Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Street Corner

At the end of the road, right by where we would wait for our school bus to pick us up, used to be a cycle repair shop. With a thatched roof at one point and then a tin rake, the small boxed shop was a permanent fixture of my childhood. As was common it started with the father and then the son took over.

You'd go there to fill up air or get a puncture fixed - thorns were abounding those days and tubes were precious. Cycle tubes would have multiple patches and I don't think I ever had to replace one.. ever.. in all those years from learning in the back lanes to riding along the beach road.  I still remember how fascinated I was, that very first time, by how he ferreted out the puncture in the tube.

Another lazy Saturday afternoon. The sun streaming down in all its glory. Wheeling the cycle down the three blocks to the corner of the Double Road, breathing in the clean air; not that one thought of the air in those days. Weekend afternoons were for siesta; you'd hardly pass anybody on the streets. If it was a good day, the person at the repair shop would be puttering away at things, else you would call him awake from his snooze under the shade.You would fix the price for the repairs first and then he would prop up the cycle and pull out the tube. His hands very efficient at what they were doing.  Skin tanned to dark chocolate leather, palms all blackened from handling tires, tubes and grease all day. He'd fill up some air in sad flat tube. They had this bowl with some water in it - at one time it was a slice of a big truck tire; people were resourceful back then, repurposing everything. He'd patiently go all the way around dipping the tube in the water and watching out for.. bubbles. He never stopped at the first one. Went all around to make sure there were no more punctures. Once he'd marked out all the spots requiring fixing, he'd get the tube out wipe it off let the air out and start sanding out the spots with the holes. Then would cut out rectangular patches of some old tube, blunt out the edges, sand that up a little bit. Apply adhesive on both ends - the patch and the tube and stick them together. He'd let the whole thing dry out, fill out some more air and go back and do the bubbles test again. Once he was satisfied he'd got them all, the air would come out again, the tube would be put back into place in the tire and then pumped with air to the required pressure.

A very meticulous and conscientious person. I have much to learn from him.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Choices

I have spent many an hour tossing & turning over my actions. The choices ranged far and wide - take the stairs/ the elevator. Go out with friends/snuggle in. Accept a dinner invite/cook at home. Get that coffee/ drink that refreshing glass of water. Stay close to home/go overseas and try new lands. Break out of a relationship/see it through. Wear orange/carry my umbrella/bike to the station/roll out the car/call my Mom.....

They were all important decisions, or so they seemed. And then today morning I wake up the the news - "Death with dignity advocate, takes life with pills". I didn't know how to react for a bit. And then my world went for a toss. I mean, I know people have done this before. But I had seen her video just the other day and she seemed to be coherent and doing decently well. She did mention that she was looking better than she was feeling. But it just seems soo.. final. What if a miracle had been in the awnings waiting to happen. We'll never know.

But one thing I do know. I have today. I have now. And even if it isn't great, it is worth more than lying on bed reading some random BS. It is one more healthy day. I owe it to myself to make the best choices and make the most of it.

I hope I do.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Winter

There is something about this season which evokes retrospection. While the city is going wild around me, I'm ensconced in my throw with a cup of tea and a slice of cake on my laptop browsing away the night.

Why the city is going wild you ask? Well the Giants won the World Series. I know I know. World Series. But hey, thats America for you. To celebrate that we had the parade today (of which this is my fav photo (absolutely not mine!)).  Also happens to be Halloween tonight. Or day of the dead. Take your pick.

And so while the revelers revel and the ghosts visit the living, I'm clicking away at some keys getting deeper and deeper into the realms of the cloud. Thats where the internet seems to reside these days.

Things of note since the last few posts:

I've been on an almost sans sugar diet! For a bet, I'm not yet a health food geek. Except for one day of the week. And inevitably I seem to go bonkers on sugar that one day. Take today for example - started the sugar day with ice-cream at 9 in the morning. And then one more at 10. This despite knowing I was doing too well with dairy these days. And then I went on to get some seriously evil hot chocolate they make at this place called Dandelion. Has become my haunt for sugar days. And of course lets not forget the said slice of cake idling on the side table right now.

Got denied entry to a Country. Yea, apparently I'm a person of harmful intent to Costa Rica. Costa Rica. But then again, taught me a lesson to respect the edicts of VISA requirements. So I made a day long trip to Costa Rica and back on an expired US VISA. Also learnt in the process that as long as you don't cross the immigration border of a different country and you fly out from US, you have strictly not left the US soil yet. Even if you fly some gazillion miles away and back.

