Beliefs

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Belief is the state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case, with or without there being empirical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty

That’s what Google throws back at me when I google the word. Coming from a community that has a long and rich history, there are thousands, no, millions of beliefs that are thrown at, and around me on a daily basis. By my immediate family, by my relatives, by friends – the few that are close and the many that aren’t; and in general everyone else.

Religious beliefs are aplenty – but that’s a topic for a different day. This post is about simple habitual, day-to-day activity based beliefs that every individual has.

Beliefs can be tagged to anything and everything. Beliefs could have sound arguments and a basis, or they could be simply something one has believed for a long time. For instance, my grandmother used to repeatedly remind me that I should NEVER cut my nails post sunset. I could never agree to that; and to this date, I have not been able to figure out a possible reason for that from her or anyone else in the family; the only remote one being she probably didn’t have a steady supply of electricity during her hey days.

I still cut my nails irrespective of the sun’s position; and ironically, most of the times at night.

As a stubborn child with relatively relenting parents, who repeatedly chose the option of advising and not forcing their advice on me (or maybe I was really thick-skinned), I became quite the opposer to family beliefs.

  • Eat your greens, they are good for you – nopes
  • Gargle your throat when you have a sore throat – nopes
  • Have milk with a teaspoon of turmeric before you go to sleep when you have cold – yuck!
  • Spend a few hours every week and give music (singing/instruments) a try for hobby and/or interest – nopes
  • Take an oil bath once every month (or on auspicious dates)  – no way!
  • Have curd rice or buttermilk at the end of every meal (lunch & dinner) – nopes
  • Have meals at regular time consistently – nopes
  • Go to sleep early and wake up early – nopes

I could go on and on. I wasn’t a tough child – just a stubborn one. And as most kids do, I’d do the exact opposite of what my parents would tell me to do – not listen to them. Sometimes I’d ask them for reasons, and when they couldn’t give a proper reason, I’d just shrug it off and ignore them.

It’s ironic that life has come back a full circle and many of those beliefs are something that I have come to regard as very important and 100% valid. Some of them seem to be considered as vital by the educated community.

Ah well. Better late than never.

 

 

 

America’s gift to the global foodie

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America gives you a wide wide variety of food options – ranging from cheap food stalls & hole in the wall outlets to five Michelin star restaurants. Every city, be it a metro or a small town will have atleast one Italian, one Greek, one sushi place (Japanese), one Mexican and so on. The bigger the city, the more variety of restaurants for each cuisine you’ll find.

But none of these are actual American cuisine – the name of different cuisines itself give you the country from where they originate. So here’s the question I always pondered – what constitutes American cuisine? What has America given to the global foodie?

Burgers and fries it seems. Sugar coated cornflakes. And of course, the multitude of carbonated beverages.

Of course there is lot more to American cuisine. Look into any American household, and you’ll find a variety of food items – both meat based and vegetable based. Search for restaurants in any city across the country and you’ll find ‘American (traditional)‘, ‘Southern‘ and similar.

However you don’t find a restaurant outside the US offering these – the only ones you see are junk food that have the American tag.

So is that the only food America has given to the rest of the world? Pretty sad if that’s the case!

Disclaimer: The above post is based on my experiences and might not be completely true.

After the waters recede…

The guilt feeling that one (should, atleast subconsiously) has when s/he contributes to the bigger mess – buying that flat in an occupied area at a cheaper rate, misuse of plastics without a concern, wasting water and other resources and so on.
Baradwaj tries to put it out in his words – do give it a thought!

Baradwaj Rangan

What some of us are feeling now, it’s vague, hard to put into words. And at least part of it is a little existential. Why were we spared? You don’t think this when you hear of shootings in America or earthquakes in Nepal. You register the horror, and do what you can – sign a petition, write a cheque – and you move on. But this thing, it happened in our backyard. It could have been us. And while we still think we need to move on, there’s a little PTSD mixed in with all of it, which no amount of volunteering and cheque-writing and petition-signing can fix. America and Nepal aren’t home. Chennai is. And when we are attacked in our own homes – and when we know there’s nothing we can do about it – something’s going to get out of whack. It’s like being that one…

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Trust thy neighbour? Not anymore.

