Monday, May 30, 2005
It was quite refreshing and it has been quite a while since i have done it. The most memorable 20+ sleep session was way back during School when Parthu anna was visiting. If i am not too wrong, it lasted between 0900 on the first day and 0600 on the subsequent day during school break!
It also felt nice to hear the chirping of the birds as you wake up (not that they don't do it daily, but i am not out of bed till the Sun cranks up the heating system!)
Saturday, May 28, 2005
First things first, ECR is cool. But i still think that the NH5 i saw in AP as part of the Golden Quadrilateral or even the NH45 (Chennai to Tiruchy/Madurai) is a better road to drive safely. Primarily because there is little civilization that gets tempted to jum in front of your car. I know that ECR lovers would point that i hadn't ventured far into ECR but my feedback is based on what i have seen till Mahabalipuram
Once we hit Dakshin Chitra, it was hectic sightseeing, photograph sessions, shopping for my cousins and by the time we were ready to leave in the evening - purses were lighter, car heavier, spirits wilder. I would definetely recommend that all visit this place as i wonder how many kids these days get to see their native village and learn and appreciate the kind of art forms in Rural India. The only disappointment for me, was the Glass Artist who had an impressive collection was absent and i was looking forward to making some purchases there
I guess i have to wait till the next time!
Friday, May 27, 2005
The Boston to Franfurt flight was crowded beyond my comfort zone (that means, every single seat was taken & my strategy of asking for the last seat didn't work good. Apart from having someone in there, you lose the pocket size recline that the coach class offers you) and when i walked to the gate in Franfurt, my spirit soared when there were too few people from the Boston flight. I was counting of a repeat from my March travel, when the plane was nearly empty. I was so wrong, by 0900 - there was a huge crowd and the only good thing was that there were only 2 of us, across 3 seats and that gave an opportunity to unload some stuff in the vacant seat
Talking of travel, a few examples of the lack of aircraft etiquettes/consideration for others displayed by a few countrymen
- There was this young guy, about my age sitting behind me who used his knees to prevent me from reclining. What's more, it was quite intentional as the more force, i used to try and push back, the more resistance it would meet up with. More so, when i turned a couple of times to have a word with him - very disgustingly! he would pretend to sleep and that forced me to stay upright the entire journey. I have definetely heard this happening with a couple of more people with the culprit usually being my countrymen!
- Getting drunk & high in a party is something that i don't feel right & if someone does that in the flight, it get much worse. Also, the requests for more alcohol was accompanied by request for more food, in a tone that was anything but a request.
- Even a request to the cabin crew, was not accompanied by a thanks or a cordial smile. I wonder how many of the cabin attendants like coming over to India
- As remarked earlier, the rush to de-plane is baffling. There is atleast a 10 min queue at immigration and another 15 min wait for baggage and hence cannot understand standing over someone, typically couple with kids or elder couples, and rushing to get out. Please, engagement with the President/PM if any, can also wait for a couple of minutes
- Baggage; while i am guilty of it first time, i have made a consious decision during the last 3 trips. Just because you are allowed one hand luggage and a lapto doesn't mean you can have a small suitcase, a laptop, a video camera, a leather jerkin, a couple of bags from shpping on the flight/intermediate stops. There is only so much space in the passenger area for hand luggage!
It might take Indians sometime to get used to relaxed travelling on aircrafts, and till then they would continue to be quite a burden on their fellow travellers in dealing with queer habits
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Talking of the saber & nature, it is just about the same thought i had when i fly back from US to India. Since dusk sets in, we are allowed to keep the window shutters open & if one were to spend more time watching the dusk (somewhere over atlantic ocean) and the subsequent dawn (over the coast of Britan), sights unparalled 35,000 feet below open up for you.
First the sunset, at the mark of dusk, nature opens it's saber and there is a orange band of light that seperates the 2 darkness - one spreading to the sky & the other to the earth. As time goes, the invisble jedi cranks up the intensity of the saber and dull orange gives way to bright red. Soon, the saber is withdrawn and the darkness wins the battle, temporarily.
At dawn, the battle starts again, with the bright red streak appearing as an afterthought before getting entrenched in the neverland called horizon. Soon the saber spreads warmth on both sides and blackness gives way to pristine blue. While there is darkness when we hit Ireland, by the time the shores of Britan are left behind - the Sun is ready for his next journey (or should we say, the Earth is ready!)
It is truly beautiful to see this sight and i really envy those space traveller who can see much more and that single thought is enough for me to thank the Lord for this wonderful beauty.
PS: I am unable to use Hello at my home for some issue and hence will update this post with a few snaps sometime in the near future.
