26 September 2017

More fun with words!! “nym”s

This time it is about some uncommon but very interesting words that end with “nym”. I am sure, you remember “synonym”, “antonym”, “acronym”, “homonym” and so on from your middle school days. These are a little more esoteric.

See how many of these you know without looking up the internet. Write down the number in the comment section of the post. Then see if you can find the answers to the ones you missed by using Google. If you could not find them – or were particularly lazy, come back to this post for the answers tomorrow.

Remember … each word will end with “nym”.

1. Some places are called by different names by people who live there versus people who do not. For example, most non-Germans will call the country Germans live in as “Germany”. Except Germans who live in Germany usually refer to it as Deutschland. Similarly, India and Bharat. I think Japan and Nippon will be the same way. What are such pair of words called?

2. Continuing with the theme of places, often certain words are derived from names of places. Usually where they originate from e.g. champagne (from district of Champagne in France) or spa (from Spa in Belgium). What are such words called?

3. Remember homonyms? Two words with different spellings but same pronunciations and of course very different meanings. e.g. buy and bye. But what about the opposite? Same spelling but different pronunciations? (and of course different meanings). e.g. “lead” (lead a team) and “lead” (lead in a pencil). What are such words called?

4. Sometimes a word is used not to mean the exact literal meaning of it but of something very closely associated with it. e.g. The “gun” in “a hired gun” is not really referring to the gun itself so much as the person paid to use the gun to kill somebody. Or the “bottle” in “He had one too many bottle last evening” is really referring to the alcohol that was there in the bottle – not the bottle itself. Get it? What are such words called?

5. A word can change its meaning – and often the pronunciation – if its first letter is capitalized. Think “August” and “august” or “turkey” and “Turkey”. What are such words called?

Have fun…

25 September 2017

The human spirit can be amazing…

This morning, I went to spend some time with my patient friends in a hospice center. I had finished with my first friend and then went to the other side of the building to spend some time with another friend. After gently knocking at the door, I entered and found Mr. Ernest (name changed to protect privacy) was laying down in his lounge chair watching TV.

“This is Roy. Do you remember me?”, I asked.
“Of course, I do”, he replied somewhat haltingly.

I am clearly new to this. As it is, walking into a hospice is not exactly for the weak of the heart. And then I have just gotten to know these patients. I am constantly worried and nervous about whether they will understand my accent, how to interact with them and all that.

To break the ice, I asked “Can I start today by getting you something?”
“Sure”, he said.
Getting some confidence back in myself since he was asking for help from me, I asked “What can I get you, Mr. Ernest”.
“A fresh, new body!”

I was cleaning up some stuff on the table as I was having the conversation. I was not sure I heard right or understood what he meant. So, I turned towards him to see what he meant. And that is when I saw the glint in his eyes and the sly smile.

I laughed out so loud that the nurse came in from the corridor to check what the ruckus was all about. He was joking whether I could get him a new body. Turned out the whole morning he had been thinking about the days when he used to play golf in Hawaii and was longing to go out and play golf – just one last time. While the body was not willing (he cannot stand up on his feet), the spirit was undying.

Of course, his joke made the next one hour go by swimmingly.

Driving back from the center, I got lost in my thoughts. I marveled at Mr. Ernest’s ability to not fall in the trap of despondency or self-pity and instead keep up with his good humor and sharp wit.

When I grow up to be as young as him, that is the kind of human spirit I want to have.

23 September 2017

10K race at Vibha Dream Mile

Sharmila had signed up for this run and got me to sign up too. (BTW, she is also the person who got me into running in the first place back in 2005). Anyways, met a lot of friends who had come put in a run/walk and raise money for underprivileged children. One of the rare races where the three of us who used to run together – Amitesh, Samaresh and myself – almost ten years back showed up together again. Unfortunately, Amitesh had to get back to his tennis match after the 5K race. Never got a chance to take a picture with him. Samaresh and I – both put in 10K.

The course was very hilly. Over that distance of 10K, we climbed up about 50 floors according to my Fitbit. My time of around 53 minutes was good enough to get the second place in my age group.

