Rum & Mel's Random Musings!
Avatars, Life Events, Food-Snippets, Nivi Flash, & More...

 

Remembering Dhiriba


Ba's

gentle reprimanding of our errant habits and mischief (Especially Sonu and Monu) - 

baba, thodi sharam rakh;
baba, pap lagshe;
baba, aa-woo na bolai;
baba, tu kyare aw-she;

Ba's 

hesitant, but frolicking laughter,

baba, daanth dekha-de che (showing your teeth);
baba, tu su bole che, mane to kai samaj nathi aa-way;
everytime we lifted her puny frail body (she was like 40 pounds);
everytime we put our hands on her gentle head treating her like the official pet we've never had;
everytime we talked about buying her a hearing aid;
everytime we talked about how she had 7 (yes seven!) children;
everytime we talked over the phone - a two way, though seriously one way conversation - like Graham Bell's first phone;
everytime we'd tease her on one of us (baba's) getting married to a non-Indian girl...aww the fun we'd had at her expense.

Ba's 

clean white saris;
little tied bun on her dwindling hair;
two gold bangles on her frail hands;
receding blue dots on her hands (tattoos were hot before our time kiddos);
simple bi-focal glasses (I guess she only had the one pair);
simple mala, she'd carried that everywhere (It was like her iPhone);
fondness for watching TV - despite the lack of hearing or understanding of hindi;
memories of Karachi and her pottery sets, (she was a cross-country traveler before any of us modern jet setters!);
remembrances of dada's freedom fighting times (I still remember the certificate the Indian Govt had issued to her);
tall tales of Dhrangadhra and of times yore, we'd never been there - though her stories painted a grand yarn;
fun company on countless Lonavala trips;
hunched-up frame in the Worli B2 kitchen, always making something for the hungry young ones.

Ba's

ever-caring attitude;
ever-loving and forgiving character;
fondness for kids - she used to call us all baba (Rushabh, Myself, Monu and Sonu) and all others baby;
genuine concern for us - an unconditional and selfless, rare love.

She was my ba. The one I will always remember.

MORE >>
Are You Rich?
Are you rich? Do you fall in the 'Wine and Cheese' category of rich?!



How rude! That is not an appropriate question to ask you say? Well, I came across an interesting article on Moneycentral asking the exact same question. I was surprised to see that Barron's has an in-depth chart on the amount of wealth required to be considered rich. They even have classifications on how rich! According to Barron's the 'Beer and Pretzels' rich requires some $25 Million. The 'Caviar and Champagne' rich requires $500 Million or more. I wonder if they compute a more regular 'Chai and Samosa' category of rich...





MORE >>
My Ol' Herbie Turns Ten!

Who says America makes bad cars? From my personal experience, it has been plenty positive+. My old Herbie turned 10 this year and she has been going strong like she was minted yesterday in the factories of Detroit. I love her speed, agility and most of all the maintenance free performance. She has seen the highs and the lows the valley had to offer over the past decade and has been an instrumental part of my life here in the US. Not to mention my trusty Neon is the first big thing I bought with my own money. Nivi keeps asking – should we get a gift for her, now that she is 10? Yes, I told her – we need to get her a nice big bottle of 10W30 oil along with a nice spa bath for her at the local hands-only car wash…

MORE >>
Need Two Seats on a Plane?

Rum, Nivi and I had a great time in SoCal for a week in early August - going to Legoland, San Diego Wild Animal Park and some real cool restaurants. We had flown into John Wayne from SF. We headed back to Santa Ana after the holiday was over and were excited to be back home after a tiring but fun week. We checked in the luggage and the hefty carseat and then passed thru security to the gate. We soon found out that the flight back home was going to be on a regional jet - a Canadair/Embraer plane with a 2-2 configuration. There was some seat assignment confusion at the gate which was extended out on the ground from the main terminal. Once we got boarded we were all placed in a single row...with Nivi and Rum on one side and me on the other with an empty seat next to me. Moments before they closed the plane door, came in a plus sized person who slumped into the seat next to me. Whoosh! It felt like a tidal wave on the Carlsbad beach! This person (plus plus sized) then went on to lift the seat handle and ended up occupying 3/4th of the 2 seats. I was squeezed like Nivi's rubber ducky. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. The plane was full and the attendant couldn’t offer me another seat. I feel claustrophobic pretty quickly in these small plane fuselages and with half my seat eaten away, I felt it even more. I obviously got a lot of giggles from the other side of the aisle...

