Sat, 30th Apr '05, 3:45 pm::

You know what I'm sick of? Family/relatives/friends who treat me solely like a free computer help desk! Sure, I know computers and work with them and don't mind offering important advice every now and then, but if the only time you EVER call me is when you need computer help, guess what... stop calling/emailing/IM'ing me because I don't want to hear about your broken software or hardware - especially since when you bought your crappy computer, I advised you against it and asked you to go get a good Dell with 24/7/365 tech support but you chose to save $50 instead. I AM NOT YOUR FREE HELPDESK. MOVE ON! Or maybe, once in a while, drop in and ask me how my life is going or if my trip to India was good or not. I DO NOT WANT TO TEACH YOU HOW TO BACKUP YOUR DVD DRIVES FOR THE SIXTH TIME.

Let me be clear. If I am a part of your family/friendship then I will do my best to help you out in any way I can - be it computers, helping you paint your apartment, or helping you move to your new house. I am not a bad lazy person. If you need help, feel free to call me anytime. But if 100% of your communication ONLY pertains to asking for computer help and never once have you asked me about my day, family, job, kitties, or what's new in my life, then PLEASE STOP IT. I DO NOT WANT TO TALK TO YOU EVER AGAIN. And I don't care how closely related you are to me. Thanks. That will be all.

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Sat, 30th Apr '05, 3:30 pm::

So I put down an offer on one of the four houses that I saw today. I instantly liked it and it had a lot of what I was looking for. Let's see what the sellers say about my offer.

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Thu, 28th Apr '05, 1:00 pm::

The house-buying process has begun. I talked to one bank and they pre-approved my loan of upto $150,000 to buy a house. I'm gonna talk to a few others more and see where I can get the best deal. But at least, one bank is ready so I know that I'm going in the right direction. Oh and my credit score kicks ass - 745! Let the house huntin' begin...

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Wed, 27th Apr '05, 8:55 pm::

My new workout + running + diet health plan is going pretty well. It's tough but kinda fun. Day 2 of 93 right now. Only 91 more days to go...

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Tue, 26th Apr '05, 7:45 am::

After much thought and contemplation, I finally designed my new diet + workout plan for the next 3 months. I need to lose a lot of chub and gain some muscle mass. My training chart includes a target and actual value for each of these: freehand workout in the morning, evening running time, miles to run, workout time, body weight, and calorie intake. Points for each day are calculated based on the difference between the target and actual values for each of these and added together. So if instead of 15 minutes of freehand exercise I did only 10, I could gain those points by running 5 minutes extra or running 0.5 mile extra. I can also work out more if I want or eat a little less. If I don't work out on some day, I can always cover up on a weekend too.

Basically, I designed this chart to give me enough flexibility to eat more or rest lazily on some days while not going overboard. If I don't feel like running outside because of the rain or heat, I can go to the gym for 10-15 more minutes and keep my points for the day. Being lazy is negative points and being active is positive points. Best though is zero points because that means I'm sticking to my schedule and not working out too little or too much. There's no point in running 20 minutes extra for one whole week and then giving up on the whole workout plan after a month due to exhaustion or loss of focus.

Once again, just like the marathon, I got something physical to achieve :) I'm kinda excited to see if I can actually meet the goal or not. It's a pretty tough goal weight + body-stat-wise but I think if I keep at it, I will gradually get there. My chart also allows me to relax on weekends but if I miss a weekday, I must cover up on the next Saturday or Sunday otherwise I get negative points. It's a very simple Excel sheet but I think as long as I follow it well, the reesults will show.

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Sun, 24th Apr '05, 9:10 pm::

I'm home in Saint Petersburg finally with the kitties.