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
To ensure that sins like these don't occur, there was this last minute panic shopping that i indulged, in the proverbial eleventh hour. Not much was accomplished but atleast there was no visible space left behind.
It occured to me, that there are cardinal rules for shopping & here were a few at the top of my head:
- Never leave the shores of India without a trip to Wal-Mart, Circuit City (or equivalent)
- Never leave chocolate shopping to the last days, they will usually run out of stock of your favorite brand
- Never (please, i beg of you) buy more than one large bag of Hershey's Kisses. When i have friends/family bring them in, i feel 'cheap' about this large quantity/low quality product
- Never leave Frankfurt without picking up some chocolates. Expensive, yes -but good ones. I would recommend White Chocs be picked in Frankfurt
- Never leave toys & electronics items in their packages, they occupy a lot of space
- Never have less than 2 large suitcases
- Never have a hand luggage weighing more than 4 Kgs. Also, a thumbrule - If you have a coat/jerkin, it should fit into the hand luggage
There might be many others that long term stayers will come up with, but i devotionally follow all the above. For the last few trips, i believe in travelling light & travelling pleasantly.
Monday, May 23, 2005
The 'test drive' happened on Friday (May 20th) night at about 2300 when we drove back from the Chennai Woodlands back to the Hotel. I drove slow, but got a good hang of the car. Though i did not tell the folks, i was sure that riding here is much better than the traffic back home.
The real test lay ahead on Saturday morning when i got control just before 7AM and i planned to drive for atleast a couple of hours. I was anxious if i would be able to control the vehicle at speeds of 70mph. The car handled speed majestically and soon i was clocking in the range of 72-75mph and there was very little traffic either ahead or behind me. The same cannot be said, of my second drive when I-90 in New York state had a medium traffic going west but i gave me enough food for thought while overtaking other cars. After some time, the entire traffic playout seemed entertaining enough with the person behind you trying to overtake you (on the left lane) & come back into the right lane. Soon the right lane would get crowded and i would overtake some of these vehichles & the old ryhthm would re-occur and there was very little means of me falling asleep
On the return journey, a couple of new elements were introduced: rain & traffic on Masspike. There was a point some 30 miles from Exit 12 where there was a 'parking lot' scenario & i was in the control and i got a hang of the situation; the best thing was the assurance that noone will cut in front of you like they do in here.
A few highlights -
- The first steep climb followed by the downward feeling of the descent.
- The beauty of morning mist lazily streching across the road and blanking vision
- The sight of mountains and valleys streching into horizon from point of persective
- Straight long road ahead streching to near infinity (esp. without any traffic)
- The humbling experience of seeing a police officer pulling up someone for speeding
- The numbness/vacuum caused by lack of honking
- The embaressment of first honking when found in error (infact, there was only 1 honking & i don't disagree with the guy/lady)
- The companion-ship of the stranger keeping in company in the lonely highway (I remember vividly, a lady in Honda Pilot Jeep who kept me 'company' as well as slowed traffic on the left lane for quite a distance)
In all, the entire experience was quite satisfying. When i returned the vehicle on Sunday, the cell battery drained leaving Prasanna & me a good 3 miles to walk back to the Hotel. I have no comlains as rain was in the air and there were a few instances where droplets kissed my shirt before vanishing; thankfully the rain kept away as we reached the Hotel & not a moment more.
PS: I am unable to use Hello at my home for some issue and hence will update this post with a few snaps sometime in the near future.
Sunday, May 22, 2005
To me, when i visited Niagara last year - it looked like Niagara falls seemed to me like a TEENAGER - the transition phase in between the chubby neighbourhood loved kid to the responsible man, he finally becomes. The phase is rocky and has its highs and lows and i thought during the 2 visits that the flow of water best illustrates it.
Enjoy the snaps!
Water in Niagara, just starting to show signs of teen-age madness. The river is dammed before this area and the pristine, calm waters that flows between 2 lakes has seen the first of its shocks!
As it nears the falls, the water and its surroundings sense the moment. If one were to walk away from the falls, some 300 yards away - there is an errie silence to the flowing water. Preparing for the big moments. Rapids and some action also participate in this picture
The Party is under way. Things seem to be in control and out of it, at the same time and the water is ready to release its energy and make that grand jump! The leap to greatness
The first moments of the leap. Things are very exciting and few make it to the edge and experience calm air on all sides except one, though a majority of them still have to be wedged inside, their moments of greatness squashed between umpteen others.
The leap is taken and the brief moment of glory is lived.
These moments are previous as the water cannot make it to the top of the fall all over again unless in its next life (evaporate, rain into the same lake - tough luck!) What follows the rush of its youth is utilization to others (hydro electric power) and then a quiet exit into the lake ending in the ocean.
