Thursday, December 30, 2010

KA 51 N 6887

If I could dedicate 3/4th of my blog to a single subject, I would do so for my (ex) ‘blue car’, a Fiesta Zxi Diesel, upon which this combination of alpha numerals belong.

She was like a toy car to us. I remember the day my then fiancé, now hubby brought her straight from the showroom to my office, to pick me up for a long drive. I still have the taste of the ‘bajji’ in my mouth, which we had during that very first drive. On my wedding day, with my eyes welled up with tears (after symbolically waving bye to my parents, bro and sis in law) and chest swelling in anticipation about the new life ahead, she took me safe and sound to my destination.  A fun filled ride to our honeymoon locale, grocery shopping, all the trips we made, vacation journeys back home, celebrated with us on the day we came to know we are gonna be proud parents soon, shift to the new house… the list goes on.

There were many points through the last 3 years when we were told that we might need to move overseas, everytime till the last time we turned it down, the top priority being our unwillingness to part with our blue car. I have sometimes felt jealous of her coz of the attention my hubby showers on her. But I loved her nevertheless. She was our pride, our constant companion and a reminder to all our good times.

When we had to finally part with her, we tried our best to find her a good friend who would take care of her the way we did.  Sitting 14000 miles away from her on the other side of the globe, when her keys were handed over, we could not hold back our tears for a true friend who never let us down! I hope our paths never cross again, for I cant see her in someone else’s care.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Consumer is King!

Well, let me first admit the truth that my first and last love among subjects was marketing and HR was a willful choice I made, after considering a lot of factors. So my fellow HR pros, do not get surprised if u happen to read this! J

Here, I ve jotted down something relevant to what we studied, related to the 5 Ps of marketing. Just for info, the 4 Ps of marketing namely Product, price, place and promotion are pillars of thought utilized by the marketers for forming their marketing strategy., trying meanwhile to satisfy the 5th P, people. Can people be satisfied? An effective marketer might be able to wrap up all the 4 Ps but the 5th, will be very very tricky!

Back in the Indian retail scene, something similar to what happened in US, in 80’s, is in process. If you know what I mean that is the moving of the retail giants into the Indian neighbourhoods. Can the poor provision stores run my ‘Daamu chettan’ or ‘chetan bhai’ survive time? Does it benefit us better to have these retail giants in place of petty shops? well… I would like to point out; to a great extent, as a consumer, ‘yes’.

In one of the marketing lectures, I remember my prof making a statement that the saying “Consumer is King” applies greatly to the US markets where choice is plenty. I had to see it to believe it! Every brand on the shelf is fighting the one similar to it, placed right beside. If the slogan/ pricing/ artwork on carton/extra additives etc. does not match or exceed expectations, it ll just not be lifted off the shelf! Well, that’s the story of the products, the retailers by themselves are no different! They bring out flyers almost every other week, trying to beckon all with marvelous ‘Coupon offers’ (reducing initial marked prices to beat competition) savings and festive season offers. When the biggies compete the after effect is big savings and such a situation is beneficial to the consumer.

I feel at times they even take the phrase “…King” overboard for eg:, here  they have a return policy that is unbelievable!. Be it electronic/toy/clothing/bedding/telephone etc. etc., if one does not feel that it fits the bill, they can return it anytime(there are shops offering 90 days upto even 365), no questions asked!!! (Note: Legally the shops are expected to receive any returns within 90 days time) I was agape seeing this at first thinking that such action can cause serious loss to the manufacturer, especially in electronic and telephone departments. Because whatever is returned by the consumer can be sold again only as refurbished, and that too at half the price! Sometimes, the stuff returned will have absolutely nothing wrong, except that it dint suit the customer’s ‘taste’. Once I commented on a blog about the return policy in US, and the author was prompt to delete it away!!  J
The advertisements that are aired in the media try their best to create some kind of retention in the minds of their prospective consumers; sometimes by creating very good ads and sometimes by creating horrible ones.. I still have nt got a clue why the latter!??? Personally I feel the best place to advertise in US would be in one of the weather watch sites. The traffic would be really high there because of the unpredictable weather pattern in US.

Biggies starting up shop in India is but inevitable in her run towards becoming ‘big’.  These are but signs of a developed country and India is just on her way.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The first snowfall

It happened on a cold November morning, of the year 2010.

Well, snow was not actually the top item on my list when I landed here in US, but it was so, for my hubby. After having my lil one, everything else in life, falls short of making it to top!!! The thought of winter left me worried of freezing in the cold/falling sick etc., and since snow was a part of it I secretly loathed it!

