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5 Things I Find Odd In America

1. Americans will drink anything but water It's true. The drinks aisle in the supermarket will have everything from vitamin water to fizzy drinks to fake fruit juice with labels proudly proclaiming that they contain no actual fruit and people will buy any of those, but they won't drink water. Like this guy, who convinced himself he doesn't like its taste! 

2. Meat is cheaper than vegetables And Americans consider it the most natural thing in the world. I find it completely illogical that it is cheaper to buy the meat of an animal that has been fed grain, than buying said grain by itself. But maybe it's just because I'm Indian and I actually know where meat comes from. And milk. And leather. And all the rest. Many Americans seem to be blissfully unaware or in some cases, willfully ignorant. Which leads to memes such as this one.

3. Eating out is better than cooking Especially when you consider that cooking at home involves buying groceries, keeping track of expiry dat…

On The Important Questions In Life

I loved going to the zoo when I was a kid. I'd always loved animals and this was probably the closest I would get to some of them. Then when I grew up a little and came to know more about how the animals were forced into small cages and generally not treated well, I hated zoos with a vengeance. Wild animals were supposed to be in the wild damn it, not in tiny squares of our choosing. Then I grew up a bit more and found out about zoos that have solid conservation programs, helping to preserve species that humans are driving to extinction. Zoos with natural exhibits and no cages. I loved zoos again.
I went through the same flip-flopping on the the question of god, religion etc. As a child, there was no questioning any of it: the pujas, the rituals, the singing and the work. It was as much a part of life as eating or playing. I remember helping my mother with cleaning the puja room, watering the tulsi in the backyard and fetching flowers for my grandfather for the daily ritual. 
Lat…

Rub-A-Dub Dub, Three Men In A Tub

A rather unusual incident this weekend reminded me of the classic nursery rhyme. Ok, so it was four grown men instead of three and they were sitting in an inflatable raft instead of a tub and no one was a butcher, a baker or a candlestick maker but hey if you want to nitpick.. /*grumbles*/
Anyway it all started a week ago in East Lansing, when we were trying to find something to do in the sleepiest city I've ever visited so far. One of our friends, +Chandrasekharan Jayakumar, who had so nicely accompanied us to help while away time while the BRZ was getting detailed, asked if we wanted to go camping up to Lake Higgins for 2 days. Of course +Abhilash Bingi & I said yes, given that the sun might go into hiding any day now, taking summer with it.
And thus began a series of blunders leading right up to the night we set up camp. The last time we went camping (my first time) everything was planned meticulously, right down to the spoon and knife. This time? Not so much. Here's the …

Tectonic Shifts Or Trifling Tweaks? Part II

Continued...
Last week I talked about moving halfway across the world and how it wasn't half as bad as everyone made it out to be. Turns out, being married can be fun too.
Second: Marriage
I must have dreamed about marriage once. Maybe when I was a kid. I must have because that's what girls are supposed to do, apparently. For most of my adult life though, it wasn't such a big deal. Until I finished college of course. Around that time started the Great Hunt for a groom and needless to say, it was a time of butting heads and loud noises.
Not that my parents wanted to force me into anything but they just didn't see any alternative to the traveling circus otherwise called Arranged Marriage in India. Bad enough that I saw many relationships between friends fall by the wayside and I couldn't find anyone I wanted to spend my life with. On the other hand, the guy parade consisted of these specimens. I was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Of course, my mother and many othe…

The XIII Labor Of Hercules

Spare no expense to save money on this one. - Samuel Goldwyn This could very well describe my quest to find a good Android budgeting app. My needs were pretty simple - track expenses and incomes with category distribution, monthly budget reports and my account balance at any time. I didn't need multiple accounts, users, auto update from my bank accounts (I don't have any!) or investing tools. I needed to track cash, that's it. Bonus points for looking good, though not mandatory.
As it turned out, I had unknowingly embarked on one of the Labors of Hercules. What I thought would take half an hour, took more than 3 days. Here's a chronicle of the apps I tried out before finding one which had (almost) everything I wanted:
Step 1: Search for budgeting apps on Play Store This got me a listing of more than 25 apps. After weeding out that ones which looked like they had a Gingerbread hangover or fake leather and paper, I had a handful of apps remaining.

