Friday, December 30, 2005

A New Year gift for you!

The art of finding something that may please our dear ones, adding an element of surprise and sprinkling some love to make ‘it’ the perfect gift, is quite an ‘experience’. [I shall leave it there for both ended discussions] So, while I saw my pay check for this month shred away for all the gifts, I kept thinking what gift should I give to Bindas Bay? After scratching my head for few minutes, I came up with this analytical conclusion:

  1. Good comments on the blog =>(implies) The community appreciates my work => Community appreciates my likes (to some extent at least)
  2. From 1: What do I like as a gift (Nano, game/concert tickets, hmm…Vamsee, stop! Just “ONE” gift) + Gift needs to be digital for our savvy community
  3. #2 => Few more scratches on my head and few sleepless nights of serious thinking [a tad exaggerated! ;-)]

Finally, I decided to settle on one of the most wanted tunes. So Ladies & Gentlemen, proudly presenting you all the most precious and memorable title song of Malgudi Days. (Did I hear some Awwwws already?)

Oh! I know it’s not a gift until you can get your hands on it, rite!?! Here you go, go ahead and get the tune onto your ipods, blogs and proudly share it with your friends. [Thanks to Arjun for uploading it there]

A small gift for all my dear Bindas Bay community members, wishing you and your family a Healthy, Happy and a Prosperous New Year! :-)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Ek Anek - My first vlog!

I had been thinking to post a video blog but didnt knew which one. I guess I wanted to post only the best (No-No, its not just my laziness) ;-) Today, I had my childhood memories refreshed when Nats played this animation video and I thought this would be a good vlog.

The "Ek Anek" short animation film was used as a filler by Doordharshan back in India. Indian animation surely came a long way since those times and I was surprised to see that Bhimsen, the same animator who created Ek- Anek had a huge role in it. Here is a nice article I found on Bhimsen.
So without me knitting any more stories, please click on the clip below and enjoy the video.

A blast from the past before we welcome the New Year! :-)

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Ladies in Red...

“Rich and elegant” Andy skipped a beat at the sight of the beautiful twins, more so when both the twins looked straight into his eyes and smiled. Well dressed in red and the perfect smile on their faces is killing Andy every second. “Twins huh...Can I handle them at one time” he naughtily hesitated. Though desperate from with in, he casually peeked at them from a corner of his eye to make sure he is not dreaming. The ladies sat opposite to Andy and playfully returned him one of their trust-me-it-is-true smiles and just to be sure one of them winked at him sportily adjusting her jewelry. Poor Andy after all, this is his last chance to make it THE night after 7 hours of wait.

“Do I look desperate…am I being obvious?” If there was a count one could keep they would give up on Andy’s racing mind by now. Andy took another deep breath and looked at the twins once again to completely make sure the ladies are indeed attracted to him. Sexiest smiles he has ever seen, Andy took a stab and told himself “Sexy twins…Handle them well my boy!”

Now the pessimist that Andy is, two more questions popped again in his head “Should I slow play to get a feel first?”-OR- “Should I just make my move? (ye ya How-ye-doin’ nod)He looked around to make sure no other eyes are set on the lovely ladies; in contrast he found that all eyes in the room were set on him. “Why wouldn’t they…After all I caught the ladies attention” he felt proud. Among many other people trying to get into the room, two other ladies who came in greeted the women in acquaintance.

Andy looked around again and realized that twins are the best in the room. He sensed weakness and jealousy in other eyes that just boosted his confidence further that he is the luckiest man in the room for the twins’ to be attracted to him. “Alright lets go!” he told himself bending his head enough to greet the ladies as the entire room turns silent to witness his next move. He lifts his head with a smile, looks at everyone else in the room, some biting their nails in anxiety. He cherishes the attention he grabbed tonight and with a proud smile on his face, turns to the ladies and takes a deep breath before he leans forward to say…

PS: Shame on you if you thought I was writing porn here ;-) It’s about POKER my friends...

1. If you still don't know what I am talking about, check out the History of Poker
2. If you heard about Poker but never played it before Learn the Game
3. If you think you know it all, "Read" the Math
4. If you still think you know it all - What the hell, go book your tickets to Vegas!

BTW, if you did not get the story above, Andy has a pair of Queens, then he finds two more queen cards on the flop (two other ladies who walked into the room), so he moves ALL IN with Four of a Kind that ranks third in poker hands.

