Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On way to Allahabad

We took an impromtu decision to make a road trip to Allahabad on Nov 30th. The distance is approx 200kms from Lucknow and the incentive was to meet my Uncles/ Aunties and their families. My parents were ecsatic as they had been planning to make this trip on their own for quite some time. The road condition was better than I expected ( my parents thought otherwise). We stopped for lunch at Badhoi and dug into sandwiches and some terrible tea. The trip took 5 hrs and we enjoyed every bit of it. As I drove , i observed rural India. Though the markets were full the living conditions were what they were 40 yrs back. The dust , squalor and the hygenie conditions were what they were which was saddening but it felt wonderfull just driving through the places I had once been as a child.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


This is addressed to all of SODE 51 ...

I figured I could not sneak away from India without meeting Colonel.. soo ..I drove seemingly for ever in my quest to reach the USI offices where the colonel was 'holed' up. To my surprise Mona was there too and they immediately sat me down for lunch at the USI and hence missed Mona's paratha's with butter ( rememberances from the SODE days) Colonel looked the same with his characterestic laugh & I quickly informed him that he ought to look more sterner as a CSO to be able to screw the shit out of the OC1's.
I was also able to meet briefly with Pai outside sena bvn canteen ,who did look like an ideal CSO ( huge blue berret & SD/ raybans and just the right amount of grey to suggest seniorty). Inspite of my best efforts to impress Pai he did find me as disorganized as ever as he looked on while i frantically searched in my car for the CSD cards/ wallet and all other things ( including my camera -- hence no pic) that suddenly seemed to have vanished ). I am sure he walked away thinking this is one guy "we" did well to keep away from the army.
Harry , was another one I could reach at Shimla. He informed me that he had not got around to Golf as yet. In view of your possible move to Cal, Harry-- you may want to try the Fort Williams Golf course--I did & I loved it. all you Brig's, once you get to your appointed places of work-- put your noses down and lets see some great results & for the others -- hope you are having fun!! The new year is around the corner -- so happy holidays and best wishes for the new year.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Life @ B-95 Sect C, Mahanagar

The few days I was at Lucknow , I looked fwd to having my morning tea on the front verandah with my parents.
The single copy of Times of India was split between the three of us and my father was ready to provide a background to any news that I was trying to catch up with.
The garden as can be seen from the pic was all green and well trimmed , thanks to the new mali who actually seemed to have a "green" thumb. Immediately after tea I observed that both of them got extremly busy tending to house work and proceeding through a" retired day" in an extremly timely manner.
Incidently , though you find them wearing caps and woollens, the temp is around 15-18 celcius

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Internet Shopping

Anita wanted me to buy some India suits for her on my trip here. She gave me some detailed specs but I was quite unsure of what she needed. Ever tried to complete this type of job successfully. It is a difficult task so I walked into some prospective shops and started clicking the attractive manequins on display. The pics ( 8) with prices were emailed to Anita whom I asked to select. The ones she selected are displayed above. When you see her wearing them -- you will know the effort involved which went into buying them.

My Parents at Lucknow

I met my parents at Lucknow after about 1.5yrs. They looked well but age was sure catching on. It was so nice to see their routine. get up early -- go for morning walks -- tea on the front verandah-- breakfast.. & so on through the day. As expected they queried me on everything and I gave them an update on all that they already knew. I then merged into their routine and even attended two weddings, right on the first evening in Lucknow. The food was delicious and I missed Anita who loves to be around on weddings and all the good Indian food that she craves for in Canada. The kachori's at one wedding were delicious.

Vinod Bhai

One evening Sonia drove us down to Vinod Bhai's place. As is customary with Vinod Bhai , he took a lot of pains in laying out a great spread and preparing a four/ five course meal with the help of his man friday Miraj Xees ( he is not from Greece but from Orissa).
The whole house was spick and span and tastefully done up. Unfortunately uncle ( Vinod's father) had passed away some months earlier and the loss was palpable... Outwardly ,Vinod Bhai seem to bear the loss well but I am sure these were difficult times for him
Anyway , he ensured he stuffed us well and then drove me to the railway station for my trip to Lucknow.

