Monday, September 29, 2008

Sept Travel Tales -III - SFO

Finally, its the end of the travel tales in the US with this one. Though we were in Columbus and ideally we were to fly back on the 23rd from Columbus-Chicago-Bombay-Blore I requested for a route change via SFO so we could visit my brother who had just gotten there and also meet my uncle who's settled there and taking care of bro.

It was I must say a blessing in disguise for us as we had a LOT of luggage and thankfully Singapore airlines gave us the option of more weight! :-) in comparison with the other flight we were supposed to take from Columbus. Also, we got an opportunity to stay in SFO for 3 days and see that place too!

Well, with bag and baggage we travelled to SFO via Denver - Our good bye to Columbus said and sad. We reached SFO only late saturday evening and uncle and bro had come to take us back home.So it was just good rice and rasam that night for dinner-prepared by someone else other than me!

Since bro was beginning college from monday we thought we (4 of us) could see around SFO on sunday and monday me and hubby would drive to Yosemite national park- around 4hrs from SFO. But as fate would have it-early sunday morning we got to know that my uncle's older brother had passed away and he had to rush back to India. So the entire sunday our mood was off and we were trying to find him earliest tickets back home and making coffee/tea for his friends-who were more at home there than us! So our plans were all changed and we rented a car at the airport that night when we went to drop my uncle to catch his flight to India.

So, the next day we just dropped Bro at Stanford and also grabbed that chance to look around the university campus.



This is one of my fav pics:



Not everyone gets to step into Stanford you see;-p.We spent that hour looking around and then picking him up went, had lunch and went to the SFO pier. We took a Golden Gate bridge





and alcatraz cruise in the middle of the afternoon,



saw the Pier aquarium,and then strolled around the Pier shops-which was a very lively experience.



I would love to do that again if I ever get a chance to visit SFO again. We then drove over the Golden Gate bridge for a view of SFO downtown-that was another fabulous view of the lights of downtown SFO on a full moon night.



Oh yeah!we also went in search of the Lombard street or Crooked Street which I ABSOLUTELY wanted to see and had to nag both bro and hubby to find it. It was definitely worth the search and both of them stopped grumbling and accepted that I was right - for once! *ah! What an achievement!*



On tuesday since Bro had full day college we dropped him at the univ and we decided to do some more site seeing. We went to the famed Baker's beach-which was just a small stretch of sand below the golden gate bridge and was a letdown. I mean-after being to Goa and seeing miles of sandy beaches, who would be satisfied with a small stretch of sand-right? Call it spoilt for choice if you want!



Then we went back to drive through Lombard/Crooked street again and then to the Ghirardelli Square for a bite of Ghirardelli chocolate *yummmmm* I still cant forget that taste! I've already written about it here.



By then it was already late afternoon and we had to pick up bro,finish the last minute packing, have dinner, give the house keys to uncle's friend,drop bro back at univ,return GPS and then head to the airport by 10pm.*whew*

Ok~ now begins the harrowing story. We finished dinner by 8.30, packed everything,locked up home and ready to start-hubby asks: Do you have the passports with you? The tickets are with me". I knew it was in my cabin bag and asked Bro to confirm once.He looked and didnt find it,then hubby looked and didnt find it. By then I had started to panic-I thought I might have left it out before packing so ran back in to check-not there. Came back-checked the other cabin bag-not there.Checked my purse-not there.By this time it was 9pm and all our BPs had risen due to panic and we were thinking that we would have to lodge a complaint and we would miss our flight back home-blah blah... Then for one last time I decided to check in the said cabin bag-and there it was-hidden at the bottom which both bro and hubby didnt bother to check properly!!! *Ah!HUGE relief* By the end of this episode it was 9.15 and we were behind schedule by a full half hour.Then we gave the keys to uncle's friend and went to the gas station-that was the next step-some problem there and it took 10mins more than necessary to fill the gas.Then dropped bro to the univ and went back to the only walmart to return the GPS-turned out that they close at 10pm and it was 10.02! So, we didnt know what to do! Went back to the univ-gave bro the GPS to return and went to the airport finally by 11pm, and our flight was at 12.30am-just an hour to go. We returned the car and with 4 huge suitcases,2 cabin bags,1 laptop bag and 1 purse! we went to catch the train to the terminal. Its said trouble ALWAYS comes in 3s-so here was the final one-The train came and guess what-the trolley wheel that had our suitcases got stuck between the train and the platform! Whowudathunk!!! Me inside with purse and 2 suitcases,hubby outside on the platform with the laptop bag and the trolley stuck in the middle, the doors about to close! Panic panic!I just dropped the purse down,grabbed the bottom of the trolley and pulled and simultaneously hubby pushed-and finally we were all in-in the nick of the time. Thank God! In all this milieu my purse tore :-O. We finally reached the terminal just about the check in closing time and didnt have to wait at all-just ran past everyone to board the flight!! *whew* One experience Im never going to forget...

