Family

Celebration of “Appa”!!

I cannot write about my father in a single post..rather, me, my mother and my sister and the entire family will need several books to write about him. That is how much he powered our lives and kept us going…..he was the role model for me and many of us all of our lives!

He was witty, far ahead of his times, always thinking out of the box, terrific orator, a social butterfly(now you know where I get my social skills from!! :)) and just plain smart!!I was a total “Daddy’s girl” and he molded me completely…

When I was young, I used to tell my mom that I wanted to get married to somebody like my father πŸ™‚ I adored him that much… (no, my husband and my father are similar but still dissimilar in their ways and I liked it that way, finally πŸ™‚ )

His younger days:

My father was never an emotional person(atleast, not in front of me!) and we had never heard him talk about his younger days. He was just determined to come up in life and so he stepped out of his parents place at a certain point to make and carve a name for himself!

He motivated himself to prepare and study for the State Bank of India Probationary Officers exam and got selected right away!(this was way, way long ago – when not many knew about the PO exam) There was nobody in the family who was in the banking sector till then – so he did it all by himself due to sheer self motivation.

Even though he was from a small place in Tamil Nadu, he also made it a point to study and excel in English and he did with flying colors. He could talk in English eloquently and made sure that we both daughters were also educated in good schools and spoke excellently.

How he brought us up:

My mother was always the pillar behind my father and she used to admire the way he brought us up. He was not the shy looking-from-far father – he was a father who was very,very active in his children’s lives. These were just a few things that he taught us that still ring in my ears:

a. Be smart and independant:

My father always instructed all of us in the house to be “independant” and “smart”.

“Be smart, ma” or “Smartaa irungaa, ma”….

“Be independant, ma” – his voice would go and we would wonder what that really meant! (now, we know)

b. Dress well:

He loved anybody who was brave and all who dressed up well. For him, if it is a shirt, the collar has to be pulled down correctly..otherwise, he is not going to be too happy. If it it is a school uniform, clothes have to be neatly ironed and tucked in properly.

I was encouraged to do beauty treatments(but me being me , I was hardly interested!!) He always admired my mother’s way of dressing up and encouraged me to dress like her(but, me…ha, ha!! :))

c. Good role models:

In my younger days, he used to like Steffi Graf and soon I was also encouraged to like her πŸ™‚ We rooted for her in all her tennis matches!! He would select nice role models for us (like Graf) and encouraged us to emulate them. He always wanted the girls in his life to be tough, strong, smart and independent and be successful in life!

d. Read good magazines

Since the world was very small when we were young(no Internet then), he bought us magazines like Femina and Women’s Era and encouraged us to look at the world in a wider way.

e. Don’t dwell:

Since we were 3 women in his life, we would have emotional party every now and then. But he was a very patient father and husband and never reprimanded us for drowning in our pity party. My foot surgery and the confusion after that severely jolted me. He waited for almost a year, till I drowned in my worries and then told me firmly, “Enough of thinking about the same thing again and again…now, move on” . Yes, after a while, he did not like to dwell on the various ifs and buts…

f. Plan and organize

He was a dynamic personality who grew by leaps in the banking sector. Since he was in a transferable job in the bank, we would get transferred every four years and that led us to travel to North India as well. He used to go first to the location and did all the planning. He did do a lot of research on the schools nearby, find a suitable accomodation and then shift us.

I had a sudden move from Chennai to Mumbai and had a tough time adjusting from Tamil to Hindi in 5th grade. But he knew it all and found tuition teachers to help me with the transition.

This type of research continued into the college years too. Before I was set to enter college, he used to check which subject will rock the world in the coming years( and this was 1989!) Surprise, surprise – it was “Computer Science” that was said to change the world and soon both of his daughters were studying that in college(he was far sighted, I tell you!)

He always maintained a neat diary where everything was written and planned.

g. Other funny tidbits

When we used to go to a Bata store to buy a shoe, we “had” to wear the shoe/chappal and walk up and down and show it to him… it is not short walk that we have to do – we have to really walk the store…:)

His favorite saying was always “The proof of the pudding is in its eating”

He was amused by the birthday/anniversary/Diwali wishes every year that appear over and over again ever since Whatsapp came into existence…he used to ask me “It comes every year – what is so special?” and now, even I wonder the same….

When he spoke, you couldn’t help but listen to him. He had amazing oratorical skills!! All my friends from school knew him, all my friends from college knew him and all my friends from wherever I stayed knew him … and he knew them all too! πŸ™‚ He loved just the aspect of people. My paternal grand parents family, my maternal grandparents family – there was not a soul who did not come to him for advice or a nice talk.

He also had every girl relative in the world. He was blessed with an elder sister, younger sister(amongst other siblings), wife, mother, 2 daughters and 2 grand daughters and all of us dearly loved him. In fact, there cannot be a single person who couldn’t have fallen in love with him!

In spite of talking so much, sometimes, I think I hardly knew anything about him – I didn’t know what his favorite color was, what his favorite hobby was (he used to like to read books) and more. Did he really like Chennai? Did he like life in the bank? Did he like to study history?What did he really like? I was the one who used to keep questioning him all the time!! πŸ™‚ But the answers were vague…I didn’t know -but my mother might know…

Anyways, he was always the magician who could solve all our problems.Even after we got married, we could run to him and my mother for anything and everything!

School admission – he was there, college admission – he was there, when his grand kids were born – he was there, he was just proud of whatever his daughters did…and he was the rock for us all…

He loved all three of us in different ways and all three of us loved him in different ways. We will always love you and we will always miss you appa!

Dedicated to my father who passed away on 11th October 2020

Next post: The cruelty of Parkinsons disease

Festivals, India

How we celebrate Navaratri…

India is so beautiful and diverse in its culture and traditions and each festival is celebrated in a different way in each corner of India. I am born and brought up in Tamil Nadu and the festival of Navaratri is celebrated in a yet another nice way.

