Saturday, June 30, 2007

You are your own friend

(Teachings from Gita) It's not that your destiny is pre-determined and hence whatever is destined will happen. Your destiny is in your hands and it is up to you to uplift it. Every action of yours should be targeted towards your upliftment and progress; it should help you step ahead from your present position. In order to do so you should renounce your desires, anger, laziness, negligence, intoxication and such vices; you should stop devoting time to appeasing your senses. One should spend some time towards thinking about God. Without fail keep doing your efforts till you succeed. One who can bring improvement in his nature and actions, walks on the path to progress. The refinement in nature and actions is progress.

One's true friends are the spiritually learned men and the unselfish beings but they too can't be your friends unless you are dedicated towards them. Hence your friends can't be your friends unless you love and respect them like a friend. Similarly, no person can bring any real harm to you unless you consider him your enemy. Thus you are your own friend and enemy.

One who has his heart, senses and body under control is his own friend. You can achieve this by regular exercise and aversion of worldly pleasures. Once you reach this state your heart, senses and body will perform actions that are conducive towards your goals in life. On the other hand one who doesn't have his soul under his control he will waste in worldly pleasures and his senses and body will do what is averse to his goals.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Let go the car!

On my way to the office, I look around and find that 90% of the vehicles are occupied by just the driver - including me. With the rising fuel prices, increasing traffic jams and concerns for global warming, I had a huge guilt in my heart. I was an abettor in the bumper-to-bumper traffic jams and a contributor to the selfish depletion of natural resources. Among the alternatives, cycling or walking was not an option considering the miles I'd to travel. Carpool was an option that I really wanted but none of my searches resulted in success. Finally, frustrated with being stuck in traffic jams almost every other day I decided to use the San Diego Coaster (train). Words can't describe my feelings the first day I commuted to office solely on the basis of public transportation. Not only was I saved the agony of jams and harassment by traffic violators but I it also made me feel as if I'd contributed to a good cause however small the contribution: I'd saved a few gallons of gas, to be precise 2 gallons. If I could do this every week, then I would save 104 gallons in a year. If one person could make so much difference then just imagine how much gas would be saved if each of us shunned our cars just once a week!

Using public transportation has many advantages, personal as well as societal:
  1. Saves gas.
  2. Saves you the hassle of driving and facing traffic.
  3. Gives you time to do anything you enjoy doing during your commute.
  4. In most cases would turn out to be cheaper. The cost of driving your own vehicle is not just the cost of fuel, it also included cost of maintenance, insurance, etc. To calculate the actual cost of driving you can use this calculator.
  5. Reduces the depreciation on your vehicle.
  6. Reduces the cost of maintenance of your vehicle.
  7. Reduces number of vehicles on the road and hence decreasing traffic jams.
In some cases, like mine, using public transportation may take some extra time as compared to taking your own vehicle but that extra time can be put to good use and then the pros easily outweigh the cons.

For those who're looking for some information on how to commute using the coaster: most of the stations have the facility to park your car at the station of origin and from the destination station there are a number of shuttles which is most cases will drop you off next to your office. These shuttles are free if you're using the coaster. A single day ticket might be a little expensive but it's worth when on days of the week when you encounter long traffic jams. A monthly pass is very reasonable if you decide to use the coaster daily. The best part of these shuttles is that they are for the coaster commuters so they leave as soon as the commuters have boarded and hence there's no wait. Similarly, their return time is scheduled such that they drop you off just in time for your coaster. Another advantage of using the coaster is the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean you get to see.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

The New Seven Wonders

It makes me feel so old when I think that even the Seven Wonders of the World that I'd known since childhood are about to change! For some unknown reason, I'd come to take them for granted and the news that voting was going on to choose the new ones was blasphemy to my ears. They were like day and night to me, you know that there'll be a day after every night and the vice versa. How would you feel if there would no longer be a night? It took some thinking and I finally adapted to the idea. So much so that I would like to urge everybody to vote for their chosen ones. The first round of voting shortlisted the top 10. It involved people's votes as well as experts opinions but the second and the last round will be totally based on people's votes. I feel that each of us should take out some time to learn about these top 10 sites and vote for the deserving ones. The deadline for voting is July 6. For more information go to New Seven Wonders.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Celadon restaurant, San Diego

Cuisine: Thai
Price: $$

Celadon, in my experience is one of the finest Thai places in San Diego. Like most thai places, it's a small restaurant but very tastefully decorated. Right from the ambience to the food, everything is perfect. My favorite menu item is the spicy noodles. In fact this is the place that got hooked me to spicy noodles. Beware when you specify the spice level. They are really spicy, so if you don't have a very spicy tongue you might want to go for level 2-3. Their curries are also delicious. However, I must mention here that the best thai curry in San Diego is at Bali Thai (will review it at some later time). To top it all they give a free dessert of delectable tapioca pudding! My first encounter with this dessert was at this restaurant and I must say that it's absolutely delicious; light on the stomach and light on the sweet part. It's like the silver lining to the cloud: perfect for after-thai-dinner-dessert! I checked the website and it seems to have shifted to a new place. In it's previous location it also had free parking which is the biggest hurdle in going to any restaurant in Hillcrest; though it was in a hard-to-locate place for first timers. Maybe it's available in the new location too.