21 September 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Tom Collins

What good would an Old Tom like Hayman’s be if not tried in a Tom Collins? The gin absolutely lived up to its promise. The cocktail itself is very soothing – especially in the warm evenings now in Atlanta.

This is made from gin, fresh lemon juice, fine sugar (I took the easy way of using simple syrup) and soda water. Usually garnished with an orange peel and a cherry.

20 September 2017

Do you want to be a Collector of Experiences along with me?

For a person who gets easily excited by a few Likes and a few Comments on my blog posts, I am certainly overwhelmed by the thousands and thousands of visits, and hundreds of likes and wishes left on Facebook and LinkedIn on my post about stepping down from my current job.

The number one question posted is “What is the next big thing”?

Well, the answer might underwhelm you. Or not surprise you if you have known me for some time. Following a time tested pattern, I am going to take another year off before I look for a job. The purpose, as always, is to recognize that time is the only truly finite resource we have and therefore, I need to optimize how I spend that time the best I can.

And like every previous time, the focus will be on
(*) Do something for myself – like learning new skills, developing new habits etc
(*) Do something for and with my family (both my immediate family and my family in India)
(*) Do something for the friends, people I know and society at large

I keep a long list of items in my bucket list. Following are the ones that I am getting started on immediately or want to get started soon. Would you be interested in joining me?

(*) For myself: I have enrolled in motorbiking classes (and a lot of safety classes). I am going to get myself a motorbike and go for pleasure riding up the mountains, by the lakes, by the ocean line … It is not about the speed but feeling the wind and getting to know nature in a whole different way. I have been inspired by and mentored by some of my really good friends – Magesh, Avi and Danny to name a few.

(*) For my family: Nikita and I are getting into some serious volleyball playing. Sharmila and I have drawn up some initial plans on a few great places we want to see as a family. We are looking into Galapagos, Bali, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Banf, Kenya, Tanzania, New Zealand, Australia …. Hope to knock off at least a few of them… I also want to spend more time with dad and mom in the next one year. Did I mention, my great friend Roger and I once picked a country at random – Mongolia – and decided that we need to visit that country and find out more about their people? Well, this may be the year!

(*) For others: I have already enrolled and started working as a volunteer in a hospice in Atlanta. I now have 6 patients that I spend time with – most are about six months from what is euphemistically called “transition”. They have come to the end of the runway of that only finite resource we have – time. I want to share some of mine with them.

I am also looking at helping out academia and smaller companies if my prior experience can be helpful (not for financial returns though).

So, that is my initial list. As the list progresses, you will see them in my blogs and posts.

Of course, the old ones – mixing drinks, running long runs (maybe one in Antarctica?), meeting strangers, digging up old people from my past, terrible jokes, playing the tabla, writing more (with fountain pens and digitally)…. I hope to continue with them.

So, here are my questions –
A: Do you have any passion that coincides with mine? I would love to partner up with somebody in a few more steps in my life.
B: Do you want to pick up a new passion? Were you waiting for somebody to just give you the push? Let me know. I might get excited about it. I will be there to push you then.
C: Can you think of how you can help me achieve my goals? Know some professor who might be helped by me? Know some company that can use my experience? Know some old person or dying person who can do with me listening to them or talking to them?

I am up for it…

In the past, the year offs were – according to both my family and myself – the best times we have had. Would be great to keep up the trend… As my friend Avi keeps reminding me – Twenty years from now I will be more disappointed by the things that I didn’t do than by the ones you did do.

So that is my plan.

And yes, at some point of time – around this time next year, I will be looking for a job to pay for stuff. I will reach back at you again then….

In the meanwhile, would you like to be a Collector of Experiences with me? (Suzanne had first told me about this phrase). I will leave you with a thought today…

Watching my patient friends at the hospice who know there are a few more days to live, I bet you they wake up every morning with one thought “One less day left”. And yet, that “One less day” is a truthful statement for all of us – every morning. How many of us recognize that and therefore focus on truly what is important to us individually in life – versus let today flow thru like yesterday was and let our priorities and calendar be driven by other people and things?

