Work life balance

We always hear about ‘work life balance,’ i mean all the time but do we truly practice it, is a thought that i have been pondering for some time now. I am sure we all have those days when you are so crazy busy at work that you forget to grab a bite or take a break or even take the time to say ‘hi’ to your cubicle mate. It is truly pathetic that we get so engrossed in all that we do, that we forget about ourselves and everything including everyone around us just to get things done or focus and complete as much as possible in order to avoid taking work back home. But does this mean that you don’t think about the pending work back at home or worry about everything that still needs completion – no, it still nags you for days. Is there truly anything as work life balance then which would be the ideal scenario were you work and leave your work in the office, come home and not think about anything associated to office or work – shut yourselves out until the next morning. Even though this is truly hard to practice for workaholics like me, i am certain there is a way to learn and ultimately master this art.

I have been observing one of my peers for sometime now – this person is so laid back that nothing ever gets to him or bothers him. This is one of those typical personalities, brilliant but lazy, does not want to work if it was not for the money and perks, act dumb or stupid and just gets by each time, who probably all managers hate to work with but it is amazing how he does not care about anything, will not budge to anything – no matter what including escalations. Its truly one of a kind, no doubt about it whatsoever but there is so much you can learn from such personalities – imbibe some of those skill sets and there you go – that’s your work life balance right there in practice.

2011 – Busy Year (All work and no play!)

Don’t get me wrong, I love blogging but I am really surprised looking back at my blog that I have hardly written any posts in 2011. Well, what can I say – it seems to me that 2011 was a really exhausting and busy year for me, since I could hardly find much time for doing things that I love most, one of which is putting down the random thoughts out here on my blog. I am glad that 2011 is in the past and this new year brings me closer to the things that I really cherish in my life – don’t want to emphasize it too much and jinx the whole thing. In short, hope that this year turns out to be one of the most memorable ones, hope it brings joy/happiness to not only me and my family, but also to all the people/friends around me including the whole wide world. Let’s just say that I am so glad to be back, more actively blogging – feel free to read and comment. Peace!

Trip to Paradise – Oahu, Hawaii

Hawaii is definitely one of the most beautiful places on earth – no doubt about it. If you plan on going to Hawaii with the intention of covering most of the activities including hanging out at the beach then make sure that you have at least 4 days per island. Depending on the type of vacation you hope to have there are lots of options and activities that suits everyone’s needs. If the intent is for a romantic, peaceful vacation then you should choose Maui over Oahu. But if you would rather shop and feel like being in a big city, around lots of people then you should focus on being in Waikiki which is in Oahu. Well, I definitely cannot comment on the other Hawaiian islands but among the two that we had the opportunity to visit, I loved being in Maui and wish we had planned to spent more time in Maui instead of Oahu.

While we were in Oahu, we loved the snorkeling at the Haunama Bay – the colors of aquatic life, mainly fishes that you see under water is pretty amazing. The Sunset dinner cruise gives you a view of the shoreline and the night lights around the island – it also gives you some flavors of the Hawaiian cuisine, the food is so yummy. In Hawaii, most of the seafood is fresh and since the fruits and vegetables are grown on the island – don’t forget to relish on these to your heart’s content. The hike up to the waterfall in Waimea Valley brings you closer to nature, it will leave you refreshed and rejuvenated – not to mention that this will feel like a work out so make sure to do this before lunch. The vegetation is pretty amazing, where you get to see fruit that looks like pineapple growing on trees but don’t get carried away by looks  – trust me, these are not pineapples. While you are there, check out the Dole pineapple plantation where you get to taste the sweetest, less acidic fresh Hawaiian pineapples and grab some flavored or chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Since we had taken the Circle Island tour, it really helped us to cover most of the important locations on the island including giving us an idea on creating a list of places we would like to revisit by ourselves during the rest of the stay on the island. Haleiwa Town, along the north shore is another popular spot if you love galleries, boutiques etc and the sunset beach is another favorite of mine.