Junnu Bawa

It was great catcing up with Junnu Bawa at AVI in Noida over a bottle of beer. ( Incidently I had been looking fwd to having a full 750ml of Kingfisher beer as against the small ones we have in the west)
Jhunu has'nt changed & thankfully never will. He was full of stories on how life has treated him and filled me up on common friends as well. Tina was off to Chandigarh for a wedding and i was able to speak with her on a cell phone even as her Shatabdi pulled into Chandigarh. They are to move back to their Noida home shortly. I also learned that there is a possibility of his showing up in Canada very soon --( I must learn how to make Bloody Marys)
A pleasant 2 hrs later I saw him being whisked away in an Ikon by a cell phone toting chauffer

Beyond Exclaimation: !!!

While in Noida I met with the group Beyond Exclamations which is an event mgmt company & have as their motto "youth in Action" .They are lead by Priyanka ( Piu) Khanna who happens to be my niece and her two friends who are still in college. They have successfully held two major events and are currently working on their third major assignment scheduled for Dec 01. Piu gave up a vacation to Khazakastan to work on their Dec 01 event. How is that for dedication? It was a pleasure meeting them and seeing their enthusiasm .

Evening of Nov 23: Ash / Shokin & Daph

If there is one man who can get things done in Delhi, it is Ash ( left Pic). I met Ash in his book strewn office opposite some 'biggy' politician's office ( I forget who) -- for me Ash is as big as they get. He quickly brought me up to speed with all that had been happening "behind my back" and after I refused to drink the water he offered , we drove ( I followed Ash's Black Baleno through the chaotic streets of Delhi) to the Army Golf Club to meet with Shokin & Daphne ( right pic) for diner. Shokin had just returned after doing a superb job as a DA in Nepal and handling a nation in crisis. For that (and for twirling snakes on a stick in Orissa ) they have decided to make him a Brig. I am sure he will do a better job as a Gen. Not too sure about Daph though-- she sounded as carefree as she was almost 20 years back-- what will all those COW's ( CO's wives ) think ? & for some reason this trio did not let me have soup for dinner!!!!

Nov 23, 2007: VK , Rakesh & TIL/ TCS folks

I took the opportunity to call on a few good friends at Tata Infotech ( Now merged with TCS). Tata Infotech closed their offices at 5 Sikandra Road and moved to the TCS office at Parliment street sometime in 2005. I called VK & Rakesh ( in pic ) and both sounded very happy to meet with me later that day. Sonia & Piu ( my neices) loaned me their Scorpio ( very brave of them ) for the trip down to Delhi and I ventured onto the left hand lawless streets of Delhi. Driving was not that bad as I had imagined & having driven in India for 20 years earlier. I also met with a bunch of others ex TIL/now TCS folks and shared their grief on parting with Sikandra Rd. Meeting them felt very nice and it was great to catch up on old friends. No matter where I go , I will always have that soft corner for Tata Infotech.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

First Impressions on arrival after almost 4 years

I was curious to see if there had been any changes ....Things were as I had imagined them to be. Nothing seemed to have changed and within minutes I was happy to be back. It felt that I had never been away. There was however a tinge of sadness that why could not there be the same setup here as that we have in the west, but very soon these thoughts were lost and I was actively trying to help the cabbie from "doing a fender bender" and in some cases even more serious collisions. The cabbie was blissfully unaware of my offered support and only scoffed __ " Lagta hai bahut dino ke bad aaye ho". The Atta chowk was a collage of honking cars/ over head wires/ pedestrians/ cars/two wheelers/cattle and their excreta, it was business as usual for all. Standing amidst all this was a lonely cop whose body language conveyed that he had everything under control. I survived the trip and quickly we dove into the refuge of a colony.

My Trip to India- Nov 21- Dec 08

Flight A-188 Toronto- Birmingham- Amritsaaaar...-----New Delhi ( Whew!!!)

As the day arrived to leave Toronto I was brimming with eagerness-- I had been away for 3.5 yrs from India & suddenly I was actually returining to my roots. We ( my mother-in-law & me)boarded the flight and soon realized we were in for an uncomfy time as the seats were really cramped. Some back and forth with the Air India staff saw Mummy slightly more comfortable in the staff seating area. I later realized that had I even attempted to use my rudimentry Punjabi, the task would have been easier. Besides being subject to intolerable 3hrs delays in Birmingham and Amritsar and body cramping in the economy class , we were served dinner at 2am and Breakfast at 12 noon (Toronto time), our bodies took a thorough "bashing" which normally results in what is called as " Jet Lag". When we landed at IGI ( 5 hrs late) I was all set to kiss the tarmac ( like the Pope) not only because of the happiness of seeing India but the sheer joy of deplaning.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

What has coming to Canada meant to me

I think many times what coming to Canada has meant to me/our family -- So on Canada Day, here are some musings/ 12 aspects not necessarily in any order