After a lot of drama we finally left the US of A for good on the 25th September 2007!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Fag End of Youth?

Am I? In the next couple of days I'll be turning another year older and another year left to the big 3 'Oh'. And Im suddenly beginning to feel old! Nostalgic. Santosh left me a comment on my DJ night and college memories post and felt that I should've participated in that dance that night and I would've felt younger - but since I didnt - I did feel older! I just couldnt let go of my inhibitions and go out there to dance. I was rather thinking of having my dinner before my bus leaves at 9pm! There used to be a time when dance and participation in anything came before food...

Was watching all these Indian idols and Star VOI auditions. Then hubby says: "How many opportunities the 'youth' have these days",
Me " sorry? did you just say 'youth'?" He gives me that blank look."You said 'Youth' like we dont belong to youth? Hello? We still havent touched 30 yet!!" And then he realised what he had said - "Oh! Yeah! Dont you think you and me are too old for these things now? I guess we've reached the fag end of youth!"

That made me think think think - grown old? Naah! Even now give me an opportunity to let me hair down and shake a leg I will! I dont even have a single grey hair - yet *Grin* Still, when I see the current college crowd - their dressing sense, their confidence (they definitely have more than what we had in college), their opportunities for career - it need not necessarily be Medicine/Engg anymore...The parents are also more relaxed. Or even the varied party options they have! The exposure and access to a lot of things that we craved for or paid the measly pocket money for! (say the internet? I used to shell out precious 30-40Rs for every 1 hour!)

Oh! but I am looking forward to this last year when I can still say 'Im in my 20's!' :-) and also to the year Im expecting will bring in a lot of life style changes!

Wish me luck on 1st!!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Sept Travel Tales -II - Chicago

We were left with last 2 weeks before we were to start back and most people told us that we have missed seeing Chicago which was just 5 hours drive away from Columbus.So we decided to finish that too over the last but one weekend so we still had 1 weekend to finish the shopping/packing. Also, it being the last trip for us we weren't very keen on company. We wanted to make this last trip ourselves - as a couple rather in a group.

We booked the tickets at Marriott for the weekend at the last minute and hubby picked me up directly from office at 4.30 in the evening.He had a late lunch and had even parceled a burrito Bowl for me from Chipotle (he's very thoughtful in all these matters-lucky me :-)). We ate on the way listening to all old hindi songs and latest kannada songs from borrowed CDs and just as we crossed the Ohio state border it started to pour cats and dogs. We realised that we were driving right into a storm and we didnt know if we should stop at the closest mall or keep driving. We could hardly see anything ahead and we didnt even have anyone else for company and were shit scared-not knowing what we were heading into and what needed to be done in case of any emergencies!

We stopped at some remote petrol pump for fueling and the people there were as wary of us as we were of them :-) Having lost time in the storm we reached the hotel nearly an hour later than we had thought. Since we had had those Burrito Bowls we were thankfully not hungry and went to bed without any dinner. Also, hubby wanted to watch some tennis/cricket match the next day early morning at 4.30!so an early night it was.

Saturday-We got ready, had the free breakfast at the hotel itself and by 9 we were at the Sears tower from where we had found out the hop-on hop-off tour would start. First stop was the millennium park where we spent nearly an hour clicking pictures.

