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Life in the HOV lane

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“Discuss parking, just discuss parking” , I tell myself as my algorithmically asssigned carpool driver was pulling to a stop. For finding someone to carpool, I use a smartphone app that uses a sophisticated mathematical algorithm to combine the worst principles of blind dates with carpools. So your driver could be random- intelligent, handsome, round, ignorant or a neo nazi with tikki torches. I am looking for a safe icebreaker with this stranger – something that wouldn’t give me a black eye or a belly rub during the morning commute. After much contemplation, I decide to use parking because no one likes parking and there can be no debate about it.

Just as the driver pulled in and I was parking my resolve, I heard the music change from chest thumping Bhangra dance beats to the funeral voice of Michael Krasny. Something about me makes people change their radio stations to National Public Radio. Initially, I thought it was my shaggy hair and went with a marine crew cut but it happened again. I thought it was my bad breath and got three root canals and some wisdom teeth extracted. I even switched to Axe deodorant. It has just kept happening. If it does not stop, I may soon have to check in with a therapist or a gastro-enterologist.

As soon as I get into the car, I introduce myself and compliment the driver on a really compact car that can be easy for parking. He goes silent and then tells me that he has had marital issues due to this car especially the parking. I press no further as I don’t want the ice breaker to turn into a jaw breaker. I spend yet another ride in silence reading a Mashable article on 21 things to discuss with a carpool buddy.

The next day, the algorithm matches me with a Tesla. I feel the need to be ready for her. I show up clean shaven and nattily dressed. I even polish my shoes. I don’t prepare for an ice breaker for the driver. It has one hell of a cruise control so I don’t feel that obligated to engage the driver. To my surprise, there is another rider. Sometimes the algorithm does it – speed date combined with carpooling. Instead of riding shotgun in the car, I am pushed into the oblivion of the backseat and I have to be satisfied with just the cup holders.

Then came the big announcement that has changed the carpooling discussion- Amazon’s search for a Big HQ. I have played it off in different ways and every single time it has worked. “By the way, where do you think the next Amazon HQ is going to be? “, “Do you think El Paso, TX and Boring, OR can be the next HQ”, “Will give you a real estate tip- try buying a place around where Amazon opens a HQ and the value is going to shoot up”, “I read somewhere that they are building the new HQ in the shape of the River Amazon “, “Whichever city gets Amazon’s HQ better have good salons because Bezos wants all employees in that HQ to look like robotic clones of him” Amazon has quickly taken over as the Facebook of the middle aged adult. Even people who cannot name the prime numbers are prime members. Everyone loves to discuss their shopping exploits even if it is as ridiculous as solar powered tongue cleaner or a microwave safe hair comb. Amazon is my new comfort zone.

When the ride ends and I get off at work, sometimes I feel perfectly fine and sometimes I am not and there has even been a time when I felt nauseated due to poor driving. Despite its many shortcomings, I do not regret it. As one person driving an expensive electric car, who picked me and another person up on a balmy Wednesday morning, puts it – “I succeeded in taking two cars off the road and I am happy about it.”

Epilogue: Even if you not an environ”mental”, there are ton of other benefits to not driving everyday. I am sure Mashable has a piece about the 33 different benefits of not driving everyday to work.

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

September 27, 2017 at 2:24 pm

Posted in Commute, Uncategorized

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ACEing the commute

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ACEing the Commute

Some don’t even look up from their books , some adjust their hair like a diva, some run furiously with a hint of worry on their face, some close their ears and some pace nonchalantly – the train is approaching . But one man at the station, hears the train and immediately starts pumping out push-ups. He is my morning inspiration. After seeing him, I tell myself to stop at least at 4 donuts per day.

Once you are in the train, if you made eye contact with a fellow passenger, you will definitely ensure side effects of their constipation. So be forewarned and never look up from your smartphone.

“Ram, Ram, Ram…” she wrote on her notebook, reminiscing the Hindu God as the train meandered through a tunnel . You felt reverential until you notice the smartphone playing a mother in law and daughter in law cat and mouse quarrel from an Indian TV channel . Between this lady and the guy watching women’s WWF, I don’t need any further proof that if the world is not consumed by global warming, it is going to be consumed by abuse of free wifi.

The dentist chair look, the aviator look, the baseball hat look, the zen look, the cool casuals look, the double breasted blazer look, intellectual look, the audacious royal look, the loud volcanic look, the low croaking frog look- sleepers come in all styles and sounds. So if you are going to be on a work conference call, look before you leap into that empty seat.

