First Wedding Anniversary

It’s my first wedding anniversary today. It seemed not long before when I lost my bachelorhood… And in a blink of an eye, its past a year. I still remember butterflies in my stomach the day I was getting married. Those are some of the unforgettable moments in my life.

And today is another one. I wanted to have this one special. I knew that I won’t be able to do anything extraordinarily special because of freezing temperature in New Jersey. So I wanted to keep it simple yet special. Something that would be memorable.

We started with lunch at a Mexican restaurant. I compelled Deepa (Ohh! by the way, Deepa is my wife… I forgot to introduce her) to try Mexican. She’s a typical Indian girl… skeptical about whether she would like it or not. We ate Veggie Burrito and Taco De Vegetales Both of us loved it…

We spent the rest of the day shopping and eating and came back home. It was one nice day with no extravagant celebrations, no brouhaha, just facile, comfortable and memorable day!

Long time… huh

Oh boy!!! I just happened to read my personal blog and realized that it has been 796 days since I posted my last blog. Too bad… But I cannot be really blamed for this lazy attitude of mine. For the records, exactly 129 days after I wrote the last post, I met my soulmate. My life underwent a drastic change after that. I was (and am) spending quite less time in front of the PC and have more “personal commitments”.

But as I read my old posts, I realized that it is like reading a diary which was written long back. It feels good!

So on this day, I make a resolution that I will blog atleast 2 posts in a week. Well, I have been never quite good in keeping up my resolutions to blog, but this time I will make sure I will post something. There are far too many things happening in the world for me to not post a single blog.

So… Welcome to Season 2 of Venkat Viswanathan’s Personal Blog!

We Salute…

Mumbai saw the face of HELL in the last week of November 2008. Ten terrorists gave the city a shock of a lifetime. Many innocent tourists and citizens were killed in one of the most barbaric incidents of recent history. But on the positive note, the brave men from Mumbai Police, NSG and the Indian Army saved innumerable number of lives. And in the due course, 16 brave men gave their lives in what can be said as the most selfless act a human can ever do. But the names of these sixteen men should not be lost in history. Lets remember them and the sacrife that they did for their motherland!

Salute

Vande Mataram... Jai Hind!

For the average Mumbaikar…

The terror in Mumbai unfolded after 60 hours of melancholy and intense fightback. It was a war of its own kind. Nothing that India has ever seen before. No Indian city has seen so many National Security Guard commandos putting their act together to get rid of a handful of terrorists and at the same time protect and save the hundreds of hostages inside the hotels. In the end, Mission Black Tornado and Mission Cyclone may have been a success, but has it really succeeded in the real sense? Or have the terrorists succeeded in planting the terror in the minds of the billion citizens of India?

Whatever be the case, for an average Mumbaikar, life hasn’t changed much. The citizens of Mumbai are known for their undying spirits. Be it the floods of 26/7 or the train bombings of 11/7, the spirits remain undeterred. Note the difference between the two incidents mentioned above and these terrorist attacks – in the floods and the bombings, the common man was directly involved. Hundreds of middle-class citizens who form the essence of the life of Mumbai were experiencing the heat of the hour. But this time around, the common man hardly had a physical impact. It was the mental fear and trauma that has created the impact.

For the average Mumbaikar, come Monday and life will be as usual. There will be champs jumping into local trains before it halts in the platform, there will be people running behind buses so that they dont report late at work, there will be people criticizing their bosses in smoking zones, and life will be as usual. Media would cover the attacks till they get their next big BREAKING NEWS. And the Test series between India and England would continue and everyone would forget all the pain and mental trauma that all of us went through once India wins the test series.

Well that’s Mumbai for you. We are shaken by the things that happen around us. But we never break. The terrorists feel that they are planting the fear in our hearts. But little do they realize that by doing this, they are just helping us grow stronger by all these actions.

Fuck the terrorists… Hail India… JAI HIND!!!!

P.S: Sorry for the harsh ending… but it came from the deepest corner in my heart!

Cricket and India

Cricket in India is more than just a sport. Its a religion. Its a way of life. When there is a cricket match, life slows down. You find people stopping outside television showrooms, shops with television sets, and even near a guy holding a radio! I know you might have read this beginning in many many places. Articles, blogs, newspapers, everywhere! But thats how it is in India.

