Friday, October 22, 2010

The September of 2010

By the end of September, I wanted September gone so badly. September took away from me--my biggest admirer, my mom. If this was not enough, there was a sudden loss of another dear family member, and it became the month of mourning and consoling. All phone calls started with or ended with sobs and tears. Anyhow, on October 1st, I purposely sat down to write the date on a nice blank white page. I wanted to be very conscious of the act of writing that date, of seeing it there, and of thus being very aware of its having come. I was looking for a new beginning to the new reality of life.

As each moment I go further from that fateful month, I also try to rationalize with what happened and how it must all somehow fit into a larger picture already prepared by the Almighty. It is not at all easy. I want to somehow forgive that month and look for a silver lining still. After all that is the basic requirement of living, as opposed to not. And while I rummage through the snapshots of time spent in that month--of first learning of the the parting, of the following ceremonies, of so painfully sitting down to take care of things that were the person---the spectatcles, the packets of bindi, the medicines, the telephone diary, and the book of bhajans, of not being able to talk two unmuffled sentences with Papa while looking at his watery eyes, of that incessant sniffling with siblings, and of pointing up towards the sky to tell the little children that their grandmother had now become a star ever ytime they asked why one chair at the dining table was empty, I find very little to forgive that month for. Or wait, there was one event that was sweet, and honest, and actually had a very happy ending. It was not one that decides life, but surely one that allows one to feel connected to a larger humanity, and thus to a force of life that must keep the living moving and working and making the best of what we have.

So one evening I was taking a walk with my dad, both of us remembering the beauty and courage that mom had displayed all her life. It was dark already, and we walked briskly, in order to avoid the sprinklers that would soon start in most lawns. A few of the errant sprinklers, sprayed water on the pavement too, and made it difficult to walk on the bordering footpath. Emotionally charged and with a swift gait, we walked through this otherwise quiet evening, in the tree-lined neighborhood of Palo Alto, CA. Thirty-six hours after that walk, I realised that my wallet, a compact leather bound pouch with all my cards--credit cards, ID, debit cards, library cards, discount cards and so on, was missing! It had already been that long, and I panicked. I first called the money card companies to put the cards on hold or cancel them. Luckily, till then nothing suspicious had happened on the cards. Next, I called hubby to courier my alternate ID to me, in order for me to be able to travel in a couple of days from then (I was at that time in CA, not in NJ--the home). Then I called the police, and then I just flopped on the sofa tossing a coin to see if I will find the wallet or not. The loss of the wallet was not something that gave sadness, but it surely gave a lot of inconvenience. From just plain mourning, I was now also jolted into critically thinking of how to navigate this worldly existence without the basic currency of ID and of money! Additionally the thought that some stranger may be merrily going through my personal information was creepy at the least, and scary at max. Another day passed with not much hope in sight.

And then, my husband called from NJ asking me to call up this gentleman--Mr. Sugar (this is a real name) at this number. He had found my wallet! To cut the already long story short, the very interesting part of this lost-and-found episode is the circuitous route that Mr. Sugar took the pains to go on, just to find the rightful owner of the wallet. He first googled my name, but did not find any e-mail or phone info. He then looked through my cards and saw an insurance card with my husband's name as the primary insured. He then googled his name and when he did not find any info there too, he looked him up on Linkedin. He found his e-mail address, and then wrote to him, and then rest is history. When I met him up with a bouquet of flowers of gratitude in my hand, he told me that had I not contacted him within another day, he would have handed the wallet over to Palo Alto police, and would have also written a snail-mail to me at the address given in my driver's license.

Now isn't that a WOW story! Mr. Sugar's genuine honesty and desire to be of help to a total stranger, was not only inspiring but very touching too. His returning my wallet to me gave me a reason that month to re-discover the goodness of being in an interconnected world, to look for bright happy flowers to give to him, and it gave me reason to heartily use the word 'thank-you'. These were no matter-of-fact occasions and thoughts for a child who had just been told that her mom was now forever a star, beyond the reaches of her hands. Mr. Sugar's act of good citizenry will forever be one reason why September 2010 for me will not just be about despair and tears, but also about good old goodness of mankind!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

USPA vs Ralph Lauren Polo

I do want to start this piece, by first modestly declaring that I am absolutely brand-insensitive. I like to think that I am a sagacious buyer, who buys stuff that appears to fit most utility criterion, and that fits the budget. Luckily, my husband shares the same view, and so our family is almost never seen in anything that even remotely serves as a walking billboard for any company. Yet, every once in a blue moon, one comes to be in the neighborhood of stores which beckon you by their sheer variety of products and attractive price-tags. Thus this story.

