December 11, 2007

Paying for service

I'm so annoyed right now. And this is not the first time I'm annoyed about this. A phone line man (or whatever they're called) showed up at my house because I wanted a parallel connection in the other room for my broadband. It took him all of 2 minutes to connect it but he didn't leave right after. Like the rest of them, he waited scratching his head expecting me to pay him money (call it tips if you want) for doing his job! Isn't that why he is paid a salary? Over that, I have to pat him on his shoulder with a 100 bucks saying "good job"? How ridiculous is this situation? It only reaffirms my belief (after being in India for 2 years now) that there are certain things that cannot be changed. You have to either get with it or else be left crawling up the walls because what you need will not be done.

How sad.

December 10, 2007

Superstars machi

Finally, there is a cricket league in India! I don't think the players in the league are awesome or anything but at least there is some concept of team marketing, merchandising etc. I guess people here have finally realised the revenue potential from sale of clothes, posters, bands etc. Madras has its own team (of course!), they're called the Chennai Superstars (OF COURSE)! It's Rajni's home after all!

The ads for the Indian Cricket League (ICL) are pretty cool. As biased as I may be, I find the Chennai Superstars ad the funniest . Decide for yourself.

December 8, 2007

Driv(er)ing me crazy - Part 2

My husband just noticed an error in my earlier entry. He says our count is only upto 8. That's because he would like to exclude one driver that showed up for just 45 minutes - just as long as it took him to clean our car and take us to the store and back. That was more than enough to ask him to leave. Should he be on the list?

December 5, 2007

Fashion for babies

I love shopping for clothes for my daughter. It's so nice to have access to a wide range of colours, patterns and designs. What I like best is that girls look kinda cute even in boys clothes. A boy baby, on the other hand, has such limited choice. Shorts, pants, overalls - pretty much covers it all. Will a boy in a skirt look cute? (Not talking about Scottish kilts). The only guy who looks hot in a skirt is David Beckham (ok sarong, not skirt per se). What made him wear it? Boredom? Fashionably cool? Just trying one on for the heck of it and got caught on camera? I guess we'll never know the true answer. But that makes me wonder what the future of fashion will be. Will there be metrosexual babies in the future? Will parents of boys be daring enough to dress them in skirts?

After all, someone must have started off the trend to dress girls in boys clothes. Some fashionably cool mum, I'm sure!

December 4, 2007

Driv(er)ing me crazy!!!!!!

I've been in Hyderabad for more than 2 years now and in that time my driver turnover count has hit 8. My last driver was with us for almost a year which means that in one year, we've had 7 drivers! How absurd is that? Due to the number of jobs available as office cabbies, a lot of these drivers just temp in home jobs and then quit (usually the day after their salary is paid out) without even saying a word. The worst part of it all is that most of them are not even good drivers. They've barely passed their drivers test but drive like Aryton Senna most of the time. And they love to chit chat! How important is it to my life which actor's house I'm passing by or whose poster is plastered on the walls? "Just drive", I want to say but don't want to sound too rude.

I sometimes wish I didn't have to depend on one but with the parking situation the way it is, thats an impossibility. My current driver isn't looking all that great either so I'm guessing by the end of the week the turnover count will hit 9.

Maybe that will turn out to be my lucky number.

December 3, 2007

Blast from the past

Its awesome to get back in touch with people from the past. Mostly. The time that I graduated from school and college all we had were scrapbooks and slambooks where people wrote comments, their address, phone numbers etc. Like addresses and numbers are permanent! At least here in India, all numbers from 10 years ago are different now.

Anyway, thanks to Orkut first and now, Facebook, I've managed to get back in touch with a lot of friends and acquaintances. After the initial excitement of "Oh, look who I found", you quickly realize that there really isn't much to say beyond the initial pleasanteries because its been way too long. But its still nice to see how people look after so many years, pictures of their families etc. For me, the most surprizing part is finding out the career paths that some have chosen. You sort of picture people as being the same as they were 10 years ago and when you find out how different they actually are, its pretty cool!

Here's to Orkut and Facebook for connecting people all over again.