A person is loudly discussing his plans to go to Yellowstone and he probably thinks that he is disturbing no one because he is speaking Tamil(my mother tongue). Seeing my brown skin, he goes into a low whisper. He once again picks up steam once I am out of sight. The rest of the train sees my influence on him and gives me a lonely, hopeful look(yes, even the ones with constipation). I take one for the train and go sit next to the Tamil speaker. He hangs up the phone. I tweet “My random act of kindness today: Helped an entire train car sleep #MAGA

These are the people who ride with me on an everyday basis. Some are weird, some are busy but all of them are not on the road driving their cars. I am thankful for that.

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

September 27, 2017 at 2:22 pm

Learning from a toddler-1

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My daughter is at a very entertaining and curious age right now. She is exploring and learning about a lot of new things through all her actions. 

In spite of her young age, her undistilled words present me with moments of epiphany. I want to collect them here.


She gave me an important life lesson in optimism a few days back. 

Me: T, Why did you waste 1/2 the egg?

She: I finished 1/2 the egg Daddy. 


Me(refering to mom and her): Are you guys done with dinner?

She: Why are you calling us guys? We are girls. 

That was an enjoyable rebuttal from a 2 year old feminist. 

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

June 3, 2013 at 3:46 pm

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Avenue of the Giants Half Marathon

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May 5, 2012

I was just bolting down to the finish line as if I was running away from a crazy dog or a bad dream. One more half marathon had ended and this time it did not feel like half death. Due to the lack of a meticulously executed training plan, I had told myself  that I would keep the timing and the stupidity under control. So, I ran this race well with myself without trying to outpace my mind. In the end, I thought it was beautifully executed race. I kept my pace around 10:19 min/mile and I came home without wincing. 

About the race itself, this is one of the prettiest courses I have ever run. I would put it right alongside my runs in Mammoth lakes and in Stanley Park, Vancouver. The entire race is run amidst old, tall and fabulous Redwood trees whose presence make you feel insignificant in the worldly scheme of things.  If you ever want to run a race married to your watch and times, this is a bad place to do it because this is one of those races you need to enjoy  the surroundings around you and run.  Yet, if you are picking a race to do a PR, this is not a bad choice at all because the course is flat and easy. 

One last word- I tip my hat to the organizers Six Rivers Running Club []. The arrangements were excellent and the aid stations were abundant. A well managed race and kudos to all the volunteers. There was nothing haphazard and stressful about running here. ImageImageImage

Cameras can never do justice to the beauty of this place and my camera and photography skills might make them look ordinary. So, please check this out for yourself.

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

May 11, 2013 at 6:35 pm

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moment of zen yesterday while running. I was telling myself constantly “Conversation pace”. Then realized, not only for a good run but also for a good life “Conversation pays” 🙂

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

April 29, 2013 at 3:25 pm

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Letter to Sonia Gandhi – in Italiano

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Cari Ms.Gandhi
Sono Sudarshan. Scrivo a voi per quanto riguarda le consultazioni in corso tra il ministero e il popolo dell’India per quanto riguarda la coltivazione commerciale di BT. Brinjal.

Signora, melanzana è un ortaggio celebrata indiano e con più di 2500 varietà, esso rappresenta la ricca bio-diversità che simboleggia l’India. È un peccato che il governo sta cercando di interferire con il re di verdure con l’introduzione della versione geneticamente modificata del raccolto.

Signora, vi è una convinzione vera e propria tra la gente dell’India che il governo indiano si affaccia per la loro sicurezza e il benessere. Con l’introduzione di un alimento, di raccolto che non è completamente testato e non ci sono domande riguardanti la sua sicurezza, potrete mettere un sacco di vite a rischio – molti di coloro che hanno scarso accesso alle informazioni circa i potenziali effetti negativi della coltura e molti altri, senza l’accesso alla qualità di assistenza sanitaria.

Il Comitato di esperti del Ministero dell’Ambiente e delle Foreste ha certificato che questa coltura non si incrociano con le altre varietà geneticamente modificate dopo aver assunto una distanza di impianto di 300m. Ad una distanza di grandi dimensioni sembra molto poco pratico per un’azienda indiana dove terriere sono piccole ei campi sono adiacenti gli uni agli altri.

L’industria sostenuto i gruppi di pressione si utilizza la loro dollari di pubblicità per dire al mondo che c’è un enorme risparmio in movimento a Bt-vareities del raccolto. Questa è una bugia assoluta appartamento perché gli agricoltori si spendono molto di più per l’acquisto di semi di proprietà, da queste aziende e sarà guidato più profondo nella debt.If GM è una pillola magica per i mali degli agricoltori, perché è possibile che gli agricoltori sono sempre più suicidio e molti altri sono in miseria, anche dopo aver piantato Bt.Cotton. Signora, io la domanda di proteggere la sovranità alimentare di India calci le società alimentari multinazionali, i cui profitti solo approccio ha messo molte comunità a rischio.

