Saturday, December 11, 2004

The Christmas Story

'Merry Christmas!' evokes a feeling of warmth and happiness that encompasses the world in a thread of love and oneness as preached by the Lord Jesus Christ who took birth on this day. There are many traditions that have become associated with this festival over time such as Christmas Card, The Crib, Christmas tree, Star and Santa Claus, Carol singing, Mid Night Mass, that have their own significance and role to play in the Christmas celebration. An accumulation of the practices of at least half a dozen cultures over the centuries, all the Christmas traditions have their own sentiments and meanings and are symbolic of liveliness and harmony of the season.

Illustrated below are some of them. . .

The Christmas Card

Christmas cards originated in England over 150 years ago. "You cannot reach perfection though you try however hard to there's always one more friend or so you should have sent a card to," wrote Richard Armour. Sir Henry Cole knew exactly what Armour was saying. The founder of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London had so many Christmas greetings to send that handwriting them was impossible. Yet he wanted to make his friends aware of the need to help the destitute on that holiday.

The answer. In the year 1843, Sir Henry commissioned John Calcott Horsley to paint a card showing the feeding and clothing of the poor. A center panel displayed a happy family embracing one another, sipping wine and enjoying the festivities. (So much for good intentions. The card drew criticism because showing a child enjoying a sip of wine was considered "fostering the moral corruption of children.") "A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You" was printed on that first card. Legend says Sir Henry didn't send any cards the following year, but the custom became popular anyway.

Carol Singing:

We have special songs that we sing during the Christmas season. The songs are known as carols and they are about when Jesus was born. They were written for a special purpose, often to accompany performances of religious dramas dating from medieval times.

People go 'carol singing'. This is where people will go from house to house singing carols and collecting money for charity.

The traditional period to sing carols was from St Thomas's Day (December 21) until the morning of Christmas Day.

The Crib :

The tradition of building cribs in churches and homes began in the 13th century by the Franciscan friars. The actual crib where Christ was born was brought from Bethlehem in the seventh century and is preserved at the Liberian Basilica in Rome.

The main characters in the crib are naturally the new born baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph together with the cow, the donkey and the sheep; the Sheppard, some with a sheep on the shoulder and the three Kings who came to visit the new born baby bearing gifts of myrrh, frankincense and gold.

See Full size Picture Detail

Christmas Decorations:

Red and green are the traditional colours of Christmas. Green represents the continuance of life through the winter and the Christian belief in eternal life through Jesus. Red symbolizes the blood that Jesus shed at His Crucifixion.

In the weeks leading up to and during Christmas, people hang decorations in their homes. These decorations are made of coloured paper and foil. People will also hang greenery around the house, such as holly and ivy. The needle like points of holly leaves are thought to resemble the crown of thorns that Jesus wore when He was crucified. The red berries symbolize the drops of blood Jesus shed.

Christmas Tree:

An ornamented and illuminated Christmas tree has its own attraction during Christmas as everybody keeps straying around it, if just to get a peek of the little treasure of gifts accumulated at its base. It symbolizes warmth, love and happiness of the festive season. Martin Luther, the German monk and the famous church reformer has been credited with the indoor tree decorations. It is said that once while he was wandering through the woods, he saw the dew glistening like stars on the fir trees. He was so mesmerized by the beauty that he brought a small tree to his home and tried to recreate the splendour by lighting up little candles on it.

There is an interesting legend associating it with the birth of Jesus Christ. On the night when Jesus was born, all creatures contributed gifts to be taken to Bethlehem. While olive tree provided its fruit and palm tree came up with dates, fir tree was at loss and was distressed, as it could offer nothing to the newborn king. So an angel took pity on the poor tree and decorated it with stars. Baby Jesus was pleased to see the lighted tree. Since then, it has become a custom to decorate the fir tree on Christmas.

Christmas Star:

It is said that a brightly shining star that had miraculously appeared in the eastern sky guided the Magi (the three wise men from the East) to the newborn king. Astronomers ruled out the possibility of a meteor that burns up in seconds or a comet because according to their calculation, no comets cross the earth's path around the time of Christ's birth. However, since the Magi were also the astrologers of their time, they may have made calculations and interpreted them to predict that a divine soul was to be born on the Jewish land. Now people adorn the churches and homes during Christmas with star as a holy sign that symbolizes high hopes, good fortune and happiness in their lives.

