Monday, November 30, 2009

Compensations of God - Bali Trip 3

Our company has announced that there won’t be a increment this year. We had 5% salary cut last year and this year’s no increment deal is keeping our salary lower than it used to be 2 years back. You may think I am cribbing about the job I have when people lose jobs. That's the ideal way of looking at it but, the situation here is different.

On the Ubud Palace wall, Bali
For the last two years the company made profits quarter after quarter, management have cut costs in everything and even brought another big company, double the size of our employees. Isn’t it the duty of the management to compensate the employee when they have utilized their work and made profits? Ramesh, May be you could help me understand this. I think the company looses its reputation; the moment it forgoes the value of their primary asset, the employees.

Ubud Palace, Courtyard
Last Friday was holiday here (owing to Bakrid) so I got myself invited to Athivas house and she invited Chotu and co to join the occasion. We had sumptuous meal and settled on each corner of the living room like Anacondas. While the family had a hearty chat, chotu walked around playing own games with randomly chosen participants. What started as a lunch date lasted one past midnight, with two meals, umpteen snacks, and a tour to the local park at mid night!

One of the towers inside the palace.
It was on the moment, have fun day and I cancelled my dinner date and marathon calls while on it. Thanks so much Athivas/AJCL for the meals, hospitality and the wonderful time. It felt like the best family time I had in the last two years.

Ubud palace entrance
Puri Saren Ubud is well known Palace in Ubud, used by the last king of Bali. I was told that descendants still live here. Once a governance center has now become a tourist attraction and also a home stay hotel.

There were many enclosures inside the palace, most of which were closed to the visitors.
The unique buildings and ornamented Balinese traditional interiors demonstrate artistic culture of Bali.

This is the back drop for the open stage where the Balinese traditional dances were held. Later that night we also visited a dance performance. I shall post those pictures and about the dance in the next post. The palace is located right across the market (from age old days) which is vibrant with local handicrafts, paintings and clothes.

Moment of truth.. In "love" with the monster ;)
While I was posing for snaps in the steps of a closed enclave, I saw few tourists looking at my direction with chorus “oh”, like they have seen something amusing. I smiled widely thinking they were admiring me. A second later I was sniffed by this huge friendly dog, who must be residing in the home stay hotel.

A sniff which burst my ego bubble into laughter.

The gold ornated stage amidst the greenary, is like cherry on ice cream

These Instruments are called gamelan and is usually performed with traditional Balinese dances in the open stage.

You must be wondering about the idol at the center..

Yes she is our "Kalaivaani/Saraswati" in indonesian style.
After a quick check on the market we started to another hidden beauty of Bali.

I love the tradition of Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for love, travels and friends this year. I think God never forgets when it comes to compensation; it’s just that, it won’t always be a salary increment.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gazing sights of Lazy morning - Bali Trip 2

There is a Standard Charted bank promotion happening near the food court lobby in my office. A polite harassment, I think. How can I forgo someone greeting with smiley face and extended arm? Every time I walk the lobby, I need to explain to sales man (there are many) that I am no Permanent resident here and leaving Singapore next month (both doesn’t qualify me for the card).

On our Buffet table, Mata Hari bunglow Bali
Contrary to this, my health insurance agent (Mayfair) took me for a spin over an unsettled claim. Fighting for it literally gave me a nervous break down. I know I am right but this morning after his mega serial lame excuses, I just gave up. I sent him just three words “God bless you”.

View from the room
Last Saturday found me waking up to this view in Bali, after a tiresome flight and late night food expedition. We had a continental breakfast -a buffet that overlooked the pool. Then we took a pre booked cab and asked the driver to take us around. Ideally this is not me; I plan and tell where exactly I would like to go. But this time I decided to sit back and relax in the company of my friends.

The small lotus pond was such a beauty to watch
All through the road we noticed several temples, and innumerable shops that sold sculptures from peanut to life size or even bigger. Bali is brand by itself for its art and beautiful temples.

When Islam gained power in Java Island during 16th century, Bali became the refuge for many Hindus. Today 93% of Bali population adheres to Balinese Hinduism, an amalgam in which gods and demigods are worshipped together.

Buddhist heroes, Indian gods, ancestor worship, and mythological characters all form the composite of this religion.

The driver decided to stop in this Sanur beach, which had nothing happening at the hot noon time. My friend and I decided to sit in the shade and have a tender coconut. We took our own time to finish, while others got their skin burnt strolling in the sun.

The huge coconut was nicely cut and came with a piece of lime.
I told the driver not to take us to anymore beach in the hot sun. Then he took us to the Batik Art center, which was just ok.

