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Sunday
Feb172019

Vendudhal is a Vendudhal

The Tamizh word "வேண்டுதல்" crudely translates as "request". One meaning is a request to god with a caveat.
In other words, if God answers a request you make, you will do something in return. I still have a pending request. When my MIL got the cancer scare, and I was sitting with her for the bone marrow test, I prayed that if it came out negative, will go tonsure my head at Gunaseelam temple. The test came out negative... but I have not had a chance to visit Gunaseelam temple yet.. why I did that commitment, only god knows. The good news is that for most of these "vendudhals" there is no time limit or expiry date. I can do it when the opportunity comes.
A year ago, I visited the Jian'An temple in Shanghai and told the Buddha that if we got certain milestones at work, I will come visit again the following year and light an incense stick. That did happen and got 3 hours in an afternoon free. So off I went to see the Buddha.
My colleagues came with me and I told them it was my commitment.. so I will pay for the trip to the temple and they said "you don't have to but, okay!". 
This is one place in Shanghai that has not changed in the last year. The rate at which things change in China is mind boggling. A new highway becomes operational every 6 months. New train stations spring up. There is changes and experimentation everywhere on a large scale with people being willing to participate in these experiments. 
When you get out of the airport, if your license plate is linked to Alipay, you just drive out. It charges you automatically. The vending machines in tha airports are all cashless.. everything is using a QR code to dispense stuff. While it is forcing travelers who do NOT want to use Wechat pay or Alipay to find less options, it seems to work great for the locals. 
I still see these payment methods accepted in bay area restaurants.. but do not see the reciprocity in China. This is not new. Ever since Google pulled out of China, things have steadily become more difficult for any US technology company to compete with local copy cats in China. The people though don't care. I also don't think that shutting down these payment methods in US is going to change anything because the few people it will affect are not in a position to go do anything when they get back home. Chinese Americans might get upset.. but there is no such thing as an American Chinese.. maybe I am oversimplifying things.. 
where were we? yes. China changing at rapid pace.. 
In the middle of all these massive changes, this temple stands the test of time, with its golden roof, dragons and elephants lining up the corners..
After the trip got to ride back to the hotel area in the subway.. the last few stops, the train was almost empty. This was during my beardy baba phase.. my eyes were red from lack of sleep and jet lag, but I was glad to make that trip to see the big Buddha..
On my most recent trip, saw a lot more changes.. it was a mixed bag.. Teslas are hard to buy. There have been cut backs on electric subsidies as well as tariffs on imported cars. Folks were not that attached to iPhones.. it is seen as an anti China phone.. last year it was a status symbol. Today it seems to symbolize something else and that cannot be good for the US.  There is also a lot more security at train stations and airports, why I could not figure out. 
There is still a new crane on the horizon at a different place stacking up a high rise in record time..
The world keeps changing at a rapid pace, thanks to the people and their leaders. The net result of these changes on the world, we will see in the very near future. We don't have to wait even for a decade to see the impact of decisions made today. 
On the bright side, there is no anti American sentiment at the ground level. Folks treat you as nicely as they did before. Think that is a good thing!
Saturday
Feb092019

Don't die like a Zebra...

No.. not about wildlife.. it is just another Yoga post.

Wrote this post last year almost around the same time.. this week we almost had a repeat of sorts.. 

Given the US changes time for Daylight savings and my compadres in Asia don't, I get to do yoga on Tuesdays only after 8PM between November and April, if at all. Given the Yoga studio has teachers who are also creatures of habit, knew it would be one of two guys teaching that class. 

Last week being Chinese New Year, I got to go to a 6:30 PM class and planned to do a double. As usual I didn't check the schedule and the Lioness showed up..

When signing in at the lobby she asks me "Did you know I was going to teach? Surprise ?!"  

If you just visualizd a smiling woman saying "surpise",  United airlines air hostess style  .. visualize Samuel Jackson walking out from a door with a gun saying "surprise !#$^&**&^%$!!!" instead. She said it the former way, I reacted as though I had seen the later..

The probability of doing a double halved instantly.

The class itself was interesting.. Heckling was apparently allowed in that class, but for some reason, I did not get the memo. The entire class was put on notice that she was compared to a lioness, but they did not get the context. 

Little did they know, that what was more important was that they were Zebras... or Gazelles.. As long as everyone was doing the pose in unison, things were okay. The minute one person went out of formation, they were going to get picked on. They were dead.. 

