When plates and people move

I have been doing a lot of geology lately. No that is correct. It is a study/discovery of solid earth. And though not a geologist, I did do some studying and I learnt that Santa Barbara was turned 130 degrees to become what it is today. I learned that the earth plates are always reforming, not just moving. I learned that plate tectonics (somethings I have always taken for granted as a given) is a very recent science. And speaking of recent, my side of the earth is so recent that if the pacific plate wasn’t rubbing her in the wrong way, this post wouldn’t have been born. Imagine that!

First, I heard Tanya Atwater talk at the Randall Museum about plate tectonics. She spoke about the wonderful world of western US geology. She also showed us the animations she has made and I spent hours watching them. You can have a museum dedicated to just these animations. Please watch them. All of them. You are welcome.

Then I went on a geology tour of San Francisco and we covered how all the hills and islands were formed and where the rocks underneath our feet came from, how much was covered in sand dunes, where the ships were abandoned and how much of San Francisco is filled in. We walked from what would have been 50 feet under water in 1848 to the shore line that started at Market and 1st st. I also learned about how the 1905 earthquake was seen as an opportunity for fire preparedness and that’s how Hetch Hetchy got dammed and all the wild life in it got damned!20140917_190846

And then I learned that we would have been almost in time for the next ice age, if we weren’t messing with its climate in such irreversible ways. And that’s when I came across the map of San Francisco 200 feet under water by Burrito Justice. And then I saw it everywhere I went. It would seem that sea level rise is not some thing only climate people think of. They had the above map for sale at Local Take. There is a mural on Church and Market that shows San Francisco in a post deluge environment. Notice the ‘After the Deluge’ Cafe.

Well this was my take away: it doesn’t matter, all evidence points to us being a beach front property in 40 years. So when the plates collide, the tsunami takes over the low lying areas and you are on the lookout for some solid Chert to hold on to, you can rest assured knowing you have friends in high places.


Superbowl is the time for friends and commercials!

I watch all the Superbowl ads like any good marketing student should do. And once a marketing student, always a marketing student. Ok, here we go:

What makes a good superbowl ad?

Beer, car, Emotion, AMERICA? No. Simplicity and good visuals. Whether you are in a bar or at a friend’s superbowl party, you cannot really hear all the whispered words that make the ad or break it. And if you are all alone, this is the ad for you:

Ok, I am definitely the target audience for that one: DIYer with no interest in the superbowl! We are a nation of DIYers and if you think that is the only thing that makes this San Franciscan patriotic, you are wrong. I cried when I saw this before I realized my citizenship status.

And while every Superbowl, I wait for the Chrysler ad and expect goose bumps, I think Maserati forgot and made a similar ad. Of course the words would have proved otherwise, but no oneheard ’em. Still, brilliant ad.

Ok, who thinks that kid was creepy? Cue in ‘cute kid’:

Speaking of kids, Full House was there:

How are these guys still relevant in this cut throat no contract world?

Ok, back to Full House. I remember Bob Saget as the best TV dad. But, this guy just took that spot and just because dads are awesome, this ad makes the cut.

And so even though that ad made me feel warm and fuzzy, this Chevy ad made me cry…

…but not as loud as Morpheus here.

Unfortunately, the only commercial that would have made any dent on the booze addled mind is this simple visual one…and of course it is ding ding ding ding ding…Bud Light!

Honorable mentions to: H&M for the body (ahem) wear…

and Bank of America for being so invisible and so beautifully subtle:

But then, this ad just got SUBTLE so right that my list ended here.

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. 10 years later

I remember growing up with a bunch of people who had very similar backgrounds and very dissimilar tastes. But every now and then you would meet someone who would love the same weird things you love and the spark would be lit. After that you could argue and disagree about a thousand things, but that common thread will keep you together. Unless of course, you grow up. I should probably switch the term ‘grow up’ with ‘grow old’, considering I am growing pretty old. And so are you, so shut up!

Once you grow old, you start noticing that your chaddi buddies have political and racial views that have hardened like the lines under their eyes. Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, but it sure stings a little when it takes so much longer to get your point across. Just across, not even agreed upon. It is probably because you are reading different stuff, watching different stuff and moving in different circles.

And then you have the non PC desi version of the same comments that you would have anywhere else in the world. The version that paints over anything from gay marriage to jokes about 9/11 in the same gaudy opaque color that we paint over our eyes as we overlook serious problems as cultural norms. More raucous laughter, less questions.

And just like people oppressed by their respective cultures ran away to the new world, I find myself running to San Francisco…the newest of worlds. Barely 240 years old and full of hope. Because here we can do it all: respect the past, usher in the future and actually live in the present.