Batik art in Bali happened recently due to the raise of tourism and the need to have more souvenirs. I hope India learns how to market a place through souvenirs soon.

Thats just a pose, the lady who was doing, promptly removed a thread so it doesnot weave.
After a small shopping and photo spree, it was already time for lunch.

Then we visited this restaurant called Adia asri in Ubud. I took immediate liking to the well decorated cozy place, courteous service and the lovely view to the fields by the dining table.

Looks familiar isnt? :)

Eating by the rice field, just like good oldddd days

To top it all they had vegetarian meals!  1 USD is 9,470 Indonesian Rupiahs

I took the karala (derived from kerala?) special which had curry, rice and had a cocktail of banana, papaya and pineapple.

For desert I ordered a traditional Indonesian crepe with coconut and palm sugar filling locally known as Dadar Unti. Then we set out to wonderful architectures of Bali.

Monday, November 23, 2009

From the Bays of Bali - Bali Trip 1

What travelling does to mind is better than a bowl of fresh fruits to the body.
This morning I returned to Singapore from Bali, Indonesia. It was a short trip for such a lovely place. Sometimes I think I don't understand/do a proper holiday. First an exotic place is not a weekend get away, second a holiday with so much on the agenda doesn’t qualify as one. As always the constraints of time or money or both becomes the deciding factor.

A silent contemplation by the sunset is better than any psychiatrist.
I envy all those foreigners I met on this trip. For them, a holiday in an island means walking in sandals, eating local food, relaxing and totally soaking up to the energy, the place had to offer. For visiting a country is more than putting a red pin over the map and pat on shoulders. But I rather have at least two days of it than postponing until the day I am ready to travel upwards.

A monument is like a vailed bride, holding her beauty only for the explorer.
While coming back, I promised myself that I would work harder and also treat myself with longer holidays with all that I earn.

Every place's culture and people have something to offer to us, our job is to let them.
With that note let me introduce to you the land of thousand temples, The Bali. I would try my best to give you a glimpse of it, in this travelogue. Welcome on board!

p.s: The quotes by the pictures are from your's lovingly ;)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Game, Video and Travel alert!

TGIF! How well you know about gravity? See for yourself with this game (Ramesh you too, its manly & age appropriate :P). The dynamics of it left me totally addicted so much that I am wondering why the words have not fallen off from my screen. By the way I have completed all levels with very little cheating ;)

A friend of mine passed me this video. When the Genius, Pranav said he wants to make the technology available to everyone, I went speechless. While businessmen are making money in every area, here is an untainted soul that believes in sharing and enriching humanity! God bless you Pranav!

Just use the inside portion ;)
I tried passion fruit milkshake couple of days back and it turned out to be yummy. Take the pulp from inside the passion fruit, put it in the blender. Add milk, sugar/honey and ice.After blending filter the liquid to remove the seeds. There you go! I would be trying variations later, would let you know about it.

The worst advertisement campaign ever should go to the above banner with captions like " she married him!" God bless those who still want to use such services.

Turning 30, boredom at work and some less pampering at love front were stressful to take. So few friends and I, will be treating ourselves to this place, the land of temples and beaches, for weekend. A place I have been wanting to go before returning to india. Its good to see my back pack by my desk. Sorry Gils I don't think you are going to like next week’s posts ;) Have a good weekend everyone!

Ramesh I have put 3 pictures, happy now ? ;)

p.s: Blogger is behaving odd these days, I guess WP is better, isn’t? Is shifting hard?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Vats' Verses

The more the office work is, the more you get ideas to write post, when its otherwise your mind would dry up equivalent to that of Sahara.

Your relaxing weekend would always involve a short trip to nearby city and exhausted you on Monday morning.

Irritation coupled with anger is the precise feeling you get, when a friend (with a profile picture of rose or duck and a quote instead of name, that left you no choice but to ask who he is) left a personal message in your networking site, is disappointed that you forgot him.

Dieting is not an one time activity.

Pressing the lift button umpteen times would not get you faster to the car park.

Exchange rate is inversely proportional to the need/availability to transfer money to India.

Just when you figure out and master your job, you were either given promotion, or change of profile only to go through the same cycle.

The necessary expense is directly proportional to salary increment.

No amount of money can buy you that zero figure.

A thorough scolding at your favourite friend/love/god is followed by a surprise that would leave you guilty and small.

Bad network is what happens when you want to talk something important.

Rain and your laundry day are best friends.

The annoying newsletters are always delivered in perfect condition and on time.

“Misunderstanding” is the escape used, when both knew and meant all that was said.

I bet your head will explode out of curiosity if you don't open the new message in your hand phone in 5 minutes.

