Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Tag: family

Ten years

So ten years ago, I started college. Yeah. Ten years. I remember the ten years before that, and they seem very long compared to these last ten years that have gone by. As people always seem to say… it just seems like yesterday, and I can vividly remember each of these last ten years. It has been an amazing decade for me. Friendships that have been through a lot, that have gone through trying times, and that have come out stronger. Experiences that have shaped me and changed me, from a wide-eyed college-kid into an adult.

Five years ago, I made a similarly introspective post and I wondered where I would be five years from then. Well, so here I am. 27 years old… almost 28… I’m a veteran of a war and I’m finishing up my military service, I’m a citizen, I’m gainfully employed at a job that I absolutely love, I still own a house and a car, and finally, last but not the least, I have found that special someone I’ve been looking for my entire life (and let me tell you, she’s AMAZING). There were many times during the last ten years that were hard for me… but I somehow got through it all, and actually ended up on top when all was said and done.

Looking back at my early days in this country I laugh at myself when I think of how naïve I used to be. But I guess that’s a part of life and it’s probably something that everyone goes through. All in all, I think I’ve done pretty well for myself. So, here’s to another wonderful ten years.

Change

Sorry about not writing for so long. I was slowly getting back to “normal life” and I felt kinda apathetic about writing. Then when I actually felt like writing, my internet connection went down. It’s a long story, and I’ll talk about it later, but basically I have no more static IP’s. But I’m so glad there’s this.

My whole vacation was about “change”. Scratch that. Going to war, coming back, and settling into normal life has been about change. Usually I’m averse to change. Yeah, I’m that guy who orders the same damn thing everytime I go to a restaurant. Mostly because I really like the dish. It’s not so much I like being in a rut (I don’t), but it’s more that once I am comfortable with something, I don’t like changing it. Change makes me stressful and agitated and I usually don’t like it. I like to have a handle on every aspect of the situation and I hate “unknowns”. But if anything, I think I’ve learned how to deal with change.

I find myself thinking of the “good old days” a lot. I get patronizing scoffs from older people (people in their 40’s or 50’s) when I say this, but seriously; it’s true. After college, a lot of things changed. I started working, I got a house, and then I went to war. I listen to music on the radio, and I say “What is this shit? Music was so much better in the 90’s!”. That’s also when I realize that I sound like my father (of course, he claims music was better in the 70’s). But again, it’s more than that. I think I’m in that gray area when you realize that you’re actually starting to become a “grown-up”. Some people say it’s because you lose the clichéed “innocence of childhood”. But I think calling it the “ignorance of childhood” is more apposite, and as we all know, another cliché tells us that “ignorance is bliss”. My view of the world has become significantly grayer and duller over the years by layers and layers of cynicism. I don’t mean this just figuratively. No, really – I distinctly remember the days being brighter when I was younger. Is that what happens when you “grow up”? I remember wonderful summers in India, when I was seven or eight. There is this tree in our backyard that we children would play around. The sunlight was brighter, and butterflies would be flitting around us as we played. I didn’t see that many butterflies when I went to India this time, or the last time for that matter. Maybe I wasn’t looking hard enough.

When you grow up there are a lot of new things you learn, things you wished you didn’t know. You are expected to take part in “grown up” discussions and things like that. Stuff that’s really tiresome. Sometimes I feel that everyone talks, but nothing gets done. That’s really frustrating for an engineer, who’s whole life revolves around solving problems. I’d say for the most part of the eight years since I left highschool, my life was constant. But I think it was the going away for a year that made me realize how much had really changed. Being out there for a year made me re-evaluate so many things, especially my personal relationships (these especially for the better). I think part of it was because I was a passive spectator to my own life, one that was moving along without me. I mean, life wasn’t really “going on” for me. Life for me, was Arizona and I sure as hell wasn’t in Arizona for a year. It’s funny when I try to place things or relate to things and I realize that my point of reference is from two years ago. It’s very disorienting to immerse yourself into an environment that’s a year ahead of you… like stepping into a moving train.

One of the major “changes” I’ve had to deal with is my little sister’s marriage. I knew it was going to happen one day, but it was more of an abstract concept than something concrete. But yeah, my baby sister is getting married – later this year in fact. It’s a happy occasion, but still different than what I’ve been used to. Some changes haven’t been so happy. It’s sad when you look at an old photograph and realize some of the people are no longer around… and that some of them won’t be around much longer. I wonder if cynicism is the inevitable consequence of knowledge and adulthood. I do find myself looking at a lot of things through jaded eyes. Somewhere along the way I lost the sense of wonder I had during my childhood, or even in my early college-years. I guess I still believe in the goodness of things, but more often than not I am surprised by it.