18 September 2017

She knew what an Alien Brain Hemorrhage is!!

One of the best perks of having a job that requires me to travel (pretty much all my jobs did) and it certainly makes up for all those delayed flights and crazy hotel situations – is getting to meet new people. Different people with different backgrounds, different dreams, different aspirations and most importantly different life stories.

Last week I had finished up my duties as the mixologist at our corporate event when I realized that I was very hungry. A challenge of being a bartender is that you are constantly mixing different drinks and rarely get a chance to grab a drink of water – let alone some food. The other challenge was that I was in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin where everything shuts down after 9PM. Even the room service at the resort we were staying shut down at 9PM.

It was nearly 9:45 PM. Not knowing any better, I hit Google and found a local bar and grill open till 2AM. I was too tired to go there and sit there by myself. So, I grabbed Anand – who was hoping to hit the sack and pushed him to come with me. (with the promise of a glass of beer; he is easy that way 🙂 ).

It was a pretty desolate bar. In fact, Anand and I doubled the population at Lincoln Bar that night. Discounting the bar lady, there was only one other customer. And the bar lady – Rachel – was her name – let us know that the kitchen was closed!! So, the establishment was open only for drinking. Anand, helpfully, let Rachel know about my situation. She went inside and came back with the good news that the frier was still on. So, onion rings, french fries and a couple of gins it was – for dinner. Long time back Jon, watching me have fries and wine for dinner in Burlington, MA had called it “The Dinner of the Champions” 🙂 This one must have topped it.

Once I got some food, I started to make friends with Rachel. What caught my attention was (remember Anand had talked about me mixing drinks earlier in the evening) how much she knew about cocktails. We exchanged quite a few notes. Here is the clincher. She asked me if I knew how to make a Alien Brain Hemorrhage. As luck would have it, I not only know how to make it, it is in fact my signature drink every Halloween. But I have never met anybody else who knew that drink. (Chris, do you remember me making that at the Azul Agave bar?). That was totally fascinating. And if you have ever seen that drink (it is a shot), you will know why that drink is named that way.

Then I got to know Rachel and her personal life story. She has 4 kids. When she told me her eldest one’s age, she must have detected some surprise on my face. “Yep, I married very early”, she said!!

“So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”, I asked her.
“I want to go to college and become a psychiatrist”.

Very encouraged by this, I mentioned to her that I have a daughter who goes to college and there was a time she was thinking of psychology and all that. (She is doing journalism now).

“What words of wisdom would you give my daughter if you met her today?”, I asked.
She thought for about a second and said “Do not get married early. Take your time and understand who you are and what you are looking for in your partner”.
“Okay, I will tell her that,” I assured her. “On the other hand, Natasha is on my FB friends list. You can tell her yourself”.

Eventually, Anand took a picture of us and we left the Abode of the Dinner of the Champions!

Next time I make a Alien Brain Hemorrhage, Rachel, I will toast one for you and wish that you can go back to college and grow up to be a psychiatrist soon!!

18 September 2017

From the bartender’s corner – Gin #20: Hayman’s Old Tom Gin

To refresh our memories, a Old Tom Gin was the middle stage in the evolution of modern day gin (most prevalent style being London Dry gin) from the original forefather of gin – Genever which was typically aged in a barrel. Old Toms, unlike London Dry was marked by their slight sweetness which was added during the distillation process.

While Hayman Distillers in UK was originally founded in 1820, it really came of being in 1863 (the year is marked on the bottle) when the family the runs it still took it over. It is one of the oldest continuously running distilleries in UK. Interestingly, Old Tom Gins had completely died in the 20th century. Towards the beginning of this century, this was revived upon request from many bartenders who were looking to diversify the repertoire of cocktails.

Made from a base of grain, this Old Tom Gin has juniper, almond, orange peels, lemon peels, lavender, ginger, coriander and Licorice roots in it.

Hayman’s Old Tom starts with a flowery (lavender) and citrus (lemon and orange) nose. To the palate, it is clearly sweeter than most gins and the junipers and spice start coming out if you hold it for a few seconds. Has a considerable length – mostly sweet – in the finish.