Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Diwali time.....Let the fun begins

We have been very busy for last couple of days getting ready for Diwali. It is one festival which is hugely celebrated in India by everyone. Diwali brings back all the fun childhood memories. The days of October/ November when we used to have cool mornings and strong 'October heat' in the afternoon. The making of special Diwali FaraL (special sweets and savories made on this occasion), the making of mud forts, school holidays, greeting relatives, having firecrackers and most importantly getting new outfit. I always looked forward to Diwali as I used to get new outfit on this occasion. It was one festival when everyone was in joyous and happy mood. No matter how stressed your life is otherwise, during Diwali season we celebrated what we had, we celebrated all the good things we have, we celebrated life. This year having aai-baba with us makes it more meaningful. It is them because of whom we are who we are. So, celebrating this special festival with them is very satisfying. Get togethers, calling relatives back home, eating sweets and being thankful for what we are is on cards.

On this special occasion, I wish you all a very happy Diwali. May this festive season bring the 'good' in all of us and may we embrace our lives with passion and happiness. Live like there is no tomorrow and dance like no one is watching. Happy Diwali !!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Fall is here….

It’s been a while that I wrote. Well, it’s more than a while – 2 months and no scrambling of words. That’s not good. As I said earlier, writing is extremely therapeutic for me. This passion of mine which started with Marathi writing at the age of 6 or 7 has been a constant source of joy and stress buster. Life happens, we meet people, we emote, we react, we exist – all of this I see it from a writer’s perspective and try to capture it using words. English writing or reading was never ‘my’ thing. I sucked at writing in English and ran away from reading English literature. But I am trying…for a change :)

Last 2 months went by very fast with aai-baba’s visit and seeing more of this beautiful country with them. This time they got to experience the whole family together after a long time. Sheetal and I are in the same city after almost 10 years or so. What more joy parents can have than to see their kids in the same city sharing the bond of love and affection (and at times fights too). I love having my sis in town. Time spent with your siblings is a special one. It brings back all the fun memories that you shared while growing up. The fights, the funny moments, the not so favorite aunts and uncles – everything. Last 2 months, we were engrossed in pure family fun. Taking a week long trip to west (LA and Vegas) was unforgettable moment. Mom loved Vegas glamour and dad thought million dollar houses in LA were worth visiting. Amit and I got to spend quality time with our love Dhruv, meet our friends Shailesh and Parind from LA and enjoy our favorite sin city again. :) Life was good. Last week we had my Aatya (dad’s sis) and her husband visiting us from Atlanta. It’s amazing how you start understanding your relatives to a completely different level as a grown up person vs. when you were a kid. You start understanding some of their decisions and the rationale behind those decisions. We took them to our favorite city - Chicago. Going to Chicago gives me same joy as I used to get as a kid after receiving a new outfit on Diwali - exclusively once a year affair and a complete bragging opportunity to friends. My Chicago trips are similar – although not too far from us, it only is a once a year affair and then when I come back from the deep dish Pizza city, I am bragging about the ‘coolness’ of it to everyone I know. Visit to Chicago makes me lighter, happier and sexier. I forget life’s stress when I am visiting this city of ‘Lake Michigan’. I see and experience life everywhere in this city. Strolling in downtown, shopping on Michigan Avenue, observing the trendy, hip people with their designer clothes and million dollar attitude, experiencing little India on Devon street – I take it all and love it all. It is a city with Midwestern roots that has achievements above the urban heights – figuratively and literally. If ‘Apple’ is the fruit of New York city, I think ‘Plum’ should be the fruit of Chicago – equally stylish but very earthy. In downtown Chicago, we made a quick stop to meet our friends Neha and Bhupi – a friendship that began with Amit but nurtured through facebook connection of me and Neha. I love facebook. It got me connected to so many new friends and helped me grow old friendships. This was only second time I met Neha, but we got instantly connected. I love this new generation of Indian women – they know what they want, they are ready to make sacrifices to achieve it and they are unapologetic about their cooking skills or any other stereotypical skill attached to women, especially Indian women. They will get tattoo on their navel with the same passion as they will have Mehendi (henna) on their hand. They might make nontraditional life choices and they are not afraid to talk about it. Within 10 minutes of our meeting, Neha told my parents and my aunt and uncle how theirs is an inter-cast marriage - she and her husband are from different castes. No shame, no guilt, no regrets or no pride – just the facts. You get what you see – there is no hidden agenda. Take it or leave it. I love that. For long, Indian women did not have the luxury of speaking their mind or making life choices of their preference. It was always determined by someone else – either society, their family or ‘men’ in the house. That evening while driving back from Chicago I got to think – didn’t women of my mom’s generation felt the same way or had same dreams and aspirations as women of today’s? I think they did. They felt same way but they did not have enough power to raise their voice. Their education, their career, their dreams was never a priority and there was no other option than sucking it all up. They were trained to believe that their role is to please a man – in all aspects and at any cost. Their role is to serve and cater to male ego, our very own ‘desi’ male ego. It starts with your father, brother, husband and then your son. It is refreshing to see that new generation of Indian women are getting out of that rut hole. They see their husband as equal partner, a good friend and a great confidante. They believe in their capabilities and are honest to talk about their dreams, feelings and frustrations. They make life choices on their own and are happy with it. Just the GDP growth can never be and should not be the sign of any society’s progress. Materialistic growth does not guarantee equal access of opportunities for all and honor for equal human rights. It is this change in mindset that define how progressive a society is- because only in such progressive mindsets we can have best and brightest minds working towards progress. It is only through such attitudes we can tap into talents of everyone and make real progress.

