Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I Did It!

Very proudly, and shamefully indeed, I admit that I finished reading an entire novel today. Reading has always interested me, but the last two and a half years of grad school kept me away from "non school" books. Not that I did not attempt to read a novel in this time period - I did, and there have been two books that I almost finished. One was "Live From Middle America - Rants From A Red State Comedian" by Brad Stine. It is basically his opinions on why Liberals suck big time and that being a conservative is the way to go. My favorite quote from the cover of the book - "Chemo is for cowards"! (Apparently, people in Tennessee say that) I really wanted to finish that book but unfortunately I had started it during my toughest semester - so there!

The other book that I was close to finishing was "Playing for Pizza" by John Grisham. I finished more than 150 pages of it's 250 odd pages, but deep down inside I felt that the story was baseless. It's actually about an inept NFL player who is shunned by NFL for messing it up big time in a certain Super Bowl and is then picked by a football team in Milan, Italy for their own Super Bowl.

The Namesake. This is the book I finished just a few minutes ago. I think the reason I liked it is because I understood most of the things Jhumpa Lahiri mentions in the book. It is about an Indian family that comes to the US and raises children here. Well, it's actually a lot more than that, but in a nutshell, it is about the lifestyles of parents who are immigrants and first generation American children, and the conflicts that result because of this difference.

So here I am, adding another feather to my cap, reviving my long lost hobby, and planning to pay a visit to the library not for music CDs and DVDs, but for something else :).

Monday, April 28, 2008


The entire National Geographic Magazine's May 2008 issue is dedicated to China - it's history, culture, people, development. There are just so many beautiful pictures inside the issue, and every picture would make you go visit China all the more.

We know that the entire world talks about India and China - the economic boom, the tremendous development, GDP touching new heights and what not, and the latest issue of NGM actually shows all this happening - in pictures. The land of Dragons is slowly turning into a land of some really creative and well designed buildings that add to the scenic beauty (you have to see it to believe it) of the cities those buildings are located in. And of course, the Olympics just around the corner is making sure that their architecture stuns the entire world. Also, just like India, housing is on a rampage in China. New houses are being constructed like crazy. People drink this particular $12 drink in bars that is "on fire". Rich women don't have to go to Europe anymore to shop for their favorite dresses - everything is now available in their own country. Somewhere around 60% of first time car owners in recent years bought their cars in cash!

Huge development means the presence of MNCs, which in turn means an increasing number of expats from all over the world. This also means inter-racial marriages which seems like a fairly new concept in China. However, women are overall happy because they have "more choices" now! :)

Photographs flicked from

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hello Sexy! Part 2

Now here's another one. This one's about getting online degrees.

Please pay attention to the red box. The ad in that box says:

"ONLINE DEGREES. Click here for Top Online Schools". Then it has a list of some of the degrees available.

Now here's my question. If you want me to join one of your so called top online schools, why do you have to show me a picture of a hot busty sex Goddess who's seductive eyes say "come fudge me". Wouldn't you be in a better and safer position showing me a picture of a nerdy guy sitting in front of his computer solving a fancy quadratic equation or making a powerpoint? Wouldn't that make me think that the online schools are really serious about providing education to some of the lesser fortunate ones who do not have the time and perhaps the money to attend a full time school?

This one looks like an ad circulated by frat boys to recruit freshmen. This is like telling those kids to attend school not for education, but for unlimited sex. And who in the world would get such a hot girl in an online school for crying out loud?

Seriously, who are we kidding here?

Flash To The Power of n

This morning I woke up to my ridiculously hideous fire alarm like sounding phone alarm. At first I could not understand the situation simply because I am used to getting up to a nicer sounding radio clock alarm that goes off four minutes earlier. I did get up to switch it off but instantly got lost trying to determine what might have gone wrong with my radio clock alarms (ya, two of 'em). I looked at one of the alarm clock and saw the digits flashing. That is when I realized that there was a power outage last night, and that all the clocks have been reset. I looked at the other clock - same thing. I said "what the hell" to myself and continued with the daily painful, forgetful act of getting ready to go to work.

I came back in the evening, watched some TV and came in to my bedroom to switch on my computer. That is when I saw those flashing digits on my radio clock again that reminded me of the entire "getting up to the weirdest alarm sound" encounter. I was lazy enough not to set the time on both the clocks and that is the reason why I am so annoyed right now. One clock is almost in front of me, just a little to the left. Now them flashing numbers are hurting my eyes. They are not directly in my line of vision, but I can still see them do the new age phoenix repeatedly from the corner of my left eye. The non stop flashing is making me think of an SOS call of a sinking ship going horribly wrong.