Changed roles at work and now have this amazing amazing boss. Though the work satisfaction is still taking a hit. I'm blaming the timeline of the move for now. Learning foosball. Have picked up some tricks. Oh and PacMan!

Have been on more backpacking trips. One more half dome trip. Visited Bali! How could I have almost forgotten that?! Thailand happened somewhere before that. Oh, and Zion NP. And Bryce Canyon. Beautiful. Thunder storms and hail adding spice to an already wonderful trip. Though missing out on the narrows hike due to the same was a bit of a bummer.

Married off another cousin.

Volunteering with Trail building/cleanup.

An eventful year all in all. And its not yet at an end.

Just occurred to me that maybe its not the season, its the rains bringing on the retrospection. Incidentally has been raining on and off all day. But then again winter and rains go hand in hand here. Guess thats one more reason to look forward to the rains. The other major one being the drought CA is facing right now.


PS: Eeeeks!! I have just one hour left to relish that slice of cake! Have to get at it!




Friday, April 25, 2014

Turns out.. it isn't just another ramble

So. I've not been able to think of any fictional stuff to write about. Most everything I write these days are diary entries or something in the same vein. Am sitting in this cafe I frequent and trying to come up with something to write about. Decided I'll just ramble till that happens.
Its a rainy day and  the cafe is full. Not necessarily due to rains. It hardly a rain anyway - just a miserly drizzle. The people around me -
A - an elderly man, lean, not mean, getting ready to dig into his BLT (?).. With a MacAir in front of him. Seems to be the laptop of choice around here. All the laptops I see around are mac. Damn.
B, C - two bubbly, cheerful girls. Early twenties? Tucking into those coffees. Plural per. C has a lot of jewelry on. Gold colored.
D - old, portly (I'm being biased by my own size) man ruminating in the magazines with a sailors cap on. Wonder how people select what cap they feel "fits" them.
E - solo traveler. Punching away industriously at her laptop. Young and enthusiastic worker ant.
lots more others around - a few who hardly lift their gaze from the screens in front of them. In their own heads literally - with the music playing in their earphones. (Aside: I found that article about the apparent source of music really fascinating). Busy worker bee-ing away.
I find my view very fascinating - the drizzle visible offset by bottlebrush trees on full bloom. With the two chefs from "m" discreetly working away. Filling lunch orders. A couple of wet benches waiting soggily for people to occupy them. They're sadly abandoned today. Voices buzzing through my noise isolating headphones, undeterred.
What could be the story encompassing all this? I just saw this movie the other week about how most stories are real life incidents narrated to authors who then personalize them but essentially not completely fiction. Maybe that can be how to go about this "writing" business. Hmmm. Now there’s a thought.

A woman, FiFie, just walked in. Toting a canvas bag, in a striped T-shirt hitting mid thigh. Dirty blond hair pulled off her face. Glancing around she walks up to the guy ringing up orders. Looks around for a list of beverages on offer. Finds it and decides on her drink. Gets billed and finds a chair for herself. Just another person finding her way out of the now gusty rains. The cafe absorbs her into its fold.
The stairs leading up to the WC are a well trod path today. I've always wondered why the rains have that effect. The BLT of the guy next to me is a thing of the past now. Some crumbs they only evidence that it ever existed. Funny how that is. Some things are so inconsequential, but if you look at how it got to be what it was, it is anything but.
FiFie has settled into her spot, canvas tote slung down on the leatherette window seat she is now occupying. Or not. I can see her asking Worker Ant if she would look out for her stuff while she trudges up the stairs herself to avail of the relief her bowels were demanding. Worker Ant pops an ear-bud out, acquiesces and returns back to her uncharacteristically focused path for the day. Cafe courtesies.
The table does its whirring thing again. Like a cellphone ringing on it somewhere, only it’s stronger than a mere cellphone vibrate. The mysterious workings of the floor buzzing up from the underworld through the table.
I look down at the clock and see 1:23pm. I smile – coincidences are fun. B & C are long gone. Their table taken over by G, H and I. School kids collaborating on assignments. FiFie is back and browsing her phone. Definitely not in a hurry to get on with work. Her tote lolling next to her. I’ve always wondered what women have in their bags. I mean, being one, I’m supposed to know? But no matter what I do I can't seem to justify carrying a tote around unless I have my laptop with me. Which she didn’t.
A stream of new comers file in and queue up to place their orders. Cafes are the terminals of people not flying anywhere. They check in, buy their drink. Stay around till their time is up or take off to catch up with that appointment. There is always a steady stream of ingress egress.
The rains have stopped but I guess Worker Ant has consumed enough liquids to warrant a visit to the wc. FiFie returns the favor for her. Worker Ant squeezes by the adjoining table and clomps off up the stairs. Her boots beating an impressive rhythm to accompany her hasty flight up. The two chefs are still working away in the window. Lunch crowd has tapered off but not stopped yet.
FiFie is ready to leave but Worker Ant is not back yet. She shrugs, folds up her laptop, tugs it into her bag and walks out. Finally finding her purpose.