And if my American upbringing by this American city feels too alien to you, you can always say that the grapes are sour.

Cookery – a kind of witchery

Think about it: Cooking is the only form of sorcery that is still allowed and so widely practiced right under our noses…literally.


In The Cookbook Collectors, Matt and Ted Lee very aptly note, “-and through the sorcery of heat and ingredients, take a trip…” as they describe cooking from cook books as akin to long distance and time travel.


Now it is not everyday that we make pots and pots of potion like comfort soup…but the enthusiasm that everyone has towards food, that has to be magic. In an overwhelmed society where we are not excited about anything anymore, you can get almost anyone to salivate if you just get your food on.


And the people who make this kind of food are revered with the same awe that we would sorcerers, were we talking about the time when witches were revered and not feared and killed off. But since witch craft today has mostly been reduced to having a presence on Pinterest alone, most of us think it doesn’t exist anymore. But open your eyes, it is in every house. People who don’t know how to do anything, will brag about this one thing that they make that will blow your mind. How exactly is this thing that is made with meat, vegetables, fruit and spices really blowing your mind? I don’t know, but it generates loyalties and passion like it is Ron Paul.


In every little shack in every little corner of the world, there is someone stirring something that brings hope and joy at the most basic level. This is our currency. We have been running, settling and paunch growing for years now and this is the lowest common denominator. STILL. We haven’t evolved to the stage where we can live off the atmosphere, breathe in minerals from the air, survive on ideas and art and use food for sustenance. We are still in the dark ages. And it is not food that you buy from a vending machine in a parking lot that does it either. It is the bacon wrapped smoking hot dog at the street corner, it is the sweet dabeli that is melted with some amul butter, it is the rasam rice that mom gives you in bed when your cold won’t go away. That is our kryptonite. We will never be rid of it. DISGUSTING!

Of Love

What is love? I do not ever remember pondering on this when I was younger. There were stories, poetry, movies and plays that explained it all. All you did then was wait for you to have the same earth shattering feelings. And before that happened, there was so much I had to get done. I had to finish my education and start my business. There was a time in my life that I had allocated for love and it wasn’t time yet. Or so I thought.

At the time when every girl in a 100 mile radius was getting hit on or proposed to, I was blissfully happy in my role as the tomboy: a great friend, but is not to be treated like a girl unless one is eager for a good punching. I felt the hassle and the anxiety was not worth it. But like everything else in life, it hit me later than it hit others.

I never understood the fascination with looks. Everyone was falling for the cute guy. All I thought about was the gross jokes he cracked and how disgusting his food habits were. Why could I not just see the cute and ignore the rest like everyone else was able to? I even put myself on a pedestal. How superficial were these people around me, I thought pityingly. I will definitely not fall for someone just because I like the way he looks. Or so I thought.

Any time things got difficult in a situation, I bailed. Any time I felt the drama and the fights were not worth it, I left. This was true of all the relationships I had, whether it was friendship or loyalty towards an operating system. I would not be able to fight against the world to be with someone. I remember reading about a girl who wanted to change the position of the stars so she can be with her lover. Not for me, no sir. I would be with the one I was destined for: not write my own destiny with some random guy. Or so I thought.

Opposites attract, right? The guy I would fall in love with would obviously not be hot headed like me. He would be quiet and shy and obedient. Or so I thought.

So, I am amazed at the superlatively difficult marriage I have, an arranged one at that. Isn’t the astrologer supposed to match us on our compatibility? The second time I saw him, I was in love. All I knew by that time was how he looked. Who is superficial now? We are so ridiculously out of sync that people who meet us for the first time think we are on our first date. I turn to hug him and at the same time, he stretches and yawns, his fist punching me square in the jaw. He tries to surprise me with flowers and I start itching with allergies. Every nice gesture gets turned on its head and we sit wondering how we got it so upside down. It is not even funny. Ok, maybe it would be funny if it were on a canvas or a film reel somewhere – a comedy of errors.

But the love, it astounds me. I have always thought of myself as very practical when it comes to matters of the heart. Yet, he makes me feel like I never thought I would. I never thought I would pine for someone, want to run to him at times of elation or grief, enjoy his company even when he is quiet, feel like there is a deep hole in my heart when he leaves for work, get the wind knocked out of me every time he expresses his love and constantly spar with him because we are so maddeningly alike.

And then I remember: I have seen this part of the movie. It is the one before they realize they love each other. They drive each other nuts, only to realize they can’t live without the other. When am I going to get to the boring part with the mellow mature songs?