Santa Claus:

Father Christmas or Santa Claus is the favourite of all children on Christmas. The big fat belly, cheerful red colour and snow-white beard with that sweet perpetual smile and 'Ho-Ho-Ho' makes this character instantly lovable to kids and adults alike. Children peep out of windows in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Santa on his reindeer sleigh with Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer and number of bags full of toys for good children all over the world. They also hope to see Elvin, the favourite and hard-working elf of Santa, who looks after Santa's Rudolf accompanying him on his ride. They wait for the Christmas presents from Santa, which they believe they will find in their stockings or hanging from pillowcases.

Kids never miss out on checking the gifts Santa brings them on the Christmas night and love to cuddle the big fat Santa in his red suit as he hands candies. It is said that the custom of Santa Claus was started after the life of Saint Nicholas, a generous and kind-hearted saint who loved children and was always eager to help poor and the downtrodden. It is said that one Christmas night, he saw a poor father and his three daughters crying for they were so poor that they had eaten nothing for the whole day and could not afford dowry for the girls' marriage. Thus, Nicholas threw three bags of gold from the chimney that fell in the stocking of each girl and brought happiness into their lives forever.

Midnight Mass:

On Christmas Eve, midnight mass and day services are held in the Churches to send out the message and sermons of love and redemption to the devotees as people gather to pray and thank God for his blessings and commemorate the sacrifices of Christ that he made to save the mankind. Midnight mass is held, as Christ was believed to have born at midnight. People dress up in their best holiday clothes as they go to the church at midnight mass, which is usually followed by Christmas celebrations. A lot of Christmas carols and hymns, Christmas decorations, candles, scripture and Bible readings are the highlights of the Midnight mass.

Boxing Day

Boxing Day is the following day after Christmas Day. The name goes back to medieval times, more than 800 years ago, when alms boxes were placed at the back of every church to collect money for the poor. Traditionally, it is on this day that the alms box at every English church is opened and the contents are distributed to the poor.

Historians say the holiday developed because servants were required to work on Christmas Day, but took the following day off. As servants prepared to leave to visit their families, their employers would present them with Christmas boxes.

During the late 18th century, Lords and Ladies of the manor would "box up" their leftover food, or sometimes gifts and distribute them the day after Christmas to tenants who lived and worked on their lands.

Boxing Day is also known as St. Stephen's Day

He lived in Rome and was the first man to be killed for believing in the teachings of Jesus. His story is told in the Acts of the Apostles 6: 1 to 8: 2.

Some people claim that he shares this day with another St Stephen, who came from Sweden. St Stephen of Sweden is the patron saint of horses.


India has over 26 million Christian population and one can witness carolling processions on streets in the large cities. Special bargains and discounts are available on the occasion of Christmas. They attend church service and then gather for a Christmas dinner. In some areas, there are lights decorating the outside of the house and yards, while in other areas, only insides are decorated. The regional influences can be seen in South India, where small clay oil-burning lamps are used as Christmas decorations and are placed on roofs and top of the walls like the Hindu festival, Diwali. In Northwest India, the tribal converts sing their special carols the whole night through and tell the story of Christmas to everybody. Mumbai has one of the largest Roman Catholic communities in India and people create beautiful cribs, Stars are the main part of Christmas decorations, often in the shape of stars, Christmas trees etc. Preparation of varieties of seasonal sweets has great importance and a must offer to visitors on and after Christmas Day.


Christmas teaches us to care about our loved ones, our friends and relatives, our enemies and foes, strangers, poor and downtrodden alike. It binds us in one spirit of hope, love and faith. Giving and receiving gifts is not about money but about the thoughts that you gave in to select the gift. The tradition can be traced back to the birth of Christ. According to the legend, the three wise men or magi from the East brought expensive and precious gifts for the baby Jesus and get his blessings as the newborn king. It is said that one of them brought gold as the symbol of royal splendour to crown the baby as King of the kings. Another brought frankincense with him, which could only be offered to the brazen alter in front of the Holy of Holies and on the Day of Atonement and was thus a special gift too. The last of them brought myrrh, the burial ointment with cleansing qualities to represent the purpose of Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all the sinners of the world.

There were shepherds and people from all walks of life who brought anything that they could afford as a gift and the child blessed him, not according to the cost of the gift but by the depth of love and devotion behind the gift. Today, people share their happiness and merriment with each other on Christmas as they wrap the gifts with flashy and decorated coloured papers and send it to them with the good wishes. The gifts may vary according to the age, choice and status of the person in life but it is the thought that counts. Besides, nothing equals the excitement of opening up the gifts at the midnight hour as people pick up their gifts from the bottom of the tree and eagerly see what is their in store for them.

Book Review : Tuesdays with Morrie

Absolutely lovely book. A definite must buy. Once you have read it, you will be recommending it to a lot of friends too.

