दसरा!! Dasara – The festival of joy & righteousness

Apta Leaf
In Marathi, there is one saying
"दसरा सण मोठा,
नाही आनंदा तोटा"

This means that Dasara is such a festival which is full of joy, happiness and commemorates the triumph of good over evil. We celebrate the nine days beginning from Ashvin Shuddha Pratipada as "Navaratri" and the tenth day is celebrated as "Dasara / Vijaya Dashami". In 2020 अश्विन शुद्ध प्रतिपदा falls on Saturday October 17th.

During this vowed religious observance, a pot is installed (घटस्थापना) at a sanctified place at home. A lamp is kept lit in the pot for nine days. The pot symbolizes the universe. The uninterrupted lit lamp is the medium through which we worship the effulgent Adishakti, i.e. Shree Durgadevi. During Navratri, the principle of Shree Durgadevi is more active in the atmosphere.

Mahishasurmardini

There are a lot of anecdotes relevant to Navatri and Dasara. They say the demon "Mahishasur" started terrorizing Swarga Loka (Heaven) and Prithvi Loka (Earth) after Brahma granted him a boon that no man or god would be able to conquer him. . He invaded Swarga Loka and defeated the king of gods Indra and took control of Swarga Loka. He drove all the Devas (Gods) out of heaven. Eventually, they created his nemesis in the form of a young woman, Durga, also known as Shakti or Parvati. She combined the powers of all the gods to fight Mahishasura. The goddess then attacked Mahishasura's empire, and after nine days of fighting, during which Mahishasura's army was decimated, he was finally killed on the tenth day of the waxing moon by her incarnation Kali (which appeared from her forehead). Durga was henceforth called Mahishasuramardini, the killer of Mahishasura.

9 Forms of DurgaNavaratri is celebrated to worship nine forms of Durga Maa with fervour and devotion. Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India. In Gujrat, they try to please the Goddess by a special dance called "Ras-Garba". In Bengal the festival of Durga Puja is celebrated. In Kearala, the "Onam" festival represents Navaratri and Dasara. They believe that Bali raja was so kind, that even if he was pushed to Patal lok (The nether world), he would come to the earth to see if everybody is doing good on Dasara.

In Mysore (an ancient city in the south Indian state of Karnataka, around 125 Km from Bangalore) there is a tradition of holding a grand procession through the streets of the city with the idol of the goddess Chamundeshwari riding in a golden Ambaari (elephant-seat).

Jai ShriramIn North India, Dasara is the day when Prabhu Shree Ram killed the demon Ravan. So the nine days are dedicated to Ramlila i.e chanting Rama Bhajans and on the tenth day statue of Ravan is burnt. The burning of the effigies is symbolic to cleanse society of all evil by burning it.

There is a very interesting story about why we give the leaves of "Shami" to each other on Dasara. They say that when Pandavas went to "Adnyatwas" they hid their weapons on Shami tree. And when the Adnyatwas was about to end the Kauravas took away the cows of Raja Virat under whose shelter Pandavas lived. So to save the cows Arjun got his weapons back from the "Shami" tree and that was "Dasara"

There is another very interesting story about the "आपट्याची पानं" (Leaves of Shami tree).
Apta Leaf
It goes like this:

Once there was a boy names Koutsa, who wanted to offer Gurudakshina to his Guru. his guru after Koutsa insisted, asked for 14 crores (140 Million) of gold coins. now Koutsa didnt have as many coins so he went to King Raghuraja. To fulfill his demand, Raghuraja decided to attack Indra and get the money. But when Indra came to know that Raghuraja was going to fight him he was scared, later he knew the main reason of the fight. So he requested Kuber (Treasurer of God) to load the "Shami" tree with gold coins. Now Koutsa offered all the coins to his guru but Guru accepted only 14 crores of coins nad asked Koutsa to put the remaining back on the tree. Later on those coins were distributed among people, and since that day was "Dasara" we give each other the "Shami" leaves symbolically.