 


All along the hour long flight to SF, I was thinking about why the airlines couldn’t just charge passengers flatly on weight. What the airlines should really be charging for (besides the meager service) is for transport of a 'payload' from one point to another. This is no different than a rocket company like Ariane charging by the pound for satellite deliveries in space. I couldn’t resist putting on my PM hat and to go thru the details. A ticket bought online would entail a flat rate based on the distance between the two endpoints. Upon checking in at the airport, the passenger along with the luggage would stand on a weight machine which would calculate the total weight. The passenger would need to pay the additional amount due based on cost per weight x total weight (passenger weight, carry on items, checked-in luggage etc). The lighter the person and the luggage, the lower the overall tariff. This would be the most cost efficient method for the airline and most democratic for the passengers. If some HMOs can do this (reduced premiums for healthy people vs. higher premiums for the unhealthy), why cant airlines? The passenger who has paid a lot during check-in once can update their FF flyer preferences to get two seats automatically on their next ticket etc. The possibilities are all there and can be worked out by some careful planning. There could also be some big health benefits for the nation. Prior to taking a flight, people may end up avoiding junk food and some may end up exercising to shed some weight! This would be a win-win for the airline, the passengers and the country overall. Ah, who am I kidding? This would never work.

 

After some research I realized that several airlines have already considered instituting a 'fat tax' and some major carriers have already implemented policies around this. The FAA estimates that the US carriers paid 275M $ more last year due to obese passengers. Check out CNN's coverage and United Airlines policy on the same topic. Too bad, we flew AA and I don’t think they have such a policy in place.

 

The Embraer landed safely in SF and we were back home quickly...and back to work the next day.

MORE >>
Ticketed in Sunnyvale

Ah, the fun of taking online driving school. How did this happen? Okay, so I'm on my way to pick Nivi after wrapping up aroutine day at work. I drive down on Lawrence as usual and then take a right on Lillick and then a left on Teal. I notice this patrol car squatting under a tree at Teal/Dunford intersection and come toa gradual stop at Dunford and take a right into the school parking lot. And within a second - I see the flashers go right behind me. The cop walks over, I hand him my documents and then I politely ask him if I did something wrong. He then tells me - I was speeding...going at about 36 for a few seconds. I was totally incredulous – this is a street on which I have driven many many times. I told him that the length of the road on which I drove was ~150M...not enough to speed, least of which warrants issuance of a speeding ticket! The cop was in no mood to reason. He gives me the ticket, says “have a great day…” and walks away. How could I have a great day after this incident?

I sat there for a minute puzzled and befuddled -did I just get a ticket for a totally stupid reason? Should I get a ticket for speeding for a second or two? Speeding at 36? For a second or two? I made up my mind to totally contest the ticket and send a seething email to the Sunnyvale PD Chief. All kinds of thoughts came to my head. Was I meant to get a ticket today? Was the cop supposed to be there? Why is Sunnyvale one of the safest cities in America…why? Maybe because the cops are doing a stellar job, but because the town is filled with skilled immigrants who wouldn’t break the law. So maybe the cops don’t have much to do so they are issuing traffic tickets. Maybe the recession has hit the counties hard and they are trying to get taxes. Maybe they are…

I drive back home with Nivi and decide to wait afew days to see what the damages look like before I proceed with any correspondence. Then came the Gates incident. Wow, what timing. I decided to keep my mouth shut and pay the dues as if nothing had happened. And now I’m looking forward to finishing my online traffic school. Hey, it’s not that bad…and it is mildly entertaining….

 

 

MORE >>
Inactive Blog for Two Years?

Two years? Wow! Has it really been that long??? Rum and I created a blog a few years back and we were super excited to post content. But within tens of posts we were hit by 'blog fatigue'...and then we simply forgot about it! Well, it’s about time to resurrect the dusty ol’ blog and starting posting content again...

MORE >>
Leave Some Ideas Behind - iChat!
Apple recently announced the upcoming arrival of Mac OS X - Leopard with 300+ features. There is no more shock value of Apple inventing new stuff well ahead of its rival up in Redmond. We are so used to it now. Yet, there is always something small, a nifty feature here and there where some amazing amount of detail has been incorporated that catches my eye. This time it's the iChat application. With video backdrops, photo booth effects, real-time collaboration features like keynote preso sharing, recording of audio AND video chats (so that you can play it on your ipod - on the go, the site says with much humility) - is there anything left for other IM/video clients to aspire to? Apple, please leave something behind for others to dream up too. Its a bad idea to have a monopoly on all the good ideas!

