Whale Watching


We had been to Point Reyes (a point on the scenic Pacific Coast in California, where whales are spotted with relative ease). However, the highlight of the visit turned out to be cows! The one-year old Fauna Research Crew Head in our team was fast asleep, exhausted from the long drive there, and her Grandmother practically had a hyper-tension attack everytime she missed another 4-legged creature. Normally, my mother is not excited enough to steer all conversations towards cows, if she chances upon a couple of them sitting by the roadside.

Every time an individual reacts in a certain way, there should have been a Cause i.e. the Cause-Effect Phenomenon. As it turns out, the reason for the exalted proclamations on seeing cows was an innocent visit to the Zoo a few weeks earlier. We had endeavoured to show our little daughter 3-dimensional creatures, since she loves the 2-D versions of these that she sees in her picture books and Baby Einstein DVDs. We planned a day to the Zoo, and arrived there with a Picnic hamper full of Goodies, and had a hearty meal before embarking on the Zoo tour. We practised the Lion’s roar, and the Elephant trumpet for good measure.

Four enthusiastic adults accompanied the toddler into the Grand Zoo. We had been to the sprawling Zoological Gardens in Mysore & Hyderabad, and my parents were eagerly looking forward to this visit. We went in, and saw the following animals:
1) Cow – 1 number
2) Donkey – 1 number
3) Horse – 1 number
4) Goats – 5 numbers
5) Sicilian Donkey – 1 number
6) Parrots/Tropical Birds – 5 numbers
7) Jaguar – 1 number (The only “Zoo-worthy” animal as my Father would say!)
8) Some Squirrels (I couldn’t bother counting them **BORED FACE**)


By the above standards, every street corner in India was a Zoo! We had been to a Petting Zoo (I figured that out later of course!)

So, when my parents saw cows minding their own business and grazing quietly, they could not stomach the fact that we paid to see 1 cow, while this many cows were there for no fee. Thankfully for them, the little one got up, and drank in the scene! She even had the good fortune of seeing a newborn calf that day.

I would have been happy if they had saved their enthusiasm for spotting Whales at Point Reyes – but Female Whales or Mother Whales are called Cows, so I’ll just have to settle for that!!

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Whale Watching


We had been to Point Reyes (a point on the scenic Pacific Coast in California, where whales are spotted with relative ease). However, the highlight of the visit turned out to be cows! The one-year old Fauna Research Crew Head in our team was fast asleep, exhausted from the long drive there, and her Grandmother practically had a hyper-tension attack everytime she missed another 4-legged creature. Normally, my mother is not excited enough to steer all conversations towards cows, if she chances upon a couple of them sitting by the roadside.

Every time an individual reacts in a certain way, there should have been a Cause i.e. the Cause-Effect Phenomenon. As it turns out, the reason for the exalted proclamations on seeing cows was an innocent visit to the Zoo a few weeks earlier. We had endeavoured to show our little daughter 3-dimensional creatures, since she loves the 2-D versions of these that she sees in her picture books and Baby Einstein DVDs. We planned a day to the Zoo, and arrived there with a Picnic hamper full of Goodies, and had a hearty meal before embarking on the Zoo tour. We practised the Lion’s roar, and the Elephant trumpet for good measure.

Four enthusiastic adults accompanied the toddler into the Grand Zoo. We had been to the sprawling Zoological Gardens in Mysore & Hyderabad, and my parents were eagerly looking forward to this visit. We went in, and saw the following animals:
1) Cow – 1 number
2) Donkey – 1 number
3) Horse – 1 number
4) Goats – 5 numbers
5) Sicilian Donkey – 1 number
6) Parrots/Tropical Birds – 5 numbers
7) Jaguar – 1 number (The only “Zoo-worthy” animal as my Father would say!)
8) Some Squirrels (I couldn’t bother counting them **BORED FACE**)


By the above standards, every street corner in India was a Zoo! We had been to a Petting Zoo (I figured that out later of course!)

So, when my parents saw cows minding their own business and grazing quietly, they could not stomach the fact that we paid to see 1 cow, while this many cows were there for no fee. Thankfully for them, the little one got up, and drank in the scene! She even had the good fortune of seeing a newborn calf that day.

I would have been happy if they had saved their enthusiasm for spotting Whales at Point Reyes – but Female Whales or Mother Whales are called Cows, so I’ll just have to settle for that!!

Shake Shake Shake-a-shake Shake Shake

Caution: This article may contain details that could offend the shakers in our midst. If you are really passionate about shaking your legs – proceed with caution.

What is with shaking one’s limbs? I was on the same seat as a born “shaker” the other day, and I landed up getting motion sickness (not from the motion of the train)

Shake Shake Shake-a-shake Shake Shake
Shake Shake Shake-a-shake Shake Shake

I was trying to read a book, but the whole seat was reverbrating with the shaking legs.

I walk into a meeting, and find a person bobbing up and down while merrily shaking his legs! I am unable to shake this thought out of my mind while sharing the same room with them. My mind wills me to hold their legs and stop them from shaking, but decorum demands I ignore it.

