Wednesday, May 10, 2017

101 Cookbooks - a great little resource

I am putting this link here mainly because I know my cousin and a fellow food lover Ity periodically checks this blog to look through the entries, but I am sure does not go through the links in the side panel.  

This particular entry on 101 Cook books, Rice Cakes Health Snack is definitely worth a try.  

Ity, hope you enjoy read 101 Cook books blog.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Skiing in Aspen and an important lesson learned

For the longest time I have been thinking of taking kids skiing in Colorado mountains, but the occasion never came. So this spring, we decided to skip Dallas and go to Aspen. Both Jaya and Jiya got excited about skiing and ended up taking lessons. Jiya took two days of lessons while Jaya decided that one day was enough for her.

In her excitement for skiing, Jiya did not mention that the boot we had rented for her was too tight. Day 1 was fine, but by the end of day two, her foot was starting to hurt and she had to take a lot of breaks. Jiya was so active during the lessons that the instructor too didn't notice that her foot was hurting. On day 3 we had agreed that she would ski with me to show me the skills she had learned. Alas, this is when we found out that her foot at this point was hurting so bad that she could not ski down with me.

When I found out how she had been toughing it out for two days, we had a little chat about why it is important to tell mom and dad about pain. She learned that if she had mentioned her foot pain earlier we may have been able to remedy the situation by getting her a larger shoe size.  The little charmer didn't want to tell us lest we should take away her ski lessons!

As a parent it became clear to me that I need to be explicit about what I ask the kids.  If I had specifically asked if their foot hurt, I may have been able to discover this painful situation earlier.  Important lesson learned.

© Sunil Joshi | Jiya with her ski instructor

© Sunil Joshi |  Madhu 'posing' to walk on Skis!  ;-)

© Sunil Joshi  |  Taking a selfie with my pretty young lady Jaya

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Dallas, Beautiful Dallas

Williams Park, Texas, creative commons copyright Sunil Joshi

© Sunil Joshi | Williams Park, University Park, Texas

Before moving to Dallas, I knew very little about this town.  I had travelled all over the country, but had spent very little time in Dallas.  When I did come to Dallas, it was usually for an in-and-out affair at an airport hotel or downtown hotel.  As a result, I didn't really come to appreciate Dallas.

But now that I have lived here for over a year, I can tell you, Dallas is a fabulous city - a city that has a lot to offer to young and old, culturally minded as well as outdoorsy times.  As you go around the city downtown you will realize that Dallas is growing leaps and bounds in every direction.  The number of sky scrapers going up in the downtown area are enough to make one's head spin.  And now with AT&T deciding to stay in its downtown headquarters and invest in renovating the downtown Global HQ and near by area, downtown Dallas is bound to become one of the best downtowns in the country.

But Dallas is not one city - it is really many cities in and around proper Dallas.  The cities of Highland Park and University Park are great residential communities right in the heart of Dallas. Both cities offer lush green streets and avenues, with numerous parks and play areas, quite streets, lakes and rivulets, birds and amazing amount of wildlife (I saw an armadillo here once!) to make an outdoors person's heart sing.  Both cities within the city of Dallas, are just a beautiful area to raise kids - i.e. if you can afford to live here; both cities are very expensive.  A home in Highland Park can easily set you back by over $1Million!  University Park is slightly better, but not that much. However, if one were to go just north of Park Cities, there are plenty of great areas to live that are also affordable.

We ended up living in Highland Park in a condominium that is just across Whole Foods grocery store, and a walk away from really nice restaurants and entertainment.  Still the one aspect of Highland Park that I enjoy the most is going for walks in the Park Cities.  The picture above is one I took recently in Williams Park, a picturesque park in the heart of University Park area straddling Turtle Creek, a creek that flows through the city creating a nice green area.

Monday, December 05, 2016

Southwest Airlines - My Experience in Excellent Customer Service

In today's world, travel is an integral part of a professional's life, but I didn't realize how much it would be part of my schedule until I took the CEO's job at Gradalis, a biotech company based out of Dallas. In last six months I have to been on the road almost every other week traveling not only to East and West Coast, but also internationally. This much travel is exhausting, but these days traveling is worse that its ever been.

I used to relish some luxuries of a professional traveller - for instance having Global Entry card that allows you speedy security check, or a boarding early because of my higher status on the Airline etc. But these days, those luxuries are gone. Thanks to US Government advertising, more people are signing up for the Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check program so the "pre-check lane" at the airport security checkpoint is some times longer than the regular line. With airlines reducing capacity by cutting back on number of flights, planes are flying jam packed. And thanks to the airline policy of charging $25 per checked bag, every body is lugging their suitcase into the plane as a carry on item. So if you are one of the last passengers to get on board, you can forget about finding luggage space.

If this is how I feel about travel, I wonder what the airline ticket counter staff and in-flight crew must be going through. I am sure they are exhausted dealing with packed planes and irate passengers. This is why when one of those staff members responds with courtesy, it is important to recognize their effort and the airline that employs them.

