Technology and me

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

A very good friend of mine is in depression – why? Because she lost her blackberry! According to her “she feels as if her arms are cut”. I know I am like that too. I need my cell phone around me. It gives me a sense of security knowing that I can reach anyone anywhere and anyone can reach me anywhere. And I love phones with email and internet options as well. In my opinion technology has made communication so simple that there is simply no excuse for not communicating – unless obviously you don’t want to. But then I love technology – laptops, GPS, high end phones, iPods all of that is like music to my ears. My car for example has an iPod connector, a really cool Bluetooth, rear parking sensors – basically the works!

I sometimes wonder what we did when we didn’t have cell phones and such an easy access to the internet. How did we search for stuff before “Google” arrived? I cannot even remember!

But I also know people who hate technology. They believe that technology has somehow replaced human touch. A for example reminisces about the days where hand written letters were the common mode of communication. He hates using the GPS; getting lost and asking the way by stopping at garages is a more fun way to get around for him. And he hates cell phones – he believes that cell phones have taken away his privacy from him. He now is forced to communicate even when he doesn’t want to. He has a point – but still my counter argument to that is that you don’t need to wait forever to get a letter; an email takes second! And its seriously not safe to get lost here – GPS is safer! And you can always shut your phone off if you don’t want to answer it

Now where is this technology thought coming from – the place I work at! Some of the people are so technologically backward that sometimes they will print a document, proof-read it and then change it!!! I was amused, amazed and shocked all at once when that happened. The sad part of it all is that they are happy to do nothing about it. I truly believe that you will get lost and left behind if you do not embrace technology. What do you think??



Saturday, July 03, 2010

So I have started working. Yesterday was my first day at work after what seems ages, but actually only just a little more than a year. I have learnt quite a bit in the last one year, being out of my comfort zone that is….

• Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a control freak I like to know that I am in control of my life and have planned everything to the T. Hence the last year was more difficult for me than it should have been. Every time I planned on what I would next, something truly unexpected would happen and spoil all my plans… I realised that life cannot be planned and sometimes you really do need to go with the flow….Life would probably surprise you and throw back something really nice at you…if not - convince yourself that everything happens for the best :-)

• Work is important. But not everything in life. Once you stop doing the thing that occupied your most part of your waking day, you realise you have hidden hobbies and talents… I reconnected with photography and took on gardening…

• It’s a choice that you make to be happy or sad with your situation. I always thought you needed to be content to be happy; and to be content you needed to attain nirvana. I guess that’s not necessarily true. You might not be content or satisfied with your situation in life. But you can be happy in the moment and know that you are doing your best to change things. That’s all that you can do.

• I remember at B-school someone once gave a famous quote for us to ponder upon “Even this will pass”. I truly appreciated the meaning of the phrase now. Whatever that we go through as emotions – whether it be good or bad, they all change. And what seems eternally linked to our happiness seems “not that important” once we achieve it. We always want more. I am not saying it’s bad to want more. I feel it’s essential to want more to develop. I guess the key is not to give it more importance than it deserves!

• I learnt to be on a budget. I realised the value of saving! And that’s something I didn’t learn in years! A has been sweet about and never refuses anything. However, it’s different blowing up your own money vis-vis someone else’s, even if that’s your husband. I actually started to think of all the productive things I could have put the money I spent on shoes and clothes I hardly ever wore. Its an important lesson and I hope to remember it when I want to do impulse shopping!

I guess it’s been sort of a heavy one…

On a lighter note... I also learnt to drive and now am driving to work… ok correction it’s the first day of driving alone with hubby dearest following me in the car for moral support and to make sure that I reach safe. The true test will be from the coming week when it will be just me and my car.. on an after thought and another million crazy people trying to get to work!


Cars, lights and all that in between

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Two blogs in a row.. Its some sort of a record for me… But this something which I have noticed over the last 8months I have been here and especially noticed on the trip and wanted to share it. Simply because I find it amusing and very polite at the same time

After being on the Indian roads, Jo’burg traffic to me is very nice. But ask the locals here and they can go on and on for hours about the supposed traffic and rude drivers. I don’t really find them rude, just that if you drive outside of the city, they actually have conversations through their headlights/ flash lights and indicators.

Here go some pointers for anyone wanting to be polite or simply make sense of what’s happening on the roads:

-If you give way to someone they thank you by flashing their emergency lights. You say welcome by flashing an indicator light

-If the driver from the opposite side flash lights when he comes close to you, it means that there could be cops ahead and you should adhere to speed limits

-If the driver behind you flash headlights, it means he is in a hurry and you need to give him way

-If it’s a 4- way stop sign, there is bound to be confusion on who goes first, you show a thumbs-up sign to signal to the driver that he can go first. They actually allow people to go first!!

