[Warning: Long post. Read at your discretion]
Taste buds: It’s a series of festivals…Halloween and then Diwali…As I said earlier, I’m in the road to breaking my routines. So, made up my mind to prepare 2 new dishes for Diwali this time – K (Kaaju Khathli) & K (Kaara Bhoondhi), it was! Poor me, with my tooth braces tightened, could not relish much of the Bhoondhi. But was grabbing the K sweet every evening as I passed by that small dabba where it resided. For everything I do, there’s either a self motivation or an inspiration from someone I saw – This cooking inspiration was from my friend ‘A’ who has a forte in preparing sweets like Badam Halwa, Kheer etc., For you all to believe that my hands on these two new items turned out well, here’s a picture [2012 'From Raji's kitchen' Copyrights reserved ]
Celebration time: Not only this, we had a Diwali celebration at work place like the ones that we had last year. My responsibilities spanned from ‘Rangoli’ to ‘Diya decoration’ and I did help sometime in serving desi food. After watching all those creative minds decorating diyas, I couldn’t stop my longing to do one. So, grabbed a Diya type that most of them did not pick and created a colorful one, realizing that the diya had only five petals. I thought it had six and started decorating with two different colors. Mine was an average creation. I saw some superb ones, gold plated, plush green ones etc. I’ve placed it in my cubicle now. It was a fun time with friends and colleagues enjoying some music, sports, dress booth, dance, food, ethnic decorations, Henna decorations etc. I couldn’t stay till the end for a group snap (Cha…I missed it this time) since I had to rush to catch my flight to SFO for my face to face MBA classes.
Traveling in trains: Though I did not have any clue of how trains operate in CA or the different public transportation systems (BART, Caltrain, Muni, Light rail), I did enjoy the journeys. I could use that 1 hour 40 mins train travels from Sunnyvale to SFO to review my class notes, do the case studies, talk to family and friends, browse, observe people and surrounding and sometimes munching snacks. I hail the technology of this time – My friends in those trains were the iPhone apps – Caltrain and BART and Google maps [No, I don't have iPhone 5]. I relied on them totally for my walks from train station to the class, getting tickets, checking timings and even sometimes some FAQs. I don’t know even if my other friends would have helped this much as how these apps did. Thanks to Technology!
Class connections: Since I am one among those who comes from a different state to the classes in CA, all my classmates cared to ask where I stay, how I commute, when my flights were. Every breakfast, lunch and snacks time was a time to connect with different people. During one of those lunch time, met one of the prospective student visitor who was asking about the classes, course work etc. I could see a bit of intimidation in her face watching us cramming through the presentations and case study reports even during lunch time.
Memory game ice breakers: Our first class was our final project presentation of the innovative product that we created as a team. All of us had this anxiety syndrome on how we were going to present and tackle through the questions from the other class mates and professor. The professor found our inherent anxiety and started the class with an introduction game where we had to tag our first names with an adjective which starts with the same letter as our first name and then tell about our job and a fun fact about us. The next person has to tell the names of those previously did the process and it continues on. We all had a notebook with all those names. I could have told ‘Relaxed Raji’ but I said ‘Reluctant Raji’ and the whole class now calls me with that name Snakes coming in my dream was a fun fact [Idhu fun fact-a? it should be a nightmare] about me and one of my other Asian class mate detailed that in their custom, if someone gets snakes in their dreams, he/she will get a very good guy in his/her life. I smirked and said ‘I have been waiting so long for one’ and the whole class giggled. The same Asian classmate told that she drives out the snakes in her dreams…I turned back and asked ‘Are you the one who drives away my luck of getting a good guy?’ After the whole game of introductions, we laughed much that the anxiety went away. Each team presented an innovative product prototype that has a potential to be in the market. I don’t want to reveal any of the product ideas here which will hinder our chances of being an Entrepreneur to create such new products. Though all of those products including ours were not mind blowing but each had its own usefulness and uniqueness.
Rocket pitch: Since I had been following the TV series ‘Shark Tank’ and some entrepreneurship forums and articles, I was aware of what a Rocket pitch was. Nevertheless to mention, earlier, I went to my professor who’s also a venture capitalist and said ‘I want to become a VC and what should I do to become one?’ He gave me a ‘bulb’ asking me to find what VC is and why I want to become one? I’m yet to find the answer for that We have to show case our product ideas to a bunch of investors within 3 minutes allocated covering all significant details that will make an Angel investor or a Venture capitalist to invest in the idea. The most important learning was the feedback and questions and insights shared by the other classmates and the Prof, after it was presented. It was a coincidence that I had glimpsed through ‘Steve Jobs’ presentation skills and tips few days before and it helped me to easily traverse through what was discussed. I’m seriously considering some tips to be put into action. There’s one big area of improvement for me, Public Speaking – Planned strategies in place and its going to take some time for me to implement and become successful in it. Some people are very good at it and they inspire me. Inspiration does not help in its entirety, some action needed from my end.
