Arun is Bringing You...Your Daily Remedy

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Singing Sensation

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It is a well known fact that I like to sing from time to time...and by from time to time, I mean all the time.

I've always been a little walking jukebox ever since I was a kid, but until high school when I joined choir, I never sang in public.

Now I can't get enough of singing in public (the jury is still out on whether the public can or can't get enough of me).

When I worked at Tennis Warehouse, I used to serenade the customer service floor all the time, much to everyone's amusement. There's nothing that gets people in a good mood at 6am like Arun singing his lungs out while doing the A-town shuffle (a move I invented).

Unfortunately, now that I work in a more "professional" environment, I have to restrict myself to a quiet hum. For some reason, my supervisor doesn't like hearing my performances from down the hall. Consequently I more than make up for it by singing EXTRA in the shower and car.

In fact, for awhile in college, I used to ride around on a moped. Since I had no radio, the only way I could satisfy my musical ear, was to sing to myself as I was riding along. That's right. If you were fortunate to pull up next to me at a traffic light, you were likely to hear a little Journey or Michael Jackson.

Funny/Embarrassing story time. In college, I lived with this big buffed out Asian guy (sounds like an oxymoron doesn't it?) who I used to engage almost daily in a battle of wits and friendly insults. I also enjoyed belting out songs extra loud in the shower when he wasn't home, since the shower was directly across the hall from his room.

Well, one afternoon when no one was home, I decided to practice my "Star Spangled Banner." I like to keep it "in shape" just in case anyone ever needs an emergency "National Anthem" singer at a sporting event. I have never been called upon, but I like to think that I'm the equivalent to having a doctor travelling in an airplane. The likelihood that you'll be needed is slim, but if anyone yells "Is there a doctor in the house!?," or in this case, "Is there a well practiced, incredibly good-looking National Anthem singer in the house!?," I'll be there to save the day.

So here I am showering away, warming up with some "do re me's." I then proceed to bang out a particularly riveting performance of the aforementioned anthem. I even added a little Bryan McKnight/Boyz II Men vocal shimmy at the end for effect. Satisfied with my performance, I dried off and wrapped the towel to head over to my room to get dressed.

I open the bathroom door, and am shocked!!! Standing in front of me is my Roommate and his girlfriend, standing erect in military-like posture, saluting me with these stupid smirks on their faces. This lasted for about one second before they doubled over in laughter.


Apparently, in my effort to warm up for this performance, my voice, along with the reverberation from the bathroom, covered up the sound of the front door opening and footsteps coming up the stairs.

The verbal ammunition he obtained from this incident lasted for a month! To make matters worse, everyone at work heard about this too (Tim, my roommate was actually my manager at TW).

Recently, I discovered the extreme fun that is Karaoke! I've only been twice, most recently last week, but I definitely foresee some more Karaoke fun in the future! Last week I sang seven, yes SEVEN, songs (group efforts and solos) including such hits as "Billie Jean" and "Don't Stop Believing."

I've mentioned in previous posts that I like writing music, so I'll leave you to listen to this little demo I wrote and recorded a few years ago.

BTW, if you ever need a National Anthem singer, you know who to come to!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Airport Craziness

I think everyone has a love-hate relationship with airports. At least I know I do. Sure they're sort of like a bus stop for airplanes, and they keep you nice and warm while you wait for your plane to arrive. Hell, they even valet all of your luggage and make sure none of your fellow passengers are carrying any weapons.

But those of you that know me, and those of you who don't but read my blog, know that I can rant about almost anything. Yes, the Airport is no exception, and from the many trips I've embarked upon over the years, I've noticed some downright nonsensical things.

It all starts with the lines. When you go to an airport, there is a minimum of three lines you have to wait through. One for check in, one for security, and one for boarding. On my last international adventure, I had to wait in FIVE lines in Chennai International Airport. There was an additional line for checked baggage screening and a second security line at the gate.

Ok, I understand and respect the need for security, but common...FIVE lines to wait through is a little excessive.

Then you get to your gate where you wait around for the boarding call. It's always interesting to observe what people do to pass the time. I'm always scared to sleep for fear of missing my plane. I also don't like to listen to music yet because I'm afraid I'll miss some important announcement like a gate change or something.

Then, if you decided to go peruse a store, you've got to deal with toting your luggage around behind you. I usually just bring a backpack with me, so this isn't much of a problem, but a lot of people have those mini-suitcases with the rollers that aren't exactly the most nimble little things when navigating through isles.