One day, responding to my hubby’s excited voice on the phone screaming “its snowing..its snowing..”, I lazily pulled aside the blinds and what was before me left me speechless for a while! It looked as if I ve entered into the screen of my TV when some movie was playing on HBO.. coz that’s the only place I ve seen something like this before!!! The roof of the building opposite to our patio was covered in white.. the leaves were bowing down with the weight of the snow falling on them, the bud of the plant nearest my window had a ball of snow on it, like a lollypop!

Whooopppie! I could feel the bubbles of excitement in me.. my wide grin broke into peels of laughter… like someone was tickling me! So my hubby proudly remarked as if he had the power to foresee my future…”see, I told u, u ‘d love it!!!”….i replied in submission, “Yes boss, you did!” J

I laughed to myself, just enjoying the sight of it! I had earlier tried to imagine how it would all look when snow finally falls… but, Mother Nature beat my imagination!

I commented on facebook that I was thrilled and someone immediately told me that “In time…you are gonna hate it…” Let me say, like everything else beautiful in our lives….maybe, snow will also be taken for granted in time……….. But its beauty never questioned!…J

PS: These snaps were taken from my cam, that day.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 100 Feet Road Experience

Anyone who has been to Bangalore would most probably have been to the 100 Ft Road (Airport), Bangalore. It has a few of the city's finest shops/ fashion designer outlets/ sports shops/ beauty parlours etc. etc. and almost all branded eat outs and even a pub. And here is also where my friend D and I spent our best times of youth, window shopping!!!

Wait! We are not one of those girls who would make the counter wala dump all the clothes and then say, no no.. we never did that!!! Naaaa!... we would very politely say, before he/she pulls out stuff, “No thanks! I was just seeing!”???  ha ha ha! ‘Seeing’!!!!! J

We were just out of college, drawing out first few salaries and trying our best to limit our shopping to ‘window’. I am not claiming that we did…but we tried out bestest best. Every Saturday morning it was thrilling to get decked up, catch an auto, land up in 100 Ft road and eat our break fast (sometimes it would just be bread and jam from back home)…go around checking out shops, have my fav chicken tikka sandwich and Chocolate shock (I guess I got the name right) for lunch from CCD…. Do more window shopping and then head home finally to call it a day!

Our days at the 100 Ft Road finally ended with me getting engaged to my present day hubby… I had to keep my dates with him thereafter…. J

I can easily say those happening days at 100 Ft Road were some of the finest in my life.. Thanks D… You are my friend, dearer than the dearest… wait… should I call u sister…naaaah! Then we might ve fought.. not a sis… just so close to my heart… miss you!

PS: D also met her sweetheart soon after and is happily married now, missing 100 Ft Road as much as I do!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Fixing my Chappathis'

So you think I have gone crazy to declare that I can make my own chapathis!? Buhahaha!.. u will agree with me if you grew up like me without stepping into the kitchen (except at times to fill my plate with more of mama’s delicious curries)..

Soon after getting married (3 yrs ago), I landed straight into a Bangalore kitchen and chapathi is a must cook at any Indian home. I had all the theoretical knowledge to make a break through, but absolutely zero in practicals. So off I went mixing my dough into a sticky and messy mass….. Gwaaad!..NO! .. my chapathis that day stuck to the ‘tawa’ refusing to fall onto its creator’s plate.

The next day I did get over my mistake of pouring too much water but still not separating my chapathis from the hot tawa. Whew!!! …. And in my next day’s trial run, chapathis did come off but much like the paapads… I was on the verge of giving up, but my hubby is so much of a foodie that the thought of losing out on a life saver main course forced me to try again..

(You might want to know what my hubby was doing all the while when the dough gave way/ chappathis turned to baked paapads…… he had his trademark grin and ‘understanding’ look which left me feeling so miserable for not ‘getting it together’)

I would secretly go and check with my colleagues in office as to how they ‘fix’ their chappathis.. all the time dreaming about the perfect rounded delicious chappathis my mom used to make……….

..and then one day it happened!!!! I fixed my chappathis! How? I don’t know…it just happened! J

And today, 3 years later, why I am reminded of my chappathi story is because of one of my guests at home, who commented on how great my chappathis tasted…. Now, is nt that what you call ‘experience’? <wink>

Indo Americano NRI wading the Fork and Spoon

Well… this is quite funny… I have met quite a few back home who have changed into eating with a fork and spoon after coming to US. Spoon is fine.. one may say its just precautionary in a world with H1N1 and likes. But a fork and knife.. errr ... come on! We all know a person born and raised in India needs real training for this one.