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Sat, 23rd Apr '05, 3:20 pm::

I was sooooooooo tired last night when my plane landed at the Newark NJ airport. I was absolutely stressed and out of my mind. Turns out my connecting flight to Tampa FL leaves on Sunday 3pm instead of Saturday 1am. Air India gave me two days free stay at the airport Holiday Inn but I came to my aunt's house instead. So now, I get to see my family and friends here in Jersey for free! Gotta go now and chill with the family :)

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Fri, 22nd Apr '05, 7:50 am::

I don't really like this keyboard I'm typing on at this cybercafe. It keeps eating up some keys like f, l, n, p, c etc. I have to double-check everything I type. But hey, at least I get to be online instead of walking around the airport terminals like a zombie.

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Fri, 22nd Apr '05, 7:05 am::

I'm at a cybercafe in the Mumbai/Bombay Airport where access to the net is pretty cheap Rs. 60/hour ($1.25/hour). It's quite fast too - hope my dad could get a connection like this at home. It'll take some time but I'm sure they'll get it. Once my home in Calcutta/Kolkata has broadband connection then I can use something like Vonage to call them everyday at local phone charges and not international. Can't wait till that day.

So my flight was delayed as I expected. Had it been on time, I'd be in the plane already. Now I fly off at 11:20am. I checked in all my luggage and will hopefully disembark at the Newark, NJ Airport at 8:25pm tonight via Paris. Kinda sucks that I don't get to check out the Paris airport as the plane just sits on the runway for refuelling. My plane lands at 8:25pm and my connecting flight departs at 8:10pm. So unless I pull off some James Bond 007 moves and transfer from one plane to another mid-air, I'm definitely going to miss my connecting flights to Tampa via Atlanta. AirIndia here in Mumbai said that since it's their fault that the flight's being delayed, they will make sure that I get a decent accomodation and proper connecting flights to my destination.

For some stupendous reason there is no flight from Newark NJ to Tampa FL airports after 10pm tonight till 8am tomorrow. I was ready to get on a 11pm flight if available but they could only reserve me for two 8am flights. My reservation isn't confirmed either but hopefully by the time I'm in Newark tonight, they'll have it partially figured out. The journey that was supposed to take less than 24 hours is now gonna be longer than 36 hours but I'll get to sleep in a hotel overnight in NJ now.

I'll call my aunt/uncle in NJ to see if they wanna visit but I wonder if they can make it all the way to Newark airport on such a short notice. Anyways, I'll prolly be so tired after two long flights and the immigration checks etc. that I'll want to sleep till 6am tomorrow. I have my US Visa on my passport and I'm crossing my fingers that there are no problems.

I had a great time here with my family after almost three years of separation. Now I'm ready to face the new challenges at my work and career. While it's great living in US, there is one major drawback - you slowly forget everything you aspired to be; India reinforces your primal aspirations. Life in US is like slowly dissolving in a warm feel-good quicksand of acid - you don't know you're melting away molecule-by-molecule. India is a quick slap on the back that reminds you that you need to hold your breath, flap your arms, and get the hell out of the quicksand. In other words, before I left India for the US, I had a very keen interest in furthering my academic career and studying till my hair is grey. After getting a job, getting a car, finding a nice apartment, the fire within slowly dies down. One becomes lax about fulfilling the original dreams.

And just one 15-day trip to India drilled the whole academic-career thing back into my head. And not just the academic, the desire to work harder and smarter is stronger now more than ever. I want to make the systems my company needs and I want to make them smart, robust (I know, cliched), and scalable (I know, very much cliched). I want to be twice or thrice as productive as I was in the last few months. Hell I was barely productive in the last two weeks before I left for India because I was soooooooooooo stressed out about the outcome of my visa interview. But thankfully, I got the visa and now I have to accomplish what I desperately need to. There's new ideas to be thought of, there's new systems to be created, and there's a lot more effort to be put into every segment of my life.

One thing I would have regretted had I not got my visa is that I did not travel enough. I sit at home on weekends doing minor chores or idling away in front of the TV when I could be out, seeing the country. Seeing the world's not an easy thing on an Indian passport but I can damn well go around the US at least once a month. Off the top of my head, I need to go to Boston, Washington, NY, California, Vegas, and once again to Salt Lake City. I have a friend or two in each of these places that I need to visit. I think now I'll try to save up each month and look out for specials and cheap tickets online from Tampa to all of these places and god knows where else - after all there's a Fark party somewhere every weekend.