Indians give a lot of importance to start any project, journey, activity or make a purchase at an auspicious time. According to Hindu Mythology there three and a half very auspicious days (साडे तीन मुहूर्तांपैकी एक) in an year on which you can start any project or make any purchase without waiting for an auspicious moment. Dasara is one of those days. Therefore many people buy jewellery on the occasion of Dasara. The 9th day is "Ayudha Pooja" when everyone gives their tools of the trade -- pens, machinery, books, automobiles, school work, computers etc. a rest and ritually worships them. They start afresh from the next day, the 10th day which is considered as 'Vijaya Dashami'. Many teachers/Schools in south India start teaching Kindergarten children from that day onwards. Students also pay homage to their respective teachers as they are considered the third god (माता, पिता, गुरू आणि दैव - Mother, Father, Teacher & God).

Quality issues with Apple Watch

iPod 5th Generation

Background

I have been a big fan of Apple devices for a really long time. Right from the iPod 4th Generation (I still have it and it still works even after 14 years) with Video to iPhone 11 Pro. Over the period of time I have used a lot of devices from Apple and swear by the quality, reliability and durability of Apple products. But sadly, nowadays the quality of the products has been declining quite a bit. Apple's image even took a beating after the Antenna-gate, Bendgate and Battery-gate issues. But it weathered the storm and kept bringing great products. Although they may not have been bleeding edge or latest technology or even the most innovative, they were high quality products. But now it seems there are quality issues with Apple Watch.

The issue

I'm afraid that there may be another scandal or issue brewing with its Apple Watch line of products. It could be called as Watchgate or Screengate. This is an issue with the Apple watch where the screen just pops off.
Apple watch with popped screen
Though by far, I am not the only one facing this issue as there are threads on Apple community discusions which you can read here and here. In fact one of my friends also faced this issue. It is a known issue and Apple has also acknowledged it as it is now a separate category on Apple's support page.
Apple support options
I faced this issue with Apple Watch Series 3 twice in the last 18 months. First time around it was within warranty and Apple quietly replaced the watch for me. But now when the screen popped the watch was out of warranty and they refused to repair it without me paying a ridiculous $159 repair fee.

Frustrated!!!

I was left with a watch whose screen had popped off. The poor glue was trying in vain to keep the assembly in place. Paying $159 for repair of a watch which I expected to again face the same issue didn't seem worth it. So I kind of resigned to not use my Apple Watch again. My wife even suggested getting a Fitbit so that we could be a Fitbit family. I was really frustrated and I fired off an email to Tim Cook the text of which is below:


Hello Mr. Cook,

I have been a lifelong Apple user starting from iPod 3rd generation and the successive products. In fact i have never used any other smart phone in my entire life. It was very exciting and great feeling to buy my Apple watch 3 around 1.5 years ago but since then my experience with the renowned Apple quality has not been what I have come to expect. The screen has a tendency to come off very now and then and it appears that the glue used is of low quality. I have been using the watch as per Apple's recommendations and have never even once taken it in water.

I had it repaired once last year and it was replaced for me. Now the new watch has the same problem in less than 9-10 months and now I have been asked to pay $159 for repairing the watch which doesn't seem right to me. It clearly is either a design or a manufacturing defect resulting from usage of low quality components in the manufacturing process.

I have worked at Apple for a few years and I know the rigorous demands on quality that Apple has and working at Apple has shaped me and my career in a positive manner.

I just hope you will take the time to read this email and take the appropriate action. I really love the Apple Watch and feel really bad to stop using it because of the issue.


Tim Cook is a busy man and he is preparing for Apple's event tomorrow on Oct 13th. But I believe he should address customer issues on priority.