1. Great open spaces : The country is so vast that invariably one tends to compare India with what we see here. Wide roads ( HW401 has 16 lanes which gets choked during the rush hour)- massive parking spaces with decent distances between each. If one were to drive from Toronto to Montreal ( as we recently did) the continuously rolling green landscape and the vast and serene water bodies can make any one a nature freak --- and the distinct feeling of us being less than a pixel in the whole universe

2. An omnipresent fresh Smell: For want of a better name I call it the maple smell. You enter a condo building and you can smell it or you walk into the office it is likely to be there as well. As time goes by the olfactory lobes get dulled and the smell becomes a part of the environment. I used to wait to inhale this smell as i stepped out of the building every morning for a morning jog. The feeling was heavenly

3. Kids: I think contrary to what everyone says that kids adjust fast-- theirs is a more difficult transition. They live a dual life. The one they have at school and the one that is at home ( which is a continuation of the life we had in India). The value system is "flavoured" if one wants to avoid saying "different" or opposite. Making friends is a combination of how you dress / how you speak and what music you hear. Yes the last one is i guess the most important and this slots you into a position of where you fit into the school. The most glaring difference between boys and girls is the way they dress. The girls wear fitting clothes (which to the Indian eye could have been a few inches longer) and are all prim and proper, the boys on the other hand tend to wear layers of clothes several size larger & before I forget for some inexplicable reason the pants are belted around the knees. There is also a baseball cap worn backwards along with a over sized hoodie.

4. Canadians speak Funny/Differently: Here are some examples of how English is spoken differently here in North America to the way we speak in India

  • Greetings are never a "G'morning/ afternoon/ evening but a very direct " How are ya?"

  • The response to this typically would have been "fine" in India but here it is "good"

  • If you ask some one to "postpone/prepone " a meeting -- they look all baffled. The terminology here is "push out" ( postpone) and "pull up " (prepone)

  • "I" is replaced by a bigger "myself"

  • One never tells people anything "in advance" but "ahead 'o time"

  • "Multi" and "semi" are pronounced as "Mult-I and Sem-I"

5. Punctuality: Being on time is de-rigguer here. Being late and is taken as being rude . If you are late , you call ahead advising people on your arrival schedule. I remember when I was interviewing in the fall of 2004, I was repeatedly told to arrive not more than 10 mins in advance. Timing these trips which sometimes took over two hours via public transit ( bus & subways as i did not own a car then) was no easy task and hence I errored on the side of caution arriving sometimes 30 mins "ahead of time". Invariably i spent those 30 mins in an adjacent mall or on elongated washroom visits. This "small "aspect if imbibed would go a long way to set things right in India

6. Communication: Ever heard a person educated in North America talk. He/ She can talk effortlessly for quite a while without making a single point and yet entertain you all the way through. An average Indian will come across with well documented points , deliver the contents without so much as a hint of a joke or a pun and exit. Though the subject would be high on content but it generally evokes little or no interest. This is a major failing I find with most Indians who are recent immigrants and are in the quest of a job. They fail to convince the interview board that he/she would be interseting to work with.

7. Camping/ Outdoor life:

  • Couples skating / cycling / jogging or just soaking in the sun on the weekends. These poeple "show up" ( another N American phrase) at work looking like red lobsters.

  • A jolly looking guy buying a fishing rod at Wal mart

  • Suv's toeing trailers with boats and bikes hitched on the rear

  • Bustling YMCA/ Racquet club / Community Centers housing all that you would need to keep in shape

  • A librarian who issued all of us a membership for free on the fly when i did not even have a PR card.

All these images are what I encountered when we were here in Apr 2004 for a "recee". To a large extent I knew instantly that this is what i wanted. We have not made it as yet to that many camps or bought a boat but I am convinced that this is the environment that I wish to stay in.

8. Grocery shopping: . In India Anita made a call to the local convenient store or a "thela wala" parked just outside the appt building. I NEVER got involved with grocery shopping there.The goods were delivered directly FREE. Here we make deliberate shopping trips to go to " Food Basics" or "Price Chopper" to buy groceries for the week. Deep freezers are used to stock up and one is able to sample stuff while shopping ( Costco). It has given me a new perspective to how much we eat and now i partake in what I want to eat as against eating what was given to me in India. ( Before I go wrong-- -both are/ were good options)

9. Lawn Mowing/ Yard work: Gone are the days of the Army "working party" who came to do up the lawn or kitchen garden. All work is done by ourself and it can be a very stress relieving activity. People take pride & interset in doing up their lawns and flower beds. Beautiful flowers ( who said Holland had the best Tulips) are seen in every house.

