Thursday, July 28, 2005

escribo acerca de español

I started learning Spanish 2 months ago. I made decent progress I believe, but am still far from being able to speak it. Maybe some day I will be able to write my posts in Spanish. Studying Spanish somehow reminded me of the times when I used to take Sanskrit. My teacher is from Argentina so she pronounces "ll" as "j" instead of "y" as most Spanish speaking people in the US do. My pronounciation is funny to my sister and her friends who learnt Spanish from a teacher from Spain. I will have to make a conscious effort to change my pronounciation, if I ever get to the point where I can converse in Spanish.

Memorizing conjugations of verbs in Spanish reminds me of having to learn the seven vibhaktiya (I completely forget what those were for). Learning Spanish is not very hard though. A friend was telling me that is because Spanish does not have gender specific verbs, that is, to say "she/he is going shopping" is the same "ella/él va de comprass", but I'm not fully convinced by the argument. According to this website, it is a myth that Spanish is easier than French. I tried translated "she/he is going shopping" to French and came up with a similar result - "elle/il va commercial".

To me Spanish seems to be a sexist language. Take for example the following -

él hermano = brother
la hermana = sister
son hermanos = 1 or more brother(s) and 1 or more sisters

mi madre = my mother
mi padre = my father
mis padres = my parents

tío = uncle
tía = aunt
tíos = uncle(s) + aunt(s)

And the list goes on...I guess it's easy to be critical of a language that is new to you. It's much harder to think critically of Hindi or English for me.

I learned a new term in my Spanish class - false cognate. It means words that sound like they should mean something similar in English, but they actually don't. For example, parientes sounds like it should mean parents, but it actually means relatives (close, but not quite) and largo means long, not large

And there are some new things about Spanish, like there are different adjectives for a this, that, and that over there (far away) -- este/esta (male/female), ese/esa, aquel/aqulla. Also, there is another tense in addition to past, present and future -present progressive, which is to describe events happening right now like I am writing (I'm not sure how this is different than gerund in English, but my teacher taught it to us as another tense rather than gerund).

Another useful thing I learnt that I keep forgetting is how to write letters with the accent. Here's the useful guide (for Word; doesn't work for IE, but it works in yahoo messenger) -

Accent (á) -> Ctrl + ' (a, e, i, o, u)
Tilde (õ) -> Ctrl + Shift + ~ (o, n, s ..
Inverted question (¿) -> Ctrl + Shift + Alt + ?

Try it, it's fun!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Sex on TV

My mom is visiting and I've been watching a lot of TV with her. Until now I didn't realize just how much sex or sexual references there are on TV. Any show we watch makes me a tad bit uncomfortable to be watching it with her. I switch the channel as soon as something like "Desperate Housewives" or "Sex and the City" comes on, but as soon as I start watching a seemingly harmless show like "Seinfeld" I regret the decision immediately. I mean I watched 3 episodes of "Seinfeld" - one was about cleavage, another about nakedness and the third about the rule of sexual advances while dating.

So I decide to start watching "Spin City" with her. The one episode we saw was about casual sex. It's the same story with "Friends". What is on in the evenings for adults that doesn't have sexual connotions? Till I find out the answer, I will have to stick with reading books and talking walks in Golden Gate Park while my mom is around.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

How rude

At the joint press conference with President Bush and PM Manmohan Singh, the questions the US reporters could come up with were about Karl Rove and the Supreme Court nominee. I suppose these are important questions for the nation at the moment, but with the Indian prime minister present, shouldn't the questions have been about international matters, particualry about India. I think it was extremely rude of the reporters, as if the India PM's presence was inconsequential.

I heard a concurring opinion on NPR. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the link to that program. It talked about how rude it was of the US reporters. A foreign correspondent from the Deccan Herald give his opinion about the press conference. He pretty much said that they were secretly laughing at the two questions asked.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


On the July 4th weekend, I went camping with a couple of friends. It was the first time I had gone camping. As usual we were scrambling to make reservations at the last moment and no park had any space left. Fortunately, after spending a whole day at work doing nothing but looking for a camping ground, I found a park that had a open spot, only because it was flooded earlier and was not taking reservations till 2 weeks ago. The camping ground was in Clear Lake State Park, whic is about 2 and a half hours north of San Francisco.

We had planned to leave around 10 am on Saturday, but didn't leave till 1 pm. We got stuck in traffic and only arrived at the camp around 5 pm. We chose a camp area and quickly started setting up our camps. We had no clue how to set up the camps, no one had ever done it. However it took us (4 engineers) all of 15 mins to figure out and set up the 2 camps. I wanted to check out the lake right away (I love water, my mom calls me a water baby), but the guys wanted to drink beer first. As soon as they finished their beer, I dragged everyone to the lake. It was really pretty and the water was warm. I had to jump in the water and soon everyone followed. We swam in the lake; it is so much more fun that swimming in a pool. It is a bit scary though since you can never tell how deep it is and what is lurking in the water.