Navaratri:

While I have hardly paid attention to the intricacies of Navaratri and its special significance, I do know that Navaratri is celebrated to cherish the victory of good over evil. Navaratri denotes 9 religious nights and in Tamil Nadu, each of the 3 days are associated with each Goddess. The first 3 days are devoted to Goddess Durga, the next 3 days are devoted to Goddess Lakshmi and the last 3 days are devoted to Goddess Saraswathi.

Golu:

There is always a tinge of happiness and festivity in the air before Navaratri starts. When we were children, we were very excited that our exams were over and we could celebrate the festival more peacefully and happily now! In Tamil Nadu, most homes who were celebrating ‘Navaratri’ had beautiful ‘golus’. A ‘golu’ is a collection of dolls on padis or steps. The steps had to be in odd number format. The steps were covered with a fabric and the dolls were placed on it. We can either make our own steps or you can get the ‘Golu stand’ from the store right away(which are foldable)

The ‘golu’ had dolls from the Hindu mythology and you can see various stories from the Ramayana and Mahabharata depicted by the the dolls. The top most steps had idols of Gods and the ‘kalasham’ ( a jar with coconut and mango leaves) The lower steps have dolls depicting everyday life, weddings, bride and groom, kitchen play set and more. Seeing the ‘golu’ in different houses is always a delight!

While we never had a golu in our house, we used to have fun ‘golu hopping’ when we were young.

Thanks Suhasini for the image!

Golu hopping:

The most exciting part of the Navratri has to be the ‘golu’ hopping. We are always invited to a multitude of houses and little girls are dressed in beautiful pattu pavadai and make the house more happy with their giggles and laughs! They are encouraged to sing a nice song and the shy and the introverted girls soon croon a devotional song here and there!

Once the singing is over, prasadam mostly consisting of ‘sundal'(lentil) is distributed to all those who come home. The guests are then given vethalai, paku, mirror, comb as parting gifts.

Saraswathi Pooja/Ayudha Pooja and Vijayadasami:

The ninth day of Navaratri is celebrated as ‘Saraswathi Pooja’. On this day, the Goddess of learning, Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped. Goddess Saraswathi is decorated and we keep all our textbooks and notebooks from school/college/work before her. We keep sandalwood paste thilak and kumkum thilak on the books hoping the Goddess blesses us with abundant knowledge!

We were also instructed not to touch the books or open the books for a day at least (and we used to be very happy then – that we did not have to study for that day!! :))

‘Ayudha Puja’ is also celebrated on the day of ‘Saraswathi Puja’. We celebrate all the instruments in the house by first cleaning them and then applying ‘thilak’ to all appliances in the house like TV, refrigerator, car, bike and even the doors.

Thanks to Asha madini and anna for the picture!

Vijayadasami:

The 10th day after Navaratri is ‘Vijayadasami’. In Tamil Nadu, Vijayadasami is an auspicious day to start new activities. I remember I started to learn Bharatnatyam on a Vijayadasami day many,many years ago. Young children are encouraged to start any new pursuits on this day as it is supposed to be more successful that way.

After Vijayadasami is over, the dolls are carefully packed and put to sleep in their boxes. They will be refreshed again for the next Navaratri!

I hope you had fun celebrating Navaratri virtually through my words! This year, COVID playing truant, has kept most festivities under control. I hope the next year, we can celebrate ‘Golu’ with all gaiety and happiness!!

Stay tuned for more posts from my friends Lavanya, Kanika and Suhasini this Navaratri!

Musings

September 11,2001

On that day,we were in Long Island, NY,US which is 45 miles east of New York City. My son was hardly a month old and I was busy learning to be a new mother to a newborn baby. We were busy trying to decipher him along with my parents!! πŸ™‚ (who had come to visit us in the US)

It was close to 9 a.m. in the morning and my dad was watching television and there were disturbing scenes on the television. We didn’t understand what it was first and neither did anybody or any of the news channels in the US. It was about some commotion in New York City which was only an hour’s drive away from us. Initially, we thought a building was burning down and turned to do our chores.

Only after a while did we we realize it was one of the Twin Towers which was burning. We had visited the Twin Towers just a year back and could recognize the place immediately. The news channels were also flashing the news that the Twin Towers had caught fire.

Before, I write any further, I have to write about the Twin Towers.

Twin Towers:

The Twin Towers were New York City’s pride. The Twin Towers of New York city were part of seven buildings of the World Trade Center and they were located in the Financial district of Lower Manhattan. Each tower had 110 floors and they were the tallest buildings in their time. More than 430 companies were housed there and as many 50,000 people went to work there everyday. Still many more came to visit. The Twin Towers were subjected to many attacks during their lifetime and many of them had failed(till then)

As we sat there watching the burning, we thought that the fire engines will be called and the fire will be put out sooner or later.

Just half an hour later, even as the first tower was burning, we were horrified to see an airliner go straight into the second tower of the World Trade Center with amazing accuracy and precision. It dawned loud and clear that this was no normal burning and nor was it a fire without serious reasons. Now both the Towers were ablaze and everything was being tried to rescue those who were trapped.

The fires in the two Towers were raging and we still thought that the fires would be put out soon. There was widespread confusion in New York City and ambulances and medical/state and federal workers were racing to help anyone and everyone.

There were many who were jumping off the floors of the towers in panic and despair.

The Fall:

After an hour of burning, at around 10:00 a.m., and with all television channels glued on it, we were shocked to see Tower 1 collapse completely and be reduced to total dust and rubble in a matter of minutes. After seeing tower 1 collapse, we knew and dreaded what was coming up next.

And at around 10:30 a.m., the inevitable happened and Tower 2 collapsed too…again in a matter of minutes!!

