Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Excess Baggage and Nostalgia on a plate

A 22 hour journey with a hyperactive kid (who unfortunately sounds like me : High Pitched and Loud) with zero sleep seemed less daunting than the luggage that I was carrying on United...fortunately there was someone up higher who took a healthy interest in making my journey smooth and introduced me to A, this young 25 year old who was stuck between a mother unwilling to relinquish her aisle seat and an equally stubborn 6 year old who refused to give up his window...A handled the situation with a lot of grace and charm. He waited at baggage claim for my bags to arrive....any surprises they were one of the last ones to come!

 I reached Pune at 6.45 AM yesterday in the morning ... a hot breakfast of homemade dosa and two kinds of chutney with hot ginger chai.

My memorable meal for the day was a mild yellow Dal, Bhindi and Aloo Gobi (cooked oriya style). Reminded me of the many meals had at home over the years ( different vegetables - guvar, karela, beans etc)...simple but so satisfying.

Another wonderfully satisfying meal where the main stars were dal, cabbage and is so true that what makes you happy eventually are the simple things in life...

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

20,000 Views and an odd sort of a day...

I had started a blog in 2004 to test out the new trends and see if there was ways to monetize blogging as a part of messaging...our company didn't figure out the monetization part but I got totally hooked to blogging. Yahoo 360 was spectacular...I made hundreds of friends, had 200,000+ views in the first year of blogging...made me arrogant. I stopped blogging in 2007 when Yahoo 360 was shut down (or migrated over to Yahoo Profiles)...I restarted blogging in 2009 mostly to stay in touch with family and friends...yet there is a part of me which wants to be at the center of it all...aka have an happening blog. The truth is that everything is hard work and a labor of love...and  beyond using this blog for expressing myself, I haven't really gone out of my way to do much with I promise this will change, don't think so...however if you stick around as a thank you, I will  post drool-worthy pictures of what I eat in India...yes it is Return of the Native - Part 3...This week has been very odd, especially today where the weather couldn't decide what it wanted to sunny,cloudy or it picked something in between. I couldn't resist taking a picture on my Nokia Lumia 900

I found a picture of mine from 2004 (about the time I started my first blog)...and did a quick compare to a picture from two months ago, narcissistic I know... since 2009, I have lost about 15 pounds without dieting, eating consciously...but without depriving myself of the things I like to eat...I think life is a balancing act and the key is finding that balance that works for you.

Today is Dushera in India and growing up in the south, I learnt about  how the woman makes this world function (discovered it first hand at home with Ma..). In Tamil Nadu, it was all about worshipping the Ma's - Durga, Lakshmi and Calcutta (I lived in Ballygunge) it was about the pandals and pujas and the scrumptious feasts...Happy Dushera to all...and thank you for visiting my blog.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

What my 5 year old teaches me about Product Management (and life)....

From my wordpress blog (written on June 12th, 2012):
A good friend who is an excellent architect with years of experience hit anomie (want to read my post on PMs and anomie go here) and  I actively encouraged him to investigate options beyond his comfort zone. He decided to give Product Management a go and I think he loves it with I warned him and a number of my other friends -- Being a PM is an extremely rewarding job, yet you need patience and you need the will to last the grind ( something that over the years I seem to be losing) the end whatever career you choose, ask yourself the question : is this something both my head and my heart want me to do?
Life has been a good teacher in general but over the past 5 years so has my son. My son reminds me every day of the following things :
(A) Prioritize  : K2 is ruthless about what matters in his life - it is his playtime, his ipad time and then parents time... I have learnt from K2 whether it is a backlog plan or my meal plan at home, it is critical that I get to first things of them is weekly meals for my family...I came up with a grandiose weekly plan, haven't yet gotten around to executing 100% to plan -- hey but it is prioritized.
(B) Communicate : whether it is a "small" question to letting us know he needs to use the bathroom, to he is hungry, sleepy or grumpy...K2 is annoying at times but useful most times...I would rather he tell me he has a tummy ache to me second guessing it. Similarly whether it is to Development, Sales, Customers, peers or Management - I believe in appropriate data and information sharing. Every quarter after revenue was posted - I did an all-hands with the development team to walk them through revenues, wins-losses, roadmap snapshots and the next 3 month outlook ...I think these communications helped serve the purpose of Establishing Direction and there was no alienation from the product (remember Karl Marx).
(C) Simplify : Man tends to overcomplicate, overthink life...K2 breaks things down to the basics (classic Maslow) - "When you learn how to say yes to the things you want in your life and no to the things you don't want in your life – your life becomes simpler."
(D) Think Win-Win : As we grew up in India our life was very competitive -- we learnt to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We thought about succeeding in terms of someone else failing–i.e.,  if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. Life almost became a zero-sum game.-- however, with K2 I see that he is in a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions -- he wants to share, his attitude is "there is plenty for all"