I am sure there are more that I am missing. I will add them along the way. The thing is in India we just honk, And giving way is almost unthinkable so there is no need to go beyond honking. Why waste precious mind- space to remember all this!!!


1717 kms in 4 days….. phew!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Not that I am complaining. I did what I love to do – travel, see new things, take a zillion pictures and be driven around. I pity A though, since he did most of the driving!

A had been promising me a vacation for sometime now. It was part of the “you will begin to like SA campaign”! Anyways, we decided to head to what is called the Panorama route. It is in the North-east part of the country and was truly panoramic

Our holiday started off by driving A’s parents, who were back from their vacation in India to their house. His dad was amused and surprised that we had just a “general idea” of the route and no map to guide us. The thing is A hates technology of any kind. Tom-Toms are not his kind of a thing. I on the other hand love technology and hate maps and old fashioned methods of asking around. But since the driver was convinced that we would find our way, who was I to argue! A’s dad knowing fully well that we would get lost gave us his 20 year old map as our guide.

DAY I: We started off from A’s parent’s place bidding farewell to A’s parents and Kiwi ( our puppy), with our head full of Do’s and Don’t from them. Our first stop was Echo Caves. Echo Caves were formed by the erosion of the rocks by a river centuries ago. It was nice to see the different shapes that were made by nature. It was a good exercise too – climbing steps, crawling and sliding down. I realized how fit/ unfit I was! From there we headed to a little town called Pilgrim’s rest. The town is preserved as a old English town and is a world heritage site. We were transported back to the days of horse carriages and small quaint shops. It reminded me a bit of Goa. It was a nice feeling to be able to walk on the roads without feeling insecure or weird. We spent some time roaming around the street and then left for Hazy view where our resort was. The drive was just breathtaking. I think I made A stop every 15 minutes to take pictures. It was a completely different view of SA. The landscape reminded of north of Sweden. The hills were green with pine trees and because its summers the grass was green. We finally reached the resort way past 8 pm and all I wanted to do was crash. Now the resort is another story.

I believe in budget travel. It includes staying at B&Bs and hostels. Where as my dear husband believes in staying in nice (read expensive) places. I do not see the logic of spending money on a place where you would only go to sleep. I would rather spend that money on something else during the holiday. So A and I came to a compromise that if he could find me a nice place which costed only marginally more than my B&B would I stay there. And he did! He pulled some strings and got us some fabulous B&B prices for a 5 star resort. Was I impressed or what. Some benefit of getting married to an hotelier! Needless to say that the resort was just beautiful with its own crocs and hippos. And I realized the difference between a good hotel and a B&B when I managed to find a US adapter for my camera battery to be charged. A was amused at my reaction and I think secretly gloating with the “I told you so”.

DAY 2: Back to the trip now. We started our day by taking a nice hour long walk around the resort and then headed out to see some places. Now like I said before we didn’t have a real route map but just a general idea. And hence thanks to A not listening to my intuition we drove 300 kms for something which was just 70 km away. But no complaints as I got to see some spectacular scenery and click some more pictures! Plus I also made a “boo-boo” with some planning. A really wanted to go boating in the Blyde canyon river and I went by the directions to the canyon itself. The two are separate and more than a 100 km apart and were on the way that we got lost!... Since we already left it more than a 150 km away there was no way of doing it that day. We saw the three Rondawels. They are basically three hill tops in the shape of three African huts. But the view of the canyon from there is just marvelous. We spent a long time there, just enjoying the beauty and the calm that came along with it. I think I took pictures in every possible angle and A got involved as well. The next stop was the Portholes. They were created centuries ago by erosion of the rocks by water. From there we headed to the Lisbon falls. The whole panorama route is full of such waterfalls. And though they are not majestic, they are charming. We also managed to see the view from God’s Window and the wonder view. At the risk of repeating myself the view was to die for. I haven’t ever been that shutter happy for a long time and I loved every minute of it.

Day 3: Was reserved for Kruger. It’s the national reserve which is bigger than the state of Kerala and shares borders with Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Its not possible to complete seeing Kruger in one day. Tourist and nature enthusiasts stay at the Kruger for days to observe animals. There are options of going on private game drives where you are guaranteed to see the big five. However, we decided against it since we wanted to experience the Kruger on our own. Plus I knew I would visit the Kruger again so seeing all the big five in this one trip was not a priority. We did manage to see a lot of animals and two of the big five. A lot of the times I forgot that the animals that we were seeing from such a close distance were actually wild and could be dangerous. But the adventure was outside of Kruger. We got out of one of the gates of Kruger and need to travel around 90 km back to our resort. Now it was dark and we needed to cross of townships. Its not the wisest and the safest of things to do, but I wasn’t really worried, until my dear husband mentioned that he didn’t feel comfortable with the car in front of us and was scared of hijacking. That was it.. I was nervous and fidgety for the next one hour and had a sigh of relief when we reached the resort. So much for A knowing me and my sense of paranoia well!!

