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New life

There was a time when I used to whine about sitting idle at home without any work (other than home-making!). I used to wish to go back to the time I went to College, and then to work at Infosys with my friends. Life in the USA was kinda boring for me. But only till October1, 2009…

 

I am going to UW Tacoma for my Grad classes these days. Going back to school was a decision that I made with the support from my husband, since I thought I would help me a lot in future. Computing and Software systems at the Tacoma campus seemed like the curriculum made for me, and I applied for it. I was offered admission there and I started going to my classes from October 1. After a long break my brain started working intensely from then!

 

It was kinda tough for me. I didn’t expect this much load for my brain. As anyone would say, it’s grad school, and things are tough here! yes. it is tough. Especially for those who did their undergrad in India and conveniently forgot about all that were taught there in a time period of one year, sitting at home and calling oneself ‘home maker’ . I had to revisit all those topics that I had learnt (or atleast was supposed to learn) in my undergrad classes. But before I could stand on my own legs and learn the concepts almost half of the quarter had gone! I had midterms and projects and I realised that I am in a deep shit! It’s like a challenge to me. I have to go beyond these difficulties to achieve something worth in the end.

 

I hope I can do it. But I don’t really want to miss my life. I hardly spend time with my family. It’s been months since I saw a movie! I hardly listen to music, which was an inevitable part of my daily life. I hardly play violin, and I see the repurcussions in my violin class on Saturdays :P. These may sound silly, but I miss all of these.  I have to find a balance somewhere, before I lose everything!

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My old best friend

I have had this best friend of mine since I was 9 years old. I used to vent out all my feelings over it.. usually anger! err… It’s my violin, or rather violins. I have had at least 5 violins which I have played and called mine. One of them actually belongs to my mother, from whom I “inherited” after when she found herself incapable of playing it anymore! 🙂 that was my first encounter with this beautiful instrument. I used to squeal sounds with it when I was a kid, trying to imitate many I saw in the TV. When it got unbearable, my grandfather took me to a teacher who taught me how to really play good music with this instrument. Since I was only 8 years old at that time, this violin was big for me. I couldn’t even hold it between my neck and my leg when I sit (the posture that is usually used to play violin in the Indian way). So my grandfather got me a smaller violin. It was a cute little one and I loved it so much that it replaced my bedtime teddy most of the days. 🙂

Going to violin class was one of my favorite event after I come home from school. I used to go to the class, which was in my teacher’s house, with my grandfather, in my little bicycle. He used to carry my violin for me, while I tried hard to peddle the bicycle to keep moving. I used to love my teacher who used to call my name in a sweet way. She used to give me chocolates most of the days when I play well :). These good things didn’t last long, when she flew to Hong Kong and got settled there! Then for a short period of time, I went away from this friend of mine, and conveniently forgot my lessons in due course of time!

After a few years I met my second violin teacher, who became my inspiration to play well. He taught me really well, but I was a bad student. I never practiced, and every day I used to find reason to convince him why I didn’t practice. Initially he used to believe my stories, later on he understood the reality 🙂 I made his life miserable most of the time he came to take my class 🙂 He sincerely wanted me to succeed as a violinist. But I didn’t realize the seriousness of that. My grandmother also tried her best to make me practice and play well. She used to try different methods, mostly emotional, trying to make me practice at home and play well. Thinking about all those, I feel an indescribable sadness now.  I wasted my time and her energy! Studies got on the way for my violin classes, and gradually I stopped going to classes! The only day I used to go to meet my violin master was on the ‘Vijayadashami’ day. He used to scold me the same way every year on this day 🙂 Finally when I got really serious about my violin, it was too late. My grandmother was hospitalized with severe kidney failure. We didn’t know it was going to be her last few days on earth. A few days before she went into a state of coma, when I went to meet her, she talked to me a lot about what she had dreamed about me. She had wanted me to be a big violinist, who can spread pure music around the world. I didn’t know why she talked to me like that on that day. But it somehow touched my heart and later on it became the last sensible thing she talked to me.

