Monthly Archives: August 2014

My school boy journey started at 21

August did not have much of a significance for me, while growing up. I grew up in India.. The schools reopened after the Summer break in June. By the time August came along, we were already preparing for the first mid-term. August also coincided with the holy Hindu month of Shravan.. It used to come in with a lot of holidays – religious holidays, 15th August (Indian Independence Day). It also is right in the midst of the Monsoon season. It rained a lot.. everything was green n wet and as a schoolboy, I used to pray that it rained just enough for school to be out.. but not so much that Mom wouldn’t allow us to play soccer in the rain and mud. Believe me, playing soccer in the rain is a TREAT..

I love August..

I love August..

I was 21 years old, when I decided to pursue my Masters Degree in the US. Fall Semester. Fresh off the boat into a new land. My friends from India who landed in the North, started making plans for trips to watch Fall Colors..I naively asked, whats a good spot to view fall colors in Florida.. People stared at me, as if I am an asylum escapee. 

As the years progressed, I became more n more Americanized. I started making plans for Labor Day camping trips, cookouts and Fantasy Football Drafts. August is the time, when the NFL pre-season begins. If you are into fantasy football, it is a time to watch as you can spot some diamonds in the rough. 

College Days are gone.. Now, as a working professional, August is about enjoying the last few days of summer. If I haven’t already been on a vacation, it is time to take a week or two off to hit the beach with the family. Maybe a golfing trip with buddies. 

August sometimes feels like someone in the early stages of the mid-life crisis.. the happy sunny days of youth are dwindling fast and soon the short, cold days will be here.. Thank God for football  for helping in maintaining sanity during the dark cold days of winter. 

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When job becomes just a paycheck

Last week, the daily post prompt asked..If money were out of the equation, would you still work? Something happened over the last week and I find myself asking, is it really worth hanging on to my current job? 

The job is great.. it pays well.. allows me to work from home most of the time. The workload is not very busy. It leaves me time to pursue my hobbies, express my thoughts as my blog. It also allows me time to work on University courses that will help me grow in my career. And most importantly, the flexibility it offers allows me to spend more time with my eight month old son. That was the reason, I took the job in the first place.

All that is fine. But, the absence from a workplace atmosphere leads to being out of the loop at times. Working in an environment, where it is very easy to get lost in the silos of bureaucracy, it sometimes leads me to question.. is it really worth it? After all, these are my prime working years. What I do in the next 10-12 years would set the foundation for the future for me, my wife and my kid.

Should I quit the job and take up an opportunity, that would keep me on my toes? Life would become more hectic, but it will also offer opportunities to grow. As I sit, writing my thoughts.. I looked for a few sources to find more satisfaction. 

My first step starting from a fresh workday tomorrow would be to follow the steps in Jonathan Wells’ blog, specifically this article about Job Satisfaction. 

I am also reading insprational articles like this blog about job satisfaction in management consultant positions (my line of work) and Rudy Karsan’s blog.

I am going to take charge on this front and see, if it changes anything. If you have any recommended reads or comments, please let me know.


Lip Out that caused the pouty lip

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Missed it, mate..

I play Golf, every weekend with my buddies. We keep it serious by pooling in $25 per head in a winner take all, round. If the scores are tied, the pot rolls over to the next week. This last weekend, the pot was $300 and that’s when my why, thank you moment struck.

I am a 12 handicap golfer. The other three in the foursome are anywhere between 10-15 handicaps. So our games are roughly in the same ballpark. I was having a great round was 8 over through the 17th hole, leading by a stroke. 

We walk up to the 18th tee. 485 yard, Par 5.. slight dogleg right, wind helping. I was second to tee off. The person who was trailing me by a stroke was coming off a birdie. He had the honors. He hit a monster drive, about 265 but the ball trickled into the first cut, just to the right of the fairway. He had a great angle at the left back pin location. 