When you are over weight, its time to change the weighing machine.

You pay your dietian, to hear exactly the same things you know or your loved ones have told you

p.s1 : Thanks for all the wishes, post(thanks preethe), sms, calls scraps yesterday :) Afterall turning thirty wasnt that bad :P
p.s 2: Thanks Ashwini shenoy for sending the story for the game. She wrote to me and I quote " I know the competition is long over but I thought what the heck! :D " - Thats the spirit! :) I have posted it along with other stories.

Monday, November 16, 2009

2012 is not an end

I watched 2012 in the weekend and quite fascinated by it. The movie as you might expect, opens with a shocking research findings, from Indian scientist Jimmy misty. He discovers that sunspots and ‘super neutrinos’ boiling the Earth's core, which would lead to the disastrous doom’s day as predicted by Mayan’s calendar. Then it follows a divorced couple (John Cusack and Amanda peet – looks lovely by the way) and kids (it reminds me so much of War of worlds) trying to survive it.

After 20 minutes the movie kicks in with so much action, that I found hard to cope up with it. Earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, meteor showers and the magnetic displacement of the poles, everything happening at the same time! The creative imagination of this orgy is a lot to take in at one sitting. There is no spoiler alert for the movie, even if I write scene by scene you would still want to watch it.

The visuals are so (destructively) impressive, that it would be really hard for any movie to top it. I can vouch this is THE DISASTER movie of all the time. I guess that's what is expected from Roland Emmerich, the director of Independence Day and Day after tomorrow. As far as the adrenaline rush from the CG graphics spectacle goes, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Noah’s ark story said in new light is what 2012 is about. How can one even think, yet alone plan a contingency plan to doom’s day?! Some parts of this plan are so ridiculous, like US managing to keep the findings secret, from major population of the world.

The director has succeeded in reaching the global audience with many details. Like the Afro American president (wise choice) who decides to die with people. A Russian billionaire owning advanced cars. Italian president stays back and prays in the Vatican cathedral. An Indian scientist from lousy environment with high end computer! Chinese workers building the ship and Chinese monk helping hero’s family to board etc...

While the trailers of 2012 gave me this nightmare, the impact of the movie is indescribable. I learned about the significance of 2012 few years back in my mediation class. Have you noticed the set of ants climbed on you bite at the same time? That's because they don't think individually but collectively. That's the kind of collective consciousness the earth is perceived to hold and it’s been evolving for millions of years along with humans.

As you can see there are so many wars, sufferings and so many deaths by various sources, happening today, more than it ever did in the past. While many conspiracies predict the actual end of the world by this year, spiritual leaders believe the current period as cleansing time for earth.

These leaders from various religious practices believe there would be a break even point, during 2012. The ratio of people who believe in peace, harmony, love, empathy, meditate/pray for thyself and others to those who does otherwise would increase significantly. This would not mark the end of the world, rather beginning of new world, with everything nice. As Christians believe “The kingdom of heaven would come down to earth”.

When I had these night mares and wondering about it, I received a mail from my guru asking us to mediate for earth (a mediation to heal the earth) regularly to help it cross over the rough time. As a person who believes in the slogan “everything happens for a reason” I follow this order. I don't think everyone would agree or relate to such concepts, but I am sure everyone of us prefers a better future to doom’s day.

Every single thought of ours has power. Believe me your friend calling you the moment you think about him is more than coincidence. Please watch this movie, hoping /praying/visualizing/believing that such thing would never happen to our mother earth.  I hope the movie would serve as wake up call to everyone to respect and conserve nature.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Sleepy meetings and sleepless ceremonies

TGIF! Today is my little brother’s engagement.Its strange, still remember fighting over a candy bar with him. It’s an arranged marriage and they are having an official ceremony to declare it. Even if its love marriage, The Guy doesn’t go down on one knee in Indian custom, it will still be an official family affair. The celebration is happening in a town called “hosur” (in the girls place, as a custom), few hours drive from our home in Chennai. So my brother had booked two buses (!) for the family, and friends to commute.

Indian marriage is like a crazy circus, where petty things would be blown out of proportion and staged by the relatives. Like the quantity/quality of food served, or not been given enough “respect” / “gifts”. Managing the demanding relatives becomes the priority of the parents, groom and bride to be! I bet mom and dad had sleepless nights since last week, mentally rehearsing and preparing for this occasion.

Then just like Vishal post the worst thing happened. Last night on the road, one bus had a flat tyre! And that batch of people arrived late. Surprisingly my dad kept cool, in fact he was enjoying telling me that, most of them were mom’s relatives ;) These are the times I miss my dad the most.