Cricket has a special place in people’s hearts since a long time. I am not sure when it started to be such a status, as since I was a kid, I have seen people even bunk office to watch a cricket match. I think it would have gained momentum with India’s World Cup win in 1983. It brought so much of enthusiasm and passion that is still alive today.

Even during the phase when Mohammad Azharuddin was captain of India, we did not win as many matches as we are doing today. But still the passion was there. Although India would just win a few matches, we would not leave a chance to celebrate the win.

Then came the era when Saurav Ganguly became the captain. A guy with a lot of aggression and attitude. It took Indian cricket to new heights. And the fan following increased by leaps and bounds. The best thing about the fans are when India wins, they will remember the win for ever (like Sachin’s twin-centuries at Sharjah, Yuvraj/Kaif’s herculian effort at Natwest Trophy finals, or Anil Kumble’s 10 wicket haul in Feroz Shah Kotla). And forget losses very easily.

Well… the Indian cricket team may not be the numero uno of the sport, but the fans certainly are!!!

Sony Ericsson C902 v/s Nokia N73 – First Thoughts

This was the first time in my life that I used a phone for over 16 months. I usually change my mobile every 9-12 months. But I used my N73ME for the longest duration. A few reasons why I did that… the main reason being that I was not able to find another phone that was better and of the similar price band as N73. I went to the mobile shop a couple of times, but came out disappointed! The last time I visited, the only prospective phone I found was N82. But I thought it was not worth an upgrade from N73!

Finally when I saw the specs of Sony Ericsson C902 (and C905), it finally hit me – YOU ARE THE CHOSEN ONE! – I uttered these words to C902. A few reasons why I was attracted towards C902:

  • Its 5MP Camera
  • It being a product of the CyberShot series
  • Its price being under 20K (INR)
  • Its looks – sleek and elegant
  • Its 2GB Memory card

So finally I bought it and I must say I am pretty happy with its performance. Although after owning N73, my expectations bar has been raised pretty high, C902 just manages to exceed the bar by a few centimeters, thanks to its 5MP camera and an unexpectedly beautiful Media Player.

The photos are captured in a stunning 2592×1944 pixel resolution. But one thing that disappointed me was its clarity. It would be unfair on any mobile to compare it with a proper digital camera, but one can’t avoid doing that when it’s a 5 mega-pixel cam! As compared to a digicam, its quality is not up to the mark, but by mobile camera standards, its pretty good. Although I  have never owned a 3.2MP cybershot mobile myself, but I expected this 5MP camera to be a LOT better than N73… but I feel it’s nothing extra-ordinary. The increased mega-pixel gives C902 an upper hand over N73!

The media player was something that took me by surprise. As this one being a cybershot series phone, I did not have many expectations with the media player. I heard the FM and it was pretty normal. But soon after I started playing the first MP3, it was simply mind-blowing!

Another thing which I liked in C902 over N73, which is actually a very important thing, is its voice clarity during calls. The sound is very clear and the network strength doesn’t drop that often. With N73 at some points at my home, the call gets unclear. But C902 is giving me crystal clear reception at all points, wherever possible. Now I need to check it in my office lobby, where usually the signal strength was low and voice was unclear. I will update that soon.

On the whole, I am happy with C902. I would say so because I was frustrated by using the same phone for an insanely long time (as per my standards) and I badly needed a change. But if you are not that unhappy with your N73 (or for that reason, any N-series phone), then C902 may not be that wise a change!

The Rains

I love rains. I love the smell of mud. I love getting wet in rains. I love when it pours cats and dogs. Its one season I always wish would never end. Well being born in India, the wish would be a mere dream as we have quota for everything… from reservation for SC/ST to the period when it can rain! As most of the quotas are decided by humans, the quota for rains have been decided by the God Himself!

But at least for a city like Mumbai, even four months in a year is enough. With gutters getting flooded even before it rains a little more than 25 cms! And I would not blame our Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation completely for it. It is because of a collective irresponsibility of we Mumbaikars and those coming from other states (primarily the illiterate ones – that MNS hates) which causes Mumbai to come to a standstill even with a rain that lasts for 5-6 hours.

