Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Height of blogging

I woke up early today morning and had a hearty laugh. Why? Because of the dream I had had! In very miniscule details I dreamt that I wrote a blog, spell-checked, previewed and published it. The blog itself was something I had been thinking about yesterday but haven't had the time to write yet. People commented on it (in my dream). I remember even the names of people who commented and what their comments were. Then, I wrote counter-comments. :-))

The dream itself is probably what some people had had before. But the details..... like the % value when publishing is in progress, the 404 error which appears in blogger sometimes... all this in detailed order.. was plain funny!!!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Charanya, her grandpa and three pigtails...

On the way to work, I pass two places which kindle my curiosity every single day. One is the doggy day care and the other is the children day care center.

Usually I see really cutesy puppies and dogs outside the doggy day care unhappily waiting to get inside the center and looking at their owners with almost tears in their eyes for deserting them to go to work. I keep ogling at them for awhile when I wait for the company shuttle. But today, something different happened. There was this really cute, porcelain-doll look alike, Chinese kid with three pigtails spurting out of her head crying outside the kids day care center with her mom. This brought back memories.

In Chennai, during late 1980's, we had rented a portion of our house to this couple with a girl. The girl's name was Charanya (probably same age as me - 7-8 years old in late 1980's) and since both her parents used to work, her grandpa came to take care of her everyday after school for a while. One peculiar quality that I hadn't seen anywhere after Charanya until today was her three pigtails, just like the Chinese kid. You know, the two usual on either sides that almost all girls used to do and one of the center of her head (uchhan thalai la). All the kids in the street used to make fun of her hair style but it never bothered her and it was especially cool for Chennai's summer heat. For some unknown reason I used to be fascinated by her hairdo, but never was brave enough to adopt the hairdo!

Charanya's grandpa was another peculiar character. During summer vacations, he used to live with them permanently and in the afternoons when the kids (5-6 of us) were really bored, he used to propose this one game "Scratch Thatha's back". While the rest of the kids dutifully scratched his back, Charanya and I used to devise new plans to avoid it. Then one day, we decided to put an end to the scratching and devised a master plan. The plan and its execution went very smoothly and we ended up freeing ourselves from ever having to scratch his back....... well, lets just say, instead of scratching with nails and fingers, his back had marks of scratches probably made of small hot black stones, which took a week or two to completely heal.

Well, we weren't little monsters.. so, ofcourse we went and apologized and made things right. But he never ever asked us again to scratch his back. I haven't heard of her since 80's and so I am sure she wouldn't be too upset about broadcasting this story!

Monday, August 21, 2006

Deceptive Appearances..

This morning I was supposed to pick up a colleague I have never met and then get to work. I have spoken to him over the phone a couple of times and he is a Puerto Rican. So, I had kinda imagined how he would look.. you know....Caribbean, Spanish..

We had decided to meet out in the parking lot of a building. Thinking I would be able to spot him out in the parking lot, I started. 7.15 am - the crowded parking lot and no sign of Jose. I tried to call him on his cell phone but his Puerto Rican number gave me a busy signal. I waited and waited.. the crowd weeded out.. 7.45 am.. only a handful of people in the parking lot.. a desi-looking 30ish guy, an American and the rest all were Chinks. No sign of a Caribbean guy. Then, at about 8.00 am, the desi looking guy got a phone call.. but his accent when he spoke on the phone was Spanish! That was Jose. I went and confronted him. He totally looked like an Indian. I would have never guessed that he was Jose unless he had talked with his accent. Finally I asked him, he was Indian looking and so I was misled... but how come he didn't approach me since I was the only Indian girl around. He replied, he thought my name sounded similar to Ariana and he was expecting a European or middle Eastern.... I was bowled!!

hmmmm.. anyhow, I would have never thought I would pass for a European or even a middle Eastern.... :-)). I always thought I looked like a typical South Indian girl for that matter!! Appearances are indeed deceptive!!!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

49 miles of Trance

Whoever said CA-1 was beautiful just didnt tell me enough about it! Nothing in the world would probably compare to it - a photographer's paradise for sure!!