The Twin Towers collapse generated a lot of toxic dust and confusion for all who came to work/lived in New York City and New Jersey. It was then, that we knew life had changed for all and it would never be the same again.

According to Wikipedia:

  • The people caught above the 80th floor of Tower 1 and 60th floor of Tower 2 were killed instantly or were caught without any rescue being possible
  • at least 200 people jumped to their deaths mostly from the higher floors
  • helicopter rescue mission was not possible since no plan existed for the same
  • 2996 people lost their lives
  • more than 6000 people were injured
  • more than 90 countries lost their citizens in the Twin Towers collapse
  • Cantor Fitzgerald L.P., an investment bank on the 101st–105th floors of the North Tower, lost 658 employees more than any other organization
  • New York City lost many brave fire fighters and police officers
  • Many other buildings around the Twin Towers were also damaged
  • Almost 18,000 people are supposed to have suffered from the toxic dust that was generated
  • The last fires from September 11,2001 were extinguished finally by December 2001

New York City has clawed its way back and that is supposed to be New York’s fighting spirit. It is 19 years since the man made tragedy happened, but it still lingers in my heart hoping such man made disasters never happen again…

Book, Review

Book review: Itsy Bitsy Spyder by Apeksha Rao

Title: Itsy Bitsy Spyder

Author: Apeksha Rao

Number of pages in the book: 60

About the book: The book totally has five main characters out of which three are women. The relationship between a mother and a teenage daughter is a see-saw battle in most homes. When the daughter tries to choose an entirely different career than what her parents want her to do, it leads to greater misunderstandings and war of words and that is what this book is about.

My thoughts on the book: This book is very well written by debuntante author, Apeksha Rao. Having a teenage daughter at home, I could understand some of the conversations perfectly πŸ™‚ The author seems to have good knowledge about spying and weapons and that shows in her authority when writing about the same.

I liked the fact that the mother character was an extremely powerful character and I also liked the way the daughter was groomed into her parents career path right from a young age…(she knew how to hack into a account when she was twelve(wow! :)))

Will the daughter choose the career of her choice or will she be forced to take up an alien career? Waiting for the next book to find my answer! πŸ™‚

You can buy this book on Amazon from this link.

Family, India, Musings

Indian Matchmaking

The show ‘Indian Matchmaking’ on Netflix is all about India’s famed arranged marriages and how it works. My Twitter TL and all my social media feeds are talking about this and I also had to jump in and give my thoughts too!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

I had already blogged about this unique way of getting married a while back(which is available in my e-book now)

With lockdown, no maid and too much work all around me…what do I do? Binge watch this series on Netflix πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

No, this is not a spoiler post or anything to do with each and every episode featured but my thoughts on the whole series:

  1. If you haven’t heard at all, this is the story of an Indian match maker who is trying to find a suitable match for Indians in India and US
  2. Depending on your age, you will either be hooked onto it and binge watch to finish it! πŸ™‚ …or you couldn’t care much… πŸ˜‰
  3. Nothing has changed in the match making scene in India and now Indian-Americans in the US are involved in this drama too(and I have been married for long time now – so I have also gone through the whole drama πŸ™‚ :))
  4. If at all anything, Indian marriages are more pompous now(more gold flows now and there are pre-wedding photo shoots, and more and more photo shoots, I heard)
  5. Requirements for a “fair, good looking bride” still seem to be in the trend(I cant imagine using the word “fair” in US, but in India the word “fair” is liberally used in the marriage scene)
  6. Interestingly, Indians in the US are also using Indian matchmakers to find their life partners this way! (why? :))
  7. First generation Indians in US were just happy that they are in the US
  8. Second generation Indians definitely have different issues as far as settling down is concerned
  9. If women are super successful and completely financially independent, do they find it very hard to get married? I don’t know – that is the vibe I got…
  10. I heard this series made many people cringe, but I thought it was a pretty realistic representation
  11. But match making in the Indian scene is a tough job as the entire family is involved and everybody has something to say!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

What did you think? Did you care to watch it?

Did you like it or did you just freeze watching it? πŸ™‚

Musings

What 8 years of writing has taught me…

I have been writing for exactly 8 years professionally and these are some of my learnings over the years…I started writing strictly technical Java and Information security concepts for about 2-3 years and then, moved onto personal writings over the years.

  1. Writing is hard work – yes, you read that right…it is real hard work..whether it is fiction or non-fiction, writing in today’s SEO world is sheer hard work. I could have never imagined that a good piece of writing will require so much effort, but it does.
  2. There are some writers who can write quickly and with ease, but all will definitely need a plan.
  3. Different people will have a different take on your writing!! (this was the most interesting realization for me!! :)) The bottom line in writing is if you are understood then, you have done a good job!! πŸ™‚
  4. The most important part of a blog post or any writing is first choosing the perfect TOPIC. While we can write on anything in the world, it is the choice of topic that will allow the author to give their best and the reader to enjoy it!
  5. For any type of writing ,the ‘flow’ has to be good and in today’s SEO world, the keywords and other things have to be well rounded too(ugh, the part I hate the most! :()
  6. Writing needs a good ‘Eureka’ moment…when idea strikes, better to pen it right away!
  7. My technical writings are actually much easier to write than my non-technical ones!! πŸ™‚ All I have to do is to have a good grasp of the concept. And for the topics that I do not know, I do have to research a lot on the topic and write.
  8. But, it is obviously my non-technical ones that are easier to understand and which get more views!! πŸ™‚
  9. I have never suffered from ‘Writer’s block’ but I do struggle with writing when the circumstances are not right!! πŸ™‚
  10. Interestingly, I can only write about topics that I am truly passionate and interested in(maybe all writers do this – I am not sure) For all the posts and e-books that I have written the past 8 years, I can confidently say I have written all of them only because I truly believed in them.
  11. In spite of editing and re-editing and re-editing, not all of my posts and writings come perfect. Of course, all of us are entitled to a bad hair day, right? πŸ™‚

What do you think about writing? Is it as easy as it sounds?