The Cloud Gate


V2 at Cloud Gate - :-P

From there our next stop was the Museum where Vivekananda Statue is kept. We also saw the Art Museum there-having the opportunity to get a look at Picasso,



Renoir and Van Gogh and other famous artists.We even got to see some sculptures on the streets of Chicago by these same artists. Later in the Hot sun (we were told that Chicago would be cold and windy!) we walked to the Buckingham fountain



and from there to the Museum Campus with the Shedd Aquarium and Museum of natural History.
A View of Chicago Skyline from the Museum Campus -


We even had a pizza lunch there looking at the mammoths and the
Dinosaurs.


And then took a speed boat ride (I just LOVE the thrill of speed boat rides) to Navy Pier -


from where we had booked the Architectural Cruise of Chicago on the Chicago River (more the back waters of lake Michigan).That one hour tour was one of the best tours we've ever taken. Though it was a lot of architectural history it gives a completely different perspective of the buildings and constructions. The Chicago fire and the after effects it had on the buildings.



(having trouble choosing the pics! so here's one more of the Chicago City view from the Chicago River)


Sears Tower view from the water.



It was 5pm by the time the tour was over and we then headed to the Navy Pier. Took a long walk over the pier and then ran around to find the last tour bus to get us back to the Sears Tower for the evening view of Chicago from the top of Sears Tower.



Another view of Chicago from top of Sears Towers (Notice the water flowing inside the city) -



We stayed on top until about 7 pm but there was still a lot of light.We were so tired by then that we decided to head for an early dinner at the Devon Street which is the Indian street in Chicago.Friends also wanted me to carry paan back for them :-) So off we went to Devon Street. Had dinner at Arya Bhavan (like in NY we didn't get where Udupi Krishna Bhavan was :-( ) which was just about decent,ran around in search of paan and finally found it in a Pakistaani shop! then it was back to Hotel.

Sunday - was the drive back home. Before that we went to the Aurora Ventakeshwara Temple



in Chicago and then started the drive back. The drive back home was very smooth compared to the onward journey and we reached by 5pm and were instantly called to have dinner by the ever helping,completely wonderful neighbours - KK/keerthi :-) So it was a great end to a wonderful trip.

Finally, after seeing both New York and Chicago back to back I have to say that we liked Chicago better much much better than New York - the crowd,architecture,or maybe just those bits of water and greenery amidst all those concrete buildings...

DJ Night and College memories

For the past week we've been having some competitions and events as a part of some Mela at work and yesterday was the finale-with a DJ night. While sitting there and listening to the current hot item numbers and the younger (yep!I did feel older just sitting there!) crowd was going crazy, I was reminiscing those good old college days when we danced madly at all college day functions :-)

Those 3 years of degree,every college day we were a gang of 7 girls who didnt participate and go on stage. Why? So we could stand at the end of the crowd and dance to all the 'In' songs that the people danced to on stage! No one to notice us-we used to be secure in our own world and dance like there was no tomorrow. I remember the final year when Kaho Na Pyar Hai was released and Hrithik's Ek pal ka jeena was the super hit song. I dont remember watching it being performed on stage - we girls were at it ourselves :-D And we had no clue that another classmate and got his Handy Cam and was recording all of it!! Later when we sat and watched it,we were amazed that we werent actually bad *grin*. And during our send-off party we even organised an antakshari which was a hit.But now I flunked the written test for preliminary round of Antakshari!

How times change... And why I didnt dance yesterday? I was having dinner and was thinking of dancing after that but it started to rain and the whole thing had to be stopped :-( I wonder how long its going to be before I get to shake a leg again. *sigh*.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Yo! My Bro is coming!



And I never thought I would look forward to it so much! I last met him in SFO last september just before we came back-we took the long route JUST so that we could meet him and assure Mom back home that he's safe and settled at his Univ there.