The situation I am in right now is worse than the one in which you are with a girl who seeks constant attention. I want to get rid of it but I can't , because it's happening right in front of me. I can make it stop but I won't because I am too lazy. It's like I know I am getting fatter by the day but I still won't go exercise (figuratively speaking, okay?). It's like I know I am damn hungry but still won't eat at my relative's house because I am shy (figuratively speaking, okay?).

laziness has become a way of life. Sometimes I wonder if my children would be so lazy too.

Help me God.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Just Perfect!

Today I biked to work. I was wanting to do it last week too but the intermittent rainfall three out of those gorgeous seven days made me defer my plan. Today was supposed to rain too, but my morning dose of the weather channel suggested otherwise. It was beautiful this morning. Although it was forty degrees F at 8AM, I still decided to bike considering the fact that the temperature would be somewhere in the mid seventees in the afternoon.

I did not dress up like I usually do for work. Instead I wore shorts, a dirty t-shirt and a windcheater. I did pack my jeans and another (not so dirty) t-shirt though, which I planned to change into at work (yes, I wear jeans and t-shirts to office). The reason I did not dress up was because of the fear of looking like Jim Halpert from "The Office", who as you may know, rides his bike to work all dressed up, and when he reaches "The Office", is all sweaty, especially under the arms.

I set out at around 8:07. At one intersection I was waiting to cross the road when I saw this huge Pontiac SUV swerving in style right in front of me. The swirve somehow undid the cap on its fuel tank, and I saw the cap fly in the air, ultimately landing just a few steps away from me. The driver perhaps witnessed the action in his rear view mirror too, so he stopped. I picked up the cap, biked up to the driver and handed it to him. I heard the usual "Thank you sir. I really appreciate it". I said "No problem", and moved on.

I knew there was a shortcut to reach work. But I did not know where. So I decided not to take any chances and pedaled away to glory on the shared path, which is intended both for pedestrians and bikers. After stopping at two more traffic lights, I finally reached work - in around 25 minutes.

Before leaving work for home, I checked the biker's map online and decided to take the shortcut. The route was unpaved and kind of looked like a trail path. I pedaled a little more, only to realize that the path ran through a beautiful golf course! While pushing them pedals back home I felt very good. I felt like by not driving a car or riding a bus I am actually showing some concern for our environment. Also, the bright sun on top of my head and the cool breeze slapping me in my face almost made me smile.

The day was just perfect for a bike ride.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

20 - 20

820 miles.
16 hours of driving..
..In 2 Days.

Yes, I went on this awesome, spectacular, painless road trip all by myself to spend time with friends. It was kind of an eye opener for me. A lesson - for underestimating the midwest's beauty.

I always thought that there was no scenic beauty in the midwest. The only thing to see here were corn fields that perhaps outnumbered the population of India. Jay Leno recently joked about how the earth quake a couple of days ago wanted to flatten Iowa but really could not because it's already flat!

But before entering Illinois, I passed throught this beautiful city called Dubuque which immediately made me think that I may have been lost. The city is situated on the banks of the Mississippi, and there is a very narrow bridge that took me across the river, and while I was on that narrow bridge I risked my life by taking my eyes off the road, looking at the scenic beauty that the river offered, and concluding that the midwest is beautiful indeed.

When I hit highway 20 from 35 North, I saw the usual scene - cornfields, cornfields everywhere not a corn to eat. It was like that for nearly 170-180 miles. I did see a few bigger cities (according to Iowa standards, that is) and took a break in Waterloo where for the first time in roughly eight months I had a McChicken meal. I was thrilled. Totally. The very first bite brought back memories of my days in grad school, when I would not have enough time to go back home before class, and I would go to the only McDonald's in Normal and eat a McChicken meal almost everyday.

Anyway, around 30 - 40 miles from Waterloo, things started to change. The corn fields suddenly vanished and I saw myself surrounded by greenery, greenery everywhere. There were a few very beautiful colleges, and I realized that I was turning my steering wheel a lot more often. I was not on a straight road anymore, and it was time to stop singing (sang to myself for around 3 hours) and pay attention.

The journey was very fascinating from Dubuque onwards. I drove through (small) mountains, before reaching this amazingly beautiful city called Galena in Illinois. The narrow brick roads that went up and down, zig and zag immediately made me feel like I was somewhere in Europe. Not that I' ve been there, but the pictures of Europe that I have seen over the years made me think that I was really somewhere there.

Zigging and Zagging my way to glory, I passed another location that overlooked a huge green area of land with perhaps thousands of black and white cows roaming around - eating grass and making merry.

