Thursday, October 26, 2006

Money ,Money , Money

K &I have come a full circle of 1 year in our married lives, so we decided to live it up a little bit in Las Vegas. The trip started off a bit rocky with the trip to the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam.The sights were breath taking, but what really stunned us was the fact the tour bus left us behind for being 2 minutes late (I am not kiddin!!!), and we couldn’t enjoy the scene at Mather point. Landing back in LV at 10 pm , after an 14hr journey , we ran to make it to the La Reve show.This show blends acrobatics, special effects and an humor to create a fabulous showcase, on what a person who is high on cocaine can produce. The concept which is supposed to be a young girl in dreamland, takes us through a journey which is eccentric but thoroughly enjoyable. If any one though has figured a theme in these sequences plzzz let me know.

We let ourselves sleep through the next day…only to wake up that evening to catch Mamma Mia, for all lovers of ABBA music ( I am a club member since birth) this is a must see show. Its definitely also a show where a group of ladies can go to spend a girls night out. Right from the colored Speedos, and 80s hairdo to the dance, the show made us smile, bounce and sigh in our seats. Walking through the strip after the show was a joy. The dancing fountains of Bellagio and the sparkling Eiffel tower of Paris Paris was fun took us into another realm. Looking at the strip from the observation deck at Paris was something that’s going to stick with me throughout.

Marveling King Tuts tomb at Luxor, we were suddenly bombarded with people asking us to join in on a time share presentation the next morning. They lured us with a promise of $75 in gambling chips and a promise it would be limited for 2 hrs. Considering it was during lunchtime, they also requested us to have it with the group. We were led at 1pm like lambs to a slaughter. After 3.5 hrs of grueling presentation and 3 layers of grilling by the salespersons, with the price coming down to one third its original offering we stuck to our guns and refused. Finally they stuck us in a room for another hour with a group of similar victims, waiting for the refund of our deposit and a ride back home. I learnt my lesson for my 27th year, GREED NEVER PAYS…. (unless of course your willing to suffer to death for it).Coming back with no lunch (as all they provided was meat sandwiches ), K n I nearly passed out with hunger. But a trip to Blue Men show perked our spirits. If you like loud music, foot tapping drum beats, interactive fun, science fiction and three blue guys this is your show. These guys are fun and they make the audience get involved in all their schemes.

The last day was spent idling away at the Venetian. It was beautiful to stand in the courtyard, just eating a cherry sorbet and listening to people dressed in European wear singing in Italian. Knowing the dollars struggle against the Euro, this would probably be the closest I would get to Vienna.

K & I didn’t gamble much. I really wanted to try poker , but the smoke and loud music of the casino’s put me off. And girls dressed in bare minimum didn’t help either. I tried to shop, but its then I realized, the great divide with people with money and people just don’t have enough J..The shops are for people who have a little extra to spend. I saw jewelry that will enable me to put down a 20% down payment for a house in California. I actually gazed at $750 Jimmy Choo sandals and kept thinking that was my salary back in India !! Looking at young kids dressed in their fashionable best and being driven around in Limo’s ,it made actually feel good about my teen years. The joy of earning your first buck and having the luxury to spend it on whatever little you could is probably lost on these kids who have reached adulthood too early.

Las Vegas is like a crazy dream, where every indulgence is catered to and where every person feels like they can be a winner. It transport’s you to the gorgeous locations , exotic shows , gives you the taste of luxury at every turn and tempts you with quick money. But the sad part is no one realizes that the money spent on getting to the quick cash has been created with hours of working. A fleeting chance of unearned wealth is enough for most people to spend hours in front of a slot machine, trying to win 5 bucks, when putting in 5 times that amount and the worse shopping with the gains at places, where merchandise is 10 times costlier than back home.

However in the back of my mind, a voice constantly reminds me that this world is unreal, and somehow even the people are who live there just put on their show faces for the tourists. In the end I was glad to get back to reality and home. Those lyrics from ABBA’s Money Money Money were always hazy to me till my trip to Las Vegas this weekend.

“Money, money, money ,Must be funny In the rich man's world Money, money, money ,Always sunny In the rich man's world Aha-ahaaa All the things I could do,If I had a little money It's a rich man's world”

And now for some Vegas humor

1)Q: What is the only way to keep your money from the casinos in Vegas?
A: When you get off the plane walk into the propellers!