I walk up to the tee.. telling myself to keep it in the fairway.. I swing relatively easy and hit the ball down the middle but only 250 yards. The other two tee’d off. They were trailing me by about 5 and 7 strokes respectively. I wasn’t too worried about them. They played their second shots.

It was my turn. Decision time.. Should I go for the green or should I lay up. I decide to play safe.. I pull out my 9 iron, hit a beauty.. down the middle 135 yards.. with exactly 100 yards to go.. My easy gap wedge distance.. I am all excited..

My friend, pulls out 3 wood.. spanks the ball really well.. He is on the green about 60 feet from the hole.

We play our third shots.. I stick it in to 6 feet. My buddy hits a great lag putt.. he is 2 feet away.. right in my line. He asked me if he can finish off.. Now, I wasn’t sure.. If I allow him to finish off and he makes the putt.. it would cause unnecessary pressure on me.. but it would also give me the line to make my putt. I allowed him to finish it. It rolled in to the bottom of the cup.

I went ahead with my pre-shot routine.. Lined up my birdie putt.. hit it exactly how I wanted to hit it, exactly where I wanted to hit it..It rolled.. kissed the rim.. did a 360 and lipped out.. Par for me.. Birdie for my friend.. The pot rolls over to $400.

I had it all.. then one of the guys from the foursome said.. “You played beautifully from tee to the green”.

Why? Thank you..
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Sure, I would have taken this as a compliment on any other .. but on this hole.. it seemed he was talking about the missed putt. They don’t call 6 footer knee-knockers for nothing..


If you believe blogging is about expressing creativity, make sure your daily schedule suits your purpose..

They say, creativity cannot be compartmentalized. It cannot be constrained in a daily time table, a monochrome office cube and a “follow the book” mindset. 

Yet, we all go through this journey called life with our aspirations secretly subdued by the demands of the self, others and time. And some geniuses, arrange their lives in a way so that the aspirations take the front seat and everything else is relegated to filling the gaps. Here is how they do it..

The Daily Schedules of Creative Geniuses


Burn!

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/discussion-enders/

 

This is from the time, when I was a graduate student at University of South Florida. We rented a 4 bedroom house, that was party central on Saturday nights but also was geek gallery on weekdays.

A roommate’s girlfriend had brought a hamster and that guy was our unofficial fifth roommate. Initially, he was very active, running on his wheel inside his cage. He used to interact when you stood next to his cage..after about 2 months, he kind of blended in the environment and was like “whatever”, most of the time. My roommate Steve, fed him some Paneer (Cottage Cheese)  to ensure he interacts.. He came close to the cage, took his piece of cheese to the corner of the cage and ate it. Next thing he did was, run on his wheel.. Maybe it was the guilt that made him want to burn it off.. It was funny.. We started giving him a tiny bit every now n then and he became a fromage’ connoisseur. But he also started putting on some weight.

A few months passed.. We became busy with our respective course work, research, thesis activities. Spring break arrived.  We decide to chill out, have fun and party for the week, since we all were about to graduate. Plans were made, booze was bought and the house suddenly became a noisy place.

One of my roommates, let’s name him Andy.. He is a big guy with about 50 excess pounds, geeky glasses. He is usually very quiet, calm and composed. He is a very good engineer and today works on a cutting edge project with Boeing Corporation.On Friday before the break, his advisor called him in his office and gave him a ton of work to finish before school The incentive was that he would get to go for a conference in São Paulo, Brazil.

Andy wasn’t very happy. Sure, São Paulo, is great in spring but he would have missed out on the fun on what would be our last spring break together..we all were home, drinking and chilling out.

He came home, fuming and cussing.. There was a silence as the normally calm Andy appeared unhinged. He vented out all his frustration on the poor hamster.”You stay home all day long.. Do nothing, eat our cheese and get fat.. You good for nothing, goofball..one of these days, you will explode from all that fat that you’ve been putting on”..

Pete ( my other roommate) quipped in ” you didn’t explode, did you”.. Andy was stunned.. Stopped dead in his tracks.. We all burst out laughing, including Andy.. He cooled off.. And a relatively civil conversation ensued.

