Monday, October 5, 2009

Fear Factor

The current reality show that has me glued to the TV screen like a child to advertisements is the Khataron ke Khiladi or KKK. I missed the season 1 simply because the cable TV operator did not have this channel called Colours in his bouquet at that time. So maybe it is the novelty of seeing a new format for the first time that has caught my fancy. Yes I did see a few international episodes of the show Fear Factor but known celebrities performing dare devil stunts makes for interesting viewing and to add to that the show being hosted by Akshay Kumar an all time stuntman cum actor and a popular one at that makes it even more fun.

Any channel that I tune into does have at least one reality show to its claim. With the popularity of reality surging or so it seems, there have been umpteen areas that have been televised live possibly rigged too at times. Singing dancing shows, quizes, matrimonial hunt leading to marriage, adventure, road trips. The choices are abundant. It is not that I am a hard core reality TV junkie or a hard core Akshay Kumar fan but still here I was tunning day after day at the prime time spot to Colours to catch my daily doze of adrenaline rush. I wondered why was it so addictive. Possibly it is the constant challenge to expand the boundaries and horizons of the mind that we sometimes knowingly and at times unknowing set.  KKK is one of the shows that challenges not only the physical prowess but also the mental capabilities. Contestants being stumped with such difficult stunts that any normal human being could not even imagine let alone experience even once in a lifetime. Almost all of the challenges are about training the mind and conquering the fear, an emotion that is the body's basic in built autocop mechanism to protect from the perceived dangers. Again dangers that fit into the realms of the set boundaries. Fear of cold waters mercilessly lashing the body, fear of losing balance atop a moving vehicle, fear of choking while inhaling tear gas, fear of creepy insects crawling all over the body and any such rational or irrational stimuli. Many a times I question myself would I be able to do something like this? Though it clearly seems an immensely daunting task, yet you see these contestants actually perform these with flying colours.

It is possibly the ability to take control over our mind before it controls us. Before the irrational takes over the rational. Like in the past my only reaction to anything fearful was the obvious that is to get scared. I happened to have a discussion with a friend who once told me that the only way out is rational thought process. When you train your mind to think logically when presented with a fearful situation, your mind draws an action plan, a response or many a times a conclusion that the situation in itself is invalid to be a fearful stimulus. I believe the triumph is in going beyond the initial response to draw an action plan BEFORE panic strikes. 

Maybe I may or may not be in a situation even remotely close to what is done in fear factor but I take one thing away from the show that nothing is impossible. As Nike has so beautifully put it "Impossible is nothing".

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Bake me a cake

I drew my inspiration and excitement for baking on a lazy afternoon when after a regular lunch session I was channel surfing and tuned into one of the cookery shows on TV. After eating another meal that was the regular run of the mill home cooked food, my sweet tooth was craving to be satiated. Maybe it was this crazy craving for the gorgeous cakes and pastries being aired on the show or the lovely hostess or the wonderful locales of the baking school that caught my attention. Perhaps it was all this and also the fact that I have a husband who simply loves cakes,pastries and chocolates and that his birthday was coming up soon and I was yet undecided about a personalized gift for him. I enjoy creating something as a gift for a loved one and not so long ago I managed to surprise my mother with a oil on canvas painting on her birthday. The painting exceeded my expectations even though it was my first and that I took help from a dear friend to complete it. Now that gives me confidence that the first time in baking also would turn out good. So I watched on and let the show bolster my the enthusiasm.By the end of the show I was certain about what the perfect personalized birthday gift should be.

Just one problem...I had to start form scratch. Literally. So I went to a nearby electronics store to scout of an OTG. First off I had this difficult decision to make where I had to choose between the OTG with rotisserie and the one without. Now this kind of decision can be difficult for girls especially the ones who are fond of shopping and who get swayed by "the fancier the merrier". So I must congratulate myself on making a practical decision of choosing the one without the rotisserie. Having completed the hard work, I ended up paying for the one with the rotisserie which happened to be more expensive than the one I bought. Now that to me was a clear sign from the universe. I am the type of person that looks for signs of good and bad omen and though this had been clearly a loud sign encouraging me not to try my hand at this experiment I was so far not deterred. As if that was not enough I was denied entry into the shop by cops the second time I went in to get the refund. Turns out there was a bomb scare and the entire premises was in the process of being vacated. However even the fear of a terrorist attack or screaming blaring signs from the universe do not come in the way of a woman possessed. I managed to find an alternate entrance to make my way into the shop and get the refund. The bomb scare was a hoax and I managed to come out of the shop alive. To think of it God saw my determination and decided to give me one more chance at survival so that I could bake. Now baking seemed my sole motive at the moment, my raison d'etre.

