Cultural chasm or just being a tool?

I had a most odd experience. I shot a note to a bunch of old friends, some in India, some not, but all from India about my decision to take a break from work for a few months. The idea was that for the ones in the US, I’d try and visit them during the initial part of my break and the rest, if I actually made my tentative trip to India. Replies I got were generally congratulatory with a couple of folks wondering if this was the best time, considering the severe economic downturn and what not.

The oddest reaction I got was from one guy I hadn’t really been in touch with for about 5 years or so. His rather colorful reply was something like this:

Your email is a relay of you screwing up your life and the sadistic pleasure you get out of it.

Hmmm. Not quite the response I was expecting. I was floored to say the least, flabbergasted is probably more like it. I wasn’t sure what to make of it. It certainly didn’t sound like a joke even though there were a couple of smilies appended to the remark. It sounded rather ill spirited, but maybe I was mistaken. Since it’s difficult to judge tone from email, I decided to seek clarification and clarification is what I got. Taking time off to photograph birds, flowers, mountains and lake and play video games is his idea of screwing up life. Another chimed in that my lack of understanding was typical of Americans being technically smart, but dumb in life – talk about sweeping generalities.

So, enjoying life is not quite acceptable in their world? I must admit I was sorely tempted to broad brush this as typical of Indians (or brownies as I refer to them 🙂 ). Then again, I’d be no better, would I? I certainly have a few Indian friends that have done what I’m doing or get what I’m doing. At the very least, while they may not do it, they’re fairly broadminded and leave others to make their own decisions. So, the issue was less of being Indian. Thinking about it a bit more, people are prone to influence by their environment. The rat race culture that exists in India is still very strong and the one-upmanship game can’t be far behind a rat race. And this guy had lived in India all his life – with little or no exposure to other cultures or lifestyles. This lack of exposure, compounded by his inability to think through the differences in the specifics of my situation (no dependents and completely unattached 🙂 ), most likely caused him to spew forth in the fashion he did.

Still, I’m sure this is the not sort of greeting anyone ought to provide to a (former?) friend that gets in touch with you after several years.

Another day, another experience.

Move along, nothing to see here…

The eternal vagabond moves on – this is not home. Nowhere is home.

I put in my papers at Hotwire about 3 weeks ago. May 1st will be my last day. No I don’t have a replacement job. I’ll probably end up doing something in game development. I want to learn the art side of gaming – both visual and audio. Not sure how I’m going to go about doing that. For the moment, I’m going to continue to live in the Bay Area till I figure out next steps. Appa-Amma are back next Friday, April 17th.

Hellooooo San Franciscoooo

It’s day 3 in SFO. I arrived on Sunday, late in the afternoon. It was close to 6 pm by the time I picked up the rental car and found the corporate housing building. Getting in was an entirely different story. I found the parking lot entry. It was locked, but there was a call button which I promptly used. Utter confusion reigned. The guy that responded turned out to be one of those “English as a Second Language” (ESL) types. He totally missed what I said and sent someone over to open up the docking area shutter which was fortunately right next door. The person that opened it up understood what I wanted and told me that I had to find street parking, which I dislike intensely, go into the building and get the key from the front desk.

Once I got to the front desk, there was further confusion. I was supposed to get a parking spot. The envelope said so, but the parking spot number was not marked. Finally Rose, someone without the ESL problem came by and suggested that I park the car at the entrance for the day, unload, but make sure that I move it by 6:30 am the following morning to a metered spot or risk getting it towed. I was way too tired to deal with this. So I unloaded 3 of 5 pieces of luggage from the car, went up to the apartment on the 25th floor, called the corp housing folks and after talking to 3 folks and with multiple callbacks, I got the parking spot number. Yippieeeeeeee!

Bu the time all this was figured out, it was just past 7 pm. Off to the Livermore temple. It was 7:50 pm by the time I got there and another 5 minutes by the time I got to the sannidhi. By that time, it was a bit too late to get an archanai done, so I paid for one, listed the details and left it with the priest to be done the following morning. One rather funny incident happened after that. I picked up a couple of laddoos and headed to eat some prasadam at the temple. I left the laddoos right next to me on the table, walked 2 steps further to serve myself some puliyodharai. I turn around and notice that one of the laddoos is gone – it just simply disappeared. I walked out of the area to see if I could spot the laddoo lifter. I couldn’t see anyone with a laddoo in the 8-10 people. Then I heard a couple of guys off on the side talking and a couple of them were telling another that “… it’s not free. You have to pay for it.” I turned and looked at them and in the dim light they seemed a bit sheepish and started laughing at one of them. I inquired if the one they were laughing at had taken my laddoo – turned out he had. He was completely embarrassed into inaction. He just stood there with a somewhat ashamed look on his face. Laughing, I requested that he return it, which he promptly did, much to the delight of his friends who resumed their cackling. I finished the puliyodharai and then thinking about it for a minute, I called the guy back and gave him the laddoo saying, “Things happen for a reason.” After brief introductions, I got some suggestions about some apartments complexes in Sunnyvale. These guys lived in San Jose and made weekly trips to the temple. The laddoo lifter was Ramachandran. We exchanged numbers.

I picked up another laddoo and started driving back, not realizing till I was too close to the Bay Bridge that I didn’t have the $4 required for the toll. The attendant at the booth noted the rental car license place number gave me a number to call to resolve the issue. I tried the number after I got home, but customer service was closed. Oh well. I tried finding the Safeway grocery store in the neighborhood without much success. Finally picked up some supplies from a local convenience store and a 7-11. I was out walking for about 45 minutes.

My cold got worse as the night progressed and by the time I woke up yesterday morning at 6:30, I had a pretty bad headache, a completely blocked nose and severe congestion in the chest. A hot shower, some painkillers and decongestant pills, I headed to the Hotwire office just across the street at 9:25. I got a chance to get some tea and banana bread since the HR rep was a bit tied up with technical difficulties. After a 2-3 hour new employee orientation session, I was shown to my desk and met some folks. The rest of the day was spent getting stuff setup, attending a couple of meetings and miserably failing at syncing up to the sources to get a build done. Good first day.

I got out at around 6 pm and spent the rest of the evening hunting for apartments online. I’ve narrowed it down to apartment complexes managed by 2 companies: Archstone (one of whose properties I lived in Redmond) and Avalon. They have a couple of properties each that are available. I’ll go see ’em this weekend and hopefully make up my mind.

Off to work for my 2nd day.