If you have a rental car at your disposal then take a tour of the entire island from one end to the other – there are some beautiful beaches in Oahu, with crystal clear green & blue waters/waves away from the busy Waikiki area. There is just so much you can do in Oahu, in terms of activities that it can be pretty overwhelming – but don’t forget to grab a drink and chill at the beach to calm your inner being and soothe your soul – ALOHA!

 

Enjoy life in the US

Life in the US is very similar to a nuclear family in India where it has become so mechanical & routine that sometimes you need to improvise in several ways to bring excitement into your lives. One of the things you can most certainly do is to take a break, couple of times a year which will energize not only yourselves but also your relationships and this keeps you from getting tired or rather bored of life. The second thing that can help is to be part of an association, which brings together people from the same cultural background as you - this will improve not only your social circle but the warmth that you feel away from home helps you to think that you are no longer alone and coming together to celebrate festivities that you would do back home, brings happiness back into your lives.

A fact that I have noticed which is so prominent among immigrants here are that they are never content with their lives – everyone is in some sort of a race to improve something or the other, it could be a better job, better quality of life or to just be better than others. Everyone is so entangled in this race that they forget to live and somewhere in between, they even forget the meaning of their lives or the value of their relationships which is human nature to get bored of everything including ones own lives. But if you pause for a second and think about all the things you have accomplished so far, then this race does not make any sense – it makes more sense to just enjoy life the way it comes, it surprises you in beautiful ways some good and others bad many of which you never anticipated. Don’t waste your lives thinking of all the futile opportunities that you have missed in life, in turn be positive and keep an open mind – you will be surprised by all the positive signs around you and sometimes you feel the presence of some divine force around you, in the form of a person who brought something positive into your life which was a pleasant surprise to you and brought a smile to your face.

Yet another MMORPG – FF XIV

It has been a while since I have scribbled something on my blog due to different reasons one of which include being busy at my new job. Well, today I would like to write a short review of the new online game Final Fantasy XIV. I would say that you’re lucky if you haven’t got a chance to check this one out. Though the graphics is pretty impressive along with the storyline, the grind will really drive you crazy as the focus is mainly on professions or crafting which can be improved by obtaining local leves, and regional leves that focus on killing specific mobs within 30 minutes, but the catch is that you can only obtain a certain number of leves every 36 hours. After you hit the level 20 mark, it gets really hard to increase the level or rank on your main profession due to availability of only limited number of quests and some of the level 20 quests can only be completed with a larger group of more than 4 or 5 players with the right level/class etc. So in short, in order to keep players from quitting and attracting new players, I think the game developers really need to focus on improving the game play and reduce the time lag for each window to load especially when you are crafting. Funny, how you don’t have the capability to search “all retainers” for the item you want to buy but instead it is a cumbersome task of looking individually at every bazaar setup by players and the worst part is that you cannot setup your retainer to buy items if you don’t have at least one item with you which is ridiculous. This can be applied to shards or crystals but how can you buy a weapon to setup a shop for buying the same thing on your retainer, since you would only need a single weapon after all so it does not make any sense to me.  The capability to use more than one retainer would be a great addition or the ability to increase your inventory space like other games and increase the maximum number of items that can be setup for sale on your retainer. Worst of all, is if you are looking for crafting recipes which are supposedly ideal for your level, say 10 on blacksmith and you find one, don’t rejoice so fast since there will be at least one material required for the craft that will certainly fail since it is ideal for a higher level say, 15, so what good will that be to you. Overall, I am not really happy with these aspects in the game and if it is not improved soon, pretty sure that I will quit trying it out and go back to the older MMORPGs that have improved the game play over the past few years.

Since this game is fairly new and the fact that I haven’t really explored all aspects in the game, there is a possibility that some of the above mentioned functionalities may exist but I am not really aware of it, like some of the other players who are in the same linkshell as me. Well, if it exists then my advice to the game designers, is to start providing random tips to the players.