Fall is here and so is Diwali – hugely celebrated Indian festival of lights. We all are getting excited to welcome Diwali with content mind and uplifting spirits. In this Fall season, let the biases and stereotypes we have amongst us fall behind and we move towards more just, more equal and more progressive mindset and thus society. Happy Fall….

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Pride, Birthday and Beyond....

Last two weeks have been crazily busy. Indianapolis Pride was fun as usual. This time Sheetal and company joined us in the parade and so it made it very meaningful. Dhruv, my nephew was the youngest member of the float and Amit and I were very happy about it. It's very empowering and liberating to see people who attend Pride festivals across the globe. It does not matter what your age, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity is. What matters is you are walking in the parade with a pride of who you are. You are celebrating yourself, your identity and your self esteem. I always find walking with these amazing people very energetic and liberating. It's very important for each of us to know who we are and what we can do in life. Self confidence and Self esteem are big virtues in life and events like Pride help you boost those. Lot of Fortune companies as well as local businesses usually have their booths set up as part of the education and welcoming message to the attendees of the pride festival. I like to go to various booths and see what work they do and most importantly what freebies they have. I can always use more plastic clips :)

Aai-baba (mom and dad) arrived in Chicago after 7 hours of flight delay in Munich. They looked fresh and full of energy on the arrival, which always makes me happy. They have lot of interesting stories and pics. to share from their 2.5 weeks of Europe tour where they ventured nine different countries. Aai-Baba are people's people. They love to interact, talk, listen and understand other people. They are less of "me" attitude and more about "you". So, whenever they travel they always make lot of friends and fun memories.More to come on their trip...

This past weekend we celebrated Carla's B'day. Carla is a daughter of my host family Dick and Darlene. When I was a student at University of Cincinnati, I was assigned Dick and Darlene as my host family. We used to meet once in couple of months to share interesting perspectives about each other's cultures. This year has been 10 year anniversary of our friendship and with every year the bond has become stronger and stronger. I personally treasure this relationship very much. Dick and Darlene were my face of America when I was new in this country. They helped me understand this country, it's various aspects and facets of life here. It is at their house I celebrated my first Americal Thanksgiving and Christmas festivals. As a new immigrant to America at that point in time, the only picture of America that I had was from most of the American movies, and that wasn't too nice. Dick and Darlene played an important role in shaping my views and perspectives about this country. They showed me how family values, religion, importance on relationships and cultural heritage also matters to lot of Americans. They welcomed not only me but people associated with me to their home and their hearts. I felt instantly at home when I visited them first time. Darlene is a great host and has extremely loving and caring soul. I have gone to her on numerous occasions for advice and comfort. She is my American Mom, in the true sense. Celebrating their daughter Carla's B'day was a fun occasion. Italian food, wonderful conversations and a great company made the evening very special. I do believe it is these bonds of friendships, camaraderie and fun memories is life is all about. At times we worry too much and get ourselves entangled in unnecessary tensions, jealousies, and superficial pleasures that lead us to nowhere. I find birthday celebrations, family gatherings and get together as a great medicine on today's stressful life. With mercury heating up, I hope each of you find a way to relax and enjoy your loved ones' company and have fun. I, for sure am going to rock during this summer.