My grandmother left me alone with a huge irreplaceable vacuum. Violin became my solace at that time. I took her words seriously and decided to be serious about being a good violin student. But it wasn’t that easy for me. Since my grandmother was all my strength, her loss was huge for me and it got me to a state of depression, which I tried to hide from the rest of the family. Time flew and it was almost three years after she left me. I had almost lost contact with my violin master as well as my violin. I even rented out one of my violins for a friend of mine who is now using it. I moved in a different direction in life, with my final year in B-Tech, my job and other things. Meanwhile I had been in touch with this guy in Minneapolis, (later my husband!) and used to spend time with him chatting (thanks to gtalk and bsnl broadband!) We both shared a tragic story with violin classes. He too used to play violin, and forgot in due course of time. When he was my childhood friend, I had once corrected him when he played violin, and he cursed me in his heart for that! So when we decided to live together, I had this glimpse of hope that I will be able to play violin again with him.

When I came to live with him, I realised that it was not easy to get back into the groove of playing violin like old times. We never got time together for that. I was in a state of confusion since I resigned my job and flew to US. Hectic work till then had gotten me busy and a sudden joblessness affected me a lot. It took me  a long time for me to get adjusted to the new life and I tried to be a good homemaker. I didn’t know what was it to be a good homemaker, but I think I figured out how to spend time. I played violin when I was all alone in the apartment. But being alone during the day, inside a silent apartment was a tough thing. I would easily skip my practices. For about five months I had been at my worst moods ever due to this silence around me, and started hating music! Bad weather in Minneapolis spoiled our violins! Well, what else can be a good reason for not playing?

After we moved to Redmond, it was a new direction for my violin story. I met a wonderful master here and tried and became his student. Now I feel much better. I am serious about keeping this old best friend with me for ever, and I am serious about playing good music with it. I have rented a new violin from a shop here. My old ones are pretty much spoiled due to weather, and I might have to pay my entire bank balance to get them repaired! So I have my new violin and a great spirit to play. My new master is a terrific teacher who inspires more in every class. I hope that I do justice to my grandma’s wishes…

I have been searching for one good title for my post. But I don’t have any specific topic to talk about, and so I can’t have an appropriate title! So here I go for an anonymous post.

There have been quite a bit of things pricking my mind, for past two weeks or so. Most of them are related to one big topic: The Swine Flu! Nowadays, there isn’t a newscast that goes without mentioning something or the other about Swine flu; the spread, fatality, some CDC person talking, number of affected people and such. As usual, poor souls like me get frightened with all these pieces of information (both wanted and unwanted), and tend to fear that a slight sneeze during the morning is a warning bell from H1N1. To make matters worse, I got a fever! I got a fever and cold which were both “shared” with me by my beloved husband! He keeps in mind what his mother told him on the day of our wedding – you should share everything with your wife, be it happiness or sadness! Now my beloved husband got fever on the day after one of his colleagues came back from Mexico- the center of Swine Flu cases. The next day there were terrifying news in almost all the channels, saying that there is a flu season going around, and all those details about swine flu! Needless to say I assumed/feared that he had Swine flu. But the next day, after he got his hair cut and took a clean shower, he was fine! I mean not even a trace of a fever! Then I thought CNN was right when it reported that in most cases patients recover by themselves. Even though he recovered, he ‘passed on’ the whatever-flu to me, and I had the most terrible time since this year break.

The first thing I did was Twitter about this, that I might become the 16th confirm case of Swine Flu in the State of Washington (which has a population of around 7,000,000). I got pretty boisterous response from my family for thinking that I had swine flu! But to confirm the facts I visited an Emergency Care in a local hospital. Now here in the US, there is not a single hospital which works officially on a Saturday or a Sunday. On weekdays, almost all hospitals work from 9 am to 5 pm (whatever local time), assuming that all the patients would be able to visit the hospital during any of these hours. They don’t basically expect anyone to get sick or need a medical assistance on hours other than these! If you need medical assistance during these ‘non-working’ hours, you are forced to go to an emergency care, which is the next thing annoys me. Most of the insurance plans don’t cover these emergency care consultations, and hence you will have a huge sum to pay to the hospital and the doctor attending you, separately. The most irritating fact in this entire business is that you wait, and wait in the emergency care for hours (minimum of 3hours) to see a doctor, who attends you for not more than 5 minutes!!!! For this valuable time that this doctor is giving you, he/she gets paid in 100s of dollars! Is this doctor involved in any other life saving condition, that his 5 minutes costs me at least a 100 dollar bill? Is this doctor saving my life in this 5 minutes, let alone cure whatever ailment I have? I don’t really see a good reason why I should pay him/her that much!