Role plays: This was the most fun part for me. We were put into positions of being CEOs and planning strategies and composing visions and subjected to “If I were the CEO of company X, what would I have done differently?’. After we reported the role play pointers, class discussions happened on analyzing and working through which would work and which wouldn’t. With a mix of different thinking abilities of people, I automatically learn new perspectives which I would have never even thought of. Another time, we were partnered and negotiate for a start-up company that we were about to start as partners. To my knowledge, I played it very well that most of the negotiations fell in my favor. High fives!!! But I failed considerably in the role play of how to give constructive feedback and gain momentum to work with others. My partner said ‘You are too humble and giving up easily. Give me a tough fight so that we can learn from each other’ for which I smiled (not knowing what else should I do).
These freedom of thoughts has brought out my openness in asking how to bring innovation at work place. I could see a change in me - Analyzing the business reports of the company which I never spent much time earlier rather than just reading it. As one ages, memory deteriorates. I try harder to keep up with the memory after I read various case studies and text book articles, but its not coming up easily. Any tips are welcome!
Time with friends: It was a (S)Funday! Spending time with friends, eating loads, watching movies and playing with ‘S’ (my friend’s 4 month old son) – A relaxing day after travel and studies. Flights are not being friendly with me these days. Missed the connecting flight last time (not my fault, airlines’s) and stuck inside the flight for 2.5 hrs due to some servicing yesterday.
Back home now and enjoying my ‘Me’ time – Yeah….it’s the first break time of the course! Time to clear the back log of reading magazines, watching video and movies and connecting with friends.
Deep sense of gratitude to all my friends and family who’s helping me in (m)any ways that they could, to achieve this ‘MBA’ dream of mine possible. With this thanks giving note, wishing ‘Happy Thanks Giving’!
Catching a flight at the right time has become adventurous for me in the recent times. Though I had planned well and arrived earlier as I expected, with a ‘go-green’ paperless motive of not having a print out of the ticket, had a hard time to get the tickets from the kiosk. Had to run here and there trying different kiosks and later realized that there’s a system malfunction that prevented to print the boarding passes at that time. There was a big queue in the ticket counter and I was very much sure that I am going to miss the flight. With some unprecedented frame of luck, got into an extra service counter where I could collect the boarding pass. I could have used my iPhone to check in online and show the boarding pass but at times like this, my mind goes numb and I stay dumb
Got into the flight and was watching Jeff Smisek’s welcome message on the monitors and my business mind sprouted to think about the merger of airlines and how cost effectiveness would play a role there. It left me in a drowsy state and my subconscious mind woke me up for a cup of Orange juice from the air hostess. P came to pick me up from the airport and we spoke about weather, activities one can do in Bay area and around, traffic, universities, work culture, people, list of restaurants etc., Reached S’s house for whose baby shower I went to SFO. Had a nice lunch and spoke to S for some time. Went to R & D’s house from there which was 2 blocks away and chatted for a long time until SG called me to inform that her work was done. Me and N went to pick her from her place and once she came, the talks continued in R & D’s place – After a long time, had tasty Adai Aviyal. The place was exuberant with many friends coming in and the talking went on and on. Met lots of my ex-colleagues and memories got rewinded and refreshed. Small world After that, went to S’s place and started our arrangements and decorations for the next day’s baby shower event. N making rose milk for us at midnight and we cracking jokes for a while - It was total fun that continued till 1 AM.
Next day went in blowing balloons (hard to blow with your mouth as well the pump that you get in party stores), the rose decorations (the roses fell off 17 times out of the 18 times I tried ), helping the young ladies group in wearing sarees (self trumpet – I was considered an expert in wearing saree and compliments came from four corners – was flying high ); getting ready for the function (Paasakara nanbargal – Offered expensive jewels for me to wear). Once we went to the Clubhouse for the function, I felt as if I were in India – full of desi crowd with kids running here and there and I could hear Tamil everywhere. My face lit up with excitement when introduced to people who are from my native place Madurai. 7 types of variety rice, appetizers, sweets – What else do you need for a sumptuous lunch? Then photo sessions started. Me and SG asked P, whom we considered as a professional photographer, to take nice photos of us so that we can put it in Facebook and get more comments and likes – Jus kidding! Was super tired after the function but had plans to go to mall and the respite mood was procrastinated. Did some window shopping and me and SG picked some gift for S. After that, we had cake cutting where P had ordered a customized cake for the parents to be and he was explaining us the design that he ordered is not what he got. But still it was good. Had dinner with all of them and went to S’s place and dozed off while I was talking to SG about some personal stuff.
The day I had to leave went off with working for sometime, walking with S and SG in and around the apartment talking about various things and waving bye(s). Got new friends and the friends circle seem to be expanding with every trip. 3 days went in a jiffy but this trip was fun in its own way. 2 more trips in the planning stages and I feel that this year is marching faster…
- Something that you have to do, pursue, thrive upon – when becomes difficult, it remains as a challenge. And I am into a challenge now On liquid diet for 2 days. When something is deprived of, the yearning towards it grows. Diet regimen is seriously tough!