Happy Camping :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It’s party time

Last week has been crazy busy. Alan, one of Amit’s ex-colleague graduated from MBA program and so we attended his graduation party. I love graduation parties. There is so much hard work put in by most grads and it’s very satisfying and fulfilling to see them and their significant others in happy mood. Alan’s kids were especially happy as now they will get more free time from their papa . Julia, Alan’s better half is an amazing woman. She is a home maker and does it with pride and extra confidence. I love that. Julia is also very active in local volunteer group that does advocacy for gay/lesbian rights and awareness about sexual minorities. She had organized a great party and has invited lots of her friends. I have to admit when I started seeing the guests arriving I kept thinking, oh well, this is going to be one of those another parties where straight married people talk about their kids, their ‘straight’ life and the usual ‘married with kids’ dialogues. I have been to many such parties where if you are not married and with kids, you better have excellent communication skills and an ultra ego to hold your feet strong. But how wrong I was! We had an amazing time. We happened to meet these two extraordinary ladies who were interested in talking on topics like Indian culture, abortion, homosexuality, raising pets, American weddings and growing up in Midwest. Now, that’s what I call a complete conversation. Honestly, I suffocate when I am surrounded by very typical traditionalist type conversations where you can see their world is so narrow. But talking to these ladies, I felt it was very honest, heart to heart and healthy conversation. I admire these home makers. These are the ladies (and in some cases men), who are the real backbone and foundation of their family. They are the ones who act as a glue to keep every member of their family together. And they do it with smile and pride. They have this innate quest for more knowledge about everything in life. In our ‘corporate success’ obsessed culture these home makers are breath of fresh air. They hardly get credit or recognition for the amazing work they do but of course they do it irrespective of that. I often find, women (and men) like these are extremely intelligent, humble and know what they are talking about. You will find them without any pretense and they will be the first one to admit that they are not perfect in every sense. Can we have more of such personalities please? :)

Amit and I have been getting ready for my parents who arrive here next Sunday. Currently they are on a Europe tour and are having smashing time. During last week, they celebrated their 35th marriage anniversary in Switzerland. Sheetal (my sis) and I were extremely happy about that moment. We have come a long way from living in a humble 200 sq. feet home with bare essentials to wear and eat to where we are today. Our parent’s hard work and strong belief in good deeds and education is what made us who we are today. Thanks aai-baba (mom and dad) for everything and congrats for making 35 years of life together. I am sure life was not always rosy for you and you had ups and downs in your relationships but main thing is you believed in each other and made it this far together. It is a great milestone and it is something that we will work to achieve in our personal relationships.

It’s Indianapolis Pride today. So Amit and I are getting ready for the Pride parade. I feel so proud to represent my company and walk in the parade with my company’s float. Happy Pride everyone.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Free Hugs

Earlier this weekend Amit and I went to Indy downtown for some authentic mexican food. Weather was nice and breezy and so were our moods. Going to Indy downtown on such nice day felt like heaven. Living in Columbus Indiana we don't find
much fun things to do. I always said, Columbus is a perfect town for people who are married with kids. This town absorbs you like anything if you fit in that bucket. Different events, activities that goes on in this town
are catered for this demographic. If you do not fit in that bucket, then good luck. You are on your own. So you will find Amit and me taking these mini trips to Indianapolis or Louisville or for that metter even to Cincinnati more often than what we wanted.We need a break and means to enjoy life :)
Acapulco Joe's is my all time favorite mexican reastaurant. Your taste buds start salivating right from the moment you eat their salsa. It's so delicious.It has perfect combination of chilies and tomatoes. It's hot with a nice twist to
it - your mouth doesn't get burnt with the hotness but you feel enough heat to crave for more. Their chimichanga is to die for. After a heavy meal at Acapulco's we took a stroll in downtown Indy. People were flocking to downtown to breath fresh air and get the glimpse of all the fun things going on in downtown. It's a
graduation time for most high school students and so we saw lots of 'kids' going around and doing all the 'aaha-s and ooh-s'. I was telling Amit how that age is such a wonderful age. 17-18 years. You are not mature enough to be seriously thinking about world issues and life tensions but you are not a kid as well to not understand the 'grown up thingies'. At the central monument We saw these two teenage girls carrying a big banner that says "Free Hugs". Initially I had no clue what exactly they meant. While we were sitting by the fountain watching people, traffic and passerby's we realized what 'Free HUgs' was. It's exactly what it says. Anyone can come and give hugs to these girls. And mind you these hugs were friendly, affectionate hugs. When I approached these girls, I asked them what this was. In a very cheering and happy tone one of the girl explained to me that they do this
out of fun and to make people smile and laugh. They believed this world is so full of tensions, hate and rivalry that loving another human being is becoming a rare thing. And isn't that so true. Finding someone to give a hug and just say "I see you, I trust you and I care for you" feels so great. There is a sense of belonging somewhere and at times we need that. Inspite of being surrounded by hundreds of people, we feel lonely and depressed. I believe these acts of kindness and love are much more needed in today's world. With more and more materialistic possessions and technological advancements, people are going away from each other. In these times
free hugs are going to be much needed and appreciated. I and Amit very happily gave a warm hug to these wonderful women and wished them very best for their future. I was amazed with the matured thought process they had at that age. Simply amazing. So, next time when you feel lonely or depressed, give someone a big warm hug and see how comforting you will feel by the touch of another human being.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Celebrating Men’s Men

