Not Respecting People With Different Food Habits Makes You More Ancient Than Modern

A couple of days ago, one of my friends posted, on Facebook, her parents’ plight while traveling with Emirates from the US to India. Just as expected – the most common – they encountered an issue in food where the crew ran out of vegetarian food that her parents had pre-booked while purchasing the tickets. It was bad enough that in spite of prebooking their vegetarian meal, they were served lamb biryani and that too quite late after her parents checked multiple times with the crew. What disappointed me all the more was that the crew tried to pass off a chicken curry as vegetarian by replacing the label. I used to hear such a thing about long distance European and American carriers.
Over a period of time, based on my personal experiences and listening to others’ experiences, I’ve been more convinced that while the public, in general and at an individual level, has been quite sensitive to each other’s food habits, when it comes to bringing that sensitivity to corporate level, the same individuals fail. In my experience after working in US and Europe, I’m yet to find a vegetarian friendly cafeteria in any company. Most of them have hardly any vegetarian options and the ones that have, make ridiculously awful food when we talk non-salads (quantity may be economics but quality is intention).
And it’s not just food quality but also the conditions in which they are made raises more questions than the calorie value of the meal. Using the same utensils which were used for meat, not changing gloves and even worst – not wearing gloves, heating both kinds of food in the same oven – makes me think if we’re still in 19th century where people haven’t heard about vegetarian or vegan food habits.
When it comes to airlines, I’ve been lucky so far not to have faced any issue whatsoever. However, now I wonder if I should prepare meals myself while traveling instead of relying on the airline.
Corporates who may not be in the food business directly but have food services as one of the key part of their daily work environment, need to understand that not respecting people with food habits different than theirs make them look more ancient than modern.

Travel

Travel

I and my wife have a very different understanding and purpose of travel. It is very much inspired by the travelers (not tourists) around the world. After reading through so many blogs, watching so many vlogs, I’m glad that we have been able to cultivate this exploratory attitude to travel.
However, sometimes, especially when traveling in groups, we often end up compromising a little.
A couple of months ago, we went to Chicago. Chicago has this iconic tower called the Willis Tower which is a 103 story sky scraper providing an amazing view of the Chicago skyline through a Skydeck that they have developed.
Due to the Skydeck, there is often a huge rush. On weekends, there can be the queue which can take up hours to clear before you can get into an elevator. If you have the City Pass, you are at an advantage since there is a separate and a quicker queue. But still, it’s a good long wait – also because just before the elevator, the normal queue and the city pass queue merges.
As you reach on top, you see scores of people all around. There is one particular section where they have created a glass balcony which supposedly gives you a feeling of what it is like to be in the air as you look at the ground right beneath you. Dozens of people were lined up there to get their snaps (with a standard pose as if they’re falling) which they can upload on Facebook and Instagram. Get more likes and comments, which brushes up their self-esteem. More likes, more self-esteem, and self-worth.
The uniqueness of the entire experience was destroyed by the monotony of the process everybody followed.

  1. Stand in one of the queues and wait for your turn.
  2. At your turn, go to the glass balcony
  3. Take some snaps in about a minute
  4. Leave the balcony to let others behind you do exactly the same.

The entire experience left me with a lesson on the difference between visiting a place and traveling to a place.
So if you’re a tourist, definitely go!! If you’rea traveler, there is a high chance that it would not excite you.

Fights

And we fought (war of words) again!! And after every fight, we learn something new about each other. And this, in spite of numerous occasions when we complete each other’s statements, get a same thought at the very same second and quickly sense something is wrong with the other person. It’s more than 3 years but we still keep discovering something new about each other all the time.

And in this process, what I realized is that what you do after the fight is also very crucial. What are your thoughts in that cooling off period (if you take one)? How do you collect yourself? How do you retrospect and introspect? And above all, what is your priority in a relationship? All of these things determine whether you’ll truly come out of it stronger or hold a grudge against the other person to the eternity. If you hold it, you’ll use it in the next argument.

In India, and perhaps around the world, people see no fight as a sign of happy marriage (pretty much like no divorce as a successful marriage). But is it possible that no fight also means one person is submissive? Which means one person is not being treated or doesn’t consider himself or herself equal? Two people, doesn’t matter the relationship between them, will diverge at some point in time in their thoughts. And strong personalities will be more assertive and convinced about their school of thought unless challenged with the same force.

