Monday, April 28, 2008

Our 13th Anniversary

I know she doesn't like the mushy romantic stuff but that doesn't stop me from doing stuff. I spent a good part of the evening trying to make a CD of romantic songs. Talk about pressure! Phew! Anyway, I was rewarded with insane laughter when I played the CD in the car. Insane laughter in short durations I can deal with, but when it crosses the 10 minute mark, one does wonder if it's all worth it. However, I did get grudging approval for the song selection. I'll take what I can get, and what the heck, it's not every day we celebrate our 13th anniversary dammit!

Dinner was out of the world. Blue Ginger at Taj West End is the ultimate destination for Vietnamese food in Bangalore. I highly recommend it. In fact, it's one of the best Vietnames cuisines I've ever had. If you ever go there (and you definitely should), do try out their rice paper rolls and the mango salad. They are to die for! Fantastic ambience, great service and no mosquitos! Rampant overeating happened.

Post dinner, we met up with friends and family at what is becoming our favorite night-time haunt - LakeView. Unfortunately, I couldn't do justice to the mouth watering dessert offerings and had to settle for a mosambi juice. Dang! Life is tough sometimes!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Lightness of Being

Losing weight is not as tough as it sounds. Sure, it needs the usual stuff like discipline, balanced diet and crap like that. But, finally, it’s setting timed goals for yourself and going out and achieving those goals. That’s all there is to it.

January 1, 2008 – One look at the photographs from our Coorg trip made it very evident that I may be a bit on the heavier side. Ok, fine! Not a bit…a lot!! Ok, I’ll give you the numbers – 45 pounds or 20 kg over peak/ideal/healthy physical form.

On Jan 2nd, as reality hit me, I hit the gym with equal vigor. I started off with 15 minutes on the treadmill and 15 minutes on the cross-trainer 6 days a week. A quick bout of weights and strength training also went into this regimen, though not very consistently for the first month.

Feb 1st week, I was down from 92 kg to 88 kg. Whew! Quite happy with that. Not much dieting though, other than no rice on weekdays and a complete stop of sodas and bottled/canned juices. However, the weekends still involved some binging.

In Feb, I scaled things up a notch. 30 minutes on the treadmill, 30 minutes on the cross-trainer and 10 minutes weights. Still the same diet and nothing else changed. Oh, I did start walking up the stairs (7 floors) at work.

End of Feb, I was at 85 kg. A little less loss but still doing well. Regularity continued to be 5-6 days a week. End of March, the scales read 83 kg. Hmm…the drop rate was reducing but that’s how it is after a certain point or else we’d all disappear one day. There were quite a few lapses in the diet though, with a Delhi trip where I ate like there was no tomorrow and even had rice a few weekdays for dinner! Egad!! Bad boy!!

It’s almost the end of April now, and the weight hvers precariously between 80-81 kg. Hope to hit 70 kg by the end of the year. Wish me luck!!

Oh, almost forgot. The goals!! The March wedding in Delhi was the first one. Upcoming ones are – my nephew’s thread ceremony on May 10, my cousin’s wedding on May 25th, the wife’s birthday on August 25th and finally my own birthday in Jan. Just hope I can keep going and get back to the rakishly handsome devil that I never was!

Do roll back in for the year end report which will undoubtedly include an honorable mention of the vital statistics. Hey! there's another goal!

Monday, April 21, 2008


Lucky us! We got free member passes to the first ever IPL match on Friday (April 18) that kicked off in Bangalore! The inauguration was outstanding with Shankar Mahedevan singing, gymnasts, the Redskin Cheerleaders, laser show and high energy music and effects. The game became secondary as the crowd strained to get a glimpse of their favorite stars - Shah Rukh, Shilpa Shetty, Katrina Kaif, Juhi Chawla (my favorite!!).

An interesting end to the festivities when we drove to the Richie Rich in Kumara Park and a friend of a friend of a friend, totally inebriated, fired a shot in the air with his gun, after one of our friends needlessly provoked him asking if he was carrying around a water gun! We got the hell of out of Dodge after that one!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Family Planning

Ok, it's not what you think. Here I expound on how any occasion that calls for miniscule levels of coordination and planning are recipes for disaster in our family.

