Sunday, March 30, 2014

I am a Holi convert :-)

I remember I was never a fan of the Holi festival, actually never ever until now. Also strange that I never really understood why smearing people with color and literally chasing people to drench them in color could be fun.

All that has changed now, I have to admit that I am a convert, a true Holi convert. Funny that after living in Germany since the year 2000, this year I actually got around to celebrating Holi with friends in the lovely town of Heidelberg last Sunday (23Mar2014). Thanks to my friend Divya Bhoomireddy and thanks to the Interkulturelles Zentrum (IKZ) in Heidelberg this was possible. Divya who is an executive member of the IKZ was the brain behind the whole event. She just used her amazing network skills to reach out to people to come up with a perfect agenda for the evening.

Actually it was in this process that I actually learnt again about the meaning behind the festival of Holi. Besides the lovely mythological stories of Prahalad and Holika and the religious connections the festival has, it was nice to remind myself about the more important aspect around the festival. The fact that the festival removes all differences of caste and creed, differences in race or color once everybody is covered in the colors of Holi. That is indeed fascinating and here in Germany it was an awesome experience to celebrate Holi with our German friends and friends from other nationalities too.

So thank you Divya and thank you Interkulturelles Zentrum for making me a Holi convert!! A very nice write-up about the event can be found here, for my German speaking friends.

P.S. Divya has plans for a whole lot of interesting programs together with the IKZ and if any of you are interested in sharing ideas and thoughts with her you can reach her at this address.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

California dreaming

Everytime I think of California, the dreamy 1965 folk pop hit from the group 'The Mamas and the Papas' starts playing out in my head. Couple of weeks back when I was in this beautiful US state on work I realised that the dreamy number probably will not fit the current scene of the whole place.

Thoughts that are fresh in my mind from my visit include:

1) Everybody seems to be a man or woman with a mission, though in some cases I realised that they did not know what their mission really was.

2) You can sit down in an Indian restaurant and get transported back to India -because you hear Tamil being spoken by a couple in its purest form at the next table. This happened to me when work colleagues invited me out for dinner at the Mynt.

3) I think the whole place is actually swarming with Asians - I could only meet Indians and Chinese most of the time and in most of my meetings.

4) My two German colleagues were happy to be accompanied by an Indian I guess ;-)

5) Breakfasts are huge, by day four I was actually beginning to eat larger breakfast portions than I would normally eat.

6) It is lovely beautiful sunny weather outside, but the air conditioning is always on full blast in the hotel rooms and everywhere you go. So no matter what the weather outside dress in layers at all times. First and immediate step every evening I enter my hotel room was to turn off the AC and force the windows open.

7) I was so happy to see more and more cyclists on the road who were not being threatned to be run over by the huge massive cars. I think their numbers are growing every year I am here.

8) A lot of happy joggers, jogging at insane hours in the morning. Remember I was still on the German timezone.

9) Pizza Antica in the Santana Row area of San Jose serves better pizzas than what I have had even in Italy!! Now how can that happen!

10) First time I was subject to an explosive trace detection test at security - felt quite important as the other travel companions could breeze on through :-)

11) A quick sneak into any shopping window indicated big sales and big discounts- such a bummer that there was hardly any time left to do some serious shopping.

12) Just loved the energy that exuded from the SuccessFactors office that I visited in the South San Franscisco area especially their clear belief in their company values were plastered all over their office walls.

On that note I have to end the post with the lyrics from the lovely old song from Roy Orbison, 'California Blue' which goes something like "One sunny day, I'll get back again. Somehow, someway But I don't know when, California Blue California Blue ". Sometimes you just have to decide which memories and songs associate with a place in your minds eye.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Moms out there YOU ROCK!!!

10 random thoughts that cross my mind in my role as Mom:

1. To come back home from a full day of work, pause slightly at the front door - muster up all my strength and walk in and announce 'Team buckle up Mama is here'. Well, this also means the kids almost ignore you until you raise your voice and scream 'GIRLS did you hear me, I am here!!'

2. It means as you drive back home 'you make a mental note of what is in the refrigerator, what I could cook for dinner and also updating Cozi with the things that still needs to be bought for tomorrow's dinner. Sometimes, it also means taking a sharp detour at the last minute, freaking the hell out of drivers behind me when I realise that I need to stop by the grocery story to pick up Crème fraîche for the chicken masala I would like to make.

3. It means answering a very urgent late evening call from a colleague at work with one hand and at the same time trying to tell little bunny using a lot of futile actions telling her that her handwriting could be much much better. I keep reminding myself that she will not have to write on paper when she is my age, but anyways.

4. It means getting the best welcomes in the world to die for after a business trip - but then as a matter of fact expected to immediately shed your business attire and jump back to being Mummy again - 'Mama can you take us to the schwimmbad today?' At the same time looking into hubby eyes totally in acceptance of the fact that the real superman was at home holding up all fronts diligently single handedly.

