Category Archive Personal


What is it that America cannot give and India can?

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I saw this question on Quora and as usual couldn’t resist writing about it… 🙂  This question is obviously aimed only at Indians wishing to move abroad or for the Indian population that is already abroad for a considerable time…So,what is it? what is it? 🙂 Read on… 

Most of us move to the US when we are young in our 20s to pursue higher education or career aspirations. Once all that has been accomplished and we have our dream education, dream lifestyle, dream house, dream car and finally understand what “America” is – we suddenly feel something is missing…what is that you may wonder? Those are family and relationships…

For most of the Indians in the USA, they might be the only member of their family who are there(with occasional extended families on the other coast)  After living in the US for 14 years and now living in India for the past 8 years – I can confidently say that not having your family close by is quite an interesting experience. 


Most Indian families in US, talk about their life’s ups and downs only on phone or Skype or Whatsapp or other technological advancements to their parents and occasionally their siblings. Most visit India only once in 2-3 years time to see their parents and families (though if you are in your 30s and beyond – you may visit every year)

Personal experiences:

From my personal experience, I realized we had missed a dozen family engagements, weddings and the next generation was here! Initially, it was alright to miss a wedding, but if we continuously have to miss all the weddings for 14 consecutive years – you definitely know we are living in another planet! We had missed the family outings and the fun conversations and the current family relationships! 🙂  Many people had passed away too and it was a pity to know about it just on the phone…. 

We missed our nieces/nephews/all our cousins and safe to say all of them knew only one thing about us – “That Uncle/Aunty is in America” 🙂

Maybe the most important thing that we miss is the change that time brings about in all of us… which cannot be expressed and which can only be seen and understood…What do you say?


Proud InfoSec mom!

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I am sure you have heard of InfoSec professional, InfoSec geeks and InfoSec ninjas – but InfoSec mom? yeah – that is me 🙂 As I keep typing my Information security posts on my blog, there are two regular guests who read them and rate them diligently! 🙂 (there are many other diligent readers and I appreciate all your loyalty) – can you guess who the sincere readers are? – they are as you might have guessed – my kids! 🙂 

I am not sure how much they understand about the technical parts of my posts(my son can definitely understand but my daughter might still not be able to) but they do understand some ground rules of Information security.  She for example, always knows that I will not be sharing her pics on social media(except, very very rarely) and keeping the settings to the right level.  It is nice to see them understanding the fine rules of sharing on social media in this oversharing world!

Cyber security

While the son is old enough to have his own social media presence but has refrained from having one(either because of my InfoSec thoughts or it is his own online personality) He is on only one social media platform and is least interested in even having a profile pic for the same! He keeps all his online communication to a low level currently(so proud of him! :))

The daughter steps in diligently and comments “What anti-virus software do you use”  and “I know you will not be sharing pictures of me on social media”. These comments  just keep me smiling and happy! With the husband having this personality, the son staying aloof from social media for now and the daughter understanding the ground rules of Information security, it seems that I am the weakest link in the family perimeter with my constant blogging! 🙂 (but unfortunately, that seems to be my job! )

But still, there is a feeling of a “job well done”, when the house follows and echoes your thoughts…


Halloween in India?

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When I first got married and moved to the US(several years ago! :)) I hardly knew what ‘Halloween’ was. All I knew was kids were dressed up as ghosts and goblins and asked for treats(and that is all I know today, too! ;)) Fast forward, to today – Oct 31st, 2018 and we are celebrating Halloween in Bangalore, India too! I thought I was done celebrating Halloween for my kids once we moved out of US! But no – we celebrated it from the very first year we moved to Bangalore, India and no one was unhappy! 🙂

And so, to answer my title question, yes, Halloween is celebrated in India! – with the usual tricks and treats! 🙂 But of course, not all of India celebrates it  – only the bigger cities of India which are the melting point of different customs and cultures celebrate it.

How do we celebrate it here?