With all the kit and the caboodle such as the baking tins, measuring cup, the raw materials in place and I was all set to bake. I searched the internet for simple cake recipes to get a hang of proportions of the ingredients. I decided to add to the batter the piece de resistance - mashed banana, almonds and dates. However unlike the painting my cake turned out just all right, edible yes but not that hugely impressive. However that has not diminished my enthusiasm for baking for this was just a warming up routine. The next one on my list is an ambitious chocolate brownie cake...and yes feel free to drop by and try it.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ga Ga Google

All of us at one point or the other been enamored by what started of as a search engine - Google. Be it its philosophy, the fabulous out of the box applications that almost everybody can use and need to use or the stock..It seems everything it does starts a trend. Even before the admiration of the best internet explorer could die down Google applied its data searching and data mining abilities to spurn out fantastic applications such as the Google Earth and Google Maps. Ever wonder how Google manages to be so innovative? It is the company's strong engineering principles that make this happen.

Never compromise on the quality of the people you bring in and hire only the best and brightest minds. It is easier said than done because getting in the intelligent people in is only a small part of the battle won. What is most challenging is keeping the motivation levels high at all times. One would think a big popular name like Google would draw people to it like bees to honey. While that may be true to some extent it is the freedom to create. 
A company that allows employees to spend 20% of their time working on projects that interests them. Now how many such companies have you heard of? The company that totally frees up people who demonstrate a streak to innovate. What is a better example of this than the history of Google's founder Sergey Brin. It was the restrictive regime of the Soviet Union that forbade Jews from holding high ranking professional career positions that prompted Sergey Brin's father to relocate to the US. In this free country where opportunities are aplenty, Sergey's talents could be  nurtured and as fate would have had it, Sergey met Larry and they founded Google from the most famous garage in Menlo Park California. 
Ever ponder to think that had it not been for Sergey's father's decision to seek freedom, we would have missed out on the legend of Google today.

All of us have heard umpteen number of times the Google's mantra, " Don't be evil". In these times, the company has proven time and again that money can be made by following the path of honesty and doing no evil. I believe it is this philosophy that has resulted in the good karma. The philanthropic division of Google called the is exploring how best technology and renewable energy sources can be combined to create a greener and better tomorrow. Perhaps greener sources of energy is the next big revolution to hit us and these biggies are already have the ingredients to bake the pie so that when the revolutionary wave hits us, they will be ready to eat it. On second thoughts Google's brightest minds will lead us there...

References : 

Friday, October 2, 2009

Keeping the faith

I have been brought up in a god fearing family and grown up seeing parents and grandparents perform the daily ritual of performing pooja and reciting mantras. My father,a strong believer in God, has always been very certain that all that he has achieved till date has been only due to the divine intervention and all the not so good things are meant for lessons we need to learn as we tread on the path to a greater good.  In the grand scheme of things that only He knows we often fail to take time off to reflect on the learnings when we are facing obstacles. It is only natural that my father's philosophy has become a part of my system as well. At this stage in life I am quite comfortable with the fact that there is some divine force quite like a guarding angel that is constantly accompanying me.

Things were not so in my growing up years. In the early schooling years of my life I was at a stage where I was simply observing things happening around me rarely questioning or reasoning the logic. I remember reciting the prayers just as I would recite a peom that has been learnt at school but not really delving into the meaning or the reason. In the growing up phase there were several conflicts in my mind as to what it feels to be religious and to pray with the same fervour as I had seen my father do. Despite this I never even once been convinced of the non existence of God. It was rather that I was waiting for something to happen that would cement my trust in him.

That was back then. Now my belief in Him is only getting stronger by the day. Between then and now, there have been many instances that have lead me to think differently...things that may not even have a plausible scientific explaination. One such time was when I was pregnant. During my entire nine months of pregnancy I have never once felt that I was carrying a girl child. It was just as if I just knew I was going to have a baby boy as if my intuition was a sign from Him. And so it was.

All of us have our own interpretations of God. To me these days He is my constant companion with whom I have daily conversations.