Step 2: Try out a couple Afte…

Tectonic Shifts Or Trifling Tweaks? Part I

The last year saw two major life changing events happen for me - I got married and moved halfway across the world. These events separately are plenty enough for one person to adjust to, I managed to do them together. I've had plenty of familial advice and friendly warnings regarding getting married and moving so far away from home. Analyzing the effects of the two separately is difficult since I moved because I married and one of the reasons marriage was attractive was moving! But not impossible. 
First up: Moving
I've read horror stories (relatively) about the adjustments you have to make when you move to another country. Different people, language, culture, behavior and what not. You no longer hear familiar sounds - angry motorists yelling at cows peacefully sleeping in the middle of the road, vegetable vendors hawking 'fresh' tomatoes (which are really leftovers from last week), the neighbor next door fighting with the kaamwaali for the nth time, the screech of brakes…

On Being A Housewife

Being a housewife is the best thing in the world. Or so they told me. Growing up, most if not all, of the women in my life were housewives. That was a very long time ago, back when housewife hadn't yet acquired its present unsavory reputation. At least I presume unsavory, why else would women refer to themselves as Stay At Home Moms (SAHMs)? 
I never quite understood why a housewife was called that though. I know what idea it was supposed to convey, that of a married woman who looks after the home and its constituents, but it didn't make much sense. Men are given titles showing what work they do - not always though, I'm pretty fuzzy on what a VP of social media marketing does exactly, other than tweet all day long (sweet job!). And even when they do no work, they have fancy pants titles after their names. Given that, I always thought a better term for these women would be President of Everything
Because that was exactly what they did. Everything. Wake up the kids and husba…

Laziness Is A State Of Mind!

I'm a lazy person. Note the lack of surprised faces. Practically everyone knows that about me. When I say I'm lazy I naturally refer to physical exercise. Any sort of mental activity I relish. Reading, debating, writing etc I get right down to it (unless I procrastinate, but that is for a whole other set of reasons!). It is only when I have to actually move my limbs that I start to resist. 
In this, like in many other aspects, I take after my father. My mom is one of those people who irons and lays out the clothes to be worn the previous night. My dad is one of those people who wears whatever is next in line in the closet. I pick whatever is next in line, except if they don't look good together. I do make exceptions when it comes to doing something I like, but that doesn't happen often. I had a good, if somewhat lazy, life going. 

And then I met the man who would become my husband. He calls himself lazy but this is a guy who used to hit the gym after work. Who used to bi…

The Institution

She woke up with a start. She was late, again. But what did it matter if she was late anyway? She quickly showered and stood in line to receive breakfast. Some girls smiled and talked but others, new to this place like her, stayed silent. After breakfast, she went to the next building and sat down with many others like her in a small room. Girls on one side and boys on the other. She dared not lift up her head to look at them, in case somebody saw it and reported her.
Sometimes she would sneak a peek at the boys and wonder about them. Were they unhappy too? Did some of them dream of escape? Maybe a few of them had a sense of humor, she liked to think so. She made up stories about them in her head, pretending to talk to one or the other. What would it be like to talk to them? They were humans after all, just like her. But it was strictly against the rules. Any girl caught talking to a guy was in for some pretty awful punishment. Or a boy talking to a girl. It was all the same. She didn&…

Summers Gone By

Summer holidays. Anticipated, savored and cherished. This magical time was the highlight of fourteen years of school. Every summer, my sister and I (along with our cousin brother), spent 2 months at the home of our grandparents. A rambling mansion surrounded by gardens on three sides, with cavernous ceilings, ornately carved furniture, doors hidden behind cupboards, creaky stairs and filled with relics of the past.
Summer holidays. So many memories. The sweet smell of ripe mangoes. The shouts of fruit sellers from the streets. The raucous noises of monkeys as they eat from the trees in the garden. Trying to eat the ice cream before it melts from the heat. Eating cold taati munjalu (fruit of sugar palm tree) on a lazy summer afternoon. Squealing with delight when my grandmother unveils one of her special sweets. 
Playing cops and robbers with water pistols. Annoying the gardener while he waters the plants, hoping he'll spray us with the hose. Bowling with plastic balls and pins in th…

Which Narrative Is The Truth?