It is a similar celebration as in the US. There are stores that start selling Halloween costumes and masks well in advance of the Halloween day. The entire Halloween preparation is exciting for the kids. While we don’t have explicit pumpkin patch visits and pumpkin carvings – we  still do the other fun things! 🙂

Kids deciding the costumes, picking them up, buying candy  are all the same fun things as in the US. The marked difference is the weather in Bangalore, India is not that chilly as in Detroit for this time of year.


The kids go trick or treating in their respective communities and some communities like ours have close to 400+ flats and one can imagine the amount of treats from all the houses! 

The city of Bangalore boasts of Halloween parties for adults too. There are ‘Spooky Halloween Hip Hop night’ and ‘Halloween Vibes’ as you can eat and dance the night away! 

Did I ever feel I left the US?! 🙂

ByShanthini Rajkumar


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The first memory I have about the story of Goddess Durga was from reading the Amar Chithra Katha comics.They really were a great substitute for when grandmothers were too busy to tell us stories.The vibrant images further enhanced the text.

Even as a child ,the idea of all the goddesses coming together in the creation of an omnipotent Shakti was incredibly appealing.It cemented the thought process that good will always triumph over evil.The picture of Goddess Durga in her full glory with her foot on Mahishasuran thereby putting an end to his tyranny is quite unforgettable.

While the nine days of Navarathri are celebrated with much gaiety in different styles across the country, the festivities commonly signify the power of divine light banishing away darkness and negativity.

The day preceding Navarathri ,a ritual is offered to welcome the Goddess by the arranging of the kalasham. At our uncle’s home, this is usually done by my eldest aunt. The  Goddess is welcomed into the home for nine days of puja and prayer.The blessings derived from these nine days of chanting are shared with visiting friends and family who partake of not just the prasadham (blessed food offering) but all the positive vibes that the home and the hosts have invoked through the rituals.

As we know ,in ancient times, festivals were also a way for families to socialise with one another.So, during the nine days of prayer and song,the women folk ,dressed in finery would display a set of steps ,of any odd number,using wooden planks, line it with cloth and set up their collection of dolls.Now these dolls were traditionally made of wood by talented artisans and were known as marapatchi bommai.These were specially made for the ‘golu’ also referred to as ‘bommai kolu’.

Most families today own dolls that go back several generations.Each year they add a few to their exquisite doll collection.I’ve lost track of the number of stories that I’ve heard over the years while my gaze was either transfixed on a beautiful set of dolls or on a fascinating story that was laid out ,complete with street lights and all.

The top most layer of the step was always for the figurines of gods and goddesses depicting stories from mythology.Time would pass by effortlessly as we sat cross legged and looked at the mighty River Ganga cascading from Lord Shiva’s locks or the story of Gajendra Moksha depicted beautifully…along with countless other stories.

The bottom few steps are just as arresting because they depict scenes from the lives of the common man.From the expressions on the faces of errant children to that of soldiers keeping vigil at our nation’s borders,each detail is the work of master craftsmen.A lot of families also like to stage a different theme each year.All of these makes for delightful kolu visits.

One rarely sits idle in front of a kolu display, children are encouraged to sing familiar devotional songs along with the ladies and it adds a lovely charm to the festivities.The neivediyam (offering of food) is also given a lot of importance.Rice and lentils figure prominently on the menu as do the many traditional desserts like payasam , pongal,laddu etc. Each day rice is flavoured differently using either lemon, coriander,tamarind,curd,coconut etc.No onion or garlic is used during this period as it is believed that the properties brought on by those foods are not beneficial to the body and mind during this period .That’s also a reason why the high protein pulses are cooked daily in the form of delicious sundal.

When children are taught the importance of such festivals and their significance, that’s what paves the way for them to follow suit and also teaches them to embrace their culture rather than to shy away from it as something that is unfamiliar to their thought process.

