All this country needs is ______ALGEBRA!

It's election season again. The one that is considered unprecedented in modern times. On one side we have a policy wonk who is also the first ever woman nominee. On the other side we have a so called successful businessman with no definite policies.
 My observations during the last 100 days before election- huge following and huge hatred on both sides. But what has given rise to a person to win a party ticket just based on 10 word sentences with no complexity? Because his followers, love things simple. They refuse to see facts and are terrified of numbers. Put a graph in front of their faces and they glaze over.
 My husband ran a math Olympiad team at school and it cost 10$/year. Out of 20 , 18 were of Asian and Indian origin and the other two were east European immigrants. I volunteered for the school's science Olympiad team. Very few kids of parents who have been living in this country for generations. When I ask the 20 something coworker in the office who is taking evening classes to finish her degree- she says "I will take math last as my core requirement  as math is hard."
And then the whole concept of "when will I need such hard math in my day to day life?"
This fear of understanding data and analyzing it has created true fans of people who use big words in their opinions with no facts to support them.
For the economy to work, you need math. For making things in this country at a cheaper rate, you need math. For understanding global warming , you need math. If you want to create a pipeline for cheap oil, you need math. Heck for building the Noah's ark as an exhibit, they needed math. For running profitable businesses, you need math.
Facts are facts. They cannot be your facts or my facts and they cannot be different. To understand facts , you need to understand and analyze information and data. And you need to understand some math to do the same. Just spewing opinion and calling them facts is not the right thing to do and also not the right thing to follow. 
We wouldn't have an Italian professor booted out of a plane if the lady sitting next to him would understand that he was working on mathematical equations and not writing a foreign language.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson says we need education for better candidates to run this country. Because if you oust an ignorant candidate another one will spout if the supporters are not educated.

Continue reading: All this country needs is ______ALGEBRA!...

I'd love you if you were a garbageman-accepting one's own

I am quoting this from the interview of Brad Meltzer on NPR yesterday. He was being interviewed about his latest book"Heroes for my son". He mentions that the biggest lesson that you take away from the book is "Love yourself first and everything falls into line." I think it is the most important lesson in self-worth to teach yourself and the ones around you. In the daily grind of rushing everywhere from early morning till late into the evening -we seldom remember that push ourselves and people close to us to achieve impossible goals and are stretched too thin in the process.
Coming back to the title of this post- I am guilty of setting high goals for my child and am always wondering how she is doing compared to her peers. Just yesterday she mentioned that the her teacher gave the class solid blocks to build something tall and her structure was 10 inches tall. The question that immediately popped into my mind was " So how tall was the tallest one?" I stopped myself just in time from blurting it out. In the past though I have not been so cautious and have always wanted to know if she scored the highest in the spelling test or ranked the highest in the math game. Every time she discusses an achievement-she always asks me "Are you happy, Mamma?" What a crappy lesson in self-worth I am teaching her! I have done well academically in the past and hence set higher academic goals for my child.
I am sure a sports jock would have similar aspirations for their off springs and keep pushing them to be as good as them. I have seen people around me pushing their children day in day out to aspire for higher and bigger goals. The other day I saw a Chinese American child -about 5 -6 years in my daughter's swimming class. The coach had put them on the deep side of the pool and this was this child's first time in such a deep side. He was terrified and was crying and shivering. The father should have stopped the child for that day.But he kept getting more and more angry at that kid and kept him asking to jump back in the pool.
We are not just happy if our child excels in one thing. They have to be multi-faceted. When we meet someone new we ask " So what extra-curricular activity does your child participate in?" We compare our child with every other accomplished child around us to see how good they are and how much more can we stretch our child to be at par with the other kid.
People call me or email me just to talk about how accomplished their child is. You might say publicly -" No I don't push my child that hard." But do you really believe that in your heart? Are you not a tiny bit envious when someone else's kid has done better than yours? Are we setting up our children to be like us- where the current status of our life is not good enough; there's always the next level to achieve. On the flip side, there are parents or institutions who are happy with mediocrity- but then that's a post for another day.

Continue reading: I'd love you if you were a garbageman-accepting one's own...

The Real Thing

After living for more than 10 years in the US, I have still not learned to cook a proper turkey with all the proper fixings.Does that not make me a true American? I was talking to my daughter's music teacher and she cooks a turkey with mashed potatoes, yams , green bean casserole,cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. She turned her nose when I mentioned having turkey cooked the Indian way.

So does that mean I am not a true American? I am not getting into stereotypes here, but there are a few things I have learnt staying here and they have become a part of my life now. Getting used to four seasons, going through a drive-through, enjoying a PB&J snack, having a Superbowl party( albeit people who came watched the game less and talked more about Rabindra Sangeet-big mistake), having a backyard barbecue( I even participated in a burger cooking contest in the town I live in and came in second), volunteer my time and even take an all inclusive vacation to Cancun and finally being a soccer mom.I don't drive a SUV, I don't know how to use tools and I don't mow my own lawn.Does that make me belong less here? Coming back to following traditions, I haven't cooked a thanksgiving dinner yet or put up a Christmas tree yet(more on that on my next post).
I love watching Food Network and notice that the Thanksgiving meal is being given various twists as the years go by.Traditions keep changing as various traditions amalgamate into a nation that is considered a melting pot. Would we scoff at turkey meatballs and polenta if Italians had started the Thanksgiving tradition? Who knows we might have a tandoori turkey one day?
Picture courtesy:

Continue reading: The Real Thing...