Read all my technical posts at: http://blogtech.online

Read all my personal posts here: https://jayanthiweb.wordpress.com

Family

Teenage Cryptography!

I have been studying about the various forms of ‘Cryptography’ in my Information security pursuits in the past 10 years, but there is another form of cryptography that envelops my world currently!

It is teenage cryptography and it is totally new to me and has no rules and no regulations! πŸ™‚ Normally, cryptography has concepts such as ‘key’ and ‘algorithm’. But this one does not have any ‘key’ or ‘algorithm’!! πŸ™‚ It just makes use of your inherent cryptographic skills to crack it…

When I am chatting, most from my generation like to type things neatly and properly so that the other person can understand perfectly well! The maximum I put is a ‘OMG’ and the various emojis..in my chats!! πŸ˜‰ (really!!) .I don’t even type a ‘LOL’!! (lol!! :)) Now, my teenage daughter just types away and I have a hard time figuring out what she is typing:

Some of them go like this:

nvm

lol

kk

srsly

nm

ikr

plz

y

hv

gtg

hafta

ttyl

thx

dat

xD

idk

idc

wyd

Conversations might go like this:

“Ma bad…I really gtg”!! πŸ™‚

“Srsly, she said dat?” πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

“KK…”

“idk and idc”!!

“wyd?”

“nvm….xD” πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Now, many from my generation might definitely understand this but I am one among the few who is learning the ropes of this new cryptography! What do you think? Was it easy to understand the above code or did you have tough time cracking the code? πŸ™‚

India, Musings

My Thoughts, My Way!

My new e-book on Amazon is here! πŸ™‚ Do read the book and drop a review…

Here are some reviews for my book:

I enjoyed reading the book majorly due to the thought provoking ideas Which also had me clinched to it throughout. ….

After reading this book, I must say that I have enjoyed reading the author’s thoughts. I got to know about America, why Tamilians have no last names, and that there are more people who can’t decide between an Idly or a Dosa :D. My recommendation for everyone is to dive deep in these thoughts with the author’s creation that is β€œMy Thoughts My Way”

– RightPurchasing(http://www.rightpurchasing.com/my-thoughts-my-way/)

…..this is a personal account of life experiences that the Author has shared with the readers. She had been to the US for fourteen years and gives a first hand account as to how life slowly changes around us and in many places she has compared the life in both the countriesΒ Β 

Her thoughts are very simple yet strike a chord because of the relevance of the topic. For ex topics like the debate between ICSE & CBSE or start ups in India or the bond between mother,daughter, father and son might seem very normal and trivial. Β But I really enjoyed seeing it through the eyes of the Author.Β 

– Chinmayee (https://chinmayeecreations.wordpress.com/2020/06/22/book-review-13-my-thoughts-my-way/)

Looking forward to great reviews!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

college, exams, IIT, India

Ist year at IIT Roorkee

And just like that the first year at IIT Roorkee is over. For those of you who don’t know me might think I am studying at IIT, Roorkee( I wish, I was though πŸ™‚ :)) … but that is not the case, it is my son who is doing his B.Tech at IIT Roorkee!!

It has been quite an amazing ride to be a parent and watch your child compete and clear one of the most toughest competitive exams in India! It was just 1 year back that we heard the news that he had cleared the JEE advanced and we were busy selecting the college after various rounds. We finally locked our college selection at the 3rd round with IIT, Roorkee(though if we had waited for a few more rounds, he might have got into IIT, Delhi which is ranked higher)

IIT, Roorkee:

I have never lived above the latitude of Mumbai in India and the son had never moved anywhere apart from our beautiful southern states in India. We were curious about the new North Indian adventure and how life would treat us/him.

Roorkee is a small and simple town(from my first impression) located about 3 hours from Dehradun. As I have already written in an earlier post, IIT, Roorkee is one of the oldest educational institutions in India. Being an old institution, guarantees that everything is settled and everything is in its place. Professors know how to conduct classes, they know the student mindset very well and most of the things move like clock work. Life as with any undergraduate course work is hectic and students are always kept on their toes.

We initially thought crossing the geographical distance from Bangalore to Roorkee was painful. We didn’t know the correct path to arrive at Roorkee – but who is a better teacher than experience, right? After 2 or 3 times of travelling, we knew the correct flight/train/bus to take from our origin to destination.

Academics:

Now, like I have already said those IIT kids are total “brain boxes”. The sheer intelligence of kids(can I call them “kids” at 18 or 19 years of age? :)) blows you away. If we think we are smart in an IIT, there is always somebody smarter than us!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ The Computer Science kids in IITs are just mind bogglingly brilliant .. there is no doubt there(of course, smart kids doesn’t mean immune to the disasters of life!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

Of course, with that kind of immense competition also comes stress. To handle that kind of stress and increasing number of suicides in IITs, IIT, Roorkee has come up with its own “Wellness center”. The first year in college is always a tough time for kids and parents to adjust. It is the first time that kids are leaving their nest and it is the first time that parents are letting go.

IInd semester:

Just as we were warming up to Roorkee and were happy to see the son getting settled in his second semester, the pandemic struck! 😦 Luckily, the son was home by then- but the question now for colleges in India was how to complete the second semester. Online mode of education was tried but it was difficult to achieve it completely since students in IITs are from remote corners of India where basic power and Internet problems persist.

Even as it looked( and it still does) more and more bleak for colleges in India to reopen due to the pandemic, it was finally decided to wrap up the current semester through various grading means. The semester has finally been completed and first year at IIT, Roorkee for the son is done! πŸ™‚ (it was quite a bummer that it couldn’t be completed in the traditional way, but we have to have to bow down to the pandemic rules, right?)

