Friday, June 30, 2006

A long weekend finally...

It's finally here. July 4th is next Tuesday and we also get Monday off. That makes it a 4 day weekend/holiday and I am already looking forward to it. Mostly cuz it’s 4 days and I have a lot of stuff to do at home. So I have sort of a list. Making lists is good right, makes you look good or feel good?
Now accomplishing those tasks is a completely different matter.

On my list
- Work with *A* to make our walls look less bare. We haven’t put any pictures or portraits, we have frames lying around and some good photos and some art to frame. Hopefully we can get to that.
- I also inherited gym equipment from the previous owner. I have to set it up and start using it.
- Weeds in the back yard. Keep taking them off but they do come back. We are trying not to use chemicals. Any ideas about keeping them out? I have to also look this up on the web.
- The usual cleaning. All the more so since Dan and the lovely “C” are gonna be visiting from Connecticut. Gotta keep things presentable and be as good a host as “C” was when we visited her last year.
- A lot of small things that are always there to be done around the house, too numerous, boring and mundane to list.
-Almost forgot mow the lawn too. Darn rain has made the grass come back real quick.

Since Dan and “C” are visiting, we have something they will love on the menu. Chinese/Asian pork dumplings. Actually the recipe is from M, our friend and has come from her mom (soy sauce, glass noodles, sesame oil and the dipping sauces). They could also be called Gyozas. We have bought them from Asian stores but frankly nothing beats making them at home. The part of this that really rocks, is this dipping sauce which has red chilli peppers soaking in peanut oil (takes about a week or more to get the heat from the chilli in to the oil).
Drizzle these over the dumpling along with the other dipping sauce and I feel as if I am in epicurean heaven. I hope to write up a post with recipes and pictures early next week.

I also heard about a former colleague of mine who is to be the father of his 10th child. Yep 10th on the way, wife in labor. How did he get to ten you ask? He is a conservative Catholic and does not believe in any form of birth control. He is also of modest means and was worried about being let go during the last round of layoffs. Fortunately for him it did not happen. But then he always talked about how he hated his job and he would rather go in to business for himself. But he never did. You know health care benefits can be a huge reason for people to often want to keep a job. I wonder if that went in to his calculation? If he went in to business then having health insurance for himself plus 11 more would probably be very expensive. We have had many discussions abut politics, esp since we are on opposite sides on most issues, but he is so far out that other republicans at work have also found him “extreme”. I can only shake my head at someone wanting to have 10 kids, on a modest salary. The kids are all home schooled too. Well he has his freedom of choice I suppose. He is a fairly nice guy though and I wish him well.

It had been raining like crazy, here in the mid-atlantic region since last weekend, but Friday has been great weather wise.
Apparently DC got 7 inches within 24 hours nothing on the scale of the Bombay deluge from last year.
Outside the capital, as much as 14 inches was reported in parts of Delaware and 12 inches at Federalsburg, Maryland, on the Eastern Shore.

Felt the effects of this, trains disrupted and driving a real pain. The commute home was particularly so one day this week visibility was down to 30 feet, hazard lights on and speed down to 45 mph at times. Felt a lot worse with the spray from other vehicles esp the tractor trailers.

Glad I missed the stuff below.
In Elkton, Maryland, a 6-foot wide, 2-foot deep hole opened on I-95, blocking traffic in two northbound lanes, state police said.

A pleasant childhood memory was triggered by the smell of what I thought was corn roasted on charcoal. The strange part of this the part of the city I was walking in had nothing remotely like it there. I looked around but did not see anything. Yet the smell was very real and triggered memories in a flash.

As a kid, in Bombay I remember eating corn, but corn for me then was not the luscious, huge kernel bearing corn that we get here in the US. The only time I got to eat corn was when my folks were kind enough to let me buy from a street vendor. We just called him “Bhaiyya” which is Hindi for brother (broadly used cos he was also from the cow belt state of Uttar Pradesh in India). He used to have a flat bed cart that he pushed around and came about every day in the evening. Based on the time of the year he would have different things on the cart. Either freshly roasted peanuts or corn all on a coal fired portable stove called a “Sigri”. The corn was directly roasted on it and when it was done it came off slightly burnt in places, but always good to eat. He rubbed a spicy mix on to it. It used be some chilli, salt and lemon. I still remember him dipping in to that little plastic container that I thought at that time had this mysterious blend of spices that made the delicious corn taste every bit better. He would use a half cut lemon dip it into the spice mix and then rub it all over the corn and then hand it to the expectant kids around the cart. I also recall eating the tip of the corn first just because I like the slight burnt taste. The corn was not as sweet but very yummy.
Some days he would just sell pineapple by the slice. I loved to watch him carve the pineapple and then slice it up. Each slice would sit on a bed of ice on his cart. It was served on a plate with a seasoning mix on top, that I think was a little salt and pepper. The seasoning complimented the cold sweet taste of the pineapple.
Ahh for some of the simpler things in life.

So folks have a good weekend. Looks like light posting too. Hope to be back Monday.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Creative Fridays..

I got this from Teri's place.
"I'm absolutely delighted and honored to be picked to choose tomorrow's Poetry Friday theme.
The word is (drum roll please...)
The idea is simple: do something creative around the word (poetry, stories, pictures, whatever) and post it on your blog tomorrow."

I sort of liked the idea, the only problem I can't do poetry am too tired to write up a story and so I am left with pictures. So I typed in the word "harmony" and "poetry " on google and here is a small poem from Sri.Chinmoy that I liked.

When I am matter-bound,
My world within is chaotic

My world without is chaotic.
When I am Spirit-free,

My world within
Is harmony-song
My world without Is harmony-dance.

And thenI found this random poetry generator, where you type in your URL and out comes a poem and it is different every time. For this site here is what it generated -

here is lying? A: lawyer?
A: Burroughs salesman is lying?

A: fly on
the opposite sex.
Give him an international
A: When
his lips move.
a lower.
William Shakespeare, Lost Break
into jail and then are promoted to be more love could drag on the night soil of wisdom. J.

Some pictures from my wanderings..

A church in New Haven, CT

Storefront New Haven, CT (spot the spelling mistake?)

Farmers Market Wilmington, DE

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Getting Out There And Doing Something About The Things That You Care About

As readers of this space are aware, I have been pretty pissed about the sorry state of affairs under this administration. While ranting about things, donating money is good, probably nothing beats getting out there and doing something about it.

An opportunity for this presented itself today as the organization had a rally for an oil free congress day. The high oil prices, massive profits that these companies have been making, their insidious influence with their $ in Congress (75% of their donations go to the republicans) and the tax breaks they have been given have all helped keep our oil dependency alive. This was a nationwide rally with events held near gas stations to raise awareness amongst consumers about the GOP addiction to oil money and to help move us on the path towards clean sustainable energy.

I found an event near Wilmington and signed up. And what a great day we had. Thanks to the lovely Amy Brown for organizing the event and all the other volunteers for making it a success. I got a chance to meet some lovely folks who care about this issue and were passionate enough to come out for this cause on a warm afternoon. There were about 14 of us eventually. I am sorry I cannot remember all of their names and I would rather name them all instead of leaving any one out, so my apologies. I promise to do better next time. They also put in a lot of effort in printing out the posters and flyers for which I have to commend them.

We stood out with the posters holding them up, waving to the passing motorists. When possible we engaged them in a brief conversation about the issue, handing them flyers. It was heartwarming to hear some of them support us. They waved back at us, smiled encouragements, flashed thumbs up signs or honked to show support. A few did not want to be engaged. Some were on their phones and could not care less. No one was hostile at all. I will mention two brief conversations.