My niece (and also my cousin by some twist of fate) had her birthday recently. Her brother wanted to organize a surprise for her. The surprise comprised of the rest of the family members lying in wait and ambushing her at the crack of midnight (when she got home) and all of us shouting out in unison ‘Happy Birthday’ or something of that nature.

While chock-full of hilarity and confusion, it’s an understatement to say that things didn’t go according to the carefully laid out plan.

First, my nephew (the brother) was asked by my niece to drop her off at friend’s place for a party around 10:30 p.m. This kind of put a spanner in the works as he had asked another friend of hers to take her out in the evening and bring her back home at midnight where we were all faithfully waiting in anticipation.

Ever ready for contingencies (not!), my nephew adjusted the strategy appropriately so her friend could pick her up from the party, go out and return her home by midnight. Unfortunately, none of us really knew where my niece was or where her friend was. Frantic SMSes did nothing to allay our confusion as we were in the dark as to whether she was:
a) at the party with her other friend
b) at the party with her other friend and the friend who was in cahoots with us
c) with the cahoots friend at some other location

This might seem like funny to some, but believe me, to the great minds of our family poring over the plans with PowerPoint presentations, simulations and attack strategies, this was quite a stressful event.

Thinking on its feet, as our family is famously known for, we decided that we would run up the stairs before she entered and shout out whatever we needed to shout out from upstairs as she walked in. As it happens with most plans of this sort, we really didn’t debrief everyone on the plans. My wife, due to late nights in the last few days, was fast asleep on the sofa curled up with a shawl. A few others were not updated on the latest plan either.

Hark! We hear a car pull up outside the house. The Planning & Execution Commission (P&EC) is immobile. The door bell rings! A mad rush ensues. My cousin’s wife, showing a never before seen nimbleness, is off the blocks and upstairs in about 1.37 seconds flat. My niece tries to open the front door. My nephew stands in her way and attempts to engage her in nonsensical conversation. She glimpses a salwar-clad lady shooting up the stairs at considerable speed. Her suspicion about my nephew’s nocturnal activities is aroused and she uses the light from her cell-phone to peer into the house. The speedy lady’s husband (my cousin) is standing behind my nephew with his held out in a big wave, a big smile and a ‘Hi’ to ensure my nephew’s plans have no possibility of success, however small. In the meantime, my cousin's friend who unfortunately happened to be part of the surprise party is unsure on his line of action. My wife is fast asleep so he closes his eyes too thinking that is the surprise. He also sees the contingent trying to rush up the stairs and is in a conundrum as to which team to follow.

With all this chaos, my nephew gets a message on his cellphone from my niece’s friend indicating that my niece will be home in a couple of minutes. Damn technology! It’s never there when you need it!

The family is not one to let a minor defeat bog us down. We have bounced back. We are already in full battle-mode planning for the next surprise birthday party. To ensure there are no loose ends, we plan to involve the surprisee from the start so we are guaranteed of success…

The Bhadra Project

Most trips you do during vacation have some element of excitement or elevated activity. The Bhadra jungle lodge trip was not one of them.

Our two families (the four of us along with Sri, Shaila and their kids) embarked on what was going to be a thoroughly uneventful but extremely enjoyable road trip. The end of March is typically a reasonable season to be in the Shimoga area, especially in the jungles. We had a hearty breakfast in Kamat (Tumkur) where the main event was when Sri & Shaila’s 2 year old Vedant proceeded to lick the underside of the table we were sitting at; two nice and full coats, just for the record.
We all did a pretty decent job of confusing our 12-seater van’s driver by using the iTrip, iPOD and radio combination. Other than that, our dour driver limited his interactions with us to occasional glares and grunts of disapproval when one of our tightly wound kids misbehaved or when we couldn’t get the van door to shut with a gentle yank.