I think it will get better though. Being in touch with my family, being around my family, and in the company of old friends helps it out quite a bit. Just like anything else, it’s always only a matter of time…

I’ve got a few pictures here from my trip in India. There are a few missing which I will upload later. There are also others that I lost when the drive on my laptod died (this always happens to me). I’m going to try and salvage what I can from it this weekend and see if I can get the pictures back. I’ve got pictures of my highschool teachers and highschool principal here. The feeling I have towards them can only be called “reverence”. In Hinduism they say that the Guru (teacher) is equal to God. Nothing could be further from the truth when describing my teachers. I would not be where I am today, without their help.

Acha
Acha

Amma
Amma

Big Doggie
A Newfoundland I met at JFK.

Honeymoney
The cutest doggie in the world.

Mr. Andrews, Mr. Dogra, and I
Mr. Andrews, Mr. Dogra, and I.

Mr. Bhatnagar and I
One of the most amazing persons I have ever known.

Mr. Joy and I
My old class-teacher, Mr. Joy standing in front of good old 12 A!

Mrs. Ghosh and I
Mrs. Ghosh, my old Ibri house house-mistress. She never actually taught me, but that seems irrelevant. I still remember reciting a piece from G. B. Shaw’s Pygmalion for the House Recitation compeition.

Mr. Srinivas and I
I certainly wouldn’t have understoon Electricity and Magnetism if it wasn’t for Mr. Srinivas. One of the most interesting and engaging teachers I’ve had.

Mr. Stanislaus and I
Mr. Stanislaus wouldn’t let me synthesize RDX in the Chemistry Lab. That was probably a good thing. It’s also because of him that I can still amaze Chemistry Geeks with my random bits of Chem knowledge.

Poochas
Our cats in Muscat. Thomas, Sundari (meaning “pretty one” in Malayalam), Karamban (meaning “black one” in Malayalam), and Tiger Poocha (literally translated, “Tiger Cat”. It’s a name I made up).

Over Here – Day 34

The past few days have been pretty easy. Once we finished MOUT training, we had about 9-10 days off before we start any new training. I was able to get a 3-day pass to fly out to LA to see my parents before they left for Oman. The timing worked out perfectly with everyone being there, including both my cousins.

I got there on the night of the 21st, at around midnight. My sister let me in, and hearing the noise my doggy Honey walked out to see who it was. She stopped because she didn’t know who I was at first. But once she recognized me, she ran out to greet me. She was rolling on the floor, jumping on me, and licking me all over. My sister told me that Honey was pretty depressed after I left Phoenix, so she was really happy to see me again.

It was fun hanging out with my family, even though the days passed by really quickly. I just sat around and chilled, and ate some nice home-cooked meals. On my last day there, we had a barbeque, which was pretty awesome too. Though I felt like my time with them was too short, it was better than nothing so I’m glad I was able to spend time with them. I left on the 24th back to Ft. Lewis. It was hard for my family to see me go again, but I did my best to put them at ease. It was pretty hard for me too – but I know that each second that goes by only brings me closer to when I can see them again.

Since I’ve been back, things have been pretty easy here. We’ve been getting time to relax and chill, so that’s pretty good. The other major development was the removal of all four of my wisdom teeth. It was a mildly unpleasant experience. The parts that sucked were the numbing (when they stick a needle into your gum, and roof of the mouth) and the part where they used to drill to cut up my lower teeth – their roots were intertwined with the teeth in front of them. Once I was done, they gave me Percocet and Ibuprofen for the pain. The combination is pretty good – makes you feel mellow and chilled out, and helps the pain. Right after I got done, I was sorta miserable because my mouth was completely numb and I was unable to swallow. As a result, the blood and saliva were pooling in my mouth. Since I wasn’t allowed to spit it out anyway (because spitting can cause dry socket), I could only let it dribble out. It was pretty gross. Once the numbness went away, I was able to swallow. Towards the middle of the day, I felt much better, and the bleeding had stopped for the most part.