What if you get hungry? Bad news. Crossing security in an airport is like entering Earth - year 2040, where after 33 years of inflation running rampant, everything costs triple what it should.

Sandwich? 8 bucks.
Bottle of Water? 3 bucks
Cinnabun? 5 bucks

I usually stroll into the magazine store and treat it like a library, reading stuff until its almost boarding time.

A lot of airports these days have more than just the food and magazine places. Many, especially international airports, are like mini malls! Honestly, I don't know how these places stay in business because who really buys regular stuff at an airport?

In Malaysia, there were designer stores all over the place! I'm perplexed as to how they manage to sell anything. "Ah Shucks! Maybe I'll just pick up this Gucci shirt before I get on the plane!" I'm not even considering the fact that this is Gucci - year 2040 where the shirt is God-knows-how-much-more.

The best stores are those ones that carry all of the gizmo's you see in "Sky mall" Magazine, mostly because everything is plugged in! If you're lucky, one of those crazy electronic message chairs (which give mediocre messages but its better than nothing) will be vacant and you can just chill in the store until they kick you out.

And speaking of messages, its always fun to chat with people in other airports, and find out what they do and where they're going. The coolest person I ever met in airport was in Las Vegas when I was on the way to Alaska. I was in line at a ridiculously overpriced Starbucks when this phenomenally cute girl got in line behind me. (of course this had nothing to do with why I starting talking to her :)

We started chatting and she revealed to me the she is from Atlanta. Now however she lives in Hawaii and is a professional masseuse.

Postulate number 505 in "Arun's Guide to Lifetime Awesomeness": Cute Girl + Hawaii + Masseuse = Happy Arun.

As much as I wanted to change my ticket right then and there to go to Hawaii instead of frigid Alaska, I knew I couldn't. Instead I began scheming of ways to temporarily take advantage of the abilities of my new friend. The conversation went like this:

Me: "How do you manage to massage people all day? Don't your hands get tired?"
Cute Girl: "No, you build special muscles when you do it all the time. You wouldn't be able to do it all day."
Me: (incredulously) What!?! Are you saying I'm weak!?! (now sarcastically) You know, I DO work out!"
Cute Girl: (Laughing at my shocked facial expression more than my joke) "No! I didn't mean that!" (now sarcastically) "You are really strong. (proceeds to playfully squeeze my arm feeling my muscle)

At this, I sensed an opportunity, and I charged full speed ahead!

Me: "OOH! You know my arm is a little sore there!"
Her: (now massaging my arm) "How's that?"
Me: "That's good my but (now with a rye smile on my face) my back is even worse!"
Her: "Well why don't we go sit down."

BINGO! Free half hour massage! She also said if I ever go to Hawaii, I could go and get one from her for FREE! Too bad I don't remember the island she lives on, nor her name. All I remember is that she works at the Sheraton Hotel.

Now, on the other side of the spectrum, let me share with you my worst airport experience courtesy of India Airlines.

I arrived at the airport in New Delhi around 8am for a 10am flight down to Chennai. Flight gets delayed to 11am. No big deal delays happen all the time

Flight gets delayed again to 12pm. This kind of sucks!

12pm rolls around I hear this lovely announcement: "Good afternoon! Flight XXX to Chennai, India is now cancelled. Have a good day!"

Have a good day??? Are you kidding me! I'll show you "have a good day!"

It turns out the grounds crews for Indian airlines went on strike. What ensued thereafter was total chaos. There is no structure in the Indian airports! In America, there's a nice roped off line to the ticket counter that you wait in. In India, there are multiple "lines" but everyone tries to merge in and cut in front of you. Eventually this turns into just a giant mob of people at the ticket counter.

We basically had sneak and muscle our way up to the front to speak with the clerk. To save you the frustration eliciting details, let me just say, I was stuck at the airport from 8 in the morning until 9:30 at night when we finally took off.

When it finally comes time to board, and this is true in most any airport, its funny to observe how everyone is in such a rush to get on the plane. As soon as they announce boarding, everyone stands up and starts crowding the front of the line.

I don't know what the rush to be the first on the airplane is. I personally would rather sit in that thing as little as possible.

Somehow, people still don't know that they board first class first, then people travelling with small children, then everyone else by section.

Then there are those people who try to weasel in early by tyring to use their 10 year old kid as a "small child." Please.