Back up plan – GC

I know immigration to the United States has been very touchy topic lately due to the reforms here in Arizona. But I think if you are a resident alien then the GC process would have been something that touched your lives at some point. It probably did increase your blood pressure, several times and the uncertainty associated to the process which includes the indefinite wait for your priority date to be current. According to my personal experience, we do enjoy a higher quality of life in the United States or Canada when compared to India, and no question about that what so ever. Also, personally I prefer staying in the United States when compared to Canada, but the only thing that worries me is that after all the years of waiting, “is there any guarantee that you would finally get your EAD, or could it get denied in the end due to some reason.” Well, if you are looking for a backup plan in such scenarios, then it might be a good idea to apply for immigration to another country where you would be able to enjoy similar quality of life, standard of living as well as similar work environments. Immigration to Canada for some reason is a much faster process and if you are already in the United States then that is considered as an advantage. If you are employed in the skilled worker category then you definitely have a higher chance of getting the same. Also, recently I read an article on the Canadians giving a lot of importance to higher education and investing in education to build a brighter future for the next generation, which I feel is a step in the right direction.

It is definitely true that no one knows for sure what the future has kept in store for us. But to do nothing, and wait for the GC process to take its own sweet time is sometimes difficult to understand and you really don’t know if you should settle down here with the fear that your visa may not get renewed or the GC could get rejected since most people do like some sort of certainty in their lives to live happily. It is hence crucial for ones own survival to find a system that processes applications for PR faster as well as qualifies to your expectations, including embracing immigrants like us with open arms and let us contribute to the GDP.

Healthy Diet

Lifestyle here in the US had hit us pretty hard, especially the health aspect and the shocking statement from a doctor mentioning that many packaged foods have very little nutrients that are actually healthy. So we have made it a point to look closely at the nutrient information before purchasing any product for that matter. Rice has always been an important part of our day to day lives, especially for Indians like us until recently but we forced ourselves to switch to brown rice instead of white, and reduced consumption in lower quantities over the week instead of avoiding it entirely which would be very hard.  The premise for all these changes was due to the results from a “CPR blood test” which indicates inflammation in blood and risk for developing heart disease. A very useful test, but at the same time if the results are high then that would indicate “poor diet,” though you think that you have been eating pretty healthy, though not entirely. So back tracking the diet for the past couple of months indicated a lot of soda, a small can everyday during summer months, eating white rice, white flour products and several other packaged food items. Also, trying to make a switch from white products to whole wheat, fruits and vegetables is pretty difficult for us but possible.

In addition to these changes, working out is another thing that we Indians need to add to our schedules, at least a couple of times during the week. Joining a fitness center and getting a trainer would be ideal if you are willing to spend some money to get you back on track, which I would highly recommend in order to understand weight trainings in more detail and getting better results for the time spend. We have been eating a lot of fruits both fresh and dried, which includes mostly berries (strawberry, blue berry, black berry etc), which I read in some health magazine as being nutrient rich. Also a couple of interesting things that I have noticed, while reading up online and in magazines includes, eating free range eggs which are supposed to be lower in cholesterol than regular eggs (based on some study), citrus fruits, beets, celery, chili peppers, pumpkin and their seeds, fresh turmeric, purslane and kale are all supposed to be good, although I haven’t really found purslane or kale at any of the grocery stores I usually shop.

