Friday, September 23, 2011

Transcending meditation

One of the practices unique to India is the presence of what we now call the "moral police". A lot has been said in the Indian press about the "immature" policing of various issues. While the phrase itself may carry a negative connotation, an infant of the same when taught as "moral science" in our schooling systems somehow exudes positive energy. It probably has to do with the fact that children need to be supervised until they are a major(or later,in most of the cases), anyway. I vividly remember the days we used to have a session of Transcendental Meditation in our school assembly every morning, and had to pass "Moral Science" as a subject to move onto the next grade. A lot of us struggled to keep our eyes closed for those five minutes in assembly everyday. Most ended up shooting funny glances, or playing pen-games on the ground with their Hero's and Parkers- ultimately getting pulled up for disturbing the forced peace.

It is getting to be almost the end of summer in deep interior Texas, and the cool breeze now sets in well before the sun begins its journey back for the day. That means evening runs in the park do not anymore come with a free bout of dehydration, and the lake stops serving as a humidifier. The benches by the shore are hot no more- and with a couple of hours of rain behind us, we are actually having quite a bit of water in the lake to enjoy the waves. Fall is fast approaching- as is evident from the leaves beginning to have a characteristic rustle. The sun no more sets at a quarter to nine, it is more of a quarter to eight. The soccer and basketball fields fill up with people late afternoon only to empty out at eight after a couple of games and a lot of banter. Same goes for the nearby high school's football practice, as the coach loses his voice every evening to get his boys up to scratch.

A couple of minutes of attention. An empty mind with nothing to give and everything to take. A moment of transcendence. Meditation? Not sure.

The cellphone rang.

Saturday, July 30, 2011


Birds are a beautiful creation of God, a wonderful phase of evolution(depends if you're a BJP/DMK supporter) They're said to be one of the primary inspirations for man to invent the flying contraption that we now spend most of our travel time in. For long Man has domesticated them, sometimes even using them for his leisure. From parrot-tarot, ostrich racing to the Quarter Dollar to the McDonalds burger- they are in almost all the frames of our lives.

So why exactly, O dear birdie, do you choose my harmless little contraption sitting out in the sun to relieve yourself on? There might be a thousand monster trucks and 38 year old Cadillacs in the park, but amazingly you will always choose my vehicle to learn your version of body painting. World over, an avian flu disaster comes a distant second to how much of a trouble you crapping on vehicles is.

While I have been thinking of this over the past month or so, my only real favourite TV show Top Gear chose to feature this on one of their programmes. How very convenient to escape reading the rest of my balderdash here.

On one of our family seaside trips, we happened to camp out by the beach for some lunch and lounging around. Needless to say the birds still tried enforcing the same fate on us as the cars. To my dismay the seagulls would not move an inch, however close I got to faking a hit with a polythene bag. A bunch of them got together and ended up making us finish a stone's worth of food in split minutes. (Don't ask me what a split minute is, split seconds just sounded too improbable there)

When we could finally find a place to rest- away from the birds, a strong cold sea breeze caught our attention to a huge rock about a mile into the ocean. Size of a five storey building, it appeared like any other random landform- but for the tens and thousands of birds nestled on it. As many other such jaunts are called, it was The Bird Rock. After a few minutes of looking around a steady icy drizzle drove us back indoors and away from the ocean for the rest of the day.

On the way back home we got discussing about wildlife in general, finally veering into those birds and how aggressive they were. I felt compelled to think that at some point in the distant past, they would have survived by living on land and never ever taken to the seas. Somewhere down the line they lost ground, quite literally.. before we gained control. Over the years, apart from the occasional bird attacks and droppings, they learnt to be content with a distant rock in the sea which no man can reach. Thus we peacefully coexist with our dear winged cousins, but for one niggle.

I still have no explanation why most of them choose a vehicle that I own- to shower their bowels on, and not someone else's.

If you are reading this part of the post, it either means
1. You never clicked on the TopGear link
2. You thought this was going to be a funny article but got lost somewhere in the fifth or sixth paragraph.. and are now checking this portion out to see if I have a tone to the story. For which my answer is unfortunately no.
3. You always read just the last few lines of my blog.
4. You are a random(useless) Googler interested in half-baked political stories who searched for a BJP/DMK Alliance and landed up here.
5. You love reading what I write.

As I live in the improbable hope that most of you will choose 5, that will be it from me..for now.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Faces on Facebook

This post is going to be very crisp and to the point. I am here to enumerate the various kinds of characters that Facebook unleashes within us and around(Although I would like to say "around" is a better option for me). This is just a funnier take on things in the big bad Social Network.. Here goes!