There are different kinds of leg shaking too:
(a) The vertical spring shake: This shake has the shaker bobbing his leg up and down, while vigourously shaking the chair, and occasionally the table too.

(b) The horizontal sweep shake: This shake has the shaker freely moving their leg from left to right, with each knee moving away from each other and then, toward each other again.

(c) The cross-legged foot shake: This shaker has the shaker sitting cross-legged, and only shaking the foot of the leg on the upper leg.

Of the categories above, the most engaging kind of shaker is the horizontal sweep shaker, in my opinion. You sit next to this person, and you are constantly sizing up the distance between your leg and the farthest point in the shaker’s pendulum-like swing with the corner of your eye. You need to be prepared to move your legs swiftly if the situation demands it, right?

But, just look at a person intently shaking their legs, and you will notice that they seem to be enjoying their routine quite a bit – Well………………one of these days, my alter ego is going to pop out, and stop those shaking legs!!!

What’s religious about it?

Christmas is round the corner – the streets are lit up, people have a spring in their steps, shopping goes on in a frenzy. Santa is charming his way into the hearts of thousands of children. Though, the origins of the festival are religious in nature, I don’t see any religious bearings about it now. I feel like partaking in the celebration, though I don’t visit Church.

The same can be said about Diwali – the festival of lights in India. The origins of the festival had religious bearings, but today it is more of a merry time with lots of sweets, time with family, new clothes and ornaments. The whole community feels inclined to partake in the celebrations.

Since most of the fun about festivals is the fact that the community enjoys it as a whole, when people migrate to another part of the world, is it but natural for them to adapt to the new festivals? Why can’t my Diwali be celebrated around Thanksgiving time in the US? I’ll start my own tradition of Onion sambhar and piping hot idlis for Thanksgiving dinner (with laddoos for dessert)! That gives us ample time with family, and opens up the festive mood. Every so often, I find myself rushing home from work to celebrate Krishna Jayanthi, Diwali & Pongal. I would like to morph Navarathri with Christmas. I could innovate my idol display with Christmas day decorations, and have cows, sheep and camels squatting under my X-mas tree!

Or…..I could just continue doing what I am doing now. Celebrate everything – be it Thanksgiving or Diwali, Krishna Jayanthi or Christmas, Navarathri, Tamil New Year, English New Year, Easter, Karthigai and many, many more! If being happy is the motive of these festivals, why not take every conceivable occasion to spread joy?!

Happy Holiday Season to Everybody – HO HO HO!!!

Dear Developer:

Recently, I was reading a blog on Echo’s site, referring to the Indian software engineers’ plight. I could identify with every aspect of it!

Indian software companies have quite a hierarchical structure – there are software engineers, senior software engineers, analysts, module leaders, project leaders, project managers, delivery managers, group delivery managers – you get the picture (The managed:manager ratio is sometimes as high as 1:1!)

Each of these people in the value chain need to feel valued, and feel obliged to contribute their share to the steaming cauldron already roasting developers in a hot pot of oil, over a slow fire.

A new proposal has been submitted, and after several victorious toasts by the marketing team, the project makes its way across the shores. A hapless set of developers are assigned to the project. A day into reading the requirements, and the optimistic developer is dreaming of how he should execute it perfectly this time…and then, he hears the timeline!

Developer To Module Leader: WHAT?! I know for certain this cannot be completed on time because of the following reasons:
(a) …..
(b) …..
(c) …..
Note: All reasons by the developer are in most cases valid!

Module Leader To Project Leader: I have spoken to the team, and it is certainly a challenge to take on this project, and commit to the timelines

Project Leader To Project Manager:
The team feels there are certain difficulties in completing this project, but I am positive we can tackle these problems, given that we have x people on the team.

Project Manager To Delivery Manager:
We have a wonderful team in place – all hard-working, bright people. So, though there may be some issues, I am sure we can deliver quality results in record time!

The Delivery Manager at this point smiles smugly (This may just be the break he was looking for in his career – a project that gets delivered ahead of schedule, if a little extra pressure is applied!)

Delivery Manager To Group Delivery Manager: We have an enthusiastic team in place, and am confident the project will be successful.

So, dear developer: Do not fret. Your conscience is clear. You have the right to voice your concerns, but management reserves the right to hear them!

Hide the Trash Please!

“Where are the dried prunes ma?” – I had left them in their dried pitted prunes cover in the refridgerator, and could no longer see it there. My mother insists it is right in front of my eyes. Dutiful daughter that I am, I open my eyes wider and look carefully. For the life of me, I cannot see it there! Back to mommie (Side note: I cannot imagine the day we would not go to Ma when we can’t find things!) She swoops into the kitchen with an air of confidence, and takes one look -“See, there it is!”

I still can’t see a Prunes container – am I going blind?! She waves in impatience and thrusts the Infant Formula Similac container in my arms. I open it to find Prunes in a grapes cover!