But this year, I was particularly impressed with one of BMC’s extraordinary efforts… The Mithi River (which looks less like a river and more like a gutter) which was flowing like the Brahmaputra on 26th July 2005, did not even rise till double its normal level. And it took most of the water off J.B.Nagar (in Andheri East) keeping the streets “un-flooded” – if I may say. This is quite remarkable!

But still there are some really dangerous situations that a Mumbaikar has to face when it rains heavily – like open manholes, attitude of the rickshaw walas, reckless driving of BEST buses, delayed local trains, etc etc… But this does not deter an average Mumbaikar from staying away from work! For example, today it was raining like crazy and still my office had almost 80% attendence!

And that’s why I say… RAINS ARE B.E.A.U.TIFUL!!!

Sarkar Raj… WOW!

I was waiting for this movie since the day it was officially announced. I wanted to see it more because after watching Sarkar, the part that impressed me more was its climax – the moment from where Abhishek Bachchan takes over from Amitabh. And Sarkar Raj was all about Abhishek Bachchan leading from the front.

I read the review yesterday on Rediff and Raja Sen had written that the movie was really bad. This confirmed that the movie would be really good as my choice of movies is a total contrast of what Raja Sen has. He had rated movies like Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna and Paheli with 4-stars. And the moment I saw him give 2 stars to Sarkar Raj, I heaved a sigh of relief!

The movie starts with a bang! Abhishek (Shankar Nagare) executing a traitor. Then the first half of the movie is all about how Shankar wants Maharashtra to progress with the power plant project that Aishwarya Rai brings in and his fight with the hardened politicians, a local leader and many others who oppose the project. The first half of the movie is the prequel – Sarkar all over again, with a change that Shankar is taking charge this time.

But the movie takes you with a roller coaster ride after the interval. The series of events that happen and the twists that have been introduced and various points is mind-blowing. I won’t reveal the plot here, but I’m sure that you will simply love the twists in the plot, and when you are out of the theatre, you will be a satisfied moviegoer.

Ramu has come back with a bang. Screenplay was amazing (although there were too much of close-up shots). The story is superb. Acting by most of the actors is par excellence, be it Sayaji Shinde as Deputy CM, or Govind Namdeo as mastermind Hassan Qazi or Dilip Prabhavalkar (Gandhiji in Munnabhai) as Rao Saab… each one of them were astonishing! Tanisha had a small role and hardly got any chance to act. Abhishek carried his role pretty well. But the one person who outshone them all was the genius himself – Amitabh Bachchan. I still feel that the Hindi film industry is yet to get an actor of the class and caliber of Amitabh. He carried the role so well and he was so much into the character that you will never feel that you are seeing Amitabh on screen!

Overall this movie is worth a watch. It has left the same effect on me as Sarkar. I am hearing rumors that Ramu is planning a third part. And he is planning to cast Jaya Bachchan to do the lead role. If this is true… it will be worth a watch!

Rating: 8/10

Seasons

When we were kids, every season meant something. Something that would be interesting . Starting with summers – summers would mean vacation time. Time to chill out, time to go to our native place, time to play cricket with friends all day long, time when mom does not ask you to study. Summers were fun time. Who cared about the scorching sun? Who cared about the sweaty afternoons? Who cared about the tanning of the skin? It was just time to freak-out and enjoy.

As May got over, it was a kind of mixed mood. One the sad part, it was time to go back to school, time to study again, time to get everything back on schedule. On the fun part, it was a chance to get wet in rains. It was time to meet new friends in school. It was time for new exciting lessons to learn.

As time passes by, rains come to an end. August marks the arrival of the festive season in India. In Mumbai, it starts with Independence Day on 15th August. Followed by Ganesh Chaturthi, which is ten day function. For us, it was visiting various Ganesh pandals and standing in the serpentine queue to watch the shows on current affairs, mythology, etc. On the eleventh day, it is Ganesh Visarjan – when you stand on the road and see all kinds of Ganesh idols going towards the beach for immersion.

As Ganesh festival gets over, within a few days it was time for Navratri. It was time for dandiya, garba, and Ambe Ma aartis. But the bad thing was that it usually clashed with our exam dates and we had to sneak out time to attend the various functions of Navratri. After Navratri, it was time for another vacation time – Diwali vacation. It also meant time for crackers, new dress, lots of sweets and meeting relatives. As winters progressed, it was time for Christmas celebration time in school. It comprised of the annual day, sports day and Christmas vacation!!!