Until I see you again – as they say, May all your cards be alive and pots be monsters! ;-)

Thursday, December 15, 2005


“Sri Rama Rama Ramethi Rame Raame Manorame
Sahasranama Thatthulyam Rama nama varaanane”

feeble sounds I could not decipher rang in my ears, as I woke up at 4am. I tip toed to open the front door that scr-ee-tched enough to wake up the neighbors but surprisingly, it did not even change the rhythm of the loud snores in this house. I sat on the verandah steps staring at the dark sky, front gate and the dense neem tree in the corner of the front yard. Cool breezes, rhythmic movements of the neem branches, soft sounds of birds chirping, it’s a familiar morning. A morning I left 9 years back…

I wrapped my shawl tighter watching the neem tree and the cement base around it. “The ghostly old man will take you into the branches if you don’t finish your dinner” I smiled recalling the stories Amma(mom) created and the times when I used to run around this tree in an attempt to avoid my meals until a fresh neem cane made its mark on my back.
“Tring-Tring Tring - Tring” bicycles with heavy milk cans zoomed away into the dark. Amma came out and sat next to me. For a long time, we just gazed into the dark as if the other was not present.
“After we finished our home works in the evening, your Ammamma (grandmother) told us stories of Ramayan under this tree” Amma recalled her childhood with moist eyes, which I could not see in the dark but could picture from my heart. I held her arm with both hands and put my head on her shoulder. Though no words said, her head bent on mine comforted us both.

It is a very quite morning today. I could hear the cooker whistles, servant maids never ending stories, Teja news on the TV, amma running around to give Neha her bath, dad on phone with some collegues, I still couldn’t hear something…Something that tied all of these together.
“Sri Rama Rama Ramethi…” I heard it a bit clearer this time but before I could register, “Chinni its 7’o clock, get ready soon, we are late for the temple” Amma’s holler from the kitchen made me run into the bathroom.

“Prayers for you are held here every Tuesday and Saturday” Pujari(priest) explained to me when I was startled at how he knew my date of birth and other personal details. “Your Grandmother signed up for special poojas for you… for almost 10 years now” he laid it out answering my confused face.
I circled around the temple some odd number of times before I came out with chakkara pongali(sticky rice made with ghee,jaggery, sugar and dry fruits)- my favorite prasadam in my right palm. I found amma engrossed in a conversation with some women I hardly knew, but with her hand movements I figured amma was proudly presenting them her granddaughter. Without disturbing them, I walked outside the temple to the banks of river Krishna.

I saw a 7-8 year old girl walking towards the temple with her younger brother looking back proudly at the cave they built with the wet mud. I could see them walking towards me and mumble something to each other. When they came close enough, “You built a big cave!” I said. They proudly looked back again at the cave and the younger one enquired “So does everyone in Aamerika has a motor car?” I was little surprised to see that even a kid of that age knew my whereabouts.
“Do you like Cars?” I asked.
Before he jumped onto me to share all he knew about cars, his sister interrupted saying “Your grandmother told many stories about you. If we studied well, she said we can go to Aamerika too like you did”. I met these kids for the first time in my life, yet I felt they were no strangers.

Remaining day passed very quickly with idlis(Steamed rice& lentil patty), sambhar and filter coffee for breakfast, Rasam, Gongura pappu(toordal cooked with leafy veggies), Avakayya(South Indian mango pickle) for lunch and masala vada with filter coffee for evening tiffin.
I sat with Amma on the verandah watching Neha play on her tricycle. Strangers came in asking how I was, Neha’s broken yet fluent telugu grasped their attention so quick that I didnot have to answer their questions. Amma took every opportunity to market her grand daughter to them.

After awhile I found it hard to concentrate between the “How-Where-What” questions about America and the soft sounds of the devotional songs from the temple speakers…

“Sri Rama Rama Ramethi Rame Raame Manorame
Sahasranama Thatthulyam Rama nama varaanane”

I heard it clear this time, I heard it amidst 4 other people chatting about America, I heard the lines from Vishnu Sahasra namam loud and clear in my head.

It is these sounds, sounds of Ammamma reciting prayers that woke us all for a perfect day. It is these slokhas that were missing from all the other regular house hold sounds in the morning. It is these chants, the smell of agarbathi and dhoopam that made this house a home. A home that just remained a house for us now. “Can we never hear her again?” I thought for a second.