1. The Friend-er
OCD towards adding a person as a friend when finding more than 2 friends in common. Also common are friend-races where two people race to having a certain number of friends. (Fake profiles included)

2. The Sport/Movie/Music maniacs
At the drop of the whistle at Emirates stadium/Cowboys Stadium/Eden Gardens/Monza/Wimbledon/Staples Center, a flurry of updates discussing who is the God for the day. Includes Sachinists. Ardent movie buffs posting one-line reviews/full length and spoilers thus ruining it for all on the list, lay in this category. Music maniacs too find themselves holed up here. (I was one, frankly).

3. PDA-ists
Doesn't he love expressing how much emotional he was yesterday when his girlfriend left him for good/told him an OK/gave him a kiss?

4. Silku Stalkers
Experts in finding out if a person's friend-circle has babes on a perfunctory look at the first 10 people in their list. Also find out new strangers to stalk every day. Stalking is a journey they say, not a destination. Characterized by unusually large number of random pics on their desktop.

5. Angry Young Man/Woman
Is angry from the point he/she was born. Doctors took bribe to do caesarian to take him/her out; admission in KG school with 4000Rs. donation; why does Anna Hazare have thousand as his second name; why did Kalmadi spend on toilet tissues when he had only wet bathrooms? Anger, anger, anger. Also characteristic: status updates coinciding with major scam outings/fast unto death/natural calamities.

6. The Erudite Shutterbug
Owns an SLR/DSLR. Suave looks, likely working/studying in US. Two-three photo updates a week. Strategy is to get maximum likes with minimally sensible photos(and lesser sensible captions). Shortly put, a bunch of wannabes.

7. The Linen washers
Somebody forgot to tell them there are sites like Yahoo! Groups and Google Groups. Poor things.

8. Me, myself, mine
They say the caption should speak for itself. (Except if it were from Category 6) Also includes self-advertising/advertising any group which they are part of.

9. Ping me not
Perennially busy people. Characterized by taking offence when receiving a "Poke", and friend lists of 25 or less. Also characterized by response times of 5 days per message/poke.

10. Babes.
Need I say more? Statistics say half of Facebook's activity centers around centers of attraction.

11. The Outcasts
These people don't use Facebook or quit Facebook because of all the other (does not include number 10) categories. Widely considered the worst kind of screwballs by the whole world. Includes me.


12. Check-in syndrome
(Thanks Rahul!)

13. Network maniacs
Urban dudes who look for the best of all networks. Did you know your Yahoo account can link to Twitter, Twitter to FB, FB to Yahoo? They know it.
(Thanks Rahul!)

14. Wikilinks
They pride themselves in being the Wikipedia for all fun links. 5+ status changes per day. Typically 2 videos, 1 funny blog, 1 stolen tweet, 1 sport. Irritable at times, but they keep the world running.
(Thanks Satish!)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

On Cricinfo, again!

One of these days I was idling through some of the Cricinfo player profiles, and chanced upon Michael Atherton's page. Puzzled me how the guy hit just four sixes in almost an 8000 run Test career. However averse he would have been to six-hitting, could'nt he have gotten himself a top edge or a small ground to play in- here or there? I remember him playing in West Indies where he faced the likes of Walsh and Ambrose- but thought it would be a good idea to "Ask Steven" this out. So I asked, and turned up on Cricinfo yet again.

So much for boasting about myself, but atleast I did something to boast of - probably a good result on the front page when one surfs for my name. So here goes the link:

Hope everyone's enjoying watching the World Cup - Go India! (and England, for the superb cricket they play. And South Africa, for they deserve a cup this time atleast.)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The College Station/Bryan Vegetarian guide

The Chennai MC Veggie guide probably gave me the impetus to write this guide on Veggie(desi friendly) options in College Station/Bryan, TX - home to Texas A&M, around 1(or less)% by population of vegetarians and more. The statistics I expect for this post aren't great. CS-B has a population of 120,000 people, out of which I know maybe a 400. Out of the 400, maybe a 100 are vegetarians by birth, and a 50% of them have chosen to overstep the blood line. 50 unique hits doesn't look good, anyways let me get on with it.

Real long list this- I've had some great contributions from readers writing in.. whoever said Veggies had no options here in the US? Eat your hat!