Celebrating Men’s Men

Things have been crazy for last 2-3 weeks. With work, b’days and social engagements life seems to be hurried and extremely hectic. But, oh well…that’s the world of today for you. Last weekend, one of my friend Shailesh from CA called and told me that he is visiting India as his sister was expecting any time. After that, every two days he updated his facebook profile with latest happenings re: sister and the baby. In his recent facebook update this is what he wrote:

"Shailesh is experiencing what little kids mean.... keeping awake at nights, changing nappies, singing funny songs, talking stupid things and smiling at the middle of night as the little one wakes you up.... its tiring, but soooo fulfilling and satisfying.... there is a sweet happiness in it. It just makes me smile and feel thankful!!!"

Shailesh is one guy who knows how to express his emotions. It was very heartwarming to see his love and affection for his sister and her baby. Men have always been characterized as these tough, emotionless creatures but when I see people like Shailesh who knows how to express their emotions, who are there for their sisters in their most important phase of life, it’s very touching.

John, one of my coworker recently had a babyboy. This is their first child and John is extremely excited about the new arrival. Last week, he talked about how he is waking up every 2-3 hours in the night to take care of the baby so that his wife can get some rest after going through the delivery process. Inspite of being tired and sleepy at work, he thinks it is only fair to take care of the baby in the night in order to give rest to his wife. When he said that, I was like “wow”. This guy not only loves and cares for his wife, but he shows that love through his actions. He understands it.And that’s VERY important.

Atul, another friend of mine from Chicago, follows similar trajectory. He knows how to treat his woman – his wife, with equality, dignity and respect. Whenever I call him or talk to him, he is either taking his daughter to Piano or swimming classes, or getting them ready for school. He is extremely involved in his kids’ lives and works with his wife as an equal partner in everything. I have known Atul for almost more than 15 years and one thing I can say for sure is he knows how to treat his lady. And I tremendously respect him for that. He is one of those men, who give equal importance to their wives’ careers, dreams and ambitions in the true sense and is ready to make sacrifices. He knows how to handle and deal with his ‘male ego’. Unfortunately it’s not a common occurrence when it comes to men, at least Indian men. Recently Shobhaa De commented that Indian men still operate in mediaeval times and have very traditionalist expectations from their wives, whereas Indian women are very ‘today’. And that is so true. Indian women know how to wear pants and bindi at the same time –literally and figuratively. I see this everyday. Indian women are competing with global talent in Corporate suites and still managing to cook ‘daal-chawal’ after coming home. There is a big shift in today’s Indian women’s attitudes and life expectations than women from my parental generation. Unfortunately for men, for most part, things have been pretty much same. They are still stuck with their male egos, ‘Their’ career aspirations and what ‘THEY’ want from life. They still view women’s role as cooks, maids and caretakers in the house and completely shy away from their share of responsibility. It’s not at all a team effort for them – at least for most of them.

In such circumstances, men like Shailesh, John and Atul are breath of fresh air. You call them metrosexual, progressive, open minded or just plain ‘human’ – doesn’t matter -they are here –at least some of them. They give you hope, that centuries and centuries of gender inequality can be eradicated with more open and fresh attitudes. They get it. I call them Men’s Men. They are ready to wear a tie and an apron at the same time. They know how to express their emotions and truly value their sisters, their wives – women in their lives. I firmly believe, kids growing up in such progressive and liberal households will have very bright future, because their attitude towards life will be less biased and more inclusive - more open –a ‘must’ component for tomorrow’s citizens. These Men’s Men should be celebrated on woman’s day and mother’s day. They are the biggest aid for the feminist movement. So, if you know such men around you – let them know how much you value them and please tell them to work with their rest of the ‘tribe’ members so that life will be a real happy fairy tale for all women across the world.

Belated Happy Mother's Day to all the moms and also to those who have heart and responsibility of a Mom !!

Friday, April 17, 2009

My nephew Dhruv

It was a special occasion yesterday – my nephew turning 2. Such a joyous moment for all of us. It was 2 years back my wonderful little sis Sheetal gave birth to this little angel named Dhruv. Life has been so much fun since then. Amit and I have this little one to pamper and shower our love on. Dhruv took us back to our childhood and brought back all the good old memories. I have to confess though - I was never into kids. For me kids always were these little pricks making mess everywhere and creating more work for us 'adults'. Basically whenever I saw kids I always saw this big W ( for Work and may be for Worries) and I ran away from them. I thought, may be God didn't give me those parental instincts which are supposed to help you unconditionally love kids inspite of all the work and the tantrums they throw. But things changed after Dhruv. Of course, they didn't change immediately. They changed within last one year when he started expressing more, playing, laughing and reacting more. Yesterday on his b'day he fed me cheesecake and I was about to cry experiencing that moment. Basically, I hate sweets (I know I am in minority...again), so I was refraining myself from all the dessert section. He observed that and from nowhere he came running to me with cheesecake in his hand and fed it to me without even me noticing that I am actually eating the dessert. No convincing, no pleading - just pure innocence and love worked it's magic.