I had a guest some time back (when in India) who demanded for a fork and spoon saying that he got the habit after staying in US for some time. Well.. I believed him…… until the day I put my foot down in US.. Here, let me tell you friends, the normal folks you meet in any hotel/ wayside food caravan, any presenter on Food network/ Cooking Channel (top food channels in US) relish their food licking on to their fingers!!!!!… There is nothing stopping them!.......

It is, in my understanding when an Indo - American ‘NRI’ tries vainly to knock off that ‘I’ that he ends up trying such antics as wading a fork!
At the end of it we all live to eat (!!! … atleast most of us food lovers) .. so lets not go after these fancy fork-knife-spoon wading NR(trying to knock off--->) Is …

Atleast when we are back in our homeland… eat like our fellow home landers!!! It will make us feel all the more at home!!! J

Monday, December 13, 2010


Am I superstitious? Well… I don’t think so.. I don’t believe in spending loads of money on poojas big or small, that are done at the temple. I rather give that money to the old poojari who is conducting the pooja, for they say God would be happier then! …so am I selfish…? Am I giving money to the poojari thinking I ll get more of God’s blessings? Well…. I don’t know!
I have been staying away from my homeland for many years now. Everytime I go back I notice a few new temple structures that have come up. On enquiring why so, I hear that a possible reason could be the sudden bout in the no: of devotees showering money on these temples. Probably expecting God to return the favour, by way of blessings, always ultimately something selfish, that has to do with money!  ….. and thus the economy keeps running!.. he he…J
Then there are some who donate just for the pleasure of seeing their names up on the board hung in front of the organization… but who in the world will know u to be u, unless u have some weird name like Ramakurup vadakethara pillai veettil??? ….
So what really is unselfish giving?
In my understanding, from what my mom once told me, true giving has something to do with the word ‘sacrifice’… it is when you let go of something dear to you, knowing that it would be of much help/ use to the person at the receiving end, that it can be called an unselfish giving…. This has nothing to do with superstition, but has lots to do with belief in the creator, that what we are, we will be.
I wish someday people’s superstition could be converted into unselfish thoughts that would result in giving, which in turn will please God!
Have I been unselfish in giving??? ……  Well….…..!

Friday, December 10, 2010

“I CAN” - My first triumph on the track

I remember myself having been a shy child.… and there was another ‘me’ which hated my shy side which kept shouting into my ears ‘stop being shy, don’t blush…u gotta be smart!’….and then next time I had to go in front of 5 people, yet again I would feel that same old hot blush going past my face..  I thought hard, how to get past this...

I was already 13 by now… I decided that I gotta gain confidence..whats best for that..yeah, learn a new art so that I know something which so many others dont…?? so off I went to learn embroidery/ stitching etc. etc … so one day when I was walking through the ‘not so rich’ neighbourhood to my teacher’s class, out came a dog from nowhere, bit me so hard that I could nt walk for the next 15 days! .. The doctor who examined me told me that I was lucky (does that apply!!???)about one thing, that the dog brushed against the tendon on my leg, but luckily dint injure it, or else I would ve limped all my life… did I hear that right?? Limp?? Ohh God! Yesss.. I am lucky!! 

I ve heard my mom say I inherited my dad’s strong muscular legs…what can I do best with my new found luck? Wait a minute!...Yess.. I can give a shot at the tracks… can i???? …a shy girl on the tracks?? Hard to imagine!!! I read somewhere, always say ‘I can’, so that u finally ‘can’… so I kept telling myself… ‘I CAN’!!!!

So, once again came our School athletic meet… off we went shouting slogans for ‘Blue house’ (we had 4 houses Blue, Green, Yellow and Violet), recoined to ‘The Royal Blues’ just for the 2 days! ;) .. I had big holes in my belly… my chest swelling with anticipation/tension … they distributed the ‘chest no:s’ .. mine was ‘13’ … whew! Have nt I heard 13 is unlucky!!