5. It means churning up some yummy food to eat in very quick intervals of time and then getting really painful looks as to why this yuckky stuff has to be really eaten completely. Thankfully gets compensated by hubby happily digging into dinner with a content smile.

6. Getting corrected regularly on the right usage of German grammar especially the artikels and constantly correcting the kids to use either complete German or English sentences.

7. It means getting squeals of delight from across the Atlantic to see their Mom on Facetime, where you would do anything in your strength to reach out and kiss their innocent faces.

8. It means trying to squeeze in couple of hours no matter how short a business trip may be to get back home with a little small gift that they would love but you know very well would be lying somewhere under the bed in a couple of days time.

9. It means lying in bed with your little ones all cuddled up and reading a night time story and stopping to take a deep breath thanking God for such blissful moments when in the next minute there could potentially be a screech right into your ears 'MAMA, she tugged on my half of the blanket !!!'. These moments of bliss always comes and goes in waves. These waves can be compared to the birthing contractions where the break between them for a woman is so blissful, but you are almost on the verge of knowing what is coming up next. I think I am analyzing that thought a bit too much here, I better stop.

10. It also means trying to endlessly clear up the clutter in every room of the house and having to start all over again in kind of cyclic intervals. But cleaning clutter even comes with an advantage, that it gets you into this state of nirvana where I can clearly visualize a product feature that can immensely help my customers solve an integration design challenge that they are facing.

This is not a complete list, but cheers to all the Mom's out there, I think this job makes all the other jobs in the world seem so easy :-) I was a bit late for international women's day, but I just think we women rock...

Sunday, March 9, 2014

A Sadhu from India?

I kept hearing Semmel baba from the other side of the dinner table and was wondering why my Czech and German friends were talking about some Indian saint. I tried to listen in and asked J and D what they were talking about. They said we are having Semmelbaba for dessert. I thought I heard wrong, but only later realised that Semmelbaba was the name of the yummy strudel that Nadja prepared for us.

Yes Semmelbaba a very yummy Czech cake and the main ingredient is 'Semmel' which translates into bread and yes they mainly use left over bread to prepare this delicacy. You should definitely try it out when you get the chance.

March through March..

OMG, it is already March and the first week of the month is already done. I am really spooked thinking about how the weeks are flying away. I still have not started working on any of my New Year resolutions. Actually at this point in time cannot remember if I made any at all.

A lovely vacation week now behind me and I am rearing to march through the entire month of March. Actually it will be quite a packed month at work. But still cannot seem to forget the mountains, the fresh air, the feel of the cold snow, the warm smile of Nadja our hostess who take care of us during our stay at the chalet in the Czech Republic. Little bunny asked me before going to bed when she can go skiing again and I knew exactly what was going through that beautiful mind of hers.

I promise myself that at the speed the months seems to be rolling ahead it will soon be time to go back.
But for now let me focus on marching through March.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Want to know more about Peter?

It's a lovely week here in the Czech Republic. I mean there is not too much snow, but enough for us beginners to learn. It is the fourth year we are here with our friends and everytime we get a little more familiar with everything about this place. Seems to become a part of our lives.

I am also happy with the progress I have made with my skiing. Maybe in the next couple of days I will go on to the higher slopes with my older daughter. Target is to come down the slopes skiing together with her, let's see if I can make that target this year.

But this post is not about me but about my teacher who is helping me get to that target goal. He is called Doctor Peter. Almost 78 years old, but a real toughie. Already last year when I was here he told me that I need to get rid of all my fears and just enjoy the sport. The rest would come automatically. Well, thats easier said than done. But I think he has an unique way of explaining his lifes events which kind of transports you to a different world, and then you somehow at the same time you seem to make the right moves sliding down that slope.

Peter, tole me that back in 1980 he lived in the Communist Czech Republic and he longed to get away. It was difficult for somebody back then to get their identity papers and also get a visa to travel to another country like Canada. Yes that was Peter's dream back then to leave communist Czech Republic and live in Canada and that's exactly what he did.

From 1980 - 1981 Peter stayed at a refugee camp in Austria and then realised that the only way out was to escape. And that is exactly what he did and he went to Canada and applied for asylum. Today Peter is a Canadian citizen and spends his time between Canada and the Czech Republic. He comes to the Czech Republic in the winters mainly to help people like me meet their target goals on skiing. He makes it sounds so easy and nice, and it is amazing what a hard life he had to go through in the past.

Today Peter proudly talks about his daughter who is a very famous doctor back in Canada who lives in a million dollar home. He tells me that probably this is the last season when he would be coming back to the Czech Republic as he plans to get a mobile home and move to Florida for his retirement.

I really hope that I will meet Peter also the next year when I am here. His stories are so interesting and sometimes I wish I could just listen to them instead of having to focus on my moves. But then like how Peter realised his dream, I remind myself that my dream is to ski down those slopes with my daughters :-)