Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Highs and Lows of 2006

The year is almost at its end, and I was just wondering what would be my highest highs and lowest lows of the year.......its past 3:35am on this Friday night, and I've just been thru 3 buds, so my thoughts are a bit muddled, but let me try anywayz......

High #1
My sister's marriage in January. Had a whale of a 2 weeks, since it included my cuz bro's marriage too. Great start to the year.

Low #1
ManUtd coming second in the EPL, esp the 3-0 loss to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Arrrghhh!!!

High #2
Getting into the 'Mafia' gang @ MT. Man, the only thing on my mind in those initial few weeks would be lunchtime Mafia, and now though that's over, I've got some great new friends! Awesome.

High #3
Getting into the Hillcrest account. Turning point of the year, when I look back now. Lucky?

Low #2
Took a flight to tvm instead of taking the usual bus, cos I didn't want to miss Eng vs. Por in the WorldCup. Reached in time, only to see Rooney get a red, Ronaldo play spoilsport, and Eng crash out on penalties. Heartbreak.

Coming to the US for the first time. Oh, and the trip to NYC too. Memories etched forever.

Low #3
After having watched every match in the WC, it was indeed irony when I had to take the July 9th AI flight to come to the US, which meant I would miss the World Cup finals! Ended up hearing the wrong result from the pilot, only to land up at the hotel and realize the actual result. Almost 12 hours after the game had ended. Fate?

Coming to the US for the second time. The Thanksgiving and X'mas holidays I spent with cousins at NJ and Philly respectively. Unforgettable.

Low #4
My AF flight is at 16:55pm EST tomorrow. Which means... I'll me supposedly landing in India only in the wee hours of Jan 1st. Which means.. New Year will be spent 35,000 feet above the air, no party nothin. And since I'll be flying against time, I won't even know when New Year has arrived. Hmph! :)

Anyway, that's that, and I now wanna wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous New Year! God Bless.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Conversion Syndromes

It's something I've been thinkin about lately. More related with the way I think personally, but its also something that anyone goes through, sometime in his life, sooner or later. Am I sounding too serious, or philosophical now? Apologies mates, cos what I'm speaking about is basically just the conversion of the root of all evil, Money.

It's something I went through on my last visit here, and its continuation after I returned to India. And now I have it again. The positivity and the negativity of it all. The battle between Gandhi and George, the cent and the paisa. Ok, in simple words, I can't help but convert the dollar into rupees, and vice-versa whenever I shell out some cash now. Maybe its my inherent love for mathematics and numbers, or some friends who feel I haven't treated them enough point out, its my hesitancy to part with the green paper. Yeah you can argue I'm biased, but I feel its more of the former than the latter. Whatever the reason, I find myself doing it in various situations, while paying at the Burger King counter, buying a snickers at the snack bar, bidding on eBay, or just walking down the Safeway aisle looking at the prices of cereal, milk and the like.

Now the syndrome has two parts to it, based on my geographical location. How? Why? WTF? Patience, I'll explain. Now when I'm here in Uncle Sam's land, my conversion syndrome makes me uneasy inside. Helplessly, I convert the dollars into rupees, and the way the numbers add up, you can't help feeling a lil flat when you realise the astronomical (exaggerated) amount of money you spend (in rupees) for a movie-ticket, or a lunch. I know it's stupid and dumb to do so, but I can't help it! Not that it stops me from going ahead with my buy, or going on a diet (which is even more stupid in my case), but it still gets to me. For example, I go and buy a DVD or a book, then start converting and realise how much I could have saved had I got it from Landmark. Or I may have just eaten a regular cheeseburger from Jerry's and then figured that I could have eaten at KFC for a whole week in Bangalore for the same amount.

And now the flipside. When I return to India (Oh, by the way, I am coming back in a week), the exact opposite happens. When I'm out with friends to have a good time, or otherwise, I tend to automatically convert the rupees into dollars. Now, this is bad. It's even worse that just having a queasy feeling within, cos it makes you careless and an addicted spendthrift, if there ever was one. You have that false feeling of happiness, like, "Ahhhh..what the hell, this is just a few dollars, won't hurt much", and it's hard to stop the cash flowing. All this after convienently forgetting that you ain't earning dollars anymore and you still have a pathetic Indian salary. For example, the month I was in India before I had to come here again, I got fixed so bad that I ended up calling up the local PH and Dominos home-delivery numbers every night for two whole weeks before I realised my folly. Well, my stomach realised it first..but..err..nevermind. I've gone through the syndrome's whole cycle one time, and right now I'm going through the first half of the second round. Anywayz, as the saying doesn't go, six pence none the wiser, I might be able to fare better this time round. Let's wait and see!