Quite some time ago, there was a discussion on Google+ about a blog post by Mr. Sandeep in response to an article in the Business Standard by Ms. Nilanjana S Roy. And today, +Praveen Kulkarni again posted the original article and further discussion ensued. Going through my original comments, I felt it would make a good blog post and so here it is. It is my original comment (I know, way too long for a comment which is why it is now a blog post!) with just some minor changes.
(Reading the original Business Standard article and the post by Mr. Sandeep is necessary to better understand what I'm talking about)
Which explanation is the truth?
An honest reading of the original Ramayana reveals that Sita held Rama in the highest esteem throughout the epic.

The author criticizes Namita Gokhale by asking if she time-traveled and saw Sita being a single mother. Then did he also time-travel and confirm that what the epics say about Sita's feelings are really true? He says the fact that Si…

Happy Endings - Part II

Continued...
About a month ago, I wrote about a post about my birthday. In that post I mentioned a list of things I love about birthdays and that I don't usually get every item on that list. Except I did. For this birthday, thanks to my husband, I got every single one on the list - cake, ice cream, chocolate, idiyappam, gifts, shopping, new clothes, books! Like I said, everything. It was, as I thought it would be, a perfect birthday.

So where did I leave off in the last post? Yes, that's right, the worst birthday ever (till date I mean). By the end of 2011, I was beginning to wonder if I was ever going to get out of the pit I found myself in. To be sure, the last 3 months at LIC - quitting needs 90 days notice - were the most fun I ever had in that company. I didn't have to do anything anymore, just show up for work and collect my paycheck.

On the other hand, the series of meetings I had with prospective husbands was not so encouraging. Do you have any idea how hard it is to …

Book Review - Anthonology

I have just finished reading this collection of short stories by Piers Anthony. It contains a total of 21 stories, varying widely in theme. From precocious children to horror & torture, this collection has it all. Each story is accompanied by autobiographical notes by the author regarding the background of the story, like how he got the idea for a story or how many times it made the rounds of publishers before finally seeing publication.
Now I've read such collections by other authors such as Isaac Asimov & Arthur Clarke and have always loved the chance to get a peek into the author's mind. Depending on the author, the notes about a story can be as funny/thought provoking as the story itself. I didn't like this particular one though. 
Regardless of the quality of the actual stories - and they are quite good - the paragraphs about the stories themselves, seem whiny to me. Almost every introduction comes with the obligatory it was rejected this many times and goes on i…

My Favorite Android Apps

I've been an android user for a long time and droid fan for even longer. I love fiddling and tinkering with my phone and as such try out a lot, and I do mean a lot, of apps. I keep some and discard others while some I use for a long time before finding a better alternative. 
So these are some of the apps I use either on a regular basis. They may not be popular or have the most 'features' but they do what I want them to do.
1. Fabrik


This is the most visually appealing ebook reader on Android right now. Not only is the reading view fully customizable (font, line spacing, alignment, theme, size of font etc), it looks pretty good out of the box. If you want to get started reading right away, this is the app for you. The other major feature is the dead-simple syncing it offers through Dropbox. Link the app to your dropbox and it'll upload your books there. From then, every other device you use this app on, will open up the books from here with the additional benefit of sync…

Why?

I recently found this post on G+, about marriageability and rape sentencing in India.
I understood 2 important things from that post:
1. There are no rules on sentencing rapists in India 2. Rapists get lighter sentences if their victim is married, not a virgin, or gets married before the trial.
I know some of you would be shocked on reading this. Unfortunately I also know that the majority will not. Proof? The fact that the above continues to happen to this day.
Whenever there is a new rape case reported in the paper, the media explodes. Including blogs. There are reactions everywhere, discussions about how to reduce such incidents and almost invariably, accompanied by advice to women everywhere on how to avoid getting raped.
Some of the random advice in media, which are supposed to help me avoid being raped:
1. Do not wear ponytails because the rapist can use that to hold me. 2. Do not wear short skirts or tight jeans because it will be used to question my morals in the trial later, not to …