This is what I observed when I had spent my first weekend in San Francisco, CA a couple of weeks back. That weekend started like any other - lazying around and thinking what to do, except this time, I was in San Francisco. I had to motivate myself to do SOMETHING. With a couple of maps printed out, I ended up at Golden Gate Bridge. Man, no words to describe the monstrous beauty. Without my handycam, I was handicapped. But managed to absorb some of the scenic beauty with a Kodak disposable camera. Then, the next day - sunday started really late but managed to catch sunset at Point Reyes and also got to see the Muir beach. The drive to Point Reyes was just .... absolutely no words at all to describe the ecstasy I felt while driving to the light house atop of the Point Reyes National Seashore. Hopefully I will be able to upload some pictures that I had taken during the drive soon!!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Surname Summary..

Everytime I have to give my last name over phone like for airline or hotel reservations, I go thro' a nightmare. With the number of vowels in my last name, people sometimes think I am actually making it up.

Like today, I was trying to fix an appointment with the insurance lady (my company switched insurance provider and all of us had to meet personally with this lady). I gave her a part of my last name while fixing up the appointment. When I actually went to her office, she wanted to verify my ID and all that since I had more letters to the last name that I had originally given over phone. That was usual and so I didn't make a big deal out of it. Then, we went about doing some paper work. At the end of the session, she asked me "Have you ever considered switching your last name". I thought she was kidding and started laughing. Then, looked at her face and realized she was serious. I asked her what she meant. She goes "A lot of international people take up easier last names when they come to US. Maybe you could shorten yours". I was furious at her for even suggesting it. I said "Its my dad's name and I would never give it up". She went "Oh, I am merely suggesting. It will be easier for all paperwork. But one advantage is - with such a last name, you would probably never be a victim of identity theft". That did make me smile! The crook would probably give up after the first few letters!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Independence Day..

The best memories of independence day was in school. After that, nothing profound and meaningful was done on this day!

I was a 'girl guide'. So, the day started with donning the blue uniform with scarf and the badges. I used to be so proud when I entered school. Then, as a senior girl guide with the maximum number of badges, we used to have the privilege of helping the chief guest hoist the national flag and make sure its at the right height, etc. Every year, for republic and independence day we used to learn a new national song (from among the 24 national songs I think - one in each major language....) and sing it during the occasion. So, that was a perk for me. I got to know all national songs. Ofcourse, cannot complain about the end of the occasion with several packets of chocolates being distributed.

Happy Independence Day!!

PS: Blame it on the day job and several sleepless nights in a row for such an unenthused post!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Escalator and Elevators

I have had several interesting episodes on escalators and elevators. Oh, don't start to imagine things. I will elaborate.

I used to be really scared of escalators. Yes, I still consider myself a Chennai-ite. No, I haven't been to Spencers (well, officially!!). So, the first trip to US was nightmare - not only I had to locate stairs and elevators when everyone else was using the escalators; I also had to drag my small suitcase and carry my heavy jacket! After reaching grad school and seeing that there were no escalators in and around school campus, I was relieved. But my relief was short-lived. After the first week, we had to go and get social security number at the city hall. It was a multi storeyed building with escalators!! My roommate and my TA went with me since they had to get their driving permits. So, while going down on the escalator to the SSN office, I somehow managed by almost fracturing my roommate's hand by holding it too tight. While coming back, the two of them were word tossing. You know, arguing some guy and girl perspective stuff and so forgot that I existed and started going up. I took one look at the escalator and my legs would just not move. I stood down staring at the moving stairs and my friends were already on first level. Then, they started laughing and said they would come down to get me. Meanwhile, this 40-ish American offered me his support for the ordeal. He said his daughter had the same trouble initially. He started asking me questions as to where I came from, where I was studying, etc. Before I knew it, we were talking about things and we were on first level. He had totally distracted me and had almost dragged me along to the first level. Well, after that one time, I grew comfortable to escalators.