November 23, 2007

Extra ticket

My trips to Madras (usually daughter+I) have always costed me around Rs. 5000 round trip. Not any longer. My daughter who turns two years old next month needs a full priced ticked from now on! I always thought that kids under 12 had some sort of concessional fare which is why I'm even more shocked about this than I really should be. Yeah, she gets a seat and the same baggage allowance as I do but what the heck is she going to carry along for 25 kgs?? Maybe I should cart along all her stuffed toys in a giant bag so I feel like we are utilising the ticket to its full value.

October 31, 2007


Shopping in India is a very interesting experience. Unless you are in a big mall or a chain store, you are EXPECTED to haggle. Pricing of any product factors in this haggling that all buyers do. So really, there is no face value to anything. Always a hidden cost.

The Seasoned Haggler
This is the one that all sellers beware of. They can sense them from a mile away. They know that on this particular sale, they are not going to make much of a profit. The buy/sell process goes something like this. (Comments in italics are my thoughts as I see this happen).
Buyer: How much?
Seller: 100 rupees.
Buyer: I'll give you nothing more than 20. (HUH!!)
Seller: No way, that doesn't even cover my cost.
Buyer: Yeah, I know how much this costs. These are made in my hometown. (Then why don't you buy them there??) Nothing more than 25, thats my final offer.
Seller: (Sensing no possibility and wanting to end conversation to proceed to next unsuspecting customer agrees) OK, thirty. But I am really making a zero profit on this. (Lies, of course)

The one that thinks he/she is a seasoned haggler
This kind is even more interesting. This sort of thing tends to happen more when people are out in groups and one thinks they can get a good deal for another. I've come across an incident where the buyer ended up paying more than the seller asked for simply due to linguistic issues. They were trying to bargain in a language they were not so familiar with. Numbers are especially hard to remember! And in Hindi, a couple of numbers sound so similar but one is 25 and the other 50. Needless to say, the seller made out on that sale.

The Sitting Duck
This is the kind that I classify myself under. Very bad at haggling, usually pays whatever is asked, might ask for 20 rupees less at best! This kind also, the seller can sense from miles away and will do anything possible to get that customer. I had an interesting experience a long time ago. I was in Chinatown in New York City. There was a street store selling bracelets, very ordinary but it caught my fancy. The guy told me they were 5 for $10. I didn't think they were worth it but wanted it anyway. So with great difficulty I forced myself to ask for half the price. Surprisingly the guy readily agreed and I was quite pleased with my bargaining skills! A few yards down the street, there were many more stores selling the same thing and one of the guys asked me how much I had paid for them ( I liked them so much that I wore them on my hands immediately) and I said a dollar apiece. He actually laughed out loud and said that they sell them for 25 cents a piece! I was so angry, annoyed and most of all terribly embarassed and quickly walked away from there.

I'd like to believe that I've gotten a little better at it now. Especially over the last couple of months since I've had to deal with sellers of various products for our home. There is a thirll that you get when you've got a reduced rate for something. But wouldn't it be easier if people just sold it at the right price in the first place?

Easier for sure, but not as much fun say the seasoned ones.

October 27, 2007

Zoomed in, crawled out

The flyover at Panjagutta circle (yes, the one that broke, fell and injured many people) is operational. I didn't realize that it was open actually. We were going that side and I suddenly realized that we were on top of it. Bit of a weird feeling....bit scary too. In any event, the ride over it was smooth. Newly laid roads, lane markings all clear, very unusual as the ride was not bumpy like always. It's definitely helped relieve traffic going toward the airport (Begumpet). The join at the end of the flyover, however, is a nightmare. So many lanes merging into one and complete chaos all around. Still, we must have saved a good 10 minutes or more on the way up.

That made the ride back seem all the more terrible. The other side of the flyover isn't operational yet. That side has a couple of big malls and the weekend crowds were already there by the time we got back. We just crawled all the way back. Very irritating. Wonder how long it will take for the flyover to be completed.