Some tidbits about IITs:

  1. There are many economically challenged children who make use of the education at IIT and that is always heartening to see
  2. In IIT, Roorkee, all students get a single room from the second year
  3. Some students get a single room in the first year too
  4. Many students have their own YouTube channel which flourishes
  5. Many write technically awesome content on ‘Medium’ and more
  6. And many students do feel the academic pressure in IITs and will get lower scores
  7. And unlike private colleges, we have to clean our room on our own! There are no maids to sweep and dust our room! πŸ™‚

Here’s to looking forward to a better 2020!! πŸ™‚

Note: All these are a mother’s perception alone – a child/students’s perception might be different…

Food, India, Musings

How do you manage?

She was set to cook for the day. As usual, the same thoughts were running through her head. What will she make for breakfast, lunch and dinner today? As with most women and mothers, it was the same perplexing question everyday and it was the same puzzle every morning. If she didn’t have the mind map for the food menu for the upcoming week.. it was a much more exhausting time in the kitchen.

What to cook? What to cook? was the thought that was constantly running through her head again that morning too.

She was amazed by the gazillions of drool worthy Instagram food pics and YouTube videos but could never make one such video or post! She was unfortunately one of the few people, who could never cook with that kind of passion or skill. She was amazed at the whole world’s culinary skills too. Her idea of kitchen was to be in and out of the kitchen ASAP!!

Kitchen shortcuts:

Being in the US for a long time taught her a lot of kitchen hacks. For all the glamour of staying in the US, there was/is no maid and no cook in the US – only machines and kitchen hacks rescued her.

Anything that was a paste or powder was welcomed by her!! :)(call it lazy or taking shortcuts, that is the way she was!! :))

For Tamarind rice – get the powder or paste

For Pasta sauce – get the sauce from store

For all the variety of biriyanis – just use the store bought biriyani powder

For garam masala and other powders – don’t go nuts making them all at home – just use the store bought ones!! πŸ™‚

Ginger garlic paste – just buy from store

Small onions are supposed to add an awesome taste to South Indian dishes. But peeling them and dicing them was another work altogether. Her idea of working with the cumbersome products such as small onions was to avoid them altogether and stick with big onions entirely!! πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ ( and hers was quite an understanding family except for one member whom she had to cajole every now and then!! :))

Now, being from a Tamil family(a state in South India) there was always one magic ingredient that was needed in everyday cooking. Families from South India couldn’t imagine cooking without this lovely ingredient. Most families except for hers used this produce lavishly in their everyday cooking!! πŸ™‚ And most in South India cannot bear to think of any shortcuts with this produce either – it had to be extracted from scratch and used. Chutneys, gravies and almost every dish on the table needed this product.

What was this magical ingredient, you may wonder or some of you may have guessed it as well… but of course, it is the ever trending COCONUT!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

COCONUT:

Families, in South India go through an average of 3-4 coconuts per week and this is just an average…many families may consume more!! Now, coconut breaking and scraping is not very easy for the amateur. With time, one acquires the skill to do it fast and with finesse. It is definitely quite a ritual for most families from Southern states to start the day with breaking and scraping the coconut. It then makes its way into different dishes to create an absolutely magical concoction!! πŸ™‚

Most families cannot even think of a dish without this ingredient. Now, how does the lady in our story manage the star ingredient in her house? πŸ™‚ It is just simple – she avoids it altogether for as long as possible and thinks of innovative ways to manage the kitchen without it!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

She had enough cooking ideas which enabled her to procure the coconut for only one day a week!! (can her Tamilian friends imagine that?!! :)) She had always been asked how she manages without the magical coconut in everyday cooking and she would only respond with a smile…and rattle off her secret recipes without involving coconut πŸ™‚ – all the rice varieties, pasta, noodles, tomato chutney, sambhar and more. Believe me, there are plenty of recipes in the South Indian domain that do not need the humble coconut!! πŸ™‚

So, what do you think? How many coconuts do you need on an average per week? Can you manage without it? Can you give some more kitchen hacks for this lady to reduce her time in the kitchen so that she can write more? πŸ™‚

Β Culnilarly yours πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

college, exams, Musings

2009 – 2019 – A #decade of persistence and perseverance

Whew! A decade went by? I am so glad it got over finally!! Don’t get me wrong – it wasn’t all bad except for the beginning…but good to move along right?

So, what did I accomplish this decade? We moved to India after a long US stint(any move is hard but this was especially hard), I completed my Master’s degree after a long gap in education, I learnt to swim, I started writing, I made tons and tons of new friends, had umpteen number of social gatherings, made numerous remote and warm business relationships, did three mini marathons(more like walkathons!! :)) , ate out like there was no tomorrow πŸ™‚Β  and laughed and laughed…. πŸ™‚ …ALL IN THE PAST DECADE!!

Maybe the thing that really stood out, was trying to complete my Master’s degree with two kids in the past decade…and here goes that story…

Why was it so rough initially?

The initial part of the past decade had nasty surprises in store for me… No, I did not step into motherhood in that decade(I already two young children), nor did I have a new job either….but I had the desire to do something crazy – I wanted a Masters degree !! πŸ™‚ Now, most Indian wives in the US do their Master’s degree just as they arrive in the US… but , I decided to do it when we were planning to move away from the country with 2 small kidsΒ  !! πŸ˜‰ (in 2009)

Note: If you don’t entirely know me or a bit of my personal life, here goes… – I lived in the US for 14 years post marriage and returned to India for good. My US-India stories are chronicled in this ebook…do give it a read..