Personal Updates: Have got four days of hols now, and I'm headed off to Philly tomorrow to be with my cousins for X'mas. The last few days have been busy too, just finished episode-17 of LOST Season-2! :P Yeah, once da man's hooked, he's hooked.

So, here's to a Merry Christmas , or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa or whatever it is you may wish to celebrate this holiday season. Cheers!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Even the best...

For those with eye problems, the words in the pic are,

Unhandled Error

Error Details

Could not allocate space for object 'DNN1_EventLog' in database 'DNN_chrisckemp' because the 'PRIMARY' filegroup is full

Totally unrelated to the pic..........
This week has been pretty relaxing after the gruelling last month. Since our main deadline was completed last Monday, work pressure has reduced quite a bit. Went for LaserTag this weekend, which is a hi-tech version of paintball. In other words, it is almost like a real-life version of CounterStrike, and boy, was it intense! We signed up for two games (each 20-min rounds), and they turned out to be much, much more tiring and exhausting than I expected - and great fun too. Spent the rest of the weekend watching all 24 episodes of LOST (season-1), after I'd got the 7-DVD set from a colleague at office here. I literally coudn't stop after the first episode and ended up watchin the whole thing at one stretch, having the odd break in between to eat or maybe sleep. Started on a lil X'mas shoppin too, mainly because my eBay addiction has kicked off again. Bid and bought a FIFA07 DVD this weekend and Crichton's new book, "Next". Still waitin for them to arrive ofcourse. Went to Tyson's, a huge mall in Virginia with Charles and Ravi on the weekend after seeing Dhoom-2 (sob sob) at Loehmann's. Ended up buying a $40 Complete Star Wars Enyclopedia. Yeah! Go on! Call me crazy! But a man has got to do what a man has got to do....

Ok, that's that. Now coming back to the title....
Google and NASA had a huge press release a few hours ago, announcing plans to collaborate on a number of technology-focused RnD activities, including large-scale data management, massively distributed computing, bio-info-nano convergence, etc etc. NASA also plans some pretty jazzy stuff like providing statistical data about the Earth's atmosphere, via Google Earth. They even launched a new website for it, look here, that I hit upon a few hours back. Alas that's where the good news ends. (see pic).

Even the best...have setbacks.

Monday, December 04, 2006

YouTube v/s Google v/s Revver

Ok. This is AWESOME.

To do this right, scroll down so that you see the three video-boxes below in the same page. [This may not be possible, so try centering the middle video so that you get 75% of the other two. This is good enough]. The idea here is that you have to press play on the following videos (in vertical order) so that they all stream to you at the same time. You may need to adjust the volume on each respective network, though. Press play on the top (YouTube) video, then immediately press play on the second (Google Video), and then press play on the third (Revver). Bam, bam, bam - and you should see ‘em playing back simultaneously.

Thanks Chris Pirillo.
Oh, and Thanks Joe! :)

Because of inconsistent timing issues, each time you try this, you should see / hear slightly different results. So do NOT think what you just saw is final, come back later at some other time, or try accessing this post via a different network or net connection, and you're gonna see a different result! It worked for me! Adios, Enjoy.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving treats

I'm just back after four days of heaven...atleast four days that felt like it. After the rigorous 3 weeks of work here, I badly needed a break, and Thanksgiving (this last Thursday) and its associated hols couldn't have come at a better time. By the way, Thanksgiving is officially the start of the holiday season here - I can feel X'Mas in the air already! Anyway, coming back, I knew it was the only 4 days I was gonna be free whilst I was here, so I decided to make the most of it. On Wednesday night, I made an instant decision to visit relatives in New Jersey. So at around 7am on Thursday morning, I made my way to Chinatown. Caught a bus from there to New York Penn Station. Cheapest mode of long-distance public transport here I tell you - just 20$! I'd hoped to make it to NYC at around noon so that I could catch the last bits of the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, but alas, very bad weather, and very, very bad traffic put paid to those hopes, and I ended up reaching NYC at around 4pm in the evening! Caught the NJ Transit Line train to Newark Penn Station, and had my uncle pick me up from there. Many relatives whom I'd never seen had gathered at his place for the Thanksgiving lunch feast and for meeting me too, but they all ended up waiting for me for over four hours, and then finishing their food and heading back to their homes even before I reached Newark! We finally reached my uncle's place at 7pm (12 hours after I'd started from Maryland).