It starts with an ex student connecting with a much loved professor when he learns that the professor has only a few months to live. It is about the conversations betweens these 2, every Tuesday on a variety of topics like Death, Forgiveness, Marriage.... In the meanwhile it also gives you a glimpse into the lives of them both.

The book cant really be described, it can only be read & recommended.

After reading it, I'm inspired to reconnect and really talk with the senior members of my family, a large number of whom are over 75.

Some of my favourite Alanis Songs

Click here for lyrics. You can also listen to the songs on this site. But they are very graphic and ad heavy. So loading takes awhile and it can get irritating, but guess that’s the price u pay for free stuff on the web.... Google used to have this really neat lyrics site of their own which was fast and no ads, but they seem to have done away with it. Or hidden it somewhere not accessible to their own search engine. : )

The songs I really like are
1. All I Really Want :
Do I stress you out
My sweater is on backwards and inside out
And you say how appropriate
I don't want to dissect everything today
I don't mean to pick you apart you see
But I can't help it
There I go jumping before the gunshot has gone off
Slap me with a splintered ruler
And it would knock me to the floor if I wasn't there already
If only I could hunt the hunter

And all I really want is some patience
A way to calm the angry voice
And all I really want is deliverance
Do I wear you out
You must wonder why I'm so relentless and all strung out
I'm consumed by the chill of solitary
I'm like Estella
I like to reel it in and then spit it out
I'm frustrated by your apathy
And I am frightened by the corrupted ways of this land
If only I could meet the Maker

And I am fascinated by the spiritual man
I am humbled by his humble nature
What I wouldn't give to find a soulmate
Someone else to catch this drift
And what I wouldn't give to meet a kindred
Enough about me, let's talk about you for a minute
Enough about you, let's talk about life for a while
The conflicts, the craziness and the sound of pretenses
Falling all around...all around
Why are you so petrified of silence
Here can you handle this?

Did you think about your bills, your ex, your deadlines
Or when you think you're gonna die
Or did you long for the next distraction
And all I need know is intellectual intercourse
A soul to dig the hole much deeper
And I have no concept of time other than it is flying
If only I could kill the killer

All I really want is some peace man
a place to find a common ground
And all I really want is a wavelength
All I really want is some comfort
A way to get my hands untied
And all I really want is some justice...

2. Hand In My Pocket

Listen to song
I'm broke but I'm happy
I'm poor but I'm kind
I'm short but I'm healthy, yeah
I'm high but I'm grounded
I'm sane but I'm overwhelmed
I'm lost but I'm hopeful baby
What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be fine fine fine
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving a high five
I feel drunk but I'm sober
I'm young and I'm underpaid

I'm tired but I'm working, yeah
I care but I'm restless
I'm here but I'm really gone
I'm wrong and I'm sorry baby

What it all comes down to
Is that everything's gonna be quite alright
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is flicking a cigarette
And what it all comes down to
Is that I haven't got it all figured out just yet
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is giving the peace sign
I'm free but I'm focused
I'm green but I'm wise
I'm hard but I'm friendly baby
I'm sad but I'm laughing
I'm brave but I'm chickenshit
I'm sick but I'm pretty baby

And what it all boils down to
Is that no one's really got it figured out just yet
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is playing the piano
And what it all comes down to my friends
Is that everything's just fine fine fine
I've got one hand in my pocket
And the other one is hailing a taxi cab

Forgiven :
You know how us Catholic girls can be
We make up for so much time a little too late
I never forgot it, confusing as it was
No fun with no guilt feelings
The sinners, the saviors, the loverless priests
I'll see you next Sunday

We all had our reasons to be there
We all had a thing or two to learn
We all needed something to cling to
So we did

sang Alleluia in the choir
I confessed my darkest deeds to an envious man
My brothers they never went blind for what they did
But I may as well have
In the name of the Father, the Skeptic and the Son
I had one more stupid question

We all had our reasons to be there
We all had a thing or two to learn
We all needed something to cling to
So we did

What I learned I rejected but I believe again
I will suffer the consequence of this inquisition
If I jump in this fountain, will I be forgiven
We all had our reasons to be there
We all had a thing or two to learn
We all needed something to cling to
So we did

We all had delusions in our head
We all had our minds made up for us
We had to believe in something
So we did

If this interests you, also look up :
Right thru you
You learn
Mary Jane
Not the doctor
Wake up

Ramblings on some of my favourite music artists

Bellamy Brothers was an uncles favourite, so I grew up listening to their country music at grandmas house. Love Don Williams too.