Day 4: We originally decided to stay for 5 days. But by day 4 we though we were having fun, we were also missing Kiwi terribly, and bugging A’s parents with daily reports on Kiwi. I am sure they thought I was obsessive! We decided to cut short on day 5 and head back home after doing the things we were meant to do. Our first stop for the day was Mac-Mac falls. Again a very charming waterfall. But I liked the old ladies who were selling curios more. A showed me some of his bargaining skills and charmed an old lady for selling us some stuff for a steal... Happy from all the shopping we did, we needed to rush to the Blyde river for the boating we missed out on earlier. I could see clouds gathering up on the horizon and hoped and prayed that the rain gods would stay away for one more day. And in case I forgot to mention, we did a detour of another 150 km just to get there. Was it worth it?? Well both of us were a little disappointed and thought the boat ride would be much more than the guide chattering away non-stop. But then the way I see it, we would have thought about it with regret if we didn’t see it. From there we headed back on a long journey home, which became even longer since we decided to go the safer way and not take any short cuts due to “safety” reasons.

I for one was dreaming of some nice home cooked food after eating 4 days of pure junk. And yes I think we both dreamt of Kiwi and smiled through the long journey home. And boy were we welcomed. Little Kiwi went crazy and didn’t leave us for the next couple of hours. One day less was completely worth seeing that reaction :-)

Tips for the panorama route:

- Research the hotel to book. Ensure its not out of the main route and lonely
- Do a private game drive for Kruger if you are in SA for a holiday. If not enjoy it the old fashioned way.
- Boating on Blyde is possible only through one resort called Forever Resorts. You need to book in advance.
- Get a map!



Saturday, October 10, 2009

I know I promised to write about Africa/ Jo’burg a long time ago. I guess my mind has been pre-occupied with stuff and just couldn’t get down to writing. I’ve had a series of weird things happening to me in the past couple of months. First the terrible, unexplainable backache, and when that got better a sprain in the neck mixed with a fainting spell and then a couple of days back a weird dislocation in the jaw. Let’s just say that I’ve been keeping the doctors happy! They say that everything bad happens in threes. I hope this is the end of bad stuff and the beginning of good things… Do good things also happen in threes?

Back to the blog. South Africa (SA) is similar to India in a lot of ways. They have the same sense of diversity with a lot of national languages which make English the most commonly spoken language. They wear a lot of color and thank God for that. I was dreading this would be the repeat of black, white and grey of Sweden. And there is as much noise and chatter in a public place. The economic disparity among people is also present. There is a super-rich class, rich, middle and then the poor class.

But there is a lot that we take for granted in India, which you cannot even dream of doing here. Walking on the road for instance is almost unthinkable here. Try and imagine not being able to walk for even the shortest distances. Here if you go for an evening walk on the road, you can be sure some people looking back from their cars and wondering if you are crazy. Imagine living in a place with alarmed response security, electric-fenced gates and security guards and still looking over your shoulder to make sure all is ok. People tell me that one gets used to it. But as of now, I feel as if I am caged. My day-dreaming while walking days are over for sure :-(…..

It’s been 15 years since apartheid ended, yet they have black areas and white areas. And for some strange reason the visual difference is stark. Not just that, even the new developments end up having the un-official tag of “white” and black areas. The real estate prices also vary depending on this tag. I wonder who is to blame now.

In India the necessities are cheaper than luxury items. You don’t need to shell out a lot of money for education, doctors, medicines etc. However it’s quite the opposite here. Diamonds go on a discount, BMWs and mercs are the order of the day and yet good private education and good doctors can wipe your savings account out!!

The “under-privileged” here are given free houses, water, electricity and education. They get sponsored by companies to study if they wish to. They also get reservations for jobs. All they need to do is study and they almost never do that. They don’t mind resorting to theft of all sorts to get what they what. But never do they put the same effort to try and get a decent education.

The difference between India and this place is that in India each generation learnt from mistakes of their parents and did better. Here they never learn and end up repeating the same old mistakes. That’s the reason why you here you would find a teenage mother whose parents dies of AIDS. That’s probably the reason why the country is far from progressing. You have the infrastructure here but no will to do anything. No wonder my husband’s reply to my amazement is always T.I.A.

