Who would like to be in such a tough position? With the economic stress, the real estate bomb, the stock avalanche, the war, the terrorists, and of coz all the natural calamities, earthquakes, floods, fire and tornadoes.
Even as I write, I am praying hard- YES WE CAN.

And Obama needs the prayers of every well wisher.
I will wind up with a joke. One of my friends new caption on fb is “Now that Barack is the new president of America, will they change the official name to “Barackpore”??

Also the following is a direct quote fom BigB's Blog post 198
“Longest period in History for a paint job - 219 years to paint the WHITE HOUSE , BLACK.

Let me go- I wanna go home!

I spent my first Monday at home washing everything that I thought was washing machine safe- clothes, linens and anything in between. Its been a week since I have been back from my almost 3 months (2 months 24 days to be precise) Indian summer vacation. And honestly I was eager to be back into my space.
Initially, I thought my house looked so neat, dust free and vacuumed, shocking SH who was expecting some wrath since he had left every household responsibility for me. Even the dishwasher had not been loaded for the last three days in anticipation of my return. But that comes later.
I was just so happy to be back, to my “not really very clean house”. The illusion and the tinted glasses are wearing off and I can rationalize my initial reaction. The households in India with all the maids and paid helps, still has a thick layer of dust the very second after your help swipes the dusty duster. And most people have got so used to that kind of “dust cleaning” that they do not think of it twice. I mean my initial hyper reactions to everything had mellowed by many folds by the time I boarded my plane back to San Francisco. And every time I voiced my thoughts I was given the “drop your superiority American” shrug.
But this is not what, I would like to nag about on my first blog at the end of my Indian festive holiday in almost 3 years. I want to write about my wonderful and some thought provoking times in India. And to chronicle my holiday updates, I have planned to go reverse. Yes, so I will start with my boarding of the plane and reaching SFO. Before I write about my departure from India, I must must narrate my departure. So there-
I am a lazy one. In spite of my brains revolting and telling me that I must not ask SH to do any chore for me, I do. I asked and expected him to check the baggage weight allowance on Singapore Airline, to and fro USA/India. Do I just have to repeat the story? It was just plain drama. With four suitcases (overweight), two hand in suitcases, 2 laptops. It was difficult to manage our luggage. Not many of your friends have a big enough car/van or live near enough to help us with our luggage. But thankfully we have at least one. SH asked his friend with a brand new seven seater to help us with our luggage transportation. It was very stressful and hazardous. My constant prayers were in vain when we were informed in a sorry tone about being 15 kgs over weight. I checked in my hand suitcase for an extra charge of $109. I was quite depressed about the charge cause that would have been so much handy in India ;-))
But just be happy the charge was only till Singapore. I was going to see one of my closest friends from college after 5 years. Singapore was a blast and will be covered in a special post dedicated to only my lovely lovable friend and her adopted country. We realized that the old Samsonite was outdated and weighed 10 kgs. So we threw it and bought a durable, light American tourist in Singapore dollars. With some gifts given to my friend and her beautiful baby boy we were 3 kgs over the mark. But the front desk girl excused our extra kgs and we were off for India.
During my comeback journey from Delhi, I tried my best to fit my things within my weight limits. I almost did. I was 4kgs over but the fellow on the desk acted as if I was over the limit by 400. He must be a really depressed fellow. “I know ma’am you are a resident of USA ma’am but I am sorry.USA is very strict. If it was some other country we would be fine.” SHUT UP. Anyways, I pulled some stuff from my suitcases and put them in my handbag but was still 1kg overweight. What a stupid fellow he must be to call the manager to ask if I could be allowed 1kg extra. His boss, a young girl looked at him and said “sure, that’s just fine.” – in a tone that suggested, you really need to call me for this???
The rest of the journey went eventless. I met up with some friends in Singapore who had boarded from Kolkata and we travelled together for SFO. I watched a number of offbeat movies and Australian comedies, played Sudoku, ate vegan and slept. I Love the new facelift of Singapore airplanes. More leg space, bigger, nicer TV screens, leather seats and designer stuff(Givenchy). A nice trip back.

But the best part of every vacation is that in the end you are back home and able to appreciate what you have built for yourselves.