 


Conscious Imperfection..

Fray to me is a conscious imperfection.. A distressed jeans is not made distressed, but is deliberately frayed for a rustic, appeal. A worn out tire was not made that way, but the wear is the result of use, born out of a conscious purpose.

The bamboo supports the roses.. but the store sells it in 6 foot sections.. slice it..

A birthday cake is perfect.. with its definite shape, icing n all the trimmings.. the birthday boy/girl cuts it to celebrate and share the sugary goodness with friends n family.. leaving a frayed up piece waiting for takers..

broken bamboo supports the roses..

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Chai!

 

Heaven in a Cup!

Heaven in a Cup!

Chai would hands down be my potion. I can’t think of any other drink, that can remotely challenge the piping hot cup of Chai. 

It attained this status by being with me, since I was a kid. As a kid, when tea was not allowed.. Only adults drink tea. It became a symbol of adulthood.. a badge of maturity. I remember hanging around my mother, while she had tea, like a cat in a fish market. Sometimes, she would add a spoonful of tea in the milk that I was drinking. The pristine white milk had a slight tinge and that was enough for me to feel grown up.

I must have been in the eight grade, when I was finally permitted to have tea. In those lazy teen years, the aroma of tea would spread in the house and serve as an alarm clock. The recipe in my house was simple.. 3/4 cup water, 2 teaspoons of sugar.. 1 teaspoon of Black Darjeeling Tea, some grated Ginger, 2-3 cardamoms..bring it to a boil.. Add some milk.. filter it and you have heaven in a cup.

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After growing up and being away from the house, the neighborhood Chaiwallah became a friend. A morning chai along with a cigarette, would be a perfect start to the day. His stall (also called Tapri in Mumbai) used to be a gathering place and also a hangout spot with friends. There is a blog dedicated to this phase of life for a typical Indian youth.. http://chaiwallahsofindia.com/ Check it out.. some interesting stories..There also were specialized chai restaurants like Irani cafes of Mumbai. These places are a bit quieter and the tea here is revered.

After leaving the shores of Mumbai to land in America, there were few things that didnt change.. the habit of waking up to a cup of tea. No wonder, I can’t think of any other potion.

Tea is not just a morning drink.. It is also had on following occasions..

  1. Anytime.
  2. When you want to concentrate.
  3. When you are bored.
  4. When you are with friends.
  5. When you are missing your friends.
  6. When you want to stay up late and need caffeine.
  7. When you woke up too early, can’t sleep and have nothing to do.
  8. When a heavy lunch makes you sleepy.
  9. Sometimes, before lunch (I believe this is a Japanese tradition.. but I dont have Japanese tea. Will have to make it work with Indian Chai).

 

 


Good food in your hood? Share the love

Tortas Frontera - Chicago...

Tortas Frontera – Chicago…

Each town has its must eat place.. Some are fancy eclectic Michelin Star rated restaurants, while others are hole in the wall joints.. Some are iconic like DC’s Ben Chilli Bowl, New York’s Katz Deli, Geno’s Cheesesteak in Philly while others are local legends.

Zagat, the restaurant rating service compiled a great list of restaurants that they thought should go national. I have had the pleasure of eating at three of the twenty on the list and I believe at least two deserve to be there..

http://www.zagat.com/b/20-local-chains-we-wish-would-go-national?utm_source=taboola&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=desktopboost#20

If you had to recommend, what would that place be?


5 ways people die before they are actually dead..

 

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Felt compelled to share this wonderful piece by Shola Richards in the Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/shola-richards/5-ways-people-die-before-_b_5696138.html?utm_hp_ref=healthy-living


Lightning Photography

Some amazing images of lightning caught on camera.. Checkout the image from Wakefield, Massachusetts – Mother Nature dazzles the fireworks..

http://www.cnn.com/2014/08/19/us/irpt-lightning-photography/index.html?hpt=us_t2