S&G is Simon & Garfunkel, who Im sure most people would have listened to.
Scorpions & Dire Straits hit it big in the early 80's. Attended the Scorpions Live in Bangalore couple of years ago and thought they are in their 50's now. They still rock.

Strauss is Johann, I just love his waltzes, the only Western Classical Musician I actually enjoy for easy listening, not contemplation.

Carpenters is one of mummys favourites which I grew to like because I listened to them so often because of her.

And who has not heard of "The King"... Elvis himself, he still fills the news with people reporting sightings of him almost daily in the US : )

Shania Twain sings in a rock influenced country kind of way. She's become one of my sisters favourites too because of me.

Allanis Morisette is the only artist I listen to for the lyrics. She comes from this position of rebellion from a rigid catholic upbringing which I kind of identified with when she was singing those kind of songs. She's changed a bit now and her themes are different but I still follow her.

A friend of mine, once told me "I loved the Beatles (still do!), both for their trendseting, unconventional, break all rules type of music and also for the richness of their lyrics. The best anti-cleric (Roman Catholic, that is) lyrics I have heard to date are from the song 'Eleanor Rigby', about the love of a spinster for a priest that could not be actualised because of the 'law of celibacy' which that particular priest chose to adhere to. That is why, you have got me interested in this Allanis Morisette. Perhaps
not the music, although I'll keep an open mind about that, but the
rebellious lyrics! Been a rebel myself from age 14, and have not yet retired! You're right about J. Strauss. No one wrote better waltzes. If you like marches, try John Philip Sousa."

Except for maybe Usher, I don’t listen to any of the new music makers on the scene. I refuse to call them artists because they arent creative enough. Very repetitive music and themes in all their compositions.

Its so difficult to get particular artistes in India. For eg they only sell "Jagged Little Pill" of alanis in India.
I just cant find a "Luther Van Dross" CD. He has sung an amazing song called "Dance with my father again", shortly before he had his stroke. Thankfully he is on the road to recovery. I found him by chance, because one of the actresses in "boston public" sang this song in one of the episodes and I went online to find the lyrics. It’s a very touching song. And that’s how I discovered Luther.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Padma Vibhushan Pandit Shiv Kumar Shankar in Concert

After Teejan Bai's performance I was treated to my second most subliminal experience in life. (The first being, a one-on-one meeting with Mother Theresa) An absolutely fantastic performance by Padma Vibushan, Pandit Shiv Kumar Shankar on the Santoor

He was invited, as a finale to the 3 day Taramati Festival at Taramati Baradari to perform a unique presentation "Peace & Joy" He was joined by his son, Rahul Sharma on the Santoor, Taufiq Qureshi on Western Drums, Ustaad Shafaat Ahmed on the Tabla and Selva Ganesh on Kanjeera (kind of damru)

They were just back from Meghalaya and on their way to Nairobi for another concert.

At the risk of sounding like my 16yr old sister, Rahul is "Soooooooooooo Cute................" (She reserves this compliment for Australian Cricketers, tho) He too, plays the Santoor. Although, while Panditji is focussing on concerts, Rahul is focussing on Music Albums. He is all set to release his next album "Jannat" - the first musical album to document the culture & traditions of strife torn Jammu & Kashmir. After this he plans to work on "Maya - the illusion." He has also recently scored music for Tanuja Chandra's English Film "Hope & a Little Sugar"

The seating was open air in an amphitheatre style, with the historic Taramati Baradari as the backdrop on which a play of lights continued throughout the evening. This centuries old monument is where Taramati used to dance for the Golconda king. Legend has it that, the acoustics were such that he could hear her sing from here, when he was seated at the top of the fort. And on Fridays, after Namaaz, she would sing and dance her way to the Fort.

It was in this magical setting, that Pandit Shiv Kumar and his troupe kept the audience enthralled. He started playing around 10PM and by this time only the real music lovers were left, the page 3 varieties had departed after getting their photos clicked by the reporters. For an hour and a half, we were mesmerised & hypnotised by the music. Some parts were solos, some were percussion combinations, a jugalbandi and an amusing range of instruments simulated by Taufiq Qureshi. So much variety in continuity. Words cannot describe the music. It needs to be heard and experienced by each person individually. To listen to such music, in such surroundings, is as close to paradise as it gets on earth. For an hour and a half, I was in Jannat.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Teejan Bai in Concert

Finally got to watch the Legendary Teejan Bai from Chattisgarh in action. Having heard so much about her, I was wondering if the actual performance could live upto my expectations. But it didn’t.... It surpassed them ! ! ! The Hindi that she used in her Pandwani style of story telling, was so simple that, even I could follow it. Plus she put so much enthu and action into the whole performance, that it was reminiscent of the Usha Uthup kind of energy.

