Thursday, December 22, 2011

A taste of hollywood

You have not experienced Los Angeles until you have had a taste of Hollywood.  We had our first taste of it over the last couple of weeks for the first time after our return to LA.

First, was a performance of Iris produced by Cirque Du Soleil at the absolutely awesome Kodak theater in Hollywood.  The company spent $40,000,000 just to redo the stage for this performance.  The show had the usual combination of amazing visuals, great characters and music created by 100 orchestral musicians.  It was a breath-taking show produced in true Hollywood style.  It was nice to be back in Hollywood and the kids got a real kick out of seeing the stars of their favorite celebrities.  The Mann Chinese is as magnificent as ever.

A few days later, we went to see Steven Spielberg's first animated movie - The Adventures of Tintin.  The motion capture animation in 3D was totally realistic and the characters really come alive.  This was quite a treat for Mona and me who grew up reading Tintin comics but Aanish and Ayaana loved it too.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A living tree comes home this holiday

Mona and Ayaana working on the tree
It's December and the holiday season is upon us.  This is our favorite time of the year and it is great to be back home in Los Angeles this year for the holidays.  It is a perfect time for meeting friends and family, entertaining and be entertained.  The house looks festive as all the holiday decorations come out.  Ayaana has her holiday scene setup on top of her piano and gift stockings are hanging on a mantle.

Some months ago (while we were still in Bangalore), I read about this company, The Living Christmas,  that provides live christmas trees.  I tracked them down and turns out that they are local.  So we decided to get a live tree this year.  The tree comes home in a pot with it's roots intact.  At the end of the season, the tree is picked up and replanted instead of drying up and going waste.  If we choose to, we can adopt the tree and we would get the same tree each year.  I thought it was a brilliant concept.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays of the year and we are happy and thankful to be back home to celebrate it with family.  Mona and I have enjoyed putting out a spread for this holiday and this year it was no different.  In fact it was bigger and better than before. 

We had nearly forty people (families are big where we come from!) over for a traditional Thanksgiving feast.  The menu was massive and included the usual special sides such as mashed potatoes (cooked in butter milk this year), chipotle sweet potato casserole (a new twist on a traditional dish), the green bean bake (Mona's specialty that is always a hit), cranberry sauce (a must-have at the table but nobody really likes it) and a green salad with an Asian flavor (Seema's culinary contribution to the dinner).  The centerpiece of course was the 18-pound turkey - dry brined for 3 days and cooked with a mixture of herb butter and cayenne pepper!  Mona made her classic stuffing to go with turkey.  And then there was the gravy to accompany the turkey and of course a generous serving of a variety of bread rolls.  Dinner also included ham (a traditional American favorite), Armenian chicken (from our favorite take-out - Zankou) and Tamales.  Yes, it is an American holiday but these dishes are essential to reflect our multi-cultural identity!  No Thanksgiving is complete without a pumpkin pie and we had three (enough to feed eighty, I think) along with ice cream.

It was lots of work before and after the party but all of it was well worth it.  Ayaana was a huge help and served as the sous chef for Mona and me.  We even put the reluctant Aanish to work (taking out trash and other stuff requiring manual labor).  

The party was a hit and will go down as another one to remember and hopefully beat next year.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Occupy Los Angeles

No, no, the title here does not refer to our return to LA.  I am talking about the very interesting Occupy Wall Street movement that is going on at the moment all over the United States.  It is a movement that started in mid-September in New York and has rapidly spread all across the country.  These protests are against high unemployment and corporate greed especially within the financial sector.  The movement has no leader and has not outlined a specific agenda as yet but it is continuing to grow as we speak.  Neither bad weather or strict law enforcement has slowed the spread.

Last week, I experienced the spread of this movement to Los Angeles.  A group of Occupy protesters gathered outside the Bank of America building in downtown Los Angeles (just a couple of blocks from my office).  Morning traffic was completely disrupted as the group marched through downtown.  