This last Friday was one such day, when thanks to the extra effort of the Southwest Airline ticket counter staff and the gate staff at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, I was able to catch a flight literally 10 minutes before the plane took off! As it happens, I was flying back from Cleveland to Dallas, and due to traffic and unfamiliarity with the airport, I arrived at the airport with about 30 minutes to spare. I walked up to the ticket counter staff fully expecting to be rebooked onto the next flight. Instead, the lady quickly took my TSA number, and printed me a boarding pass with TSA pre-check. Luckily the pre-check lane was not very busy, but by the time I got to the gate, only 10 minutes were left and the gate had been closed to the passengers. I walked up the ticket counter and asked if there was ANY chance of getting on the plane. The lady at the counter without blinking, called the gate staff and had them re-open the gate, allowing me to board the plane. The plane took off as soon as I sat in my seat.

Now, I have had a similar experience with American Airline, and I am sad to say that in that particular instance, the Airline staff refused to even make the phone call to the gate - even though I could see the jetway still very much connected to the plane!

In this day and age of hyper competition in airline industry, service is a key differentiator. My hats off to the Southwest Airline staff in Cleveland - You have hit the mark of "high quality service" in my mind and deserve my thanks. So thank you for getting me home, on time, to see my kids.

You can see why I enjoy flying Southwest Airlines and why I will keep patronizing this airline.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

B B King, The Man Who Introduced Me To Blues Music

For this foreign graduate student from Bombay, the winter nights of 1988 in Akron, Ohio were long and lonely. I was low on money and depressed having left my friends and family thousands of miles away.  The stress of grad school and the loneliness was killing me, and the cold weather wasn't helping.  One day as I was walking back to the apartment on Walnut street, I noticed a perfectly good radio console discarded by some one who had apparently upgraded there equipment.    Listening to a Blues program broadcast out of Kent State University radio station on this console became the one silver lining to my week's drudgery and thus began my introduction to B B King and the American blues music.

There was something so melancholy about blues music that it perfectly matched my mood at the time, and I was immediately hooked. BB King was a master at touching people's soul and I immediately fell under his spell. His raspy voice and the slow rhythmic electric guitar touched me in ways no other music had touched me before, save Indian classical music. Add to that his subject matter of loving and losing wild women - well that subject matter made it doubly interesting for a lonely soul, who couldn't imagine what it would be to be with a lover, let alone lose one.  Most of my friends couldn't care less about Blues, but listening to BB King I was hooked. I know that BB King's most recognized song is "Thrill is Gone", but my favorite was "How Blue Can You Get".  At a time nothing could make me smile, this humorous song actually made me laugh.

It is only much later that I realized BB King didn't write that song, or even was the first one to sing it, but that didn't matter. It was his rendition that made me smile, so I credit him for the song.

BB King opened my ears to many new blues artists and over the years I moved away from BB King preferring the soulful sound of Mississippi Delta Blues with its acoustic guitar and harmonica. Early recordings of Muddy Waters (Hoochie Coochie Man), Howling Wolf (Spoonful), Elmore James (Dust my broom), Robert Johnson (Sweet Home Chicago) became my favorite and BB King with his electric guitar faded in the background.

I never saw BB King live, but I am told that his performances were electrifying. It's too late now.

When I heard of BB King's passing, it made me realize how funny it is that a man born in Itta Bena, Mississippi should touch the heart of another born thousands of miles, far removed by timezones, cultural mores and a subject matter that even to this day Blues music is considered scandalous in India. But such is the power of this music and I am glad I heard BB King's voice that lonely Saturday night - it changed the trajectory of my musical experience.

 BB King, may your soul rest in peace.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Jiya's first poem

My Little Cat, By Jiya Joshi (age 5 years, 11months)

My little cat is nice
My little cat eats mice
My little cat missed me
But when he came back he kissed me
And most of all
He loves me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

United Airlines Messes it Up. Again!

I have been a loyal United Airlines customer since my days in Chicago.  That would make it close to 22 years.  Since then I have stuck with them thru all my moves throughout the country some times fighting the corporate policies to fly United.  

But never have I experienced such poor service as I have this past few months.  Between delayed flights, lost reservations and messed up connections, I am just about fed up.  Today, as I fly Business First to Madrid, United tells me that I will have to pick up my bags in Frankfurt and recheck myself in for the connection to Madrid.  

Now, in the cabin they are telling me that they don't have a vegetarian meal for me.  Interestingly the flight attendants wouldn't believe that I had requested a vegetarian meal and repeatedly asked me if my profile has vegetarian option selected.  Now why would a lifelong vegetarians change his profile this year after 20 years, and the proceed to request a special meal on the flight?

So forgive me if I don't feel charitable towards United.  Today I have to say that United Airlines service really sucks.  I don't care that I will have to change airlines after being a loyal customer for over 20 years, but I am ready for it.  

So Virgin Airlines, do you want my business? Or Delta, or American?  

I am ready to make the change.  

By the way, the flight to Frankfirt had a departure of 7.00 and now it shows a delay of 28 minutes!