And ever since he left home for hostel life in IIT, we've not had that kind of an interaction which most siblings do-living together. Today I realise that we are such opposites:

-In the looks Dept - Most people cant say we are siblings.We have no resemblance what so ever...
-He's a nerd/geek and whatnot and I am plain dumb.
-His thinking is all in global economics/politics and generally large scale and mine (as is obvious) is more mundane day-to-day stuff.
-He's a total introvert and has very few friends-everyone else is just an 'acquaintance' to him and I make friends out of total strangers in hours.
-He thinks,listens,thinks,listens - I seldom think and always blabber!
- He waits and watches; - Im impulsive and plunge headlong into things - which is also an advantage for him being the younger one I must say-he's learnt from my mistakes! (well! I DO have some uses!)
- He used to crib about my obsession with Hindi music- Today he mails me amazing Hindi/even Kannada! songs...
- Age - Im older; Profound thoughts - He's my Grand Dad!
- Mom and Dad know he blogs - me,Im anonymous :-) (And yeah. Am sure liking it)
- And finally - He's on my blogroll; Im NOT on his (No no! And I dont wanna be!)

And I realise I've missed him - Just so we can crack silly jokes on Mom and get a stomach ache laughing.

Waiting for you Brother!

Edited to add: Guess What! He just called to tell me he got a great great job offer! Wow! Telepathy or what?)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sept Travel Tales -I - New York Memories

Once we realised that we wouldnt be travelling back to India over the long weekend of September last year we decided that we didnt want to 'waste' that time in Columbus. When we asked the other Indians everyone suggested we go to New York - once you go back everyone's definitely going to ask you if you saw NY - they said.

Thankfully for us - we had another couple-DVYDPK who hadnt seen NY and they decided to accompany us along with another collegue R of mine. NY being a solid 9 hrs drive from Columbus we started on Friday afternoon - while everyone else started from home, I as usual couldnt take the day off and so had to be picked up from work at 12pm. 2 hrs into the journey we realised that we werent carrying any identifications (in our case passports) which was specified as necessary in all websites to be given entry into Empire state building or the 'Statue of Liberty'. We turned right back and went home - for 5 mins of picking up the passports - wasting all of nearly 4 hrs journey!

The drive to NY was very good. It was a full moon night and it was as if we were driving towards the moon at the horizon - beautiful...We reached exhausted at 10.30pm and hit the sack - 3 ladies on 1 bed-so close that we couldnt even turn! And to top it off - I believe I was even talking in my sleep disturbing the others!

We were on a very tight schedule as we had only 2 days to see NY and Atlantic city (Oh yeah! We always jam packed our trips!).Since staying in NY was expensive we were staying in NJ and we were told not to drive everywhere in NY-bad traffic snarls. So we drove till the Grand Central station and from there took the day pass. We started for Central Park and then promptly lost our way-took the wrong train which took us almost all the way to Queens! Thanks to the train maps that we had we found our way back to Central Park and then the Rockerfeller center.



Nothing much in Central Park though we were thinking of Kal Ho Na Ho :-) but were mighty impressed with the Swarowski hangings and the staking rink at the Rockerfeller Center. With DPK taking pictures continually, we spent quite some time there and then DVY said we HAD to visit the church of Saint Mary very close to the center.

Then it was time for the famous Madame Tussaud's where we spent nearly couple of hours taking pictures with all the wax models we fancied :-) Hubby and me also got a crystal embossing of ourselves there as a memorablia(only place I guess where we did something like that!) Then we had our appointment time at the Empire state builing and thanks to all the pre planning by DVY we had passes we had booked online and we could go all the way to the top of the Empire state building without standing for hours in the holiday queue (Moral of the story-it pays to pre plan-always). There again was loads of photo shoot of NY city from every angle.

Oh yeah! We also got a glimpse of the 'Statue of Liberty' from there and were disappointed... With all the hype surrounding it, we were under the impression that it would be huge and we wouldnt be able to miss it but in reality it looked so tiny from on top of the empire state building - that we almost lost heart to go there the next day. Let me also add here that the next day when we did go, wasnt that great as well. The boat ride was fun but the lifts werent working and we had to climb nearly 500steps (I think DVY counted them too!) to get to the pedestal for another view of NY city and Manhattan.