Me: Hello M'am would you like a flyer?
Lady: No. You know I am a republican.
Me: But I am sure you would like cheaper gas/oil prices, and we need to make sure that our Congress does not take oil money. You know that 75% (142 million) has gone to the GOP.
Lady: I don't believe that. Where are you getting your numbers from.
Me: The numbers are from a public source. You know that any citizen can find out who is contributing how much to each party.
Lady: I don't believe it.
Me: Ok keep loving Mr.Bush. :-)
Here is the source. Clearly I had encountered a true believer and facts did not matter to her.

Guy in truck-
Me: Sir would you like to call upon Congress to give up our oil addiction?
Guy: Gas prices are not that high here. In Europe they are a lot higher.
Me: Well you do know that a lot of that are taxes which gives them health care and helps with their retirement. (The look on his face said it all, he had no clue, but they don't give up).
Guy: Well this is America we do things differently.
Truck starts to pull away as the light had changed.
Me: Enjoy your day.
Sounded like Mr. Clueless to me.

We also had a local radio station (WDEL I think) cover the event. If I find a link to it, I will put it up. That was fun and I am looking forward to the next event. It was nice to go out and hopefully we made a bit of a difference. This is just a snapshot but let me just say, there is a lot of unhappiness with this bunch. I think it will be reflected in November.

Pictures from the event below and all of them are on this Flickr link.

Before The Start Of The Rally

Yours Truly

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Unleash The Hounds
To those of you who want to skip over this post..funny pic at bottom.

Ladies and gents the intimidation has begun. It is the NY times (never their favorite to start with), has now a bull's eye on their backs. The rabid dogs on the right have been unleashed. The reason is this story by the NY Times and a few others that the administration has been using broad subpoena powers to monitor the financial transactions of what they call suspected terrorists. The issue is not the story it is the intimidation of anyone who say something they don't like.

"For people to leak that program and for a newspaper to publish it does great harm to the United States of America," Bush said, jabbing his finger for emphasis. He said the disclosure of the program "makes it harder to win this war on terror."
(Of course our spineless press won’t ask him “how does it make it harder?”)

As for Rep.King (see below), my eyes have sort of opened about him. Eli was talking about him being just like a lot of other GOP reps in congress, putting party and loyalty to leader above country. I had defended him saying well as far as I know he is fairly moderate.
Well not any more! He wants to prosecute the NYTimes for reporting about the Treasury department program.

Rep. Peter King urged the Bush administration to prosecute the paper. "We're at war, and for the Times to release information about secret operations and methods is treasonous," the New York Republican told The Associated Press.

I wish Rep. King was as enthusiastic about going after the people responsible for the missing billions in Iraq, or after the private contractors profiteering from the war in Iraq?
How about going after the people responsible for not having enough armor for the humvees or for our soldiers, who are trying to do their best in what is an administration created mess.
But a newspaper wrote about the government looking at financial records with broad subpoena powers..ohh treason!!!!

That argument might go over well with the Bush automatons whose eyes glaze over and whose rational thought processes shut down when they hear 911. But for most other folks, the thought is.. wait a minute. Do you seriously think, the bad guys don’t know we are watching the regular money channels?
They could and probably do use the backdoors, like Hawala transactions.

But trying to say that the talking about this program “makes it harder to win the war on terror” is disingenuous and dishonest, terms that should be no strangers when applied to dear leader.

But here is what clinches it. The blogger Glenn Greenwald says this information is out in the public domain already. And you know what he would know he was on the commitee that wrote the report. Boo fracking hoo!

From the report
"The settlement of international transactions is usually handled through correspondent banking relationships or large-value message and payment systems, such as the SWIFT, Fedwire or CHIPS systems in the United States of America. Such international clearance centres are critical to processing international banking transactions and are rich with payment information. The United States has begun to apply new monitoring techniques to spot and verify suspicious transactions. The Group recommends the adoption of similar mechanisms by other countries."

So the Bushites are screaming about nothing. They just want power at any and all costs.

As for the supporters of dear leader, all I have to say is wake up and smell the bacon, you’ve been had.

Now that is a look of sheer terror on the face of the guy on the left....

Monday, June 26, 2006

Been Tagged.. Yet Again

I have been tagged by Me, so here goes

1. Most desired celebrity

I have 3 that are equally desired, and so I decided to put all 3 of them in no particular order.
Catherine Keener

Julianne Moore

Julia Stiles

2. Want to do this someday.

Hang Gliding

3. Want to visit this place

Manasarovar Lake ..
The incredible journey into the heart of Tibet’s western region starts with a picturesque drive from Kathmandu to Nyalam, a quaint one street town on the border between Nepal and Tibet. The small Tibetan towns of Saga and Barayang serve as transit points before you head on to the beautiful Lake Manasarovar (4560m), the most venerated of Tibet’s many lakes. The Hindus consider a dip in the lake a holy act while the Buddhists circumambulate its circumference.

4. Random Favorite

5. I was tagged by Me

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Schezuan Stir Fry...

This entire process took about 30-40 mins (incl having to clean the shrimp). By the way I made this with shrimp, but it can be prepared with chicken or beef or any meat of your choice. It can also be meat free. I guess one could use broccoli, baby corn or any vegetable you prefer.

1/2 lb of shrimp.
1 medium size red onion, finely chopped.
1/2 red and green bell pepper chopped.
1 teaspoon ginger grated.
20-30 ml of Schezuan Stir Fry sauce (store bought).
Dash of Soy sauce.
1 packet of Udong Noodles (Or one of your choice).

In a wok add some oil, and once the oil/wok are hot toss in the onions and the grated ginger.
After a couple of mins toss in the shrimp, cook for 2-3 minutes.
Add the chopped peppers, and the schezuan stir fry sauce.
Stir the whole mix together.

Add in the noodles (cooked in a pot of water and drained previosuly).
Mix to make sure the noodles are coated with the sauce.
Add a bit of soy sauce to taste if needed.
Servings 2.

It turned out quite well, and *A* agreed, after she had her first bite at dinner.

Friday, June 23, 2006

A Big Oops!

That picture is a metaphor for a lot of things..

- The state of our nation with you-know-who at the helm.

- Our Iraq Policy. While the press was as usual on their knees in front of dear leader following his Iraq trip. The mayhem in Iraq continued, including an emergency in Baghdad. The President of the US cannot even go in to Baghdad openly, he has to go under cover. Oh things must be mighty safe eh that he stuck to the fortified Green Zone, for the few hours that he was there, he did not get out of the zone. Guess what even the Iraqi PM could not be told that dear leader was on his way to look in to this eyes and proclaim all is well.

- Cut and Run. The real cut and run people are the republicans, they cut taxes on the super rich and run up huge deficits. Credit for this definition is due to a caller who called in to C-SPAN.
The only policy the republicans have on Iraq is rally behind dear leader, and pray the American people who are unhappy with the war don't notice how bad things are. The whole idea that we will step down when the Iraqi's step up has one little problem. What is the incentive for Iraqi's to stand up knowing we continue to be there? The democrats actually came up with 3 different plans. The press calls it divided on Iraq, but I disagree it is called a debate you morons. This is how things are supposed to work in a political party not like the republicans.

- The administration is now going through our financial records. Guess who has oversight on this program? You would think it is Congress right? Wrong, they hired a private firm Booze Allen for oversight. So now consitutional oversight is being outsourced.

-The GOP did sort of repeal the estate tax, which means we will have to borrow about 600 billion to make up for the revenue shortfall. And to do that the few super-rich may benefit, we will also be paying interest on that borrowing. To make matters worse they rejected attempts to increase the federal minimum wage which had not changed in 10 years. You know how much that $5.15 an hour comes to? Around 10K a year well below the poverty level of 16K a year. Good luck trying to live on that!

But dear leader isn't all that bad, in a move that I applaud he did set aside a huge chunk around North Western Hawaiin Islands as a national monument. The reserve will span some 140,000 square miles -- an area nearly the size of Montana -- in the Pacific Ocean northwest of Hawaii. This fragile region supports more than 7,000 marine species, including the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and the threatened green sea turtle.

