Sunday, October 31, 2010

India Calling

It is with a strong sense of fear and anticipation that I look forward to my upcoming trip to India. My last trip had been 25 months back for 3 days and all I remember of that trip is jet lag, food poisoning, a product launch ( we launched Ovi Mail in Delhi), hot october days and places overfilled with people, sweat and smells...
Things I am looking forward to - my first real vacation in 3 years, first Diwali in India in 15 years, spending time with family, food cooked by Ma, showing K2 some of India, trying some authentic Indian current list of  restaurants to visit include - Dorabjee (Parsi), Main Land China ( Desi Chinese), BBQ Nation (the name says it all), Sanskruti ( an Indian Cultural Experience), Oh Calcutta (Bengali Food) and some others...Pune is the land of Yoga and the intent is to get in some Downward Dogs and some ayurvedic massages...and top it off with some good old fashioned times with Ma and Bapa.

It is my 100 th post and a milestone of sorts... thanks for just being there.

So are you going Trick or Treating tonight?

Friday, October 29, 2010

These are a few of my favorite things…

My biggest learning for 2010 is that- All things in life are transitional…be it happiness or sorrow, success or failure, likes or dislikes…and while some of the oldies forever are ingrained on your senses…you do develop a few more favorites…food and TV kinds are the ones I am talking about here...

A hot bowl of pho on a fall night…I had a bowl of Pho Ga yesterday at a hole in the wall Vietnamese spot that warmed me to the core…chicken soup for the soul.

An episode of Mentalist…I have booked the Season 1 from my public library and intend to have a TV marathon run this weekend complete with a hot cup of tea and pop corn…

A dollop of  frozen yogurt with a lot of boba (what is boba you ask - a translucent  pearl filled with juice -my favorite flavor passion fruit)…my favorite is a small place called Orange Tree in the Great Mall, Milpitas

A big plate of greens (weird right!)…my favorite Chinese spinach seasoned with Oyster Sauce

A hot cup of Zhena’s Gypsy Tea  which is also organic and fair trade…favorite flavor…Red Lavender with a small piece of the chocolate I am raving about below…

A piece of Organic Meltdown Dark Chocolate...not only is it fair trade but buying one bar of chocolate saves one when you feel like a glutton for eating an entire bar of chocolate you can ALSO feel virtuous that you did it for a tree...

What are some of your favorite things?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Can I poke you?

Or better still can I add you as a friend? Like your Status…or comment on it? Social Networking is addictive and very contrary to a lot of things I believe in…gone are the days of sitting down in the living room with a hot cup of chai and small eats for some wholesome gupshup with friends…it is too tiresome to actually get my behind up and into the kitchen to do something creative/productive. Instead I sit in my office space working and in my spare time, I become the voyeur…taking journeys into other people’s lives …watching relationship status change from Single to Married to It’s too Complicated; clicking through vacation pictures wondering why my vacation is so long overdue; seeing party pictures and wondering – why I don’t have such fun parties; my gag reflex working overtime on the overly philosophical and chweet status updates….and seriously dude I don’t need to know if you ate in your favorite sushi place for the nth time…my life does seem woefully mundane in comparison…early morning calls, lunch boxes for the 2 K’s, mindless staring at spreadsheets and contracts…oatmeal for brunch and the wildest thing I did today was dressing my little pumpkin up as a penguin and danced with him to an ABBA song…

Incidentally I watched the movie “Social Network” and living in the Silicon Valley, the implied net worth of a person in his tweenties (yes that is a play on twenty and teen :-) ) is suitably impressive. Yet, I do wonder if in the end the net worth covers and makes right the self doubt, self image issues and self centric decisions taken along the way…would I have done similar things for 1 Billion…don’t know…seriously I won’t even take the high road saying – that my ethic system is so strong that the money won’t make a difference…the real answer is I don’t know. So, do I have a right to judge…not really…am I going to judge…absolutely…
Here is something I read on a young blogger's website which I found chilling -

Sarah Jones murder mystery took a new turn today. Today, FBI submitted Facebook logs as proof against Mike in the court. Mike Johnson, a friend of victim Sarah, is now arrested with a charge of murder. FBI had him on his radar, but didn't have any proof against the guy.
But today, when FBI checked the Facebook logs they found the motive behind murder.
Following logs are submitted to the court -
Oct 1: "Mike and Sarah are now friends"
Oct 2: "Mike poked Sarah"
Oct 3: "Sarah poked Mike"
Oct 4: "Mike poked Sarah"
Oct 5: "Sarah poked Mike"
Oct 6: "Mike poked Sarah"
And then Sarah never poked back. And that, according to officials, is the motive behind the murder. Mike is currently arrested under first degree homicide.
So what were your thoughts on the movie “The Social Network”?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Rainy Days and Mondays...