Addiction to video games

It is rather strange how people get addicted to video games and I am able to state this because I have played them in different occasions. I have had the opportunity to play a few online games such as Lineage II, Age of Conan, World of Warcraft and AION. They transform you into a magical world especially the ones that have advanced graphics such as Lineage II or AION which were both developed by NCSoft, and World of Warcraft is similar, except I liked AION better than all the others. Now the ability to not get addicted to these fascinating games is quite simple but seems rather difficult and tormenting for someone who would spend hours playing these games every day. Even a flash game like Farmville can get you to spend hours, farming which would sound very lame but true. For me, it was only a matter of time when I realized that I had other priorities in real life, and did not want to waste my life playing these games, which are not real but seem so real to get you addicted making you while away countless hours of your life every day for many weeks, months and years. But then, there are some others who are so addicted that they think, it is practically impossible to live without spending at least an hour or two gaming everyday or at least a couple of times every week. Now, like I said, the trick is very simple, reduce the number of hours you spend gradually every day or by week but you really need to have the determination within or desire to reduce it in the first place. Nobody can help you if you are not willing to help yourself and make an attempt to try it in the first place. Also, make it a point to spend the extra time gained by doing something you love, other than gaming, which could be anything you think is fruitful such as maybe reading, gardening, cooking, spending more time with family, hiking etc to name a few options. Well, we did practice this theory and was able to successfully stop playing AION, slowly and steadily, by spending more time with each other, watching movies, organizing things, cooking, reading etc. Later I did check out Farmville just for fun, never really expecting to spend one or two hours every day or at least once a week on it. Also, was surprised at the number of people who play using their Facebook accounts, which seem impressive because I did not think that the graphics were comparable in any way to other MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games). Finally, I am glad to say that I did get over this as well, with just sheer determination that there are other priorities and I would rather spend time doing something that I liked doing, which helped me improve my writing skills, cleared my thought and improved my imagination. So I have started reading the Harry Potter books, some of which I have read in the past and watching the movies after I complete each book. I am trying to analyze the instances that have been modified by the movie maker and the things that are left unmentioned in movies. Well, you can never expect the movie to say the exact same story in every detail, since it would only be one or two hours, but I find this feat very interesting since I am able to imagine a world that is not real, and see through the eyes of the writer herself, an imaginary world that perhaps would inspire my spirits and hopefully instill greater creativity within me.

Sarcasm

I have never really been sarcastic about things in life, nor do i have the ability to catch the sarcasm that people throw at you or regarding someone else that you commonly happen to know. I think that it is really funny, are they afraid to tell things in a straight forward manner, or incapable of doing so, or are they worried about tarnishing their image in front of other people, i wonder. Again, i am not sure of the reasons for its popularity here, but i am certain that it is very popular among the people you see around everyday, or among the people you hardly know, the stranger who shops in the same store that you are in or is watching the same movie like you etc. This is just something i can hardly relate to, since I have always been pretty straight forward for the past years of my life or at least that’s what i think, nor have i had the privilege to mingle with people who are capable of doing so, until now. It seems so difficult for me to assimilate this fact, as at times it is really unpleasant to the ears at least some of them that i manage to catch, and it makes me wonder, are they joking or trying to make a point. Well, if it is to make a point to me, then it probably didn’t serve the purpose, which is sad for them. But lately, i am able to understand its and bits, probably 2% of all that gets thrown around in conversations, but sincerely hope that i would be blessed with some resistance so as to not imbibe these unique skill sets which may come handy in many cases, but those that i wish not to have.

People are really unique, every one of them vary with country or region, so many different cultures, dynamic behavioral patterns, social life, etc or in general every aspect of life differs, only the variance among some seems to be shorter than few others, based on whether they come from similar backgrounds or not and ultimately everything boils down to the only one common factor that we are all human beings. Though this is a known fact to everyone, it amazes me, the intricacies of human behavior and the ways by which different people react to the same stimuli.

Redefining my blog

I have been pondering for some time on what i should blog about – should i write about my interests or activities that i am involved in, maybe make this a technical blog on BusinessObjects as well as CRM with tips to use these tools efficiently.

But, NO that’s not what i want to do. With the help of one of my friends at work, I was able to identify a very interesting aspect of my life that i would love to blog about. Guess what, it is “America through the eyes of an Indian.”

A very interesting topic, though i may not be an expert in any of these areas, i would be able to explain the things i feel, see and understand from a human perspective. Hope it turns out to be interesting.