Dhruv is my nephew and I am his what we in marathi call 'mama' (mother's brother -uncle). I value this relationship because I believe it is a special one (and may be because I never got to experience the real one from my own mama's. Hey, what's wrong in calling a spade a spade). This one relationship is one in which kids have full right and access to their mama - they can ask or demand anything from their 'mama's' and still get away with it. It is a relationship filled with trust, friendship and unconditional love. It definitely has the 'friendship' angle more to it than any other cross generational relationships. It is a relationship that is endorsed by most of the regional songs from India ( I know in marathi we have a song 'mamachya gavala jau ya'). May be that's why I adore this relationship much more than anything else.

So, here is my and Amit's heartfelt wishes and immense love for you Dhruv. May you grow up as a fine human being who is loving, caring and wonderful to be around. May you get all the happiness and love this world has to offer. May you make your parents proud and make this place a better place to live. And finally may you always remain the angel of all of our eyes.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Susan's Got talent

I am writing after some time. Have been sick for last one week. So got a chance to rest up and read some wonderful books. Will definitely write about those as well as other experiences while being sick in detail in another post.

I just saw Susan Boyle's performance on youtube where she performed on Britain's Got Talent. Susan Boyle is just an ordinary person, just like you and me but with extra ordinary confidence and extraordinary talent. She participated in Britain's Got talent show as a contestant and hoping to become a singer. She has been singing at her church for last 20 years, she is 47 years old, lives alone with her cat, never been gone on a date or never been kissed (in a romantic way). She tells all this on this show in a very firm and confidant voice. Everyone in the audience looked at her physique, face, personality and literally made assumptions about "what can she sing?" Even the judges made some snobbish comments challenging her talents and dreams. But they gave her a chance and asked her to sing. And what a miracle. As soon as she started singing, within a second she got applauce from everyone. Her voice, her talent touched everyone and people realized how wrong they were in judging her based on her appearance/looks. It was literally - she came, she sang, she conquered. I was personally into tears while watching this performance. You can watch this on youtube. It got me thinking. How many times we make such judgements based on physical appearnaces? Answer is most of the times. Based on how people look, how people present themselves, what people wear...list just goes on and on about external appearance. Unfortunately we operate and compete in a world where more emphasis is given on what you wear and how you look than what your inner talents are and how beautiful you are from within. No one has time boss. Susan's performance was a wake up call - for everyone. It showed that there are these underdogs out there who might not know how to dress up or present themsleves or talk in a most precise way, but when it comes to the real talents, they are by far superior. You need to hear them and you need to appreciate them for what they are bringing to the table.Their talent and their confidence is what takes these underdogs well ahead in the game. I could somewhat corelate with this situation because I felt I was a underdog at one point in time while growing up. Being short, underweight and completely unaware of how to dress well, I always had this inferiority complex. And growing up I never saw role models on TV or in movies who were like me or who fit my profile. But people like Susan inspire the underdogs out there. They tell us that it's ok to be who you are. These external factors don't matter. Main thing is be confident with what you got and face the world with your talent. People better will listen to you then. I know I am always for such underdogs - people coming from lower socioeconomic strata, or people who are completely unaware of how to dress or people who have been socially disadvantaged because of their gender, caste or any other factor. When it comes to talent NONE of these things can and should matter. Thank you Susan for showcasing your talent and making us realize that talent comes in all forms, shapes and sizes.

Here is the link.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The break Up