It has been a gloomy Saturday - overcast skies, growling thunder and wet outside...and I don't know why but the rainy days usually brings out the maudlin in me...K2 attended a B'day party and nothing seems to faze him and his cheerfulness is gratingly annoying. Here's a picture I just took while at a traffic signal in my car with my Nokia E72...

And the song playing on my stereo  is - Rainy Days and Mondays by Karen Carpenter...

Rainy Days & Mondays

Talking to myself and feeling old
Sometimes I'd like to quit
Nothing ever seems to fit
Hangin around, nothing to do but frown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

What Ive got they used to call the blues
Nothing is really wrong
Feeling like I don't belong
Walking around some kind of lonely clown
Rainy days and Mondays always get me down

How is your Saturday holding up?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Waiting for Godot...

This working mother has been in a state of introspection this week - wondering about life and organizations. She believes that Organizations in various stages of evolution can be very simplistically categorized as -
  1. The organization going through the growing pains of getting created
  2. The organization going through the excitement of growth
  3. The organization going through the chaos of change
  4. The organization going through the turmoil of obliteration
  5. And the not so rare Organization that is in limbo or waiting for change to happen
For an Organization to get from the state of limbo to a state of dynamism what is required is strong powerful leadership, crisp directives (see I don’t use touchy feely words such as vision and mission here)…and action…then will the elephant dance.

It is very easy for an Organization or a person to get into a state of “Anomie”…a mindless state of just being …reminds me of a play I had read ages back in a literature class. The play was titled “Waiting for Godot” by Samuel Beckett. It was about two sad men – Estragon and Vladimir and it follows two days in their lives while they wait expectantly and unsuccessfully for someone named Godot to arrive. They claim him as an acquaintance but in fact hardly know him, admitting that they would not recognize him were they to see him. To occupy themselves, they eat, sleep, converse, argue, sing, play games, exercise, swap hats, and contemplate suicide — yet they are afraid to even take that final step of suicide…what if the belt or the rope broke…they were plain afraid…still waiting for Godot. It was a simple play which our English teacher had us enact and dissect and yet what remained twenty years later were memories of those two sad men…waiting, afraid and in limbo…

Monday, October 18, 2010

Pause…Rewind…Did you let life pass you by?

I took a lot of pride in being single-minded in my focus in the task on hand – I took terms such as persistent, tenacious, blinkered as compliments…heck I spent  three long years in sunny Santa Barbara being a “mushroom” in my office – only remembering to eat and sleep and the reason it worked was because I had an equally work-obsessed sibling and hubby in the same small town and (unfortunately!) in the same company…picture this…the three of us spending Valentine’s Day at a French restaurant Pacific Crepes arguing about some obscure technology (now I understand why they say three is a crowd)…the reality is that today's Work Culture encourages, rewards and motivates these kinds of perception and behavior and people move ahead thinking they are “success stories”.

Anyway with K2 making his entry, this Product Manager mother had to rethink her priorities…work smart and better time management and rigid adherence to time spent with K2…did not mean work did not get done…products still got shipped on time, within scope and budget and blowing every product aspiration and expectations…however I did not obsess about responding to every email or every so called critical in the next minute…this worked in my favor because some stuff figured itself out in due time and the other stuff I figured out in good time. Now I walk the trails, smell the fresh air and look at the tranquil bay with K1 and K2…not taking the next day for granted…grateful for being given a chance to actually pause and enjoy…
What brought about this entry….a forgotten email forward from a year ago which was read for the first time today and which resonated and hence the share -

A man stood at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand seven hundred people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.
Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule. A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk. A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.
The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.
In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace.. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there recognition.
No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars. Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theatre in Boston and the seats averaged $100.

