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Sundar Narayanan's Travelog

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What we take for granted..

Even something like a ring finger can be very important. Yes, it is for a ring and I didn't know how much I used it on a day to day basis, till I got the damn wart on it.

I thought "I am right handed and this is on the left hand ring finger. should be able to manage this thing easily". Only three things got hit because of this

1. typing was not easy. but that was mangeable with one 7 finger typing.

2. could not wash dishes and that was not easy for San the last three weeks

3. Yoga. If you see the number of poses that do not have the words "grip" or "interlock fingers" or "pull with your hands" or "grab" with your hands, there are maybe 5 or 6 total. Makes it an interesting exercise. 

Still it has healed nicely although very slowly and I am not exactly sure if I just replaced the wart with an even larger scar tissue?

While you might be grossed out with the pic, this blog is an equal opportunity offender when it comes to such detailed chronicling. So as a social service to other people who are thinking "should I take up the offer to do this Liquid Nitrogen treatement instead of getting injected with acid which is a slower process", I say "It depends, on where and how prepared you are for keeping that area dry and working around a giant blister".

Also made it to China and back and celebrated a birthday with the constant irritation in the back of my mind, all without taking pain killers. Hind sight being 20/20, should have listened to my family and friends and taken some pain killers the day after the thing opened. Was worried about getting liver or kidney damage and my worry about starting to use them on a regular basis again for back pain post the regular China trips. 

On the last trip, I ended up in row 72 when there were 73 rows on the plane. One of the ground staff joked "The tail is the safest place on the plane Sir!" and I mumbled something. It may be the safest but it is the turbulentest.. if there is such a word. Sometimes you are in Seat 1A. Sometimes you are in 72A. The good news is that once you land and can get a good days rest, things start to come back to normal.

Coming back to the finger, it is now feeling normal and bendable. No more bandaids. No need to keep it dry. I can go do yoga and try to interlock all 10 fingers and {grip, pull, grab}myself as instructed and stay put in asanas. The rest will automatically get back to normal now that I can do this.

People worry about getting addicted to pain killers, alcohol, other drugs, etc.

I may already be addicted to Yoga.

It is a lot less worrysome compared to other addictions but I do feel very pissy when I miss yoga for more than 3-4 days in a row. Managed to stretch in the hotel rooms and airports and do backbends in the aisles on airplanes where they prepare food with permission from the air hostess. They all know me by now and when the rest of the folks are in cryo freeze midway across the Pacific after their meal and the lights go off, I ask them "can I stretch here?" and they go "sure sweetie" and watch me in amusement as I do a half moon, hands to feet pose, eagle pose and end it with a leg stretching with head almost touching the dirty floor.  It is good to get your head below your heart in the middle of sitting for hours in the same seat. One of them asked me "does that help?" and I said "kind of. I have to go back and do an entire yoga class to feel normal again. something is better than nothing!" and she nodded in agreement. 

There is a lot more we take for granted and most of the stuff I describe is first world problems. There are people with limbs missing who come do yoga. So this is actually no big deal, an annoyance at worst. If you are facing a choice of treatement for warts, evaluate your options carefully!


Never pick your middle aged dad to help with assignments

Jr. learned that lesson over the weekend when she asked me to videotape her baking for a school assignment. Given she wanted a "high quality" video, I used the 5D for the video shoot while being worried that it had a focus issue. Luckily shot it with the 70-200 mm lens which seemed to work fine. 

The only mistake she made was in picking me to do the video. I stressed her out with a lecture on the value of money, trying to be perfect, not waste things, be fast etc. Pretty much micromanaged the thing and lectured her. It is not easy to work with me or work for me.. or live with me for that matter. So while watching this video I realized that I owe my wife, kids, friends and colleagues and especially my boss an apology for being so pushy and demanding and being obsessive compulsive in a lot of ways. The only people who are immune to this influence are my yoga teachers and yoga buddies. 

At the end of it, the cookies came out very tasty. The little one helped big time in being moral support for Jr. as well as coming in and providing her expertise in fixing mistakes during the baking process. 

The smiles say it all! 


Hakone Gardens

We have lived in the bay area for almost 20 years and have known of the existence of Hakone Gardens the entire time. Somehow the motivation to visit this place was not there before. Maybe it was folks telling us it is too small or the ticket price doesn't jusitfy it compared to Filoli etc.. Whatever it be, this is one of those places we simply forgot to visit. (Winchester Mystery house and Hearst castle are two other places we still have not visited).