Something to remember when travelling to SA

- Robots mean traffic lights. I wonder what in a traffic light resembles a robot.
- Garage is a petrol station. I remember an Indian travelling here told me she hunted for a garage for an hour before realizing what it means here :-)
- “Shap Shap” means ok.. I wonder in which of the 12 languages though
- Always start a conversation with anyone you meet with a “ How are u doing?” no matter how artificial. I still haven’t mastered that art and get the dirty glares from A :-)
- Never ever hitch hike and I mean Never


Out of my comfort zone

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The title is from the book of a cricketer I really admire. It’s the first thing that came to my mind when I thought of writing – perfectly describes what I am going through right now. I got here a month back and thought of taking time to settle down before writing about it…however, settling down is taking more time than usual, so here goes…

What does one think of, when you first say Africa – Wildlife, forests, wilderness, etc etc. Well Johannesburg at least is very different from all that – it’s a city alright (for the benefit of all my friends who thought I was going to live in a jungle resort). The infrastructure is like any developed country – wide roads (though they still have traffic jams), huge shopping malls, clean surroundings (at least the places I have been to). Basically all of the infrastructure woes we suffer from in India are taken care of. I, however am taking time to settle down.

I strongly believe that for us to grow as people, we all need to experience new things, be in new situations and meet new people. And because of this belief, I have never shied away from anything that’s new. This time around, I am truly out of my comfort zone. I don’t remember the person I was before I started working. Work, for me was my security blanket. It was there in my happiest times and there for me in my lowest hours. I counted on work to keep me going for the longest. So not working is taking time to sink in. The idea of not working was appealing. But now being officially unemployed for over two months and not seeing any work in the line of sight scares me crazy sometimes. I have hated being dependent on anyone for travel. I never needed to learn to drive in India since I love walking on the streets, and taking ricks. In Sweden, I could take a bus and walk. Here however, walking on the streets is a strict no-no and with no safe public transport to speak of, maybe its time to start driving. I never picturized myself as a typical “house-wife”. And that’s exactly what I am now. I cook, I clean… I take care of the house…

Let me be honest here…I don’t really have any right to crib…I am really lucky to be married to a really nice guy… A loves cleaning the place and does more than his share of the work… I am very lucky that way… A irons clothes, cleans the place since I am allergic to dust and washes up the dishes too!! He is extremely patient when I hyperventilate about finding work, or go paranoid about vegetating at home, and drives me around anywhere I want to go without a murmur…What more could a girl ask for :-)…I still feel unsettled….I guess some people (read me) are never satisfied and want it all!! Maybe this experience will ease out the control freak in me and I will learn to take life as it comes… I just hope this lesson in life is a small one and doesn't extend beyond my patience level :-)

PS: I realized that I haven’t written much about Jo’burg and my impressions of this place… I promise to do so in my next blog…


From a long time ago….

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I was sorting out my stuff at home today and came across some stuff I had written when I was 15/16… just thought of putting it up here….

Life according to me…
It seems like a deep ocean, so deep and vast, with mysteries of its own. I know not what lies in store for me. Its like a challenge which I would love to accept. Its like a dream that I would wish for, to come true and joy I would love to share. To me its been both good and bad and at 16 I have so much more to see. Life is full of surprises; some good, some bad. To me, life is calm, quiet, deep, on the move and so very mysterious.
Curious are his ways
Curious are his ways – the one who is above us all, and whose puppets we are. He sometimes gives us joy, much more than we can handle and then suddenly puts us to test by giving us all the sorrows of the world. He makes some so rich that they don’t have account of their money and some so poor that they do not have any money to keep account of. Sometimes we feel that he has spoilt our lives, and then by the same bad things we are saved from the worst of worst. He knows us in and out and knows our every need. But still many of them remain unfulfilled. Yet we call him God – the one who loves us all!! He wishes for us to pray for favours and thank him for all that he has does for us. So isn’t it recognition that he wants? Isn’t he as human as us?? That’s why I say… curious are his ways
The Journey
Life, as someone said, is a road. It can be rough, it can be smooth. Its both – at different times. The journey that we make, we make all alone. We do have company for short periods though – families and friends are just part of this journey. Its us, who actually faces the sorrows and the joys, all alone. Its is alone that we need to cross the hurdles of this difficult yet beautiful road. People come and people go. Our lives may be affected by them, but nothing changes us completely. It is finally us who make all our choices our self, not making a choice is choice too. It is us who face the consequences and us who finally live through the choices we make. So lets break the shackles created by others and finally learn to live life the way we want to live it. Listen to others, but take your own decisions – good or bad. After all, even if it’s a bad choice, its your choice! Remember this journey that we make, we make all alone…


About the blog

I don’t promise to make it one of the most intellectual or even the most interesting of the blogs. This is my space and hence would contain anything that holds my attention – a movie, a road trip, an experience, or sometimes even my never ending list of complaints - Basically ramblings from my wandering mind.
Read if you have the time and the inclination, nothing earth shattering will happen if you don’t.
If you do decide to read it, comments most welcome!

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