Signora, la maggior parte dei governi in Europa hanno vietato la coltivazione di varietà geneticamente modificate e hanno assunto posizioni forti contro multinazionali come Monsanto e Syngenta dirottamento gli interessi degli agricoltori e public.I generale, vi esorto ad ascoltare le voci delle persone che hanno partecipato alla le consultazioni e la stragrande maggioranza hanno parlato contro Bt.Brinjal.

Sudarshan –

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

January 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm

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Dear Mr. Ramesh
I am Sudarshan.  I am writing to you with respect to the ongoing consultations  between your Ministry and the people of India regarding commercial cultivation of Bt. Brinjal. At the outset, I would like to commend you for seeking public opinion on this key decision while your fellow colleagues have been very keen to rubber stamp the approval of Bt. Brinjal.

Sir, Brinjal is a celebrated Indian vegetable and with over 2500 varieties, it represents the rich bio-diversity that symbolizes India. It is unfortunate that your Government is trying to tamper with the King of vegetables by introducing the genetically modified version of the crop.

Sir, there is a genuine belief amongst the people of India that the Government of India looks out for their safety and well-being. By introducing a food-crop that is not fully-tested and there are questions regarding its safety, you will putting a lot of lives at risk – many who have little access to information about the potential negative effects of the crop and many more with no access to quality to health-care.

The Expert Committee of the Ministry of Environment and Forests has certified that this crop will not cross-pollinate with other non-GM varieties after assuming a planting distance of 300m. Such a large distance sounds very impractical for an Indian farm where landholdings are small and the fields are adjacent to each other.

The industry backed lobbying groups are using their advertising dollars to tell the world that there is a huge saving in moving to Bt-vareities of the crop. This is an absolute flat lie because farmers will spend a lot more on buying proprietary seeds from these companies and will be driven deeper into debt.If GM is a magic pill for the woes of the farmers, why is it that more and more farmers are committing suicide and many more are in penury even after they planted Bt.Cotton. Sir, I demand you protect the food sovereignty of India by kicking out the multinational food corporations whose profit-only approach has put many communities at risk.

Sir, most of your counterparts from Europe have banned cultivation of GM varieties and have taken strong stands against corporations like Monsanto and Syngenta hijacking the interests of the farmers and general public.I urge you to listen to the voices of the people who have attended the consultations and have overwhelmingly spoken against Bt.Brinjal.


PS: If you need references for any of these facts, kindly feel free to write back and I can provide them for you

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

January 30, 2010 at 12:09 pm

Kurushetra of words…

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The Dean of Anna University had responded with a letter to everyone who wrote to him expressing their angst over their association with Dow Chemicals. I have shot back a letter to him.

Dear Dr. Sekar
Thanks for your reply. If you had written to me before the festival had begun and opened a channel for communication, I would have called you and explained you in chaste Tamil why this partnership is disastrous. It is a little disheartening that you chose to write after the festival is over but “better late than never”.

The tone of your letter is very patronizing and you want to wash away your responsibilities. Sir, if Dow has been associated with your University for four years and you still continue to take money from them, as the head of the institution you are supposed to be hang your head in shame for not doing the due diligence on a human rights violator. It is even more painful that you have heard Gandhian speak about the disaster and you still did not connect the dots with Dow. It makes me think that the whole approach of the University in knowing about the disaster is very superficial – an obligation to the syllabus book and not a genuine concern for the survivors.

Sir, if the Central Government and State Government err, is Anna University going to keep its mouth shut and toe the line of the Governments? I am sure Mr. C.N. Ayynnadurai, from whom your institution derives its name and his mentor Periyar would have disapproved of such cowardly behavior. Also, please let me school you on the facts of the disaster – The Central and State Government have always acknowledged the disaster. Elected Representatives from the U.S. [similar to MPs in India] have written to Government of India repeatedly asking them to hold Dow accountable.

The industry university collaboration is very important but it just should not blindside the university society trust and commitment. By legitimizing Dow, you are sending a message that you want your students to be obedient corporate servants [ like Indian servants of the East Indian Company] rather than responsible citizens who stand for truth and justice.

I would like you to use the next one year to study a lot more about Dow because you are clearly misinformed. KIndly use 2010 to come upto speed on Dow [] and I plan to help you by sending you emails regularly on this subject. I am also posting a copy of the book called “Trespass Against Us: Dow Chemical and Toxic Century” for your reference. [] . If you still have questions, then we should have a meaningful public discussion and I am sure you will come out more enlightened and so will your students.


PS: Dow has contimated water bodies across the world and it not one or two minor hiccups that can be overlooked. Kindly google “Agent Orange” and see some pictures
Dear Friend,

I am really happy to note your societal commitment and I am proud of
you to have reacted so quickly to condemn the action of an institution
in accepting contribution from a so called ‘tainted’ industry. Your
concern was so acute that you did not wait to verify the facts and
obviously you do not have the channel for that.

