Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Politics is "Cool" these days!

Teenagers discussing politics? And involved in campaigning? And actually believing that they can make a difference...... Now which movie is that? Well, its real life these days! My daughter in UVA follows Obama's campaign stops, my nephew in VTech went to an Obama rally! Till a couple of years ago, the eligibility for discussing politics was to have gray hair. Not any more.

These days, its the talk of social events and get-togethers. People who are not immersed in the latest polls and numbers are in a small minority. The grassroots effort by Barack Obama has inspired a generation of Americans and changed the political landscape. Millions of new voters have registered, most of them young people. And that in itself, can only be a good thing for our nation's future.

Whether Obama wins or loses, America is on the cusp of history. I hope we all realize that by voting in this election, we can be a part of this major historical event. So rearrange your schedules and vote for whomever you want to on November 4th! And its the patriotic thing to do.

And talking about patriotism, a lot has been made of it in the last few weeks. Experts and pundits have weighed in with their definitions and the "true meaning" of patriotism. Why is it that this question only comes up about every four years, and generally in the election year?

For a citizen like me, and I'm sure for many more like me, patriotism is a feeling, an emotion that comes from within. Nobody can quantify that feeling. No party or person has a monopoly over this feeling. Patriotism is not color-coded, nor does it run more or less in either party.

Anything we do that strengthens the social fabric of our society falls under the umbrella of Patriotism. Whether it's coaching little league games, voting in elections, helping your neighbors....

So be "Cool", vote in this election and be forever a part of America's history!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

The "Strobe Advantage!"

This is the time of the year when the sun sets early, it's getting colder by the day, it's cloudy, rainy....

But the bright spot is the hint of holidays around the corner. The spirit of the festive season shines bright, especially in the Indian culture, with Diwali (festival of lights) almost here. And that brings us to the numerous parties that celebrate the occasion. And the parties bring us to great food, camaraderie with friends and also to.........dancing!

Being rhythmically challenged myself, dancing poses an interesting proposition for me. There are people at these parties whom you can't keep off the dance floor, and then there are others whom you can't get on the dance floor (a minority, of course!). I think I fall somewhere in the middle. The dance part always starts off slow, with the confident few venturing onto the stage. After a few drinks have made the rounds, liquid courage takes hold. The infectious rhythm and beat of the famous Punjabi music takes hold of demure ladies with shy smiles, and transforms them into instant Divas! And then its shimmering dresses and glittering jewelry on the dance floor, with sometimes reluctant husbands in tow.

Talking of rhythm, my problem is timing. No, no.... not what you are thinking! Its the DJ timing. Just when I start moving to the beat of a song, its over and the next number comes along! But I manage somehow and my wife helps me along. My main concern is not to hit people around me with flailing arms and not to step on toes. I try to remember Will Smith in the movie "Hitch"..... something about Q-tips and screwing on light bulbs!!

But at a recent party, I noticed something very encouraging (at least for me!). The dancing was at full swing, and my eyes rested on a gentleman, dancing under the strobe light. Every move seemed perfect, every gyration in sync with the ear-splitting beat of the dhol. Was that dude moving or what! But was he? I looked a little closer and realized that he wasn't doing much at all. It was a result of the visual staccato of the strobe light. Then I paid attention to others around him. Everybody seemed to be an incarnation of Hrithik Roshan and Madhuri Dixit!! There were great dancers, no doubt, but the strobe light effect took even average dancers to a new level.

My enthusiasm level shot up and I strode confidently onto the dance floor, making sure I was right under the strobe light! And then I let myself go...... flapping arms and all. Was I dancing to the rhythm and looking good? You guys tell me. I was off the floor as soon as the strobe light went out!

In golf, we have the "handicap", in dancing I think we have the "strobe advantage"!

Whatever one may lack in skill, one can more than make it up with enthusiasm!!

By the way, a very "Happy Diwali" to all of you, from all of us (Chawla's).

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A wonderful Saturday!!

Last Saturday was one of the most wonderful weekend days for me. You want to know why? Because I did nothing!
Nothing? Yeah, nothing..... nothing at all. And sometimes, believe me, it's not easy to do nothing.

To start the day, I got up late and still had the luxury of slipping in a few more winks. There was nothing planned for the day. There were no meetings scheduled, no deadlines to meet and no social events. It was a clear, sunny fall day with a cool, crisp breeze. It was one of those days when it's a little chilly in the shade and just perfect in the sun. So I stepped out gingerly on the patio and plopped myself in one of the lounge chairs. The warm sun enveloped me in its embrace and made me cozy.

After a while I joined my son and his friends for a quick backyard basketball game. When I got exhausted (which didn't take long!) I made a beeline for my lounge chair again. Then I cajoled the love of my life (my wife) to sit by me and then it was heaven.... both of us soaking up the sun, watching kids play, talking about "stuff", listening to the soothing sound of our landscaped backyard waterfall, and more importantly -- doing nothing in particular.

I didn't want our morning to end. I would have wanted it to go on endlessly, but as is true in life, all good things do come to an end. But I felt so good, so happy and complete that day. So that set me thinking........

Maybe we should do more of "nothing" off and on. It might not be easy, but believe me, its worth a try. We all need and should have friends for a variety of reasons. We enjoy good company that we relate to, we need our egos boosted off and on, we need somebody to laugh at our jokes, to share our joys with, to lean on in hard times, to get advice when we are not thinking straight...... friends do all this for us and much much more that we sometimes don't see and realize. We are after all, social animals.

But occasionally, once in many many moons, try doing "nothing". Its just you, your wife/husband/significant other, your children and the tranquility of knowing that you are surrounded by people you love the most and vice-versa.

I had a blast doing "nothing", and I wish you would try the same sometime. Its not going to be easy, but give it a shot. (I never realized it, but in the fast paced world we live in, its quite difficult to consciously do "nothing"!)

You just might surprise yourself. I know I did.