16 December 2018

Guess who is glad to be back?

“On American soil”, as she put it. Except that there has been not much of American soil yet. Back in the air again for the last segment to Atlanta together. Can’t wait to see everybody’s reaction at the family reunion.

Especially Jay Jay! He will have that “Wait, Wait! How come nobody told me?” look around him and will be running up and down the living area to impress everybody.

15 December 2018

Sssssh!!! Don’t spill the beans!

The two Delta flights took off almost at the same time. DL421 was pulling out of its gate in Accra airport and slightly delayed DL2017 was already screaming down Runway 8R-26L in Atlanta airport. Two Roy family members were headed towards the same destination – JFK New York. Except Natasha had no idea.

I had been waiting for this day for five long months. I had been waiting for her to come back from Ghana safely. For a person who has only stereotypical knowledge of Africa, it was a hard thing to get used to when she declared that she would spend a semester in Ghana, Africa. However, there was a part that knew that she had to do what she needed to do and experience the real world out there all by herself.

The distance and lack of knowledge brought in a sense of helplessness too. This is not like New York that if she fell ill, we could jump on to a plane and be beside her. Just to get a visa to West African countries is a five week process that starts with yellow fever vaccination.

Still, we had thought that either Sharmila or I will visit her once during the semester. Well, unfortunately, days after Natasha left, we lost our father in law. Sharmila had to make two trips to India. And that put paid to any chance of going to visit Natasha.

There were no direct phone calls for five months. Internet was very spotty for her. Those frequently-interrupted voip calls were our only way of hearing her voice. The text messaging was the life line.

Thru the pictures she had sent us, we got to know a lot about Ghana. Their people, their food, their lifestyle, their value system and so much more. But the best part of everything – and the one I feel very proud about – is that Natasha, outside of her studies devoted a lot of her hours helping out orphans and developmentally challenged kids in Accra. In fact, she got herself associated with a school there and spent 2-3 days every week. Getting to see the pictures of the kids around her was incredibly satisfying.

Courses and subject knowledge can be taught over time. Compassion and empathy are difficult to teach.

So, here I am – sitting at a hotel bar next to the JFK airport. A few hours of sleep later, I will have to show up at the airport at 5 AM and see what her face looks like when she sees me!!

If everything goes smoothly and she can stay awake, I have a lot of questions for her about Ghana. On second thoughts, I think I will ask her to sleep in the plane after a 12-hour overnight flight already. I just want to sit next to her for some time after all these months.

9 December 2018

From the bartender’s corner – Green Thumb

Opened a bottle of Don Amada Mezcal and tried this cocktail from their website. This has the Mezcal Rustico from them, green Chartreuse and simple syrup. (The original recipe by Polina Kharmas called for demerara syrup which is similar to simple syrup except it is made from something similar to brown sugar.

Liked the strong effect of chartreuse on the smoky mezcal.

8 December 2018

5K run in a gloomy day!

Running in continuous rains with temperatures in the 30s F? That felt idiotic.

Realizing that I had not brought my gloves and had no head gear but the baseball cap? That was beyond idiotic.

Realizing that people were staring at me from their cars at the traffic lights wondering what kind of idiot would run in this weather? Now, that inexplicably, felt very good!!

So, does that make me a real idiot or merely an aspiring one?

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2 December 2018

The sun came out!!!

Predictably, so did the motorbikers! Four of us – Avi, Rakesh, John and yours truly rode to Norcross for a lunch at the Iron Horse Tavern. While in my old stomping grounds, of course, I had to meet my old buddies Tim and Nanette too! We missed you Marte!

Category: Biking | LEAVE A COMMENT
29 November 2018

What you will not find in the manual

After a considerable number of years of running the risk of being called an Amish, I finally gave in and bought an Apple Watch. I am not entirely sure why.

I was in the store to buy an iPad for Sharmila and a laptop for Nikita. But I came back with an Apple Watch. For the curious, I did buy their stuff too – even I am aware how to keep peace at home. That awareness, admittedly, has grown over an intense period of trial-and-error, if you know what I mean.

Coming back to the watch, in the last few days, my life has dramatically changed. The most noticeable change is what happens to me when I receive a call on my iPhone. It used to be that every call would be followed by me screaming around “Where are my Airpods? WHERE ARE MY AIRPODS”. (I had to scream louder the second time since, more often than not, they were still in my ears). But now, I inexplicably keep yelling at the watch. And it works. But I am a sight holding my wrist up and talking at it.

In the store, I had a flashback of my last annual physicals and I believe I convinced myself that I need to track my health statistics to stay … well, healthy, I guess?

So, this Apple Watch of mine ostensibly tracks how many steps I take. And I have to reach 10,000! None of your “small step for you, giant leap for mankind” bullcrap.

Guess what? I am now fixated on that statistic. There is an extra weight in my gait. Instead of treading lightly – or at least, normally – I am stomping all over the place. I am morbidly afraid that the watch might not pick up a step here or a step there.

I am even sweating over whether I should move my watch from the left wrist to the right wrist. Maybe, being a right hander, the watch will be more sensitive to movements from there. Interestingly, there is also a helpful app on the watch to detect stress level. That seems to go up every time I worry about counting footsteps.

Of course now I am confused, on the whole whether I coming out ahead or behind.

Oh! Did I tell you about that sleep app? Reading up on the stress app, I found out that I need good sleep to reduce stress. You guessed it – there is an app for that!! So, every morning, instead of brushing my teeth first, I am lost in analyzing my sleep and all the times I apparently tossed and turned.

Between you and me, those have gone up dramatically ever since Sharmila came back from India. Undoubtedly, I am merely reflecting on the correlation without even remotely suggesting any causality.

Here is the funny part. Every morning, I wake up with a good and cheery mood like every single day in the past. But now, I realize from my watch that apparently I did not have a good sleep. Looks like I tossed and turned. And something about REM that was not very REM-like. Suddenly I feel so tired and exhausted!

I think I have this cause and effect thing mixed up. Sure enough, the stress app starts doing its antics when I realize this!

Being a technology neophyte, I have to admit that the allure of that brilliant screen and all those small colorful things trying to tell me something is intoxicating to me. They have all these apps I can put on the screen. They are called “Complications” – score one for Apple for telling the truth. Apart from being technologically challenged, I am not the one with any nose for aesthetics. If you leave it to me, I will jam in all those small icons in a neat column and row arrangement 🙂

Right now I have put so many stuff on the screen that it resembles more like the interior of a cockpit. I am fairly sure a couple of Complications more and I can land a rocket in Mars from my new watch. And I am constantly thinking about “What else should I be interested in that I can put on the screen?”. It harkens back to my TV watching days when I used to be too busy flipping channels constantly to really watch anything. It was like while the whole world was wondering what was on TV, I was preoccupied with “What else is on TV?”.

One final observation. I love how the watch detects that I am trying to look at it. I learnt that the accelerometers (I have no clue what they are – but I am sure they are very smart. Is this that Artificial Intelligence everybody has been talking about?) detects how I am moving my wrist to face my eyes and stop there – and bingo! that means I am trying to read my watch. Once I learnt about it, of course, it became an incessant battle between artificial intelligence and (allegedly) natural intelligence. I am constantly trying to fool it. I have tried slowly moving my wrist (it still detected), moving my wrist around a few times like a wand and then stop (it won), looking at it askance (it still won) and what not. I once even tried doing it while keeping my eyes closed. I am not totally sure who won on that one.

For all that, I will tell you what has not changed. Every time I need to check the time, I am still reaching out for my iPhone and checking it there !!!

Category: Humor | LEAVE A COMMENT