That being said his overall environmental record sucks.

Enjoy the weekend folks!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Arranged Marriages.. Rants, Thoughts And Opinions

As the title suggests this is a general rant and at times my meandering thoughts about arranged marriage with a couple of personal experiences thrown it. It may not make sense but that’s me. Feel free to post your thoughts long and short, there ain’t no moderation here for the comments. :-)

I have been following for a while now the travails of a couple(1,2) of women blogging buddies. They are clearly super-sharp, funny, intelligent individuals in their own rights. They have their own dreams, hopes and aspirations like everyone else. They just happen to be Indian (ethnically) and happen to be at that age when their parents/family want them to get married. And there in begins that desi thing called “arranged marriage”. Their stories have touched me and brought forth all the reasons why I have been against arranged marraiges in general.

As most folks from the subcontinent probably know information about potential mates is achieved via family connections, contacts from the various relatives, family friends. Word may be dropped about a girl for whom a match is being sought or about the guy. Sometimes daughters may be encouraged to go along to social events such as marriages, engagements etc. It serves a purpose other than the whole “its nice to meet family, relatives and friends”. It sort of puts her out there in the public space of that community/caste as someone who is now of a marriageable age. Oh there are also marriage bureaus and newspaper ads (these are hilarious/sad/funny) and deserve their own spearate rant!

Why am I blogging about it? I am very comfortable about my roots and Indian culture that is an integral part of me. I have however always been critical about parts of it that have at times perplexed me and at others outraged me. One of those was this process or some might say spectacle of arranged marriage. It has worked (perfectly for some if you believe them) and for a lot of people it is just that fatalistic acceptance of things that seems such an integral part of Hinduism and may extend to Indian culture too (not sure about the latter though). Women accept this process despite misgivings after a while and I can see why. It drains you, it diminishes you as a person and you feel as if you are on display in a meat market. The pressure from family, peers can be suffocating making even the strong willed wilt.

In Marathi there is a term for this it is called “Kandya-Pohyacha program”. It is slang and it’s translates roughly to a snack made from puffed rice and onions (very delicious though) that is often served during the time when the groom and his family will make the trip to a potential bride’s place. This process can be a nerve racking affair, and if not done right it can be demeaning without the people participating in this cultural practice even realizing it. The woman will be analyzed for her walk, smile and every other attribute that might go into making her an “ideal” mate. Detailed questions will be asked about her, her background will be probed (past affairs, character issues), does she work, does she cook, will she be ok with not working after marrriage. These issues are also addressed for the potential groom as well, but traditionally the girl’s side is sort of the “weaker”side. The inquiries about the guys will be more subtle, discreet. Some of these questions/practices might have had a relevance at some other time. But today when women are independent financially and professionally this makes no sense. Not being a believer in caste, race and religious barriers it makes no sense to me why mature adult women and men can’t be trusted to make their own choice. Sure it may not work out but people should be left to decide for themselves what they want to do with their lives.

The arranged marriage process has morphed over period and depending upon the parties involved or the caste/culture it has acquired it’s own particular flavor. There is also something personal in this. I have seen my sister go thru this process. I wish I was more of a mature person at that point in my life and not rather the self involved guy getting a pass because he was a guy. Yes, I was rather selfish but one only grows with time and experience. Also me and sis were not close siblings. Today atleast we have a handle on that and can communicate which is a giant step I guess.

So dad was retired and she had to finish univ and there was the occasional and not always gentle reminder that she had to be married. She is amazing though, she persisted thru it all, got her degree, got a job. But that as we know is not a guarantee that you will be able to do your own thing when it comes to picking your mate is it? She did not, times were different and so are people. Arranged marriage was the way. She saw two guys. I know she hated it cos she said so, and I never spoke up strongly in support they way I do now. I don't like myself for that.

It was the “Chai Tray” (refreshments served along with tea, usually carried by the woman) scenario. The refreshments are often meant to display the girls culinary skills. I am sure there are a lot of comical or sad scenarios that happen during these. One was the guy was shorter than sis (she is tall), which was a big no-no, and what is it with the whole family and a couple of others showing up? Also I did not like the guy, no reason I guess I was just against the whole thing. Also there was no one on one meeting.

The next guy she saw was the one she said yes to and they have been married for almost 2 decades now. I won’t talk about it but suffice to say that it only made me even more wary about arranged marriage.

Ok so I was still at university then not financially independent at all (almost broke might be the right term), and I was getting marriage proposals. There were just 2, till I told my parents that I did not want to deal with the arranged marriage thing and would probably find my own mate. And Voila! being a guy I had the freedom to do so (not to mention I can be stubborn too and get my way). Talk about double standards eh? One of the proposals made it’s way thru the myriad family and relatives network to my mom. I was like whoa who is she? She is in your class at univ and she told me her name. To say that I did a doubletake would be putting it mildly. I knew her enough to say hello, but nothing more. I was shocked too cos I had no job, I was not done with my studies and I seemed to hang out with a crazier crowd. And her folks thought I was marriage material? May be they saw future potential in me? They had more confidence in me then than I had in me that time and believe me I did not think beyond a month max, when it came to life.

And talking about parents, we had these relatives whose sole aim seemed to be marrying their two daughters off to US/Canada based guys. I mean WTF! Did they ask the girls what they thought? Weren’t there eligible guys in India? Maybe they figured marrying them off to Indians abroad automatically catapaulted their daughters to a better life and them by virtue of “Oh look their daughters are married and settled abroad”. I hardly knew the girls, all I know is their parents did not make it to our wedding cos cousin J (their daughter) was getting married to this guy Mr.X who had just come down to India. That was fast, I mean it literally. The whole thing happened in I think 2 weeks, she met the guy twice. I met the guy once at a wedding. I remember it was a warm, humid day and he was dressed in a turtleneck and jeans. Hmm a turtle neck in 34 deg centigrade humid weather? Also after being introduced it was hard to get a word out of the guy. It was like man get me outta here, I would rather be someplace else.
So when I came to the US, I was encouraged to talk to him by his mom-in-law. She said “Oh you should talk to him he is such a nice guy, you will find him a good resource in a foreign land”. So I call him and I could only get 1-2 syllable replies from him. That has been my only interaction with him todate. We also periodically heard concerns about problems in the marriage and how the parents were so worried about J. Well it all seems to have worked out ok (cars,family, house, kids). I mean it all looks right.. right?

There is the argument that arranged marriages have worked which is no reason to ignore the fact that they have left in their wake broken dreams, aspirations, hearts and more. Dadoji has said that they work if they are done right. What is right? Allowing the couple to meet more than a couple of times (outside of family) to figure out if they can spend the rest of their lives together? This works? What about guys putting on their best foot/face/mask on and perhaps the woman too? Is it easy to wade thru all that to get at the essence of a person? Isn’t it still a crapshoot?

I am not by any means suggesting that marriages born from the elaborate rituals of wooing, dating, falling in love (rinsed and repeated often at times) are by any means perfect. The point of this rant is that unlike arranged marriages, the parties involved are going in with a much better understanding of one another, of each other’s likes, dislikes, that they will grow as people with each other and presumably love the whole process. Not to forget that they are already in love, unlike in the arranged thing where you say yes, get engaged and married. If you are lucky you fall in love after the act, if not you are two relative strangers trying to make out barely knowing each other. I guess love comes after that? I for one was not willing to go this route. But the point is the freedom of choice which comes from the non-arranged route.

While I am in this minefield of a topic, I might as well mention that while marriage as an institution has survived for ages, it is under stress… yet it endures. Stress from the failings of human nature, pressures of modern life and if you were willing to believe the Neanderthals on the Christian right or any other fundamentalist stripe, the Gays!!!!!
I, as you may be aware believe that the gay threat to marriage is just good ole fashioned bigotry dressed up as something else.
I am not going to wade in to the whole issue of co-habitation without marriage, or the comforting numbness/feelings/glow of two married individuals being together for many years.