This is my second experience with emergency care. Both of them are due to my sinus block and difficulty to breathe. My first experience in Minneapolis was during the last fall-winter transition time, and I went to the emergency care at around 11 pm due to extreme difficulty even to sit and breathe. It took me till 2 am the next day to see a nurse who would direct me to the doctor available. By this time, my body had somehow relaxed itself and I was feeling better. But I had to go through a antibiotic course since I was seen by a doctor. There were people sitting outside to meet a doctor with severe conditions than me. One of them was having a very bad ankle ache, and was moaning with pain. He was not attended even when I came out after consultation! What does this ‘emergency’ in Emergency Care mean here?

In my second experience, which happened due to my fear of getting Swine Flu, and which later turned out to be a sinus infection caused by pollen and molds, I had to go through a similar pattern of events. Wait for hours along with other patients (most of them like me who had masks on ) and finally be seen by a doctor for less than 5 minutes. I was asked to “fill a form” amidst of my inability to breathe, and severe pain. It reminded me of the movie ‘Vasoolraja MBBS’/ ‘Munnabhai MBBS’ where a patient with critical condition is not attended till his details are filled in a good-for-nothing form! Well I might not be that ‘critical’. But can’t you see that I am unable to breathe? Don’t you feel bad for yourself for making me do this? Hmm… life is miserable!

I am expecting to see a bill to reach me by post, explaining to me about a 3 digit sum which I owe to the hospital/doctor since I had been ‘saved’ in the emergency room. It might prompt me to change my insurance policy. It might force me to pay an extra sum in the name of premium, to ensure that I am ‘covered’. I might need to have a stronger policy to support me every time I sneeze! I am deeply concerned with the medical care in this land, and with the harsh truth that Insurance companies are making millions through this. It fascinates me when I think, how on the earth do they come up with the amount that they say I owe? Is it because, there are “Insurance companies” that the hospitals love huge amounts, or is it because of the hospitals that the insurance people are this greedy?

I thought medical profession was a service to human kind. But at the end of the day, it’s a business, and all that your aim is to make money! That reminds me of this video from a movie in which Mohanlal speaks about medical ethics. It’s a malayalam movie, but I think anyone can make sense out of that video.

Mohanlal

I am back

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It’s been a while since I posted something in this blog. I was settling down in my new place, Redmond. We moved a month back and now we are pretty much into normal routine, in our new apartment. It took sometime for me to make up my mind on which cable to go for and which internet plan to take up. Till then I was using an unsecured neighbor network, which was extremely slow and useless. That gives me yet another reason for my absence in the blogosphere. 🙂

 

So when I came back to make my blog active again, I came across this tool, which is inspiring me to blog more often. It’s the Windows live Writer, and it’s a wonderful gift for extensive bloggers. I found this when I was reading this blog: s-anand.net. Try downloading this tool, and I think you all will like it. It’s like one of those few fine products of MS 😛 (To pick another one, Visual Studio).

I am inspired to key in some of my thoughts and concerns regarding what Trivandrum might gain/lose in the next 4 years, as I read the article in Rediff.com: Shashi Tharoor.  It’s an excellent article, which speaks out the minds of many like me, who wish to see a better Trivandrum. Most of what I jot down here are those mentioned in the article. I almost agree to the writer of this article completely, except for the religious points  he’s putting forward, which I am completely ignorant of. 

 

It was a surprise for me and many like me, when it turned out that Shashi Tharoor is contesting from my native place Trivandrum, with an aspiration to become a Minister of Parliament. There have been lots of articles and debates about his candidature. I have always admired him for his writings. I was a regular reader of his articles in The Hindu’s Sunday papers. He was always thought to be as a bridge for India to reach out to the western world. He’s well educated and eloquent, in multiple languages. Most of all, he looks handsome in western attire! (Unlike many Indian politicians who look horrible and unimaginable in such attires!) When he stood as a candidate for the Secretary of UN, India had a huge hope on him to speak for India to the rest of the world. For some reason, he didn’t win that time! But now when he’s back in India to contest in Indian polls, has he degraded himself in the social strata?? Well, how many of us do really consider politicians to be good and worthwhile in a society? The very first thought that came to my mind when I heard about Shashi Tharoor contesting for the elections, I had just one question: “Why on the earth is he doing that?” What is it that makes Shashi an Indian politician? He’s a PhD holder, western educated, excellent writer, well behaved, good looking guy with a good profile. But that’s not what it takes to be a politician in India. Within our hearts, all of us want such people to rule the country- who are ‘educated’, and who are sensible. But when it comes to Shashi, what is it that people are going to look for?

