Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why am I a Vegan?

Today we had a Pizza party at work. Everyone seemed to enjoy the hot & delicious Pizza. A colleague asked me "How are Indian Pizzas?". I told him, "They look great. But, I didn't eat them". He asked me "Why?". I told him that I'm adopting a Vegan diet. He then asked me "Why are you a Vegan?". Many folks have asked this question, in the last 3 weeks. Many folks have asked this question, in the last 3 years.

(Also read: A Journey from Non-Vegetarian to Raw-Vegetarian)

Why am I a Vegan? I don't think there is one specific answer to this question.

During my childhood days, I used to visit my grandparents' village. I've seen innocent little creatures dying in front of my eyes. I've seen goats getting 'chopped-off' in the name of 'sacrifice to God'. There were instances where I was asked to hold the legs of the goat tight, when its neck was cut. I've seen blood oozing out of the goat's neck after its head was chopped-off. I've seen the body of the goat shaking for a few seconds before it died. I've seen men killing chicken by twisting their neck. I think these things had some impact on my decision to be a Vegetarian. (Also read: Sunday - a day of mass murders in India)

Wanna see what happens to these poor creatures before they get into your burger or chicken 65?

I was a Vegetarian for most part of my childhood. I used to eat "egg", though. I lost significant weight when I went to college. Some of my friends told that I can regain the lost weight & develop muscles if I become a meat eater. I started eating meat again in 1997.

I was a meat eater till early part of 2000. During that time, I had a chance to read Gandhi's autobiography - "My experiments with truth". I got motivated by Gandhi's determination to be a vegetarian. He got closer to death, because of not eating meat & not drinking milk. He then started consuming goat's milk. Poor guy, he didn't have alternatives to milk-based diet, at that time. I decided to be a vegetarian. This time, I gave up eating egg also. I continued to consume milk-products.

I'm a vegetarian since 2000. I was able to stick to my eating habits. I got married in 2005, and luckily, my wife is also a vegetarian. Having been a vegetarian for quite sometime, I got bored. In mid 2006, I got a desire to 'experiment' a new eating style. I wanted to put my self-control to test. I wanted to go to the next-level of diet. I decided to adopt a Vegan diet. I told myself that I should give up only when I run into health issues because of not consuming milk products. Fortunately, there were milk-substitutes in USA. I started consuming 'fortified' Soy milk. I included spinach & more vegetables/fruits in my everyday diet. I managed to be a vegan for 3 years.

I returned back to India in May, 2009. I was doubtful, if I would be able to continue my Vegan diet in India. I was surprised to see that 'calcium-enriched' Soy milk is available in Chennai. I'm continuing to be a Vegan. I've also substituted my favorite 'Soy Cafe Latte' with 'Lemon/Black Tea'.

My wife takes good care of me, by cooking healthy vegetable food. I'm very thankful to my wife. If not for her, I cannot continue to be a Vegan & at the same time maintain my health. The journey continues ...

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I'm Back ...

Hey India... It's me. I'm back again.

I reached Chennai on the 1st of May. The SQ flight landed at 10 pm. It took me just 10 mins to clear the immigration. They've renovated the immigration area. The area was clean & cool. I was quite amazed. But, it took nearly 30 minutes to get the baggage. I took my baggage and cleared the customs. My entire family was eagerly waiting outside the airport, for my arrival. My daughter jumped in joy, on seeing me. I could see nothing but smile on everyone's face. We reached home by 11.30 pm.

The next morning, I took a walk on the streets - just to get a hang of Chennai. India hasn't changed much in the last 6 years. Trash piling up along the sides of the road, groups of people near tea stalls talking politics, folks who 'drink' in the morning, children using the walkways as 'open-air' restrooms. India hasn't changed much. At the same time, I was happy to see the city in 'action' at 6 am. Group of boys sorting the morning newspapers for delivery, folks boarding buses to get to work/school, ladies cleaning their front-yards, people doing exercise at parks. India hasn't changed much. Have you read the story where a princess was cursed by a witch and the princess + the whole kingdom goes into a deep sleep for many many years? Similarly, everything has been preserved 'as-is' in Chennai.

Chennai is so 'lively'. It is good to see people 'everywhere'. I don't have to take a 'Google Map' before leaving home - I can ask the road side shops for directions. There is good 'veggie restaurants' everywhere - I don't have to drive for hours to get to one. I've ditched my favorite 'Soy Cafe Latte' for 'Lemon/Black Tea'. I love the fresh juices that we get along the road side. (Also read: Why am I a Vegan?)

Gone are the days when I drove my Honda Accord to work (with 4 empty seats). I now commute to work in a 'share auto' with 10 other passengers squeezed-in. I don't have to worry about 'credit history' - still able to survive without a credit card. I got a new toy - Nokia E63 for INR 13.5K. Prices have all gone up - but, I now do the math in dollars & it seems very affordable now :)

I'm enjoying the ride so far. Hopefully, it will get more exciting soon.

Also read:

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bye Bye USA ...

29th April 2009

Well, the time has come for me to say "Bye Bye". It is Apr 29th, 2009 - the day of my return to India. I was dreaming about this day for the last 6 years. My countdown for this day started 3 months, back. "Are you happy or sad? Do you feel excited or worried? Are you sure, Saro? Do you want to leave USA?". My friends were curious. My response was simple... "Yes, I want to go back. I'm determined & very excited !!".

The last 3 months brought-in significant changes in my lifestyle. Hope they are just exceptions and not the norm :) I gained 5 pounds in the last 3 months. Thanks to the send-off parties. I'm going to disappoint my wife who has been thinking that I'll lose weight, because of her absence. I'm working hard these days - trying to complete my deliverables at RBAK & trying to pickup the basics of the future job @ Nokeena. I couldn't keep up with my regular morning walks, book reading, temple visits etc., We vacated our house and I moved to my brother's place in March. These days, I spend very little time with my pillow & comforters. They hate me much.

I'm eagerly looking forward to meet my wife/daughter. I miss my daughter much more than I miss my wife (Hope my wife doesn't read this blog :)). I call them every day. I've become Reliance India's preferred customer.

My last day in Redback was 24th Apr. In the next few days, I closed my 401K account/credit cards/insurance, changed my bank account, etc., I did some limited shopping and packed my stuff.

Finally, it is the D-day - Apr 29th, 2009. I don't feel the same way ... like what I felt when leaving India, 6 years back. I realize that I haven't created an emotional attachment with the country. I'm sad to leave my U.S friends, but glad that I'm going to meet some of my old friends in India. In retrospect, I feel that I made a wise decision coming to US. I gained a lot of exposure. Today, I feel that I made a wise decision to go back.

Thank you USA for all that you gave me... I'll never forget that ... See you ... Bye Bye ...

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