Although traffic will ease out a bit, there is so much lacking as regards road planning, traffic regulating etc here in Hyderabad (and most other cities in India). It seems silly that there are billions of dollars invested in the city but there is hardly any invested in developing the infrastructure. One 15-minute downpour is enough to flood the main roads leading up to Hi-Tech City, completely erode the tar coating on top and make it seem like a dirt track. People say its the current government that is responsible but everyone only passes the buck when it comes to this issue. Will someone take ownership and fix this? I hope I get to see it in my lifetime.

October 23, 2007

I 'ate fresh' today!

I never ever thought that I would crave a Subway sandwich in my life, ever! Not after all the subs I've eaten while in the States due to lack of any other decent veggie fast food. But oh, how things change! It's been 2 years since I moved back, never tried the subs here and finally, this evening, i just had to get one! Au contraire to what most people had told me, the sandwich was actually very good. The bread and veggies were fresh, the sandwich artist did a good job and overall, everything was fine. The only missing thing was the Doritos (Nachos cheesier (YUM!)) to add to the meal.

What is it that makes a plain old sandwich taste so much better outside in a shop? It's just bread, veggies, cheese and maybe some fancy sauce you throw on there. Why doesn't it taste half as good when you make it yourself at home?

October 22, 2007


It's funny how the mind associates things. You listen to something and it takes you back many a time and place when things were different, you were different.

I woke up this past weekend, it was a really still morning. After ages, I heard the sound of an engine pulling into the station. My immediate thoughts were of those mad days where I used to rush to catch the train on the way back from work (on the way up was easy, train station was in front of home). "Noroton Heights, Darien, Rowayton, South Norwalk, East Norwalk, Westport, Greensfarms, Southport, Fairfield, Bridgeport, Stratford, Milford and New Haven - make sure you're on the right train" said the conductor as I dozed off to the best naps I have ever had.

In between the shows my daughter was watching, I flipped to some music channel and it was playing 80's dance music. As soon as I heard Funkytown, I was transported back into those fun days of non-stop shots, crazy dance moves integrating bhangra, dandia, theru koothu and more into one continuous motion; laughter - mad, giggly, silly laughter; friends - the kind that cannot be made ever again. "Gotta make a move to a town thats right for me pa pa pa pam pa pam pa pa pa pam".

Saraswathi pooja was this past weekend. Although not very religious by nature, I still do a few things to mark these occassions primarily for my daughter. As I lit the lamp in front of the deity and started to say the relevant shloka, I was taken back to a time when I was little and excited to be a part of the celebrations at my grandparents house. My grandfather used to do the pooja and have us repeat the shlokas. Such an innocent never to be experienced again. "Saraswathi namasthubyam varaday kamarupini vidyarambham karishyami siddhir bhavatumay sada", he said. "Tell me the meaning, thatha". "It means that you should pray well to the Goddess Saraswathi before you begin your daily studies so that you will be successful", he said.

However much I change from my newer experiences, there are certain memories that will remain etched in my mind forever. Friends, family and fun...always for keeps.

October 18, 2007

Double, triple, why not quadruple?

Cell phone numbers in India are 10 digits long, as in the States. Difference is that the first 3 digits don't correspond to any area code. They are just numbers beginning with 9. I like the way people give out numbers in the US... --- --- ---- 3, 3, 4...10 digits. Easy to write down because you know what to expect.

Its very funny here in India. Different people have different ways of splitting them up. Like here, I do 5,5. Some do 4,4,2 or 3,2,4,1! There really is no logic to it. What annoys me is the way people say the numbers though. If you have repetitive numbers, then you have to say double or triple, if not people seem not to understand. For instance, here's a number 98000 33445. I would say nine eight zero zero zero, three three four four five. BUT NO! When its being repeated for confirmation, the person will most definitely say nine eight triple zero double three double four five! Why? Is it that much of an effort to say the numbers out individually? And the tone in which it will be repeated will suggest something to the effect of them wondering why I didn't use the double and triple in the first place. How strange! These same people though would never dare to go over triple. 98000 03333 would not be nine eight quadruple zero quadruple three! More like nine eight triple zero zero triple three three. Wonder if its because they're not familiar with the word quadruple? Or maybe it just doesn't sound right when they say it out.

