Sunday, January 15, 2012

Soccer in no mans land

I find this picture very intriguing. Some might find it strange that we went all the way to Death Valley and played soccer *. In the middle of nowhere with nobody else around. This picture involves my life. And it involves a strange thing. So I put this up in a blog called my life and other strange things. Enough said!

* It was always football to me until I moved to USA and football meant something else. Something that had very little kicking of the ball with the foot. Something that involved a ball that is not round. Strange.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Likeable Writing

Being liked is something you don't get by trying too hard.

I spent a good part of this morning trying to come up with something likeable to write about. Thoughts came and went, but none of them stuck on. Well, its not like there isn't much happening in my life. No sir (or madam, my apologies), there is no dearth of things to write about.

I could write about clarinetist and composer Shankar Tucker's music videos that I have become a big fan of. Or about the wonderfully enlightening week I had in New York as part of StartingBloc - an experience I definitely regret not having written about much much earlier. Or about my jam-packed and intense rendezvous with startup scene at a StartupWeekend event in SanFranscisco. 

In each case, I'm trying to envision the end product - a complete piece of writing. I'm trying to compare which topic would produce a better finished piece. Best work first, right? But soon enough I realise how utterly foolish this endeavor of 'comparison' is. The process of writing on a certain topic changes my opinion of that topic. I am forced to actually think about the topic, go over the details, adjust my thoughts as my writing evolves. So I'll never know how the end product will look.

I believe each piece of writing should get what it rightly deserves - a deferred judgement. Evaluating your writing before completing it can do more harm than good. And since I cant stop evaluating myself on any of the aforementioned topics, I shall defer those posts for later.

There are certain times when you sit in front of a blank screen, hopeful and lightly expectant. And magically an hour or so later you have a piece of writing that might leave you genuinely surprised (in a good, bad or horrific way).

This is one of those times. I wont pass any judgement until this has been published and its too late to do anything else. This particular piece of writing (if it can be called that) has been a surprise!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Ugly Indian Initiative

     I'm not new to dirty roads. I've shared my life with them for over two decades. I have managed to ignore all the potholes, the roadside garbage, the urinal-walls. I didn't think of these features as good or bad, I just accepted that they exist. I'm not alone in this, we (desi types) all have a chalta hai attitude. We are like this only - we tell each other. Even the television advertisements proudly glorify this nature as 'Indian'.

     In the midst of such rhetoric, I came across this website called The Ugly Indian which really caught my attention. It is actually trying to change things from a ground up level. Check it out for yourself. I really like their motto (from their Facebook page) -
Our motto: Kaam Chalu Mooh Bandh.
No activism, no lectures, no awareness drives, no moralising. Just go out and do it.

     Being in the USA now, there is not much I can do for this 'movement' happening in Bangalore and hopefully other Indian cities. I'm thinking of ways in which I can contribute to this movement. As a computer engineer the best way I can think of making a difference is by a commentary on their website. So here goes...

     The website seems to be very well designed. The first page of the site has just one question - Why are Indian Streets filthy? And the question has four choices that you have to answer before you can proceed. I like this because it makes you think and puts the onus on you, the reader to make a choice.

    The purpose of the site is clear, there are no distractions with a frugal yet tasteful background. While the website is clean and fresh looking, the pictures depicted are sometimes downright filthy. This brings a sense of contrast to the mind. It makes you feel like walking to the roads, cleaning the mess and putting up pictures of spotless roads.

     Most of the sentences are short and simple (especially in the second page) and hard to miss. For the thick skinned who still manage to miss, the really important points ones are in bold.

     The site reflects the take-action nature of this initiative. The photo examples of spot-fixing, with Before and After pictures demonstrate the impact these people are having. The examples are results-oriented with not a lot of preaching. The site clearly makes a call for action and makes you want to be involved.
      The website has a certain flowing structure and seems to be designed primarily for first time users - first you answer a poll question, then you see a summary, then look at practical examples of spot-fixing, and then the "I’ve seen enough. So, what’s the point? " link to convert you, the ugly Indian to a more caring person.

     I do feel that navigation of the website has some room for improvement. The structure the website can appear restrictive at times, especially if you are a returning visitor and you still need to go through the first few pages to reach a page you were actually interested in. For example I never discovered the About Us page until my 4-5th visit to the website - usually you would expect this page to be available very easily to a visitor.

     All-in-all, The Ugly Indian is a great initiative. I hope they are successful in changing the mindset of a majority of city-dwellers. I'll be following this group closely!

Saturday, January 07, 2012

the tea kettle junction

in the middle of nowhere
in inyo county
in death valley
in california
is this intriguing sign-post

laden with kettles old and new
silver, black, blue and pink too
some big some small
some short some tall

mountains all around
joshua trees abound
dusty dirt track, the ground
in the middle of nowhere we found
the tea kettle junction

tea kettle junction
what is your function??

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Sand Avalanche

sand avalanche : Movement of large masses of sand down a dune face when the angle of repose is exceeded or when the dune is disturbed.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003

A fortnight ago friends and I were at Eureka sand dunes near Death Valley. We had an awesome time climbing up the structure made up of innumerable ridges and valleys. To climb up, you have to walk on edge of a ridge, which usually gives way to a deep crest on either side. One side of the ridge is steeper that the other and the sand is a loose on this side.

Some places the ridges were so steep that the sand dune seemed unstable - as though a light wind or a slight earthquake tremor could bring the whole structure down. In certain places we could push a little sand down from the top and watch as a mini avalanche was created! We spent some time playing around and making sand rivers.

We heard trembling at a certain point on the dunes.. we thought the sound could be from an earthquake or a power station nearby. We dont know what what made the sound, but who knows.. it just might have been a sand avalanche!

Monday, October 03, 2011


There was once a lovely Miss
with whom I started talking.
Talking to her was more refreshing
than a midnight walk in the park.
All I wanted to do was to hear her voice
everything else was just mundane noise.
ahh... wonderful Miss communication!

But will communication overcome
a great distance?
Little did i know
voices get blurred over oceans.
Something was certainly amiss
and when we do talk its not the same
Wish I could talk to you still
without the hint of a chill.
ahh... I miss Communication!!

There must be a lesson in all this
that I just dont seem to learn.
Sometimes things are too late
and you need to leave everything to fate.
aaaargh... I hate miscommunication!!!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Family matters

Heres an adviserly rambling blog post....
For a change, I have the whole house to myself. With a lazy weekend in front of me, my mind wanders casually over the past few weeks of life here. With my parents' visit , they have been quite hectic. Now that they have gone, there is a silence in the house I'm not used to.

Family matters. They are the only ones who stand by you go with you wherever you go. Its often that you take these relationships for granted. Which is bad. There... I made my point for this blog.

People handle staying away from family differently. Some of them miss their family and constantly whine about it. They make a flurry of phone calls across the Atlantic everyday. They share their many concerns and moments of happiness with people back home. Some others try to hide themselves from their homesick feelings. They tell themselves they can handle things on their own and see their impulses to call back home as a sign of weakness.

Probably the only unconditional support you will get is from your family. Dont underestimate that.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beautiful Niagara

Two faces of the Fall. Rainbow. Ahhh..... Seeing Niagara Falls close up is something I enjoyed immensely. Looking at the torrent of water gushing down, you can help being in awe of such natural beauty.

Monday, May 02, 2011

Synthetic Happiness

Freedom is the enemy of synthetic happiness. Whats synthetic happiness? Listen on ...