There were always thoughts as to “Why is she doing her Master’s degree now, after 2 children?” and more, but I don’t think I cared much… πŸ™‚ I needed to do it and I started it right away…

It is not easy to be a stay at home mom and do a degree(or any work from home for that matter) The US course work keeps you on your toes all the time. The assignments were quite mind boggling and very, very different from the Indian style of education. I had to complete “this” assignment by 12 a.m. and I had to complete “that” assignment by 12:00 p.m. and so on… there were tests, quizzes, papers and massive projects to be completed.Β  I enjoyed every bit of it and tried to get an ‘A’ in every subject! πŸ™‚ Those ‘A’s are tough to get… πŸ˜‰ Just a slight slip in one of your assignments, and there…………away went my ‘A’!!

As long as I did one course per semester, things were in control…but once, I did 2 courses per semester – I had to multi-task like a mad mom!! πŸ™‚ ( and with no maid and family help in the US , things do get totally crazy :()

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The good thing about my college was that there were many courses which were entirely online and only for some classes I had to meet in person. I drove in the rain and snow for my classes because I really loved it and learnt so much. This was also the time, I discovered a new passion in the subjects that I studied – Information security!! Now, just as a FYI – Information security was a brand new subject even in the US in 2009 and I lapped it up with full gusto!! πŸ™‚

September 2009:

In the middle of one of my semesters, I had a nasty accident for which I had toΒ  compulsorily have a foot surgery!! 😦 What did that leave me with? I needed to be in a foot cast for close to 4 weeks and even walking was a chore with those crutches – and driving and travelling distances was next to unthinkable…(and no Uber then)

I had already paid for the courses for that semester and if I had to quit, I would lose all my money(close to 3000$!!) and all my work would go waste too…

So, what happened then? I sat the very next day after the surgery in front of the computer(with cast and crutches) and started doing my assignments and trudged along till the end of November by working on my courses online, when the semester ended. I did have complete support that semester from all my Professors and college! (thanks to every one of them!! :))

So, degree over? Nope – not quite… there were other health concerns as well and it was quite an emotional roller coaster ride for close to 9 months after that.When, things start going hay way when you are close to graduating with just four courses to complete, you are completely at your wits end(and I had already put in close to $15,000 for my coursework till then !!)

July 2010:

All well? Yes, almost…. but we returned to India for good in July 2010 and I still had two more subjects to complete to get my Master’s degree!! (luckily, both were online)

So, did I complete it finally? Yes, I did…..Β  finally in March 2011, I completed all the course work and got my degree!! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

As you scroll through the story or skim through it, you might or might not be able to realize that there were many points in my degree where it looked very bleak – if I will be able to complete my degree. After all, the common retort might always be

“Why do you need to complete it now?”

But complete it, I had to…and I do have to thank my better half and all my Professors and most importantly the divine power who enabled me to complete it and realize my dream!! πŸ™‚

Rest of the decade:

For the rest of the decade we dove straight into Indian life after having lived away for 14 years. I learnt to drive in Indian traffic conditions, and learnt to manage a geared vehicle after a long time.

It was also a decade in whichΒ  I tried ethnic Karnataka cuisine (holige, ragi mudde, Maddur vada, Jolada Roti, Mangalore buns and more) They are yummy, I say… πŸ™‚

In addition, I also threw all caution to the wind and tried unconventional things and learnt to swim and did marathons(5K) much later after the surgery.

It was all in all a productive decade with a major lesson – when life just throws you around, you have to be patient and persistent and stand through all the storms to get what you want!

Thanks for getting this far and hearing me out!! πŸ™‚

Have a wonderful day!! πŸ™‚

Jayanthi

This post if a part of ‘DECADE Blog Hop’ #DecadeHop organized by #RRxMM Rashi Roy and Manas Mukul. The event is sponsored by Glo and co-sponsored by Beyond The Box, Wedding Clap, The Colaba Store and Sanity Daily in association with authors Piyusha Vir and Richa S Mukherjee

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IIT, India

IIT myths and realities:

  1. You know the headlines that scream 1.54 crores for an IITian? Well, that is a reality for only a miniscule number of IITians and it is an international offer and definitely not all get it.Β  The average IITians salary range is 11 lakhs per annum which is still 140% higher than other engineering colleges in India…(Source: https://qz.com/india/1329635/grads-of-top-iits-and-iims-earn-over-twice-more-than-their-peers/)
  2. Those IIT kids are brain boxes – that is a reality that can never be a myth! In a school environment there are always kids from different academic calibre – but here there is only one calibre – the best of best! (now, there will be brainy and smart kids elsewhere in other colleges too – but they may not all be together like this)library-438389_1920
  3. Did you know that the IITs offer financial assistance by offering amazing scholarships to the absolutely needy students? This is one way of uplifting India’s needy and enabling them to reach the upper strata of society. If the income of parents is below 1 lakh/year, then the students will be eligible for complete fee waiver!! Yes, you read that right – there is absolutely no fees at all!! πŸ™‚ In addition, if the income of parents is between 1 lakh and 5 lakh/per year, then those students have to pay only 2/3 of the tuition fees. In addition there are many other waivers for SC/ST and PH(physically handicapped) students. Isn’t it amazing to hear about all these fee waivers and the ways to uplift the economically challenged sections of the society? πŸ™‚
  4. Rote learning – India’s hyped system of education in many movies ceases to exist in the IITs(that ceases to exist even after 11th grade) You are constantly bombarded with a lot of assignments and now you have to think, analyze and crack the assignments with a lot of time management!
  5. Competitiveness is extremely high. Nobody is going to be sharing assignments, notes and helping you with all your doubts in all probabilities! πŸ™‚
  6. Many IITs have young faculty who are in their 30s!! (Young India, problem!! :)) For example, in IIT Dharwad, the average faculty age is only 33.9 years!! (Source: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bengaluru/younger-teachers-replace-grey-haired-professors-at-iits-iims/articleshow/70986008.cms) What does this mean for the students? Students and Professors are at par and there is always an influx of fresh and brand new ideas!!
  7. Mental health is always on the forefront and counselors regularly conduct sessions in the IITs if any student needs them.