- What’s with this Eng Vs Ind series? Boring! No thrills – All Whitewash!
- Read the excerpts about Steve Jobs’s take on Microsoft and Google, his talk with former president Bill Clinton, his adamant behavior of not undergoing the surgery and his reasons behind. Missed the 60 minutes with Issacson on Steve Jobs but eagerly waiting for my pre-ordered copy of the biography of Steve Jobs [60 minutes is available online: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7385688n&tag=contentBody;storyMediaBox]
- One other book that I am waiting to read is Chetan Bhagat’s “Revolution 2020″. Although CB’s writing style is very familiar and similar to his earlier creations, I feel that his connection to the readers is very simple and direct. It’s that one quality that makes me read his writings
- Though watching Masterminds is a combination of interest and devotion, I like the post programme discussions with two of my friends who are dedicated audiences of this programme. The principles, the take aways, the humor, the inspiring moments, our own experiences – with all these discussed, a sense of fulfillment clings to my heart
- When the amount of well wishers you have is more, the joy that comes out of something gets multiplied. There could be 2% of people who hates you but that 98% of those people who love you and wish you for betterment shows who you are and what you are
- Watched 2 movies: 100% love – the title is apt for the story. How one transforms from childishness into maturity in love is the storyline. The performances and the movie was good. Watched the new tamil movie Muran. It was altogether a different story and Prasanna has again proved that he fits for a villain character
- It looks like I am getting to know more about parenthood these days as most of my friends are becoming parents
- With Halloween and Diwali coming up, some sort of festival preparations are going around. Badly missing my Diwali dance performances. Unless you try something new, you won’t know what you can become Started practising a rangoli design for the upcoming diwali celebration but came with my own beautiful design. Hope my design satisfies the organizers
- Exploring ios5 features. Epdi irundha naan ipdi aayiten? – Only used phones to attend and make calls earlier and now I talk about ios5 features and apps
- Bodhidharma, martial arts, zen habits, hypnotism – the promo of 7am arivu looks promising and interesting. Hope all the hype around it becomes worthy. Stumbled upon an interesting read about Bodhidharma: http://www.usashaolintemple.org/chanbuddhism-history/
Because of the depleted body and mind, I’m going to give a break to ‘Sundays with Raji’ this week. Have a wonderful week. Safe and happy Diwali!
With Amma and Appa being here with me, I asked them to prepare something different for this New Year. The sweet that I can take to work and give it to my fellow teammates and friends. We call the sweet ‘Nei Urundai’ and it is called as ‘Pasiparuppu Urundai’ in some places as well. I am not a fan of this Urundai but everyone else in my family is.
Life has given good and bad times but calling friends and family on an occasion like this to wish, adds a ‘happy’ flavor.
It’s the first time that I participated in the Colorado Springs Cultural Diversity show. I did not know that there would be a big crowd and a floating crowd of around 5000…Booths, volunteers, performers, kids – it looked like a festival. Car parking was not at all easy although I went with my co-participants in one of their cars. When we entered, there was some African dance that was going on. Then there was a song by a very small girl. Once that got over, it was the Indian community’s turn which started with a classical Bharatanatyam dance by kids. Believe me, although there were performers from different countries, with the outfits and the expressions, the Indian community performance stole the show. After the Bharatanatyam performance, there was a ‘Krishna Jayanthi’ dance by high school kids. They looked charming and so as their dance with the bamboo attempt. Then came our performance for ‘Jai Ho’. It always happens to me that my heart pounds fast till I enter the stage but once I enter, I dont know where I will get the energy and excitement. I did forget one step and did something else but people said it was not noticeable and we were the only ones on the entire show who got 2 rounds of applause This is the first time I put a thilak on my forehead to depict ‘Jai ho’ and I loved it. After our performance, there were lots of other performances but I loved two of them – One is the ballet dance and the Taekwando show by the US group. It was amazing! Overall, I enjoyed performing as well as watching others perform. A good experience!!!
Every year it’s getting different in a way that I celebrate Diwali. This year, I invited few friends to do a kutti pooja on Diwali (when family is not around, friends assist, u know? ) And the result is what the picture says. Few things happened differently without any plan. As I lighted the new cute diyas, I started rendering a devotional song to my surprise, well to everyone’s surprise. Although I did not give those friends a sumptuous feast, I could feel the sense of enlightment in me when I offered the sweets to them. As usual, I prepared Rava ladoo (that’s not different though ) and the traditional Idli/Sambar combo. And greeted family and friends. When I did this, I remembered a college friend of mine who wrote in my autograph ‘Virundhombalna adhu Raji dhaan’ Better late than never – Wish you all a ‘Happy Diwali’!