Monday, January 26, 2009

Positively Radiant...!

[Photo Courtesy - Esprit]

Yes-that is exactly how I felt yesterday. I mean it sure was a special day (my birthday :)) but what made it all the more memorable was the fact that so many acquaintances (my family members, friends, relatives, office peers etc) called up to convey their sincere wishes in diverse styles and modes of expressions (Phone, Gtalk, Orkut, Mail, Songs) ! Was the universe a bit brighter yesterday or was it just one of those "perfect days" - I wondered...

Since I have been working on enhancing my "Thinking Skills" for quite some time now, a quick analysis of events around me has almost become my second nature. Thus post every call by a well-wisher, I paused for a moment to observe what my mind (Phewww ! It never ceazes to stop wandering - god knows what is it that keeps it busy all the time ;)) is upto and what a fantastic exercise it was. Here' a gist of it:
Trrrringggg - Trrrringggg
Me: Hello
Friend (Excited): Hey Many-Many Happy returns of the day pal...How you doing?
Me (Happy): Thanks a lot bud - I am great...How about you?
Friend (Curious): Good Good...So where's the party tonight? And yes, it better be a grand one dude !
Me (Happier): Planning to go to a Mexican Restaurant nearby, they have a dance floor in there as well-come on over...We'll have a blast !

And then your mind goes off to the races-very quickly it scans the memory archive, gets you back a visual/sensory snapshot of the moment when you and your friend last met and had a fantastic time and thus you become cheerful for a while! Now, before you settle down (to your equilibrium mental state), you receive another call from an even closer friend and your happiness reserves remain full. Fast forward 5 hours-you are one of the happiest person in the town :) And when a sumptuous dinner with room-mates and some fancy footwork (dance)marks the end of your day-you wonder how come the world has become such an awesome place at once....Which is why I said I felt "Positively Radiant" :D

Now on days when you don't have your birthday here's what happens (I think)...
Eventually your mind reverts back to its equilibrium state and you again engage yourself with tasks that you usually do to spend your weekend. And in case you are not one of those cheerful kind of homo-sapient, you end up focussing on the "not-have" elements in your life again huh'! The solution-either be on phone with your well-wishers all the time all the time (if you can afford it:)) or engage yourself in things you really love doing-singing, dancing, writing, drawing, traveling, watching movie etc. and yes do wish your friends on their birthdays. You never know - just one phone call can make their day brighter !

Oh by the way-thanks a lot Dad, Mom, Surabhi, Juhi & all my amazing friends for the lovely presents & associated surprises - I can't cease admiring them or talking about 'em to my friends over & over again :) The Esprit glasses were an instant hit and so was the Blackberry Wallet and the carved Coffee Mug (the most creative present). Love y'all so much!
Happy Republic Day !

"Life's truest happiness is found in friendships we make along the way!"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

And The Oscar Goes To...!

I read somewhere -"Be careful for what you wish just might get it!" and a news alert I received in my email few moments ago reinforces the adage ! It was just last week that I wished right here on my blog that Rahman (read India) gets an Oscar soon and looks like he's almost there ! Very quickly I Googled about Rehman's bio and here are some interesting facts I learned:
  • Early Starter: His father R K Shekhar was a composer for Malayalam movies and Rahman started playing piano at the age of Four!
  • Right Education: He went to Trinity College Of Music in London and graduated with a degree in Western Classical Music.
  • Perfect Work-Ex: He joined the noted Illaiyaraja's troupe as a keyboardist at the age of 11 and along his early career he worked with several renowned composers like Vishwanathan-Ramamurthy, Zakir Hussain, L Shankar, Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan etc. It was this experience that helped him earn a scholarship to the famed Trinity College Of Music.
  • Entrepreneurial Insight: He went on to set up his own studio called "Panchathan Record Inn" to experiment with his music, sound engineering, design and his studio remains one of the ost reverred music studios in Asia !
  • Opportunist: He always focussed on the next opportunity and always strived very very hard to create a music that appeals to all cross sections of society. He was offered to compose music for "Roja" by noted Indian film maker Mani Ratnam and the movie's music score was a smashing hit (He won a national award for the Best Music Composer)
  • Philanthropist: Time and again he finds novel ways to participate in charitable causes. (Tsunami Relief Concert, Vande-Matram Album, A R Rahman Foundation)
The more I read about this exceptional genius who keeps redefining contemporary Indian Music year after year, the more I get inspired. I think I would go spend some 30 mins at ColdStone today evening to celebrate the Oscar Nomination news! And yes-Thanks Renga (He's my roomie & we spend way too much time listening to songs ev'day;)) for acquainting me with Rahman's ace compositions from Kollywood too! C ya in few minutes...till then enjoy the track "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire :D