Even the thamboolam that is gifted to each departing guest  contains items that signify harmony , prosperity and positivity.Betel leaves and areca nut are offered because when the guest leaves with a red stained mouth,it is testimony to being well looked after.Also the betel leaf is synonymous with the Goddess of wealth.Bangles, coconuts ,vermilion ,a new coin all denote that which is revered in our culture. How blessed are we to be a part of such a glorious celebration cloaked in radiance and happiness.

Shanthini Rajkumar


Night owls vs Early birds

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She could never get her eyes open in the morning. Try as she might, once the sun shined, her eyes wanted to keep shut. In her childhood, her mom would wake her up in the morning and she would doze right back to sleep savoring those extra special moments of happiness. Who would really get up so early at 6:00 a.m. was her greatest thought! She could sit all through the night along with her father and they would have great fun watching television together. She was the typical “night owl” who was extra productive at nights too. 

College/work years/marriage:

Years rolled by and she had to change her ways for sometime at least. Obviously, college and work will change any person. And a night owl could not be a “night owl” forever. She soon got married and life was running smoothly.

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After marriage:

Few months into the marriage, she figured that her husband was an “early riser” and was amusedly shocked! 😉 He could get up by 4:00  in the morning and go about his chores happily…:) Going to gym, responding to emails, calls in the morning, anything and everything before the sun was up was his policy. She shuddered at the thought of getting up at 4:00 a.m. or the “middle of the night”, as she called it.


Slowly, she felt her nocturnal habits returning and both the husband and wife were working at the opposite sides of a day… A ‘night owl’ vs a ‘early bird’ – they were a match made in heaven!! 🙂


In all the years that they have been married, there has been one thing that has puzzling her all along though. She really wasn’t sure what exact time, he got up … was it 3:30 a.m. , 4:00 a.m. or 4:30 a.m. Sometimes, he stated a later time to keep her early rising queries at bay(otherwise, she would gasp with “You have got up so early?!!!!! and spread the good news all around to families and friends!!) 

She always thought “I wish an alarm would ring loud and notify me whenever my husband gets up”!! 🙂

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

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H4 visa woes

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It has been a while since I wrote about my US-India stories, right? 😉 The US is always a dream country for many from India. The ‘H1B’ visa is the highly sought after visa and is one of the most popular work visas to the US. It is primarily used by companies to fill positions by employing skilled foreign labor. 

Every foreign worker(eg. Satya Nadella, Sundar Pichai) in the US would have gone through the H1 visa grind.  Most individuals who come to work in the US, start off with the H1 visa and if all goes well, move onto apply for the Green card or permanent residency. Five years after one has acquired the GC, one can apply for US citizenship.

So, where does H4 visa fit in now? H4 visa is the dependent visa to H1 visa issued by the US immigration service.  The spouse and the children of H1 visa holders are issued H4 visas.


H4 visa:

During my entire stay for 14 years in the US, I have noticed it is mostly the wives who are on the H4 visa. I am sure you are thinking what is the “woe” related to this visa… it is just that individuals on this  visa do not have work privileges and that might be bummer for many…(there is a reason behind it)

While many are excited to just join their husbands on their American journey, the H4 visa women’s career comes to a grinding halt. Most(if not all) are very well educated and highly experienced women who cannot work because of their visa status. The H4 visa wives unfortunately go from active workplace leaders to waiting- to- work professionals. It is a frustrating experience for many as they try and polish their resume with new skills. They also learn to drive on American roadways all along thinking that they will work some day.  


So, what happens next?