First came the 800 m qualifier, and I did it.. qualified!  This was not my expectation, I mean not the qualification part but the 800 m race.. I was wanting to use all my energy for 400 m and I was scared if I would lose it… some one gave me Glucose.. I had an extra spoon there..:)

Then came the moment… until then I had heard lots of noises around me.. but now, when I knelt down and waited for the whistle to blow, I could just hear my controlled breathing.. trying to be calm… I was aware that the crowd would be cheering for the previous year’s champion and I even heard someone say the possible winners.. no one knows me to be an athlete still…

The whistle blew and I took off.. Running on bear foot … once off I could hear my own mind shouting into my ears… faster…faster!! … I could see green/yellow/violet jerseys beside me, trying hard to beat one another... I wanted to beat them all…

Then one momentary thought crossed my mind… I ll fool my mind to make my body move faster.. just imagine that the dog that bit me was running behind me aiming for my leg again.. Daaaang!!!! … now I was at my peak… I could hear ecstatic remarks…BLUE HOUSE ..come ooohhhnnn.. ..raaaan .. shhhh … yaay ..”the wind was blowing hard against my face… now what was ahead of me was just the last bit which was a straight track at the end of which I could see a satin rope.. the finishing point!!
Wait a second!!! I am all alone, no one ahead, no one beside!!.. I suddenly get the urge to turn.. I tell myself.. NO.. coz I ve imagined a dog and I want that imagination to ignite me till the end which was so near me..  Give it all’……. Closer than ever to the finish line…and then it happened…..!!!!! My chest broke into the satin line.. swelling with pride for having done ‘it’….. Blue house rejoiced! i bet the person who came second by almost 50 meters!
Once a champion on track, there is no looking back… I don’t want to be the shy girl again.. a new ‘me’ was borrn… proud at doing what I thought was impossible.. ‘I CAN!’

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Post Operative Ward - What a World!!!

I delivered my baby in an average hospital which had an above average doctor on its rolls.
This was my second change after reaching Trivandrum, had to do so because of  arrogant behaviour from the ‘experienced’ doc at the expensive hospital where I went to initially. I was made to wait for a painful 2 hrs, in my 9th month, while I watched patients (special recommendation from near and dear) walk in even without a prior appointment. I objected and I was ‘treated’ ‘well’ for that! The doc even refused to see my reports properly and was totally rude! I decided that I cannot take like behaviour at the time of delivery, so moved to a hospital nearer to home.
By this time I had developed some kind of fear towards the doc, lets say to the likeliness of the fear one has for the school principal in his/her 2nd standard. I was very careful with my words/questions.. doc was good except that she was so busy and at one time she would be attending to 4 people!!! Whew! I told myself, its all till my lil one is born.. relax!!!
Finally the day came and I was rolled in for caesarean (I was secretly happy for this!) on emergency.
I will write about my experiences in the operation theater under a separate head.
I opened my eyes, groggy from the general anesthesia I r/d earlier in the day…. In 5 mins I had 5 guys around me trying to lift me off the operation theater bed… since I had r/d no local anesthesia my wound was painfully making its presence felt.. I told them atleast 10-14 times..please…please…slowly…please…I beg u… I beg u…. huh.. I just could hear them exchanging some meaningless jokes…they literally dumped me onto the emergency ward bed, which I had left 2 hrs ago to go in2 the operation theater. It pained and I could nt speak coz I had phlegm in my throat, I was told that’s a side effect of general anesthesia! So I am a mess… a big baad wound and a bad throat.. wait a sec!!!! I am missing something.. where is my baby!!!... my mind was so cloudy.. one secong I am startled.. are they taking me for surgery?... the next.. I remember with relief..its done.. I close my eyes and then again the same questions!!! Someone show my baby!!!!!!!....atlast doc came around, held my hand and asked if I am fine.. she said I will be.. ok that’s my hope too.. I close my eyes..
I wake to a loud call of my name.. I open my eyes.. there in the nurses arm was a teeny tiny lil face I had been longing to see before me, for sooo loooong! My baby…my angel!! J
Then, in came my hubby with a big broad smile on his face.. my mom..( these two faces brought me huge amount of comfort!) … They had to leave me in the post operation recovery ward until next day morning.. I longed to have them near me.. They took my baby away.. they dint even let her, even try to take milk from me… though I had, by my delivery, read all possible article on child birth and post operative care, when the time came I was too groggy and medicated to even remember all that.
The night was setting in…I hated to be left here.. that’s when I noticed.. I had a 95 year old granny on the next bed for company..i saw them giving her shots to sleep..she was all wired up.. I was looking at her motionless body, clad in loose fitting hospital gown, and was suddenly feeling that I should nt be feeling so bad about all what I am going through…. Look at her, poor granny, she cannot even lift herself up!!..i could, in a matter of days time..
They gave me one more injection, I asked for water ( I have not had for the last 12 hrs!) and got it in a filler!!! I tried to sleep….i did… but woke up… and dint know what to do.. the bed was not comfortable and pain was unbearable. I remembered about the granny and drew back the curtain..what I saw wanted me to shout out immediately but my phlegm caught my voice in my throat…. Granny was awake and she has managed to pull all wires off her and was taking off her gown too!!! I cried out with whatever lil voic I had.. “Sister…..SISterrr…sister..SISTERRR…” .. the sisters were sleeping!!!.. in a post operative ward they were sleeping!! Gosh!! .. they heard my 7th call and came over and guess what pulled up my curtain first and asked me “oh, u dint sleep yet…?” baaah!! She felt bad, she was caught!!!!!!! .. they dressed up granny after scolding her for what she has done.. now with the curtains pulled I could nt see anything.. I closed my eyes an dtold myself.. sleeeep…. And waited for the sunlight to stream in and to see my baby’s face again…