I have said it before that this can happen in any relationship, but then atleast it would be your own choice, as opposed to something foisted upon you by your parents/family with the all the attendant pressures under the guise of culture, tradition et al?

I was lucky enough to meet *A*, but then luck only is a small part of it. It took me some effort and courage to abandon an inherent shyness and a fear of rejection of it not working out.

So if you like someone go with it I say, and you will find within yourself the courage to buck traditions and break down walls that suffocate you. There is no reason to go with a custom that provides an illusion or a promise of comfort. Change is not easy but it begins with one person and no matter what you hear or are told, we have it in us to do whatever it takes.

Oops that was one heck of a long read. Thanks to those of you who managed to finish reading it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Conversations With John And A Couple Of Random Musings

So I take the commuter train daily as a part of my commute. When I decided to pick a spot on the train, I had in mind
a) A spot near the door so I could get off the train quick and
b) where I assumed it would not be too crowded
Well I got that but then I also get to interact daily with John our train conductor for those couple of coaches.
He is quite a character and he loves to yap. I think he has been at his job at least for a couple of decades. From his conversations I gather it can be a bit dreary at times and maybe talking to commuters is probably one way of lightening things up. Checking tickets and making sure the door open and close can be a bit of a bore. I am not the type who wants to talk about stuff like say the weather. Also I sometimes like to catch on my zzz’s, something I often seem to do at will, except for John who is not easily dissuaded even if you are leaning back eyes shut and all. He is really a pleasant guy and initially it was a pain to have to talk to him when all I wanted to do was snooze.
So now I just don’t bother to sleep, and John always walks in with his slightly swaying manner, arms a bit akimbo and he is rather tall and thin so it's something to watch. That walk does not change, his shoulders may slump slightly if he is particularly tired of being at work. If he is feeling a little gregarious he may smile. But the entry never changes. Once he walks in, he stops surveys the folks in the compartment thru his glasses. I am usually the first in his line of vision. He sighs slightly, drops his head a bit or shakes it.
Cue for me to ask- “What’s up John?”
John- “It sucks to be at work”
There are other variations too, sometimes he has had a late night (He has to get up at 3 am), or the weather sucks and so on.
So over the months I gathered a few things (not sure I would call them gems) from John.
Don’t have an affair with someone at work, you should not sleep/shag where you work. He apparently made that mistake. He was seeing a commuter and on days off when he had to take the train with his wife, he was scared of bumping in to that woman.

He knows where the good looking women are in his part of the train. There is this supposedly “hot” Latina woman in the next compartment in army uniform. He told me he saw her in mufti and was just blown away. I haven’t been to the other compartment yet. Maybe someday when I have nothing better to do.
He does not let the presence of other women commuters stop him from being colorful.

He had this conversation with a woman commuter sitting across the aisle.
John – Well hello there. You are new on this train!
She – Well I normally take a later train.
John – Well I gotta punch your ticket.
She – Sure.
John - “Punches her ticket”. See I punch differently than other conductors.
John – I have a bigger punch unlike them.
She – Smiles
Now was there some innuendo there?

John - how do you get to work from your stop? (it’s one of those car friendly places not conducive to foot traffic).
Me – I car pool.
John – With a guy?
Me – Nope a female coworker of mine.
John’s response at this point must be predictable eh?
John – Is she hot?
Me- I would not say that, she is nice though (I car pool with 2 co-workers who offered to pick me up along the way, it knocks 30 mins off my commute). She does sometimes need to talk.
John- Can’t you just ask her to stop yapping.
Me- No, I like to listen.
John has subsequently asked me is she still talks. I said she does and that it’s not that big a deal. But I know a lot of stuff about her and her family. She is a nice person though, which all that matters really.
Some discussion about whether we hit the “To Do list” from our honey’s on the weekend.
John- I tell ya, I had this list to go thru that she gave me. I did not finish all those things. I need a longer weekend.
Me – Don’t we all?
John- Did you have a list too?
Me – Nope.
John- Wait your wife is Indian ethnically?
Me – Yep.
John- So is it cultural then (Asian women not being as assertive or being submissive he meant but did not say it).
Me- That maybe true in some places but not that’s a generalization. Not in our home, things don’t work that way.
John – Ok.

John- Man the weekend was great. It was hot, I was out in the boat on the water. It was bliss.
Me – You look it too, all tanned and all.
John- No, I want a skin tone like you.
Me- Gotta get out there more often man.
John- Won’t work for me, I will be burnt if I stay out long and I turn pink.
Me – LOL. (Not sure what to make of this guy who wants a skin tone like me. Hmm brown with blue eyes?).

Make what you will about John, he is an interesting character and can be fun.
There are things about him that are nice and things that make you go “Ack!”. I talk to him almost every time he is on and we have talked about other things too. John is pretty open about himself and how he is as a person. He is always nice to everyone on the train. I assume it makes his mundane job more bearable and probably the commute easier for some of us too.

The line below was in an e-mail -
To reduce the confusion of the server location for xx, I would like to retire these (Detach) from SLLB to SLUT. Please let me know by C.O.B tomorrow if you have questions.

I promise it was just the names in CAPS that got my attention. I could not find out who named the servers to what they are now. All I know is that the new name will be easy to remember (flame me if you will for being un-PC). The person who sent this e-mail also does not use English as his first language so I wonder if that could have been worded better? Was the person who renamed these being tongue-in-cheek about it? I ain’t digging around about this one too much, just thought it was sort of funny.

I had a chance to witness a demo of the Diebold touch screen voting machines. As you may know these machines have been rather infamous for having problems. I was expressing my thoughts about them to a couple of co-workers and for the need to vote and better standard to ensure uniformity in ballots and voting machines. The lack of a paper receipt, closed source software, a lack of transparency, some strange results and poor security have made these machines suspect. This link is for a google search for (diebold voting machine concerns)

While co-worker A agreed, B was like I don’t vote. I said “well then you surely won’t complain about how government affects you will you?”. B said “I never complain”. I said let’s talk in a decade. B laughing “I won’t remember”
I said we’ll see. B is a very nice person, but hello, WTF? Why the heck don’t you vote? You know I don’t care how she votes, I wish she was aware and had a position on what direction this country was going either right or wrong and cared enough to vote. I guess for some people politics only comes home when you life is dramatically altered in some way?
It also brought to mind the conversation I had with the department of elections rep when I was watching the demo. I was frank about my reservations about the Diebold machine and we talked about the need for more people to vote. The demo was at a public place and not a lot of people were stopping by to check out the machine. We wondered about this situation where people in Iraq voted under the threat of terror and bombings (regardless of what you think of the war) while here in America so many people just friggin don’t care enough to vote. This is not a perfect democracy by any means but what excuse do people have for not voting? It’s a travesty that poor folks and minorities in some places have had to wait in line for hours, but that is not the case everywhere. Our system may be broken but it won’t be fixed until people show they have a stake by participating in the process.

I also had some thoughts about the whole arranged marriage thing. For some reason it brought to mind a couple of other incidents that had escaped me, but I am not subjecting you to a very long post today. I did sort of write it up and it’s a tad rambling and rather long, maybe another day.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Last Sunday Was For Seekh Kebabs

Being meat eaters (not big ones thought once in a week or fortnight and sometimes a month may go by meat free) and all one would think the logical place for us to buy meat would be at the local supermarket. We have done that at times when it comes to chicken, but sometimes eating goat is simply the best. Unlike beef it is easier to digest and especially in comparison to the farmed (or industrialized, antibiotic fed, hormone injected) beef tastes better.

All that industrialized raising of beef and chicken has in my opinion contributed to the general insipid taste to both chicken and beef on a lot of American grocery shelves. To escape this we have often gone the route of organic chicken or when it comes to getting goator lamb, we simply searched for the closest halal meat shop. I also think halal meat tastes better.