Then I passed through many small towns that were unique in their own ways. One town had a glass museum, another town had a "peculiar house" on sale, and in most of these towns, there was land in abundance, and people had built there houses in the middle of huge farmlands - just like in those beautiful postcards and posters that we have been admiring since childhood.

Well, the one way journey ended when I reached Freeport and saw Kedar's face. Seeing him after so many months was really very nice. He surprised me by feeding me a chicken dish that he had made, which was damn hot and very very delicious!

From Freeport we went to Normal, where we spent the night with Shalva, Vinay and Harsh. Drank the entire night and had amazing fun after such a long time. Next day around noon we left Normal. I dropped Kedar first and came back to Ames - once again admiring the beauty of Galena, IL and Dubuque, IA, thanking mapquest for making me take highway 20.

Highway 20 was really amazing. I was earlier kind of apprehensive about taking 20 just because it is not an interstate, and that there would be a lot of traffic and the speed limit would be not so great. Well I did find all that (in some towns the speed limit was 25 for fudge's sake), but thankfully I discovered some really beautiful places that totally changed my perception about the midwest.

I just wish I had someone sitting next to me taking pictures.

Friday, April 18, 2008

All I Want Is....

I was talking to this friend of mine about how I have failed miserably - as a boyfriend. I have had quite a few encounters, however something somewhere goes terribly wrong. Consistency is absent, and commitment - it always flies out of the window. My friend also agreed that it has been like that with her too. Things go wrong when she thought everything was just fine.

So we were discussing our relationships gone sour when another friend of mine emails me about her wedding in July. Her fiance and she have made a website, which has stories of how they met, their personalities, pictures of them together and what not. And of course, Barry Louis Polisar's All I Want Is You played in the background, which reminded me of Juno. Also, the song is so beautiful that it makes you feel like eloping with your (in my case non-existent) girlfriend as soon as possible.

How ironic.

But of course, singlehood is bliss too. It has it's own advantages, and honestly, I am having a ball of a time. Over the years I have realized that the flaws are in me. I am to be blamed. And that I am not fit for a relationship that demands committment.

I will not ruin somebody else's life.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Yummy Yummy Yummy I Got Food In My Tummy

Living in a university town is fun.

I got up at 11:20 this morning and peeped out of the window to find snow everywhere. It was indeed a shock. Now come on, who expects snow in the middle of April.

So I was simply sulking and drinking my tea (too early to drink beer) when Andrew called. He told me about the International Food Festival in the university, and was calling to know if I would join him at all. I said yes, considering the fact that I would end up drinking endless number of cups of tea if I stayed at home.

The place was crowded, and I don't think I have seen so many International people in a big room before, not even at Illinois State. We started with Nepali food - Momos (two tickets), and what a good start it was. Then I tried some Puerto Rican rice and beans which was very delicious. We went to the Indian stall to see what they were selling. It was Tandoori Chicken. From my experience at Illinois State I knew that TC would be expensive. Andrew thought that the TC he makes looks better than what they were selling.

A slight digression - It was kind of weird to see Nepalis selling Mango lassi.

Anyway, we moved on to Sri Lanka, and they had daal vada. Since I had not finished my bean rice I told the lady at the counter that I would come back. Next stop - Pakistani. Looked extremely delicious - a chicken dish with naan. Six tickets. Backed out.

Then I tried a Sudanese potato dish which was very similar to the potato sabzi we make with gravy. But it had its own unique taste. The guy filled the entire bowl with that dish, and boy, was it heavy! I took a lot of time to finish it. I went to the Sri Lankan stall to get those vadas. One ticket, so I bought two. Very nice, they were. I also stopped at the Latin American stall where they were selling something that really caught my attention. I asked the lady what it was and she said it was made of corn flakes, condensed milk, and caramel. "Just like a cookie" she said. I decided to try it. It was actually for two tickets but the kind lady gave me a deal. She charged me just one ticket. I decided to buy two.

It was delicious. Not very sweet, just perfect. I really really liked it.

Soon I was out of tickets, so I bought four more. In the second round I bought Indonesian noodles with chicken and also their dessert, which was kind of different, and good. The grand finale was a stop at the Latin American stall to buy the corn flakes cookie again. Delicious!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Funny, Isn't It?

I have realized that I cannot watch just about any comedy movie. It has to have that element that would make me laugh my lungs out.

I guess there is a variety of comedy movies. One - that is cheap to the bone and is outrageously ridiculous. Two - subtle, intelligent humor which involves a small, creative effort that results in a big imact. Three - Romantic comedies - romance to the power of n with a few "funny" things thrown in to make you chuckle. Finally, "based on true story" comedies - the ones in which the protagonist is a loser, and everything he does goes wrong (read Adam Sandler variety) which apparently is funny for some reason(ever noticed that the losers in such movies are usually men).