Many like me find work sponsorships. Others, wait till their husbands get their green card(after which both husband and wife can work) which used to be a good 5 years when we were there(but not sure how long it takes now)

Some even seek  US higher education and manage to get a work visa after that. All in all, it is quite a game of visas and waiting for the woman who moves in behind her husband. While many adjust to the waiting game there are others who think their career would have been better in India after all…


Bengaluru traffic

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I had written a post long back about why Bengaluru or Bangalore, India is an ideal place for NRIs to return back…in that post I carefully avoided one of the Bengaluru’s worst kept secrets – the notorious and infamous Bengaluru traffic! 🙂

Bengaluru not having the same infrastructure as a Chennai – is more prone to nasty traffic. The roads are definitely more narrow and with the area seeing rapid growth with new apartments, malls and the metro construction – you can imagine the state of the roads!! Numerous vehicles try to get past the small space everyday causing frustration and delays.  Living in the heart of India’s Silicon valley and literally sitting in the eye of the traffic storm , I get to witness the serpentine traffic as I step out each day(and remember in India we have vehicles of all shapes and sizes- the autos, the bikers, the water tankers, the buses, the cars, the SUVs, the bicyclists, the pedestrians)  Here are a few realities :

  1. As soon as you walk out of your home/apartment you will see traffic standing in a long line right in front of you. On those days it is good to just “work from home”, walk – if your destination is closer or try other modes of transportation. (like an auto, bus, car pooling etc)
  2. 2 kms does take 45 minutes on certain sectors!(Silk board, Kundanahalli gate, Marathahalli) It is still amazing how most of these vehicles weave in and out of traffic and reach their destination. They also drive so close to each other and still not cause major collisions !!(there are still scratches, bumps for vehicles along the way! :))
  3. In spite of all the traffic, I do see many solo drivers on cars(why?)
  4. When it rains, chaos doubles or triples – you can be assured that you will be rooted to the same spot for at least an hour! 
  5. You will see bikers also moving in all directions(they will drive confidently on the wrong side of the road without a helmet!)
  6. The back roads and smaller roads are a savior for many(there are plenty of back roads for every major road – but they might be in worse shape than the main road)


So, how does everybody  go about their work?

  1. Many of them find the time of day when the traffic is relatively lighter and which works in the office(say, leave,  1/2 hr early from home everyday)
  2. This might be a known fact – but many companies do have their own transportation for their employees to chauffeur them around  within a certain radius(a good move, I would say)
  3. Many people still drive 20 kms or so everyday for their work and I am sure they have their schedule for working out things(like finishing con-calls in the car! :))
  4. Good rule of thumb is  to never go out on a Saturday!! 🙂 You will not get to your destination, rather – you will only be stuck in traffic for hours.
  5. Plan family activities and other fun things for a Sunday!

And the silver lining – if you have lived and commuted in Bengaluru, you can drive anywhere in the world! 🙂



Tamil Nadu

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Born and brought up in Tamil Nadu(a state in Southern India) and having lived close to 23 years in the state,I have never done a post on my home state  – how did it happen? Let’s get started right away…:) Here are a few points about my beloved state:

  1. Language – Most of you might be knowing this – but to reiterate there is only one language that is freely spoken and understood in Tamil Nadu – and that is Tamizh! 🙂 Unfortunately, no other language is visible except for English, of course… It is not to say that people from other parts of India cannot thrive here – once here, everybody blends in very well after a while… 🙂 
  2. Food – We love our idlis and dosas…I have written extensively written about it…in addition we also love our Venn Pongal, Sakkarai Pongal(sweet Pongal), Vadai, Thayir sadam(Curd rice), different varieties of rice(Puliyodharai(tamarind rice), lemon rice)  and all other poriyals(vegetables)!  Rice is our staple and it finds its way into all the meals whether directly or indirectly…The non-vegetarian spread is no less too!
  3. Cities – the more important cities in Tamil Nadu are Chennai, Coimbatore, Salem, Madurai and Trichy.
  4. Weather – It is a very hot state – there is no concept of winter here – though the month of ‘Margazhi'(December) is considered to be slightly cooler…
  5. Music and dance: It is a great state to learn classical dance and music. If you would like to learn Bharatnatyam or classical music in the true authentic way – then this is the place to be. With places like the Kalakshetra and gurus like the Dhanajayans – it is THE place to learn Bharatnatyam.
  6. Festivals –  the ‘Golu’ season(Dusshera) is celebrated with dolls adorning the steps for the nine days. ‘Pongal’ (Sankranti) is another important festival which is celebrated with much pomp and happiness for a full five days.  Unlike other cities, Chennai wakes up early in the morning to celebrate Diwali (around 4:00 a.m. or so)
    And interestingly enough, there is no dancing or partying for any of the festivals! 🙂 And no –  no, Holi , Karva Chauth etc. 🙂
  7. Fashion – It is one of states where women still dress conservatively(at least, I think so! :)) No ripped pants, shorts, 3/4 pant, sleeveless tops etc. etc. for women. Fashion for women can still be a simple salwar kameez with beautiful jasmine flowers to adorn the hair! 🙂 Of course, not to say that nobody wears western clothes – but the number of people wearing them might be less(and might be only in Chennai)
  8. Temples – Tamil Nadu has huge number of temples with beautiful architecture for the various Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Most of these temples are several hundred years old and it is a privilege to visit these temples!