She came to Hyderabad, as part of the Taramati Festival being held at Taramati Baradari by APSTDC. The setting was amazing. But more about that in my next piece.

Teejan Bai sang and acted a scene out of the Mahabharata which included the game of dice being lost by Yudishtir, Draupadi being summoned and dragged in court, a dialog between Rukmini & Krishna before Krishna comes to Draupadis rescue. Pandvani is one of the few styles, where the lead is sung by a woman. Teejan Bai is the best known name in this genre today.

If you get a chance, definitely attend a session by Teejan Bai. It’s a power packed experience.

She was followed by a Pandit Chhannulal Mishra of Benaras who sang a semi classical form of Hindustani Vocals. Unlike many performers, he didn’t have a stiff attitude about his music and had the audience in splits with some lyrical jokes and play on words. Although, I hadnt heard of him before (I dont claim to be an authority on Indian clasical music) I would love to attend an evening, where he is the solo performer. He connects with the audience at every step, which makes it a special performance to follow.

Vote for Taj among the new 7 wonders

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All you need to do is call the following number to receive your 6-digit code. The code is valid for one use only, and for one hour only from the time of your call.

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please call +6753237253 * and write down the code.
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Monday, December 06, 2004

How a son understands his daddy at different ages

At 4 Years My daddy is great.
At 6 Years My daddy knows everybody.
At 10 Years My daddy is good but is short tempered
At 12 Years My daddy was very nice to me when I was young
At 14 Years My daddy is getting fastidious.
At 16 Years My daddy is not in line with the current times.
At 18 Years My daddy is becoming increasingly cranky.
At 20 Years Oh! Its becoming difficult to tolerate daddy. Wonder how Mother puts up with him.
At 25 Years Daddy is objecting to everything.
At 30 Years It's becoming difficult to manage my son. I was so scared of my father when I was young.
At 40 Years Daddy brought me up with so much discipline. Even I should do the same
At 45 Years I am baffled as to how my daddy brought us up.
At 50 Years My daddy faced so many hardships to bring us up. I am unable to manage a single son.
At 55 Years My daddy was so far sighted and planned so many things for us. He is one of his kind and unique.
At 60 Years My daddy is great.

Thus, it takes 56 years to complete the cycle and come back to the 1st stage.

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Murphy's Laws

Murphy's Laws symbolize the error-prone nature of people and processes.

Given below is a top 10 list of Murphy's Laws.

Murphy's Law

1) If something can go wrong, it will.

2) If anything simply cannot go wrong, it will anyway.

3) Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.

4) Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value.

5) The chance of the bread falling with the buttered side down is directly proportional to the cost of the carpet.

6) The buddy system is essential to your survival; it gives the enemy somebody else to shoot at.

7) Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.

8) The opulence of the front office decor varies inversely with the fundamental solvency of the firm.

9) Tell a man there are 300 billion stars in the universe and he'll believe you. Tell him a bench has wet paint on it and he'll have to touch to be sure.

10) The first myth of management is that it exists.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Parents !!!

Our Parents.....

When you came into this world
They held you in their arms
You thanked them by
wailing loudly

When you were 1 yr old
They fed you and bathed you
You thanked them by
Crying all night and keeping them awake

When you were 2 yrs old
They taught you how to walk
You thanked them by
Running away when they called

When you were 3 yrs. Old
They taught you poems
You thanked them by
Not speaking a word at the school interview

When you were 4 yrs old
They took you out for meals
You thanked them by
Tossing the plate on the floor

When you were 5yrs old
They bought you crayons
You thanked them by
Spoiling all the drawing room walls

When you were 6 yrs old
They drove you to school bus
You thanked them by
crying loudly "I don't want to go??.."

When you were 7 yrs old
They bought you the best toys they found
You thanked them by saying
"my friend has got better ones !"

When you were 8 yrs old
They bought you a cricket bat
You thanked them by smashing
The neighbour's window pane

When you were 9 yrs old
They drove you to your friend's B'day Party
You thanked them by
jumping out of the car And not looking back.

When you were 10 yrs old
They paid for your music classes
You thanked them by
Never bothering to practice.

When you were 11 yrs old
They took you to a Hill Station for vacation
You thanked them by complaining
That your friends go abroad

When you were 16 yrs old
They invited your friends home on you B'day
You thanked them by asking them
To stay out and leave you and your friends alone in the room.

