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Sundar Narayanan's Travelog

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Entries in all part of life (177)


Unintended consequences

As a person working very hard to bring a new better memory to market.. lower power, higher density at lower cost etc. just to name a few attributes, I delude myself into thinking that this memory will make the world a better place. 

You can go directly alter bytes in this memory so there is not a lot of copying back and forth happening.. People will save power and if you take every pico joule saved and multiply it by a jillion copies, those things add up to Giga Watts in no time.  Used to think that all those twitter retweets and facebook shares are melting icebergs that this memory is going to change.

Then again, Enrico Fermi or Einstein did not think Hiroshima when they did the work on nuclear fission. Hiroshima happened anyways.

Why bring all this up?

A little more than a month ago saw this mami (aunty) on the flight from India to US. She was looking for a charger desperately.. think "Eastwood as Blondie crawling on the desert floor looking for a drop of water" desperate! Finally she found one.. 

Turns out you can download old Tamil serial episodes on an iPad and binge watch them at airports. Not sure what service they use or if Netflix now has megaserials like Chitti and all 1890 episodes of Metti oli! (not kidding.. that serial actually had 1890 episodes and my wife and MIL probably watched every episode). 

There was a time when Jr. would not eat her dinner unless she heard the title song of Metti oli. It was so pavlovian that I actually recorded that song on a VHS tape and took it to Australia with us when she was 20 months old. We had to play it there to be able to feed her! (these were pre-Youtube days.. now you can enjoy it by clicking this link... I am sure when Jr. watches this after almost 13-14 years, she will turn into the Winter Soldier)

To think that all my hard work bringing in a new memory for the people is going to enable replays of Delhi Kumar walking down the street to his house, while pausing a few times to try and remember what he forgot for a full 30 minute episode is heartbreaking to say the least. 

Delhi Kumar alone is responsible for a few glaciers disappearing, leave alone those poor polar bears desperately trying to find that next floating piece of ice to survive. 

By that token Radhika Sarathkumar has single handedly raised ocean levels by a centimeter over just a decade!

Apparently there is an age you cross, when these Tamil mega serials (Soap operas) start appealing to you, per mom, MIL, and dad. My FIL seems to have skipped this age. 

Hoping that someone euthanises me if I succumb to watching Tamil serials.. at any age!


You will be fine!

It has been 6 weeks since I stopped drinking water during Yoga class. When I started to give up water during class, thought that it was going to be incredibly difficult.

Over the last few weeks (did miss two weeks during travel) always thought that there will be that "one class" which would get me to run back to that water fountain outside the class. So far, so good.

Think my mind knows now that as long as there was a glass of water 30 minutes before class, everything will be fine a good 30 minutes after class is over. Like Mary Jarvis had predicted on the 18th of March..... "you will not die if you stop drinking water during class. you will be fine!"

This is like starting to drive a battery car for the first time. Initially you have range anxiety. You are not sure if you can go to a place and get back. There is always some variability on the mileage depending on how fast or slow you go locally, which in the Yoga room is equivalent to not giving every pose a 100% in a stupid attempt to "conserve sweating" which is actually counter productive. You know there is no "nearest gas tank" where you can fill up and continue on a battery car.. Eventually when you get the hang of the routes you travel and know your speed, you stop having range anxiety. You know you will be fine. 

What is the worse that can happen? you stop on the side of the road and have to call AAA? You are exhausted on the yoga mat and the teacher has to drag you out by your feet? (well, that has not happened to me yet... but a teacher did joke to a first timer that they should always have their feet towards the door during class and when asked why, replied "that is in case you die here and we have to drag your body out. it is easier feet first towards the door"... the teacher said it with a straight face and everyone burst out laughing)

It has been an interesting month. Two weeks in Asia. First week on business trip, followed by a quick Chennai visit for my nephews "upananayanam" or "Janeu" ceremony. It was a great experience. I was the only one representing the four of us. My sister came as well and after four years my parents got to be in the same roof with all three kids even if it was only for three days. 

My sister and me with parents, while my brother is performing the ceremony on stage in the background. The photo of the five of us was not taken on my camera! So I have to wait for it...

Did manage to take a shot of my mom with all her siblings. The last time I managed that shot was in 2005 when my Grandfather got married to my grandma all over again at the age of 80!

13 years later my uncle has lost a lot of weight and looks like a concentration camp survivor and my mom and aunts have all put on weight and have some kind of health issue or another. They are all smiling and going about their lives and while that makes me happy, wish they would all take up some form of regular exercise. Was giving them the "never too late, never too old, never too sick..." spiel but it did not go very well. 

My grandma is still around and tack sharp!

As soon as I got back home, San and the little one went to India to represent the family at her cousins wedding. There was  no time to catch up on social media or do anything other than manage to go through the routine while getting over jet lag. Made it to Yoga almost every night after coming back, even if it meant going very late in the night. Hats off to all those single parents who come to Yoga class. Now I know why they pick the late night class. 