In elevators (Lifts), I have met several interesting people in those few moments of transit between floors - like this African-American guy who talked nonstop for 10 min about unionization of elevator operators in 1970's, the American named Smith something who said how engineers did a bad job building the Indiana university library (the library is sinking over an inch every year because of the weight of the books present, which wasn't originally taken into consideration) right after I told him I was an engineer :-(, the lady who described in short how to choose earrings based on mood/dress, etc when she saw the hoop I was wearing that day, lots of discussions about Colts, White Sox, Chicago Bulls and Bears, F-1, NASCAR, ....not that I understood all or some of it, but atleast kindled my inquisitiveness to know more about it...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Bewilderment at work!!

There is no better word to say what happened to me at work today - complete bewilderment.

I started working on a new project a couple of weeks back at a manufacturing facility. The project manager is a Middle-Eastern guy or so I thought, you know after looking at him, by his name, looking at the pictures of his family at his desk - ladies with purdah, etc. I guessed he was probably from Turkey or Iran or in and around there.

To give you the background story, this manufacturing facility unlike any other is full of politics and so lots of finger-pointing, blaming and cross-overs happen all the time. Some stuff happened on Monday which sucked me into the politics of the place. So, the PM wanted me to kinda give my side of the happening, my view and opinion of people involved and other such details when he invited me to lunch with him today.

I go outside to the cafeteria and he was already waiting. We bought lunch and sat outside facing the water front. The first thing he said was "Woh Tony ek number ka saala hai aur tu uske baaton ko math manna". I was taken aback - not at the language, but at the sudden outburst in Hindi and started laughing. Then, he went "Oh.. so you didn't understand what I said? I spoke in Hindi and I am from Bombay". OMG.. I couldn't have been more wrong. Then, after several basic introductions about background and stuff, we started talking in Hindi and we got pretty comfortable.

I have never had an Indian boss before and so have never actually spoken to anyone at work in any Indian language. This was the first time and although the start was a bit dramatic, things settled down thereafter!!

Monday, August 07, 2006

The little girl..

I flew to San Francisco last week. Flying in from Midwest seemed to be not so much as an ordeal. Especially considering the variety of entertainment that I had onboard the aircraft. It was almost like the long haul flights to India - people struggling to get the exit row seats, babies screaming during take off, landing and at intermittent intervals, parents giving that apologetic smile to neighbor's for their kids, trying-to-remain serene and smiling airhostess, etc.

One thing which happened had me smiling. My neighbor was a European on her first trip to SF with her 5-yr old curious, pondering daughter, who was scared of window seats. The lady introduced herself and was conversing pleasantly with me. After a couple of hours of flying, the kid got bored and started walking around. So, the lady was trying to keep up with the kid. Then, she took the kid to the pantry and started explaining what was where, how first class is separated, etc.

It was then, that I remembered. I didn't remember the actual happening. But I remember my parents telling me about it. I was probably around 3 when I took my first long distance train trip - from Chennai to Calcutta. It was probably 3 days onboard the train and so my parents had prepared long and hard for it - to keep me entertained for days and nights on the train, prepared all necessary food and other things. Anyhow, after the first day, it seems I got really pesky and started going around. So, my dad started to take me to different coupes and showing me the different coaches etc. When the train stopped at some junction (stopped for a long time), it seems we walked and ended up near the engine. Then, my father got into it with me and started showing me the engine and I playfully started getting my hands dirty playing with coal and stuff. When the engine driver and others got onboard again, they were taken aback to see a kid amongst them and the dad explaining to the kid how things work, how they throw that ring at every station, etc. Being an old guy with a bunch of kids himself, he started explaining some intricacies in kid terms.. The train started and we were still in the engine with the train guys. My mom back in the coach started to get worried since we had stayed away for about 2 hrs then. So, she was looking out the window and wondering what to do, etc. Ofcourse she knew I was safe since my dad was there with me. But we could not do anything until the train stopped the next time. So, when the train stopped in the next station after about 45 min, we rushed back to the coach where my mom was and she was so relieved to see us, a bit darkened with the coal effect, but basically safe!