This was a real story posted by Washington Post…we have socialized ourselves out of enjoying the fresh balmy breeze, the fluttering birds, the little frisky chipmunk, the smiling neighbor next door…the concerned friends and of course the famous musician…very preoccupied with career and life choices and before we know it life passes us by…pause…rewind…what is your next move?

Monday, October 11, 2010

For the love of a child : Bread Rolls

Some mothers are kissing mothers and some are scolding mothers, but it is love just the same, and most mothers kiss and scold together. ~Pearl S. Buck

Circa 1983
The little girl rushed home in the heat…a sense of anticipation in her every step. Evenings were the time when Ma kept Tiffin ready for her. It was always a taste adventure – Piping Hot Tomato Cheese Pizza, Spongy Cake with Pink Icing, Spiced Beetroot Cutlets and Samosas. On the days that Ma was busy and could not make Tiffin she got the sponge cake from Iyengar Bakery, Tapioca chips from Hot Chips or Hot Puffs and Ginger Snaps from Adyar Bakery. The little girl never remembered a day when she came back to an empty home…there was a smiling welcome, a hug and a kiss and a hot plate of food…to her that Tiffin from Ma signified love…transcending any other emotion.

Circa 2010
The little boy sits in his car seat…it is 6.30 pm and there is a sense of anticipation in his face, His Ma is fighting her way home in the heavy highway traffic mentally preparing a viable dinner plan for him. The options were limited as the above said little boy is still not used to the Indian spices that Ma uses in her cooking. She decides to make a quick couscous pilaf and a broccoli stir-fry for the little guy. However, when Ma reaches home, she sees the loaf of fresh whole wheat bread lying on the counter and is reminded of the wonderful Bread Roll that Ma used to make for her. Piping hot and fried…oodles of taste and love…washing her hands and face she quickly starts preparing Bread Rolls for her little boy. When the little boy enters the house 15 minutes later and shouts – Mama, where are you? She beckons him to the kitchen, makes him sit down and gives him a plate with 2 piping hot bread rolls. He asks her – who made this? And she smiles and says –Bunny Rabbit asked Mama to make Bunny Rabbit Ears for you.His wolfing down the food gives her an immense sense of satisfaction.

She realizes that she is just  continuing that cycle of love…

Bread Rolls aka Bunny Rabbit Ears


4 Slices of Whole Wheat Bread
1 Large Boiled Potato (crushed)
½ Cup of Frozen Peas
½ Cup of Grated Carrots
1 Shallot (finely chopped)
A handful of fresh chopped Cilantro if you have it
Oil to Pan Fry
Masala: Dry Roasted Cumin and Coriander Powder, Amchur Powder, Turmeric Powder


Soak the Bread Slices in Water, Squeeze out all the water and keep the bread slices on a napkin sheet

For the filling – Take 1 spoon of Vegetable oil in a cooking pan. Add the Shallot (or onion) and then the turmeric and cumin and coriander powder. Add the boiled potatoes, peas and carrots, Cook the mixture till the carrots are done (about 3-5 minutes). Add Salt to taste and Amchur for a tangy bit. Cool the filling

Now take one slice of bread. Add the filling to the center. Roll the slice of bread. Roll it and with your hands seal press all sides (see the finished bread roll for a better idea).

Pan Fry in a shallow frying pan with vegetable oil. Serve hot with ketchup and love.

I am sending out this recipe to a couple events happening in the blog world –

(a) A dish starting with B :Akila’s Kitchen

(b) Kids Delight - Finger Foods : Spice your life

(c) Of Chalks and Chopsticks : Seduce your taste buds

For more information on these events please do go ahead and check out the soulful food blogs maintained by these lovely ladies, that this working mom faithfully browses through at the wee hours of morning…Insomnia you say…well that is the topic for yet another blog :)

P.S: If you do try this dish, do let me know how it turned out for you. I have been blogging almost 2 years now and the comments are few and far in between…almost makes me want to stand on a soap box and shout out – Anybody out there? Anybody in the www space who actually cares about my blogs?

P.P.S : For the photo connoisseur this picture was hastily taken with my trusty Nokia E72 and mailed to self via Mail for Exchange. And yes, it tastes way better than it looks :)

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Blue Whale Sighting...