Given this was a quiet thanksgiving weekend to be spent locally, we decided to visit. We actually had a great time. The weather was perfect and the fall colors made for great photos! 

We did not do a "tea ceremony" but spent 3 hours there and were smiling through and through cracking jokes with family. 

The place is small but amazingly beautiful. Every stone is placed perfectly. 

Here is a slideshow of the pictures in vertical format..

and one in horizontal format..

Strongly recommend this place for timepass if you are in the bay area and have only a few hours. Nice and quiet with some beautiful views of the entire bay area as you walk around the hill on the garden!


and these are a few of my favorite things!

Birthday draws to a close. I am close to getting AARP membership. Another year whizzed past. It has been a good year or I have started seeing good in everything. Either way it is good.

Went to work bright and early. All my colleagues sang happy birthday as part of lunch and that was very touching. 

A visit to BYSJ and giving it everything - Check

A visit to Bhavikas and giving the stomach and taste buds everything - Check

A trip to the movies watching superheroes - Check

Must have good karma to be able to go do all these things that made my day with family and friends!

Thanks to everyone for the wishes!


Jing'an Temple

This month marked my 50th business trip to Asia. Given I have gone there 50 times, it has always been airport to hotel to work to a lunch or dinner (mostly at Bolloywood India restaurant) followed by rides to Airport on the Maglev train.

One deviation from this would be a post lunch walking through AP Plaza that doubled up as an exercise as well as a bargainig practice in the local marketplace for knockoff and reject goods.

Other than this routine, never ventured out to see anything. Recently, thanks to over booking at the hotel in industrial area, got to stay in the riverfront at a nice hotel. That in itself was a nice experience. So I made up my mind that this time I would visit the Jing'an Temple and pray for success at work and home. 

Buddhist temples are interesting. They are sometimes an oxymoron given the message of the Buddha was to give up material posessions and let thoughts wash over you like waves, good or bad and just let the moment sink in. When you see a tower of pure gold and a statue that is 20 plus feet tall made of Jade and Camphor wood, you just realize that maybe Buddha was wrong.. again, it is not a good idea to have me go off the philosophical deep end as it takes more than a few paragraphs to get back on topic! 

This is by far the most magnificent temple for the Buddha I have seen. I am told there are a few in Thailand that will take my breath away. My lung capacity has increased after seeing the Jing'an temple, so that visit to Thailand will hopefully happen soon and we get to see how breathtaking that is. 

All that said, to find a temple that is so quiet and tranquil in the middle of bustling Shanghai in itself is pretty amazing. The contrast between a structure that is a few hundred years old against the glass palaces of today in the background is striking! It was a 35 mintue train ride from the hotel. Funny thing is that there is a train station right under the hotel and the other train station is right under the temple. It was a freaking direct line and it took me 50 trips to go there!

This temple was apparently at a different location. It was built in ~200AD and stayed in that location till ~1800 AD. Then it was moved to this location. It was also converted to some kind of factory when Chinese took down all religious stuff and thirty or so years ago this was renovated again. 

I was suprised that this thing survived the revolution. There was a Jade stone at the temple on display that must weight a few tons. It was 8 by 6 by 4 feet and quite a sight. That stone alone must be worth a jillion dollars. Buddha must be laughing from above!

Two slideshows (all iPhone photos edited on Photoshop) horizonal pics..

Here are some pictures of this amazing place! 

A slideshow of vertical pictures..

I said my prayers for my companies success and for some personal peace and tranquility. Happiness comes from within.. is half the story of Buddha's teaching (just read that in the book "Sapiens" by Yuval Hariri). 

As soon as my colleagues showed me that picture on the phone was instantly drawn to the bald spot.. well it is not a spot anymore as it has pretty much taken over the head. Told him "seriously?" and they went into a long discussion in Chinese. Turns out they were trying to imagine me completely bald and were guessing if I was going to look okay or not given the shape of my head. I thanked them for the detailed laugh filled discussion and asked the Buddha promptly for this to end gracefully. The sooner I go fully bald the better off I am.

willing to let it all go! 

Praying always help me because while praying, I clear out the clutter in my head. Does not matter what the god is. It is like doing toe stand in the yoga class and blanking out, except I am nicely balanced on both feet!

The Buddha answered my prayer instantly. Felt at peace walking around the temple!

Now that I know how to get there from the hotel, will go visit again soon. Made that a conditional promise to Mahavira!