There were a lot of facts thrown into the class.. like the length of a human colon being five feet. We even got the dialogue in Spanish for a few mintues.. I have heard the dialogue in Japanese once and Russian once.. and they didn't make a difference. You know what you are supposed to do in the sequence, and as long as the teachers voice modulation is right, push sounds like push in any language and relax or change sounds like an exit strategy in any language.. 

I did not do the double after that killer class and postponed it for the next day. 

It has been an interesting week at work and home with meetings that go late, calls that make it difficult to juggle yoga. We had a guest teacher the next day. A popular teacher who is like a pied piper for yogis. Have been in his class before a few years ago. He has been gifted with an amazing hypnotizing voice and he puts it to good use. You go into a trance and do things you would not normally do. Every now and then you look in the mirror and go "is that really me doing that stuff?".  

Between the Lioness and the Pied piper, the doubles were getting postponed almost on a day to day basis. I desperately needed to cheer myself up to go do that double to get me back on track for the sixty day challenge. 

This year, I had not planned on putting stickers after every class. It was going to be a silent challenge. I had a good 20 minutes between the classes. So I pulled up a stool and sat in front of the challenge board and decorated with the stickers. After slowly sticking a good 37 stickers, felt really good. 

Admired my handiwork for a few minutes and spoke to some of my challenge buddies. They were laughing at my decorations. Walked back into the hot room and did the second class and did justice to that class as well. My friend who knew I was doing a double taught that class. He gave us serial instructions with a short pause after each instruction. Given my brain had limited processing ability, it was great to do it one step at a time! After class I told him and he goes "you have a small RAM?". Given my job is to give people more RAM.. that was funny!

Two thirds of the way into the challenge this time. As long as I don't pick up germs on travel, there is a good chance I will finish.

This year started on a bad note.. and the first three weeks were going from bad to worse to the point where I was just hoping Feb would be a better month than Jan, on a personal and professional side.  So far the last ten days have been better than the first 30 for the year.

The very first class this year started with my teacher saying "Intention is better than resolution guys. If most of you are here on Jan 1st because of a new year resolution, change that to intention. If you have intention, you will get there sooner or later. It is a lot better than a resolution". A few days later, picked out an Angel card at the lobby and it was "intention". That was some coincidence. 

Last year was brotherhood and sisterhood..

Definitely have set an intention for this year.. will get to where I have to eventually..

A golfing angel is far from the intention I have in mind.. but time will tell. 

The yoga journey continues to be interesting. My teachers make it interesting. They push me and I let them push me because I have implicit faith in them. They are my real angels watching over me.. quite literally from the podium. My friends and yoga buddies make it fun. The hi fives, the fist bumps, the words of encouragement keep me motivated. The family is also arranging schedules around to make sure I get yoga done, even if it is late in the night or twice a day over weekends. 

There are always ups and downs, but I feel blessed to be surrounded by folks who wish me well. 

Monday
Feb042019

Double Double

Over the last many 60 day challenges, have done many doubles. Usually it is a class in the morning and another one in the evening over the weekend to make up for classes missed during travel.

A few times have done doubles with back to back classes.. but it is usually rare and the classes were taught by different teachers. 

One exception was back to back classes taught by Ashley.. gave it my 110% in both classes. 

also got an idea to take a picture after each class and merge them.

Double class, teacher, student..

Actually feel pretty good after doing back to back classes!

the trick is to trust your teacher to watch out for you. They always do!

The challenge continues.. 

Sunday
Jan132019

How to eat.. பேகல் சாப்பிடுவது எப்படி

My wife would call me current state of mind and body in one single word.

"Vetti"

aka

"unused"

Have been sleeping for the most part of the day and night and sucking up oxygen over the weekend.. the exceptions being the trips to Pep Boys and then to Toyota service..

Woke up to an empty house.. and in the process of waking myself a little more, decided to share with you how I eat a bagel, the authentic Madrasi way.. with Ghee and Dosai Milagaipodi (aka gun powder).  

Usually make cuts on the bottom side of the bagel to make grooves like they do for "pal manga" on the beach.. so the ghee and milagaipodi will be in the grooves.. but that required a videographer.. doing that one handed would have been risky.  When already going through a bad time, why invite more trouble?!

Definitely feeling better after all that resting. 