10. Weather: Canada declares a " heat alert " once the mercury crosses 30 degrees in summer. I can hear Indians laugh all the way here in Toronto. I just read that temp in Delhi have hit 48 degrees. Places in Rajasthan ( Barmer & Churu -- I remember from our days in India ) must have hit the 60 deg mark. By giving this part of the world this great climate God has blessed this land in untold ways.

11. Driving: The North American's drive on the right of the road and in lanes. Driving licences are given in a graduated manner ( I know because i failed the test twice) instilling the skills into each driver to keep the roads safe. Traffic signals NEVER fail and if they do they are instantly manned by Police officers till repaired. In India would you worry about driving if your indicators were not working -- I doubt it-- here you would most certainly cause an accident if you ventured the roads without them.

12. Water to Paper: I guess you know what I mean. Also anyone know what a handkerchief is? These North Americans are out to "kill" trees

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Niagara Trip

Who says Mummy cannot walk? We saw her walk more than 1.5kms along the Niagara falls this Saturday & that too under stress of a deadline (1hr) to be able to make it in time for the trip on the "Maid of the Mist". Ant/Aay/Ani took turns in propelling her forward while I took pictures ( I always get the easiest jobs). Some people stared at us as "slave drivers " who must have wondered why we did not cater for a wheelchair for mummy. Little did they know that we made a valiant( but failed) attempt in the morning to procure one.

There was an impromptu debate whether the Niagara falls was a "wonder of the World". We never got around to confirming that but the sheer volume of the water that flows through the falls is a wonder by itself

Mummy did well and though exhausted thoroughly enjoyed herself. At the end of it all she echoed what most visitors have to say-- why has God blessed this country with so much while depriving India of the same??!!
Ant drove us back from Niagara , I think his first on a highway at night while I sat behind and caught up with some work.

Cherry Season

Our two Cherry trees have borne us so much fruit this year that it is hard to keep up either in picking or consuming them . I think we over did the fertilizer last year that big dark red cherries now hang waiting to be picked.

All of us have taken turns in picking till we either got bored / tired of picking but there seems to be no end to it. Bowls of Cherries lie around the kitchen and all of us grab a few every time we pass by-- its a healthy life style

Any one reading -- please drop by -- we would love to share a bowl with you ( Dont let Aayush hear of this invitation-- he plans to eat them all by himself)

Antrix's Admission to the Univ of Waterloo

This post is approx a month late but neverthless due ...

Antrix was able to secure a much coveted seat at the Univ of Waterloo , Dept of Architecture at Cambridge, ON. During the "Open House" the director informed us that Antrix is one of the 72 successfull students out of 1600 applicants , 70 % of whom were girls-- I guess that makes us proud parents and Antrix very happy ( all for the right reasons!!)

The Univ is loacted in the city of Galt ( Reminds me of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand) which looked so peaceful and serene when we drove in the last time that it is hard to imagine that the city is home to a substantial amount of young students -- perhaps they make you work so much that it ensure that the city retains its serenity ( Antrix-- its just a deduction!!)

We were able to find Antrix suitable "digs" located minutes away from the campus. Luckily Antrix was able to meet up with Matin , an Iranian co-student who shares similar musical tastes and we (the parents )prompltly found them adjacent rooms in a house shared by four other Chinese girls ( more reason to be happy..)

School Holidays Begin

Last week the schools closed for the summer after the inevitable climax leading upto the final exams. Aayush studied late into the night ( "IB students have a lot to cover "he tells me ) -- I remember I used to do the same to cover up lost ground in the semester. Its been video games and friends ever since for Aayush, but to be fair to him , Aayush has taken the trouble of clearing out his room of all the academic and other clutter that was accumalated over the school term
Antrix has taken it on himself to be regular at the gym and catch up on his guitaring. He is working part time as well. So every evening we find the car disappear as he takes of either on one of his impulsive trips to Long & Mcquade ( the local guitar shop) or to his work or the YMCA

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Storm in the GTA ( Greater Toronto Area)

Just as we were packing up at work to head home for the weekend , the skies darkened and a severe squall hit the western GTA. Lightening struck our facility at Brampton and we were left without power ( where is the fabled power stability that we always heard of before we came across to Canada... )

Anyway a far more impacting effect was for Pankaj/Shalini/ Neil/Niki who were travelling to India that evening had their flight cancelled to New York. Pankaj, always a man of action decided to ACT in lieu of lamenting the situation. They rented a car and decided to drive to New York to be in time for their flight connection to India. Pankaj drove while Shalini ( a cell phone addict ) connected to info systems around the country checking on the status of the flight they were trying to reach. Their attitude was great , they joked and laughed through the crumy situation which would possibly make them lose a day of the Indian holiday. I believe they did not make it and spent the day site seeing in New York before they caught the same flight the next day.-- Bon Voyage..