When you were 17 yrs old
They turned up for your School PTA meeting
You thanked them by blaming them
For embarrassing you in front of friends

when you were 18 yrs old
They taught you how to drive
You thanked them by taking the car
At every possible opportunity and Making them wait up in worry

When you were 19 yrs old
They were expecting important calls
You thanked them by
being on the Phone with friends for hours

When you were 20 yrs old
They wanted to discuss your career with you
You thanked them by saying that
Your plans are different from theirs

When you were 21 yrs old
They gifted you a two wheeler
You thanked them by leaving it at home
And roaming around in friends' cars

When you were 23 yrs old
They arranged for a job for you
You thanked them by complaining all the time
That its not 'your kind of work'

When you were 24 yrs old
They were excited to find a life partner for you
You thanked them by breaking the news
That you already have someone in mind

When you were 25 yrs old
They spent all their savings on your wedding
You thanked them by
Moving to a separate house with your spouse

When you were 30 yrs old
They called up with some advice on your baby
You thanked them by telling them
That things are different from their time

When you were 35 yrs old
They wished you on your wedding anniversary
You thanked them by going out with your wife
And leaving the kids behind for them to take care

When you were 40 yrs old
They asked your to attend a relatives' wedding
You thanked them by saying
That we are really very busy to go

When you were 45 yrs old
They wished to come over and stay with you
You thanked them by saying that your children
Had trouble 'communicating' with them

When you were 50 yrs old
They fell ill and needed your care
You thanked them by making sure
They had signed all 'property papers'

And then one day
They quietly went away
And everything you never did
Came crashing down on your face

We may find it childish and silly
To tell our parents in word that we love them
But can't we take our moments to make sure
They know this someway ?????.

There is no substitute for them
Cherish every single second spent in their care
They may not be your best friends
And you may not agree with everything they say
But this is one place you can just close your eyes
And trust blindly that whatever they are saying
Is only for your good ????..
Have different viewpoints from them
But never let it overpower love and respect.


Exercise for new Mothers - Stroller Strides

The American Woman has finally realised what Indian Women always knew. Having a baby is a full time job & exercise routine.

Tired of feeling guilty of leaving your child at a creche while going to the gym for a workout ?
An enterprising young mother in the US, has formulated an exercise plan, where young mothers with New Borns meet up with their children in strollers and take a joint walk and short breaks to develop other muscles.

What is Stroller Strides?
Stroller Strides is a total fitness program for new moms that they can do with their babies. It includes Power Walking and intervals of body toning using exercise tubing and the stroller. Taught by nationally certified instructors, it's a great workout for any level of exerciser. Please get doctor's permission before starting this or any other exercise.

What do I need?
You, your baby and the stroller. Just about any kind of stroller will do so long as it's not prone to tipping. We also suggest you bring WATER, a hat or sunblock for both you and your baby, and a towel or mat for our ground exercises.

What can I expect when we meet?
Each class consists of a warm up, a power walk and "stations" where we do a variety of body toning exercises. We use exercise tubing (which we provide you with), the stroller and the outdoor environment to create our gym. If your baby is fussy, we will show you exercises that you can do with your baby.

So guess, nani & Dadi have always known best !!!

Heard about the Wing Women ?

Have u heard abt the new concept of Wingwomen. A guy pays a girl to take her out. But she is neither a prostitute or an escort. She is a Wing Woman !

A wing woman accompanies a guy to a party or a bar or any social meeting place, here he identifies a couple of wopmen he would like to meet up with or talk to but doesnt have the courage or is too shy. The Wingwoman approaches the other woman and starts a casual conversation with her, then introduces the guy as her friend. If the 2 hit it off, the wing woman slowly walks out of the picture.

This concept has taken New York by storm where men are too busy or too egoistic to meet women on their own.

Do u think it can work in India ? Do we need it in India, when there are enough obliging "aunties" who "will introduce to nice homely, educated, working girl"

Your comments ???

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100 scientific things to do before you die

Scientists from a UK think tank have come up with a new take on 100 things to do before you die.

Involving ideas from the renowned evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins and astronomer Patrick Moore, the list details one hundred scientific ideas to further your intellect while at the same time having fun.

"You've only got one life, so make the most of it," say list editors Valerie Jamieson and Liz Else. "Swim in a bioluminescent lake, boil an egg with a mobile phone, or have a new species named after you."

According to Ms Jamieson and Else, the list published in the New Scientist magazine provides "the best science has to offer in the way of new experiences".