The other day while watching news they talked about a new book that's coming to market. The book focusses on how to break up with people with whom you have platonic relationship. Like your hairstylist, your doctor, your maid or your daughter's friend's overbearing mom - anyone with whom you do not have romantic involvement/relationship and would like to fire them. Initially I laughed at the subject and was very skeptical about how it might go. But it clicked for me. this book and it's author who was interviewed talked about the real life examples or 'what to says' while breaking up with these people. Key was to break up in a professional yet very dignified way. Care has to be taken to maintain the other person's dignity but still letting them know the reasons for your moving on. Theses gals even role played some situations where the author helped with 'what to say' during break up and 'how to say' kind of things. I thought it was really cool skill to have. When you think about it we struggle about these things. Especially Indians are really bad about this. I remembered a situation from childhood when we changed our family doctor of 15 years to a more competitive and well known doctor. We felt guilty, we felt bad, we felt that we are cheating someone. Now, when I think about it I wonder why did we feel that way? We were not cheating anyone. We have full right to hire and fire any doctor that we want based on their competitiveness. Somewhere we think " oh, what will our doctor think if I tell them I am switching to other doctor ". It's the guilt that accumulates within us and so we try to do anything- we try to avoid that person, try to take another route away from his office or if we meet him then instead of confronting the reality, we try to sugarcoat things or tell the doctor that we haven't been sick for long time. Yeah right !! We were always taught that confronting directly is a bad thing. We are more about saving face in the public instead of facing reality. Is that productive? I don't think so. Nobody wins. Having clarity about how you feel about their services and stating them the reasons of your moving on might help them improve their performance. Competition always keeps people on their toes. So, why are we afraid to confront people with the reality. How many days, years and generations we are going to sugarcoat things and keep underperformers in dark? So, if you have such relationships, instead of facing the guilt syndrome, confront them and move on to a more competitive service provider. I think it's a win-win for both the parties. Isn't it?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Friendz Rulez!!!

That seems to be the mantra of the last week. Shailesh, one of my good friend was leaving town for better prospects and they have invited couple of friends at his home. It was Shivani's - his wife's b'day as well. Such a joyous occasion. Cake cutting, Pizza, good conversations and good company added much flavor to the evening. Friends play a very special part in my life. They were there when I needed them most - when I was trying to find my place in the world. Isn't that what we try to do most of the time. Try to see where do we fit, how do we fit. And who else than our friends can help in that process. Life throws lots of challenges at you. You have to just stand strong and face it. My friends gave me that strength. They listened, they talked, they lended a shoulder to cry on, they did everything but never judged me for who I am. Good friendships are rare these days and so I feel extremely rich to have good sets of friends. My aai always says that I have been very lucky to find good friends which is very true . I treasure my friendships, all the moments and memories associated with it. Here is to Shailesh and Shivani and their bright future.

While we celebrated Shailesh's success one evening, we had some wonderful company next day at our home. Usha and Raja - our neighbors as well as good friends were at our house for dinner. Usha's sister Vani ji was visiting from Boston, so it was our excuse for a get together. Amma and Appa - Usha's parents are always special. Extremely talented, gifted and very down to earth folks. I like them - a lot !! I had prepared simple maharashtrian food - kobichi bhaaji (cabbage with mustard seeds, hing and turmeric), gajarachi koshimbir (carrot salad), poli (bread), rice and daal (lentil soup). I like simple traditional maharashtrian food. It reminds me of home cooking - aai's touch. I was happy to see that Amma and Appa loved my poli and kobichi bhaaji. I think scoring high with them wasn't as daunting task as I had thought. After dinner we immersed ourselves in some Indian classical music and songs - by our own talented crew. Vani ji, Usha and Amma sang beautiful karanataki music style bhajans and song. Such a heavenly bliss. The rhythms, the aalaaps, the devotion - it was all there transcending the boundaries of language. I closed my eyes and tried to soak the beauty of these wonderful renditions. Amma was so melodious even at this age. I really have huge respect for this generation - they have seen so much life but still so grounded with their values, their simplicity and their disciplined way of life. My generation has so much to learn from them. They reminded me of my own grandparents. Amit sang beautiful Marathi song 'tya foolanchya gandhkoshi' while Sheetal gave us a sneak peek at her singing talent by singing a Japanese song. Parag topped the evening off with 'Pasaydaan'. Dhruv, Raja, Appa and I prefer to listen with great devotion :) Very simple yet very mesmerizing and touching evening. Happiness is simple. I am convinced.

Past weekend has been a real treat for an actor in me. Betsy, a PhD student from IU and now a good friend is making a film on successful immigrants in America. She wanted to shot and interview me and my family for this film. So, Amit and me and Sheetal and company were all dressed up for the shoot. Nice weather helped us to shoot some outdoor shots (like in a park, backyard etc.) Dhruv was not sure what's going on so he preferred to ignore the cameras and just be himself - which helped to capture him in his natural shots. The best shot was when we were 'acting' to drink tea from our cups (when there was no real tea in the cups) I was told that's how most of the shoots are done. It was so much fun just to act as if we were having tea and enjoying it. Our house was turned into a studio for the weekend. I think all of us enjoyed the 'lights, camera, action' world for a change.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Cincinnati gateaway