“She can recite the complete Suklam Baradharam without taking a break” I heard Amma brag about Neha to some more new faces.

It is in the poojas performed in the temple on my name, in the kids to whom I was marketed as an icon, in the Ramayan stories that Amma now narrates to Neha during her bed time and in Amma’s love for Neha, She will be heard, I answered.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Is this all there is?

6PM- Door Bell rang.

“Don’t even ask!” Priya warned entering into the house.

She went straight to the rest room while for us - the remaining souls in the house, curiosity levels went high. ”Bad day at work?” guessed Sri in his best hushed tone. “Or worst 101 traffic?” I added and suddenly it became one of those 'Guess in 60 Seconds' game.
While we all secretly bet on the reasons, Priya walked into the living room and settled in the recliner. Silence spread in the room until Nats and I bought the mugs of chai for everyone. “Thanks!” Priya took her mug from Nats and continued staring at the TV. Few more silent minutes and then she turned to face all her confused friends…Though we tried hard to stay normal, our pulses rose to see who won the Guess game and of course the 20 bucks!

“So, what are the bets?” Priya hit the bulls eye and we the Broadway experts gave her ‘what?-Where-did-you-get-that-from?’ look. “Well, whoever guessed it a bad day at work…” before Priya finished her sentence, Sri could not control his ‘World Champion of Guesser’ shriek which was shot down immediately by a ‘Dude-you-are-so-dead’ look from the experts minus one. Nats was the first to ask Priya what actually happened.

“I just don’t think I am going any where in this job…and to top that as ye all know my boss sucks!”, once she laid it all out on the table, it was not something we did not know, or haven’t experienced ourselves. We all have been there, done that and few of us are still hanging in there for some weird yet personal reasons.

“…So I quit!”

Priya’s announcement did not just silent us all but made us think when it is that one decides this is it? Our silence did freak Priya a bit and having noticed that, I immediately broke the silence saying, “Kudos to one who got balls”

“…to actually kick some!” Nats added sportily.

Though the rest of the evening raised a toast to Priya’s guts recalling scenes from Office Space, we all - including Priya, knew it’s a bold (translation: SHIT! Oh SHIT! ...SHIT!) move.

11pm – group dispersed and I sat wondering when can/should one call it QUITS! Google quickly rescued my thoughts and here are some top reasons I found to identify when one is in a dead-end job:

1. Overload: When people left your companies, instead of being replaced, are the remaining employees expected to pick up the slack and work two jobs for the price of one?
2. Unsung hero: Are your extra hours and "go the extra mile for the client" attitude unrecognized or unrewarded?
3. Out of the loop: Has a change in management left you out in the cold?
4. Looming dread: Do you dread getting out of bed in the morning because it means you have to face another day at work?
5. Is this all there is? Do you find your productivity slipping and that you lack a general interest in your job?
6. Temper, temper: Do you find minor challenges either at work or at home touch you off more often?
7. Alienation: Do you no longer feel like investing emotionally in your co-workers?

Read the complete article on CNN and figure out yourself and whatever situation you are in, Good Luck ye’ all swimming through the week! :-)

Friday, December 09, 2005


Nothing unusual happened today. Same meetings, same routine, yet something kept flashing my memory every few hours. Are we desis embarrassed cause of other desis? Don’t get me wrong…We do take good pride being an Indian…but statements like “Darn this place is stuffed with desis…jjeeeezzzz”, “look a desi in a Porsche! Are those things getting cheaper these days?”, “Desi girls in Mardi Gras huh!?” am sure buzz in many ears every day. Of course we all came across at least one Bob [urf Babu] or Andy [urf Anand Swami].

Now crossing the line and from the other side, we also frequently hear statements like “Did you hear? One of Google’s VCs is a desi”, “Hey Desis are damn good in keeping relationships & family values unlike these goras” or “Do you know, the most successful immigrants in US are desis” (and if the listener is aware of the stats) quickly add “…ya ya I meant Asians!”

Here is the incident that triggered this thought in me and reminded me of something that my ammamma (grandma) once said during her trip to US.