Once the winters get over, it’s the time for the big one, the last big fight – the final exams. Although till tenth standard, the portion was only half of the book, and it was equivalent to the semester exams, still we used to get butterflies the stomach when it came to final exams. It required intense preparation and lots of studying. And after all the struggle, as the final exams also get over, it’s time for summer vacation again! And as seasons go in cycles, our life also does the same!

Arranged Marriage

This is a system that is still prevalent in India. According to a survey, even today almost 90% of the marriages are arranged. I know that the first thing that may come to your mind is that how come 90% when you know that half of your friends have done love marriage. Well, India has a huge population that stays in rural areas. To do a love marriage in rural areas is still a taboo. There people don’t have an option. Just to please the society and their parents, they go ahead with arranged marriages.

The system seems to be very funny and too unrealistic to work. But somehow it seems to be working in India for thousands of years. This is the Step 1 of arranged marriage. In this system, when the parents feel that their son or daughter is of the age of getting married (this age is highly variable), they get their horoscope/kundli out in the market. Here the market is a place which actually does not exist but it is managed by a few oldies (generally!). There are people who match these horoscopes based on planet positions and give their verdict if the horoscopes will match or not. If I am not wrong, I think there are a maximum of 10 matches that can happen and if the score is 7/10, then the rishta is good to go! But……….. But does this guy who has matched the horoscopes give a guarantee that the marriage will last? Can he give an assurance in writing that his planetary calculations are absolutely perfect? No… but still we Indians believe in it and go ahead with it!

Over to the next step! Step 2 – Ladki Dekho: Once the horoscopes match, generally the bride’s family contacts the groom’s family and sets up a meeting. Sometimes it happens the other way round too… And then it is the d-day when the boy and the girl meet for the first time. Two strangers – they meet in the presence of their parents/elders and then they decide to get married and stay together ever after! Again a funny situation, but it works! If the boy and girl like each other, then their respective families perform a background check of the bride/groom to verify if the guy/girl is good, cultured, etc. If they pass this test, then the story proceeds to Step 3. Otherwise back to Step 1 😉

Step 3: Engagement: In olden days (I mean till around a decade back) this function was done in the presence of close family and friends. It would be just a ring exchange and an official announcement of the marriage. This step would ensure that the boy and girl’s relationship status in Orkut would change from single to committed. But now-a-days, engagements are being conducted in a grand fashion with lots of guests and at a scale that is almost half as marriage. In our Tamil Brahmin culture, this activity is completely groom’s family’s responsibility and they would be in-charge for everything.

Once we cross step 3, then in the olden days it would be the testing time for the bride and groom. They would feel like the cat that is tied with a rope and milk is kept at a distance where it can see the milk but cannot drink it. They would desperately wait for the marriage to happen so that they could start their family life. But as times change, customs also change. These days, this period between engagement and marriage is being utilized by the couple to understand each other. They try to build the relationship before actually getting into the big commitment. This helps in two ways – to understand the other person’s tastes, likes, dislikes, attitude, etc. And at the same time if they feel that the relationship won’t work, then they always have an option to part ways. And it is not very late at this stage!

If everything goes well, then we proceed to the last and most important step – Marriage. Here it is a grand celebration. It’s time for all the family members to get together. It’s time to forget differences and unite with good mood. It’s time for lots of sweets, lots of food and lots of fun. Generally everyone is in a very happy mood during this step. At times the bride’s father may look a bit nervous, a bit worried, or a bit sad. But that’s natural. No one can stop that! Apart from that, it is one function that at least the bride and the groom would like to remember for the rest of their lives. The marriage happens in the traditional way. And then after the marriage, its bidaai time! The girl leaves her maiden home and goes to her sasuraal permanently!

What happens from here is the same for arranged as well as love marriage. I believe that to hold a relationship, what is more important is the give-and-take attitude between husband and wife. It’s the mutual understanding that makes relationships last forever (like Batman Forever!) and not kundlis and jyotishs!

P.S: I am still unmarried. So some information may be inaccurate or inappropriate. But anyway this is my blog and I write what I feel is right 😉

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