The drive was quite beautiful with tons of greenery, shrubbery and a multitude of hues and colors alongside the road. We got to Bhadra around 2 p.m. and as my ever efficient wife had given the lodge denizens an inkling of our impending arrival, hot food awaited us. The eats were quite delectable, to say the least.

A jungle safari was going to happen at 4:30 p.m. and with Vaishnavi threatening me with dire consequences if I didn’t go along, I dragged myself off the inviting bed and sluggishly walked down to the safari jeep. Luckily for me, the jeep filleth over and we trudged back, with Shaila and me hoping for a nice nap. However, the Chennai folk in our party would have none of that and we walked down to the water with a promise from the resort people that some one would come down and provide us ‘Water Sports’. Though, this sounds like an Olympic event, what it actually means is that people jump up and down on a huge life boat-like trampoline a short distance from the shore. Luck was definitely with me that day and no one showed up so the motley crew ascended back to the cabins and I quick slunk away to take a nap.

Dinner was another big event with quite a spread of both vegetarian as well as normal food. Desperate to keep the kids occupied, a DVD was brought in as a savior and helped the children stay out of trouble and our hair for a couple of hours.

Post dinner, with all the brats safely asleep, the girls decided to read. Sri and I were quite lost and strived valiantly to imitate crickets. We personally felt that the performance was exemplary but the women, obviously jealous of our newly acquired skills did not see it that way. I must say that the crickets stopped their chirping as a result of the strong show we put up, and there is no doubt that the Bhadra Cricket Association was planning some kind of a revolt against us humans. Things became eerily silent but that didn’t stop us, as we continued chirping away. To be unbiased, we actually sounded like a cross between a duck, a cricket and a frog with some kind of severe affliction of diarrhea.

The elephant camp was up next on our program for day 2. We first watched the bathing of the elephants and were also severely reprimanded by one of the elephant washers for letting our kids get dangerously close to a alpha male tusker who seemed oblivious to our presence.

Bare-back rides on the elephants were next and Shaila had the best time here as she held on to the mahout for dear life and I’m sure he had a few joint aches after the death grip she had on his non-existent love handles.

I had a minor encounter with a 3 month old baby elephant which decided to head-butt me and pushed me a few feet despite my best attempts at holding my ground. Man, these pachyderms are incredibly powerful!

Our elephant adventures over, we returned to our beloved resort, and after some splashing around in the muddy river, as usual were the first ones in the dining area, all ready for lunch. Our feeding frenzy caught the attention of all and sundry as the entire battalion of the resort staff turned up faithfully every time our two families commenced our eating.

As there was no way out of the safari this time, I grudgingly acquiesced to go along for a nap-time conflicting jungle jaunt. Mind you, I have nothing against safaris per se. However, I have a enviably dismal track record. I’ve lived in Africa and been through the forest areas of Bandipur and Mudumalai numerous times and other than an occasional deer, have yet to sight any wildlife worthy of talking about. Readers of my Coorg trip will recall that I was party to a safari in Nagarhole which is not worth mentioning again.

Anyway, this time was no different. The driver and his side-kick tried their best though. We saw a few goats and dogs at first and then we entered the sanctuary. I must say the trip wasn’t too bad as the view during the drive was breath taking and we did see a few peacocks, deer and some Indian bison. Here, Shaila, for no apparent reason started clicking photographs frantically on the return journey and we were rewarded with vague images of trees, grass and a blurred image of what she claimed was a bison.

Back at the resort again, more eating, resting and some more eating. With the kids safely in bed thanks to our nanny, we played a couple of rounds of Hollywood Rummy and it was off to bed. Though we had booked the cabins for three nights, the lack of TV and constantly having to entertain our brood was too much for us and we checked out the next day after a boating trip for the guys and kids, and a re-run of the safari trip for the big girls in our group. They did have better luck and saw wild dogs just after a kill. It just has to be my damn luck!!

A wedding in Chennai

It's been a while since we had a massive wedding on the wife's side of the family. This one was especially important as it was the...