Contact Information:
3671 5th Ave
San Diego, Ca 92101

Friday, June 22, 2007

Believe in Him

(Teachings from Gita)If we were to know that the most powerful man on earth was working for our benefit and would look after our safety, we would feel so secure. Now imagine if we knew that God - the supreme one, the creator of this world, the all-powerful - was looking after us, we wouldn't have any worries! And this is the truth. Whatever God does is for our benefit. We need to realize that and have complete faith in this fact. One who does that has no fear or anger and leads a blissful life. We might term whatever happens to us as "good" or "bad" but the truth is that all that happens to us is for the good of us. Maybe we don't realize it then but in retrospect it did help us in some aspect of our life.

If you lose something, it teaches you to be more careful and not take life for granted. If you fail, you learn to work harder and not to make the same mistakes again. So the next time you think something "bad" has happened to you, sit down and take out some time to think about what does it teach you.

It's easy to believe in God when "good" things happen to you but the real test is to still believe in him when "bad" things happen to you. If you can do so then you'll see how smoothly you can sail through life.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


(Teachings from Gita)If you lead a principled life, if you respect your parents, teachers and elders, if you help the poor and the needy, and you understand the true existence of God then all the above are equivalent to worshiping God; because God is there in every living being so when you are serving your parents, you are serving God.

When we love or respect someone,we feel like serving and caring for that person beyond our bounds. Like a devoted son never gets tired of serving his father; a mother never gets tired of loving her son and a good wife never gets tired of caring for her husband. You experience abysmal peace and happiness in serving such people. You look for more and more ways to show your love and respect to these people and doing so never makes you arrogant nor gives you the feeling that you're obliging the other person. On the other hand, you wish that you get this opportunity for your lifetime. The peace and contentment that you draw from such a service makes you perform it more and more.

If serving human beings could bring so much pleasure, one can't even imagine what a blissful feeling one would get on serving God with such devotion and dedication.

Friday, June 15, 2007

De-stress your driving

I saw this excellent post "5 Powerful reasons to drive slower..." and immediately felt the need to propound it and hence the link. I'm a firm believer of the points that the author has raised.

Initially when I reduced my speed, the main reason behind it was to lower the fuel consumption for economical and environmental reasons. However, since I've slowed down I've realized one more thing and that is: I can keep my cruise on for longer. Ultimately, this too realizes all the benefits already listed in the post.

Being one of those who've long commutes I've come to realize that accidents are big production stops. They not only affect the ones who cause them but thousands of others who get stranded in the traffic jams caused by these accidents.

The 5th Horseman

Author: James Patterson

This was my first JP novel and I liked it. It was after a long time that I was reading a mystery novel, so I guess it was a welcome break.

This novel belongs to the Women's Club series by JP, so called because the central characters are four women - a cop, a journalist, a pharmacist and a lawyer. The story revolves around the San Francisco Municipal hospital where mysteriously patients have been dying: they enter ER, seem to be recovering and then suddenly die. They all share a lot in common including their doctor and a pair of caduceus buttons on their eyes! However, the doctor believes that "sometimes a bad wind blows". A case is filed against the hospital by a congregation of the kith and kin of the victims and the drama unfolds.

Bottomline: A good read.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When in doubt use MTR

MTR is an Indian brand for spices, ready-to-eat dishes,etc. For the curious mind, MTR is short for Mavalli Tiffin Room. I think the best south-indian cook in our house is MTR. I think I make great south-indian dishes but whenever I get one of its ready-made spices, the aroma is unbeatable and not to mention that it makes work a lot easy. Their RTE Rava Idli is simply delicious, it has all the tadka, in fact fancier than what we would make at home and the idlis turn out as soft as possible. No I don't get any commission from them :). The choices for RTE dishes abound and most of us are confused as to which is good. So I thought of penning down my recommendations. What I don't like among their products is the RTE veggies and rice. Here's a list of products I've tried and found to be good:
  • Sambhar Paste
  • Lemon rice paste
  • Puliogare Masala
  • Tomato rice paste
They also have a restaurant in Bangalore which I've heard is really good if you want to taste authentic south indian food.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

What we think is happiness

(Teachings from Gita) We've desires and when any of our desires get fulfilled we "feel" happy. Most of our desires are about procuring something; getting a new job, car, house, so on and so forth. This is what we perceive as happiness; but such happiness is short-lived. A new job doesn't remain new after a year, same for a car or a house, then the happiness fades away and we desire for other things that we feel would make us happy. Such desires are in fact harbingers of anger and jealousy. Have we ever thought about why we get angry? It's mostly when we realize that there is a stumbling block in our path to the fulfillment of a desire. It's because of these desires that we tend to compare ourselves with out friends/neighbors/peers/etc. with regard to various possessions and hence give birth to the feeling of jealousy. We should seek everlasting happiness and not such ephemeral happiness.

Happiness experienced as a result of appeasing your senses is ranked the lowest as it gives rise to various vices and is not even the "real" happiness. The next level of happiness is for the one who's detached himself from all worldly things (vairagya). Once you detach yourself you don't experience the feelings of attraction or repulsion and with that you've successfully repelled the vices of temptation and anger. On a still higher level is the happiness which comes to those who desist from sensual enjoyment and have an absence of desires (uparati) and the ultimate state of happiness is achieved by the one whose soul is in unison with the Supreme One.