The conflict per se is not bad. When things are challenged, they get tested for their relevance to time and context. But is the conflict overpowering the mutual respect and ability to see the truth? Because then that’s a problem.

Jibber Jabber

 

So, it’s been more than three months since I’ve posted anything on my blog. No, I’ve written a lot. But almost all of them were movie and restaurant reviews for my other blog, Tripadvisor, Yelp, Zomato and Google Maps. While that does count in writing but the essential blogging piece was missing.

It’s not like nothing occurred to me post-worthy. Plenty of topics crossed my mind but never materialized into a post for various reasons. Sometimes I was just too busy with many things on my plate. Recently we moved to Cincinnati and the initial few days have largely been around finding a house, setting things up and so on. Other times, I did scribble a couple of things but nothing that compelled me or my wife, who generally proofreads it. Every single day went by as an alarm that my blog is awaiting my next thought.

My wife said that it’s perhaps because my writing standard has improved and I’m more picky on what to write since the bar is higher now. It’s either that or it’s a high wall, not the bar, that nothing even slides through it.

And then, yesterday I came across a post of one of my university acquaintance, who is a very good blogger by the way, where she talked about the blogging dry spell. I guess, I’m not the only one. And this is not the first dry spell. I have had multiple in the past but once you’ve been blogging for so long, it’s a little inexplicable.

A lot of times I asked myself if I have become over cautious in what I write or penning (or if I may say typing) down my thoughts? Or is it really that I am becoming picky about the things that I write? Or do I still think it is worth devoting time? Am I still able to balance my other responsibilities, professionally and personally, if I devote time to blogging? And, is it such a big deal as well, if I don’t write for a couple of weeks? Yes, the answer to the last question is totally up to me. I keep a to-do list almost every day that includes even the most insignificant things. And yet, almost every day, I end up with a couple of things, not checked, that spill over to next day and sometimes the cascading effect creates a backlog of a week or more.

And I guess, it reached its breaking point, when I read that post. So, even if it wasn’t meant to be, but for once, let’s just do it. Even if it meant, just doing some jibber jabber.

And yes, after reading this, you’ll realize, it’s not even that when you Google the word “jibber jabber” , just like I did after finishing this entire piece and wondered what does this word “exactly” mean.

House MD

This is the second TV series I have completed (watched all seasons) after Friends. Given that it held up to my interest till the last scene of the last episode of the last season, I must say it’s one of the best, if not the best, TV series I have watched till date.

Central Character:
The plot revolves around the life of a maverick diagnostician, Gregory House, played Hugh Laurie, who has most outrageously wacky ways of reaching to a diagnosis.
People around him often describe him with various adjectives like “an ass”, “self-centered bastard”, “childish”, “egoistic”, “jerk” and more. He often takes audacity to the levels never imagined of and somehow pulls out himself safely every single time (of course, credit to the writers). His perceptions about the world and relationships are annoyingly disturbing and, unfortunately, right as well – often at odds with the hypocrisy the world depicts on a day to day basis. “Everybody lies” is his catch phrase and busting lies is his favorite pastime – be it of patients, peers or team members.
However, in the midst of all this, he has his own struggle with the pain he never wanted for himself but is made to live with. Deep down, the pain has made him what he is. Camouflaging it under the recklessness and avoidance of any kind of relationships is the only way out for him.
There are very few profound characters like him, I have seen till date.

Diagnostics:
I always felt Big Bang Theory is the best TV series ever written in the history of television just because of the technicality involved in the overall scriptwriting process and embedding humor into that. After watching House MD, I feel BBT has some serious competition.
It’s a mammoth task to come out with an almost unsolvable medical mystery that sounds innocuous in the beginning but builds complications incrementally as the time progresses.
The complexity of writing an episode becomes exponential considering that it cannot be completely fictional and has to make some sense to the medical fraternity. I could only imagine the plight of writers. Full marks to the writers for that.

Plot and Sub-Plots: 
One thing which I have found unique about this series is that while the central plot is always a disease to be diagnosed, the sub-plots in each episode focused on little idiosyncrasies humans from all walks of life exhibit. These subplots emerge from the personal life of the patient, house’s team, peers or even the outpatients visiting the clinic in the hospital. I can practically write one blog per episode if I want to.