Others try to sneak in even if the current section boarding is not theirs. I always enjoy it when the Gate Agent doesn't let them on and makes them embarrassingly step aside until their section is called.

And thus starts the second half of your adventure...The Airplane Journey!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Indian Excursion

(More Pictures to come Soon!)
As I mentioned in my last post, I just recently returned from a trip to India. This was my third visit there. Rather than share the boring details of an exotic vacation, I'm going to list some crazy observations that those of you living in the western world will find amusing and interesting.

The funny thing is, I occasionally get readers from India, to whom (along with those in some other Asian Countries) this post will mean something totally different.

Observation 1: India is FAR
When I was looking to book my tickets, potential itineraries popped up on my screen. One airline had layovers in Taipei and Malaysia, and the other, New York and Frankfurt, Germany. They both took about the same amount of flight time. Translation: India is almost exactly half way around the world.

Let me put this in perspective for you. I left on a Tuesday night and arrived to Chennai, India on Thursday night. That's two days of my life GONE! To be fair, that includes a couple of layovers as well as the 12 hours ahead India is of US Pacific Standard Time.

Still, 19 hours from Las Angeles to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is a hop, skip and a freakin pole-vault away.

Observation 2: There's no such thing as "Personal Space"
There are so many damn people in India, that its pretty much impossible to have personal space.

Here's one example. On my last leg of travel into India, this relatively plump Indian guy sits next to me in the plane. He then proceeds to completely SPRAWL out so that his leg and left arm are completely infringing on my zone! I even have the arm rest down and his elbow is still all up in my business! Now this guy wasn't so big that he couldn't confine himself to his zone! Anyone who's read this little ditty knows how I feel about these types of things.

Observation 3: India is HOT!
Okay. So it didn't help that I made my trip during summertime in India, but even still, it was ridiculous. When I arrived in Chennai, it was about 95 degrees Fahrenheit and humid. Its hard to breath, hard to walk and I lost my appetite (hard to believe, I know). I thought maybe when I went north it would be cooler.

Ding Dong! I'm Wrong!

Let's put this in perspective, shall we? 75 to 80 degrees is about perfect. 85 is hot. 90 is pretty hot. 95 is very hot. 100 is extremely hot.

Someone please tell me the word to describe ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY-FREAKING-FIVE degrees Fahrenheit!!! 125 Degrees!

My Uncle tried to offer some consolation: "Well Arun, at least it's a dry heat."

Me: "Well maybe that's because Mr. Humidity thought it was too hot and left town!"

I don't care what kind of heat it is, 125 is damn hot! And if feeling it in the air wasn't enough, at certain places we visited, you were required to take off your shoes.

I now know what walking on hot coals feels like. I seriously couldn't stand in one spot for more than one or two seconds!

Observation 4: I Love Good Plumbing
You really learn to appreciate the art that is Plumbing when you visit a third world country. Tap water is undrinkable unless you boil it. The bathrooms are either a hole in the ground, or a really janky toilet.

There's no such thing as a "hot" and "cold" valve in the showers. Basically, water is pumped from an underground well to a holding tank on the roof of the building. The water comes out of the spout with no pressure at all and just the force of gravity. The water temperature is whatever temperature the sun has heated the water up to thus far in the day. Consequently, you shower in the morning for cool showers, and in the late afternoon for hot ones.

Another funny thing is in most houses, there is no separation between the toilet and shower. Basically, you walk into a small, tile-lined room that has a shower spout on the wall, and a toilet. No tub, or shower curtains or anything.

Observation 5: India is Incredibly Poverty Stricken
We all know India is a third world country, but the level of poverty there is almost unfathomable.

In India, there are many levels of poverty. The poorest of the poor (which number far beyond what I could accurately estimate) have little more that than a loin cloth. The have absolutely NOTHING.

Slightly better off are the homeless who have built little slums from straw and might own a tattered pair of pants. None of them own shoes.

The most disturbing thing is the amount of children on the streets begging for anything. I was walking to this Temple, and a really cute little girl, no older than maybe seven, walked with me for a mile begging me for money. I felt terrible. The problem is, the second you give someone any money, you get swarmed by other beggers looking for money.

I snuck her a couple of Rupees.

Observation 6: Traffic is INSANE
Words cannot describe the insanity that is commuting in India. Everytime I go, it takes me a couple of days to get comfortable even riding in a car. There are absolutely ZERO traffic laws observed and the routine maneuvers drivers pull are death defying!