"Mistakes are portals of discovery."~James Joyce


[Image Source -]

The high-wattage Presidential Inaugration ceremony held in Washington DC this Tuesday created the much anticipated ripples both before and after the event. While there have been umpteen discussions on various News Channels on how the new administration is going to provide the thrust to the US Economy amidst the prevailing turbulent times with record deficits, phenomenal national debt, ever-growing economic crisis and ofcourse the ever-rising unemployment, what amazes me is that Obama stays (super) positive and is keen on putting people from thinking mode (What would happen if? Can I do this? Should I study further? How do I protect my investments?) to working mode (Yes, I can! Lets do it !).

I had an elaborate discussion on the specific elements of his inaugration speech with my parents back home(in India) yesterday (Thanks to Gtalk which keeps getting better everyday) and we talked about what the so called "CHANGE" means and as individuals what can we do to help initiate and sustain this change for good. The talk was quite an eye-opener for me for as expected my Dad & my grandfather had better statistics (GDP, Employment Figures, R&D Spend for India Vs US etc) and facts from history than I had and they could analyse the forthcoming changes in ways that totally impressed me (And I thought we Gen-Xers are good with numbers :D). Anyways here are the 4Es we arrived at (Focus Areas for the new govt.):



  • EXPLORATION (or Innovation)

All I would say is "Change is so much coming" :D. I wish Obama and team the very best and would like to dedicate my favorite line from STARWARS to them - "May the Force be with you!"

"A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it. ~Einstein"

Monday, January 12, 2009

Mini Escape...!

[Image Source - Bigoo]
There are some days when you pretend that things are absolutely fine or you are totally cool & composed when you're not-Well, this Sunday was one such day. I was super-bored for the heavy snow prevented me from going out and the weekend almost seemed like a house-arrest. The good thing was a day ago I procured a book called "I Am a Pencil" from the local library and with nothing else to do decided to read it. The book (a beautiful narrative of adventures of a teacher and his students) was such a nice read for I could correlate so many events there with that of my own ertshile teaching experiences and perhaps thats why I finished the book in 4 hours flat. As I patted myself (finishing a book can be a BIG achievement at times :D) and headed for the kitchen to do preprations for the supper, all of a sudden the conflicting forces (True Self Vs The Other Self) in my mind were at conflict again. It has happened before and believe me it can be really tough at times. Anyways the conversation went like:

True Self: Hey you did a good job-finished a nice book dude!
The Other Self: As if anyone cares...tell me did you make any new friends oflate?
True Self: Ummm yeah, I can write a quick email to Mr. Swope-the author letting him know his book was brilliant ! So there I have a new friend right..What say ?
The Other Self: Aggggghhhhh, weekend means stepping out from home, visiting a mall, watching a movie, hanging out with friends and NOT reading a book-do you get that?
True Self (Justifying): Yeah, I understand but you know there's kinda paucity of friends in this place :( so I am doing what appeals me the most. Whats wrong with that?
The Other Self (Pushing Again): Hey listen, friends don't come knocking at your door, you gotta explore new places, cultivate new hobbies, participate in community events and thats how you meet new people. You gotta do everything except sitting in home in your illusionary perfect world !
True Self (In Defiance): But books give us so much of inspiration and plenty of insights. Besides isn't the very fact that the distinguished authors spend so much of time (usually 2-3 years) putting their experiences down in black and white for the readers awe-inspiring in itself? I bet it is.
The Other Self (Taken a back): I am afraid I won't agree 100% with you on this note. Its authors' job to write. Its like you like writing elegant code and they like writing their musings - simple ! My point is go make friends-you need a few for your own good! Friends can teach you a lot more than books and bestsellers.
True Self (Turned Submissive): Yeahhhh, in this perceived land of opportunities, you get platforms to learn, to perform, to become independent but you are right-making good friends seems a herculian task :(
The Other Self (Elated): Daaaaah! Nothing is "tough" dude. Now would you please step out and go for a brisk walk atleast. I am sure you'll feel better!