And the Lady herself looked worn-out with the paint pealing off.



OK, back to empire state building and then from there on the night city tour of NY. The view from across the Brooklyn Bridge is really amazing-with all those lights in Manhattan across the water...



Once back on Times Square with the place crowded with people - a True 'Melting Pot of cultures' we got the train back to the hotel to collapse for the day. And through the day I just dont remember eating anything - except the big Juice at Jamba Juice I think...

Day 2: As I've already said we had booked tickets for the 'Statue of Liberty' for sunday and so morning was spent in that.Then to Ground Zero for 1/2 hr and then we all wanted a taste of Bisi Bele Baath at Saravana Bhavan - true desis that we are. And we walked and walked and walked to find this place and when we did finally find it - It was crowded with people standing outside in a Queue! Deciding that we didnt have that much of time to afford as we had to start for Atlantic City and since we were all starving with all teh climbing and walking at the statue we entered the nearest relatively empty restaurant - I guess it was 'Banana Leaf' and had lunch there.

Once done we went back to the Grand Central to start our drive to Atlantic City via NJ where we HAD to meet hubby's aunt and family. Another hour spent with them and we reached Atlantic city at 8pm. Deciding to eat on the Wharf and do some gambling we hardly spent any time at the hotel and by 9pm we were on another Casino 'Strip'. With no decent place open for food - we had burgers at some joint there and then took a walk along the Boardwalk.What was really surprising was that there werent many people at all. The Baordwalk wore a deserted look on a sunday night at 10pm! We walked the entire boardwalk entering any casino we felt like,



gambled around 40$ and lost it all - lady luck refused to smile at us as she had at Vegas :-( By 2am we were all so tired from the drive and the walk the 2mile walk back to where we had parked the car seemed impossible. So we took the man-pulled ride back (I really dont know what else its called). But by the time we got back to the hotel we were all again wider awake and though R went to sleep the 4 of us played cards until 5am and then went to sleep!

Woke up at 9.30, dressed hurriedly , checked-out and then went in search of an Indian restaurant for lunch as we had a long long journey back to Columbus. To cut the long story short (Its long enough now!) we reached back home at 11pm and just fell into slumber. The thought of going back to work the next day was sufficient for any remaining adrenaline levels to drop back to subzero :-).

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Musing: Education <-> Money?

Since school, We (my brother and me) have been brought up with the idea that only those who are well educated come up in life. And we truely believed it and always strived to be on the top (he always was,me - atleast 1 in top 5). Mom always showed the construction workers or the peanuts selling guy in front of the house to my brother who used to cry to go to school and would come up with the lamest excuse to miss school, telling him that he would also one day have to do manual labor if he doesnt study well. Everytime my brother saw a car on TV/a big house mom used to stress that we can get all that if we study well - then we will get good/well paying jobs and we can get all of what we want. She also always insisted that we should be kind to people/ not resort to bad things and be happy with what ever we earn with our hard work...

Today we've both grown up,well educated, me in a (supposedly)good job and him doing his MS in Stanford. We have our manners and behaviour in place, respect our elders we know we have to work hard to earn our daily bread and butter.

But off-late I've found a lot of people who are not at all educated, doing some business or the other and earning a hell of a lot more money than what both me and hubby together wont be able to make in our lifetime! And they have all that they want. I sometimes wonder what if our parents had taught us to do some business - maybe helped us to develop a keener business sense rather than pushing us to immerse ourselves in books/study harder/get those degrees - would we be better off? Earned more money? Would we have everything that we want without spending sleepless nights on working out the money matters? Would we be happy? Maybe yes!

On second thoughts - would I have a clear consience? Would I be satisfied? Wouldnt I want something else that I probably still cant get? WOuld I be able to return home after a really harrowing day at work and be happy that I accomplished something today? Would I enjoy all that I buy with that money? - I dont think so...

For now I wish, I would win a lottery ticket someday :-) That would be easy money - and not bad at all - isnt it? Hmmm...wishful thinking...