2)A man comes home to find his wife packing her bags. "Where are you going?" demands the surprised husband. "To Las Vegas! I found out that there are men that will pay me $500 cash to do what I do for you for free!"

The man pondered that thought for a moment, and then began packing HIS bags. "What do you think you are doing?" she screamed.

"I'm going to Las Vegas with you... I want to see how you're going to live on $1000 a year!"

3)A successful businessman flew to Vegas for the weekend to gamble. He lost the shirt off his back, and had nothing left but a quarter and the second half of his round-trip ticket.If he could just get to the airport he could get himself home. So he went out to the front of the casino where there was a cab waiting.He got in and explained his situation to the cabby. He promised to send the driver money from home, he offered him his credit card numbers, his driver's license number, his address, etc., but to no avail. The cabby said, "If you don't have fifteen dollars, get the hell out of my cab!"
So the businessman was forced to hitchhike to the airport and was barely in time to catch his flight.

One year later the businessman, having worked long and hard to regain his financial success, returned to Vegas, and this time he won big. Feeling pretty good about himself, he went out to the front of the casino to get a cab ride back to the airport.
Well, who should he see out there, at the very end of a long line of cabs, but his old buddy who had refused to give him a ride when he was down on his luck. The businessman thought for a moment about how he could make the guy pay for his lack of charity, and he hit on a plan.The businessman got in the first cab in the line, "How much for a ride to the airport," he asked? "Fifteen bucks," came the reply. "And how much for you to give me sexual favors on the way?" "What?! Get the hell out of my cab!"
The businessman got into the back of each cab in the long line and asked the same questions, with the same result. When he got to his old friend at the back of the long line, he got in and asked, "How much for a ride to the airport?" The cabby replied, "Fifteen bucks." The businessman said, "Okay" and off they went. As they slowly drove past the long line of cabs, the business man gave a big smile and thumbs up sign to each driver.

Keep smiling Ppl


Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Pink Ribbon

This week , I kept reducing into tears every time I switched on the TV. I am not homesick or blue but October is the National Breast Cancer awareness, and frankly the stories of loss ,courage , hope and a will to fight keeps moving me to tears. It started with the movie that I started watching in the weekend, when there wasn’t any thing else on the idiot box. “Two against time” was about a mother daughter team are diagnosed with cancer and their struggle against it. It was a true story, and it kept haunting me.

Back in India cancer and its consequences is potrayed as a disease that carries a definite death sentence . My uncle passed away due to stomach cancer. All it took was 6 months , and the voice which enthralled music halls with its carnatic melody was no more. It was a shock, because there were no genetic reasons, if only his check up was a few months earlier he could have been saved. It is with surprise and thankfulness that I see with the advertisements in US asking woman to go in for their examinations. It would never occur to an any person back home in India , to voluntarily go in for a health check before the age of 50. With the rush of jobs due to the tech sector, the stress has gotten to every employee and people now are most concerned about are their BP alone, but the threat of cancer is far more serious with the polution and virus prevalent. But to the masses cancer is still an ominous force whose occurrence is death , (which unfortunately is portrayed again and again by our movies) and which is not talked about.This fact needs to be changed.The cures and preventions need to be broadcast loudly so that common men don’t treat cancer as a sure sign of death.

As per this Hindu article, breast cancer is the second most common cancer in Indian women. With over 80,000 woman affected in 2002 , there is still insufficient data as to the total spread of this disease in India. I do hear that there are some breast cancer campaigns happening in India, but I think the effort must be intensified.So the common myth in India about cancer being genetic related was destroyed when I also heard on TV that 95% of all cancer is not due to genetics and worse of all , can affect woman as young as 20's.

Though I love my homeland,I do think health is pretty low on everybody’s priority. I love the womans movement against Breast cancer here. I also appreciate the constant motivation and support to those who have to bear this cross.As I write this, there is an add on TV flashing about cancer caused by a virus and I made a mental note to tell my pals about it.
This month is just about information and support, so please pass and read websites / articles which help .If you cant actively involve yourself , atleast ensure the lovely ladies around you take care and schedule an appointment with their doctors. Watching “Warriors in Pink” hosted by ABC’s The View,I saw these survivors who are people next door – mothers ,daughters ,sisters and their daily struggle with chemotherapy, kids and handling their wigs I realized something, courage is something that your born with , but it grows stronger with the challenges you face.

