Saturday, June 29, 2013


Meetups can be predictable, and also, totally unpredictable and unexpected.  In the Bay Area, we meet people consistently without a planned agenda.  Sometimes, we go to a restaurant and it just doesn't feel right, "How come we haven't met anyone today? What's wrong?"

We have really had strange encounters.

I had gone to the nearest Indian restaurant with my colleague.  Nowadays, I don't even act surprised when I see someone I know.  It's become a part of life.  I just greet and move on.

Anyway, we both picked our stuff and were having our food at the table.  Suddenly, I see someone walk up front, order his food and walk back to his table.  I immediately told my colleague, "I think I know him.  He resembles a guy who was in Boston, but what is he doing here? I don't even know whether it's the same guy."

My colleague told me to go talk to him if I was so confused.  

I figured I would rather go talk to him, than wonder the rest of the day whether I should have talked to him or not.  After all, if he wasn't the guy who I thought him to be, it's not like he was going to throw the plate of food and abuse me or something.  I mean what's the worst that could happen, right?

So, I went up to him, sat in front of him, and said "Hello".

It was the same person who I thought he was.

"Ennada, Praveen!", he said.  "Great to see you.  How are you doing?"

"Good, good"

 "I knew you were in the bay area, because I saw your post about India Cash and Carry, Sunnyvale.  I told Nithya that you should be somewhere around here.  I moved to the bay area a few months ago."

And, obviously, with the kids, they had to be in Cupertino (school, education, you see).

That was coincidental to the highest degree.

Anyway, last week we had my friend's parents visiting us.  They told us they had been to Muir Woods.

Mami said, "There are so many Indians here.  You know what happened? I met my school class mate in Muir Woods."

"We were talking about the area we had lived in Madras, and suddenly, after some time, we realized we were class mates", she continued.

My wife and I burst out laughing.  "In Bay Area, you always meet someone you know."

Saturday, June 08, 2013

The food challenge

From Wikipedia, an oxymoron is a figure of speech that combines contradictory terms.  I don't need a Wikipedia to get this basic information.  I learnt this in my primary school.  But, life throws many such explanations on a day to day basis and still sometimes, you make the same mistakes again and again.

My wife and I are foodies.  My wife always complains that I eat and she puts on calories.  Yeah, yeah, yeah! I watch my weight.  And, definitely, that's not my problem.  But, when it's not your problem, and it's her problem, it means there is a problem.  No question about that.

Sample the many such scenarios on a day to day basis.

We go to Sprouts (it's an awesome place in Sunnyvale).  You get all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables.  And, you also have a section where you have the best chocolates, nuggets, almond coated dark chocolates, walnut coated chocolates, and a wide variety of stuffed chocolates with whatever nuts and resins you know.  It's like paradise.  I generally hate grocery shopping, but love going to Sprouts.  So, I go to the chocolates section, stuff different kinds of chocolate coated nuts in different bags and move on to the next section.  There, I see Wasabi beans, groundnuts, corn and other stuff that if you eat, would increase your cholesterol.    Again, I put them all in separate bags.  And then, I go to the confectionaries.  Biscuits, cookies and pies find their way into the shopping cart.

Till now, life is awesome.  Everything's good.

My wife, who is shopping for vegetables and groceries in other aisles, walks towards me and sees the shopping cart filled with all the dangerous stuff.

"Praveen, please, we are not going to take all this."

"You don't eat.  I want to try them at least."

"Once you buy, you never eat these items.  Ultimately, I am the one who is going to consume all this."

"No, no.  I will definitely eat.  Don't worry."

A week passes after these items find their way into the snack cabinet at home.

"Where are the chocolates? Can you pass me the almond coated dark chocolate?" I say in all earnestness.

"It got over two days ago.  I have been begging you to eat.  You never listened to me."

Begging? Really? I wonder.

"Okay, get me any chocolate."

"The chocolates are over.  You can eat the pumpkin pie if you want.  I didn't like it so much anyway."

I make a fuss about how I am obsessed with chocolates, and I just don't get to eat anything at home.

This is where things take a turn for the worse.

"I told you not to buy those chocolates.  See what's happening.  You don't eat the chocolates.  I end up eating them and not able to keep a count of my calories.  It's all your fault."

Wow! In the first place, I have not eaten anything.  And, above that, I have to put up with the tornado of scoldings.  It's really really hard being a husband.

Anyway, somehow, we make peace.  I apologize for my fault.  The point is I don't even know that I am at fault.  I apologize to myself for apologizing to her.

It's a different day.

We go to the Indian store.  We buy a packet of ready to eat Bhel Puri mix from Haldirams.  If you haven't tried that, I can tell you it's awesome.  I don't have to fear buying this item, since I am officially in charge of making Bhel Puri at home.

Bhel Puri slot falls on a Saturday or Sunday evening when both of us are sitting on the couch watching something on Netflix.

"Okay, let me go make some Bhel Puri", I say.  "Do you want to eat some?", I ask with sincerity oozing out.

"No, no.  I am fine.  Don't bother.  Just finish making the Bhel fast and let's continue watching the series."

I cut the onions, tomatoes, green chillies, ginger and some cucumbers in a finely chopped manner.  When I say finely chopped manner, I actually mean it.  It's that fine.  I mix everything in a bowl.  I mix the contents from the packet as well, and transfer the Bhel from the bowl to the plate.

I bring the plate and sit next to my wife.

"XBox  Play", I shout out aloud and all set to continue with Arrested Development.

Suddenly, I can find my wife nudging me.

"I too will have one spoon of the Behl."

"What?" I shriek out.

"Why are you shrieking as though I have killed you? I am just asking for one table spoon of what you have made."

"I just asked you fifteen minutes ago.  If you had said yes, I would have made a whole plate for you."

Then follows a series of back and forth comments.  It ultimately ends with

"After all, it's just Bhel."

It's hard to part with something when you have made up your mind that you are going to eat the complete quantity.  No point explaining this to her.

"Okay, eat whatever you want.  I am sorry."

There it goes again.

"Don't repeat this.  It's after all Bhel."

I nod and once again, apologize to her and to myself.

I wonder when I'm going to unravel the mysteries of life.