Just another day at a coffee shop.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Ungodly Hours

Woke up at an unaccustomed hour today. And didn't know what to do. My earliest memories color me a wastrel.

Thats when the household set out on the start of a new day. The crows still silent. The sky a sleepy spread blinking with fading stars, dawn yet to break. The water put on boil. The cows milked ready for the hungry spawn still ensconced in peaceful sleep. There was an efficiency in the work; no frivolity. Everything done was in response to a need.

I wake up with soft hands couched against my neck for warmth, day break close. And wonder what I could do. This life of comfort and privilege renders me floundering and lost in this early hour.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

How Wide Is Your Lens of Life?

Was having a discussion with a friend about state of happiness (it was originally about movies, not idea how it got around to that!) and he says "depends how wide your lens of life is". That pretty much sums it up.

But how wide should the lens be? Can a person be truly happy in this Communication Era with news of strife from all around the world on your screen everyday? How does one react to news? The ever present discussion on empathy vs apathy.

The issues are many.
I love traveling - but know about how the planet is getting polluted cos of that.
I love my meat, my dairy and my leather shoes - but hate cruelty against animals.
I love owning pretty frivolous things - but that money could do so many good things for people who really need it.
I'm a frivolous consumer who looks for the cheapest bargains - but hate the sweatshops.
I love eating fruit all year round - but hate the carbon footprint/ affect on the indigenous farmers. 

The list goes on and on. Frankly, I'm daunted by all this information and have no idea how to process it. Usually that is when I start ignoring everything I know and start living in my own self-centered world. But time to think beyond and analyze things..

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Out of Boredom

These days I'm accepting invitations to events I'm not totally comfortable with. For lack of anything better to do. And sometimes this ends up putting in situations I don't want to be in. No, nothing crazy. But nothing fun either. I think it is time I asserted myself and stop doing things just for the sake of it. Maybe a better thing to do would be to find something I like to occupy myself with.
Any fun suggestions?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Feel the Force

I was walking uphill the other day looking around when I got jarred out of my reverie with a misstep - I hadn't noticed the dip in the path and landed too hard. Got me thinking about the things the brain can do which when consciously processed are so hard to figure out. Like all of Engineering Mechanics. The brain already works it all out - the Mass X Acceleration required to run at a certain pace; the adjustment for inclination - you always step down soft when you know what the surface ahead is like; the exact angle a person needs to be looking at to look back at your eyes; the split second adjustments the eye is always making to focus on objects as you move your head around. The angle from where you hear that sound. I think we have an internal clock too - I manage to get up just before that alarm jars me awake most times!

Imagine the possibilities if we could just live that knowledge into our day instead of having to work it out with pencil and paper.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fashion Rant

Love good looking stuff. But whoever came up with metal and clothes combination definitely doesn't live in a cold place! Every time a cuff button touches, I spot a zippered dress or chain mailed (don't know what else to call it!) fastenings, shivers run up my spine and I end up cursing who ever designed it! And swear to never buy another piece of clothing with metal on it :)

Monday, July 9, 2012

Follow the Flowers

Was on a three day backpacking trip in Yosemite this weekend. Carrying insane weight on my back; wheezing uphill at high altitudes; acting all cool like I've done this so many times before; packing food with an eye to the weight it would add; leaving behind the sunscreen tube only to regret it when the sun beat down even the weathered Indian skin. Learnt what terms like scree, talus and something-else-I-forget-now mean. Took many bold steps and some not so steady. Saw some really beautiful landscapes. Went on one of the hardest uphills in my life yet - Salkantay was hard; but this just beats it with the backpack and the pace these guys were setting! Saw a beautiful beautiful natural infinity pool. Skipped stones. Made a snowman. Turned a few shades darker. Had an awesome time in general.