These are some of the myths and realities after my son’s first semester at IIT…I am sure there will be plenty more for me to blog about in the coming months! πŸ™‚

Note: If you would like to read about our IIT journey and other posts, start with this post followed by these:

IIT – A Mother’s perspective!!

IITs and their branches

The most sought after branch in an IIT/engg college…

Hope you learnt something new from all these posts and have a delightful day!! πŸ™‚

 

Family, India

Career or Children?

” Career or Children?” is the eternal question that stumps moms all the world and the answer is never easy…

Most moms as young girls were always motivated to do well academically in school and college and achieve greater corporate goals. Eventually, school life gets over, college life gets over and many ace everything and a dream career begins….All goes well and with good time, matrimony arrives and then motherhood dawns.

Motherhood:

If a marriage doesn’t change a woman’s life drastically, motherhood will. Understanding parenthood for anybody is no easy task. Many children have a personality that is totally the polar opposite of their parents! While moms and dads fret over how to handle the new addition to their lives, mothers feel more responsibility towards the child ( and the society always emphasizes this) and therein starts the trouble.

The dilemma:

Most women opt for a maternity break that might span a few weeks or months post the arrival of the child in their career. While fathers return back promptly, most mothers struggle with the decision to get back to work full time.

Even after the child is 6 months of age, while some mothers do return back to their jobs, there are many mothers who are still on the fence about whether to return back to work or not. Many mothers areΒ  “worry warriors” – who are never sure whether their child will get the same care that they can give.

Weeks turn into months and sometimes even years pass by and some women are faced with the same dilemma – “Should I get back to work and hope everything falls into place or should I wait for more time till the child is older?” And sometimes, the child crosses their teenage and moms are still pondering the same question!! πŸ™‚

By this time many mothers lose the interest and energy to get back to work full time… 😦 Some mothers even return back to work and again quit because of “mom guilt” or any other misadventures.. 😦

And if there is more one child in the picture, the responsibilities quadrupule. While most women multi-task a variety of responsibilities – it is still a big juggling act to manage work, home,children, parents, in-laws and all family! πŸ™‚ (and if you are in a nuclear family living away from everybody, then the difficulty is to manage everything on your own) In addition to normal household functions, there are also sick children, homework, class tests, exams, projects and even more responsibilities that add everyday.

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Many women quit their high flying careers entirely or change course from their field of study. For example, as a young girl she might be a Computer Science graduate or an MBA – but due to motherhood and home responsibilities – she might become a teacher(so that she can step out with the kids and step back in with the kids) or a writer(can write from home!!) πŸ™‚ Many mothers readΒ  job description with keywords such as “work from home” , “flexible work options”,”remote work” and they are absolutely delighted! πŸ™‚

This is not to say all mothers put their careers on hold when motherhood arrives..many juggle home and full time work very well and hats off to all of them! πŸ™‚

My experience:

Overall, I think if you wait too long to get back to full time work, most lose the energy and the motivation for the corporate grind. So, for women who are very passionate about their careers, it is just good to restart full time work after just a year of being off….(more feasible in India) – anything more than that – the industry is also moving ahead and we also cannot keep up!

In the end, it all works out well with a little crease here and there… πŸ™‚

So, if you like to work – just keep doing it! πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading and have a lovely day! πŸ™‚

 

college, IIT, India

India and startups!

As we moved back to India 9 years ago after a long US stay – there was another thing that caught my eye in the Indian business scene. It was not prevalent in India when I moved abroad in the 90s. It was also a very silent and slow progression which could easily be missed. But if you stay in India for sometime and observe it – you will definitely see theΒ  revolution! It was an amazing revolution that produced new ideas and great businesses!Β  What was it?

It was the ‘startup’ revolution in India…

Dinosaur era:

As one of my fellow bloggers would say, we are all engineers from the “dinosaur” era of coding!! πŸ™‚ We have worked through all the ancient programming languages that you might have not even heard of…. πŸ™‚ (‘C’, ‘Pascal’, ‘Fortran’, ‘Lotus 1-2-3’ and ending with ‘Java’ for me!) All we wanted to do in those days was to land a plum software job that paid well. I think most of us or all of us achieved that dream at one point or other.

With many of us moving abroad, our career dreams were restricted to our visas. Either we could work only for the companies that sponsored our visas(H1) or we were on dependent visas that didn’t give us the eligibility to work.

The thought that we could ‘start’ our own company might have never, ever crossed our minds in the US(at least it didn’t cross our minds) And if it did, we sure had to wait to get our GCs(green cards) or Citizenships along with good financial backup to start our company. This would have definitely got us into our 40s or so…Amongst, the many of my engineering classmates only a few started a company of their own and none of us Computer Science majors did! (sorry, 89BZs of PSG Tech!!)

The current day in India:

Today’s young India is eager to start a company of their own and fly solo as soon as possible! They are not scared of taking the risks that come with entrepreneurship. As I look at the engineering scene in India(from my son’s college) – most take a dive into entrepreneurship right after a few years of corporate experience. This feels so exhilarating and fascinating! Being your own boss and creating a completely new business model which flourishes must be totally exciting and rewarding!

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Did you know?

  1. The median age of young startup founders in India is 31?
  2. After the Startup initiative was announced in 2016, India has seen 23,705 startups?