We had a lot of discussion during the India trip on the impact of my deciding to settle in the US, how time and space can be hard barriers, but how family still holds together thanks to culture and tradition etc. The thread ceremony marks a boy's commitment to learning the scriptures. My brother and myself had our ceremony at the same time and it was a big experience for me. Somehow the meaning of the word "responsibility" came into consciousness after that ceremony. Till then I was happy playing cricket with the boys and I-spy with the boys and girls in Sambandham street without any awareness of the fact that I was not going to be a kid forever. Glad there was a ceremony like that to slap you into life!

There is no such thing for girls and my mother was telling me that the next big function for me was Jr's wedding...

It was great to watch my nephew go through this experience and suddenly tansform into a big boy and start to learn.. with the Gayathri mantra! He has excellent pronunciation and hopefully he gets to improve his memory by reciting things by heart over time. If he keeps up the breathing exercise that is half the yoga done already!

Clicked this one right at the end of the function. The Narayanan family has successfully passed on a male tradition to the next generation! Looks like the boy has the weight of the world on his shoulders and he might as well have. Passing on a quest for learning and questioning and understandign go a long way to the betterment of the world. The most important thing one needs to learn is "how to learn". Everything follows.

Next will be time to pass on female traditions a few years from now..

I had an amazing time paticipating in a function after so many years in India, taking pictures, chatting with relatives, catching up, and most importantly playing with my nephew and niece. 

Instagram filters were a big hit with my niece.. every 10 minutes she would come to me and go "Periappa, doggie ears photo pannalamaa?"  Think we exhausted every filter..

During the INdia trip, I avoided a lot of things that are usual. Said no to "ghee" for the most part, restricted myself to "small portions" of food (as small as my mom would allow) and avoiding a lot of fried stuff. That actually made life easier after coming back. 

All said and done "I am fine!" as is the family.


Maps and settings

Recently I was asked to install an upgrade on my bluetootch connection in Prius when I got the new iPhone X. So I waited to go through the motions.

Now everytime I get out of my car, there is a "parked car update". That was interesting.

Also given I am a creature of habit, the phone would tell me "14 minutes to Bikram Yoga San Jose" if I ever sat in my car and started to drive at certain times.. or it would say "45 mintues to Home" when I leave office.

Sometimes I would have to go do a drop or pickup for the kids and skip yoga for a late class and the app would give me this bitter reminder that not everything goes like clockwork. 

Last 5 days has been interesting. I had left work and suddenly my phone pops a reminder that says 30 minutes to Felix labs. I was worried for a second. So called my office promptly and said "did you guys book me for some meeting with someone at something called Felix labs or copy me on calendar?" I just got instructions to drive there.

My guys said "no we dont work with any Felix labs or have plans to. Maybe your phone or outlook is hacked?".

Came home and checked. It was not a calendar thing. It was a "maps" thing. Someone has marked Felix Labs on one of the houses near my house and the maps is picking up that as the location instead of my Home! 

The same thing happened the other day when I was trying to drive to another known location. It gave a different name! 

This is really weird. Thought this should be posted out there to see if others are seeing similar things and why?!


A dinner to remember

The little one and her friend had done a "cook for family" thing during lunch last year and I missed it. They repeated the "cook for family" and this time it was dinner.

The two seventh graders had planned this over a week. They cooked for four plus hours yesterday and we were treated to an amazing dinner. 

The macaroons were just amazing and they made the tomato soup just for me because the butternut squash soup had some ingredients that were on my allergy list.

Every dish was made with so much care and served with precision and love! 

We thoroughly enjoyed the food and the effort put into this by the kids. I had happy tears, when I saw the tomato soup and their reason for it..


If it does not serve you, let it go!

Heard this once too often at the beginning of yoga class. Take a deep breath, and when you exale let go of anything that does not serve you... all your negative thoughts.. etc. etc. 

I let go of shaving, just to see if I could grow a beard for 40 days. Given there was no travel in February thanks to Chinese New Year, thought I could pull it off.

In spite of looking a good 20 years older than San, was still smiling.. 

It was coming along nicely to a point where I could pass for "his holiness, the beanie baba".. even the family got used to it as did my co-workers. 

Then the beard turned into a nightmare. It started itching. You try doing a 90 minute yoga class or stay in a 3 hour meeting without constantly trying to scratch your beard ! This beard experiment has been tried before, but never did it reach this critical point..

Then I heard the teacher say yet again "if it does not serve you, let it go!" and decided to let the beard go..

As usual, there are before and after pictures for this social experiment.. 

The itching and scratcing is now over! Funny thing was that after I shaved, it took the kids sometime to even realize the change. 

There is a blatant double standard in the house. I am supposed to notice tiny changes in them.. (refer to this post) and they can't notice the change in the photos above for a good 30 mintues!