8.30 AM: gulping down some hot caffeine, I walked into a room full of people. Some yawning hellos greeted me while I settled down in a corner next to Mr.Desi. Many new faces I thought, and with an enthusiastic smile introduced myself to the fellow desi. “Hi, how are ya…Vamsee here”, I said extending my hand. With least interest possible and a fake smile, “ya hi, I work out of Seattle office as a programmer”, was his response shaking my hand holding just the tip of my fingers as if I were “the untouchable”. The meeting started and John, my boss introduced me to the team as their new Product Manager and handed over the next 30 minutes for me to yap. Now that I am facing the team, I could see each one of their (sleepy) faces clearly …My eyes kept moving from face to face and couldn’t help but capture the “Desi- manager-and-that too- a girl” look from the only fellow desi in the room. At the end of the meeting, I shook hands with the rest of the team and there he was, waiting to shake hands (again), and this time with a good big smile on his face.

I hopped from one meeting to another the whole day but a wise yet simply said statement by ammamma kept ringing in my ears. “Goras look at us with respect for our culture and we desis call them cultureless yet try to fit into their”culture” ” (translated summary)

Is it our “trying to fit-in” attitude or is it just that we are so naïve not to treat another Indian with the same respect we shower over fairer skins? Also, how can we be judgmental about other immigrants in this country? Oh please, don’t give me that “When in Rome…”

Eg-chak-tly, Let’s zoom out for a minute and the real question is, “when can one ‘individual’ look at another ‘individual’ just as an ‘individual’?”

Monday, December 05, 2005

Laying down some rules...

Here is a response to the email/IM messages about the blog...Also, some basic reasons for you to keep visiting Bindas Bay.
* Bindas Bay - is not another Bay area specific blog. The idea is to replicate the diversity found in bay area in ‘our’ posts!
* Thought of the Day - Posted every night by 11.59 PST.
* What the !#$* is new about this blog? "No Limit Bay Area-ians: Cannot Hold 'em" answers it all, but for all you spoon feds...This is a blog where no one person posts = Everyone/Anyone can ‘Submit’ what they wish to share – who said blogs needed to be just one person’s ramblings?

1. You can submit your ideas/posts (use the link on blog) till 9PM PST every day and check the blog back at 11. 59 PM PST for one of the lucky one's post! [A single sentence/ advertising your work/hobbies can be a post too] Think about it…A new post every night on a new topic every day ranging from real stories to maniac dreams to techie nonsense to fishy politics...see it takes long to run out of topics!
2. The best post entry for the week will be our "Featured Post" and the Author's profile (even a photo if you wish) will be displayed on the blog for a whole one week. Just remember DIVERSITY is the key in posts!

Note: Once a new post is on the blog, YIM ID: vamsee1025 status message will have the link to the blog and hey, you check the blog, you wish to speak, speak on the blog. No back door emails! ;-)
Come back soon for a spicy interesting new post, below’s a peek!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Technology: Skype - A Fortune Cookie?

Yah, neither did I think it would be me to post the first techie biz on Bindas Bay.

Few months back, I was engrossed in a completely enlightening & philosophical discussion with few friends over garam chai…who am I kidding huh! we were just bitching about dead end jobs, pathetic recent desi movies (besides SN), and then about Swati’s midnight calls trying to convince her parents about not-an-indian-but-german boyfriend Aron.
While Swati sighed clearing her breaking voice, we were almost thrown out of the couch by Nats bursting joy jump. She jumped again in her seat before verbalizing her excitement about India calls…

”SKYPE ROCKS!” She announced.

Apparently many others are joining Nats today…
“With its New Version, Skype Phone Service May Enter Mainstream” says The God - Walter J Mossberg. “Skype 2.0, with added features - including video calling and a cleaner interface is very easy to use. All my test calls were very clear” he adds. “I tested the phone by calling both Skype users and non-Skype users, and it worked great everywhere in and around my home -- upstairs, downstairs, even outside in the yard”, was his conclusion. Read the complete article at the Wall Street Journal.

Some others are wondering if the notion of eBay incorporating Skype makes it a major threat to Vonage. Will Skype actually kill Vonage is the next obvious question for the following reasons.
1. Skype is viral. The more it spreads, the more powerful it becomes. If you don't think eBay knows this, get real! Skype 2 even comes with another viral Scooby snack: It allows you to set up Skype buttons on your blog or websites that activate when you're online, making it easier for folks to reach you.