Had blast in Cincinnati during weekend. It was much needed break. For some time now, Amit and I have been thinking of taking a break from hustle and bustle of our lives. And finally we got a reason. It's been 10 year anniversary celebration of my friendship with some of the most loving people in Cincinnati - My host family and some other friends. Just like the geography of the city, my life has gone through some ups and downs in Cincinnati. So it was very special visit to the city. Had really interesting conversations with Sharon and her family. Really cute White american couple in their late 60's. Sharon has been the adventurous one to visit India twice on her own. Love her courage. Topics of our discussions ranged from growing up in the 40's to Obama's kingdom to abortion issues. Being a right wing conservative, Sharon felt her and similar minded people's voice is suppressed in today's world. Amit and I both are very liberal in our view points, but we felt we needed to listen to what Sharon and her husband had to say. I do believe we need to have such conversations - between liberals and conservatives, men and women, straight and gay, hindus and muslims, brahmins and non brahmins and the list can go on. What do such conversations achieve? I think clarity - of your own thoughts and also what the other person's frame of mind is. These dialogues, these conversatiosn play a critical role in our understanding of life, our understanding of world and the interdependency of one another. These dialogues help us to come closer. At times we are scared of such dialogues but the more discussions I ma having, I am getting convinced that it's fruitful. Being honest and upfront with your opinion helps to have transparancy in the relationship. And that transparancy is the basis for trusting relationhips, isn't it?

Saturday and sunday we spent in downtown shopping, eating at Amber and watching a movie at Esquire on Ludlow. Oh, also had opportunity to visit this cool hukka hang out place near UC. I was amazed to see the transformation that UC had gone through. It's like a makeover of the UC. Loved smoking hukka alongwith the exotic middle eastern music and people. Amit refrained from smoking hukka but he doesn't know what he missed. I am of the opinion that you should try everything once in your life time. I am not a smoker and know will never be, but smoking hukka once in your life is not going to make your lungs start complaining !! It's all about knowing your boundaries while you are living life.

Columbus is having really good weather this week and I am loving it. Shorts, t-shirts and bbq's are on calendar. Yesterday had our 1st barbeque for the season and had amazing time. Had Sheetal and company for dinner and they all loved the grilled chicken and other vegetables. I am really excited about spring and summer. This has been a long and harsh winter, so having tons of appreciation for the change of season. Stay tuned for more updates as we enjoy this wonderful weather.....

Friday, March 13, 2009


Ok, so I am tired and need a break...totally looking forward to weekend in Cincinnati. I love Cincinnati. That's where it all started. My first air travel was from Mumbai to Cincinnati. Here is this 23 year old guy from India starting for this big adventure called 'studying in America'. I was so scared with all the challenges laying ahead :) It is another story that I landed in Cincinnati after 4 days from starting in Mumbai because of KLM crew being on strike. So Cincinnati has special place in my heart. I landed on Cincinnati airport in the afternoon after making stops in at least 7 different cities around the world and when I landed I was without my bags. My love for the city was immediate. Very historic yet trendy city which has it's own flaws, but who doesn't. Have so many great memories of the city and it's surroundings. Being an international student in a university environment - experience of a lifetime. Met my host family as well as other good friends in this place. This city and it's people gave me tremendous love. This is where I gained my confidence and self esteem. This is the city that helped me accept who I am and bring out the best in me. I owe big time to this wonderful city. Planning to spend some time at Ludlow and of course the very cool Amber restaurant and indulge in their onion kulchas and saag paneer. Downtown shopping is therapeutic for me so already warned Amit that shopping is on the cards :) Macy's and Sacs Fifth is all right there. So, what else you want right ? :)

Anyway, will be back after lots of fun and great memories. I already started feeling so nostalgic....You all have a great weekend.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Jay Ho

There is something about us...Indians. My American friends always asked me...what makes you all so happy, so joyous, so celebrating. When westerners visit India one thing they always find is no matter how poor, how developing we are, we are surely happy. they see faces of happy, smiling people...and they wonder, how can we smile in the midst of all the poverty that is going around, Recently I was watching ABC's Good Morning America show where they did a special show on Mumbai and showcased this kid 'Dev' from slums of Mumbai - Dharavi. This guys was speaking fluent English and doing a well respected job in a MNC. He gave a tour of his modest home and his family in Dharavi - a mere 200 sq. feet room where 6 people sleep, cook, operate - habitat. It was so heartwarming to see how humble and still confident he was, but most importantly I thought he looked happy, he looked content. And that's the main thing. At times, I wonder what makes us so happy, so joyous....may be that's the face we show to the outside world no matter how unhappy we might be inside or is it really that we are happy within. when Dev said that everyone should know that people living in slums also have dreams and hopes, I am like that's it. He said it. Bingo. That's the magic word - Hope. I think we as Indians are very hopeful people. Our ancestors have seen extreme poverty and so always have taught us to be hopeful. It is this hope that keeps our juices flowing, it gives us way to survive and succeed. We have learnt how to struggle and how to manage with least resources. We are taught to be hopeful and wait for the sunny days to come. we have taught to be patient. May be that's the reason we show our happy faces or may be that's the reason we ARE happy.

