Sunday, July 09, 2017
In the book Greencard Warrior, Nick Adams is an Australian who faces immigration challenges that can thwart his career and financial standing in the US due to a visa issue. Though the book is entertaining and partisan (Nick is a conservative commentator), it mostly details the procedural issues. It has some interesting drama due to alleged mistreatment of his case by a liberal Vice Counsel in Australian US Consulate.
But for high skilled immigrant applicants from countries like India, these procedural issues are ten times harder and cause huge unexpected changes in life. A recent example is of a neurologist couple and their family who lead a well-settled life and attend to hundreds of patients are asked to leave the country on a short notice because of a documentation error in their immigration papers. They have been living in the US for 15 years and have been stuck in the Greencard backlog for a decade.
One of the good things about the book was to bring to the notice of the Trump administration, the bureaucratic issues with the legal immigration process. Hopefully, this is addressed soon.
I have failed in many things but haven't failed as a published author yet. I was told that publishing a book through Amazon was a piece of cake. The Author Startup is a quick read to walk you through the process of writing a digital book, publishing it and marketing it on Amazon. The essence of the book - everything else can be figured out and is not complicated, but you need to have a compelling story to tell. Takeaway - fail fast fail often as a writer...quickest road to success.
Not just my success but success of my friends and relatives, the institutions I volunteer with, the causes I stand for. What happens when you achieve the American Dream, the Indian Dream or the Chinese Dream? Would you be able to handle success or would you let it rule you leading you to a path that will brings down everyone? Especially close relationships?
Good people get together, become friends and accidentally create Twitter. But as Twitter becomes popular, friends disintegrate, playing politics, finally throwing out the core team members. This is an awesome story captured beautifully by Nick Bilton from its very humble starts, ecstatic moments covering Oprah's first tweet, race between Ashton Kutcher & CNN for a million followers plus many others and it's corporate politics that reminds me of House of Cards.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
I finally did!!! The leaking refill, the search for a better pen later, and the love of ‘Hero’ pens in high school all form a different story.
But, I have graduated to Pencil again. It was the midterm exams for the first semester of the Business School today. With the recent love for using Pencils all over, I requested the Professor if
I could use pencil in the exam. He agreed.
I wrote two full exams in pencil, after twenty one years!!!
Kinda feelin nostalgic !!!
Thursday, May 01, 2008
The Nagarhole and Tholpetty wild life sanctuaries had provided us with more sightings of wild animals than any other safaris in the past. We had taken two safari trips in the Tholpetty Wild Life sanctuary, one on the Saturday evening, one on the Sunday morning, and one in Nagarhole wild life sanctuary on Sunday evening, resulting in the sightings of herds of Indian Gaurs, wild Elephants, huge number of spotted deers, Sambars, and a large number of exotic birds. But the most anticipated cats, Tigers and Leopards had eluded us this time too.
The desperation of a Tiger sighting in the wild for us wildlife photographers was so much that we had been going to Bandipur Wild Life Sanctuary three times in the past four months, with back-to-back safaris. But still, the King of the Indian jungle never made its appearance for us. The passion had almost turned into an obsession. When would we see the tiger? When could we attain the nirvana?
Due to the very frequent visits to the Wild, a joke had grown to exist in our families. If we would go to the jungles one more time, the Tiger, exhausted of hiding from us, would come across, give us an autographed photograph of itself, and pray us not to while away our time in chasing it again. Yeah right!!! We had prayed that at least their wish may come true.
After the Sunday evening safari at Nagarhole, we began to munch on the few crumbs that we had brought along, before launching on our drive back to Bangalore. It was twenty minutes past six in the evening, and the local guards told us to vacate the place as soon as possible. Nagarhole Wild Life sanctuary is a protected forest, and the roads to the place close at 6pm. This is to prevent vehicular traffic on the roads in the jungle, so that wild animals could be left alone in the evening and in the night. Every extra minute that we spend inside the gates after 6pm will have to be accounted for, once we reach the gates that lie at the border of the forest, which is 23 kilometers from the forest office. As we got into Tata Safari, I shut my camera, and put it inside the camera bag. I knew that there could not be any great photograph that can be made after the sunset. Any flash photography in the wild generally looked like desperate shots from a novice. My other friend Shreyas, a passionate wild-lifer, had his camera ready.
As we cruised along the smooth road, we stopped occasionally for wherever there were spotted deer grazing by the side of the roads. I had almost stopped taking the pictures of the spotted deer because these were in abundance in Bandipur, where I had quenched my thirst of taking their photographs in the previous year. Very rarely, there could be some occasions for unusual shots of the spotted deer, but I had become numb with my laziness to take my camera out for these beautiful but commonplace mammals.
"The forest guard was talking about Tiger census next month", mentioned one of my friends. The Tiger census by the Indian government invites a lot of civilians who are interested in wildlife, to count the tigers in the wild. This is a great occasion to move around with forest guards into the dense jungles, where generally trekking is prohibited. We had been told that the food and accommodation would be taken care of, by the department. Plus, there was a promise of rare sightings of exotic species of denizens of the jungle. A tiger sighting cannot be ruled out, one of the forest guards had said. "Let's check it out. May be the tiger sighting for us, is reserved for that occasion," mentioned other friend, who had turned into a fatalist.