US - First Glimpse

I got my first glimpse of Albany, US at about 1 AM , June 22, 2010 when the aeroplane in which i was travelling finally broke the clouds, above which i ve been flying for around 16+ hours now. After such long travels, sometime one gets really silly, so the first thing i did from up above, this i remember vividly, was to look for my apartment complex!!! haaah! i remembered the layout of the apartment complex we were booked in to stay from what my husband showed on Google maps which i so unwillingly stared into coz of his endless prodding (sorry huh! ;)), back in Trivandrum.. but now, at this moment, flying a few 1000 ft above Albany, suddenly, everything seemed so important!!..

I must say i ve never felt so really tired eyes felt like it had some needles on it which would poke into my cornea if i tried opening them...i had a 4 month old baby in my lap who had refused to sleep anywhere else but my lap for the last 30 hours..  i was suddenly feeling ecstatic!!! Touching ground! Going to a hotel room and freshening up.. sleeping on a flat bed.. a pillow..everything left me wanting to land ASAP..Landing happened and i must say a lot smoother than a Kingfisher/Jet/Air India etc.etc. back home. (I love my country, am just talking about the planes!)

Albany airport was so beautiful, quiet and neat.. after all its the capital region of New York!..everybody from the plane were standing in a circle, waiting for their baggage and all were wishing each other good night and most of them dint forget to tell me how beautiful my lil girl was!.. it did bring huge smiles to my sleep deprived face every time.. We (read my hubby) had a huge challenge in finding out a taxi for us at 1 AM in teh night.. with a lil baby and a 'by now hungry and crazy' wife, that hurdle must have seemed ever so huge for him! But he is a smart guy!!( i married him coz he is! ) he managed to get a SUV coz we needed  huge space for all our luggage which had stuff enough to create a 'lil India' in our new American home!

My surprises starts here.. At 1 AM in the night, we got a taxi, which had a woman driver, all by herself!!! Gosh! I was happy coz i was so sleepy and groggy that i dint want to feel intimidated having a gigantic pot bellied guy as a driver at this time! i was prepared to feel weird sitting in a car going through the right side of the road, but surprisingly i felt nothing! my husband who seemed to ve regained all his energy on landing in US finally, was still (STILL!!!!!!) trying to point out boards and places which flew past us in the dark (which he had studied about in Google maps)... i controlled my temper to save him!

Finally we landed in Hotel Marriot where we would be staying for the next 2 days before moving into our new home. The lady behind the counter helped us with the keys and told us about the breakfast next morning.. there were some frozen food in the freezer but by then my hunger was totally killed, probably beacuse i was thrilled!!! I am in the US of A finally!!!

The room was good with a kitchenette(was my idea!) though it dint do much help! all of us had a bath and baby was finally changed into crisp new clothes. It was 4 AM by then and all three of us slept.......
i woke up with a jolt.. there was sunlight everywhere and i had no idea what the time was!! i knew my watch is wrong but....... i called hubby darling who was still so fast asleep.. clueless.. clueless!... haaaah! the TV..switch on the TV for time.. its 4:30 PM...!!! Goodness we slept  without breakfast ( that was complimentary), lunch, and in time for tea!!!!.. hmmm.. i lazily got up, made tea, chit chatted, changed diaper, still it was nt getting dark.. so went out for a stroll...

That, my friends, was amazing.. the freshness of the air, which i could feel inside my lung, thrilled me! .. the red big button, which we could press each time we wanted the traffic to stop, left me agape..(none of my friends in US ever told me about this!!!) ... soon after, one more things left me wonderstuck.. that the sun actually set only at 9 PM that day!!!..

I knew by then US has lot more in store for me...