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 something....my thoughts, my ponderings...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 :)