But the most fascinating thing yet about wilderness backpacking/hiking - when the path goes missing, just follow the wildflowers. They lead you to it. No kidding.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Travel

Went on a long long holiday. Almost all of four weeks off. In Peru and loved it!
For most part of it was travelling by myself and had the best of experiences. Learnt some Spanish. Had conversations with people from all over the world and of all age groups. Loved how Peruvians would try and hold a conversation with me even though I had next to no Spanish vocab. How the cab drivers never yell and are ready with a smile. How everyone seemed to like Indians. One of the first things most travelers are interested in finding out about you is your age. Time blurs but for when you have to be up early for that hike or that tour. And days of the week just don't matter. Expecting good stuff all around seems to work. Backpackers are the friendliest bunch around. Juices are by default fresh squeezed! Breakfast is a common presence every day. Toting a heavy heavy camera around is just worth it! Despite all the complaints along the way :)
Drinking beer helps. Beauty is everywhere.
Hammocks rock (note to self: see if you can string one up around the house). Sunsets over water rock more! I sweat too. Humidity in the air is the coolest. Hippies exist everywhere. Boat rides are "wicked". Europeans are the most world "current affiars" aware. London kids are stoned half their life. Americans get/take the shortest breaks. Quitting job and traveling is not a bad option. There is sooo much to see and learn. Leaving behind travel buddies is pretty sad. Bus rides suck. Train rides are rad. Flights are not bad. Walking is pretty high up there next to train rides.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Window to Life on a Rainy Day


Its been great weather recently. Sun shiny days and warm evenings. In the midst of all this, we have resfreshing showers today. More of my grey and fresh green weather.

Was sitting next to a window lazily munching on some oatmeal and whiling time browsing at work anticipating my vacation coming up, when I saw the gardener head out in his yellow rain jacket. Shears clipped on hanging low at his waist. Glove covered hands pushing the lawnmower in front of him. He is one with his surroundings.

A perfect setting. As he pushed the lawnmower around between the low hanging trees, scattering the grass and the rain drops in a splatter around the mower. Surely wafting smells of fresh cut grass. And I had to make a note to myself - when I'm past the holds ups enforced on my work life cos of VISAs etc, I should one day sign up to be a gardener. I have a feeling I will love it, and with some help from my green-fingered Mothers gene pool, I should do grandly at it too!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Evocative II

Was cooking yesterday evening and happened to open this sealed bag of dried chilies. The aromas that hit the nose on opening the bag brought images to the minds eye. Images of sun filled fields, the land baked to cracked pies. The red chilies drying lazily in the sweltering haze undisturbed by the disinterested crows.
A snap of one chili and more fresh flavors hit the nose. Reminding one of summer days gone by. Ah the Indian summer. How I miss you!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Perspective

I keep coming back to this often. Sometimes I sadly lack in perspective.

Recently had a conversation with a semi-bum who confessed he was looking for a dog to keep him warm on cold days. And I was instantly revolted by the idea. Like a curtain had been lifted, ever since I seem to spot dogs with most of the homeless people on the streets of SF. It just felt wrong that this was the reason for them to keep those pets. I guess earlier  I assumed they must have found stray dogs and are looking after them - not that the dogs were helping out by acting as warm water bottles.
And then yesterday I was having some meat and fell to thinking why I should denounce the homeless when I was on one hand killing animals for my eating pleasure. I hate how my head fights my cravings all the time. How can so many contradictory thoughts co-exist in the same space? 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Evocative

I've always loved dancing. Tonight totally randomly happened to go for this movie Pina and it is simply awesome. Might have something to do with the fact that I was sipping on a glass of wine on a totally empty stomach. But I prefer to think that just enhanced the experience. On an aside: I feel I'd totally buy the idea of mushrooms to make life that one dimension more amazing.
I digress. Pina. So. Its supposed to be a documentary. Who likes those? Least of all me. So when I sat down and the reel started with some random people dancing around to some random words I was worried I'd have to sit through another couple of hours of this. But then the dances evolve and the characters speak. Very little. But enough to give you a sense of what they feel. And its beautiful Very evocative. Takes you just that far and leaves you reeling to the music visualizing the flow the dance should take. It was some experience. Totally worth the whole two + hrrs of 3D experience.


On the Veggie front - the Will died a sad death.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Of Habits and Randomness


As my friend puts it: Alert - Indulgent!