Bottom line is I need to get a new that has no doubles or triples.

October 8, 2007

In absentia

It's funny how one gets addicted to writing a blog (or is it writing in a blog?). The mind goes crazy with all these thoughts without having a place to express them. Especially when there are situations that are irritating, stressful, mind-boggling, just truly unbelievable and the like...all one goes through when moving houses, especially here in India. The funniest part of this move is that it was just from 302 to 301! I'm not going to elaborate on it but maybe just some highlights...

Phone line is disconnected on Friday to be reconnected 4 days later. (Disconnection and reconnection are done at the same spot by the same people).
Broadband connection still not moved thirteen days after request has been initiated. (Call center says they need to determine feasibility and also asked for a landmark to techie can come to right address). It's NEXT DOOR for God's sakes!
Duplicate key for apartment looks nothing like the original but surprisingly opens the door, after which the original stops working! (HUH??!!)

I think that's enough said. Moving is a nightmare anywhere in the world. When you add to it service providers that don't care and domestic help that's a little lacking, its enough to make you want to never ever move again. In today's world, a seemingly impossible task.

Mind off to sleep...tired from the drama of the last few days. More thoughts later.

September 18, 2007

Wishful thinking

I wish I could be fearless. I wish I could be innocent.

I wish I could want to shake hands with a spider and lizard.
I wish I could touch pigeon poop and be amused by it.
I wish I could laugh uncontrollably seeing a dragonfly zoom by.
I wish I could smile at every kid that I see.
I wish I could be amazed by falling rain.
I wish I could pretend to be cooking and feed the world.
I wish I could be honest about everything that I understand.
I wish I could cry out loud every time I don't get what I want.
I wish I could hug and kiss every time that I do.
I wish I could hide in my mother's arms when I don't want to see someone.
I wish I could have my father swing me upside down and pull at his beard.
I wish I could make my little one understand how thankful I am to her for letting me experience all this.

I wish that it would last forever.

September 13, 2007

Lost in translation

Language is funny. It's words, gestures, just raised or arched eyebrows (especially with kids around) sometimes. Every language has its own quirks. People say that the Italians speak with their hands and Indians just by nodding their heads. Whatever it is, learning a new language is quite an exciting and interesting experience. Having learnt a little bit of French and Italian in the past, I've since believed that I have a knack for picking up languages.

India has 28 official languages (I think) and a zillion dialects. The national language is supposedly Hindi but in the south, especially Madras, (Tamil Nadu) where I'm from, one hardly has any exposure to it unless they've been bitten by the Bollywood bug. Never having been a movie buff, I would say that my Hindi has always been worse than 'passable'. Anyhow, it was with apprehension that I came to Hyderabad where the local language is Telugu but most people speak Hindi as well (thanks to the Nizam culture and influence). The going was very tough in the beginning. Most of my daily communication with the household help (maids, chauffeur) was through actions. It was like my day was spent just playing charades. The worst part was that I would lose the game all the time as they had no idea what I was saying and vice versa. Over the months though, I've improved a great deal, not by reading any books, but just by talking a lot to my maids. Today I was very thrilled because my oldest (and most honest) friend, whose mother tongue is Telugu, complimented me on my grasp of the language. "Impressive", she said! How exciting! I'm sure she turned a deaf ear to the grammatical errors and focused on the vocabulary. Whatever it is, a compliment is a compliment!

The only emotion that I still have a great deal of difficulty expressing is anger. There are many instances where I see so many inefficiencies and I just want to rant and rave. Those times, I wish I were back in Madras, speaking good old Tamil (especially cheri Tamil) so I can give someone a piece of my mind without having to think so much! It's so difficult to translate angry thoughts and say them in the local language. I'm sure they would sound just purely stupid. My other worry is that they may sound harsher than I intend them to. End result is that I don't say anything out loud but just curse within.

Maybe that's a good thing. Maybe there is a reason why everything can't be translated.

September 11, 2007

The day that came to be known simply as 9/11

Tuesday 9/11/2001, exactly 6 years ago to the day.