I so want to be that little girl with her parent, being taken around - no responsibility, no worry, no troubles, no work, no decision making, relaxed all the time, maybe play with friends, eat whatever without worrying about calories (not that I am a health freak, but you know just to be a little precautious; after all a girl has to do what she has to do!!), no taxes and bills, sing a lot or make a lot of noises without caring for others, hmmmm......

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Boys will be boys..

Not a lot of times, be it in school or college or work, have I been picked on. A few months back, I was working with a bunch of engineers down at Dallas, TX. Other than a couple from my own company, rest were strangers and I was the only girl and the only one in 20's among them. But the team worked very well together and I never had any trouble until the day of commissioning.

On the fine morning when commissioning was going on in the facility, things started. We were testing some things and suddenly the alarm sounded. It was designed to be a no-man facility and so the alarm sounds as if to wake up an entire town. The first time when the alarm sounded, I was taken aback.. it just happened suddenly without any warning. When the engineers around me saw that I got scared for a second, while some were concerned if I was alright, my colleagues (and good friends) started making fun about how I was just a little girl who gets scared at noises. I let it go. Just a friendly remark and I didn't mind it. We got back to work. After several hours, things were winding down and I was left alone to finish up some stuff in a particular area of the facility and the others were taking off to a different area. I had some trouble with things I was doing and was really concentrating and didn't notice things around me. Then, suddenly the alarm sounded again. I was taken aback and stepped away from the equipment I was working on - my face all scared and red.

I look up at the control room and my colleagues were standing with a camera in their hand and smiling and waving. :-( . I couldn't believe they were picking on me. Some thing that a 10-year boy would do to his classmate in school. In front of a whole bunch of technicians and manufacturing guys, I was being picked on by my 40+ year old colleagues, all being experienced engineers.

I couldn't do anything but just smile and laugh it off. When they realized it didn't have any impact on me, they let it go. But things didn't stop there.. this is one of the most told stories in my office - whenever I am around. Like this week, I am working in San Francisco and one of my colleagues made it a point to let my new colleague who is going to working with me, know that I am scared of alarms.

But.. boys will always be boys...Right?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

First bad hair cut for $30....

Of these 20+ years of existence, this is the first time that I have had such a bad hair cut. Well, not so much a cut.. just a trim and styling.

After a hair trim every 3-6 months, I feel happy and pretty.. (almost like the tune of I feel pretty, Oh, so pretty...). The last time I had a trim was in February. I went to this sophisticated spa place in the city along with my colleague's wife (I asked her for a good hair trim place and since she went to this spa twice a month for whatever reason, she offered to take me with her when she went there).It cost me a freaking $170 for just one trim - an inch of hair was probably cut and styled. I couldn't believe it and so this time, I decided to ponder around and find a new affordable place around. I did find one nearby and fixed an appointment. I went in and started talking to the lady and everything went well until she started to actually cut my hair. I realized that from the way she held her scissor to the way she combed my hair, everything was,well, not right. But I couldn't stop her. So, I let her show her talent and at the end realized that my hair was a massacre - my head was clearly like a war zone. I got a layered cut. But its now just not layered, but there exist micro and macro layers in between the actual layers.

It was almost like the 'Friends' episode when Phoebe gives Monica a bad cut not thinking about Demi Moore. Apart from my hair being indescribable, I am unable to stop from fidgeting with it, trying to neaten it all the time at work. The layered cut atleast let me put my hair into a heap with a clip. But with macro and micro layers in between now, nothing heaps up or fits in just one clip.

To make matters worse, at the client's office today, a new European guy with hip-long straight blond hair has moved into my room. :-(