Here are a few startups:

Many startups have surely touched my life and made it easier… here are some of them:

  1. Swiggy – Food delivery giant ‘Swiggy’ does not own any restaurants but just felicitates interactions between users and restaurants and is a clear winner. It was started only in late 2014 by BITS alumni and IIT Kharagpur alumni.
  2. Practo – Online health portal which was established in 2008 by then 20 year old engineering graduates allows users to make appointments and make online consultations.
  3. Cure.Fit – Health, Fitness and nutrition are all rolled into Cure.Fit which started its operations in 2016
  4. RazorPay – is a Payment processing firm which was founded by IIT Roorkee alumni
  5. FlipKart – the very popular e-commerce firm founded by IIT Delhi alumni in 2007

There are several other successful startups like Ola, FreshMenu, FreshToHome, Paytm, Zomato,Wow!Momo,BigBasket, Myntra, Housejoy and many, many more…

I am sure young India will churn out many,many new companies in the future…and I admire all their families, friends and co-workers to stand by them as they go about creating history!

Cheers to the brave, young entrepreneurs!

 

 

IIT, India

The most sought after branch in an IIT/engg college…

….is after all these years, “Computer Science”!! πŸ™‚ I can hear many of my friends from college, old colleagues, family, friends and others cringe at this thought – but it is true – “Computer Science” or its variants like “Electrical”, “Electronics” still rule the technical world.

I have heard so many people who are already in the Computer Science field(for about 25 years or so) that they might not prefer their children to be in the same field – for varying reasons like long work hours, instant layoffs, stiff competition, extreme stress, total burnout and more. But truth be told, “Computer Science” has in fact grown tremendously in the last 20-30 years giving rise to amazing job opportunities and salaries for many.

Earlier, there were only programming languages(like ‘C’, ‘Pascal’, ‘Fortran’) to be learnt in Computer Science field but now there are several other branches to it. Cyber security, Android programming, Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and many other paths have spawned because of the Internet revolution, smartphone revolution, online shopping and many other necessities of life. The Computer Science field is also guaranteed to grow more giving rise to totally new concepts.

In fact, every branch of engineering needs knowledge of Computer Science and some basic hacks and cracks to master it. The current era demands every professional to be technically savvy.

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Other branches:

The core branches like Mechanical, Civil are not going away anywhere – because one cannot work on a computer with no roof built by a Civil engineer over their head and an automobile to make them mobile!

But many students who do the core branches most likely branch out into Computer Science eventually for better job opportunities. Only a few of them remain in the core branches (like my better half :)) (at least from what I have seen) since they are extremely passionate about it.

Do the non-Computer Science branches offer the same number of job opportunities and salaries as the Computer Science branch?Β  My better half would say “yes” πŸ™‚ but I cannot say for sure.

Though, most people from the non-CS branches get placed well initially, the career mobility might be restricted to a few companies down the line. And if you are extremely specialized, your job opportunities will reduce even further! In such cases, when there are few companies to switch – consider the case, when you are dissatisfied with your current organization –Β  What do you do? You search for companies to move to and you only find a handful of them(!) making it even more frustrating!! Now, this is not going to be case for all non-CS people, but it is just a possibility…

What are your thoughts? Is the rush for Computer Science validated? Or not?

And if you have been in the Computer Science field for quite a while – are you happy? Will you encourage your child to go into the same field? Why or Why not?

Have a lovely day! πŸ™‚

 

 

Technology

Whatsapp groups – boon or bane?

Really, how many groups do you have on your smartphone? 2,5,10, 15, 20? πŸ™‚Β  Can we live without them today? In India we can’t… πŸ™‚ Whatsapp apparently has completed 10 years of its existence – but I have known it only for the past few years or so…

‘Whatsapp’ needs no introduction,Β  but if anybody in the technically connected world still does not know ‘Whatsapp’Β  – it is a free app for sending and receiving messages and videos. We can also form groups for various purposes. Wikipedia describes Whatsapp as ”Β a freeware, cross-platform messaging and Voice over IP service owned by Facebook. It allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media’

Boon:

Quite a while back when we were in the US, communicating with our parents and loved ones in India used to be an expensive exercise – with International rates going all the way to 1$/min(or more!) . We could call only once every 2 weeks and that too the call had to be short and to the point!

Fast forward 20 years later, communication has improved tremendously and we are ever thankful for it. A variety of tools have appeared and have putΒ  our life at ease and we can talk with anyone across the globe without shelling out a fortune. News can be shared instantaneously all over the globe at no cost at all!! Calls to India from USA, calls to USA from India and many other places around the world have become easy -peasy.

Sharing pictures, videos has also become easier and we share plenty with family and friends through Whatsapp in a much more safer way.

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There are amazing number of Whatsapp groups that develop on my phone every few minutes or seconds(yes, I am exaggerating a bit here… πŸ™‚ – but you get the point… there are family groups, friends groups, birthday groups, class groups and more and more…. School groups, college groups , latest friends groups, past friends groups and if you have kids – there are groups for them too!! Being a social person, I love every body in all my groups … πŸ™‚ but….

Bane:

It is quite an irony that we were craving for better communication even 5 years back – and now that we have achieved that… I wonder if allΒ  the communication is worth it? Did all of the groups solve all our communication needs or are we just talking more and more and remaining at the same question in the conversation?

Sometimes, the groups also grow very fast and too many of them sit without any activity on my phone. I compulsorily have had to quit many of them – either due to excessive activity or lack of activity. What do you do to handle the groups and the different conversations with so many people? Do you patiently read all the messages or do you feel overwhelmed and quit it right away?

My wish:

  1. I think like Facebook and other social media platforms, it would be good if the person’s consent is asked before adding a person to a Whatsapp group!
  2. What if each Whatsapp group had a lock? πŸ™‚
  3. What if some of the messages in Whatsapp can be made “unforwardable”? This would definitely reduce the spread of fake news….

Let’s see if any of my wishes gets implemented any day… πŸ™‚

In the mean time,Β what do you feel about the various Whatsapp groups? Do they overwhelm you or do you love them and cannot imagine a life without them? πŸ™‚