In CT, (our previous neck of the woods) we actually found a couple of halal places. When we moved to Wilmington, we did not really look for one for the largest time. The inertia in that regard finally changed last weekend, when I found a Halal shop in Newark. It is run by a guy from Faisalabad in Pakistan. When I talked to him on the phone, he promised us good succulent meat that would be tender and that people of Indian origin also loved it. A familiar sales pitch, so to say so we did make the trip to his store for the purchase.

Incidentally opinionated in her tag also mentioned a dish that she is excellent at (Seekh Kebab) that I have loved whenever I have had a chance to try it but never made it from scratch. So there in an opportunity was presented to do some foodie stuff. So with a hat tip to opinionated here is a recipe of sorts with some pics.

It really is pretty easy, even for a slowpoke in the kitchen like me it took no more than 30 mins of preparation. I pretty much followed her instructions with a modification thrown in at the end. This recipe would work for any meat. I guess the critical component for this is Shaan Seekh Kebab masala which is available at any Indian/Pakistani grocery store or can be purchased online here (disclaimer: I have never used this website for any purchases nor am I plugging them). There is also a how to on the back of the spice packet as well so this is really easy.

1 lb of ground goat meat (use chicken or beef if you so wish).
½ packet of the Shaan seekh masala mix (you can use a little more or less based on your spice tolerance).
1 small onion, finely chopped.
1 green chilly pepper finely chopped.
1 teaspoon of garlic-ginger paste.
1 teaspoon of clarified butter or ghee. I am sure some olive/peanut oil would work well too.
My mods -
2-3 teaspoons of chopped fresh cilantro.
Juice from half a lime/lemon.

Mix all the ingredients. I actually tasted the mix to make sure it was not too hot and everything was right (Unlike *A* I don’t have a feel for things unless I taste them).
Refrigerate for 3- 5 hours.
Take mix out and roll it in to balls (slightly larger than golf balls). Then thread the balls on to skewers (we used metal skewers, if you use bamboo skewers soak them overnight in water before use).
Use your hands (wet hands with water to prevent meat from sticking) to flatten and roll the meat on to the skewers in the form seen in the pics.

Alternatively you can also go with patties, as we did since we had only 4 skewers and more meat.
Grill in an oven (350-400 deg F) or on a charcoal/gas grill till meat is done (did not take long on the charcoal grill.

Serve with either Pita bread or Naan. Tamarind Chutney, Tahini sauce or yogurt or raita should also work fine as an accompaniment.

These turned out better than the minced pork burgers that we made last month. If the weather is not too bad I should do something more this weekend. The choice is between something from Nandyala’s place, or to try and replicate this amazing pomegranate molasses/soy sauce marinated flank steak that I had a long time ago. *A* does not understand my fascination with things soy related, but then I am weird in some ways.. hehe

Monday, June 19, 2006

Been Tagged..

I have been tagged by Opinionated and could not pick it up right away, but here goes.

My Accent: American with the Indian roots detectable. This changes when I go to India. I have to try to speak like folks in India. But it does not always work, I have been told that it is obvious I do not live in India from the way I speak.

Booze: Love a glass of red wine every other day or sometimes everyday. Love it especially when I am cooking too.

Chore I Hate: I don’t like to mow the lawn, but it’s gotta be done.

Dog or Cat: Definetly a dog person, hope to have one within 6 months to a year.

Essential Electronics: Computers, cellphone.

Favorite Perfume: Don’t have a favorite.

Gold or Silver: Silver. Neither. Shiny metals or precious stones hold no fascination for me.

Home: Wilmington, DE.

Insomnia: Very rare, I am out within 5 mins of deciding I want to sleep.

Job Title: I must have put it somewhere here or there..

Living Arrangements: Terrific Twosome.

Most Admirable Traits: Admirable? What’s that again?

Number of Sexual Partners: Whaddya care huh?

Number of times in hospital: 3.

Phobias: None that I know of.

Quote: None really but sort of like this one "Be thoughtful or be gone!"

Religion: Hindu but pretty much an agnostic.

Siblings: One younger sis.

Time I Wake Up: Around 4 am and never later than 7 am on weekends.

Unusual Talent or Skill: I can raise my left eyebrow without moving the right!

Vegetable I Love: Potato

Worst Habit: I have my quirks traits and I can sometimes be a pain!

X-Rays, Last time: During my last dental visit.

Yummy Food I Make: Dosas (south Indian crepe like dish made from fermented rice and lentil paste). I make them from scratch and they are pretty good.

Zodiac Sign: Sagittarius

I am not tagging anyone else, so if any of you want to take it on feel free. I will tag Silvs though, since opin missed her and Silvs can't be left untagged. So take it away girl!

And it's soccermania with the worldcup and all so..

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Time Magazine's Cover Story In Their Current Issue

An excerpt from their web site.
You may not be aware of it, living in the United States, but your world is increasingly being shaped by India.

Even if you've never been to India, eaten its food or watched its movies, there is a good chance you interact with it every day of your life.

It might be the place on the other end of that call you call you make if your luggage is lost on a connecting flight, or the guys to whom your company has outsourced its data processing. Every night, young radiologists in Bangalore read CT scans e-mailed to them by emergency-room doctors in the U.S.

Few Americans are surprised today to learn that their dentist or lawyer is of Indian origin, and the centrality of Indian brainpower to California's high-tech industry has long been documented.

In ways big and small, Indians are changing the world, and may become even more influential in the decades ahead.

That's because India -- the second most populous nation in the world, and projected to be by 2015 the most populous -- is itself being transformed. In the tradition of writers citing Asia's "tiger" economies and the Chinese "dragon," now comes the elephant.

India's economy is growing more than 8 percent a year, and the country is modernizing so fast that old friends are bewildered by the changes that occur between visits.

The economic boom is taking place at a time when the U.S. and India are forging new ties.

During the Cold War, relations were frosty at best, as India cozied up to the Soviet Union while successive U.S. administrations armed and supported India's regional rival, Pakistan.

But in its wake, relations grew steadily closer and in 2004, the Bush administration declared India a strategic partner and proposed a bilateral deal (presently stalled in Congress) to share nuclear know-how. After decades when it hardly registered in the political or public consciousness, India looms large on Washington's world map.

Among U.S. policymakers, the new approach can be explained simply: India is the un-China. One Asian giant is run by a Communist Party that increasingly appeals to nationalism as a way of legitimating its power. The other is the world's largest democracy.

The U.S. will always have to deal with China, but it has learned that doing so is never easy with a country bristling with old resentments at the hands of the West.

India is no pushover either, but democrats are easier to talk to than communist apparatchiks. Making friends with India is a good way for the U.S. to hedge its Asia bet.

Democracy aside, there is a second way in which India is the un-China -- and it's not to India's credit. In most measures of modernization, China is way ahead.

Last year per capita income in India was $3,300; in China it was $6,800. Prosperity and progress haven't touched many of the nearly 650,000 villages where more than two-thirds of India's population lives.

Backbreaking, empty-stomach poverty, which China has been tackling successfully for decades, is still all too common in India. Education for women -- the key driver of China's rise to become the workshop of the world -- lags terribly in India.

The nation has more people with HIV/AIDS than any other in the world, but until recently the Indian government was in a disgraceful state of denial about the epidemic. Transportation networks and electrical grids, which are crucial to industrial development and job creation, are so dilapidated that it will take many years to modernize them.

Yet the litany of India's comparative shortcomings omits a fundamental truth: China started first. China's key economic reforms took shape in the late 1970s, India's not until the early 1990s.

But India is younger and freer than China. Many of its companies are already innovative world beaters. India is playing catch-up, for sure, but it has the skills, the people and the sort of hustle and dynamism that Americans respect, to do so. It deserves the new notice it has got in the U.S.