Viola, the solution

Anyway, I slept over the issue and in the morning had a brain wave. What if I glue the screen with super glue? I always have some kind of all purpose super glue at home and this time around I had Gorilla Glue.Gorilla Glue

So the first thing I did in the morning was to apply a little bit of Gorilla glue around the edge and put the screen back. I took care to not damage or displace the connector which connects the screen to the body. I factory reset the watch several times in the day (I don't know why it didn't start up immediately), but finally by the end of the day it started working again and now I am very happy and proud to say that I fixed the Apple Watch myself without paying the ridiculous amount as repair charges and hopefully the watch is good for another couple of years.

I’m here for you – By Nandini Dharwadkar

Be kind to all

A brand new day. A brand new life. Only ten cars were zooming on the streets, which was the only noise left in the city of Fremont. At least, outside. Inside of hospitals and clinics, the only sound that could be heard was the moaning and groaning of suffering patients, and the soothing voices of the nurses and doctors that worked hard to cure the sick. Everyone noticed this change. Everyone knew. But not everyone cared. The rich were just taking this as a chance to relax.

Coronavirus was taking over people’s lives. And taking them away. And no one could be more affected by this than 15-year old Lily. She wanted some way to help the underprivileged people who couldn’t provide for themselves, the ones without a job because of the lockdown, because they are the ones who need help the most. Lily watched out of her window as she observed a man stuffing his trunk to its maximum capacity with cans of food. Corona Virus

Food, she thought, there will never be enough. For the the higher class with a lavishly decorated home, and the ones with a plain blanket and hard, cement bed. I need to make it enough, especially now.

And watching the man with his cans, Lily knew exactly how to help...

An hour later, Lily had persuaded her sister and had gathered a few friends with her to help other people during this time of distress and were walking around the streets carrying large trash bags. Filled with food and supplies in it that they had pooled out of their own homes. It wasn’t much, but it was worth it. And everyone around the world knew that.

They walked down Thornton Avenue, where they saw an old lady sitting at the edge of a gas station, who was watching them nervously. Her eyes said it all. But as they approached, the woman’s gaze fell to the sidewalk, but Lily knew what the lady’s heart wanted.

Lily kneeled in front of her, and tried to ignore the deadly smell circling the woman. Trying not to scrunch her nose and be rude, Lily said benignly, “How are you doing, Ms….?”

The old woman seemed to trust the teenagers who were silently watching, and said in a croaky voice, “Gibson. Ms. Gibson. What are you doing here? And why are you outside?”

Lily pulled out six large cans of beans, tomatoes, vegetables, and chicken that her mom had saved up. She lined them up in front of the woman. “For you,” she said, and took the old woman’s hand and squeezed it. “We’ll get through this. Coronavirus will be kicked away by vaccines that our doctors will discover. Stay strong. You’re not alone. We’re here for you. I’m here for you.”

Ms. Gibson was speechless. “You’re here for me,” she repeated. “You’re here for me.”

For two hours Lily and the other teenagers walked around Fremont passing out food to homeless and needy people. Other residents noticed the group with large bags as they passed out food. Soon, almost everyone in Lily’s community had joined in the heroic act, and were chanting, “We’re here for you. I’m here for you” to everyone they provided supplies.

Lily looked back at the size of her group and grinned. It took one small act of kindness to prove that the coronavirus could not kill off the kindness people felt for each other, despite the lockdown. All people had to do to prove that was to say four simple words: “I’m here for you.”

Thumbs up to Apple on Inclusion and Diversity

Apple hosted their annual fall product launch yesterday in the Steve Jobs theatre in the Apple campus. The event had its regular razzmatazz of new products and self-described superlatives for its own products. There was something different about the event this time and no it was not the iPhone 11 Pro. This time, the presenters were from diverse backgrounds and were inclusive. Thumbs up to Apple on Inclusion and Diversity and making a real effort towards it.

Historically, the presenters of the events were white males (and to some extent females) who would boast the features and performances of the products. This time around though, we saw Asians doing the keynote presentations, females in actions but sadly still not blacks. I am fairly certain that it is just a matter of time where every company and organization will make Inclusion and Diversity their priority.