Other Lead Characters:
Due credit goes to the writers who brought extremely strong character sketches of all the supporting cast – be it of Lisa Edelstein (Cuddy) who plays a no-nonsense, go-getter hospital administrator who knows very well how to manage a “free child” like House or Robert Sean Leonard (Wilson) who plays an altruistic, always there, comforting, righteous and idealistic friend who always try to keep House’s actions in check but fails most of the times and yet, never shies away from taking the fall. Omar Epps (Foreman) is a sincere and ambitious doctor who moves from being a team member to become dean of medicine, yet often clueless in tough situations and messes up more often than not.
The consistency of characterization has been so good that by a couple of seasons, you are often able to predict how a character would react in a particular situation. The other characters like Chase, Cameroon, Thirteen, Taub, Adams, Kutner, CTB, Masters and Park are brilliantly conceptualized as they balance their own life falling apart in the midst of a medical mystery every episode.

Music:
I also loved the creative idea of swooping in a small song at the end of each episode whose lyrics that sums up the entire episode. Some of the music pieces are amazingly well composed and written. You can actually watch them in three parts here – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. In addition, the overall background score is brilliant with genres ranging from blue to rock to jazz.

The brilliance in conceptualization and execution often results in some of the best works created on television or silver screen. House MD maintained that level of consistency throughout eight seasons and full credit to the writers and the director for bringing a closure to it in an absolutely spectacular manner!!

When You Let MS Excel Decide Your Meal

We were having the evening tea and, as we do always, were using our one meal time to decide what we’re going to have in the next.

Somehow, ideas weren’t transforming into decisions as each of them were equally tempting and there wasn’t any way to pick one over the other.

Given the technology at our disposal, we figured:

Step 1: Look at what we have in the pantry

Step 2: Open MS Excel

Step 3: Enumerate a list of “What we can have for dinner?” && “What we want to have dinner?”

Step 4: At the end, type in “=VLOOKUP(RANDBETWEEN(1,10),$A:$B,2,FALSE)”

Step 5: Press Enter.

There’s your answer.

 

Well, a technology dependent life!!

 

Armyman’s House

Last year, on our way from Mumbai to Bangalore, we made a night stop over at Belgaum. We took the opportunity to visit one of my close friend’s parents. While her mother was a home maker, her father served in the military and retired couple of years back to settle in Belgaum, a small city in North Karnataka (close to Maharashtra border).
It was my first visit to a military personnel’s house. However, it didn’t take much time to figure out how their houses are different from an average civilian’s home (and now I know why, for them (may be not all), the society is divided as military and civilians). Every single thing was not just at it’s right place but also placed in the most correct manner.
The living room also had a wall loaded up with all the medals and honors received during the military years along with photos of those proud moments when they were conferred. And as you watch it, you feel the sense of pride for having these countrymen ready to sweat out in Jaisalmer or fight the freezing Siachen to ensure we sleep in peace. You don’t see such walls in a regular house.
As we got ready for the dinner, uncle asked if I would like to have something to drink. For the first second, I wondered why so early? Normally, we have ice tea, juices, colas along with the food. And then I realized where I was. The collection of spirits in that bar cabinet was exquisite, something which I decided to have at least once in my life time (besides Robert De Niro’s wardrobe in The Intern).
Another most noticeable virtue was the commitment to cleanliness which sees no exceptions. Right from ensuring no walking without slippers inside house to placing shoes at the right place and in right position, there were intricate details. For me, that was perhaps the most commanding task for house members, especially when it is more preventive than curative. Maintaining such a large house in an impeccable way is no child’s play. My own perception of me being cleanliness freak went for a toss.
My interaction with uncle was amazing and reminded me of my conversations with my father, on totally different topics though. During his military years, he had spent some time in my home town (Ahmedabad) as well, so it didn’t take much time to find topics for discussion. The dinner was very homely (obviously) and we took some cooking tips from auntie on the North Karnataka cuisine too which we implemented later on.
We didn’t discuss much on the army anecdotes which I would have loved to. But this short visit of perhaps just about 12 hours is something I will cherish for time to come with hope that I get another such chance.