Ranging from the whacky South Pole 300 Club (where you bathe in a 200 degree Fahrenheit sauna before running to the South Pole naked in minus 100 degrees), to the slightly more accessible assisting at the birth of an animal, the scientific list has something to tempt everyone.

Other highlights include extracting your own DNA, connecting your home PC to the alien-spotting Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, going to see Galileo's middle finger in Florence and measuring the speed of light with chocolate.

Alternatively, for £35,000 you could clone your pet cat or with a little effort learn the native American language of Choctaw - with one tense for relaying information you know to be true and a second for giving unchecked information from someone else.
Anyone have an idea on where I can find the list of 100 ? Please add in the comments space.

Julia Roberts gives birth to twins

Julia Roberts gives birth to twins
Mom, Hazel Patricia and Phinnaeus Walter reportedly doing well
Monday, November 29, 2004 Posted: 12:22 AM EST (0522 GMT)

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Actress Julia Roberts gave birth to twins Sunday morning, her publicist told CNN.

Roberts, who is married to cinematographer Daniel Moder, delivered Hazel Patricia Moder and Phinnaeus Walter Moder at a hospital in Southern California, said Marcy Engleman.

"Mother and babies are doing great," she said.

Roberts, 37, married Moder two years ago.

Roberts was born in Smyrna, Georgia, and attained fame in 1990 for her portrayal of a prostitute in the sentimental romantic comedy "Pretty Woman."

Ten years later, she won the Academy Award for best actress and a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama for her work in "Erin Brockovich."

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- Actress Julia Roberts gave birth to twins Sunday morning, her publicist told CNN.

Roberts, who is married to cinematographer Daniel Moder, delivered Hazel Patricia Moder and Phinnaeus Walter Moder at a hospital in Southern California, said Marcy Engleman.

"Mother and babies are doing great," she said.

Roberts, 37, married Moder two years ago.

Roberts was born in Smyrna, Georgia, and attained fame in 1990 for her portrayal of a prostitute in the sentimental romantic comedy "Pretty Woman."

Ten years later, she won the Academy Award for best actress and a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama for her work in "Erin Brockovich."

Julia Roberts attends the Academy Awards in Los Angeles in this file photo taken in February.

Tommy Hilfiger 'Racist' Rumor Is Fashionable Again

Netlore Archive: False rumors alleging that fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger made racist statements on Oprah Winfrey's show are circulating (again) by email

A whole lot of nice, earnest folks who surely don't consider themselves liars are using the Internet to spread a false and libelous rumor about fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger.

It comes to them in the form of a forwarded email message. They read it, they either believe it to be true or don't care if it's true, and they pass it on to friends, associates and people they hardly even know with the click of a mouse button.

Knowingly or not, each one of these people thus becomes a link in a growing chain of lies.

Check Urban Legends for the whole debunking.

And next time, before forwarding such malicious emails, look it up. It takes all of two minutes to find the answers. Try it youself. Go to Google and do a search on the keywords "hilfiger racist."

If you're among the truly diligent, you'll eventually come across the best resource of all, and certainly the one those "in the know" would have checked out first: the Urban Legends Reference Pages.

Type "hilfiger" into the handy search box there and you'll be treated to "Tommy Rot," Barbara Mikkelson's well-researched article debunking the pernicious rumor. She explains how essentially the same story haunted designer Liz Claiborne for many years before it became attached to Tommy Hilfiger. You'll come away with a bit of historical perspective, and the truth.

You might also consider visiting Oprah Winfrey's own site to see what she has to say. Turns out she did a special segment during her January 11, 1999 show specifically to put this lie to rest. "Mr. Hilfiger has never appeared on the show," reads the synopsis. "In fact, Oprah has never even met him."

Lastly, to find out what Mr. Hilfiger himself has to say about all this, why not visit the Tommy Hilfiger Website and look for his official statement? It's all right there in black and white.

In closing, friends, let me remind you that there's a point to all this apart from the plain fact that the Hilfiger rumor is false. The point is that a lie is a lie, whether you say it with your mouth or send it in an email. The point is that you needn't bear false witness against your neighbor when the truth is only a few clicks away.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

What's ours on the Net?

Put aside for the moment question of what's legally ours on the Net. Instead, consider what's ours in a less explicit and less rigorous sense. Google feels like ours (even though it legally belongs to its
shareholders) while Microsoft's new search site feels like theirs. Weblogs feel like their ours while online columns do not. The Mac feels like it's ours while Dell computers do not. Craigslist feels like it's ours while newspaper classified ads and feel like theirs. In fact, many of us feel and act as if downloaded mp3s were ours. Is this sense of "ours" an illusion? Is it a temporary artifact that will vanish in months or years? What makes something that's not legally ours still feel that way, on the Web or off? And does this provide a way of figuring out why many of us feel so passionately about the load of bits we call the Net?