1. Chipotle, University Drive - Bol Burrito, strictly. Not here for its variety, but for the taste of its only Veggie offering.
2. Pita Pit, University Drive/By HEB - Great Pitas, lots of options!
3.The usual Pizza places - Papa Johns(Monday!), Pizza Hut, Dominos (try the $4 lunch pizza!), Cici's (custom pizza buffet)
4. Blue Baker, Texas Avenue S - Great sandwiches. Superb pizza. A little costly.
5. Los Cucos, Texas Avenue S - Tex-Mex food. Most items made with meat, ask for no meat option. Still tastes great.
6. Golden Corral, University Drive - Not too great, but given the humongous amount of dishes you could chance upon a few tasty Veggie items. Great dessert and ice cream.
7. Rosie's Pho Noodle, Texas Avenue S - Great noodle soup, milkshakes. Nice ambience. Quantity maybe a little more.
8. Frittella, South College Avenue - Great Italian food, maybe a tad too cheesy for a few.
9. Taz Indian Cuisine, Texas Avenue S - Bad to decent level Indian food. On here just for the number of Veggie dishes it offers.
10. Freebirds World Burrito, University Drive/Near HEB/Near Cinemark - Great classic burrito, in manageable to unbelievable sizes.
11. Which Wich Sandwich, Biochemistry Building, TAMU - Lots of Veggie sandwich options!
12. Schlotzsky's Deli - A chain allright, but commendable Veggie options. Affordable too!
13. Panda Express, Texas Avenue S - Only one option, plain noodles with fried veggies. Go here if you don't mind absence of variety.
14. Antonio's Pizza, Northgate - For ones who love their pizza only the way they want it. The smoked mushrooms are quite a thing here.(some may not like it) And keep to one slice first, its BIG!
15. Potato Shack, University Drive - For the ones who love their Veggie food, bland. And for those who love Potatoes.
16. Potbelly, University Drive - If Capone threatened me at gunpoint to choose Subway over this, I would still choose Potbelly.
17. Caffe Capri, Church Ave, Bryan - Decent Italian fare!
18. Cafe Eccell, Church Ave, College Station - Decent but a little costly Italian food. Winery attached.
19. Olive Garden, University Drive/Tx 6 Frontage Road- America's favourite Italian restaurant. I don't see a reason why it shouldn't be. (except that I personally prefer Carino's to this). Tasty food, superb ambience, always busy - be prepared to wait LONG.

McD, Subway, Taco B(H)ell have not been included. They are way too banal.

As always, suggestions are always welcome! Let me know if you feel any other place in BCS is great for vegetarians :) Shall be added!

Michelle says :
Pei Wei (University Drive) and Jason's Deli (Tx Av S) are fairly vegan friendly--Pei Wei has awesome tofu and veggies that you can get on any of the vegetarian choices. You could make amazing vegan salad at Jason's salad bar.

Balaji writes in to recommend:
Genghis Grill, Fat Burger(University Drive), Quiznos Sub, Aggie Cafe's Pasta.

Rahul Rangarajan at it as usual:
Gumby's Pizza, Texas Avenue S - They have amazing pizza sandwiches,  
Shiraz Shish Kabob, Texas Avenue S - They have a falafel wrap, falafel with pita and rice, and you get a brilliant yogurt drink that is similar to neer more(Indian buttermilk).
Jimmy John's - University Drive/Near HEB - Good if you like cold sandwiches!

Zalak writes in:
On the Border Mexican Cafe, Texas Avenue S - Decent Mexican fare
Burger King - Lovely vegetarian burger!

Swathika suggests:
Abuelo's - good Tex-Mex.. go after 3 or 9 for happy hour!
Carino's - good Italian cuisine, baked mushrooms a must try! Also try the skilletini - they do it w/o chicken on request.
La Bodega, Northgate - This has a mango rice item, which is pretty good.
Luigi's - impressive Italian cuisine, this is off TX 6.

Mahadevan brings up two popular Asian restaurants:
Jin's Asian Cafe, Nagle St. by University - Good variety for vegetarians, frequent jaunt for desis.
Vietnamese Taste, College Main - Appearances are deceptive! This is truly tasty Asian cuisine.

Lakshminarasimhan writes in to recommend:
Firehouse Subs, Texas Avenue S

Shraddha suggests two places in the Northgate area:
Burger Boy - decent burgers, Veggie options.
Happy Yogurt - more of a dessert place, where everything will be Veggie by default.

Manjeet recommends Spoons Yogurt on TX Avenue S -  and goes on to say it's the best frozen yogurt place in town. They even have non-fat, and no sugar added yogurts for all you health conscious people! He also recommends Red Mango on Brentwood by the Lofts for dessert. Now Jamba Juice, University Drive and Coldstone on TX Avenue S naturally follow for dessert suggestions.

A person who goes by the initials M.R., writes in to recommend Pho John's Vietnamese restaurant on Texas Avenue. It gives good competition to all the veggie fare across the street in Rosie's Pho Noodle.

Manasa recommends my house for food! Must admit I am honored by that comment- but providing food for the world, erm I'm a bit poor to do that :)