Well played !

I have to say this - WELL PLAYED McCain ! Very well played, and smart move!

This is like - an extremely close soccer game that just went into extra time :) Or even a shoot-out, for that matter :)

Obama's religion - Why does America care ?

The Obama campaign has run a memorable election campaign so far. It is monumental for many reasons. I personally have witnessed just two elections in my stay here so far, but this election is way different that the previous one, the absence of Dubya notwithstanding.

Firstly, for the first time in recent history, American politics and the election process itself has received unprecedented publicity. After all, when you hear an average man in an Indian village enquire about Obama on the phone, you know you have struck gold. If you don't believe me, replay the Berlin address. A crowd of 65,000 non-Americans , and usually tight-lipped Germans at that, cheering loudly a man who is not the president of the United States. He is not a president incumbent, hell , he is not even the formal nominee - still presumptive nominee of one of the parties of the country.

Secondly, this man and his campaign has generated tremendous interest and following among young voters. Facebook's 24 year old CEO as one of his chief strategists, Obama has used technology to effectively redefine the way campaigns and fundraisers are run. And yes, he does use our CRM product to run these campaigns and that makes me very proud, but the point to carefully observe here is that the campaign does not just send out random emails at all times of the day. Very carefully worded , crisp messages sent at appropriate times. Admirably, the Obama campaign has declared that it will announce his VP choice to his supporters first, and voters can sign up or send a text message to be put on a list. Millions of emails and phone numbers gathered at one go - that is just very smart campaign tactics. Supporters can also sign up to see local members and start groups in their neighborhood.

Thirdly, of course, is the extraordinary distance this man has come so far, with an unusual sounding name and relatively no D.C. experience. This fact alone is a testament to what smart politics can do in an election. But since he became the presumptive nominee, the Obama clan has run a clean race so far. In fact, far too clean in my opinion. Clearly , Mr.Grandpa and his supporters could stoop so low as to compare him with Britney and Paris after his landmark trip abroad. This man Obama, carried himself with such poise they did not think was possible from this newbie. On the one hand, he is the presumptive nominee of the democratic party, challenging the current president's international policies but on the other hand he represents America to the world. That is a very fine line to walk. And he did walk that like with confidence, winning millions of supporters abroad with his message of hope and cooperation.

But here is where I , as a relative outsider to this country get confused. Michelle fist- bumped Barack , so what? Obama's middle name maybe Hussain , so what ? In a country as liberal as America, a country that goes to war to end religious segregation, why is the media unforgiving? A nationally acclaimed magazine, the New Yorker , no less portrays him in a white turban , with his - wait I cannot continue to describe this obscenity.It is crass, ridiculous and paints a very racist, culturally intolerant picture of the US to the world, satirical though it was intended.

That leads me to the actual intent of the New Yorker article, and this post. For one, Obama is different (e.g. looks, culture) from any other politician this country has seen before, which in itself shocks me. I come from a country that has had a president from the religious minority and a woman prime minister. These people were some of the best rulers the country ever witnessed. Oh, and it almost slipped my mind, we now have a woman president, too , but that's a rant I ll save for later.

Anyway, countries that have traditionally been considered conservative by the West - India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia,Israel,Bangladesh,Turkey have all had minority/women heads of state. Granted, there has been an increasing awareness about religious terrorism here in the US since 9/11. An awareness is healthy, even necessary to open America's eyes to what has been going on for centuries in the rest of the world. But by boxing all people that belong to a particular religion as somehow alien and potentially dangerous, isn't America going down the same path as it's offenders ?

What if Obama is indeed a Muslim ? Does that make him any less American ? Does that make him any less patriotic ? There have been no records so far pointing to any of the above.Frankly the hypocrisy is shocking. On the one hand, Americans talk about celebrating diversity and take great pride in their political correctness. Yet, on the other hand,you see a three page statement issued by the Obama campaign with detailed references to his genealogy and religious practices. Has there ever been a non-white, or non-male, or a non-Christian president in the world's most liberal country?

Is the U.S. ready for a different president this time around? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, every country comes with its own set of hypocrisies, prejudices and emotions. Social diversity, economic, education and scientific advancement notwithstanding. Because ultimately , a country is its people, and people, are just that - human.

PS : An alternate title for this post reads " I can write an op-ed too :)"

What is home ?

It seems like another life, another time.Aeons away.

Yet , just four years ago, this day, I landed here.

And eight years ago, I left home.

But, what is home, really ?

Thank God for YouTube !

Abheri is like a beautiful, shy girl. Much like the way Jodha catches herself eyeing Akbar on a sunny,sweaty swordfight practice morning. Suddha Dhanyasi is not far behind either. Consequently it is hard to tell them apart,sometimes. Karnataka Devagandhari,Bhimplas and Dhanasri make our make lives more complicated. But that is not the intention of this post. (I have finally learnt how to embed videos on blogger, but that is not the intention of this post either.)

"Narayana ninna namadha" - Purandharadasa pours emotion and Bhakti into this song, and what better raaga to express this than Suddha Dhanyasi.Listen to the song, and you will not notice a thing. Ranjani starts virutham in Saveri and Gayathri takes over. The first line is in Saveri and then she transitions over to Suddha Dhanyasi.

About 2:11 minutes into the video something happens. As Gayathri transistions to Suddha Dhanyasi, she ends the first line in a barely audible "Pa" that sets the stage. The violinist follows, except she thinks it is hindolam so plays the hindolam "Dha" instead. If only looks could kill, the violinist would be RIP by now. And then Gayathri proceeds to show elaborate the raagam a little more, and the accompanist catches on. All in the wink of an eyelid, almost transparent to the naked eye.

Until a little thing called YouTube caught on. With its action replays and viral nature , it has become the third umpire, an unfailing,sometimes harsh judge. But this is also a testament to the knowledge of the rasikas out there. That is just very good carnatic music in my book.

Suddha Dhanyasi - Arohanam : SGMPNS

Avarohanam : SNPMGS

Hindolam - Arohanam : SGMDNS

Avarohanam : SNDMGS

The last lecture

I went to grad school. Ergo, I know what lectures are like. The phdcomic fan in me would already conjure images of bingo and writing poetry, playing tic tac toe or a combination of all three during a professor's lecture.

But what is remarkable about the last lecture, is its simplicity. Honest , straight from the heart. No academic gibberish. No euphemisms, just straight talk. From a man who is (was)dying. I will admit though, that the publicity was cloying. It transformed the legacy of a great man to near-Britney like celebrity hype.

I don't know what it was about today. Maybe the stress of the past few days. Maybe an emotional high thanks to a birthday with loved ones. The realisation that somehow a quarter century passed by. Will there be a witness ? Does it go unnoticed? Maybe it was Ranjani and Gayathri singing "Rangapura Vihara." Just close your eyes and I promise you can experience that light, subtle shringara rasa sweeping you off your feet. If you have another level , that is. But I digress. It was just a reflective mood and I was reading this.

The book, the letter from the President, the Pittsburg day, the scuba diving, the lobbying, the elephant in the room. And then the post about Dylan turning six. A photo in the local photobooth done as pastel painting.

It moved me to tears. Human fraility. How we all, at some level, prepare ourselves for the inevitable. How it still hits hard when it happens. How we all live with the pain, how we move on.

And how family is the most important thing in everyone's life. How a dying man can teach us priorities.

Randy Pausch, RIP.