So anyway, I've been at my uncle's house the last 3 days - being treated like a prince and feeling like one too. My uncle has two adorable kids, boys, aged 14 and 8. I spent all my time with them, playing board games like Monopoly all day long with the little guy (who was so happy cos I kept losing to him!), playing Madden NFL with the boys on their PS2, and getting routed badly (I'm still learning the game - it has sooooooo many bloody rules- even more than cricket!), watching Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon all day long, munching on brownies and cookies and other candy and so on. So much so that I started feeling like a 10-yr old again. No Kiddin! When they were tired and went to sleep, I would play ping-pong or pool with their dad. All of us even went for house-to-house X'Mas Carol singing yesterday! (First time I'm seeing it done in Nov itself!) Phew! Pretty hectic I say!

But I feel so rejuvenated now.
Work? 25 hours a day and 8 days a week?
I say - Bring It On.

Ohh by the way...NYC still rocks - me loves it! me loves it! :) :)

Monday, November 20, 2006

The pursuit of happyness

Yeah, Happyness, not Happiness.
(Blame americanized English, not me!)

I watched the new Bond movie, 'Casino Royale' yesterday. Well, it was different, that is not what I wanted to write about. The good thing about watching movies in the US, is that you get to see atleast 7-8 trailers of upcoming movies before the actual movie you paid 10$ for actually starts. Well, one such trailer caught my eye, and I can't wait to see it - it comes out Dec' 15th here in the US. It stars Will Smith and is called The Pursuit of Happyness. Go watch the trailer!

Well, I didn't want to write about the movie either..what got me thinking was the title itself. There's nothing much to say about it I know, but it's something every human and quite possibly every living creature in this world yearns. Happiness. How do you get it? Where do you find it? How do you capture it, hold it close to your heart and not let it out of your grasp?

A team of photography editors from Corbis were asked to interpret Thomas Jefferson's mysterious phrase, "the pursuit of happiness" using images from their archives, and here's their gallery.

I don't have the perfect answer. But I'm just sitting here, when it's well past midnight, typing away on my laptop, letting loose thoughts without caution. I have met people who have made me is he/she always so happy? I have also met peple whom I'd have thought couldn't be happier, but they always seem unhappy. What makes the difference? Alas, its the person himself who defines his state of happiness. (Now, just a note of caution, my using 'he' is just a general notation for a human, nothing dumb to make a male chauvinist grin nor too sinister for a female chauvinist to raise an eyebrow about.) My dear friend wrote a post himself along similar lines a few days ago, on how to synthesize happiness, and after finishing reading my post, maybe you can go read it here. (Polo, you owe me one! :p) The fact that you can find a sick person on his deathbed happier than a guy winning millions on the final table of a poker game in Vegas makes you think twice doesn't it? What makes a happy person tick? Why is it that happy people generally remain happy and sad people tend to remain sad?

I'm not here to give any solid answers, but here are a few ideas that you may wanna think upon...
1. The 2 Gs. that kind of..nevermind. What I'd like to mean here by 2 G's, is be Grateful...and take nothing for Granted. You never know what lies in store for you, and chances are, if can't look at what you have and feel atleast a little grateful, you might never be happy at any point of time in the future. Anyone, I repeat, anyone, can be grateful for what he has in life, if only he/she can take the time to take stock of what he/she has with her. Learn to be content with nothing and you can only be happy when you have more.

2. The Past and the Future many-a-time don't matter, what matters is the Present. I've seen many people who're lost in the past, either dreaming about the 'good ol times' or repenting a past mistake. I've seen many others who're lost in a race, no, not race, in a stampede, running straight forward fearing they'll get trampled if they stop running, looking at the horizon expecting gold, but not realizing that they're actually stamping and stomping on real gold underneath. If we could only take the time to stop and think about what we're doing, we could do so much more better. Alas, this is something that is very hard to do in this modern world, but anything is available to the one who seeks.