Occupy Wall Street highlights the frustrations that Americans are feeling in the aftermath of the biggest financial crisis that the country has faced since the Great Depression.  Joblessness is still hovering around 10% and there is no sign of a strong recovery.  Corporations meanwhile are continuing to post profits and the administration has not prosecuted any Wall Street executives as a result of the financial meltdown.  All of this reminds me of the Anna Hazare movement that we experienced in India just a few months ago.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Migration blues

It's been a crazy couple of months!  I thought that the move to Los Angeles would be a fairly simple and easy one.  Coming back to the house after nearly five years involved a lot of work and change.  First, there were a series of repairs (leaking faucets, broken blinds, car repairs etc.) that had to be undertaken.  Second, there was a lot of stuff in the house that had become old and had to be discarded (old couches, cookware, appliances).  Third, we had to make room for our stuff that was being shipped back from India (weeks of reorganizing closets, emptying boxes, discarding more stuff).  Fourth, a lot of technology had to be retired and replaced (imagine a desktop with no wireless access or a fax machine!).  And finally, there was the massive clean-up required to get the house back in shape.

It was a lot of back breaking work - moving heavy furniture, lifting boxes, driving large loads of recycling material to the recycling center etc. etc.  It was also a lot of administrative work getting the utilities back on, starting services such as water, cable, internet etc.  In the midst of all of this, Aanish moved to his dorm and started college, Ayaana started a new school and a host of activities and I started my new job at Impremedia.

But at the end of all of this, it feels that all the effort was well worth it and more.  The house looks beautiful.  Our new routines have been established.  We have reconnected with friends and family.  It is great to be back home.

I was planning to wrap up this blog after we moved here since our Bangalore journey has ended.  But moving back here has been interesting and full of experiences that might be worth writing about.  So I decided to continue writing for a bit longer (until the reverse culture-shock wears off).  I have also enabled access to this blog via mobile for those of you are not tethered to a desktop or laptop but can't get enough of my jottings.  Also decided to rename it (since we are no longer in Bangalore) and give it a newer look.

So stay tuned!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The countdown begins ...

It is my last day in our apartment in Bangalore. The place is completely empty, with the exception of two chairs, a table, a phone and a mattress. My bags are almost packed up.

This has been an incredible journey and one that we will never forget for the rest of our lives. I had the opportunity to live the dream - of coming back to India, starting and building a company and catching up with all things Indian. Mona created a vital role for herself in the Bangalore society and in her own inimitable style made an impact to many lives through her charity work. Aanish and Ayaana had a memorable experience at Indus International School which helped them grow in more ways than they realize today. Hopefully I have also regained some portion of my Indian-ness that I may have lost during my 20 years in America.

It was wonderful to be closer to family during these few years. We had a blast traveling to interesting destinations in this part of the world. The food here has been just amazing. And the conveniences (car wash in the building, laundry service at your door etc.) really help in making life much simpler out here.

Most important of all, the people here are one of a kind. Open, warm and welcoming. Always helpful. Kind. We have met and connected with many wonderful people here and will really miss them when we are back.

Obviously, this is not a goodbye to India as we will be back many times in the future. I will continue posting for some time on our experiences in re-settling back in the US. So stay tuned!

Monday, August 22, 2011

End of the journey

Nearly five years after I landed in Bangalore (October 2006), we are packing up and getting ready to move back to Los Angeles. Our exciting journey in India is coming to an end. We plan to be back in the US by the end of this month. And as most things happen in India, this one also just happened, without a lot of notice and planning. In fact, our move became a reality for me last week when I returned from work and walked into the apartment to see most of our stuff packed up in nice big brown boxes. Five years of our life in India = approximately 70 boxes and packages!

We have mixed feelings about the move. We are excited at the next chapter in our lives and are looking forward to moving back into our home and reconnecting with friends and family. We are sad to leave India (the second time in our lives for Mona and I). We were closer to our immediate family. We made new friends. We loved traveling and rediscovering India. The food was absolutely magnificent. Bangalore has become home over the past few years. We will sorely miss all of this.

But one thing is for sure. This will be a memorable time of our lives and we will always remember this time with great fondness. And hopefully we have made many strong connections that will remain in place for years to come.