Like any bargain hunter, I was obviously very excited when I was able to see, feel, pay for, and get home a 'Polo' winter jacket for my daughter, at an absolutely unexpected price at TJ Maxx. I had no reason to doubt anything----there was that guy-on-the-horse-with-a-polo-stick logo in the front of the jacket, and then after all I was in a store that officially boasted of being the inevitable outlet for authentic designer stuff, and whose TV Commercials too show a supply chain of designers who 'overproduce' their wares, then hand them down to TJ Maxx, who is then only too happy to share the loot with all of us--me included.

Once home, the toddler sees the jacket, and just as she claims everything in the household with 'ITS MIIIINE', (including birthdays----'her' birthday is now 'celebrated' three times a year---one time for each family member!), so it is with the jacket. It fits her well, and she looks as pretty as any two year old would (in anything). However, since this would have been the first ever 'Ralph Lauren (RL)' outfit I would have bought for my baby, somehow I was a little curious about my purchase. Having had a gnawing feeling somewhere in the back of my mind, few hours after the little one had first slipped her arm into the pink sleeve, it just dawned on me that nowhere in the jacket's labels had I actually come across the proper noun of RL. The jacket only honestly claimed to be a product of the 'US Polo Assn' (as in the USPA). It was then that I sat down to google and realised that even when I just started to write 'USPA vs Polo' in the search box, I only had to write the first two words of this search phrase, since the phrase in its entirety just popped up on its own----clearly this line of query being not so uncommon in the world. Yes, indeed I can see that many a simple souls like me, have come home to finally acknowledge that they were taken for a ride by a guy on the horse!

Here is the gist of the two reports, I read, and you can of course read them in detail at their original web-sites. US POLO Assn has NOTHING TO DO with RL POLO.

Are their logos same?
NO: every guy on a horse is NOT a knight-in-shining armor! Watch carefully, if you have merchandise with both logos to compare at home (I did not have any RL at hand----my husband's only shirt from that company, is God-knows where), and you will note that RL has one guy and one horse, unlike USPA's which has either two guys on one horse, or maybe two guys on two horses or some such combination.

(USPA on the left and RL on the right).

Verdict: Mister Lauren (by the way that is not his original last name), is aware of the gullibility of naive customers like me, and has tried (in vain) in the past to sue USPA for copyright/trademark infringement.

SO, let us just be aware ourselves of the fact that the two brands are different.

As for me, I am only too happy to learn that the 'little horsy' sitting on my daughter's pink heart is just another regular steed, not a stallion from a designer stable.

For more info on USPA vs RL POLO, check out:

(source for the picture:

Friday, August 6, 2010

We grow, we evolve, we contradict ourselves?

I am bloggging here after a long time now. So, just to refresh my mind, as I read through my older posts, made a year or more back, I can see how much we manage to announce and how much we manage to not keep up with the announcements, and how we can sometimes contradict ourselves (or oftentimes?).

Is this the beauty of purely voluntarily logging in hours on self-notes like our blogs? We can go back, and see how we have changed?

My eye on the phone--my I-phone.

When does a 'want' become a 'need'? As an economist, I have repeated several times, to my students, and to myself, that demand for something is when we have willingness and ability to pay for that good/service. In this world of cheap credit (is it really that cheap still?), 'ability' to pay for most things, is, typically well taken care off (we will deal with the bankruptcy courts later---lets first dip in the inviting jacuzzi in the bathroom!). Then what we are left with is the 'willingness' to pay for something, which translates into desire to own/use that something. Is it then the intensity of this willingness to pay, that differentiates a 'want' from a 'need'?

I have seen my want become a need recently. With most friends sending e-mails with signature lines of 'sent from my I-phone', and with a brother who is spending many a sleepless nights making and marketing app(s) for the I-phone, it is only understandable that conversations I start from, or receive on, my non-I-phone cell phone, somehow always 'appear' to be lost in translation--yes it is mere appearance, because after all a phone, is a phone, is a phone----it will invariably miss signals when lost in the mountains, and almost always spew whopping roaming charges, when you use the phone even at the Canadian side of the Niagra Falls. Even so, as the pressure builds up on me, and as my husband continues to take me on Saturday outings, on 5th Av, starting at the transparent cube of an iconic Apple store, I have 'evolved'. From considering the I-phones as mere fads, I have now imagined various uses to which my very own I-phone can be put to, from carrying on my online teaching while 'keeping an eye' on kiddo when she plays in the park, to reading/writing(??) books travelling on the subway. And then of course the fanatics (led by my brother?) tell me, almost everyday of some funky app they are superly enjoying. Perhaps I can seek my nirvana in some app too?

Whatever be it, today morning, I heard myself saying to myself---'I need an I-phone'. I was myself surprised at the choice of words of my subconscious, and I take it as an honest desire with an intense willingness to pay. Hubby dear---I hope you have enough ability (to pay).

When in the Beyond

I lost a train of thought to the screeching halt by a memory.  This happens to me often, Memories, you would brand random, Simply appea...