My commute to my office at White Plains, New York (about 20 miles from NYC) was the usual...boring, sleepy. Just one look outside the window on my way to get a coffee and I realized that things were not just the usual that day. Huge amounts of smoke were coming out of one of the towers at the World Trade Center (WTC). I rushed to catch the news and at that point, no one was certain as to what had happened. The initial thoughts were that a small airliner had flown into the tower by accident. The TV cameras were focused on the burning mass and then, all of a sudden, another plane appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, and crashed right into the other tower! It was such a strange thing to watch it happen live. Everyone in front of the TV was in total disbelief for a second. It was a little too surreal. Did we actually watch a plane ram into the WTC? Who would be mad enough to do that and why? The probability of 2 accidents on the same day at the same place was pretty low. It was then that it began to hit people that it was indeed some sort of an attack. And then the pandemonium began.

I have interesting memories of the WTC. I first went there in 1998 with a few friends. We partied at the 'Windows of the World' bar that was on the top most floor. The walls were completely made of glass and the place looked fantastic! Any which way you looked, you got a superb view of the city. The drinks and food were obvisouly pricey, but who cares when you're literally on top of the world (in more ways than one)! My next visit was as a 'tourist' when my family visited me in 2003. We went all the way to the top, stood in line to get the customary photograph, had some bagels and coffee, and then came back down. Those were my only trips into the towers. I've seen the NYC skyline dozens of times though; during airport runs, impromptu drives into the city for a meal and while flying over NYC. I can't put into words how I felt everytime I saw the towers. They stood tall and proud, imposed upon everything around them, but with a gentle, subtle beauty.

Since that day, I couldn't bring myself to look to the side as we crossed the bridges to go into NYC. But the day we flew out of America and headed back to India for good, I had to have one last look. At the place that once was.

September 10, 2007

Magician, artist, dare I say God?

I woke up at 3:30 am this morning and was back in bed by 5:00 am. Perfect. Just as I had planned. I knew I didn't have to be awake longer than that to see Roger Federer win his 12th Grand Slam title. It wasn't his best performance by far, but enough to get him within 2 grand slam titles of Pete Sampras' all time record of 14. Sampras was my idol growing up. When he won the U.S Open in 2002 and took his tally to 14 Grand Slam titles in all I remember thinking, like many others did, that it would be a long time before anyone even came close to it. It takes so much dedication, hard work and sacrifice to be able to sustain such high levels of play year in and out. It didn't seem like anyone had what it took. How wrong we all were.

Same time next year, Roger may well have tied the record or even broken it. It's scary that he will be a good 5 years younger than Pete if it happens next year. Makes one wonder how many more he will pile up. With such great talent and so much more time on his hands, there are amazing heights that he could scale.

In the era of hard hitters, double-fisted backhands and oversize racquets, its such a pleasure to watch someone that shows that one needs more than power alone to come out on top constantly. As a die-hard tennis fan, I'm just happy that I'm blessed to be watching him at his peak. Good luck Roger and thanks for making watching tennis a pleasure again.

September 9, 2007

Where is the pulp?

I have to get this out of my system. Minute Maid has launched their "pulpy" orange juice in India now and the ads are driving me crazy! "Where is the pulp"? "Where is the pulp"? sings the TV constantly. I want to say the pulp should only be in the fruit and not in the juice. If you're a pulp freak, go eat the fruit!!!!!! It's healthier for you anyway. Of course, its a fad now, like anything is temporarily; until people realize it and switch back to old fashioned fresh juice, everyone everywhere is going to be drinking pulpy juice (yuck). Why is it bothering me so much?

As Jerry Seinfeld might say, I'm an anti-pulpite! And a proud one, too!

September 6, 2007

Chak de India!

No, this is not a review about the movie. Just what I thought would be a cool title to this particular post. Nothing brings out feelings of patriotism than a team victory in some sport. And when its cricket, and the opponent is England, its nothing short of August 15, 1947 all over again. A dramatic win last night helped by some good batting, some terrible fielding and a lot of luck. We'll take what we get though! Game 7 is on Saturday. It's not very often, in any sport, that a team comes back to win a best-of-7 series after being down 1-3. Dare we hope?

