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Entries in videoblog (184)

Friday
Jul052019

Ancestor feeding.. 

One thing I always look forward to in Chennai is feeding the crows before we start eating. It is not enough to put the food out on the ledge.. you call out to them and wait to see them eat and then you eat.

The crows are considered as the spirit of our ancestors.. or so they tell me. Given my ancestors were all vegetarian and these crows aren't I would not take it literally. It is a beautiful concept though.. keep the scavenger birds around you well fed.. 

All said and done, I am happy we are still feeding crows. 

you can hear a bunch of kids talking in an American accent in the background.. this custom is definitely lost in our family after the current generation.

There are a lot of traditions. If we go into why they were setup and adapt them to today, there is no problem in accepting the simplicity of it or beauty of it. The issue is taking it literally and going all or nothing on these customs. 

There were lots of philosophical debates on customs, traditions in 48 hours spent in last trip than all previous trips put together. We kept it short and sweet. These discussions never end well for anyone. 

The crows are dwindling given the hot weather and water scarcity. Based on my limited sampling that is the conclusion. Not sure if the bird statisticians concur. Hope these crows migrate to another area and where they do, they find people who treat them as their ancestors and feed them every morning. 

They are on time, every time! 

Sunday
Mar242019

A parallel track.. 

While I have been doing things with San and Jr. , the little one has been busy in her own way.. 

She had her annual violin recital with Andre Music studio, where she studies outside the school orchestra. This year they performed with two other schools at the Trinon theater in Downtown San Jose. 

She loves playing the Violin and that makes me so happy to see her play. Sometimes she gets that dreamy look in her eyes that says she is lost in the music and I feel that my job as a dad is at least half done as long as my kids have music in their lives!

Two photos that pretty much captured the event for me.. 

She got to receive the award for the group and I was happy to capture that smile. She has a beautiful smile, but it is so rare to capture it.. it is like that flower that blooms once every 12 years.. have to keep watching for it..

 

The recording of the event is very long.. here are a few snippets of the different pieces they played, some with the studio and others with all studios.. 

It is my sincere hope that she keeps playing, if not for others, at least for herself. 

She recently asked me sarcastically "like you play the guitar for yourself?" and I said "I dont have time to play the guitar these days, but if I want to, I can pick it up and start playing!" which was said in haste.. it will take me some time to get back to where I left off..  

hopefully she keeps playing without a hiatus.

Sunday
Mar242019

Even a rainbow might feel under dressed

This weekend we celebrated Holi in Union city with friends. Many years ago, we made this a local event in a park in Cupertino.. but that was just the 15-18 of our close gathering.. last three years we decided to join a much bigger crowd of a few thousand people and it is a lot more fun!

As usual I get to take pictures of the group and send to everyone. I love editing photos of the happy faces after coming home as much as jumping up and down with colors everywhere! 

and then there are the kids.. just amazing.. innocent.. putting colors on themselves and everyone.

I had put some of this on FB already, but given my FB acts up and no one knows what will happen over time, posting some of that in the blog as well. 

One thing that is amazing is that playing Holi with strangers or friends and family works the same. San and jr. went into the crowd to meet our friends. As I walked into the crowd with a heavy camera bag on one shoulder and a camera on my hand ( I had to protect the lens from being powdered!!) a kid came running out of nowhere and hit hit head on my lens.. By the time I checked to make sure he was fine, he ran into the crowd. Now I was lost.. trying to stand on tippy toes to see if there was any chance of locating the tallest person in our group.. while doing that a group of strangers asked me if they could put color on me. I said yes and they promptly colored me! Then they shared their colors with me to put it back on them. 

At this point I would not have recognized myself anyway and when I finally found our group, they were all giving me the look that said "so, you have already been playing Holi with someone else all this time!" . 

Also the group is totally international and inter racial. Probably there were people from every country in the world there.. not to mention pet dogs. Even the dogs were colored and they seemed to be enjoying it! 

Some pictures from the celebration..

A picture of the kids taking a selfie.. it is my favorite shot of the entire album.. I would like to see that actual picture. They never smiled like that when posing for me.. but their smiles on the selfie must be priceless!! 

Also made a composite of all the recent Holi celebrations.. Missed the little one the last few years. She always ends up with a conflict of sorts on these days. Next year I have begged her to come celebrate with us...

Finally, a video with snippets that were recorded partly with iPhone and partly with the 5D Mark ii... that shows how grand this was!

The bay area is truly an amazing place.. We get to celebrate everything in style! 

Happy Holi to everyone! May your life be colorful and bright !!

Monday
Feb182019

Best of both worlds.. but...

Recently I felt like eating Rava dosai after coming home late at night after a yoga class.. given time constraint, decided to make upma and smear the upma around the Chatti to get a dense rava dosai roast on the vessel..

that came out pretty good.

Today I did a double at BYSJ. My MIL who is visiting joined me for the first class. When she came out, she asked me "do you want me to make you some upma or something ? I will be able to make it for you by the time you come home!"

I told her "no, it is okay.. I feel like eating Maggi noodles after class".. Nothing beats some carbs and spices after back to back yoga class for me!

Somehow in the middle of the second class, I started remembering all types of Upmas.. every upma I had ever remembered over the years etc.. it was like my brain had issued a grep command inside the memory for "upma" and presented the massive result base scroll through my wide open eyes and nose.. 

Came home and saw that MIL had kept a small cup (to tell me she would also like some Maggi)! Told her that she should not have reminded me of upma between two yoga classes.. so Plan change! Upma for dinner.

Instead of making the usual Rava Upma, decided to do this dosa-upma thing again and show her.. 

there are two issues with this.

1. I put jeera (cumin) in the upma to make the dosa come out good.

2. it does not scale very well.. Remember surface area and volume do not scale the same.. so the upma per MIL became the consistancy of Karudaththu maavu.. Felt bad.. we still ate the upma.. It was okay for my standard but did not get any thumbs up from her..

the roast on the other hand was really really good!

Lifting the roast from the chatti was... priceless! 

I have to improve on scaling the proportions and use less or no Jeeragam on the next try...

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!