2 August 2018

Okay, this is marketing pushing it…

If you ever drive on the Bay Bridge into the city of San Francisco, you are likely to see this big billboard. (I did not have enough time to take a picture but I was able to get the picture from the internet anyways).

I will keep the irony of Demi Lovato telling us what to drink aside for the time being.

My bigger question that I want to scream is…

“What do you mean, ph balanced water? Water is, by definition, pH balanced. It is the golden standard against which you decide if any liquid is of higher pH (alkaline) or lower pH (acidic).

Water does not need to be pH balanced. It IS already balanced.”

Has marketing risen – if risen is the word I am looking for – to a level that we will buy something as free and balanced as water at steep prices if we slap a high sounding phrase like pH balanced (never mind you do not have to do anything to water to make it pH balanced) and get Demi Lovato to hold a bottle of that water?

That reminds me… I saw a bottle of Vitamin Water this morning at the airport and I was like… “What do you mean….”

Naah.. forget it. I got my answer about marketing and also sense that we – allegedly the most intelligent animal on this planet – can surprisingly forget some of the basic sciences we learnt in middle school.

2 August 2018

The only problem is that…

Curious how far we had reached, I switched on the Delta TV screen and this is what I saw.

Having had to wake up at 3am, my first sleepy eyed reaction was “Wow! Lot of distance to cover still”.

My next reaction was “Wait a second. What am I doing on top of the Atlantic Ocean off the west coast of Africa??? I am coming back to Atlanta from San Francisco!!!”

This must be Delta flight map’s version of “Covfefe” !!

Go figure!

31 July 2018

Uh! Oh!

Normally when my Lyft or Uber driver shows up, I greet him or her by the first name. Other than being nice, this also reconfirms to me and him/her that I am in the right car.

This one is going to be interesting…

20 July 2018

Do you wake up in the morning and feel happy and contented?

This is a remnant post from our destination-less journey that Sharmila and I undertook last month. My school friend Partho, his wife Jaya and his daughter Rohini and the two of us had just spent a beautiful evening on the Jersey shores – entirely unscripted. Finding a place to have dinner was a little chore but we did find one and settled down there.

Not sure how the discussion progressed but I soon found myself in a familiar zone. I was the only one fighting for one side of a debate – pitted against three others in this case. Rohini kept a diplomatic silence thru the debate. I can argue for a case with so much passion that I can come across almost self righteous – triggering many an opposing view from others as an instinctive reaction. This case was probably more than that.

Again, I am not terribly sure how I landed up there but I know I was explaining the concept of “Memento Mori” (remember, you will die) and how that drives what I do. In essence, I wake up every morning and remind myself that I am going to die. I have one less day left. And that helps me set priorities on what is truly important for me that day and over the longer horizon. Many of the things I have done in life will be considered counter-intuitive. Some may even call them stupid. But as I explained that evening, it all starts with the end. In fact, I think I talked about the book “The Top Five Regrets of a Dying Man”.

There was spirited – and I am not merely pointing to the spirits in the glasses – pushback from the other three. A big catalysis was that discussions around death and regrets cast a negative cloud on the the whole perspective. Such a gloominess should not be the framework of how we live.

In fact, after about twenty minutes of back and forth, Partha succinctly put it – “Do you wake up in the morning happy? If you do, that is all”.

I resisted all the knee jerk reaction to give an answer. He repeated the question. I let him know that I understood his question. And strangely, I found myself very conflicted to answer that question. I let him know that I will think about it and see what I come up with.

Frankly, nary a day passes without me thinking about that conflict for some time. And I am still not sure where I am on it. Thought it best to pose in front of you.

At the root of it, the conflict is the following: Does contentment work against improvement?

If I wake up very content and happy everyday, would that imply that I will never seek how to better myself and achieve them? On the other hand, if I am constantly thinking of proper priorities because of an impending end, will I be incapable of fundamental happiness?

This question can be extended from the individual to the larger human kind… If everybody imbibed into the “Pura Vida” spirit of Costa Rica, would we make great strides in our lives? Doesn’t fundamental change for the better come a lot from being unhappy with the current state of affairs – that triggers the desire to change the world?

Wake up every morning with a sense of happiness and contentment – for we do have a lot to be happy and content about?
Or
Recognize that the number of mornings left is down by one and refocus your life to make it more fulfilled at the end of it?

Is there a way to think of this where they are perfectly compatible with each other?

What do you think?

P.S. Sharmila, Jaya and Partha, I hope I have represented your side of the argument well here. I know I have my own biases and that can come in the way of articulating the opposing view.

30 June 2018

Wherever we went… there we were…

12 states
3,000 miles (4,800 km)
10 days

We had no idea where we were going to wake up the next day.
No hurry to get anywhere.
Stopped at so many random places…

Talked to so many strangers with great stories of their lives – Rosalind at the bar in State College, Ryan who was cleaning the restrooms on Jersey shores, Jovana who has gotten me excited to visit the erstwhile Yugoslavia, Vicky our cleaning lady in the Durham hotel who is from Guatemala…

So many old friends revisited – middle school friend Partha and his family in New Jersey, college friend Madhav and his family in Virginia, old colleague Mark and his family in Kentucky, not-very-sure-how-we-becamme-friends-but-we-are-strong-friends Budhu and his family in Tennessee…

Not to forget the chance to see Natasha in New York and then pick up Nikita in North Carolina

The incredible mountains of Tennessee and West Virginia and the equally beautiful beaches of Virginia and North Carolina… and those teeming crowds in New York city…

That random waterfall…
That even more random flower by the roadside…

The endless roads…
No destination…
Just the journey…

Wherever we went… there we were…