Friday, August 22, 2008

Hi Tech, Hi World

We have become so dependent on electronic devices that we are clueless what to do when they breakdown, even if the solution is pretty simple. We grew up listening to sermons of not to talk to strangers and have enough money at all times because one never knows what could happen. Then the world went electronic and we forgot those sermons.

Most of my childhood was spent in correcting my spelling mistakes and healing the wounds/scars I got from playing. Now with the auto spell checker, one does not need to learn spelling at all. Why, it even helps in figuring if a sentence is framed correctly. Playing with Wii, kids would never dirty their clothes or get a scratch in arms and legs. With no scar anywhere, I wonder what heroic stories they would reel when they grow up.

I have a decent sense of direction but I need to go a couple of times to a destination before the route registers in my mind. So I had every reason to thank God for GPS though I did miss the adventure of wrong routes and getting lost. In case you are one of those who first check GPS before checking if there is enough fuel in the car, all you need to do is go to a complicated circle and see how GPS seems to lose direction.

The other day I went to a hair dresser to get my hair trimmed. Their credit card slider and computer were down. Since I did not carry any cash, I had to go home with disheveled hair. I remembered in my younger days I would carry enough cash to help me out in sudden expenditure.

Though being a boon, cell phones have their own story. Recently I realized that I spend half the time asking my friend to repeat her(him)self. At least now I have an answer to those huge telephone bills.

Now when daily morning coffees have been replaced by the sweet sound of windows coming up, you can imagine the nightmare when the keys of the keyboard start to fall off. Two of the vowels have fallen off and some of the keys do not get typed when I press them. The funny part is "unable to type" key syndrome seems to be going around. So one day I could not press the "space bar", next day it was "shift", then "control". Right now it is "Alt". Now I have to change my passwords not to have the two missing vowels and space.

I can only thank God that the automatic garage opener busted after opening the garage half way. At least I was able to squeeze myself inside the home to get the keys. But now I am better prepared. I remember to take money, house keys and a map to my destination just in case any of these devices cease to function.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Green Thumb

The greatest gift of the garden is the restoration of the five senses. I can't agree more. A beautiful garden is a treat to eyes and medicine to mind. What is more difficult is cultivating and maintaining a good garden. I have always admired people, which include my mom, who are able to maintain greenery in their house. Like any other art, it requires time, money and patience. As always some art suite better than others. I would like to have a nice garden in my home but I know that I do not have enough enthusiasm to take me through. I can work on a garden for a day, two, three days. A week has passed and I am still holding on. Fortnight and you are on your own now. After a month, my guilt starts overcoming me and I would feel terrible for neglecting my plants. Again the cycle would start, my enthusiasm driving me for a week or so and then fading after that. However the plants get watered somehow, either by the Almighty or someone at home.

I subscribe to Home Depot’s gardening magazine on line. I keep getting emails on how I can deck up my patio for a particular season. To be honest, they stay in my inbox till the size of my mail box becomes huge and then move to the trash folder. I haven’t watched much of gardening shows in US. In India, I remember the popular “Krishi Darshan” which used to be telecasted when I was kid. There was another serial that used to show how people decorated their garden. People had styled their homes with rose garden, rock garden and even hanging gardens on their terrace. All of them looked astounding.

Some people do have a green thumb. Whatever they sow grows. Few of my family members have it. Somehow, I don’t seem to have inherited it fine. Whatever I sow grows but not very well. Till now, I have generally grown flowers, foliage and croutons to give a fresh look to the patio. I have never been able to survive any of my plants during winter. That is a huge task of its own. It needs more drive and time precision to keep changing the location of plants so that they get their amount of sunlight. This summer, I was more enthusiastic and sowed few vegetable seeds in a hope to fuel my enthusiasm to last longer. When I see the results that can be eaten, I thought I would be more driven to enhance my gardening skills. I planted 5 varieties and made sure they don’t get dry and had enough sunlight. Rain was a great help. For two weeks, I could forget my watering duty and it rained every second day. All was well and I saw small saplings and new shoots coming out of the mud. What I forgot was to label them. I remember to have planted spinach, tomato, cabbage or cauliflower and I don’t recall the other two. So, I have to wait till they start flowering so see what vegetables come out!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Chasing the Darkness

Someone wisely said that only unknown induces fear. Little acquaintance makes us curious enough to discover it completely. Space has always been unknown. I am not sure whether it is humanly possible to discover it completely. Maybe not but the little doors it opens for us to reveal itself more is exhilarating.

Aug 1 2008 experienced a Solar eclipse. In recent times, this is considered a rare delight. I remember earlier and even now in some parts of the world, people take it as an omen. Rituals are performed to ward off any side effects. Years back, I read a short story "Dhoomketu"(which means comet in Hindi) about a scientist in Calcutta, India who was to present a paper in London on his research findings. On the day the comet was to be seen, he was in the terrace with his telescope while his family were performing rituals and prayers. I was very influenced by the story and liked the scientist for holding on to his beliefs and fighting against the social norms.

On 1986, Hailey's comet flew towards earth. Our science teacher had urged us to see it as we might not get another opportunity in our life time, given that the comet visits earth every 76 years. My brother stayed up late to see but I cooly dozed off. Later when space fascinated me more, I used to gaze stars every night and try to identify the constellations. I was so infatuated that I wanted to take up astronomical science and join NASA. I remember only one friend of my brother took up astronomical science. At an era, when computer science and electronics were so popular, people could not understand his choice. But those who understood would know that he made career out of his dream.

I had stayed up late many nights to catch a glimpse of comet or shooting stars. While trying to figure out falling meteors, I had mistaken planes for celestial objects. Till date, I think I have seen 1 or 2 shooting stars but no eclipse. In fact, now there is a company - Travel Quest International which helps astronomy enthusiasts to experience these rare feats. This company actually takes people on a flight across the globe to experience the solar eclipse. The owner, Aram Kaprielian, is a ardent solar eclipse fan. He is taking people over Asia, North Pole and even Antarctica to see the solar eclipse. By 2010, he plans to offer space travels to outer space. Now, that would truly be an out of the world experience.