“PPLLEEAASSEE MA!! How am I expected to find this? “

“Do you want me to throw this container just because the formula is over?” – she asks with a look of incredulity on her face. I yield reluctantly. Slowly, my kitchen contains mustard seeds in Yogurt containers, dried fruit in Oatmeal containers and Olive oil in Gatorade bottles!!! Gone are the days when I had all uniform containers for all my groceries.

In fact, these days, I rush out with the trash bag diplomatically, lest she finds some stuff that I discreetly placed in the trash bag! Well, I can imagine that in their days, good containers were hard to come by, but if I were to preserve every piece, I would be standing outside for want of space in my home. Yogurt, milk, baby food, juices – the list is endless, and the recycle bin does overflow!!

Environmentally, we were better off with the milkman ringing our doorbell at 6 a.m. instead of placing 3 milk cans in the trash can every week!

Go Marathoners!!!

This time Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, has Sriks marathon achievement to thank for 24 modak entrees. The pot bellied Indian God is my mother’s favourite, and everytime she is concerned about something she has little control over – she feeds him tasty modaks! (How can this poor God ever reduce?!)

As the marathoner’s wife, I had well-fed butterflies in my stomach. Citing the sole participant in the car, the entire pack of us tucked in liberally on the carbs! So far Sriks had managed to train without any major injuries, and I was desperately hoping that he would not injure himself at the marathon.

The plan was for Manu/Meera (these sweet folks shall henceforth be referred to as M&M) and self to go and drop Sriks at the start line, and then meet him at the 5th and 10th mile points before heading back to the hotel to pick the rest of the support team, comprising Kittens and my parents. Thanks to M’s persistence, we spent the previous evening poring over maps, drawing up checklists and the like. Strategic plans are made to go awry. That night Kittens did not sleep a wink. Four hours and eight minutes after continuously singing “Old McDonald had a farm…” in the night, I felt like I had run a marathon, and I was in no position to accompany Sriks to the startline.

So M&M and my father braved the biting cold to wish him victory. The start was nothing like they had expected – men and women on the riper side of 70 mingled enthusiastically with teens and middle-aged. My father took it upon himself to encourage all the senior citizens, and was cheerleading them with gusto! He was screaming himself hoarse – “Go Sir”, “Excellent Job Madam!” Since then, he has vowed to walk at least 2.6 miles regularly!!!

After the first few miles (which according to Sriks is a little difficult considering the body yearns for the warmer comforts of a bed!), he settled into a smooth pace! With M&M’s encouragement and presence, he sailed through till the 10th mile. His half run timing was very good and showed he was keeping a good pace.

At the 20th mile, the whole gang was waiting with placards and our little one cheering – “Up Up Appa!”. The air was vibrant with music, lots of people cheering the competitors on, and a band playing nearby. The road was done up like a wall, to symbolize the runner’s wall (the approximate distance at which the body begins to run out of Glycogen, and the mind works against the runner).

We scoured the crowd waiting for Sriks. Running socks or no, every marathoner has to endure a rough patch: an unexpected blister had considerably slowed him down. We finally spotted Sriks – in spite of the blister his spirits seemed high, as we ran towards him! Keerthana was tremendously pleased to see him, and started clapping hands and saying “Up, up appa” once again.

The atmosphere was almost festive, and we were thrilled to see the aged and the young compete in a true spirit of sportsmanship. As we cheered people on, I could not help admiring the sportsman behind each of these people. What made them tick? Where did they get the motivation and drive to accomplish so great a feat? I will never know – all I know is that my respect for these tenacious people increased exponentially. Ardous hours of training, sore muscles, bad weather, and yet they smiled and acknowledged our encouragement. Go Marathoners!!!

The 24th mile was yet another rendezvous, and by now several runners recognized us, as we waited for Sriks. The mascot for the Senior citizen i.e my father, and the youngest cheerleader present, must have made their marks! Now, a visibly tired Sriks came prodding on. He said he finally knew what it was to experience the runner’s wall. As a person watching him train for this feat, I have never seen him low during or after runs. Though I encouraged him that he was almost there – the worry that his spirits were dipping crept into my mind. (I know a problem cannot be solved by worrying, but what else can one do? ) As a spectator, I could make a half-baked attempt at explaining the runners wall phenomenon, but I shall leave that to people who have actually experienced this(Http://srikris.blogspot.com)

We promised to see him at the finish line, and took leave. M&M did a remarkable job of tirelessly getting us from Spot A to Spot B, in spite of all the road blocks and one-way streets. Words cannot quite quantify how much their presence and help meant – so, I shall not even try! We managed to park around half a mile away, and dashed just in time to catch our man sprinting toward the finish line.


The head held high, firm, long strides and the sudden burst of speed as he neared the finish line echoed his achievement to the world. The man who had shied away from any distance more than a mile less than 3 months ago, had just finished a 26 miler, and proved that the mind is truly the greatest power in the world. With the right attitude, nothing seems like an unachievable altitude!

As we were admiring his medal – the air crackled with the news of an 83 year old woman, making it to the Guiness book of World Records, by completing the marathon on 5 hours and 10 minutes! And that, is the beauty of the human spirit. Just when you think, it can’t be done – somebody does it!!!