We're all about to discover: that elephant can dance.

I don't subscribe to Time (not a fan of theirs really), but I might buy this issue out of curiosity. If any of you folks subscribe and have access to the full article, here is your chance to blog about it.
Economics aside (cheap source for outsourcing, huge middle class, functional democracy) some here (self included) believe that the US would also like to cultivate India as a sort of a counter to China. India is a raucous democracy and it's alignment with the US may not always be predictable. China and India after us Americans are also the next biggest contributors to global warming. Should be interesting to see how it all develops.

And on a completely unrelated note,

Cargo Overload ...

Friday, June 16, 2006

Going Out On A Date This Weekend That You Would Rather Not?

Courtesy of Amused & Bemused comes this list of 10 different ways to freak out your date. Now if you don't want to freak her/him out don't try this unless they have a wcky sesne of humor or something. On the other hand if you are trying to end it cos it ain't going anywhere, then try some of these ideas. I picked a few, but the complete list is here. Some of them are funny and gross but worth a laugh. It's the weekend after all. Am off to Philly in the evening to see the Gore documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" and also meet B & M. Not a busy weeekend this time, should be more relaxed. It's gonna be hot and humid on Sunday should be cool enough in the evening to BBQ though. :) Enjoy the weekend folks!

Worried about all that cell phone radiation, it's easy to block it...

Wear this to your next date and talk about how radiation adversely affects brain cells and how important it is to avoid radiation at all costs. Talk about how as a child you lived next to a power generation plant and how some of your neighbors ended up having really weird children with three legs and two heads and how the older folks all ended up bed-ridden with horrible diseases. Laugh and mention that you hope nothing like that will happened to you as you always protected your privates by wrapping them with aluminum foil and that you use your handy scarf every time you use the cell phone.

Light Up Billboard Message Bra...Oh boy!

Wear this bra with some extra padding in the bra so you are really hanging out. Pair the bra with a tight red set of skin-tight pants and hot heels and go to the bar with him. Put up the message "I'm easy" and put it on flash. Talk really loudly about how men are really attracted to you and you always have a hard time attracting they right type of guy who's interested in more than one thing with you. Talk about how tiresome it is to have all the men always staring at you and you so appreciate your date for being able to see the real you behind the attractive appearance. Pretend to get drunk and on your way back from the bathroom, flaunt yourself to every man in the bar and ask them if they think you are hot. Act very very desperate and completely ignore your date.

I thought this one was funny..

Invite your date for an outing on a hot day and let this hat fester in the sun. (Make sure you leave it out for a few days before your date so it's already ripe.) Keep reaching out to them and kiss them frequently so they can get some good nosefuls of the rotting meat. Talk about how you hate to cook and that you never do it, but that you have found lots of ingenious ways to avoid cooking. Explain how this hat is great and that by suppertime, you can take what's on your head and eat it. Tell them that you do this about once a week and that you are excited to show them all the other ingenious ways you have come up with to never cook - Ever!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Simple places that grow on you

When we moved to Wilmington more than a year ago, like most new residents we looked around for grocery stores close by. Well the closest one was one of those many chains stores that dot the US of A, and help make shopping a convenient but at times a numbing and anonymous experience. The store (according to picky me) was not well lighted and sort of a put off to go to. So while driving around, we came across this place below close to our old place. Tired of having to drive all the way to a grocery chain store we decided to check it out. It is run by a family and depending on when we go there we encounter either the grandparents or the grandkids.

Over the year we continued to shop there mostly for veggies, fruits and the occasional pie. And the place grew on us it just has this completely homely, simple unpretentious feel to it. The folks running it are sweet, friendly and helpful and they remember things about you. *A* particularly likes it. It is now sort of out of our way but still close to the park we go jogging at, so every weekend we manage to go there. They also have locally grown produce so rather than buy the refrigerated strawberries, blueberries that come from across the country it’s much better to buy the local produce, which imho tastes better too as it has more freshness to it.

It’s a fun place to go to and the store looks different at different times of the year.There is not a whole lot of color around in the winter but come spring and summer the place bursts with color, if you look at some of the photos we took of the place. Some days the colors and the sight of it refreshes you and makes everything seem a lot better. Fall brings it own unique colors and reminders of the extra crispness in the air, changing colors of the fall, of pumpkins and pies.

The concept of the neighborhood store for us while growing up in Indiameant more of a closer relationship that was somewhat different than the traditional merchant customer stuff. These were people you knew growing up as a kid and you could pretty much track each other life stories including the mundane, joyous and/or the tragic. I remember our tailor, barber, the grocer and the vendor selling veggies. I remember the trust, the friendly service and the ease of returning things that you did not like or were sub-par. I also remember as a kid getting the occasional freebie.

Chain stores do serve their purpose but there is something special about small stores like Bob’s. It’s the feel of shopping somewhere that is not like a cookie cutter where one store melts in to another no matter which part of the country you are in. Yes it is familiar but there is nothing personal or unique about it and that’s all I have to say about this. Nothing earth shaking, just something about some of the simpler things of like that bring you joy.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Ken N Mike’s Civil Union

Note: The links in the post below will take you to some pics from the civil union.
This was our primary reason to visit Connecticut this past weekend and the chance to see Ken who we have known for a few years and meet Mike (who we had never met before but heard about from K). While we have known a few gay folks before this was the first time we attended a civil union. The state of Connecticut passed a law establishing civil unions more than a year ago. I wish more states would let gay and lesbian folks marry and/or have civil unions. I also feel the whole idea of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marraige is silly as well and it is nice to see that it is not going any place due to lack of support.
The union was held in western Connecticut on the banks of the lovely Housatonic river where K & M recently purchased this cute place with a some amount of land to go with it. It really was pretty here and it is nice to be able to live at a place like this. K & M arrived for the ceremony in a horse driven carriage which was really neat. The dress code was not formal (which I always like) and people were dressed comfortably including some in jeans. The weather held up pretty well, despite overnight rains. It was actually breezy, in the 60s a bit cool and sunny. There were about 200 folks which I guess is a sizeable number for a union in this part of the world. The ceremony was held in a tent, before which people assembled in another tent for appetizers which were completely yummy and a huge variety of drinks. I can’t remember all of the finger food but there were California rolls, Chicken Satay, Indian chicken with raita and a host of others. There was also music, which was of classical variety performed by three students from the famous Julliard school in NYC.The ceremony was conducted by a Unitarian minister. I did not know a whole lot about Unitarians and here is the wikipedia entry on them.
The ceremony and what she said was simple, touching and very heartfelt. I can’t recall everything that she said but there were a lot of tears, I felt moved by what she said simple universal truths about love and trust in relationships and the various things that make life with your loved one special. She talked about how to deal with the comforting mundane ness that sets in long term relationships and how it could be used in a positive manner. She spoke eloquently about tolerance as well, since there were a few young people in the audience. I particularly liked this part, as intolerance and hatred are not something people are born with. It is something that they pick up or learn from their peers and parents. Parents play a very important role in shaping these beliefs, and I think a good example was set this day for the next generation of people about tolerance and understanding. K & M took their vows which were nice. They spoke about how they two are so different yet so compatible. K is more steady and cautious while M is quite the character with a rather zany sense of humor. It was interesting to hear K recount the story when K told him that he would like an answer about settling down. On their trips M bought these letters “E”, “S” and “Y”. K could not figure out for a while what they meant but that was the answer delivered to K in the form of a riddle ("Y""E""S"). They had the letters on a table were they took their vows. There was a jazz quartet after the ceremony as we sat down to eat, the woman singing had an amazing voice. I am not sure though how many people were really able to appreciate the music.
I have come a long way, I did not know any openly gay folks in India and my one experience in this regard was not nice. In my teens I was surprised and horrified when on a crowded commuter train in Bombay (the term sardines in a can is apt here) I felt this guy rubbing himself against me. It was not a pleasant experience by any stretch and it was not a casual brush that one encounters in a crowded place. My changing positions in the compartment did not help either I was followed. As someone totally clueless about this, I was repulsed, mortified, scared and angry. I decided to get off the train just as it pulled out of a stop that was not my destination. I looked behind in relief to make sure the sicko had not followed me. I did not mention this to anyone and never forgot about it either.
Sorry about jumping off on a tangent. We were seated with Dan and Cheryl and a couple of other people than Dan knows and it was a good group. I have been to weddings when at times this does not work too well and it can be a tad uncomfortable. Lunch was amazing, starting off with a peach soup that was out of this world and with a 2 course lunch the first of which was a delectable, tender moist roast beef with asparagus shoots cooked just right. The dessert was wedding cake. I have been to a few weddings here and I won’t be off the mark if I said that people don’t exactly go for wedding cake. Most of the times it just looks pretty but does not taste great, But knowing K and the food that we had so far I was fairly sure it would be different,
First of all the cake was not like a traditional cake at all. If you look at the picture the frosting itself said something different. M is a herpetologist among other things and the cake was topped with 2 frogs with crowns on their heads and an assortment of amphibians and reptiles. I had a slice of the cake and I have to quite simply say it was among the best carrot cakes I have ever had. People were lining up for it and by the time we left there were maybe a few dozen pieces left with no one in line looking to get a piece ( or just too embarrassed of being percieved as greedy).
We left shortly after we said our goodbyes, when we returned to the place we were staying and in the evening K n M joined us as we were finishing off our light dinner. They were tired but elated and told us that they had barely been able to eat and that there was no carrot cake left!!! They had a simple dinner and it was just a bunch of friends reminiscing about old times and the day and we got a chance to get to know M a bit more. It’s possible they might visit us in August on their way to D.C.
So that pretty much sums it up. Everything about the day was smooth and as perfect as it can be with nary a note out of place. I wish both of them well with many years together. Their relationship like any other will be subject to the same trials, tribulations, pressures, highs and lows. K has been thru a lot and I wish him joy and good luck. It was nice to see him again and knowing him is something we both treasure.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Jogging Trail And Some Pictures