A decade or so back - I was the only nerd in my engineering school (back home in India) to own a Mac. My friends used to ridicule me on all the usual stereotypes that surrounded the Macintosh. However, I had seen the potential in Apple long back...it was just hard to explain clearly back then. Now that Apple is a behemoth and everyone has an ipod or an iphone, that ridicule is long gone. I've also lost my chance and motivation to tell everyone "see I told you so..."
MORE >>
The Tide is Turning...
I came across this news post that immediately caught my attention - "Indian Consulates in United States Begin Outsourcing Visa Collection and Delivery"...

The United States is India’s largest trade partner and leading foreign investor. On October 1, 2007, all Indian consulates in the United States began outsourcing their visa collection and delivery. In a statement issued by Mr. Ronen Sen, Ambassador of India, the unprecedented growing demand for Indian visas as well as inquiries into visa application status have resulted in their decision to turn to an outsourcing provider.
MORE >>
Plea for Compassion and Humanity to Animals

The Earth is a mother for human beings, animals and nature. There are many reasons for me and my family to be strict vegetarians. Some are religious, some are ethical. My reasons are primarily ethical.

What we choose to eat makes a potent statement about our ethics and our view of the world -- about our very humanity. Whenever we choose not to buy meat, and eggs, we withdraw our support from cruelty to animals, undertake an economic boycott of factory farms, and support the production of vegetarian foods.

Regardless of any other beliefs we hold and however else we choose to lead our lives, each of us can decide to act with kindness and empathy. Making humane choices is the ultimate affirmation of our humanity and compassion. Ultimately, living with compassion means striving to maximize the good we accomplish.  It is all very easy to say that individuals must wrestle with their consciences--but only if their consciences are awake and informed. I feel that industrial societies today hide animals’ suffering. For modern animal agriculture, the less the consumer knows about what’s happening before the meat hits their plate, the better.

Is this an ethical battle? Should we be reluctant to let people know what really goes on?

Generally when I speak to meat-eaters about this topic, I used to tell them that there are two counters to the human vs. other predator comparison: humans know that their actions cause pain and suffering (although there is a tendency toward denial), and humans have a choice between eating plants and animals (many predators do not). Of course the answers that I get back are that humans are allowed to participate in the ecosystem just as wolves or cats would.

But there is big difference between a band of hunter gatherers and modern human civilization. We have moved outside of any natural position in the Earth's ecosystem. Yes, in the Earth’s naturally existing eco-system, some animals will die as prey of their predators, but they have the opportunity to survive and flourish based on their skill and luck, not to mention how spectacularly hearty and different their environment is, when they are in their original natural surroundings.  They are obviously the most happy in that natural eco-system where they are supposed to be!

Today Cows, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and fish have no choice but to live a fore-ordained course from birth to the dinner plate.  They are quartered, bred, and slaughtered for food in ways that are strikingly different from their natural lives. They live their entire lives in slavery, without any chance of a natural life; their existence is often miserable, amounting to torture; and then they are killed. The lack of opportunity; opportunity to compete, breed, evolve and express themselves - things that they would have done in their natural habitat is unacceptable!

They are fed growth hormones so that they grow unnaturally fast and fat. They are fed food that they would not naturally eat (e.g. herbivores are fed slaughterhouse remains). Pigs and chickens are raised in metal cages their entire lives; in some cases they grow large enough that their bodies strain the wire mesh of the cages. Male chicks are thrown in plastic bags when they hatch and smothered because only a few roosters are needed; female chickens are debeaked without the use of painkillers. Cows are kept pregnant most of the time for their milk; their calves do not receive their milk, but are fed less nutritious substitutes, kept crated and chained for immobility, and then killed and sold as veal. Fish are nearly extinct in the oceans as the result of over fishing.

A PLEA TO YOU:  The immeasurable suffering of animals today can be most effectively diminished whenever people stop eating meat or stop supporting any other causes that would augment their suffering/killing. I and my entire family invite you to help us help the animals and put an end to their suffering.  Please also visit www.meat.org.  It has a very graphical and emotionally disturbing video but will really put into perspective all what I am talking about.

MORE >>
Fun Trip to Snowy Soda Springs
We took Nivi on a ski trip to Soda Springs up in the Sierra Nevada valley. Her friends Sadhavi and Sneha accompanied us, with folks of course. It was such a blast! The kids went nuts playing with the snow! We couldnt even stop Nivi from eating a handful of the fresh powder...
MORE >>