It was getting closer to seven in the evening, and dark. The forest around us was turning into an eerie silhouette that encompassed mystery and suspense. There was almost no chance of sightings in this light, I thought. Suddenly, my friend at the wheels, Anand hit the brakes. "Sshhh," said Shreyas, as I could see a wild elephant herd on the highway shoulders ahead, lit by the strong head lights of the vehicle. I was pleasantly surprised by this bonus forest excitement. Slowly, I withdrew my camera from my camera bag, and began to change the lens to shoot a picture of these mammoths. I could feel the nervousness of Anand at the wheel, who carried the responsibility of the whole team in his hands.
"Don't use flash," instructed Shreyas.
"No, I am not planning to," I said, as I emerged out of the window of the vehicle, placed my camera on the top, and set it into a long exposure shot.
I came back onto my seat to see the picture of the elephants in the low light.
Suddenly, one of the elephants turned towards the vehicle, and walked. A chill traveled through my spine. We all knew that we could not beat an elephant if we drove in reverse gear.
But, the elephant went into the huge lantana bush beside the highway, along with the other elephants, and they huddled together, as though plotting for their next move.
Anand hit the accelerator, and the vehicle sped past the giants, as Shreyas struggled in vain to take parting shots of the huddle.
That was an exciting moment, I thought to myself, as I placed my camera inside the bag. Good way to end the trip.
I closed my eyes, and let the cool jungle air brush past my face from the open window. I was enjoying the last moments of our nice trip to the wild.
"I see some movement there...RIGHT THERE!!!" said Shivaram, hurriedly. He was famously known for his weird jokes, and could it have been one of them???
"Where?" said Anand, as he slowed down the vehicle.
Shreyas jumped up to get a glimpse of the road ahead, and something that was moving.
"Go ahead, it is still on the road"
"Yes," said Anand, as he sped ahead at wild pace.
My eyes were frantically searching for the small thing that these guys had already seen. Where was it? Where was it???
I believed that I had already lost it.
"Right there," showed Shivaram, pointing to a huge fair cat that was slowly moving towards us by the side of the highway.
"That's a tiger cub," he said.
I was astounded. This was the moment that we had been waiting for a very long time. I could feel the excitement in every nerve of my body. I could feel the mystery in the ambience, as all those exciting moments of wild cat encounters that I had seen on TV, and had read about in personal experiences by famous hunters came across to me in a single wave, and hit against me. I could feel the electric energy as it traveled from the wild cat a few yards away, and connect to me in a strange way.
"It is a leopard," said Shreyas, as he pulled out his camera, and began shooting pictures, with flash as strong as flood lamps.
The fair cat moved stealthily into a bush by the other side of our vehicle. "I do not see it anymore," said Shreyas, as he peered out of his window. "It is right there, inside the bush" said Shivaram. Shreyas continued the flood of flashlights, with his camera facing the bush, though he was able to see anything in the dark.
Half a minute later, we were certain that there would be no leopard inside the bush, else, it would have lost its sight with all the flash lights Shreyas hurled at it.
"Ma'an, that was exciting," said Shreyas. I was still coming to terms of the fact that we had sighted a leopard. Finally, we had sighted a leopard, in full view, in its own territory!!!
Shreyas showed the images on the preview screen in his camera. It was indeed an adult leopard. As I moved to the next few pictures, I could see that the leopard had been behind the bushes beside our vehicle in the pictures. To my shock, it was there even in the last picture.
I stared out of the window on the other side of the vehicle, a little unnerved. The carnivore would still be there, may be waiting for us to leave so that it can attack the deer on the other side of the road.
As Anand moved the vehicle, all of us were drenched in strange emotions of excitement, and fear. We carried the exciting memories of this brief encounter, all the way to Bangalore city.Here are some of my pictures of the same trip....
Hope you like them.
Monday, April 21, 2008
The flowers are the only things that have become a man's friend, despite no utilitarian value, says Eckhart Tolle in his best selling book, A New Earth. Many other great authors have likened the flowers to life, wife (newly married of course ;-) ) and love (before marriage :D ). Jokes apart, flowers have always been regarded as the most beautiful means of communication of love, devotion and respect.
Not one of the Victorian authors, who always had the heroes holding exotic flowers for women, would have imagined the brutal purposes that the same flowers are being used in the current world.
"He is getting married tomorrow afternoon," said a friend of mine, about another friend.
"Oh! This is on a weekday. I don't think I can make it. Maybe I will go for the reception later in the evening," I said.
Reception is the party that is hosted the Indian marriages, where the bride and the groom stand with their best clothes on a stage, as though ready for a battle of political speeches. They would have to do more 'pretending' than the politicians, putting on a fake nice smile, greeting the loads of gaudily dressed relatives, whom they never knew before, who have bouquets in their hands, and dinner on their minds. It does require a strategy, and sheer mental strength by the couple to sustain 3- 4 hours of sweat, itch, and mental diversion techniques to avoid the urge for a quick rush to the rest room.