So I finally managed to have a flickr account set up and uploaded some pictures to it as well. I should upload more when I get more time and when I get some of the pictures from the analog SLR developed. I still use the old SLR as the pictures are a lot better. I also hope to upgrade to a digital SLR at some point as I should just be able to port my lens to the new digital SLR.

So I had few hours to kill in New Haven as *A* was off to see her friends and colleagues. I decided to use the time to go for a jog along my old jogging trail in New Haven/Hamden. It was an overcast and dark day, not too humid though. But then I sweat a lot anyways so after a while it makes little difference. Whitney avenue begins in New Haven from near the historic green and thru the city and the neighboring town of Hamden. This where I usually used to run, about a 3-4 mile stretch in all depending on the weather and how I felt. I usually began near the fire house near the science hill neighborhood and then ran north to lake Whitney and around it and back. The route back would occasionally involve a detour through the East Rock Park, which has good trails, streams and loops over and back over the Mill River of which Whitney lake is a part of. Jogging thru the woods has its own charms it is quieter has fewer people and no automobiles. It’s nice to sometimes just hear yourself breathe and feel the heart pound and listen to the body’s rhythm. I have always been a slow runner more of a rhythm person than speed. I place the blame on the twin altars of a bad knee and a lungs that are not great at high speed (may be cos I was a sickly kid right in to my teens?).

I set off to run and felt good and continued along the trail stopping for an occasional picture. I also passed the spot where I had a good slip on an icy patch and landed on my butt. No harm done though.The area aroundthe park and dam is really good. I don’t think the pictures do it complete justice. There are a couple of uphill stretches and at the end of one you just come up and see the lake on your right. This is always been a sight I loved, something to lift you up just as you finish the uphill stretch. The path thru the park is good too. As you come down you see the dam on your right (water from the lake is again going to be a part of the city water supply) and you pass under a covered bridge and in to the woods. There were several ways to loop back towards the always gracious Cecile who we stayed with. I took some more pictures of neighborhood stores where we preferred to shop, that is itself food for another post and pictures.
All in all it was a day well spent.

PS: To those of you with a problem in getting to the flickr site via the flash animated link, here is a simple link.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Evening Bug?
Whatever I have seems to make me feel worse in the evening. I haven't recovered yet but may go to work tomorrow. I am off to bed now. I have some flickr photos uploaded, but no titles/descriptions on them. Hopefully by Wednesday. Thank you all for your kind thoughts.
That pciture below was during my jog in New Haven/Hamden. It kind of looks dark and bleak, reflects my current mood too I think. Later..

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Back But Not Quite Back..
Back after a busy weekend. Long drive but got back before most weekenders. Feeling pretty drained and under the weather. I think going to bed early will help. I have to go to work Monday.
I do have posts to write and pics to post in the coming days.
Found this pic below on a bulletin board. Wish I had another day to relax.

Update: Fever, chills and body ache. Oy! Does not look too good right now.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Off For The Next Few Days..

It’s that time of the year. I will be off for the remainder of the week. I am off to a civil union in the glorious state of Connecticut, which used to be our home for some time before we moved. We made a lot of good friends in our time there. To use a well worn cliché, home is where you make it to be or where your heart is. So Connecticut grew on us not in a small part due to the wonderful folks we met there and also the fine times we had. The memories stay with us and the friends and acquaintances are all treasured.

One of our fondest memories are of this lovely apartment complex we lived in. It was sort of enclosed on 3 sides with a nice courtyard in the middle. It was also raised from the street level and thus afforded some privacy and quiet. We made quite a few friends here. All one had to do was go down with a bottle of wine and something to munch on and other would soon follow with more goodies. This happened quite often and led to many impromptu parties/gatherings full of interesting and fun filled conversations. Those days are certainly missed and fondly remembered.

It’s been more than a year since we moved and we have not been able to go back for a visit except for one quick overnight trip. One of our friends Ken is getting married this weekend .Ken went thru a tough period with the death of his partner in a car accident and has now recovered from the trauma of not only the physical but also the mental anguish of this most unfortunate episode. So I am very happy for him in that he has found a loving partner to spend his life with. This also presents us an opportunity to visit CT and all the people we knew there and hang out at our old haunts. The fact that we have not taken any time off or been on a road trip for a while also factors in. So we pack our stuff and are off. *A* has a busier schedule than I do, she has to meet up with more friends and colleagues. She is much more of a warm, nicer, people person than I am and has a busy Friday. So I have a day to roam around. I might walk around the town, take pictures or maybe catch a movie.

The civil union is in Litchfield county near the NY border where it is really beautiful. It should be a fun filled few days. So see you all Monday.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Things That Make You Want To Puke..
Courtesy of the fine folks at the American Inventor Spot and from Amused and Bemused comes a list of 10 things that make you want to puke (or could also be on fear factor). I am posting the ones I found the worst but the whole list is at amused and bemused above.

1. Giant Water Bugs in a Rich Thai Red Curry Sauce

"These large and powerful insects are as adept at swimming as they are at flying. Eaten as a delicacy and found in Thai and Chinese markets, these insects bear the nickname toe-biters and are capable of inflicting a painful stab with their sharpened front beak. These bugs feed on other aquatic insects, tadpoles and even small fish, injecting them with a powerful toxin and digestive juice that allows the bug to suck up the contents at will. They are also known for their snorkel-like breathing tubes at the end of their abdomen.
Eating instructions; Remove exoskeleton and then eat everything except the head and legs, try dipping them in your favourite sauce and enjoy!" See it here.