Saturday
Jan122019

It is an interesting life

After coming into 2019, writing all those posts on Belize, trying to get back into the routine.. got some bug from somewhere that had me down for most of the previous week.

Everytime I tried to rest, do yoga, drink fluids and recover, it kind of knocked me back. Even San was sick for a day or two.. to a point where both of us could not get up in the morning and the kid missed first period in school! 

That has not happened in our parenting history.. 

My colleagues were not exactly happy to see me at work every morning and understandably so. I would barely make it to a little post lunch before deciding to come back home. 

The funny thing was that a lot of folks kept honking at me while driving. Given I was not taking any medication that would make me drowsy and I was fully conscious.. and drive slowly.. was really suprised by all that honking.

Then San tells me that the indicator lights are flashing different. Yesterday got honked again but it was raining and in the reflections saw that my turn indicator lights were not flashing!!

That explained all the honking. Promptly took the car to get it checked.  Thought it would be a bad bulb but then the guy tells me to pop the hood to see what is going on and this is what we saw!

The guy is like "what bird nest is that? it has chewed through the insulation and is there for the warmth".. 

Me : I know what did that! It is a squirrel. Recently my neighbor has put some squirrel repellent electronic gizmo around their oak tree and all of them are in our front yard looking for a new home.. we were travelling during the break and the car was parked outside.. guess it made a perfect nesting spot

The top foam is a noise reduction insulation which is something that has to be ordered.

With squirrels come insects.. was scratching my feet yesterday and was wondering why would something bite me in the car.. it is pretty well insulated.. well, now everything is explained.

Now we need to squirrel proof the car. 

Even before this was having a conversation with Jr. when we detected the indicator issue. 

Jr.: can we sell this car and get a small Prius instead? I can drive it

Me : you can drive this car till it can no longer drive. what is wrong with that

Jr. : it is dirty! 

Me: I will wash it

Jr.: you only wash the outside. You have to clean the inside

Me: okay

Jr.: That yogurt stain has been there in the back seat for three years. You don't sit in the back seat okay? I do.. all the time. If you don't get that stain off, you better sell that car and buy another one.

Me: your mom is lobbying for a Tesla. We cannot afford it right now. You want me to replace a car for a Yogurt stain.. Where have I gone wrong?  

Jr.: I am not getting between you, Amma and the Tesla. All I am saying is I don't want to drive the Leaf or this Prius. The Leaf brakes I don't like. The Prius brakes hard and I like it, but I would be more comfortable in a smaller Prius. 

So basically she wants to buy a Leaf sized Prius. I think she also knows that she cannot go far in the Leaf other than school, target, whole foods, trader joes, safeway or one of the local classes she or her sister go to. The prospect of becoming a replacement chauffer for her sister is weighing heavily.. guess she wants to be able to drive "farther".. 

Meanwhile the "Tesla debate" is continuing. The red carpool sticker is still valid only for 3 years. When your commute becomes 2 hours a day.. time to rethink everything. 

My idea of a green car is any fully electric car.

My idea of a commuter car is something that can take me to local places fast. The carpool sticker is more valuable than the car.

My idea of a self driving vehicle is a public transport bus. ( I am not driving !)

Given that logic, the Leaf seems as good as a Tesla given we don't really "need" all those fancy features.  However, people tell me the "feeling" and "experience" part.. etc. 

Many years ago, I was fortunate to work with a Maintenance Manager by the name of Ray Romero. He passed away after fighting cancer. One day in his typical style he called me and said "Sundar, I want to have a chat with you".

So we go to an office and Ray has some popcorn and water melons waiting for me. He goes "you know, I love working with you. You had no experience working with direct labor, but were willing to listen and learn from us. you also have a good sense of where money is wasted"

I knew there was a "but" somewhere in the conversation that was coming... and it did. You know that part you are negotiating? We waited three days and got it down from 5000 to 4000.. but now we are waiting another three days to get it from 4000 to 3800.. The first move was smart. The second one not so. I know when someone called you a "cheap bastard" you told him it will be taken as a compliment. But you should know when there is a diminshing return for time vs money.

It was an important lesson that he taught me. Still use it everyday at work and outside. You should know when to stop haggling.

Where were we? Squirrels, car, one more reason to find fault with the current car to say "let's get a Tesla!"

Forget the car. What do we do about the squirrels?

Might have to buy one of those gizmos and put it inside the hood of the car.. and also try to build them an alternate nesting site of some kind...