2. Somebody's walking into a RadioShack store with five bucks to burn. Just $4.99 can buy you the Skype Trial Pack at 3,500 RadioShack locations. That includes the software, a basic PC microphone (in case you didn't already have one) and a 30-minute SkypeOut voucher. If you crave a more conventional experience, RadioShack will set you up with handsets, wireless, or stand-alone phones with seamless Skype integration.

3. Need a third reason for Vonage to fret? The beta version of Skype's new version 2 software just debuted, and it's packed with the kind of goodies that commercial voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) providers would be drooling over.

“Vonage has been a noble VoIP pioneer. It's got a great product. However, eBay's new baby is carrying the bigger rattle. In the bigger scheme of things, Vonage may have simply cleared the way for Skype's entry to the domestic market”, is their predictions for the future. Read the complete article at

“Go Skype Rocketing!”, I would say before signing ye all a great Saturday.

Friday, December 02, 2005

The Coffee Break! - An interesting article by Susan Stamberg.

According to an old Turkish proverb, coffee should be "black as hell, strong as death, and sweet as love." As a brew, coffee has been around for centuries. But in this country, taking a daily break to drink it is a more recent phenomenon. This week on Present at the Creation, NPR's ongoing series on the origins of American icons, Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg traces the history of the coffee break.

The world's first coffee break, Stamberg reports, "probably took place before 1000 A.D. in Abyssinia (today's Ethiopia). Legend has it that a goatherd named Kaldi noticed his goats dancing around on their skinny hind legs. Then he noticed the goats had eaten some red berries. Kaldi tried the berries; he started dancing, too; and so coffee break dancing was born!"

From those beginnings, Stamberg says, the story of coffee is "long and global." Arabians in the 13th century used the roasted, brewed beans to ease menstrual cramps. The first coffee shop opened in 15th-century Constantinople, where the Turks thought the drink was an aphrodisiac. By the mid-1600s, coffee replaced beer as New York City's favorite breakfast drink. In the 1700s in Leipzig, Johann Sebastian Bach wrote a cantata about coffee. And in 1773, the Boston Tea Party made drinking coffee a patriotic duty.

The American ritual of taking a workday break for coffee, however, didn't begin until the early 20th century. The U.S. workplace of the late 19th century was a dreary place, says Howard Stanger, a historian of industrial relations at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y.: "There were frequent wage cuts, there was very little job security, few benefits. Unions for the most part, outside of skilled trades, were virtually non-existent."
But as the century turned, Stamberg says, "matters began to improve. Social reform was in the air. Legislation emerged to create a minimum wage, and workers' compensation." Companies and factories installed in-house lunchrooms, places "where workers could get away from the drudgery for a while" -- and the coffee break became part of the change.

What remains in dispute, though, is precisely which U.S. company was the birthplace of the coffee break. Wayne Stephens makes this claim: "In 1902, the Barcolo Manufacturing Company in Buffalo, N.Y., started giving its employees coffee breaks. To our knowledge, that was the first time that had ever happened in American industry," says Stephens, CEO of Barcalounger, the company (now based in North Carolina) that began as Barcolo.

Though the company's historical records are somewhat sketchy, Stephens cites old newspaper reports quoting a Barcolo executive as saying, "The employees felt like they needed a mid-morning and mid-afternoon break... and one of the employees volunteered to heat the coffee up on a kerosene-fueled hot plate. The employees paid for the coffee... and started taking, obviously with the approval of management, about a 10- to 15-minute, mid-morning and mid-afternoon coffee break."

But elsewhere in Buffalo, historian Stanger makes a coffee break counterclaim. In the ledgers of the now-defunct Larkin Company -- a Buffalo firm that started by producing soap, and ended up as a big mail-order house -- Stanger found a 1901 entry on free coffee to employees. Larkin and Barcolo did business together, Stanger told Stamberg, so it's possible that Larkin gave free coffee to workers, but didn't give them time out to drink it. And it's possible that someone at Larkin mentioned the free coffee to someone at Barcolo, and Barcolo turned the idea into a coffee break. As Stamberg observes, "When you're talking coffee, anything is possible."

Wherever the coffee break originated, Stamberg says, it may not actually have been called a coffee break until 1952. That year, a Pan-American Coffee Bureau ad campaign urged consumers, "Give yourself a Coffee-Break -- and Get What Coffee Gives to You."

Today, Stamberg says, Americans "are hooked on coffee," consuming about 350 million cups of it daily.