Chak de India!

September 5, 2007

Apartment Rules

  1. Do you have to know all your neighbours?
  2. Do you have to say hi and make polite conversation with whomever you bump into at the lift?
  3. Do you have to listen to the numerous stories your house help will tell you (whether you are interested or not) about your neighbour (whose house she works at also)?
  4. Do you have to request someone, at 9 pm no less, to stop drilling holes and fix their air conditioner in the morning (like normal people would do)?
  5. Do you have to answer your door at 10 pm because your neighbour is out of potatoes????

September 3, 2007

Ode to Phone

Very basic cordless phone, blue in colour, bought at Walmart (Stratford) in 2003 for $7.00. It served us well and we loved it so much that we decided to bring it back to India when we moved in 2005. After weathering innumerable voltage fluctuations and power outages for the last two years (a culture shock for any electronic device coming from America), it died today. Reason? One might think the numerous electricity issues finally got it. Alas, its end came from my dear daughter's hands. Just like that, she flung it down from the balcony and that was that. It's weird how sad I feel about it. Everything material has to go someday but this phone was my connection, no pun intended, to my life in America. I still used it to talk to my friends there and it just felt comfortable. When I see the replacement phone in place of my old one, I feel a strange void. I don't think I can use it for a few days. I need to mourn. Goodbye old phone, I am going to miss you.

September 1, 2007

What's in a name?

After 30 years of being called Rekha Raghunathan, I am now Rekha Sathyanarayanan. Why? Because I wanted a passport for my daughter, that's why. The Indian legal system is such that it cannot issue a passport to an infant whose mother's last name is her fathers and not her husbands. I find it comical because the system is so flawed in almost every other aspect starting from application form to address verification. Showing a marriage certificate to prove that the child is indeed legal is unacceptable. The name has to match.

Reasons? Tradition, culture, its the "done and accepted" Indian thing...? Really, does a last name mean that much? My maiden name means a lot to me because I've had it all my life. That's me! I'm not saying that I don't like my husbands name but is it a part of our marriage vows or cermony to say "I take" rather than "I do"? Maybe it should be. All for a passport, that too!

August 20, 2007


I had no idea what it even meant in 1997. I was about to leave for the States and my cousin, a geek, asked me for my email id. After a considerable amount of time had passed and no words came out of my mouth, he realised that I didn't have one, and worse, didn't even know what that meant! He created one for me and that was my (free!) connection to the world I was leaving behind. It didn't take long to acclamatise to its nuances, bugs etc and I couldn't imagine life without it.

Over the years, hotmail has gone through numerous changes - acquired by Microsoft, display colours, storage capacity, tools and many more cool things. As hotmail evolved, so did other email providers that started offering bigger and better things. To keep up with friends and trends, I acquired ids in several different services but predominantly used only hotmail. Was it the comfort if offered like an old friend or was it just that most people had that id and mailed me at that (cc'ing the other new and improved id, of course!)? Even now, I can't imagine not checking my hotmail at least once a day. All my old mail is archived in there and though I don't have the time to read through it, I know that it is there. I may not get any important messages in it, but like a first crush, a first kiss or a first love, it was my first email id and its for keeps.

August 17, 2007


I've cleared my throat but not sure where to start and what to say. Most people I know that are bloggers have very interesting, exciting lives it seems! They are either at University, have fascinating jobs, are avid travellers with interesting stories to tell or are just overall people that have plenty of thoughts about a lot of happenings in todays world. Me...I don't fit into any of those categories really. I'm just a full-time mum, a home-maker if you will, someone that is trying to keep up with news, views and all that good stuff in the little free time that I have. Since I've always liked writing I thought maybe if I kept a blog, that would force me to do a little more reading and some more thinking even, maybe pay more attention to the happenings of the world, even happenings around me so that I would have something to write about! Seems a little silly, yes. But that is simply my reason for starting this blog. Read on if I haven't lost you yet...