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Trust is a very funny emotion. We understand it very well with respect to relationships between two close/related individuals considering that trust makes or breaks their relationship; be it between two friends, a husband and a wife, a parent and his kid(s); and so on.

However clearly we underestimate trust as an emotion when it comes to local communities. Don’t comprehend? Let me give an example.

The other day I was heading back home, from an biking event some 100 miles away. Midway I stopped at a gas station to fuel up when I saw this guy on the side of the road, trying to get a lift from passing cars. I probably spent about 10 odd minutes in that gas station, during which he probably got ignored by more than 50 cars during that period; a lot of them moving out of the gas station, mostly empty with just one single rider.

He didn’t seem so dangerous; he had two luggage bags, and also he had a pair of crutches; on a scale of 1 to 10 (danger to me), I’d probably put him at 3 or 4. So I decided to give him a lift. And I did.

What followed was one of the most interesting conversations I ever had with anyone in US over the last 8 months; we discussed (in detail) about rock songs; Pink Floyd, Jon Bon Jovi, Guns & Roses; and so on. All starting from a Pink Floyd song running on FM when he boarded the car. Of course there was the small matter when he requested if he could have a look at my iPhone (apparently he never had one in his life), and I allowed him to go ahead; and the fact that in the span of 2-3 minutes he used it to look up porn on youtube (lol), which I guess is as weird as it is hilarious!

The fact of the matter is the ride ended just fine; he got down when I asked him to; and even thanked me as graciously as anyone can; considering I was the first one to give him a lift in nearly 8+ hours of standing outside the gas station!

And no matter whom I tell this story to, I always get gasps and dissapproving nods as if I just supported an act of terrorism or something of that kind. And always a rhetorical Q – “What if he turned out to be some nutcase?” or so.

What if he turned out to be a normal fellow who just needed a lift?

And that in short is the problem I see around me – increasingly we seem to lose trust in the world around us. When it comes to uncertaininty regarding a decision we need to make, we seem to give more importance to the negative outputs than the positive ones.

Trust thy neighbour? Not anymore.

Why? Just because some random unknown guy in some random city got screwed when he trusted another random unknown guy; you decide to not trust someone around you; even though you possibly have no concrete reason to distrust him.

And unfortunately, it’s only getting worse.

Value of Money

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What is the true value of money? Which factors constitutes something to be deemed as within the limits?

Clearly, only the monetary value alone doesn’t decide that, even when I limit the situation to only one person’s view. Let me illustrate

  1. Within a span of a month I make two our chases – a $13,000 used car and a brand new $1,600 road bike. Both had cheaper alternatives that would have easily fulfilled my requirements; especially in case of the car I could have saved $1000-$5000 on a cheaper alternative. Yet the unanimous feedback is somehow I have gone overboard on the bike while no one questions the car purchase.
  2. A friend who asks for advice on used bike purchase refuses to look at the $200 priced options I share with him saying his budget was only $100 and he didn’t want to overspend. Yet on the same week he pushes me to join him for a weekend outing; the cost per person easily goes above $100 per person but not a single concern on that!

“Value” of money sure is an interesting concept. 🙂

Trails of a Cyclist – The US Chapter (Disclaimer Post)

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So, U. S. A. The land of opportunities. The land of dreams. And the land to cycle to your heart’s content, one would presume? Ah well, it depends.

First of all, the rules are extremely cyclist friendly. No doubts about that. And there is a strong push to get the folks to pay attention to the cyclist on the road; across all states.

But then, the streets have a long way to go. America thrives on its roads. The people literally live on the roads using their cars and trucks to do Every. Single. Job. And that, unfortunately is the only bane for a cyclist out here – the roads are designed for the vehicles, not the cyclist. One needs to really pay attention to the road; to speeding cars, the abundant potholes, the infinite number of traffic signals (lol), the lack of street lighting (ironically the well lit streets are the ones with the maximum speed limits, which incidentally are the most risky to cycle!) and so many other factors.