There are a ton of motorcycles on the road that are treated like minivans. Driving is the Dad with his son sitting in front of him holding onto the handle bars. The wife is sitting behind him, side-saddle while holding an infant in her arms, none of whom are wearing a helmet. Safe. The pictures below (coming soon) don't do justice to the craziness!

Observation 7: India has so many magnificent Wonders and is Culturally Rich!
I know my previous six observations aren't making you itch to visit India, but there is so much to see! Culturally, India is so different from the western world.

The relics are amazing, the food is great, and being immersed in a totally non-western culture is amazing and eye-opening. I really feel that everyone needs to visit a place culturally different and economically opposite to their resident surroundings! It opens your eyes, gets you out of your comfort zone, and brings new meaning and appreciation to life.

Not to mention, there's always good adventure to be had!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Day In Malaysia

Long time no post eh?

Well I'm finally back from my jaunt to the other side of the world and, in typical Arun fashion, I've got some pretty good stories and experiences. Today, I've decided to share with you the day I spent in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

The first thing I noticed when flying in, is that Malaysia is incredibly green! Before arriving, I expected Malaysia to be kind of slummy being that it's a third world country and all.

Apparently third world countries like to spend their money on nice airports.

The airport in Kuala Lumpur was easily the NICEST airport I've ever been in! Glass walls and ceilings soar all around. There's a huge atrium in the middle which encloses a giant jungle-like court yard. Walking through, you feel like you're in a high class mall with Gucci, Fendi, you-pick-the-Italian-designer stores all around. In one wing there are four giant plasma TV's playing a movie, with nice couches surrounding for people to sit and watch during layovers.

A few steps away are computers with FREE internet access.

The chairs at each terminal gate are like those lawn chairs that some of you like to lay out on to tan.

I don't know why they bothered to put me up in a hotel. I was living the life of luxury during my brief stay in the airport!

The hotel was OK. The biggest advantage of going to the hotel was that I had a free meal voucher, and was able to stuff myself at the Malaysian buffet.

Note to self: If you're not really sure what it is you're about to put in your mouth, ask before trying! There was definitely some questionable "autherntic cuisine" at the restaurant.

Since the layover was so long, I shelled out some cash to a tour guide/chauffeur who took me into the heart of Kuala Lumpur. The coolest thing I saw was the Petronas Towers (Formerly the tallest buildings in the world, still the tallest twin towers). For those of you who have seen the mediocre movie "Entrapment" with Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones, the towers play a starring role.

I thought about maybe trying to do something like sneak onto the roof, but then I remembered how strict the laws are in Malaysia. For example, drug trafficing is punishable by DEATH!

Like the airport, downtown Kuala Lumpur is REALLY nice! I went to a mall, and again was surrounded by designer stores. Even stuff in the normal stores was surprisingly expensive. On a side note, the five dollar cup of coffee I bought, sucked.

Its interesting to think that an hour from the city, are hoards of impoverished families, yet the heart of the city is booming with money and technology.

I wish I could've spent more time in Kuala Lumpur because there seems like so much to do! Next time I'm over in that region, I'll definitely stay longer. After all, Kuala Lumpur has yet to experience the complete maelstrom of chaos and adventure that is Arun!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Vacations are always nice. Relaxation, fun in the sun, rest, the whole nine yards. Well my trip is going to be a little different.

Tomorrow I embark on a little international jaunt over to India!

Part of me is excited. For two weeks I'll be immersed in a totally different culture, visit lots of relatives, eats tons of amazing food, savour some of the best fruit in the world, visit the Taj Mahal, and did I mention eat amazing food?

The other part of me knows what comes along with the territory. Insane heat and humidity, mosquitoes and insects that enjoy snacking on me, totally chaotic traffic, uncomfortable bedding, hoards of people, beggars everywhere, smog filled air in certain areas, and two days of travelling to get there.


How is it two days? Well first consider, India is 12 and a half hours ahead of California time (Don't ask me where the half comes from. I always thought time zones were by whole hours?) The flight from LA to Malaysia is over 19 hours (19 FREAKING HOURS!). Suffice to say, I should be able to get quite a bit of reading done.

I last visited India about five years ago, and it was half enjoyable. Why only half? I was seriously eaten alive by the mosquitoes! I had no idea how ferocious they were. The town I was staying in apparently has some back-waters which are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. They attack while you sleep and will get to any area of exposed skin! It got so bad that I wore clothing all over while sleeping even though it was 90+ degrees!