I’m on quarters for 3 days, and I am also on a no-PT profile for a week. It’s kinda cool, because I get to sit around in the barracks and chill. Today I was able to sleep in, and part of that was due to the Percocet, which completely knocked me out. Other than that, nothing much is going on. But I’ve been rather pensive recently, and especially when I was travelling out to LA. Everytime I see a civilian now, I feel how I am not part of that world anymore. I feel detached and separate – a sense of “us” and “them”. I imagine how they are able to go home after work to their families. It is not a sense of regret. I should say it is more of a sense of longing. There are simple things that you miss, like some of your freedoms. The freedom to go anywhere you want, and to do anything you want. There are things that you have to give up. I have even realized how simple my needs have become. A soldier has very simple needs and wants. A good bed, a nice meal, a few words from home – these are all a soldier needs to make his/her day. These are also things that I used to take for granted, and their importance is only evident to me in times like these. Well, that’s about all I have for now. Take care.

I have updated my blog. If you are still seeing this entry, it’s due to a bug I have in my redirection. I haven’t had the time to devise a new algorithm yet. What you want to do is clear your browser cache and reload the page. It should redirect to the latest entry. The best way to know if I’ve updated my blog or not, is to take a look at the calendar. If you don’t see anything new, jump forward to the next month to be sure.

Great Weekend

This past weekend was awesome. My sister and my cousins came down from California to hang out with me. However, that was only part of the reason. Their coming over was part of an elaborate scheme to throw a surprise going-away-party for me. I was originally going to leave on August 11th, but that date was pushed back to August 26th. So they were a little early, but that actually made the event all the more surprising. It was actually funny in a way.

On Friday, I was at Sadhana’s house, and I was telling her how excited I was that my family was coming over. However, truth be told, it did seem a little sudden, and I wasn’t sure why exactly they were coming over right now. I mean, it is a bit of a trip. Sadhana seemed irritated that I would ask such a question. “Maybe they just want to spend time with you!”, she said. I didn’t know why she was so irritated, but it makes sense now. She didn’t want me trying to figure things out and ruin the surprise for myself – she had been planning all this for quite a while now, collaborating with the rest of my friends and with my sister and my cousins. The other thing was when I talked to Rachna on Friday. I told her that I would be seeing her this weekend. That apparently caused her to get really flustered because she thought that I knew about the surprise party. But I just said it because my family was over and I wanted all of us to hang out. She started freaking out because she thought I anticipated the surprise party. Then there was my sister’s odd behaviour. Whenever she was talking to Sadhana on the phone, she’d walk away from me so that I couldn’t hear the conversation. It struck me as odd, but I didn’t think much of it. It gets funnier though. We all planned to have dinner on Saturday, and I expected Sadhana, Rachna, and Suraj to be there. We all get to the restaurant and I walk in. I see Nasser, Shareen, Anthony, and his girlfriend, in addition to Rachna, Suraj, Sadhana, and Vibha. They all yell “Surprise!”. So I said, “What are you yelling ‘Surprise!’ for?” I also didn’t look the least bit surprised. Then as I’m sitting down, they say “This is your going away party!”. But I respond, “I’m not going away yet”. Eventually it dawns on me that this is a surprise, and when that happened, I was really surprised!

The party was a whole lot of fun. My sister got me a lovely going away present. Over the last week, she had been hounding me for some pictures – of my family and my friends. I eventually sent them to her. She used them to make a Calendar (2006). I was really touched – I don’t think I could have got a better going away present. I know I’ll be using it to mark the days until I come back home, and while I’m doing it, I get to look at pictures of my family and my friends. Rachna told me that it almost made her cry. And it’s true – it was a very thoughtful and loving gift. Thank you Keerthikutty! Oh yes, then on Friday before I left work, Shareen started sending these odd emails out. Things like “Chocolate, Strawberry, Banana or Blueberry?” and “Blue, Orange, Green or Purple?”. I had no idea what that was about, but I responded anyway. I said “Chocolate” for the first and “Blue and Orange” for the second question. It all fell into place when I got my cake – it was a chocolate cake with Orange and Blue icing.

I was touched that everyone had put so much and effort into planning this. Rachna and Sadhana had been planning all of this, and Sadhana had been in touch with my sister and my cousins for the past few weeks. They were trying to figure out their schedules, and how to get here. Shareen and Nasser had decided on using their house for the party, but their AC broke, and so that didn’t go through. But it’s the thought that counts!

On Sunday we went and saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which I thought was absolutely awesome. Johnny Depp made an awesome Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder did too) and he fully captured the eccentricity and weirdness of the character. Tim Burton’s direction is awesome as usual, and lends his “Burtonesque” quality to the whole movie.