But for now, I think I will enjoy the launch and wait for the availability of iPhone 11 Pro. It is a great product and Apple has managed to excite me after 5 versions of the phone.

Are we becoming the mice of NIMH?

Introduction

Some time ago, I had written about people behavior and civilization. Those thoughts sparked from how people behave in less than optimal situations like a crowded train. But that's nothing compared what's happening around us nowadays. Last week there was yet another mass shooting in a public place in the US. This time the shooting was at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. There have been 248 mass shootings in US in 2019 and at this pace, it will easily surpass the 323 mass shootings that took place in 2018. Are we becoming the mice of NIMH?

Social Issue

What is the society now coming to? Are we really becoming the mice of NIMH where we are unable to handle the bounty that nature and our society is providing us? The video below is very distressing and is that a harginger for human society. All the indicators so far point in that direction only.

Will this human behavioral trend mean that all the social gatherings will cease to happen and everything will become virtual? Already the today's kids don't like to go and hang out together. Rather they choose hanging out together in virtual chat rooms like Google Hangouts or Facebook Messenger. Messenger website evens has a catch-phrase, "Be together, whenever."

Messenger Message
Is it worth it?

These kids are missing out on all the personal contacts gained by actual interaction. This kind of social interaction is not preparing them for the rigors of the real world and they become socially awkward. Will they become "The beautiful ones"? Only time will tell, but I am worried.

Already the upcoming social events like the Fremont Festival of the Arts will have enhanced security after the Gilroy incident. In that case, people immediately start viewing each other with suspicion and instead of what should be a celebration of art, culture and human interaction, the ambience becomes acidic and caustic and an ordeal. I have already made up my mind to not go to the festival.

Conclusion:

I just hope that good sense will prevail and human race will address this issue and halt the seemingly inevitable march towards doomsday.

I am not an ideal man

I am a man. Period. With all the fallibilities and weaknesses that accompany a man, I exist. I do not claim to be the perfect or ideal man. In the entire history of human kind, there has been only one perfect / ideal man - the supreme being if you will and that was Prabhu Sri Ramachandra.

And even he was unable to make everyone happy all the time and be ideal all the time. When he was an ideal son, he was not an ideal brother or ideal husband. When he was an ideal husband, he was not an ideal ruler... and so on.

I have never claimed to being perfect or ideal, but I do claim is that I am a good man and my heart is in the right place. Even if I am unable to convey my feelings and thoughts clearly at times, I never have bad intentions for anyone. Ever.

I have tried to be a good husband, a good father, a good son, a good son-in-law, a good brother and a good friend. But recently I have realized that I have failed miserably in everything. Possibly because, I have confused myself with the definition of good and ideal. It is OK to feel sad, angry and let down. It is also OK to not meet expectations every time as long as you are clear and upfront about it as to why you are doing what you are doing.

I always felt that I cannot let anyone down and I have to ensure that I meet everyone's expectations else, I will lose my reputation and ruin my relation with whoever had the expectation. No. That's not right. If the relation is so weak so as to break / ruin based on one transgression, then it was not a real and strong bond in the first place. I also know that all the interactions need to be transactional, but also realize that it is not possible for people to not remember earlier transgressions and treat every interaction as independent. But I think there is a limit to how long these things will be stretched and a person reminded of past errors.

As a man with fallibility, I am bound to make mistakes - To err is human - but it is also equally true that - to forgive is divine - In forgiveness, both sought and given is where we find true peace and love.

Slyly yours, Netflix

Dear Netflix,

Did you really think that you could increase your revenue by surreptitiously increasing the subscription price by upgrading the plan without my permission (and several hundred thousands others) to premium.


Well, now the rant is out of the way, I think I can get down to business.

This all started a couple of days ago, when I got an email from Netflix on Apr 21 telling me that my plan price was going to increase to $10.99 from $9.99 and the updated pricing is part of Netflix's commitment to improve Netflix. Ok. So far so good. I understand the prices are going up and I am willing to pay more for better service and I didn't think twice about it.