These are a few things that I could think of that make Tamil Nadu…can you think of anything else? Add them in comments below! 🙂

This post is my sixth post for my #MyFriendAlexa by @Blogchatter.


The clock

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He got up at the same time of 4:30 every morning. Not one morning had he ever gotten up late. In fact, the alarm always needed him to get up… 🙂 He had his fixed morning routines that he would follow everyday. Whether it was the gym or walking – it was followed meticulously and perfectly. Neither rain nor shine could ever disrupt anything. He would leave for work at the exact same time everyday and get back home at the exact time everyday. Breakfast, lunch, dinner was had at the same time of day. Exercise was reserved for certain days of the week. Personal phone calls were made at the exact time intervals(nobody gets extra free calls in his routine!! :)) Even the move to India had not thrown his schedule out of gear. 

If he was busy doing something, it had to be at a particular time of day…There was no need to to look at the clock in this house as there was already a “clock” roaming around! 🙂 Once you see him in a particular location, you knew the time of the day.

She knew the routine as she was married to him for a very long time. While most people maintain a routine, he was an absolute stickler for it…from food habits to exercise to sleep and work – everything followed the hands of the clock. No wonder she thought she was married to the clock rather than him!! 🙂

Most of you must have guessed this “clock” – if you haven’t as yet guessed, come home – I will introduce you to him! 🙂


This is the fourth post for #MyFriendAlexa by @Blogchatter


Who are better multi-taskers? Men or Women?

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She was busy in the kitchen. It was a Monday morning. The school bus would be here anytime. It was idli for breakfast. While the first kid was unhappy about idli being the breakfast for the day, the second kid was super excited!  One preferred  coriander chutney. The other one preferred sambhar. Husband was already rushed and late for a meeting(what’s new?! :)) It was a super busy morning making breakfast/lunch – sending the kids and husband off to school/work and getting herself ready for work too!

After work, she had to give attention to both kids as each of them had separate requirements. One needed chart paper for a project, the other needed a printout. Home work, exams, were all over the place and seemed to be solely her responsibility. Dinner had to made and her own needs had to be met too. While her husband did step in every once in a while to help out…he could never keep with all the things she could do… 

Sounds like a familiar story? It is not mine 🙂 but I am sure it is many a woman’s story…

Multi-tasking is the art of doing multiple things simultaneously in my view. Who does this better? 

Working moms, stay at home moms, work from home moms, young ladies are all into multiple things at once. They will don multiple hats during the day and night. They create yummy food for their family according to each one’s taste, teach their kids, do their projects, become a doc for their kids during medical crisis, shuttle the kids from class to class, support their families, keep up with their own personal interests and more! I feel like they are demi-gods brandishing the ‘multi-tasking’ sword…

With all the above points, I have a faint idea about who is the better multi-tasker.. don’t you? 🙂

This post is my second post for #MyFriendAlexa by #Blogchatter!

Have a wonderful day! 🙂