3. Identify your natural sources of happiness, and hold on to them. I feel this is something very important. Everybody has their own sources of happiness, be it your family, friends, sport, art, books, movies or just food. Now chances are that you have crossed the age of 20 years, so you have a set of friends, whom you know well, trust and care about. You may never get to know a certain set people better. Ofcourse you may get married soon and then your spouse becomes important. But all in all, your friends and family can remain your sources of strength and happiness throughout your life. Hold on. Never let go. Also, I said 'natural' sources of happiness and not immediate. Therefore, I don't think drinks and drugs qualify. You can be happy just doing what you love to do, even if people think you're crazy, which brings me to another point...

4. Do not let the crowd shape your life. I've seen people who are only concerned about what the 'crowd' thinks about them, and thus turn themselves into something they aren't, hoping to please everyone around them. This ultimately leaves the person with nothing, just a shell, which will one day, have nothing more to hide. Now this doesn't mean you do anything you want without sparing a thought for anyone else. Family and friends always matter, so its always good you have someone to share your thoughts with, whether you like it or not.

5., not Thank God its Fridays, 'Thank God I Forgive'. You can lose all the happiness you have due to one thing. Hatred. Learn to Forgive, and you've learnt to be immune to Hatred. There are other things that can make you lose your happiness like, Fear, Anxiety, and Guilt. These feelings cannot be overcome within days, but with due practice, one can negate such feelings pretty fast. Ofcourse, Faith and Hope helps, but that is another story.

Disclaimer: The author does not practice the above ideas all the time, and cannot stake claim to being happy always...but is willing to try and listen to more ideas. If you have any thoughts that you're willing to share, feel free and share it - via a comment!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

the Zune and the Pod

Microsoft did a pretty huge release less than 24 hours ago, and with all the jazz that they could muster including concerts in 6 states in the US with bands such as TI, RHCP etc, they have officially brought out "zune", the biggest competitor to the iPod since....well, since the iPod mini came out some years ago. Now all eyes are fixed on this product, having a similar capacity and pricing as the iPod video's 30GB model. Well, that's what this post is all initial observations of the zune and a tribute to Apple and the iPod - the device that changed the way how man treated music since the Walkman came out.

I got myself the 30GB model on my last visit here...and even though I had my fleeting pangs of guilt at the green splurge, all traces of doubt vanished when I finally got the thing in my hands. It was so beautiful that I was almost scared to hurt it and started handling it with the utmost care, lest it got smudged and the shiny halo around it got disturbed. There I was, the proud owner of an iPod, something I'd always wanted. And it was personalized too, meaning since I'd bought it from Apple's site, I had the option of getting free laser engraving done at the back of the pod, 2 lines of 27 characters each. Well, ofcourse I got it done, and mine read...

iEat, iSleep, iPod

Well, imagine my surprise and shock, when just 5 days later, Apple came out with an announcement and the release of its new line of re-vamped iPods. Though the iPod video didn't change a whole lot, the new one did have a useful search feature, better video playback battery life and was also 50$ cheaper! Well, for a few hours I was like the know..the fox and the sour grapes story..or fable ..or watever. Yeah, that fox. I was like, naaa...its just a lil bet have a decent model content with it dude. But later that night, still feeling a lil bit sorry for myself and the extremely bad timing of my buy, mixed with the desire of owning the utmost latest product from Apple, I decided to write a mail.

A mail to Apple themselves.

Do not laugh, this is exactly what I wrote....

i jus wanted to know..i got my 30GB ipod shipped 5 days ago.
But yesterday the new ipod has released.
Is there some way I can get the new one instead?
even at the expense of some extra charge?
please let me know.

Did I seem a bit desperate there?? hee hee...I guess I did. Well, I didn't expect anything positive to come out of it..heck, I didn't even expect a reply. I just did it for the sake of it.

Now you can imagine my even bigger surprise when less than 24 hours later, I got a reply. Here's how it went...

Dear Stan,
Thank you for contacting Apple.
We apologize for any inconvenience.
Apple normally does not accept returns other than as provided in its sales terms. Apple, however, is making an exception in your case.
Apple would like to offer you a $50.00 credit for the price difference, or you may choose to return the personalized iPod. Please note: Apple will apply a 10% restocking fee to your refund if we receive an item that has been opened.
Please reply to this message indicating which option you prefer.