after slumdog's success, suddenly slums in India became kewl, they became exotic, they became hot spots for tourists and journalists. India's poverty and it's slum life became a star attraction. Some had issues with it but no matter one likes it or not, that's what is happening. Even our politicians started using them as a weapon for their 'prachaar sabhaas'. Poor residents had no idea how and when they became so famous, so public, so "in". I am hopeful - see I used the H word again, that the Dev's of this slum world know what's happening around them and not fall prey to false promises. I am hopeful that the Dev's of this world will get a right recognition to their voice. Yes, the world is watching them, then why not make use of this wonderful opportunity and make the lives of millions of Dev's better. Let's make them happy in the real sense. Then only we can proudly say "Jay Ho"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sent from my iPhone

No...this blog is not written from my iPhone...I don't even have iPhone. But I was just wondering how our world has changed. For last couple of years I started seeing emails that had this tagline of 'sent from my blackberry' or 'sent from verizon wireless'. Not sure why we need these taglines. I am like, I don't care how you sent this message. I got the message and that's more important to me. I have some friends who have made a status symbol issue with their iPhone. It's like if you have the latest gadgets and you are technologically savvy, you are cool, you are sexy, you are in. My answer to them : If that's your definition of being 'in', then I am out. I would like to be out, voluntarily.Just keep me out of your circle, please. Why do you have to have all the latest gadgets when you really don't see and feel the need. Just to fit in? May be without buying an iPhone, I will just type a tagline on my emails "sent from my iPhone". Who will know if I really have iPhone or not, right?

Our world is changing and it is changing at such a fast speed. The facebook, the Orkut, twitter, iPhone, text messaging - all forms of instant communications. My parents, grandparents never had this and still they survived, they lived, they succeeded, they managed. I remember my baba writing letters (postcards, inland letters) to all his brothers in Mumbai and then we receiving the replies. It was so much fun to read those letters and know about happenings from their end. It was the time when phones were not common.It was the time when people relied on simple ways of life - letters, chitthis, postman. But did we lack emotions in those times. Heck no. Relationships were much stronger, tighter. At least I believe so. I am not saying technology is bad. Because of Orkut I got reconnected to some of my old schoolmates after almost 17 years, and it feels refreshing. So I can see use of technology in strengthning bonds. But it's how we use that technology. Do we text someone saying Happy B'day or do we make an effort to visit them on that day and actually spend time with them. I think we have to tie real emotions in this equation somewhere, isns't it?

So the next time you read a tagling of my email that says "sent from my iPhone", son't become too happy. It's me who typed that line...not my iPhone. It ain't happening. :)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Happy Women's Day

Day has been pretty hectic with me cooking Chicken Chettinad and Pulaav...Dhruv loved my chicken and that made uncle sameer happy :) It turned out real well.

Last night Amit and I went to Al-Territo grill - a cool mexican joint at north side of Indy. Really good authentic and spicy mexican food with 100% mexican margarita...there is something cool about margarita that takes me in totally different world. Overall a neat place at not very pricy rates. Afterwards we took a stroll in downton Indy since mercury was showing low 70's...something we all hoosiers were craving for. :) We topped off the evening with drinks and dessert at downtown Hyatt's top floor revolving restaurant - a very trendy and romantic place to end the evening (or for that matter dine at). I loved city's views and Tiramasu was delicious as usual. Don't we all love Tiramasu

I want to wish all the women out there a very happy women's day. Here is my message to all you rocking ladies :)

Let this day and each day in coming year, you explore the beauty and power of being a woman. This world will not be same without extraordinary women like yourself. Each of you is very beautiful and unique in your own way. Always know, that you have something extra special in you that we men don't have. Be proud of that and treasure that.

Enjoy being a woman of 21st century. My sincere love and admiration for all of you....

Keep rocking.


Friday, March 6, 2009

Shri Ganeshaay Namaha

My first blog entry...always wanted to have my own space where I can scribe thoughts, my struggles, my joys. Feels so great to have this space. Hope to be back here again and again....and again. The two blogs I follow regularly are of Shobhaa De's and Amitabh Bachhan's. Couple of things I like about these blogs. Amitabh's blog helps me to learn new english words and improve my english. also reading his blog gives me opportunity to peep into the world of bollywood for which I have great fascination about. Shobhaa's blog is very close to my heart. I admire her for her guts, bravery and down to earth nature. Read her marathi book called 'selective memory' and loved it. That book helped me understand real Shobhaa De. She comments on lots of social aspects and I like that. I agree with lot of her thoughts and at times disagree as well. Which is ok, because healthy differences are always great. Anyway, hope to write more on this space...stay tuned blogdosts :)