Does that remind me of life? Every moment, i enjoyed the beautiful sight of it
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Walk up the wooden structure, this time around - due to the kind of battering that a camera can suffer; i safely tucked the camera, cell phone, specs inside the plastic coat and to avoid any chances of damage. This also gave me an opportunity, unlike last time around to enjoy the scenary around rather than be involved in taking photographs. As i walked up, there were multiple streams running after the water hit the rocks and boy, wasn't the water cold. Especially for someone like me, born on the wrong side of the tropics - the coldness of the water was quite numbing even when i was expecting something this cold.
After getting soaked a bit, i walked to the Hurricane zone, a wooden platform that takes one as close to realising the power of this natural beauty. 'Bridal Veil' is a "miniscule stream" in the grand plan of Niagara falls and for us, not be able to stand underneath it without the deflections from a large rock puts mankind in its position as dictated by Nature
A couple of minutes at the Hurricane zone, the plastic coat groaning on the constant twists that the downward wind of the falls brings in and the anxiety of keeping all my belongings intact, led me after from spending more time. But, Cave of the Wind needs to be engaged to realise the beauty blessed to us
A must experience for all
Friday, May 20, 2005
However where these restaurants lose to CW is the feeling of arriving in a 'hotel' back home. There was something in the host's eyes and the smile and it wasn't fake like the many i encounter on a daily basis in here. For the The menu card is very simple. I saw dosas, more dosas and many more dosas. They should rename the name to Dosa World. Nope, dosas are not the only thing, there are the usual indian stuff - breads, subjis and all that "Thou shall not touch and commit sin" - said the Dosa God. For the service, a 9/10 and the menu breadth - 9/10
And i agree with him - while others tucked to dosas, i ate Peseratu with upma and it was deligtful. The appetizer - mirapakai bajji was hot, upma smooth, pesaratu crisp and the mango lassi tasty. For the food, i gave 10.5/10
However there a few glitches, the main one being that they serve water in plastic glass, there is always something to improve!
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
The weekend was great; saturday was spent resting after the heavy duty action of the previous week, the main culprit being the 150 Kms that Karthik made me drive. Sunday, headed down to Billerica and had a great lunch at Masalaa. This is one of the few South Indian Cuisine restaurants in Mass., others of note being Udipi Bhavan (Framingham) and Chennai Woodlands (Ashland). By the time, we hit the Rivere beach and subsequently Galleria mall, the source of the picture - it was 1900 Hrs and had a great time.
All while long, i heard quite a few mild complaints from people about the weather. I personally wouldn't mind a place where it rains often and stays overcast most of the time. I enjoyed the weather in Jamshedpur (during monsoon) and the weather in Boston - be it in Winter (Snow) and in spring (rain) suits well with me. The snap is from Feb, outside my hotel room.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
In friendship 1+1≠2; Thanks to their friendship - i enjoyed the friendship of a few more; Santosh, Mridumesh, Ramesh and the many more that i met.
The snap is from the Mahabalipuram trip in June 2003 in Mridu's new car. From left to right, Mirudmesh, Santosh, Rames & Sarin.In fact, i should thank Mridumesh for my car - when i saw him drive one, i said to myself, - if he can, i can !
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Long Lonely Road Upahead
On a road well beaten, i walk down once again
Why ? not one more, i hear people say
why not ? for each is special, my inner voice speaks gay
an ode to the special person
the meeting was common, loads of people introducted that day
he was not common, with a choclate smile, heart of a child
mannerisms of a governess, frienship of a gentleman
he came over to say - Hi, i am sarin
no, that was not when we became friends
no, it was not the manali party
no, it was not when he came to chennai
while adi & i went like a rocket, sarin was the train
discovery await us at each station
each station defining & reinventing the path called "friendship"
today, i stand across the road, not knowing what to say
sad., for both adi & sarin cannot be seen across the corridor
but hopeful that their journey will bring them back
pray that i be taught lessons if friendship, over again
cursuing the lord, for he forgot
to teach me, way to turn back time
to laugh, smile, fight & enjoy the pleasures of my friends
cursing for making my path empty !!!
long lonely road upahead !!!
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Boston Common is a large park and is quite beautiful anytime of the year. In spring & summer, the green park sparks causalness, the varied colours of autmn brings joy and the snowy white park in winter represents, to me the calmness of the storm. Nice place to relax. Also seen int the snap is the downtown Boston highrisers (Prudential, Haynes, Hancock etc)
Last picture was of the Boston Downtown from the Common. This one is the reverse; Taken from the Prudential tower, this photo covers the Boston Common as well as the Mass Senate (Dome covered in Gold coating!)