Having the thoughts about India vs. US fresh in my mind, I want to write a long 'blog entry or essay about the differences and similarities in the economy, culture, and the social environment in both the places. I know, there's probably a thousand books on this subject but I bet each of them mentions that every Indian has an elephant/cow/snake in his house and every couple in US fights till they divorce. Both are gross generalizations though hold some amount of truth. Indians do worship the cow and Americans do divorce a lot more than rest of the world. But we don't have a family cow in Kolkata and over 75% of my US friends' parents are still together or were very close till one of them passed away. What I mean by the differences are minor but relevant things on how they see the same events/things differently - divorce is a sad event in US but it's a traumatic and often life-ending event in India. Divorcees get to remarry in US but rarely in India. At restaurants, 5% is a big tip in India and 15% is a small or mediocre one in US.

And yet, the people are the same. My friends in US love me as much as the ones in India. That is something I find very hard to believe. I still can't believe my friends Vishal & Chetan stood out in the rain/sun for hours in 2000 when I first went to the US Consulate in Kolkata to get my student visa. And I still can't believe Arthur drove all the way from NJ to FL with me to help me settle down in Florida with almost all of my luggage from NJ. People amaze me sometimes.

Oh and on a closing note, CONGRATSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS to my sister for her TV Interview on Tazaa TV Kolkata last week! I don't know why she kept attributing her success and knowledge to me - I didn't teach her anything - she learnt it all herself! And yet on TV she kept saying I was her idol and taught her everything. I'd say the major credit goes to my parents and only partially to me.

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Thu, 21st Apr '05, 6:20 pm::

This has been another awesome week here in India. Went to see my mom's family yesterday and spent some time talking to my cousin Keval before that. I'm returning to US tomorrow but my flight's been delayed. Now instead of reaching Tampa at 1am on Saturday April 23rd, I'm gonna reach at 1pm - a twelve hour delay! Urgh... But otherwise, everything's great and I'm having such a wonderful time here with my family.

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Sun, 17th Apr '05, 10:40 am::

This has been an amazing week. I met so many people and got so much love from everyone that it's unbelieavable. I still have one more week before I get home. Every night we went out and met more and more people and today is the only day I get to stay home and just chill. It's hot 'n humid here but it's worth it :)

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Wed, 13th Apr '05, 9:20 am::

I don't think I've ever eaten this much in such a short span of time. God I love my home :-)

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Tue, 12th Apr '05, 1:15 pm::

I GOT THE VISA!!! w00t!

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Tue, 12th Apr '05, 7:05 am::

Next time I 'blog, I will either be VERY happy or VERY sad - I have my Work Visa Interview in less than 90 mins. Here's hoping to a very uneventful successful interview.

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Fri, 8th Apr '05, 12:15 am::

By God I love my boss Eric, his bro Brian, and my awesome friend Jessica. Eric helped me setup all my paperwork after work hours and Brian and Jessica helped me pack! I didn't even touch ONE thing! It's kinda amazing how quickly Brian got everything setup and ready to go... I love Florida...

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Wed, 6th Apr '05, 7:00 pm::

Giga's pretty much back in his good old healthy shape. He runs around freely and plays with Tera all day. Took both the kitties to the pet hospital before I give them off to Linda. She'll take care of them during my vacation to India. I got just a few hours with the kitties now so I'm gonna go play with them.

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Wed, 6th Apr '05, 12:35 am::

This is one of those days when I internalize the world around me into a single pixel of concentrated anxiety. Outside, it's a calm beautiful Florida west-coast nigh but inside my mind there's a storm brewing. It's hard to explain to everyone and pretty much everyone I've talked to dismiss me as being over-analytical. But it's not their life which nervously balances on the delicate fulcrum of a simple true/false questionnaire. It's not you or them who'll be affected by the change. It's me. Or rather, it could be me.

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Sun, 3rd Apr '05, 5:15 am::

Can't believe March is over already...

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