I have only ridden the bike across three states; rather three cities – Pittsburgh,  Washington DC and Chicago (and the suburbs included). All three are considered cyclist-friendly. I’m yet to ride the cycle outside the US or India for that matter to come up on a proper data-backed conclusion; but between the two – I am a LOT less worried and better-off in India than in the US from what I have experienced so far. India has a thriving population since decades that still survives on a cycle for their daily affairs. And the roads are tuned for that mix of cars, bikes and cyclists. So are the people, even in cities that have horrible traffic situations like Mumbai or Bangalore.

On the other side, It’s been only six odd months and about 1000 odd kilometers (ya, I still prefer to go by the metric system) out here in the US. I would love to be proved wrong as I hope to ride a lot more across the countryside and other cities (SFO, here I come!)

India 4 – Karnataka

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Amazing & crisp thoughts! A beautiful and no-nonsense view of day-to-day life of (rural) India!

Cycling Cindy

Cycling as a tourist: A route past many temple cities

Incredible India

A puppy is stuck in the sewer, a black, stinking collection of dirt. He is too weak to crawl out by itself. He is howling softly. I walk past him, as do other people, and I think ‘no one is helping this poor little puppy’. When I notice I don’t do anything either, I am just as unhelpful. So I walk over to the sewer and lift the crying puppy out of the slimy disgusting dirt. He’s so weak and underfed he will probably die soon. I was already saddened when I entered Hindupur, a super congested city where a bullock looses his balance and falls, right next to a bus full of students. The students are howling and screaming ‘madam, madam, madam’ while my eyes are fixed on the poor animal trying to get his legs stretched while a…

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Solo Ride to Lonavala (& Back)

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Route: Pune to Kamshet via local – Lonavala – Kamshet – Nigdi – Kirkee Pune (Link)

Distance: 100 kms

Difficulty: Moderate

Feedback: This is a beautiful route with almost perfect tarmac throughout the route and not very high traffic. Except for the Nigdi – Dehu road section, the entire route is 4+ laned with divider and multiple food & rest options in case anyone needs to take a rest. Plus the railway line passes in parallel most of the time, so in case anyone wants to end the ride midway, he can just ride to the nearest station and catch a local back to Pune/Lonavala.
With a minor climb at Kamshet, the route is a beautiful one passing through fields and hilly regions with a wonderful view that can be done by novices and experts alike.

Carrying the bike to the starting point in the early morning inter-city local

At the sleepy station of Kamshet

The beautiful Indrayani river that goes adjacent to the Kamshet station

The beautiful Indrayani river that goes adjacent to the Kamshet station

Over the only hill that comes in this route

A brief halt while on the way back to Pune

The route

 

Ride to Mulshi Dam (& Back)

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Route: Pune – Chandani Chowk – Pirangut – Paud – Mulshi & Back (Link1 and Link2 )

Distance: 112 kms

Difficulty: Moderate

Feedback: This route has some classic climb routes at Chandani Chowk, Paud, Pirangut, and Mulshi. The former two can be done by casual riders, but the latter two would need a bit of climbing practice. Apart from the climb aspect, the route is a beautiful one passing through fields and hilly regions with a wonderful view.

The group at GIANT bike store – I wasn’t there. I was late and had to catch up

The full group minus me at midpoint

Brunch time! And where we hungry or what! Yes, I did catch-up! And was among one of the first to land up for the food 😛

Bonfire night while camping at Mulshi dam

 

Morning Ride to Worli Sea-face

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Route: Powai – WE Highway – Bandra – Mahim – Worli – Mahim – WE Highway – Powai (Link)

Distance: 50 kms

Difficulty: Easy

Feedback: An early morning ride is the perfect way to hit Worli Sea-face. Plus a plethora of breakfast options around this place or at Bandra post the ride is a nice way to end the ride

The rides

Sea-face view

Group photo-op
 
Time for a smoke & a cup of tea!