Another of my favorites. The glass building is John Hancock Tower and the reflection is of a church along with another highrise. Reflections of life & building!
The hallowed structure of a prestigious institute ., Massachussets Institute of Technology - Do i need to say more?
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
- There was this airport employee who was picking my suitcase after the baggage scan and i was nearly bambozzled by his efficiency before realising that he was trying to get the baggage of a lady accompanied by a police officer. A few seconds after i notice the airport person pick my baggage, he realises the same - and to my surprise, he just drops the suitcase!
- The line in the Lufthansa counter is slow; there is this lady in brick red dress who joins the line after me, looks around totally lost; A few seconds, her relative - the airport officer arrives and whisks her away to the business class check-in counter: advantages of having employees in key places
- This lady was replaced by another 'lost' one & she had no relatives to help her. She confessed to me that she was first time traveller and did not exactly know what to do. I ended up helping her right to boarding the plane
- After baggage check-in, moved across the floor to Immigration. It stumps me as to how people never leave any way across a hallway. They need to park the trolley 2 inches behind you & bump the trolley atleast a dozen times
- Flight was quite enjoyable - last time around Lufthansa had Hindi movie & this time, they changed to Tamizh; talk about catering to the local market
- I can still not understand the rush for people to de-board a plane as soon as it lands. Atleast 75% have a connecting flight not earlier than a couple of hours and it beats me that they always are in a hurry
- I got the last seat on the Frankfurt-Boston sector and it is not as bad as it sounds.
- While collecting baggage, there was a smoke scare leading to waiting outside the airport terminal for nearly an hour. No compliants though, as i will always take a 60F afternoon over the 100F (in Chennai, with 80% humidity!)
I finished David Beckham's My Side - a thoroughly enjoyable book. The best thing about the book is that there is very little mention of the zillions that he has accumulated (though it did show in all the vacations, travels etc); the way he tries leading a normal life; the way he calls Sir Alex Ferguson - gaffer; a very pragmatic analysis of why left ManU; detailed coverage of his international stint. A few areas to work on - we know you love your family, wife & kids, there is no need to mention that once every 5 pages.
The next book in my list is the Biography of Nelson Mandela.
Sunday, May 08, 2005
But fate is without it's ironies; I was visiting a friend of mine when i got caught in the first mad-Indian traffic jam. I was turning right into a narrow street from the main road; when there were some motorcycles stranded as the riders of one of them was busy fighting with a transport vehicle for alleged traffic violation. When the transport vehicle moved forward, he wanted to turn left into the main road & there was the small matter of my car sitting in his way. I tried backing into the main road to leave him space (remember, the change in principle) & went nowhere as a car came to a dead halt a couple of yards behind me. Before the transport vehicle could move back, a couple of cars overtook the vehicle and parked right in front of me.
Resembling sand filling spaces in a bottle of pebbles, all free real estate on the road got filled with the countless motorcyles, autorickshaws & cyclist. In fact, most of the motorcyclists & cyclists took it as a personal challenge to ensure that they crossed this jam. While, at first all these was quite humurous to me, seeing people being so insensitive to others and adding to the jam made me sad and angry at the same time. I extricated myself from the jam, was by abadoning the plan to turn off the main road and continue on it for a good couple of kilometers. The process of maintaining road discipline fell on a police constable, who happened to be there by chance. He took control and gave a hearing to quite a few people, thankfully sparring me.
As i snaked through the dense aftermath of the traffic jam, i saw a huge backlog, right upto a kilometer deep. The impact of one person's lethargy (a autorickshaw was parked at the beginning of the road), a person's fighting tendency (the motorcyclist), an impatient car driver pulled me into the first traffic jam.
Saturday, May 07, 2005
When things like these happen, fate also tries to balance & thus the start of the weekend has been anything but forgetable as nostalgia of the Balalok school days wash back as we went about inviting old school friends for Karthik's wedding. Meeting people after a long time; some married, some with kids, most of the parents showering us with the same kindness & adulation & it fills the heart with joy
Staying on Nostalgia, Main Hoon Na - I am there (for you) was shown on television & the song chori chori reminded me of a similar song from the movie Mohabattein (Love). The thing about the song is that i don't remember the lyrics but the song is sketched in my memory because of the climax of the song. Helen - an yesteryear dancer of great fame, acts as the headmistress is invited to dance by the hero - Shah Rukh Khan (Incidentally, the hero of Main Hoon Naa as well!). What follows is two minutes of the greatest joy of cinema as Helen launches into a dance what talks of the freedom of mind; She might have aged, but thankfully the mind has not. The joy she displays, as she retraces some of her dance sequences, on her face - is mindblowing. She invites everyone to her party, reminding them of that age afterall is a state of acceptance, that everyone can look at it in the eye and find ways of overcoming inhibitions that people associate with advancing age.