I am waiting…

Never Neverland

Far away, deep in your imagination, there is a magical place. And even though it is well within you, it seems to be apart. Everyone can be part of this place. So in a way, it is the portal to a different dimension, a world in which you do not come as yourself, but your child-like self. This place is called Neverland.

This is a place where innocence runs and hides to when evil in the real world threatens to snatch it away. It is a place where the secret hopes and dreams can scream and shout from the rooftops and let everyone know because there is no judgement. It is a place where dancing in the rain doesn’t give you pneumonia, where flying in the face of the sun doesn’t scorch you and where touching fire doesn’t burn you.

It is not a place you can be yourself, because you can be so much more. So what is so wrong and abnormal about Neverland that you never let it be a part of this realm. Why do you call it Neverland?

In the real world, in this realm, innocent dolphins die, pregnant prisoners are raped and flies sit on starving children too weak to swat them away. A real downer, isn’t it. Now add to this punch-you-in-the-gut-steal-your-pants downer, the fact that I am an empath.

Let me elaborate. This means any pain that is felt and communicated immediately turns into my pain. You could be in agony and never utter a word and I could be our nurse and I wouldn’t feel a thing. But you could prick your thumb on a thorn and if you let out a cry, I will feel more pain than you felt. It is not physical pain exactly, but quasi physical in nature. I feel the mental trauma of the pain and a little of the physical discomfort associated. Children crying after hurting themselves, a person giving birth on TV and furniture that sigh and creak…I feel it all. All of these cause me a lot of stress.

So obviously when I watch news or read about the pain, it gets communicated to me on a non intellectual plane. It is pretty much a curse unless you are a massage therapist or a counsellor. I would have liked to be in hospice care. But I couldn’t take it. Starving children, sexual abuse, chronic poverty, human trafficking, infanticide, slavery, child soldiers…I just cannot take. Drug abuse, homelessness, conservation, health, training, education…I can take. Which is why I am where I am.

So when you (you know who you are, but probably aren’t cool enough to get the link to my blog from me and thus may never read this) tell me that my thoughts are child like and I need to get serious, all I have to say to you is:
The world is plenty serious. You have let it strip away your shine. But I will not. If I need to, I will protect myself by taking a swim in to the pool of wonder in this place that you will never ever reach, my happy place, a place you call Neverland.

Next stop: Intense Loneliness

Self made man, they call me. But I do not like the term. I had to make a lot of decisions all by myself for myself, because I knew I had the strength of mind to do so. While others have their own qualities, I have this. I can make those hard choices no one else wants to make. I can stick to them, not give in to temptation or expose it.

But with great decisions, comes great burden. And the more burden I carry, the more lonely I become. Constantly second guessing others’ intentions, trying to find some good in the weak, being overbearingly protective and playing God. If not me, then who?

Who has this strength of character?
Who has such a large perspective?
Who can feel as much and yet remain distant?
Who can give so much in spite of losing everything?
Who has such a big heart?
Who has such a trained mind?

If I let go, will someone rise? How can I surrender to the smallness of man and pursue the everyday and the mundane and forget what greatness I was made for?

And if the mundane is what we are here for, marching like ants to fulfil destinies we cannot see, then who am I to foil the grand plan? Aah, the grand plan. A double edged sword. Even if I believe in it’s absence, I end up believing in it. There is no escaping this master plan.

What gives me the right to be different? Why are my impulses to be homogenous with the world weaker than others’? Am I not working as hard? Am I the bad guy?

You might ask, ‘If everyone becomes different, straying away from the norm, what will we base society on?’ Why do I need this society? Who says man is a social animal? Yes, I feel good with people, but I also feel bad. And for most, the bad outweighs the good. It is not an essential. Ask me, I have been alone. I have been surrounded by social animals, picking off each other, scavenging on others’ raw wounds and mating in heat. But still very alone. The sound track that plays in my head, you have never heard. All the stuff that you feel important, seem puny in comparison to what I am looking at.

A state of being where power, hunger and sex do not dominate man
A level in which the physical is insignificant
A place where time whooshes by in deep concentric circles around me
A space where I am so alone that even my shadow does not touch me

‘Why would one choose to stay there?’ you might ask.
The same reason you choose to have clean teeth or nails, do your hair, greet each other and smile. You could just as well grunt, hit others on their head and steal their food.
The answer is evolution.

You will get there some day. But for those of us who are already there, we cannot backtrack now. So the next time you see someone like me, remember that evolution may not take 10000 years this time around.