As a responsible citizen myself (and as the head of institution who
has done a great mistake, as projected by the passion kindling
patriots}, I am duty bound to reply and bring to your notice the
following points. Ultimate judgment should be yours and yours only

1. I have not said at any point of time that I was not bothered about what
happens elsewhere in the society and the institution did not care for the
same. This false information has been spread to kindle passion and to
create an outcry for immediate reaction. It is needless to say that this
institution is one of the most responsible organizations which readily
gives helping hand and supporting voice through its strong and dedicated
student force.

2. The company in this controversy has been associating with our
University for more than four years now, as can be verified from the
website and from news items of leading newspapers in their archives.

3. All these years nobody ever pointed out the misdeeds of the company and
warned us.

4. Please note that we have not accepted the contribution after the
controversy broke out. As in the previous years, this company was the
first to respond to our request for sponsorship.

5. Having requested the sponsorship and accepted the contribution from a
long standing associate, all of a sudden we cannot say that we do not want
the relation because of the public outcry created by a group of people,
even though, the demand made some sense.

6. Every major company will have some hiccups here and there, during their
operation – I am referring to the company’s problems in US and other
places. That cannot be sighted as reasons for totally banning them

7. The company claims that it is not directly responsible for the
disaster and it has no legal or administrative binding for cleaning up.
This point is not disputed by anybody. All of us are talking only about
moral grounds on which the company should act.

8. More importantly, neither the state government which has taken the
possession of the land nor the Central government which has arranged the
compensation want this company to carry out the further remedial measures.

9. This company has signed up a number of industrial ventures in this
country which goes to show that they are doing their business as usual.

10. My reply to the honourable lady who talked to me about this issue only
explained the institute – industry collaboration angle.

11. In our own auditorium, through NSS, we have arranged a meeting last
year, wherein a Gandhian and a victim of the tragedy, explained to our
students the problems and plight of all the affected people.

12. We accept the response of all the people and thank them. But I do not
know whether one can blame a reputed and tradition-rich institution to the
level of denouncing it without verifying the facts and figures. Passions
can be kindled easily but that must be directed in a proper direction.

13. There were also messages which declared obituary for the Dean as a
person because of this issue. We appreciate the innovative idea of these
people, in whatever taste it is.

14. For your information, the facts have already been explained by our
Vice chancellor to the media , giving respect to the representation made
by so many caring human beings.

15. Thank you and keep in touch. Look at our website to know
more about us.

On behalf of the entire Kurushetra 2010 team,

Dean, College of Engineering Guindy
Anna University Chennai

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

January 24, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Indian Brinjal Plants for Sale for below market prices

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Are you dreaming of a vegetable that will keep your country self sufficient, happy and rich?

Then this is truly Indian vegetable globalized over the ages is the answer for you- Brinjal or Eggplant or Aubergine

Have about 2500 varieties of this versatile plant that are available immediately for sale. Their colors vary from white to yellow or green as well as reddish-purple and dark purple.

You can mix and match between varieties of brinjal from kotti tale badane to mattu golla to salte begun to lamudhadha badane.

All varieties are proven in treating in type 2 diabetes and has anti-rhuematic and anti-tussive properties.

Letting go of these indigenous varieties as we are moving to an unproven, unsafe and deadly brinjal variety.

These varieties have to go as soon as possible before the people become aware of the dangers of the new variety.

We are a reputed seller of native plants and will guarantee high yields, safe produce and happy farmers.

Buyer needs to come and haul it. For an extra few cents, my boss Dr.Manmohan Singh will be available to dig up the plants and load them in your state aircraft.

Serious buyers only.

If you have questions or concerns, email me,

You can also call me at +91-11-24361727or+91-11- 24363958

Jairam Ramesh

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

January 19, 2010 at 10:05 pm

Sunday Afternoon Siesta Post..

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I see more and more people are becoming environ”mentals”. Since I want to help the environmentals have a life and the non-environmentals woo the environmental, here is my definitive contribution – “Pick up lines for Environmentalists”

10. I will come with you like your reusable bottles that you carry with you wherever you go.
9. What are you doing tomorrow morning? How about we walk to the Farmers Market?
8. My day is lit with the best form of renewable energy – your million watt smile.
7. I am hosting BYOP party for two tonight at my place? Do you want to come?
6. You make me melt faster than the glaciers.
5. I am not giving you a pickup line. Am going to stay silent and save energy
4. Can we catch the movie tonight? How about “The Story of Stuff” ?
3. My love for you is as everlasting as a plastic in a landfill
2. I love “trash” talking you.
1. Can we go carpooling?

Written by Sudarshan Suresh

January 17, 2010 at 7:25 pm