SPOILER ALERT

Ok, I know that some of what I’m saying aren’t really spoilers because anyone who has read the book should know about them.

There were some really touching scenes in the movie. I remember when I first read the book, and I came across the scene where Charlie gets the Wonka Bar for his birthday. I remember the anticipation I felt as Charlie slowly opened the wrapping… and the disappointment when he found out that he didn’t win the Golden Ticket. The movie captured that really well… I felt the same way I did when I first read the book so many years ago. Another scene that I thought was really heart-breaking, was when they show the backstory for Willy Wonka. Young Willy Wonka comes back home from trick-or-treating, and his dentist father (Wilbur Wonka, played by Christopher Lee) is going through the candy. He tells his son how bad the candy is for the teeth, and despite Willy’s repeated pleas to have just one, tosses the whole basket into the fireplace. Young Willa Wonka’s expression (orthodontic headgear and all) is absolutely heart-wrenching.

I am usually nit-picky about movies that have been adapted from books, but I thought this was a pretty good adaptation. The backstory about Willy Wonka didn’t bother me too much either. All in all, a good movie.

END SPOILER ALERT

After the movie, we went back home and chilled for a bit. After Michael got back home, all of us went grocery shopping and bought the ingredients to make some Mexican Food. We also bought fresh pineapples to make some piñacoladas. Josh came over as well, and we all started working together on making dinner. The dinner we made was delicious! We made Tacos and Taquitos which we ate with salsa, guacamole, and mexican rice. Oh yeah, and piñacoladas with fresh pineapples! After dinner, we sat around and talked for a while. I brought down both of Michael’s guitars, and he also brought down my keyboard. We jammed for a bit with Dipu Cheta and Michael on the guitar, Prem on the percussion set on my keyboard, and with me singing. Good fun!

The next morning my cousins and my sister headed out. Dipu Cheta flew back to San Francisco, and Keerthi and Prem began their long drive back to Los Angeles. I had a whole lot of fun this last weekend. It’s the best I’ve had in a while!

Thoughts

So this whole “going to war” thing is a huge deal. Obviously. There are many reasons why I don’t want to go, and then there are reasons that I must. But anyway, that is not the point. Sometimes I think that getting away from here for about a year would be good. An escape? I don’t know. It feels like it sometimes. But I prefer the euphemistic term “welcome reprieve”. I like to think that things may change when I get back…

I find myself seriously questioning certain facets of my life. First, am I happy? I guess I am… but it would be more accurate to say that I am mostly content. My job is a pleasure – I do what I enjoy doing most – writing code. But at other times I feel seriously apathetic about my life. I mean, I go to work from 8 to 5. I pick up my dog, Honey, from Sadhana’s home (I am really thankful to her family for taking care of her), I spend maybe half an hour there with her parents and grandma, and of course, Juju and Nimbus. After that, I come back home. I check my mail (real mail), pay bills, have dinner, write some of my own code, and then I head to bed. That’s it. That’s my day… how boring.

I sometimes want to go back to being in College. Each day was different. But then again, when I was in college, I wanted the stability of a normal job. I guess the grass is greener on the other side. My friends are still here, but of course, they have their own lives and the things that they need to do. My family is here and I do talk to them on occasion (although I should call my mom and dad much more frequently). They’re always there for me and I have never felt neglected by them.

I guess things changed a lot when I graduated. When I was in school, there was always someone I could interact with on a regular basis. Now that’s not there. It’s much harder for me to interact with any of my friends because I don’t see them that much. I guess what I am saying is that I feel pretty lonely at times. In response to that most of my friends might be saying “get a girlfriend” and some might even say “go get married now”. As far as the second one goes, please, I am only 23. The first one? Well. I am picky. Not that there is a serious lack of women to go around, but the fact is that I am picky about who I want to be with. No, I’m not on the look out for “that special someone” and I don’t believe that there is any one person with whom I am compatible. I’m sure there’s a whole range. But of course, that set, when intersected with the ones that my parents would find compatible, leaves a much smaller set. But still, it’s one that can be worked with.