We had to head back in an hour because we needed to figure out the food situation before it got dark. We quickly bathed at the paid showers (2 quarters for 4 mins). By the time we got back to camp it was dark and we were all famished. It was hard figuring out how to light the stove, the wind kept blowing it out. Finally we managed to heat up some food and ate. The food tasted really good, something to do with the fact that we were eating in open air. After cleaning up - the one part I hate - we all snuggled in a camp and played cards till midnight. The weather was quite warm so we took off the top part of the camp and fell asleep staring at the stars. I slept very well and didn't wake up till 10 am, which is very late by camping standards, and I was the first one to get up. The camp was surrounded by lizards and mosquitoes. I lay around, observing them for some time then woke every one up. One friend wanted to go hiking, but the rest of us were too lazy. We started cooking eggs for breakfast, while making sandwiches to take with us to the lake. We finally left the camp by 2 pm and drove to another beach. Two other friends joined us at the beach and we all went jet skiing. It was a lot of fun; I almost fell off twice because the antics I was trying. Jet skiing is very bad for the environment and I promised myself I won't do it again. I even saw a dead turtle, which I suspect was killed by a jet ski.

After jet skiing, we went back to the beach near our camp and went swimming with the two other friends who joined us on Sunday. After swimming and showering, we got back to the camp, hoping to cook during daylight since we had ambitious plans for dinner. We had planned to eat soup, bread sticks and pasta. Surprisingly, the pasta turned out really good. We immediately went to bed (sleeping bags) after eating. I didn't sleep well that night, the sleeping bag kept shifting and I missed having a pillow. I was cramping in the morning.

We had to check-out by noon on Monday so we quickly cooked rice for breakfast, cleaned, packed up and headed back. We decided to do some sight-seeing on the way back. I had heard from a friend that Russian River is on the way back. We took the River Road exit on 101. We went a couple of miles on the one-lane road and took a right at a side street. The river was absolutely beautiful; the water was clear and warm and there were mountains on one side. Again I was compelled to jump into the river. This was the first time I had swam in a river. I tried swimming against the current; it was all I could do to prevent myself for going downstream, let alone swim up. Well I'm no salmon. We finally reached San Francisco around 7 pm. We ate dinner and on our way home saw the July 4th fire works (a complete waste of tax dollars in my opinion).

It was an good experience. I enjoyed the camping and spending 3 days in water made it a successful trip for me. All facilities were available - clean restrooms, paid showers etc. A very relaxing and cheap vacation.

Here is the list of things we took with us -

1. Tents with Tarps
2. Sleeping bags and insulation Mat
3. Lamps, candles, matches/lighter.
4. Torch/HeadLamp
5. Propane Stove with 2 burners with fuel
6. Cooking Utensils - 2 flat pans (for eggs, toast, heating parathas), 1 pan for making tea/soup, 1 pan for making food like rice pilav, pasta etc. Something with lids, or something to cover these, as stove isn't very powerful and you need to utilize heat. a cutting board, 2 knifes, 2 serving spoons, 1 spatula.
7. Eating Utensils - 6 Mugs/Glasses for tea/soup. 3-4 plates for food, 3-4 bowls for cereal, any liquid stuff, 6 forks, few spoons.
8. Water cooler - need it to keep ice and some perishable items like milk, veggie, butter, cheese etc.
9. Beer/Wine opener
10. Soap/scrub to wash utensils
11. Garbage bags
12. Paper towels
13. Hand soap, liquid shower gel, shampoo, toilet papers.
14. Sun screen, mosquito repellent.
15. Water bottles
16. Knifes/scissors -It's always recommended to carry a Swiss knife
17. Slippers / Sport shoes / Swimwear / Sunglasses / Shorts
18. Backpack
19. Playing cards, poker chips, taboo, any other games

Saturday Lunch - ate on the way
Saturday Dinner - Tomato Soup, Tasty Bites (2-3 types), parathas.
Sunday Breakfast - Omelette, tea, fruits
Sunday Lunch - Sandwiches (cucumber/tomatoe sandwiches)
Sunday Dinner - Pasta, cheese & crackers, bread sticks
Monday Breakfast - Pilav

1. Fruits
2. Milk
3. Cheese
4. Bread
5. Eggs
6. Tea ( Prefer Tea bags)
7. Sugar, salt, pepper (black and red)
8. Ketchup
9. Pickle (Achaar is must to make food tasty)
10. Cereal
11. Onion/Tomatoes/Cucumber
12. Cooking oil
13. Rice, peas, Cumin seeds, turmeric powder
14. Tasty Bite packets
15. Tomato Soup packet
16. Parathas
17. Pasta
18. Chips/cookies

1. Wine (2-3 bottles of red wine)
2. Beer
3. Coke/Sprite
5. Water
6. Ice (only for journey, rest park store can provide)

One thing we didn't take that we wished we had was folding chairs. Of course this was the kind of camping where we took a lot of stuff with us because we drove to the camp. I'm sure you can't take this much stuff if you're hiking to the camp. We were all camping novices and this kind of family camping fit the bill for us.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

eXTReMe Tracker