The dance, which bringing joy, entertainment - also makes a statement on life.
Thursday, May 05, 2005
Midday, between him & me, we blew up close to Rs 15,000. While he had a valid reason - suit for his impeding wedding; i am not even attempting an excuse for the expenditure of Rs 2,500 on some shirts and trousers. After the midday shopping excursion, it was back to office & the regular meetings culminating in a tired soul retiring to home late night & the wait for the final conference calls with the team on the other side of the world is pending as the soft bed beckons the increasingly spent me.
May tomorrow be as fun filled and lively as today.
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
This blog is in preparation to Karthik & Merlin - who are getting ready to tie the knot next week. Watch this space for their wedding snaps next week.
Rachna & Anil - 6 September 2004 (Guruvayur)
Notes - The snap is from the wedding reception (Venue - Kollam) on the 7th of September. The next day, i was out on the backwaters.
Senthil & Chitra - 16 September 2004:
Notes - Snap carved out of the group snap for the wedding reception (Sept 15, 2004)
Mridumesh & Radhika - 2 October 2004 (New Delhi):
Notes - Mridumesh & I were introduced to each other on a staircase in my office. I was eating Chikki & his first sentence was - "Now that we are introduced, can i have Chikki". He earned not only Chikki but also my friendship!
Vimal Bhushan & Anuradha - 27 November 2004:
Notes: The wedding was at 0100 hrs and there are quite a few Telugu Weddings that go late into the night. When the wedding was over & all of us retired to bed, it was 5 AM!
But good things happen on days like these as well. I met Vinodh & Krithika, my classmates who got married last year. This is the snap taken last year in their wedding reception.
A great couple to be with, Vinodh was our class rep in college and is the moderator of our egroups - SAIDREAMS. It was fun meeting them after a long time. While i usually enjoy taking my car out for a drive, i must admit that the drive from Pallavaram to Pammal (a distance of about 1.8 Kms) reminded me of crazy Jamshedpur. Buffalos & Cows on the street, water logged roads (it rained yesterday in Chennai!), cyclists trying to race against time, uncooperative autorickshaws, pothole galore, speedbreakers every 10 yards, you name it & the place got it.
Made it across from netherworld roads to civilized nation in 20 mins each way & guess, i am happy that i have all my bones intact and my car has all its parts!
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
It gives me great joy that Chris Gayle has joined his batting style likesake Virendra Sehwag in making a triple ton. After the triple ton, Sehwag has gone on to make 4 centuries in one year, all above 150 (one double ton as well!). Not to count the 4 fifties in this period and he has replaced his childhood icon Sachin Tendulkar as India's master bastsman. Earlier, people in India would switch off televisions when Sachin got out, now the pedigree goes to Viru, as he is called. May Chris Gayle reach those exalted heights as West Indies Cricket needs to discover a new star to follow the footsteps of Brian Lara.
There is too much similarity between Indian Cricket and West Indian Cricket, that people would admit to.
- 'Rock Star' opener - Chris Gayle, Virendra Sehwag
- Mr. Dependable - Shivnaraine Chandrapaul, Rahul Dravid
- Cricket legends - Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar
- Dark Horses - Ramnaresh Sarwan, VVS Laxman
- Sleeping Beauties - Wavell Hinds, Yuvraj Singh
The key difference seems to me that India has a great captain in Sourav Ganguly, something that WI has lacked in the last few years. Granted that Sourav has not been in the best of form - but i think it is a great dis-service to pay our respects where due; Sourav has led the Indian team much better than his predecessors. Also his eye for talent (he encouraged quite a few youngsters in the team), his never say die attitude and his commanding skills has earned him respect from his players. Forget the Indian fan, they get wild when we lose & will start worshiping cricketers when they start winning.
I also think that the difference between the Indian team and WI team is in its bowling department - especially the spin duo of Harbhajan Singh & Anil Kumble make the difference between otherwise quite ordinary medium pacers.
This comparison should alarm the Indian board that we might be basking too much on the success in the last 2 years and that the recent Pakistan tour was an indication that others are catching up.
That leaves me with a thought: Sourav Ganguly has repeatedly been fined for slow over rate. Accepted, But i wonder if match throwing by Shoaib Mallik isn't a more serious crime that slow over rates? What destroys cricket more - Losing matches to prove a point or not completing matches on time. I guess everyone knows the answer & therein lies the hypocricy of ICC.