So now you might be saying “so what? just date someone for fun!”. Can’t do that. I consider it a waste of time. “WTF?!”, you say. Well.., let’s say I date a girl… I go out with her… and then what? Eventually there comes a point when I have to break it off because I can’t make the committment. I am going into the relationship without the intent of ever making one, so logically, what is the point? I guess it would be different if it was mutually agreed upon that there wouldn’t be a committment, but that is rarely the case. So in that sense, am I looking for someone with whom I can have a long-term committment? Yes. With can being the operative word. That word has a lot of import. I have to think about what my parents want as well. They would want me to marry a nice, Malayalee, Hindu, Nair girl. I am not averse to that at all. In fact, that’s what I would like ideally, because then my parents and I are in total agreement. Some of my friends say that I am closing out a lot of options if I think of it that way. Yes, that’s true. I am aware that as an individual there are definitely women who I am compatible with, but aren’t any of the things that my parents want (for me). Therein lies the problem.

An Indian Marriage isn’t just the union of two individuals. It is the union and alliance of two families. In that sense, I can understand the cultural isolation that my wife could feel in the presence of my family, and vice-versa. And also the awkwardness and lack of any common ground when both families meet. But then again, there are cross-cultural marriages that do work, and work well. So I guess I am saying is that I don’t want to go through the trouble of it all. Which in a sense might be chickening out. I myself am not sure what it is. There are certain things I want, and I think I might have them better if I were to be with a woman who is aligned as closely to me as possible. For example, I consider my culture very important. My customs and traditions are very important to me. This is something I would like to pass on to my children. And this isn’t because of some misplaced sense of pride or superiority. No. I consider culture and tradition to be something that has evolved over a period of so many generations and so many hundreds of years. Something built upon the traditions and observances of the generations that have passed. I feel I should try and preserve as much of that as possible. Otherwise, something precious will be lost. I might be able to make it work with a girl from a different culture – something that is still close to mine – a girl from Tamil Nadu for example. Tamilians and Malayalees have reasonably similar languages and customs. But even still, between these two similar cultures, there are a vast number of differences… and with differences, arises the possibility of conflict (but isn’t there conflict in any marriage?). What if she is as concerned about her culture as I am of mine? What would the children learn? Would they be confused? Would it be cause for conflict between she and I? Almost always, one side has to give way. The children end up knowing one side better than the other. Is that a problem? I don’t know. When I was younger, and therefore more idealistic and naïve, I thought I could easily make it all work, and it didn’t matter who I married. Somewhere along the way I realized that real life isn’t so simple.

I guess my dilemma right now is that I don’t know if I’m limiting my options too much. I can’t say. Most of my friends have someone special. Sometimes I find it hard being around them sometimes because I feel that I’ve missed out on that aspect of life. It would certainly alleviate a lot of the loneliness that I feel… But then again, I’m only 23… a lot can happen in the next few years.

So… am I being too picky? God knows… but that’s also why I think it may be nice to get away from all of this for a while… get everything in order.

I can’t believe I wrote all this crap on a public website for the world to see. Someday I am going to read this and laugh… or regret writing it… or possibly both. Is there such a thing as a regretful laugh?

In SD

This is great. I haven’t been home at all. Last week I was in LA. This week I am in SD. I love it. Just having tons of fun. I will be back in Arizona on Monday. Right now I’m chilling with my cousins and my sister in SD. My parents were here last week. They left for Oman last Sunday :(. But I will be seeing them in a couple of months when I fly to India and Oman. After that, they will be coming here in November :).

Thanksgiving

It’s Thanksgiving and I’m in Cali. Yay yay yay!

Three New Albums

I’ve added three new albums. “Garba 2003”, “Dinner at Oregano’s” and “Showteam Club Carwash”. Enjoy! I have a dozen or so more pictures to add – these are of my parents and I’m going to add them tomorrow to the “Family” Album.

Sadhana – are you happy now? 😉

Thanksgiving

I’m in California right now. Yeah… I thought I wouldn’t be able to make it, but I did. It was awesome. Thanksgiving was great. Tons of good food… The next day we went to Fry’s to buy stuff so that I could build my family a new computer. We were able to get a good deal on some stuff… but missed out a great deal on a Maxtor 80Gb harddrive that came with a 256Mb stick of RAM… It could’ve been generic RAM though… we did get a good deal on a 512Mb Mushkin. Well, anyway… built the computer… but then turns out we didn’t have an OS installation disk. Right now I’m using the Win98 installation off the old 8Gb drive. It seems to be working fine. I thought it would be pretty unreliable, but I guess the hardware profile was so different that Win98 decided to reinstall everything all over again. This is only a temporary solution until we’re able to install an OS on the 120Gb hard-drive… Still have two more days here… That’s good. Not really looking forward to going back…

Family Pictures

I’ve put some family pictures up. I’ll be uploading some more… when I get time…

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