Eventually, we bought an Air Conditioner and Mosquito net which more or less remedied the problem of getting too many more bites, but the existing bites I had itched like a mother. To give an idea of how many bites I had, consider that on my right arm and hand alone, I had over 40 separate mosquito bites!

This is not going to happen again! I'm stalking up on mosquito nets and bug spray this time!

On the way there, I'm spending a day in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I've spent a day there before, and there's quite a bit to see. I'm going to try and arrange a driver to chauffeur me around for a day.

Knowing me as well as I do, there's bound to be some good adventures on this trip. I'm planning on stopping into some internet cafe's so I should be able to post some updates while I'm gone.

Stay tuned!

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Boomerang Effect

For those of you "Daily Remedy" regulars, you already know, that I love everything about social interactions. This interest has actually raised over the years and still continues to grow. As a kid, I used to get in trouble a lot in class for talking too much.

I can only imagine the terror I would be now!

One of the things that I've always been pretty good at is making friends. Yes, making friends. I honestly get along with practically everybody. Sure there are people I don't particularly care for, but I still get along with them, and in general, most people are always pretty nice!

Recently, I was thinking about how I interact with other people and why I manage to make great friends. I know this is no breakthrough in the history of social science whatsoever, but I don't think most people actually think about the way they interact with people.

I have discovered the secrets to always having great interactions! I call it "The Boomerang Effect!

OK,ok, its actually not much different than the cliche' "Do unto others as you'd have done to yourself." But, I've added a little "Arun Flava" to this and made it my own theory.

Essentially, it boils down to making the people around you feel great. The beauty of this is, that you will naturally feel great in response and people will naturally gravitate towards you and make you feel great too!

Big deal right? Well, after my intense analysis, I've broken down a couple of interesting natural behaviors of mine that I think help me get along with people.

1. Being a "Namer." Last week, a couple of girls that I've recently become acquainted with mentioned I am a "namer." Apparently, a namer is a person who, in conversation with someone else, uses that persons name quite a bit. I thought about this for awhile and realized that I do use peoples names a LOT in conversation.

They went on to talk about how it subtly makes the recipient feel good when someone is a namer. I thought about this statement and realized how true this is ESPECIALLY when first meeting someone. I am always skeptical of people remembering my name when I meet them, but when they do, and they use it, it actually does make me feel pretty good (despite being consciously aware of this relation most of the time). I definitely think being a namer has an unacknowledged, yet powerful effect on subtly (and unintentionally on my end) making someone feel great.

2. Optimism. Looking at everything with a "glass half full" perspective comes out when interacting with people and makes everyone feel good. People can't help but feed off of someone who radiates positive energy, and being optimistic about not only your endeavors, but other peoples as well creates a great atmosphere.

3. Immediate comfort. Some people take some time to "warm up" when meeting new people and don't really break out of their shell until they feel comfort. Well I'm obviously not one of those types of people. I generally conversate with everyone as if I already know them.

I am kind of a joker by nature, and I like to tease my friends a lot. In fact, I think teasing is great because everybody gets a good laugh but no one is really offended. At first, I think new people are kind of surprised that I would tease them when I don't even know them, but its always in good spirit, and they quickly realize that its just my joker nature. These fun interactions seem to build rapport really fast.

4. Body Language. Number one, is the magic of smiling! I could write an entire post about the power that a simple smile has! It radiates so much positive energy that people just HAVE to like you if you smile a lot!

Also, positive touching is also great (keep your minds out of the gutter!). Just things like patting someone on the back or a playful punch to the shoulder establishes a new level of comfort. Again, I was totally unaware I did this until someone pointed out to me that I do this. The scientific term for this type of touching is called "Kinaesthetics."

I was hesitant to write this post for a few reasons. One is, I am afraid as coming off as arrogant or artificial claiming that "I have discovered the secret to making friends and use these secrets all the time!" That is not the case.

After chatting with some friends over the years and recently just thinking about what makes me who I am, I realized that these are behaviors of mine that happen to help me make friends. This morning, I received an email from a friend thanking me for something subtle I said last night and didn't even think about. I called her a "world class hugger" because she honestly gives great hugs. She emailed me saying "that really means a lot to me because I love hugging!"

That actually made me feel really good that something as little as that compliment, made her feel good enough to send me an email.

Classic Boomerang Effect. I happened to make her feel good last night, and she reciprocated with gratitude. Plus, I'm sure I'll be getting a lot more great hugs!