2.Preserved Ant Eggs

"Weaver Ants eggs a highly prized delicacy in Thailand. Weaver ants produce their eggs only once a year during the cooler months December to January, during this time, the time consuming, and sometimes painful task, of collecting the eggs take place, they are then wrapped in bannana leaves and sold on local markets. These eggs are huge! Some pieces are egg-shaped; others are almost shaped like ants, they have a soft and jelly like texture. The eggs have a creamy and nutty flavour and are commonly served in spicy salads; they can also be served on toast and even taste great served on tortilla chips. Our bottles of preserved weaver ants eggs contain over 200 eggs, they need to be cooked before serving." See it here.

3.King Snake Soaked Whiskey

"Real Californian King Snake whiskey is infused with a farm real farm raised Real Californian King snake, ginseng roots and seed pods. The whiskey is left for several months, which then imparts a unique flavour into the whiskey, it is quite an acquired taste. The story is that this is used in SE Asia as a very strong Aphrodisiac; and it also has many medical uses..." See it here. Also Scorpion and Snake wine.
Guess that's the all natural alternative to Viagra.

4. Chocolate Covered Cockroaches
If you have a thing for roaches and chocolate, here is something for you in one nifty little package...

"We don’t know about you, but the first thing we think when we catch a cockroach skittering across a kitchen floor? CHOCOLATE. In fact, there’s no grub worm, slug, or grasshopper we wouldn’t like to see smothered in the gooey good stuff. Now there’s some good-eatin’. How about you?" See it here.

Now for having inflicted that upon you, I offer you some cute overload to negate the "puke induction" ..So sorry.. :). From my buddy the always funny Watertiger

PS: Blogger was acting up all day.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Save Your Marraige From The Gays AKA The Latest Scare Tactic To Divide & Distract Us From The Failed Presidency Of Dubya

Our nation faces significant problems that need to be addressed. Like you know budget deficits and a growing national debt, Iraq War, a job not well done in Afghanistan, the economy (inflation on the rise, high gas prices and anemic job creation), health care costs, stagnant pay,border and immigration issues.

Here is where the American people stand on this issue. From a gallup poll via Athenae

Situation in Iraq/war: 42%
Fuel/oil prices/lack of energy sources/the energy crisis: 29%
Immigration/illegal aliens: 23%
Economy in general: 14%
Poor healthcare/ hospitals; high cost of healthcare: 12%

I suppose gay marriage could be classed with "Ethics/moral/religious/family decline", which was the 20th of the 28 issues listed by respondents, important to only 1% of those polled.
Here is another poll.

So what does dear leader do? Get his lackeys in the Congress to pass an amendment banning two people of the same gender from getting married. That threatens us? No Mr. President why don’t you stay out of the marriage business and instead actually govern for a change? Also since they can't go after the gays directly they cloak this as if they are defending marraige.

I guess when you are tanking in the polls the only strategy left is go after the gays? How typical of this administration.

But guess what no one is buying Mr. Bush's argument anymore. From the brilliantly snarky (in his own quiet way) Eli we find out that this amendment has no chance to garner the two-thirds majority needed to pass. In addition that base of wingnuttia freeperville thinks so too. Via Athenae ..

"I think consenting adults should be free to enter into whatever marital contract they please, as long as no physical harm or other crime is committed. Securing the nation's borders is, however, probably the main task of any government. It'd be nice if this government got around to performing this task."

As if this was not enough, they have in mind an amendment to ban flag burning. Apparently there has been only one or two incidents of flag burning in the past few years (esp since 9/11) one of which was by a drunk, unstable teenager. As much as I abhor and detest that anyone that might want to burn the flag, there is just no reason to ban it.
Also our elected officials work fewer hours in Congress now than they used to before, there are more important things to do rather than this. Get real folks or get booted out in November.

On another note I am off to my buddy Ken and Mike’s civil union in CT this weekend. I have known Ken for about 3-4 years now. I need no help from Mr. Incompetence or his minions in defending my marriage from gay folks, who want to just live in peace like the rest of us.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Of Letters Unwritten And Things Unsaid…

My folks back in India, particularly my dad has been very curious to see actual pictures of our house here. My sis did print out the pictures from the online links that I sent on her printer and show them to him, but I guess the old time kind of guy that he is (he is in his 80s) he wants to see actual photographs. So we finally got our pictures developed/printed on photo paper and we decided to mail them off. So there are like 4 packages sent to both our families. I wrote down all the addresses on the envelopes and was about to seal them when *A* said "why don’t you also write a letter to your folks".
“Why do I have to write anything” was my response. “I did put yellow stickies at the back of each picture with description of the room or house area. That is enough to give them a sense of the place”.

She cast that look at me which is a mix of exasperation and a bit of steel that I see when she knows she has a good argument, one that will be hard fo me to refute. With a slight shrug of my shoulders, I say “Well it is like 9:30 PM, I would like to go to bed soon I have an early start tomorrow and I don’t feel like writing a letter”. I start to walk away and she says “You know you can be so strange at times. When was the last time you wrote to them, I know we talk on the phone with them but that is not the same”.
The last time was 3 years ago I thought to myself an awful long time. I said “I will write something up when I am done with getting ready for tomorrow” was my less than enthusiastic reply.

Conversations on the phone don’t last long. You remember them for a bit and they are lost in the fog of time and a weakening memory, especially so for them at their age. A letter has a better chance of being preserved, remembered and possibly re-read and replied to. I haven’t written in a while, don’t get me wrong I love and respect my folks, but I am not always communicative about it as I am say with *A*. I am not sure why, I have been away a long time. I may also be fighting the feelings the only son has to deal with being far away from aging old parents. My not writing may be a way to avoid dealing with this?

My dad is more of a stoic, reserved person and not always communicative. He can be a bit of a bear to get along with and is not always social though he is certainly not anti-social. This is something he recognizes but can’t or won’t change. That is just how it is. Maybe it is from their being from an older generation. Mom is more of a people person but also easy to hurt and is very much attached to me.

As a person I try to be fairly even about my approach to things. Part of that is my instinct for self preservation and being able to keep an even keel which lets me function at a pretty good level. In order to do that I will often compartmentalize things or not dwell on certain things too much. Maybe I am just avoiding dealing with certain things that I don’t have to unless there isn’t another option. We have our own ways of dealing with things and that's mine.

So I did write a letter to them. The words flowed easily which was a bit of a surprise. It is often so much more easier for me to write some of this as opposed to say it. Maybe I find it difficult to say this in words?

I wrote about how much I miss them. I wrote that I think of them often and worry about them in my own way knowing that it must be hard to be on their own although my sis lives close by. I wish they could visit, but Dad has always been reluctant and mom's health has always been an issue. I asked them again to consider it. When they could have visited they deferred because my sis was going thru a rough patch in her marraige a few years back. They wanted to be there till things stabilized. They helped look after my nephew as well. Time just flew by, I wish I had been moe persuasive then when they were both younger and in better health.

I wrote about how I did not say enough how much I loved them and whatever success I have achieved in my life was due to their support for me during my formative years. They both were past the retirement age when I was in high school, yet they worked so I could achieve my dreams. For that I will be eternally grateful and am lucky to be blessed with them as my parents.

*A* did read the letter part of which I excerpted above and said it was very touching and emotional. I am not sure how they will react to it. We just are different in how we communicated or did not. But it was something that had to be said. *A* was instrumental in this. She is the best thing that happened to me and has always been my rock and the better of the two of us without any question.

I am not sure if I rambled or this makes any sense. All I know is I don't want to be left with a regret that I left something unsaid, that I could have been a better son but did not try.

I just got an e-mail from my nephew he did pretty well in his HSC boards, he did say my mom looked frail. I thought she did even last year when I visited. She does sound better on the phone though, she said she wanted to deal with where she was with her health in a positive manner instead of worrying too much.

Sorry if any of this depresses anyone, I might write something in a lighter vein tomorrow.

PS: Please feel free to comment on this post even if it is critical. :)