Thanks GG

Counting Blessings? Don't Forget to Tally What Doesn't Irk You

Counting Blessings? Don't Forget to Tally What Doesn't Irk You

Cubicle Culture by Jared Sandberg

The Wall Street Journal November 24, 2004

If you're in the average office, it's likely that someone else there has more wits, money and square footage than you. Nonetheless, you could try this Thanksgiving to be thankful for what you do have. Or, even better, try a more foolproof approach: being thankful for what you don't have.

Vige Barrie, a marketing director at a New York college, says she's thankful she no longer has to attend conferences wearing the same outfits as her colleagues. "When I worked for a large corporation in Dallas," she says, "we all had to wear cowboy hats and belt buckles."

She's thankful, too, that she doesn't have to do any more embarrassing role-playing for a company that used to require salespeople to act out the proper way to make a pitch and then watch a video of it.

Most of all, Ms. Barrie is relieved that her current employer doesn't make employees go through a rope course. That's a team-building exercise that involves a web of ropes through which employees push their skinniest colleagues, and -- with a little luck and lots of humiliation -- their largest colleagues, too. "I just have this aversion to thinking about it," Ms. Barrie says.

You can consider being thankful that you don't have to do what you don't want to do an alternate route to gratitude. Or, as some elderly relatives are wont to point out in the face of thankless whining, "At least you're not dead!"

It's the approach that even Buddha implicitly endorsed: "Let us rise up and be thankful," he said, "for if we didn't learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn't learn a little, at least we didn't get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn't die."

It's like thanking heaven for little hells, and the beauty of it is that you aren't left with mere gratitude. It's gratitude spiked with one of the most nirvanic and intoxicating of all emotions: relief.

M.J. Ryan, a business consultant and the author of "Attitudes of Gratitude," says that the practice of gratitude stimulates the brain's left prefrontal cortex, where hope, optimism and appreciation reside. That, in turn, tickles the limbic system into releasing feel-good endorphins. But some people -- say, jaded desk monkeys -- arrive at that feeling by way of their right neocortex, which is a hotbed of worry, frustration and pessimism. "For some of us," she says, "the habit of thinking about what's right is so noningrained that the way you get there is thinking about what's not wrong."

And that's arguably a straighter path to happiness. In a 1981 study, people who were asked to complete the sentence "I'm glad I'm not a..." five times were significantly more satisfied with their lives than the people who were asked to complete "I wish I were a..." five times. It's called "downward comparison," and it's a real upper. In fact, Ms. Ryan notes, "the people who completed the 'I wish I were a...' sentence rated themselves as significantly more dissatisfied than they had been merely minutes earlier."

Financial analyst Michael Collet says he's thankful that "no one knows how little work I actually do." And now that his reason for being thankful just evaporated, he's also grateful to live in Des Moines, which he believes offers a kind of built-in career safety net: "No one else wants to work here," he says, "so I'd have to screw up pretty badly to get fired!"

Josette Williams, a 70-year-old freelance editor of management-training texts, is grateful for the "technology" she no longer has to use. "I am old enough to be truly thankful I never have to deal with carbon paper any more," she says. In fact, let's all pause here for a moment to acknowledge that computers are easier to write with than chisels, albeit less reliable.

Lewis Regenstein, an environmental author, is grateful he doesn't have to travel much anymore because "in the time and energy you expend, you could write a book or solve the Mideast crisis." Similarly, he's happy he now has fewer meetings to attend. He once fell asleep in a meeting and drooled on his tie. "I don't normally drool, but I did on this particular occasion," he says.

Brian Winn, a district vice president for a nonprofit group, is thankful for his view of the parking lot. "It could have been a landfill," he notes. He's also grateful he has his own office so that no one notices when he takes off his shoes. (And I'm betting his colleagues also are thankful he has his own office when he takes off his shoes.)

Cliff Strickland, who used to work for a major bank, is happy he doesn't have to take seminars any more, such as one called "Leading from the Middle." As best he can remember, it was a multiday seminar in which midlevel employees were supposed to design a product and then role play managing up to their bosses to ensure the item was properly produced. "Everyone kind of played it serious," he recalls. "I was struggling with it."

It should go without saying that Mr. Strickland also expresses gratitude that in his current job "humiliation isn't part of the plan."

And if you, dear reader, work in a place where it is, here's hoping your list of what's not wrong is very long.
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