I ain't kidding. I'm not making up any stories for my blog here - I never do. That's the exact mail I got and I couldn't believe it. I waited for a couple of hours and then replied, saying that I wanted to return the iPod I had and get a new one. The only worry I had was that I had to leave back to India in a week, and I didn't know if I'd get my refund and the new iPod in time. Well, hats off to Apple. Within hours of getting my reply, they initiated the return process. I went the very next day to the US Postal Service and parceled back my iPod. It reached Laguna, CA (Apple Product HQ) within two days and Apple refunded my money the very next day. Also, I got my new iPod within 36 hours of ordering it (all the way from Shanghai->Alaska->DC). Speak about efficiency and customer value. If I haven't said this already, I say it now.....I love Apple!! :))

Well, now coming back to the release of the zune, from what I've seen in the previews and the videos, I don't know if it'll beat the iPod, but it may come pretty close. The features working in favour of the zune is its new wi-fi capability, by which you can share files with friends (all be it of limited usage), a bigger screen (3"), and custom background images. What I didn't like - the interface ain't that impressive (truly), its bigger and bulkier and it's from Microsoft :) [smug grin on face]. Well, competition is good anywayz, so we can hope to see even better products from Apple in the near future. It's gonna be like the XBox vs. PS saga..and with the PS3 launch 3 days away (Nov 17th), Microsoft looks set to get their behinds kicked in more than one way...hee hee.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Trans-Atlantic Migration to 105.

Well..first of all....
Apologies! My dear friends and brothers and sisters and other living things that read my blog! I know I have been kinda slow in putting up posts on this blog in recent times (one post in more than one month? That's a friggin understatement you friggin stan_da_man!!) Well, my follies have been realized, hopefully by me, and I have decided to kickstart my blogosphere-life again, which had not died, but was being strangled to death cos of lack of....umm..air? no, LACK OF TIME!!! Oh yesss, I have realized how valuable time is in the last 3 weeks, where I haven't been able to sit down and "think" (yea yea, I kno what your thinkin, do i think AT ALL?)...well..umm..its a phrase, and it just goes to show how busy I was! But honestly, quite literally, that's been my state for the past 3 weeks.

What's happened in 3 weeks? make a long story short...I'm back... in DC.
Ohh..its true, lightning can strike the same place too :) Ahh, pun-not-intendo.

What do you do if lightning hits you twice?

Just Grin and Bear it...

Or scream for all your worth...

Well, I arrived here a week ago, and guess what...AUTUMN rocksss!!! Everything is like so much more beautiful and you can drown your tired eyes and mind in liberating colours of red, orange, brown, yellow, green and feel right away in the zone again. Sessski is the word. It's freezing here too, the average temperature is around 5 to 8 degrees. And the mercury is only going to take a bigger dip in the coming weeks. I'm here for a shorter term, just till the deadline of the project we're working on right now has been reached (Sometime in Dec). But it feels great to be back, and meet friends @ office again. And yeah, we're staying in the same hotel...and have been given the same hotel room too! I guess we messed it up so bad the last time we stayed here, they figured no-one else could stay in it. Back in Room 105. ( I getting nostalgic??!!)

Friday, October 20, 2006


/*just an update on myself for the sake of it*/

Nevermind the title...
It isn't going to make sense to any except a select few. But it summarizes my world right now.

Anywayz, I haven't got the time to blog ever since I left DC around 20 days ago. Caught a flight to Newark, stayed for a day with relatives and had a good time, and then headed for Bombay via Air-India, quite a sad experience, with nothing worth mentioning about, except that, in the seat next to mine, there was a baby that was hell-bent of destroying the peace and quiet by crying all the time. Reached Bangalore at about 6am in the morning, where Shyam 'San' was present to pick me up. Went to office at 1pm in the afternoon to meet friends there, and caught the bus to Trivandrum around 5 hours later. Yeah, quite a bit hectic.

Spent a quite and relaxing week at home - went to Technopark one afternoon - met quite a few friends there - went out with Nith, Jayas, Praveen, Rijo, n Shameer for dinner one night and then to the beach. Ahh..the joy of feeling your body and mind relax is something else I say. Intense Liberation.

Some say I've become fat. Others say I've become tall. Maybe people see what they want to see.