Anita makes a Real Estate Sale

This weekend was very lucky. Anita made a SALE for her clients , Mukesh & Sanchita . The property at 547 Galaxy Court, Missisauga was finalised today for a closing on Jul 25.

I guess we will be having dinner out today.. thanks to the new deal. I am so happy for her as she really worked very hard to bring this to a close.

The pic shows her returning immediately after the deal was closed. It took three trips today to clinch it. Who said Realting is easy !!!

Jun 09-10-- Mummy is here

The main attraction this week was the arrival of my Mother-in-law on Fri Jun 08.

The aircraft was 1 hr late and that sent Anita into a frenzy. Rajni was tracking the Air India flt from Delhi and Anita from Toronto. If the CIA/FBI had been tracking the number of hits on the Air India website they would probaly have thought it to be a possible "you know what" . Before I forget -- the late arrival was due to two Indian politicians who could not make it to the airport in time and held up the entire flight. Our country never changes....

Anyway Mummy arrived in good shape. Thanks to all the help from Bina bhabhi & Ajit bhai . Ajit bhai recieved her inside the aircraft ( just shows we are getting to be "some one" in Toronto :)) and brought her out.Her inability to converse in English was responsible to propel her through the customs.. so the next time you need to smuggle in that new iPhone/ some such device-- just follow Mummy's example & say " NO English" . BTW Mummy did manage to smuggle in her bottle of "achar"-- much to the happiness of Aayush & Antariksh-- ( happy mathi eating)

Mummy has taken the jet lag well -- (just a few snores through her TV serials and conversations)and we have been making her walk as much as possible without turning into slave drivers.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Weekend of Jun 02, 2007

Life in Canada is centered around weekends when one can take a breather ( read that as catch up with what you could not do during the week)

This weekend ( Jun 01-03)

There was a major activity scheduled from my work for this weekend. Coordinating that required me to spend a few additioanl hours & eventually managed to reach home around 7pm

Anita went off to do some Realting work ( & forgot her house keys) & Aayush with his dear friend Young to play b'ball.

Antrix and me suddenly realized we were free to go off for Squash at the local YMCA. Antrix wanted to do weights and I did not ( after all I do not want to stop my growth in my formative years) so I opted to go for a swim
The game went well ( Antrix has really come up very well in squash)and just as we were on our way to the weights/ pool respectively-- Anita rang up to say that she was locked out. I sped back to resuce the "maiden" while Antrix opted to do some weights

The evening was spent catching up with my work while Anita did her work. There is another pressure for me currently. I need to deliver a lecture for PMI ( Project Mgmt Institute) to keep my certification current-- they dont pay you but give you points for certification continuity--- smart move eh!!

( The Squash player & the currently blistered Tennis pro)
Aayush & me played some great Tennis at the McKenkie Community center. I am really fortunate that Antrix plays squash & Aayush plays tennis ( both my favourite games) Unfortunately Aayush developed a blister on his right hand which gradually and reluctantly brought the game to a stop .

Tennis was followed by a great b'fast of Sewian sprinled with Dhaniya and Orange juice. After that Aayush headed out to do some "work" - He had a contract to mow a neighbours lawn for 30 bucks. Took him a bit longer than expected but he did it

Anita was out again at 12 noon showing property again. This time to a young Romanian couple. ( The wife is ver good looking she has told me a few times) -- I am hoping I can accompany her to assist in some vauge manner in the future

We watched "Oceans 12" in the evening with the customary Pizza

Aayush's blister and a nagging cold from the day before precluded any Tennis today. I went for a run instead. This was followed by 2 hrs of mowing our own lawn and some weeding. To my horror I discovered that our Cherry tree has got infected with aphids

In the post lunch period we did the customary round of Costco & home depot ( for some inscecticide for the cherry tree

As Sunday draws to a close the normal work stresses start to surface- -I will have to start re checking my emails and priming myself for the week ahead