A week later on April 29th, I received another email from Netflix telling me that they have updated my plan to premium allegedly as "I had asked" and the price had gone up to $13.99. I don't remember asking or even logging in to Netflix account to update / upgrade my plan so where did this come from? I promptly went to the account settings and reverted the plan to standard which is 2 screens at a time with HD content as opposed to 4 screens at a time with HD and Ultra HD content. I don't even own a TV that support U-HD content. Why will I use that service?

In perfect honesty, my family and I don't even get to watch Netflix twice a week. What would make us upgrade to 4 screens and Ultra-HD content? This doesn't seem right and honest behaviour to me. And now I am stuck with a service I don't want to use and will not use till the next billing cycle.

I would still like to see where I have requested this change to the account plan.

Netflix, are you listening?

Uncivilized people in civilized country

I was traveling on the local train today for a meeting. As it happened, the meeting was at 9 am and I had to take the train in full rush hour. There was barely enough space to stand. But we all commuters being civilized squeezed in and managed the space.

I was in a conference call at that time and once I finished I was checking my email as I was going for an important meeting and was expecting some updates that would help me in the meeting. Accidentally my phone was touching my neighbor, a black guy who was busy in his own world.

I don't know what ticked him, but he suddenly said,"Your phone is poking me again and again. If it pokes again, I will grab it and throw it away." I mean, what was this reaction for? He could have simply said that my phone was poking him and I should take care. Being over crowded, I could not realize that my phone was touching him. I also retorted, "You can try..." and he simply looked away.

Where has the politeness and simple common sense of people gone? I can't understand why he was being so rude to me. Well, if he had said it twice, thrice and I still didn't pay attention, then maybe it would have been justified. But just once?

Could it be because I am a brown man in a black and white country? I don't know.

Husband’s mother, wife’s father…

This is a relationship conundrum which I think most of the married folks out there can relate with. When I got engaged with my wife and I looked around and saw my friends' behaviors as well, I realized that regardless of the situation at the home, in the relationship between a husband and wife, the husband's mother and the wife's father is the dominant personality. Whether the person's personality is strong / dominant or not in reality, but the perception in a marriage is always the same. I always used to think, why is it always like this only.

I have been thinking about this for the past 15-16 years and suddenly I had a sort of epiphany and things suddenly got very clear. No matter how much a person loves his or her sweetheart, this conflict or situation if not a conflict will always arise in the relationship. According to me, there's a simple reason for this. For every boy, his mother is his role model for a woman and for every girl, her father is her role model for a man. Subconsciously we are all comparing whoever we interact with, with our role models. For every action a partner in a relationship takes, it is instantaneously and perhaps sub-consciously compared with the person's role model. "How my mother would have done this?" or "How my father used to do this?" While this is unfair for the person being compared, the stark reality of the situation is that it exists and there is no running away from it.

Do I know how to resolve the situation? Absolutely not. I do not claim to have an answer to this conundrum. My aim was to merely share the epiphany that I had and hope that it helps someone. We cannot hope to change the subconscious mind of a person, but the best that we can do is probably understand the person's perspective a little bit and in that process make the relationship more enjoyable and fulfilling.

।।तथास्तु।।

Running WordPress site in distinct containers

I have been running my site on Plone for a long time, but the maintenance required was too high and I ran into several issues with bloated data file, unsupported plugins to name a few. Plus the instance was not very portable in case my server died or I had to move.

Then I was thinking about creating my own content management system, but time was a factor and the I thought I was losing my focus. What do I really want to do? Publish my thoughts, or develop something new. Actually it is both, but I don't want it to become dependent on each other. So I decided to use prebuilt software. I very quickly evaluated Drupal, WordPress, Movable Type and decided that WordPress looks to be the best at this time. More on the evaluation later.

Second challenge was to make it completely portable by using containers and not just VMs.

To be continued...