This weekend - I conquered my fear of heights to help K2 conquer his...we watched Madagascar 3...strolled the farmer's market and splurged on the healthy (beans,brocolli, brinjal) and the not-so-healthy (pies and brownies)...we stared at the Golden Gate bridge in awe and explored Sausalito (for the first time)...ready for Monday and the rest of the week. As my Bapa always tells me - sometimes it just about changing the perspective and life falls into has life been treating you?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Happy Birthday to You !

K2 is fast asleep, gently snoring...dreaming of bey-blade fights, Mario Olympics Wii, his Ninjago Lego...after I read him the Dr.Seuss book - Happy Birthday to you! 
How true ring the words :

These six years have been a  medley, a bundle of contradictions...yet something I don't stop and over analyze ..from the first smile to the first tantrum, a trip to the zoo to a trip to ER, a tooth lost, a best friend found to a discipline note and a blue monkey face (all in the same week)...for me K2 there is no one who can be more you-er than you...Happy Birthday to You!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Story of the Wall Flower and a Madrasi Crustacean

"Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it." Lou Holtz

As we ended our Yoga Class today, Keith read this quote to us (thanks N for sending it to me..). it rang so true for me...I have had a crappy attitude for a while now and am trying very hard to channel it in positive directions.
This was a week of many firsts for me -
  • My first Oracle Openworld which was awe-inspiring - sheer magnitude and energy
  • My son's first blue face (extraordinary behavior)
  • Watched Larry's interview live with Maria B. of CNBC (see me...the perfect Wall Flower)
  • First visit to Dosa on Filmore (I have been to the one on Valencia) and the food was exquisite

The prawn curry I had there with coconut rice reminded me of a prawn curry my Ma had made for me years back...Ma's curry was spicy and tangy and filled with love but this one was a close second.
photo credit : Dosa, Filmore

Madrasi Prawn Masala
  1. You need : Chopped Onions (2 Big), Tomatoes (1 big), Ginger-Garlic paste, sambar masala, Coconut (2 tbsp),  Cashew Nuts (handful), 2 Serrano Chillies (use less or more depending on spice tolerance)
  2. Marinate Prawns in Lemon Juice, Salt to taste, Turmeric Powder, Chili Powder, Salt and Ginger Garlic paste for 1/2 hour 
  3. Heat Oil and put the pan on the stove. Add urad dal and mustard seeds and curry leaves, fry the ginger garlic paste, add the onions and fry till carmelized. Now add the tomatoes and fry some more till it is all mushy and mixed in. Add the Sambhar powder
  4. Grind - the fried masala with the shredded coconut, cashews and serrano chillies to a smooth paste
  5. Now add 1 tbsp of oil and fry the marinated shrimp till it is cooked through. Add the ground masala paste. Cook for 5-10 minutes. Add Salt to taste, sprinkle some cinnamon powder on top if you so please. Now shut of the stove and garnish the prawns with cilantro
  6. Enjoy with hot steaming rice or some dosas
This recipe goes out to the Seafood Fest event hosted by Usha of My spicy kitchen.

I am looking forward to a quiet weekend : a zumba class, hair cut for K2 at Snip-it  tomorrow, maybe watch SriDevi's new movie - English Vinglish,Clean K1 and K2's cupboards. 

I would like to leave you for the weekend with a thought in mind stolen very aptly from The Perks of Being a Wallflower -

“I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we'll never know most of them. But even if we don't have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there.”