I will sit down this week to watch Geralyn Lucas account of her fight against cancer with humor and confidence.It may not be running for thefight against cancer or wearing a Ribbon, but atleast this week I will talk to my family into a doctors appointment for a general checkup. That is a start ….

N' For the smile to all of us who are getting older... though the wiser part i'm not sure
This one was sent by my mom and my aunt…!!

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

Now that I'm 'older' (but refuse to grow up) here's what I've discovered:

I. I started out with nothing, and I still have most of it.

2. My wild oats have turned into prunes and All Bran.

3. I finally got my head together; now my body is falling apart.

4. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded...

5. Funny, I don't remember being absent minded.

6. All reports are in; life is now officially unfair.

7. If all is not lost, where is it?

8. It is easier to get older than it is to get wiser.

9. Some days you're the dog; some days you're the hydrant.

10. I wish the buck stopped here; I sure could use a few...

11. Kids in the back seat cause accidents.

12. Accidents in the back seat cause kids.

13. It's hard to make a comeback when you haven't been anywhere.

14. The only time the world beats a path to your door is when you're in the bathroom.

15. If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

16. When I'm finally holding all the cards, why does everyone decide to play chess?

17. It's not hard to meet expenses ... they're everywhere.

18. The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

19. These days, I spend a lot of time thinking about the hereafter .
I go somewhere to get something and then wonder what I'm here after.


keep smilin

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Musical Musings

With Navathri happening, my life for the last weekend has been visiting houses and marveling at the Kolu’s . I really admire the patience of the people who put them up, buy the gifts and of course make the sweets and the sundal.But the weekend ended for me with concert of S.P.Balasubramanyam. I must admit that I am generation ‘Rehman’, Tamil music for me started with Roja. Sitting in the concert , pushed me back to a time before cable invasion in India.(Warning :To those who are unfamiliar with tamil music n movies – stop now and move to the joke or atleast have your google and Tamil dictionary with you :D)

I remember listening to music on the AIR when I prepared for school. For 3 years I had afternoon schedule , so used to actually wait for the ARR sugandhu paaku commercial to start changing into my uniform. Life was easier then with my mom actually feeding me while I danced around the room to the beats of Raja from Agni Nakshathram and parallely finished the last minute homework assignments (she still did that when I used to study for my Masters listening to Kalayanam than katikettu from Saamy :)).The music continued when the rickshaw walla used to blare his radio all the way to school.We listened in awe as he spoke about attending the first show of Thalapathi and his pal breaking his leg while dancing to “Rakamma” from Thalapathi. What really showcased these songs was the impromptu antakshri’s at school during a free hour. The girls would gather round and the singing would start. Every girl had a favorite song with a unique way of singing it. Mine was ‘Then Paandi Seemayile’ from Nayakan . The more wailing we could infuse in the song ,the more quirkier and funny it would be and the entire gang would sway drunkenly across benches (Of course the only way we could do this is to ensure the first row was on a lookout, so when a teacher came by we, the backrow would be covered :D).

During culturals, it was a hard prospect to get the correct song. Sometimes, all four teams would land up singing the same song. Imagine the judge’s plight when they had 4 versions of ‘Chinna Chinna Asai’ from Roja. But the competitors were more cut throat than those we watch on survivor. One group would have a insider, maybe a sister in another group, to find out what song and who is singing. If the song was intricate, the poor gal in the former group would have to hunt for a song with a classical twinge, as the judges always picked the Light music song which was classical in nature….. so of course the favorites were Nila Kaikirathu from Indra or Margazhi poove from May Matham during the 90’s. But I must say there was a general dissent with the judges from all teams when a girl sang “Kuraloothum Kannan” from Mella thiranthathu kadavu beautifully but did not win because another sang ‘amma enrazhaikkadha’ from Manan and won on the basis on the lyrics and song content (we all thought the judges got their job description wrong!!!). My favorite song though, till today is the ever green “oho Megam vanthatho” from Mouna Ragam. Start the monsoons, we girls would walk in the rain to the bus stop , humming the song and each wishing she was Revathi in the movie : ) .