America is Manning football again, but it’s not the end of the World!

I know, I know, the topic is two weeks old. Its time to think about NBA All Stars or the Opening day! But hey, what can you expect from a multitasking mom? I am not going to talk about the shocking turnover by Giants in the 4th Quarter ( like the guys) or talk about how hot Brady is or how cute Manning is(like the girls). I loved it when the underdogs won! That’s all I am going to say about the game!
Coming back to my original point, when asked by the reporter, Burress( the guy who made the winning touchdown) made a comment about this being a World Championship! HELLO, THIS IS NOT A WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP! Its just played mainly by the US of A. Maybe a couple of teams from Canada join in! But its not the whole world! They even commit that blasphemy in baseball, calling the finals the world championship. I am all for diversity and inclusion, but including a few people from outside USA does not make it a world championship. That would make the European Football League a world championship too.
The idea of seeing the world with a set of blinders is not opening up to globalization. A well-travelled American has only visited Canada and Cancun in Mexico. Maybe Paris with its Disney Land. One of my co-workers had sent me a mail longtime back( I have lost it now) about what constitutes the world for Americans. Canada to the north and Mexico to the South, Paris Disney Land to the East and Hawaii to the west. I am not stereotyping here but am talking about the average American. I have friends who are well travelled, know the world cuisines and know the diverse cultures. But for that average American, here are a few things to know before meeting the aliens who are out of your world!

  1. Curry is not a spice but gravy.
  2. Sushi is not hip and happening.
  3. Europe has other places to visit than the Disney land in France.
  4. Football (as in soccer) came way before your version of the football.
  5. Islam is not the only religion apart from Christianity.
  6. My black hair does not give you the opportunity to speak Espanol with me.
  7. I can eat chicken and fish but I might not eat beef or pork.
  8. Not every Orient is a Chinese.
  9. And yes I can speak English; in fact the Queen’s own way.
  10. And finally, not every turban-wearing guy is a terrorist.

Its tough to be inclusive, but isn’t it a good thing to be assimilated in the melting bowl for the sake of fine taste. That’s what your forefathers did and that’s what I am trying to do now. So embrace my Diwali diyas just as I have embraced your holiday lighting.Let me end with the Wal-Mart Smiley, which we all can love, or hate.

Continue reading: America is Manning football again, but it’s not the end of the World!...

The Caste System in Corporate America

With the Iowa caucuses round the corner, the discussions are not about issues like Iraq and rising medical costs anymore. It's about "Who is the most likeable candidate?" or "Is a woman able to rule the country?" or " We have the most diverse groups of candidates". And I would like to ask "HOW DOES IT MATTER?" .If the candidate gets the job done, then how does it matter if he was a she, or if he is an African American or if he practiced an unknown form of Christianity. America is considered one of the most developed nations in the world and I see it going back to the pre-historic human roots day by day.
When I came to this country, I thought, "Wow this is the land of diversity. After all, this is the land that was formed by the immigrants. Isn't this the country, which allowed Indra Nooyi to walk in her first interview in a sari? How intolerant can these people be?" Then I joined Business School and I was told by a person in the community who went to the same school "You are fighting three odds. You are not a white, you are a woman and you don't have an American accent." And my husband still tells me, "Did you think they gave you that admission in business school because of your essays? No dear, its just based on the money you had in your bank account!!"
I realize it everyday when I see people around me how the caste system works here. The caste system, in the past drew the guidelines around people in a certain profession. The educated one was the Brahmin, the warrior the Kshatriya, the business man the Vaishya and everyone else in other profession was considered the Sudra. Don't you see it happening around you in the work culture here? The white American is the manager, the Indian or the Chinese the techie and the Mexican the blue-collar worker. When the companies take a picture of their corporation to showcase, they surely have the white CEO with an African American, a Chinese and an Indian in the background and then they add a Hispanic too to the mixture and one among them is surely a woman. "NO, NO WE ARE NOT SEXISTS AND WE BELIEVE IN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY" the picture seems to portray.
You may call me a cynic and say, "Oh c'mon, you are stereotyping now. The top 100 companies to work for are pretty diverse." Oh yes, they sure are. They will surely have some women and African Americans in the Executive Management and call themselves diverse. They come to universities and proclaim, "Oh we are pretty diverse" They will also bring one of their diverse employees with them. And you think," Wow, I should work for THIS company." No dear, you should not think about it. If you are an Indian then you have to be a finance guru or a tech genius to go up the management ladder. But still can you break the glass ceiling, I wonder.
Until you have perfected the American accent, or you can go and drink in the bar at the happy hour, you my dear, can only dream to remain the Software Architect in your company. Soft skills are important, they will tell you at business school. But can soft skills run the outsourced America? Maybe its time to think about it, along with those weakening Math and Science scores.

Continue reading: The Caste System in Corporate America...