Category Archives: Random

       On USA and India: Part 1

   I will soon complete five months of living in the US, and I have a few things to share. In a way a lot of us Indians growing up in big cities have already tasted the Western culture vicariously – what through our following of the TV Shows, Hollywood movies, American Foods, celebrities, books etc. It should not have been such a big leap living in the US. Well it was for me. Primarily because I have never lived away from home (most people I know have had this experience). I would also soon find that in the US you do your own things. No cook to help you with the food, no maid to clean your house, no one to do your laundry and no one to wash your dishes. No, in US you do everything on your own. An American lady uber driver once told me,” I wish I was in India. They say I would live like a queen there.” The irony of being a developing country was not lost on me.*

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Me after landing in USA

Oddly the one area I thought I would find it really easy here namely – food is where I am having a rough time adapting. In India if you would ask me what my favorite cuisine is I would jump and say Italian. The pastas, the pizzas…yummy, yummy. That along with American burgers etc. which I was sure to find at every other street and I knew it would be a blast. I thought it would be easy. I thought wrong. Turns out my craving for Indian food is beyond! (When did that happen?). It seems I would soon get bored of sandwiches and pizzas and burgers. I thought it was so cliché when people said they miss mom’s food when they are away. Well it ain’t no cliche, it is the ultimate truth of life.

It is an interesting journey. It is apparent that the people of US are pretty well mannered, social and generally amiable. I found that almost every American is highly emotionally intelligent (and increasingly I think that this is generally enough in life to get by).

Another aspect of USA that is really enjoyable is the weather. The US weather is so kaleidoscopic and vast in its scope and range. And fall, fall is amazing. There are a lot of trees here and lots of trails you can walk in. Between different cities there is a lot of green life so to speak. A refreshing change.

So those are some of my thoughts on USA (so far). Well, what do Americans think about India? The views are all over the place: ‘All Indians smoke hash’ ; ‘ Urdu is the commonly spoken language’ ;  ‘Most Indians are Muslims’ ; ‘ Half the Indians are poor’; ‘India is a mystical place.’ Now while most people have a positive outlook on India some of the opinions are simply factually incorrect (Ex: India is one of the peaceful nations in the Middle-East). Clearly the common perception about India is as diverse as India itself. It seems however there was unanimity about three things:

  1. Yoga is from India and it is amazing.
  2. Indian food is spicy
  3. Indian marriages are arranged.

The first one I am proud of. The second one is a given. The third one…well. It was thrown at me by another uber driver**. The question was how can you marry someone you don’t know? I jumped to give my opinions on that matter. I said, now hold on, it’s not like that. But wait! Why was I defending a concept I did not believe in myself? It seems I found myself on the back foot often, defending notions about India. Indeed however, how much about India do I know myself? My knowledge comes from living in a big city and it is not very reflective of the humongous piece of land that is India. Often I showoff what a unique nation India is, each state having its own language and culture. The listeners are shocked. They say that is like different countries. Indeed that is why when I am asked to summarize India I find it difficult. These are things that make India unique. These are things that make India beautiful.

(to be continued)

*Of course It would hit me much later that perhaps for these reasons i.e., having people who do things for you is what contributes to India still being a ‘developing’ country.

**They are my unexpected source of interesting discussions.

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Tech Overkill and the Ensuing Paradox

 

   It’s been a while!

   Some once said a lot of the modern technology kills the romance out of many things. He could not be more right. Stargazers once fished their telescopes to the skies and skimmed constantly to spot rare events like the death of a star. It was a time-consuming process but an enjoyable one. But now this can also been done automatically by computers! Our generation is an interesting one, we have witnessed many technologies from their inception to a point now where they have invaded every sphere of our life.

   It must have been in fifth grade when I got a computer to play games. In my seventh I was introduced to the marvelous world called the internet via a 56Kb* Modem…56Kb! What it mean was that my maximum download speed was a lowly 2Kb/sec. Never mind the long 2 minutes it took to actually get started. Never mind the droning siren like noise the modem made while it was getting connected. Never mind the frequent disconnection issues. Still back then it was all magic. I remember that at night the internet speed would be faster. My brother and I tried to make the most of this. We would leave an anime episode for download at night and then hopefully by morning it would be done. This was an 8Mb episode, mind you. But alas it was not so simple. The internet disconnected frequently. So to get past this we would get up every 2-3 hours at night and go check if the episode was still downloading. And we would be excited when it was done. The size of the video was a mere thumbnail and the quality was not altogether great but you know what? We had a blast! That 8Mb episode is a far more fond memory than even the 1 Gb blu-ray rip of today. Nowadays the video quality is blu-ray/HD and you can download a GB of data in under 5 minutes. Nowadays u can also find almost any movie you ever wanted. But being spoilt for choice is not necessarily a good thing.

   The apple analogy comes to mind. If you had just one apple you would eat it, savor it, relish each bite. But now if you are given a basket full of apples and told to finish them suddenly each apple seems far less tasty and it becomes like a chore now. That is the way I feel when I see the choices for Movies/TV Shows/Songs/Clothes/Books and almost everything we have today. That is the way so much of tech is today. Automated, uber fast and far too reaching. Clothes are increasingly being bought online. Whatever happened to the actual shopping experience? Even groceries are now being delivered home…it’s downright crazy! (And ironic that a lazy guy who would not do much of these things anyway has to point it out). Try out and return clothes. Basically don’t step out of the house! I think this one beat everything – The Flying Barber – the barber comes home to cut your hair.

   Travel is set to go to digital through augmented reality in the next decade. That day ain’t far where you wear 3D headgear and you can be teleported to Paris (not literally). That’s right…just remove all the romance. This then is the paradox of the world now. Tech is helping all of us, no doubt. I am not questioning that, just making an observation. However the technology overkill is actually making many experiences less exciting; this in-spite of the fact that it is providing us with so many many many more experiences than earlier. Abundance of options within seconds is not really making (some of) us feel overjoyed. It is making us indolent, further from reality, confused and less satisfied.

 

 

 

*To the uninformed 1 Kb stands for 1 Kilo-Byte. 1 Mb a Megabyte i.e is 1000 KB. One Gb is a Giga-byte i.e 1000 Mb