While all this is happening, I am sitting in office abroad, testing applications, listening to this. Then the worst happened. Manager called for a 2 hour document review meeting. A post-lunch-sit-in-the-dark room-staring-projector-light can make a good test for stay-awake contest. If you are just like me who finds it hard to keep up your eye shutters, then the following tricks might help you.

Buy a canned drink or have a coffee. Take it in slow sips. Have a good game counting the maximum number of sips you can make out of the drink. Da..daah before you know the meeting is over.

Tilt your head to the side, squint your eyes and nod your head looking at the manager for every few mins. In the back of your mind you can plan your vacation, or wonder about prefect dinner.  It would also help you to gain brownie points from manager.

If more members are present, have fun watching them. Misery loves company!

When the manager change the slide, suddenly interrupt and ask to move a slide back. Say you couldn't follow and ask to elaborate on it again. Be careful not to overdo, then points would turn negative.

Bite your tongue or Pinch yourself. If it still doesn’t work, then ask your buddy sitting next to you to do it. Be sure to ask someone, you are in good terms with.

Similarly if you have some back stabbing to do, dial your buddy number hoping its not in silent mode. As soon as the ringtone blares, cut the call and act cool.

Have a chocolate(keep it unwrapped) or chewing gum. Just dont get excited and blow bubble.

Close your eyes, and rub your head as if you are suffering from a head ach. Or put your thumb and forefinger around the nose and pretend you are thinking hard. Now and then open your eyes and do some movement.

Write what ever you feel at the moment in the notepad. Don't worry no one would read. In fact I wrote this in my meeting. As thumb rule write them in your worst possible hand writing.

After surviving the two hour misery, I called to check on my brother. The function was over and he was having lunch with his would-be. With little hint he passed the phone to her. Since its my first time talking to her I became extremely uncomfortable. I couldn't say anything more than “Congratulations”, and then she said “we missed you here anna (brother)”

Here’s to the silly meeting tricks and new found relations where heart finds dew drops of joy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Hill, Wave and Stream - Singapore Series

I bet you can’t spot Singapore in the world map. And if you do, the hole made by the red pin would be bigger than the size of Singapore. If you happen to pay more than 40$ in the cab to anywhere in the city, you would probably be going around in circle or on sea waters. That's how small this island is. Yet it's a nation well known for its global presence in economy, tourism, vibrant diverse culture and cleanliness!

Mount Faber park
Its one of the most stable government in the world and the threat levels from any source are low, so every major bank has a branch here. You can walk on road or take cab at 2 am with all your jewels and possessions and still be safe. The comforts of lifestyle here makes it second home to any expats like me (many give up their original citizenship to be a Singaporean). In this series I am hoping to provide you a glimpse of this wonderful place.

When I landed in Singapore two years back, I expected to see only sky scrapers. But the eye cooling greenery, landscaped to perfection by the road side and numerous parks surprised me very much. Mount Faber Park is such lush green luxury situated closer to the famous Vivo city shopping mall.

You can access Mount Faber Park either through the cable cars from harbor front or through the bus. Get down at Jewel box in either case. This is the high dining (on top of the mountain facing the sea) and high priced restaurant, so instead of putting a hole in the purse carry some snacks and drink and just enjoy the view. If you are with family and if the weather is good carry a plastic sheet to have a lovely picnic

The gallery, taken 2 years back
The Faber walk is picturesque trail covering the beautiful park towards the top of the hill. There is a small gallery about Singapore history. The steps behind the building would lead you to this breath taking view of the southern islands, including the famous sentosa. For the trail info please click here

And on the other side you can see sky scrapers of Singapore.

You would also find the iconic Merlion sculpture standing tall in the flora and fauna covered park.This is just about enjoying nature and taking a good walk, so just relax and take your time instead of rushing through this place.

Henderson Waves
You don't need map to be walking around, as the name boards here are sufficient enough to guide you through the walk. The walk ends in the artistic cum engineering marvel, the Henderson waves bridge.

This highest pedestrian bridge (120ft above the road) connects Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill Park. An alternate way to go to this bridge is to take a bus from Harbor front to Henderson road and walk the way up to the bridge.

The path is made entirely by planks of wood on steel structure

View of the Henderson Road from bridge, can you spot the bus stop?
Once you cross the bridge you would be greeted by the dense rainforest trails. There are resting huts with wending machine, view points, child play and exercise zones here.

Although this park is famous for married couples, you can see many taking a jog or walk in the trails.

Play zone, relaxing area

Last time we went there, we got down towards the left to Henderson road. We saw this beautiful stream and pond on the way down. Then we took bus to harbor front Vivo city mall for dinner.