 

I agree to the author of the post that I mentioned at the beginning; the major setback to Shashi would be his party affiliation as far as Trivandrum is concerned. Because, Congress party and its allies, have never done anything worth for Trivandrum. Some of what the government led by Congress did  are the ‘stagnation of Vizhinjam project’ which if implemented would have made Trivandrum a hot spot, ‘ignorance towards The Trivandrum international airport developement’, ‘taking away the Palakkad zone from Indian Railways to appease the neighbors with Salem zone’, ‘not introducing a direct train from Bangalore to Trivandrum’,… the list goes on. Every time there is a union budget, Trivandrum becomes a horn bill! It waits and waits for a good deal from the Union budget. But everytime, it flies off with the unquenched thirst. None of the so called political  ‘Bheeshma’s from Trivandrum has ever done anything about this. If someone who has been in Trivandrum, seen the dirty politics in India was  not able to do anything good for Trivandrum, I am really skeptical about what Shashi can do about these. He can always put up himself as a new hope for Trivandrum. He can even become a local Obama for Trivandrum. But, if he doesn’t address the concerns of Trivandrum, I doubt that  the hope in “well educated politicians” is going to die!

 

I wish and pray that Trivandrum goes to poll sensibly and I pray that whoever wins will make Trivandrum’s Dreams come true. I am also sad that I am not able to be a part of this election!

When I was in class 10, there were lots of rumours going around about earth coming to and ‘end’ at the dawn of the 21st century. There were even stories on how life on earth would come to an end forever. Many were about God coming down to earth and taking all the good people with him and leaving the evil to perish along with the earth. Some other stories were about huge volcanic eruptions and meteor strikes that would kill every living organism on earth. At one time, I had sincerely wanted all these to happen because, it would happen before my 10th class board exams!! 🙂 and I wouldn’t have to worry about my exams, their results, and how it would be, and anything that might become my future. So if the earth would come to end by 2000 AD, then nobody would be alive  to ask about my board exam marks!! That very thought was pleasing to me. But I was sad that I would die even before finishing my school! Stupid me!

And to my disappointment, the world never came to an ‘end’ during the millenium break. Days went by and I forgot about the whole rumour about end of the world. But after I came to the US, I have been hearing a new set of story, mostly hosted by History Channel, that almost makes me scared with proofs and pointers to an ‘end of the world’ day which is expected to be on 21st of December 2012! The things that I learnt through watching this program are,  Nostradamus and his followers, the Mayan civilization and its suggestion to the doomsday, the ‘realities’ according to those bearded guys who speak in History Channel about the doomsday, and ofcourse ‘the-program-you-should-not-watch-at-night’! Beware all light hearted, married ladies out there, this is the worst program you can watch before you go to bed. It’s not going to help for a healthy married life! Trust me…

At one time I became so obsessed with the idea of the doomsday that I convinced my husband, that we’ll have kids only after Decemeber 2012! (Why risk a child’s life? sounds logical?!!!) But I realise that there are lots more people out here who are really obsessed with the doomsday theory and are really believing that the world is going to end, on the right day as predicted! People are even making movies on this theme! So if the world is going to end on 21st December 2012, what time is that going to be? Because, if things are not going to happen at the same time all over the world, then one part of the world would have been dead first before the other gets a chance!

For all those who are not yet aware of this craziness going around, please search for ‘doomsday’  or ‘2012’ in google. I guess you can get to see all the episodes in youtube or in the channel’s website.  Or if ever you got a chance to watch any such programs, please share your thoughts with me. Find here some confused and obsessed souls responding to this program in History Channel.

Aquarium Close-out

It was such a tragedy. We had to close down the aquarium, give off all the fishes, as we are moving. It was quite a bit of hard work. Catching these critters was such a challenge. Who says things can’t move with the speed of light ? Certainly these creatures can sniff a net miles away if it is coming their way.