I really like type one and two. These are the ones that make me laugh the hardest. I can watch such movies every day and every night. Type three is a big no no. As I said, I watch comedy movies to laugh or to atleast maintain a constant grin on my face throughout the movie. I don't want to chuckle. I can't watch a hundred minutes movie to just smile on the cute things the couple indulges in. And of course, an interesting fact - All these movies start with the girl hating the guy. In the end, however, they kiss, and sometimes even marry. Life is so beautiful. Romance 24 X 7 is what it's all about.

Type four - silly. So silly that it's not even funny. This movie usually does not have a good storyline, and is forgotten within weeks of its big bang release. No wonder such movies don't win Oscars. I have tried to watch such movies, but fail to finish them. No, I don't fall asleep. I just pull the disc out of in anger and disgust, cursing myself for bringing such a nimrodic movie. I then slam a beer to get rid of the pain.

Oh yes, I also like movies in which the F word is superoverused, like atleast twice in one dialog. If you have watched Coffee and Cigarettes (scene 4 - "Those things'll kill ya" ) then you know what I am talking about.

R.E.M. Update

Good news, good news everywhere..

This week R.E.M. made it to the #2 spot on the Billboard Top 200 Album charts :). Of course, they debuted at #1 in many countries in Europe :).

I am totally excited. For the first time in 14 years I am tracking the progress of an R.E.M. album, and believe me, the great reviews that this album is getting from everywhere/everyone is making me really proud. I am proud to be an R.E.M. fan :).

They also have an article in this month's Spin about their "resurrection" (I own that proud, so proud!! :)). Read R.E.M.: R.E.BORN here:

My R.E.M. experience has been very very good so far. I will R.E.M.ember. Every. Moment.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Pedaling Away To Glory

I have started biking. Every evening after coming back from work I grab my bike and start pushing them pedals. Since the last 3 days I have been pedaling around four to five miles a day. Just so you know, I bought a new bike - a Schwinn Aluminum Comp. Very nice, very rugged, and very sexy.

I am trying to get into a routine. Cycling really fascinates me, and with time, I am planning to increase both distance and speed. Right now I am only utilizing the seventh gear out of the twenty one my bike offers. I tried the tenth gear yesterday and within no time my thighs were all red, crying in pain. So I decided to stick to just the seventh for a couple of days and then go up a few levels later on.

I bike for 25 - 30 minutes. I will increase it to an hour or so once I regain my lost stamina.

Here's the baby:

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Living Well Is The Best Revenge!

I am so glad that the R.E.M. I have known is back, and they for sure have accelerated! I had preordered their new album Accelerate (which I received yesterday) - and I am happy. The album is really really good - so good that I want to listen to it again and again. Thank God for that!

I must admit that I did not really enjoy their last 3 albums. It all started with Up, and boy, was that a disappointment. After New Adventures in Hi-Fi, I was expecting something that would be one level "up", a more exciting, more rawking album (thanks Dani). But it made me cry. But I was not ready to accept that the album was zilch. I was so strongly attached to R.E.M. that I believed whatever they said about experimenting with their music and all that jazz.

When I heard Reveal, I totally lost focus. The album was a mish mash of nonsense, stupidity, and perhaps a little overconfidence on R.E.M.'s part for thinking that this record would do wonders. It does have a few good songs, but overall it's so not R.E.M.

Around the Sun was good. Not excellent, but good. It's slow overall, but atleast I could play the CD from start to finish without losing my mind. However, deep down inside I was a little sad, simply because I missed the R.E.M. that rocked. I missed the energy that Michael Stipe showed when he had longer hair. I missed the guitar riffs that Peter Buck played when he was leaner. I missed the bass lines Mike Mills played when he used to wear cowboy suits. I missed (and would still miss) the drum beats by Bill Berry without any emotions on his face.

After these albums, I was pretty sure that R.E.M. had mellowed down with age, and that I would have to get used to listening to their "piano riffs" and Stipe's voice filled with pain and sadness.

Well, thank God they accelerated!

Accelerate is old wine in a new bottle. The old R.E.M. is back - the mid 80s R.E.M. , and they rrrroocckk!!!! Since yesterday I have been listening only to Accelerate, and loving every bit of it! Songs worth mentioning are Hollow Man, Supernatural Superserious, Living Well Is The Best Revenge, Until The Day Is Done and Man Sized Wreath, and I'm Gonna DJ. Listening to this record is all the more fun when you are driving - Your head just goes up, down, up, down, up, down...

I must also mention that I bought their concert ticket! I am so looking forward to this concert in Chicago. My R.E.M. experience has started.