The 50’s and 60’s numbers also stay in my head. With Fridays being time for oLiyum Oliyum, the only program to see the songs on DD, the 8.00 slot was a much honored one. Watching Sivaji Ganeshan strut his walk with “mela nadai’ from Annai Illam to MGR swinging to “Atho Antha paravai pola” on a ship made, made my cousins really walk funny and swing from the tree :D . The ladies weren’t far behind with Padmini’s grace coming out in “nallam thana” in Thillana Mohanambal (with all the girls trying their bharatanatyam best in front of the Tv) and KR Vijaya singing “Athai Madi methai adi” which promptly put all young ones especially me to sleep. My favorite songs were those hummed by my mom when she cleaned up the kitchen in the night. The rhythmic sounds of the water splashing on the vessels complimented my moms off tune music (she is going to see red when she reads this :)) . My dad used to try and whistle out Chandra Babu numbers, though they made a racket, it was fun to hear which was the highest note he could reach.

Music conjures up memories, which I didn’t know I had. Lyrics and songs nowadays get forgotten every 5 days. With the constant bombardment of new music , its very hard for a song to be retained .I am not saying there aren’t any good songs, but the songs which a person would like to remember has slowed to a trickle.Though ‘Manmada Rasa’ created quite a stir, associating a memory with it would be hard. Songs generally reflect the popular mood, but what’s slipping between the cracks is the message that these songs used to give out. Nowdays all the lyrics weave words of passionate love or violence…. But the joy that people feel when singing these lyrics are nowhere to be found
“ohoa maegam vandhadhoa aedhoa dhaagam thandhadoaellaam poovaikkaagaththaan paadum paavaikkaagaththaanpookkal maer neerththuligal venn paakkal paadaadhoathooral poadum naeram poonjaaral veesaadhoa”

and to make you smile…considering I just started work again , this is important.....

Tips for Working Hard or hardly working :D

1. Never walk down the hall without a document in your hands.
People with documents in their hands look like hardworking employees heading for important meetings. People with nothing in their hands look like they're heading for the cafeteria. People with a newspaper in their hand look like they're heading for the toilet.
Above all, make sure you carry loads of stuff home with you at night, thus generating the false impression that you work longer hours than you do.

2. Use computers to look busy.
Any time you use a computer, it looks like "work" to the casual observer. You can send and receive personal e-mail, calculate your finances and generally have a blast without doing anything remotely related to work. When you get caught by your boss -and you *will* get caught - your best defense is to claim you're teaching yourself to use new software, thus saving valuable training expenses.

3. Messy desk.
Build huge piles of documents around your workspace. To the observer, last year's work looks the same as today's work; it's volume that counts. Pile them high and wide. If you know somebody is coming to your cubicle, bury the document you'll need halfway down in an existing stack and rummage for it when he/she arrives.

4. Voice Mail.
Never answer your phone if you have voice mail. People don't call you just because they want to give you something for nothing – they call because they want YOU to do work for THEM. That's no way to live. If your voice mailbox has a limit on the number of messages it can hold, make sure you reach that limit frequently. One way to do that is to never erase any incoming messages. If that takes too long, send yourself a few messages. Your callers will hear a recorded message that says, "Sorry, this mailbox is full" - a sure sign that you are a hardworking employee in high demand.

5. Looking Impatient and Annoyed.
One should also always try to look impatient and annoyed to give your bosses the impression that you are always busy.

6. Appear to Work Late.
Always leave the office late, especially when the boss is still around. You could read magazines and storybooks that you always wanted to read, but have no time until late before leaving.

7. Creative Sighing for Effect.
Sigh loudly when there are many people around, giving the impression that you are very hard pressed.

8. Stacking Strategy.
It is not enough to pile lots of documents on the table. Put lots of books on the floor etc... You can always borrow from library. Thick computer manuals are the best.

9. Build Vocabulary.
Read up on some computer magazines and pick out all the jargon and new products.
Use it freely when in conversation with bosses. Remember: They don't have to understand what you say, but you sure sound impressive.

10. MOST IMPORTANTLY: DON'T forward this to your boss by mistake!!!

Keep smiling