"The reception is today, not tomorrow," my friend said.
"What? Why? Isn't the reception to be held after the wedding???" I asked.
"That is the logical way. But, economics speak otherwise," he said, as he explained me the reason why Receptions were being held the earlier day. The Wedding houses ( Kalyana Mantapa) in Bangalore are rented out from afternoon till the next afternoon. Hence, if the Receptions are held on the first evening, then one can save on the rent for one day, by vacating by afternoon the next day. Most of the weddings have their Muhurtha (auspicious moment when the wedding has to take place) in the mornings.
Hence, the couple standing on the dais in the Reception is not a couple yet. They are a bachelor, and a spinster.
"What gift are you planning?"
"Oh! The bugger did not even put 'gifts by your presence only' ??" I asked, not having seen the wedding card.
"Nope. Actually, it is good not to put that," my friend said.
"If that liner is present, then many people would not get gifts. But, some stubborn ones will still get bouquets, which creates a lot of confusion and ill feeling in the others who would be empty handed," he explained.
"True," I was beginning to understand the various nuances of gifting for receptions.
"What do we take?" I asked him.
"Think about it. It should be something that they will 'cherish for life', and should be 'useful for both of them'," he said. I agreed.
That evening, he called up again. "Did you think up any gift?"
"Not yet. I was totally busy today," I said, burning the mental images of the hour-long coffee break that I had taken.
"My friend suggested a silver cup," he said.
"No silver cups please. My cousin received so many silver cups in his wedding that he decided to use the silver in Paris Hilton fashion. One silver cup each day, and never use it again," I said with a chortle. Paris Hilton supposedly never wore a dress the second time. ( I am sure she has some friendship with a Laundry guy ;-) ) .
"Wall clocks?" my friend suggested, reminding me of the Wall clock my cousin had gifted me, but had forgotten to take out the sticker bearing the name of the person who had gifted him that, on his wedding. "Naah, there will be too many clocks, and he will be forced to gift them to others," I said.
"May be a Deo set," he suggested.
That was the best that our non-creative minds could come up with. "Let's get that," I said, preventing the urge to remind him they would not 'cherish for life' the Deo set, or could never use the Deo together.
My friend picked me up the next evening, on the way to wedding. "Which Deo set did you get?" he asked me.
"What? I thought you were supposed to get it," I replied, taken aback.
"Shit! Shit! Shit!!!" he cursed.
"Let's go to Gandhi Bazaar. There are some nice shops, with good Deo sets there," I said.
"That is out of the way, will take a long time," he said. "There is a bouquet shop near the Kalyana Mantapa. Let's get a bouquet," he added.
And thus, a random set of flowers were pulled together, tied up against their wishes, pasted on a conical shaped white cardboard sheet, with some designer plastic cover on the top, that resembled a funeral box of flowers.
As I was on the drive back from the wedding, the uneasy feeling of incompleteness haunted me, as I had not done justice to my friendship by hurrying with a default, for a gift.
UNEASINESS???!!!! YOU ARE CRAZY!!! I HAVE USED FLOWERS ALL OVER MY PLAY 'MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT'S DREAM', Shakespeare would have screamed.
I reply: Oh! Yeah.... Krrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr...... takk (flash back Bollywood style)
The scene after my cousin's wedding Reception, few months back was gruesome. After having loaded all the box packed gifts into various cars, to be taken home, there lay a huge pile of bouquets on the dais of the wedding hall, like the dead bodies of Persians who were killed by the Greek in the battle of Thermopile [remember the movie 300?? ;-)].
Some good looking cousin of the groom realized that she should bring them back to life, and walked over to the pile, and started sorting.
"I want some of those too," said her kid sister, as she ran over to the pile, and picked up some for herself.
Some more ladies realized that the bouquets formed a part of the gifts/wishes, and were to be taken care off, too. They walked up to the pile, and started putting the bouquets in different groups.
The more expensive of the bouquets, that had a wooden basket inside which the flowers were arranged, were in high demand. All of them wanted that, for different reasons. One of them said, "You can take out the flowers, and put fruits inside them, to place it in front of guests," which was still a noble use.
"I can use the basket to keep all the pending utility bills," said another aunty, who had no clue that she was rampaging on the theory that there was a feeling behind the gifts, "And you can use this for our pen stand," she continued handing a bouquet with cylindrical wooden base to her daughter.
"This is long," the kid complained.
"Cut the base into half," architectured her mother.
Though some of the bouquets did end up in the bride's hotel room (this was one of those wedding where Reception was after the wedding), many of them were routed for utilitarian purposes. Ekhart Tolle has never seen an Indian reception yet ;-)
I just prayed that the groom not have any allergy towards flowers, else it would be rougher night for him than planned.
Confused between gifts that the couple may never use, and the bouquets that create a drama at a different level of life, I decided to stick with currency in a decent envelope, whenever I fail to come up with a creative idea for a gift.