I'm fast becoming a creature of habits. Wake up around seven in the morning. Get ready and turn up at the train station by 8:17am. Yup, I’m counting the insignificant digits between the zeroes and fives these days. Reach work. Head to cafĂ© if it’s one of those days I wake up hungry. Hopefully catch a glimpse of that cute guy at work. Then work or pretend to do so till noon when I head for lunch. Some random conversations with colleagues or pretend I’m a super busy girl who has to stay in touch with her email all day - even at lunch. Or get entangled in situations where I get asked by a HR guy (he should have warned me before suggesting we eat together!) what keeps me at my company still. Just when I’m seriously contemplating quitting and finding what I really like. Just when I’m searching for a reason to stay on. And admitting to him that the company goals and value system didn’t jibe with me much. All this when I was almost tongue tied cos said cute guy was sitting right next all through. 
Going back to the creature of habit – lunch and then osme more pretense of working. And then rushing off to catch that 5:20 light rail on my way home. Have even given up the pretense of taking my laptop home and maybe working. And my boss seems totally fine with that. Though I wonder what my neighboring colleagues think of the hours I keep. I’m sure I’m setting a terrible sense of morale all around considering how much everyone else seems to be slogging.
Home by 6:30pm picking up that wrap on the way for dinner. I seem to have peculiarly become very non-picky about food these days. Cut up some fruit and settle in with some Netflix. Just to wake up to another day of the same. Till the weekend rolls in.
So the random stuff. The jogging that I have gotten back to again these days. The three miles I’m trying to perfect and be able to run without sweating. The escape to the badminton courts. Though that’s a new one (translate just happened once so far). I walks around campus with colleagues. The occasional jaunt with the camera. Though that has had a temporary hiatus enforced after I messed up the lens trying out the new stand recently. Hope to get it back fixed soon. The beautiful beautiful moon rises. The overheard conversations. The amazing music I’ve uncovered recently and rediscovering repeat playing of the same song over and over and over and over…
The lazy perusal of whatever book draws the fancy over the perfect duration train rides. Spotting the regulars on the train or rather at the stations I get off or board at. And weekends. Now those are a totally different story. For some other time. Great days. Great lazy days. 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Lost...

...in Questions. I seem to be having a lot of questions these days. Like today. I was reading this book about the struggles of this kid in Africa. How he was living every day worried it would be his last. And realized one of the top things I worry about in a day is what do I eat next. Or how do I fill my evening. I guess its a nice world when those happen to be my topmost worries.
But today I had this thought about how obsolete some of these questions should be. The what to eat thing for example - I mean with this whole evolution thing which helped us weed through food choices, and develop habits which should naturally be healthy (else we should not have survived this long?).. possibly have arrived at a life style which ensures we live a longer & healthier time. And yet today many of our hours in the day are spent obsessing about how to eat healthy and what to include in our diet and how to keep our bodies exercised and fit. Are we in this age ignoring life lessons from our ancestors somehow? Or has this been the way of life always? Learn some lose some.
I remember how my Dad used to always chide me to learn from others experiences instead of making my own mistakes and learning from them. Shouldn't evolution have taught us to think the right way? But still how much joy we get from trying new things! I guess its true that sometimes the arch-nemesis lies within itself. Our willingness to try new things and grow/learn might also be the trait that leads to our downfall too. Take nuclear energy for instance.


Hmm. Sometimes there are no answers. And even if there are we, ignore them in the pursuit of small pleasures. But then isn't one supposed be appreciating the small things in life. This kinda sounds like that proof for 2 = 1 :)

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sundays Again

Now that I'm back to jogging, I've decided to jog Sundays at different locations in the city. Ending with brunch. Back to my Sunday Brunches. And so to keep the trend going I've picked the Golden Gate Park for this Sundays jog with brunch at the Japanese Tea Garden within the park. Lets see how that goes. Shall review the place in Sunday at Brunch.
Oh and this is if I don't go off on some trip for the long weekend. Which reminds me, I should evaluate my resolution last year to travel to twelve new places. Not sure if I did. Lets see... There is Grand Canyon, preceded by Alaska, Seattle, San Luis Obispo, Arches in Utah, Yosemite half dome (not sure this counts as I've been to Yosemite before even if not on the half dome hike), hmm.. thats it! Half the number aimed for... not bad considering.. Hopefully will finally get that VISA and go visit outside of US this year. Should work on a new list. Coming soon.

PS: Doing great on the vegetarianism these past 2 and half months! Proud of me-self :)