Blue Whale:  (Balaenoptera musculus) is a marine mammal and at over 33 metres and 180 metric tons it is the largest animal ever known to have existed.

HALF MOON BAY, California, October 6th -- Researchers are trying to determine how a pregnant blue whale that washed up on a beach in San Mateo County died.

The 80-foot whale came ashore on Saturday in a rocky area at Bean Hollow State Beach in the unincorporated community of Pescadero. Her fetus was about 50 feet from her body.


Getting there wasn’t easy,

Once we got there we wondered why we even embarked on the journey.

She lay there…

Dead, Unmoving...

I turned away my face…

The smell and look of death overwhelming

Yet you realize that life went on,

Even when right next to you it had been snatched away,
From one who hadn’t even been given the chance to live…

(The dead whale had a 6 month foetus calf which was 17 foot long and lay not too far from the mother)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Moral Dilemma: A Heart to Heart

I pack K2’s lunch box with a heavy heart. He still does not look 100% recovered from the flu and my mind is wracked with guilt. He comes up to me with a smiling face and says – Mama, I feel much better now. I stand at the door and wave him Good Bye! I quickly wrap up things at home and get on with work. When I get to work, my mind is consumed for the next 4 hours with spreadsheets and business proposals. I think about my son briefly at lunch time, hoping that he has finished the lunch box I packed for him today (K1 commented that he would eat it if it was his lunch box: Tuna Sandwich, a handful of nuts & prunes, Sweet Potato and Beets Chips, fresh grapes (purple, green and flame) and half an organic cookie).

I skip lunch and keep working till about 2.00 PM which is when the rumblings in the tummy make this Winnie search for a pot of honey…hunger assuaged it is back to spreadsheets and calls for the rest of the day. You ask me where is the Moral Dilemma: Well here it is…there are times when I am at work when I wish I were with my Young Un’ and there are times when I am with my Young Un’ when I would rather be at work staring at my computer or problem solving…does that make me a negligent employee or mom…I guess this is a question thousands of working mothers beat themselves up with…the thought that they are not 100% present and frankly overcompensate...

The past 2 weeks just whizzed by…a travelling husband (along with other parameters) made the first week whiz by followed by a Birthday party on Saturday of my close friend’s daughter and then yet another B’day party on Sunday…last Monday saw K1 sporting a 102 fever, rushing between dropping K2 off to pre-school, getting to work, getting off work, preparing some dinner for K1 and K2, and picking K2 up from pre-school saw a tired me make my way to the airport for a flight. I got back home on Wednesday night and took Thursday off …Friday saw the little tyke fight the same flu his father had…thus began the tiring weekend…I love my K2 and spending time with him, but there are times when my mind wants to shut down and rest and not answer incessant questions – why did you give me brown rice? Why is the sky blue? Why is Jinx (our cocker spaniel) black? Are you getting angry now? ; as much as I love spending the 45 minutes every meal time to make sure my son has a balanced meal (of sorts); or giving him a bath and wiping his rear, listening to his whines and pouts and occasional tantrums; his trying to wriggle out of nap time and the constant repeats of “Green Eggs and Ham” both on TV and book reads to him in the night…sometimes this “working mom” needs a break (and she really feels guilty for feeling this way). However, if I had to buckle down and choose between – working full time OR stay home with K2 I would pick the latter any time…I am glad that I don’t have to make that choice. I am even more glad that despite insane work hours, changes &commutes, travel & tendonitis and a growing baby the balance has been kept (albeit sometimes by the skin of the teeth)…and this sense of guilt, this dilemma of enjoying my work when K2 is sick will pass…I am reminded of my mother's choice to give us 100% of her time...I applaud it and then wonder if there are times when she regrets it...I share with you a picture from two and a half decades ago of a mother and a daughter where I am sure the mother went through the same thought process that her daughter is going through now...

BTW, isn’t Wednesday wonderful…still two days of work and lots to accomplish but the growing sense of anticipation for the weekend to come? We ordered K2’s B’day cake…my little guy is turning 4 and he requested a Kung Fu Panda cake (a change from the Madagascar request a month back). We are hoping this weekend is a quiet time with long walks, more animal sightings, some good food and lots of close time with family and friends.