You see-this is what happens when you try being a humble human being who is usually happy living in his own world of books, delicacies and internet. Your other self (mine is really ultra crazy and can crush me with ever increasing expectations)never lets you stay quiet and happy. Anyways, orders are orders-I put my amunitions on (2 Jackets, Leather Gloves, Fur Cap, Snow Shoes, Mini-Torch and my ultra heavy key-chain), took a deep breath and marched ahead on the assigned mission. To my utter surprise my so called march lasted for a mere 10 minutes! While walking past my car in the parking lot, I noticed an inquisitive looking lady shoveling snow from the area and I decided to lend a helping hand. And what a wise decision it was !

Within minutes we cleared the lot A space and as we headed for clearing the lot B, my true self reminded me about my goal for the evening (to make a new friend) and I thought it was time to talk. I learned that Stella (think I got her name right;)) is a real estate agent and has been living in New England Area since a decade and she really loves her profession. I too explained her what I do for a living(it was tough though;)) and soon we were talking about Indian/Western cultures, Economy, Financial Crises, latest bestsellers, movie releases and ofcourse the omnipresent snow in New England. She was particularly curious about the Indian Music and Dance Styles and told me that she felt very happy for the Golden Globe Award
won by Mozart of Madras recently.Well Mr. Rehman you made all Indians so proud yet again and your speech was truly inspiring as well! We are sure that now Oscars are within reach too!

We (Me and Stella) talked and talked and talked and yet it seemed that we cleared the lot B in minutes (it was well past an hour though;)). As I said goodbye to her saying that I'll keep in touch via email, I asked myself do I want another snow storm soon-well may be Yes (that was my Other Self;) !
But on a serious note I am very happy at having made a new friend whose interests vary from reading to cooking to skiing to dancing! So, Thank-you Mr. The Other Self-sometimes your advice does work;) Besides it reinforces the notion that opportunies in life are plenty-we just gotta have a right focus and a right attitude!

"The great gift of human beings is that we have the power of empathy~Meryl Streep"

Sunday, January 04, 2009


Just when I thought that the New Year celebrations are over and its time to head back to the dramatic reality (read life ;)), a colleague of mine invited me over to his place for dinner this Saturday and what a memorable evening it was! While I loved the delicacies he and his wife prepared with so much of affection, what captured my attention were their super-energetic tiny tots-Ayan & Lipi, their equally tiny friends-Matthew & Megan and their varied recreational interests. After exchanging the usual plesantries, all of us made concscious moves to know more about each other - you know smiling, asking about hobbies etc. Even though I have always liked social get-togethers for they provide numerous opportunities to meet new people and connect with them on some common level but this situation was way . Think about it - When 4 seemingly naive kids (Okay a bit naughty too!) stare at you for well over 10 minutes, exchange puzzled looks and keep giggling on and on-you'll are bound to feel like an Alien! Here are few reflections from the Scene:

Living Room:
I called up Ayan and asked him to get his pencilbox, crayons and few sheets of paper. His instant reaction was like "Hey how can a stranger order me to get MY things?" but a bit of coaxing helped and soon we (myself and all the kids) seated ourselves in a circular fashion all set for a round table conference. From my erstwhile teaching experiences, I have started believing that pictures/illustrations are the quickest ways to spark one's creativity and I felt this was a time to test this fact. I said to them lets try to draw something that we love sincerely and lets see who does it first. Inside, I smiled for I thought this would get them all moving but they seemed least interested :( But thats okay (I said to myself) for if everything happens according to our will, life would ceaze to be an adventure! Matthew (the most energetic of the bunch) spotted a football nearby and tossed it right at my face and before I could muster up courage to ask them to focus on drawing exercise-I realised that the need of the hour was to play "Football Toss" game. And-we had a blast !

Dining Room: O boy-kids can be so much inquisitive yet innocent. Check this conversation thread...

One Parent: C'mmon Kids - try guessing Chinmay's age?
Ayan (5 yrs old)- Well, ummm 4
Megan (6 yrs old)- 5
Lipi (3 yrs old)- 1 ...Giggleee
Matthew (7 yrs old)- C'mmon he gotta be atleast 8
All [in unison] - Yeahhhhhhhhh Eight !

I wonder how they came up with the number 8 but since it was a team effort (Wisdom Of Crowds)-I smiled back in amazement. Later (after supper) to my utter surprise-each of them made an illustration-God knows what prompted/motivated them all of a sudden but here's what they sketched. [Ayan-some zig-zag pattern, Megan-A Flower,two leaves and Me(how sweet!), Lipi-A Pencil, Matthew - A Dinosaur].

All in all-I will always remember with fondness the time I spent with these four small wonders-they truly know how to savor every moment in life. As things stood, it was an amazing day indeed.

"They can because they think they can !"