Joined back at work the next week, and its been a buzz ever since. Kutty left for another company last week, which means we're losing more members of our Mafia gang. But work right now is good, enjoying it even more day by day. It's the holiday season now in India but it doesn't have any effect on me - I don't know why. I think a few sweets may do the trick. Right now the only thing on my mind is Seinfeld stand-up comedy, that I've been listening to all day. Awesome - Thanks Green Goblin! :)

Alright. Time to head home....
Eid Mubarak and Happy Diwali to all.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Scenes From A Memory

The following paragraphs are some of my random musings on life here and other memorable elements of the past 3 months...they will seem very unstructured and un-important I guess to some..but you gotta bear with it! :P

One notion that I had and that I will accept was wrong (something you will NOT see me doing often) is a certain mental picture I had of the people here. I don't know why, and maybe it was media-influenced but it was this notion about people here being kinda dumb and indifferent. OH NO...that is so wrong. Yea you do see certain Americans who may not be as brrrriiilliant as we Indians 'think' we are..but not everyone is! Far from it! I've seen so many extremely intelligent here that I'm very impressed. But more importantly, everyone is so nice to each other, something we can take a hint about. Like I said in my first post after reaching here, you do get to hear more ThankYou's and Excuse Me's and other general greetings here in an hour than you will in a day in India..why can't we be like that? I've always felt that we tend to use a "sorry" or a "thanks" as the greatest sacrifice we could do for a person. We have huge egos - we really do, and maybe we feel awkward and low doing it. But people usually tend to match their behaviour with others in the same environment. So when people greet you, say "Hi,How's it goin?" or "Good Day" you will gradually pick up and act the same way. It makes your day much better I tell you. Something I really think we Indians can be better at. Anywayz, what I wanted to say is, that is the most important thing I will remember about my stay here -the people. I've met so many nice people and have made some great friends too.

Ahhh..I zimbleee love eating..and trying out new stuff. So in a land where you find you get everything...the epicurean in me wanted to try everything! This led me on a mission to try out as many different cuisines as I could. Thankfully, some friends at office were huge food lovers too, and so they helped me out a lot cos they knew places here. Here's a list of the cuisines I've tried out -> Mexican - My favourite cuisine!!! Ohhh..I dig the enchiladas, the tacos..the burritos. Very spicy and extremely tasty I say! Authentic Chinese - very different from what the Chinese cuisine we have in India, that is actually "Indian-Chinese" I learnt. Thai - Similar to Chinese, but better - a lot of emphasis on pork! Korean - crazzy dishes..and very different too.I was shocked to find about 10 bowls of appetizers placed in front of me the first time I went..had no idea what to do! Beef bulgogi is everyone's favourite Korean dish. Phillipino - similar to Korean again..lots of dishes, lots of variety. Burmese (or Myanmarese?) - Very ethnic and spicy food - lots of meat again. Italian - Very saucy, and salsa-ish..the calzones and pasta are a must try! Spanish - again very classy like italian, but slightly different..bow down to the calamari. Japanese - I was very hesitant to try out stuff like 'raw fish' and 'raw octopus' at first..but boy! It's all in the mind I realized..sushi has become another favourite of mine..and using chopsticks is the most addictive and entertaining form of eating I say..I had to control myself to stop picking everything in sight with the chopsticks..cos the waiters started giving me dirty looks! :P

Well...television (atleast the 40 odd channels I had in my hotel) were pretty good, especially the Travel channel and the Food channel (awesome - makes me hungry all the time!) with the exception of a few channels...I mean..I had like 5 ESPN channels, and all showed only american football and baseball! When you don't get to watch, everything sucks! But something has changed. You see, I was never a talk-show lover..but after coming here...I've hardly missed NBC's Tonight Show (with Jay Leno) and the Late Night Show (with Conan O'Brien). SNL (Saturday Night Live) has become another favourite of mine. It's the best way to learn about everyday headlines (I don't get to read the papers here...rather no time!), you do get to see celebrities and beautiful women speak, you get to see the usual suspects made fun of (top priorities being Bush and P.Hilton). And some jokes can crack anyone up...get this one from SNL.."Demi Moore turned 42 today but she says she feels like a 26-year old inside." hee hee heeee.

Momentary Lapses of Reason
There have been some unforgettable incidents in the past 3 months...for instance, my two-day NYC trip..I honestly believe that New York has the highest percentage of "hot" females in the world..almost everyone I saw walking in the streets could have passed off for some Victoria Secret model man! Well..another unforgettable incident was my NYC subway incident. *sigh* We've had some really funny happenings too. During one of our (my projectmate and I) many dangerous experiments with cooking here, we burnt something up so bad that the smoke alarm in our room started blaring...and we had no idea what to do..after many attempts to stop the stupid thing from whining, my projectmate started hitting it and finally wrenched it out from its socket! (Gulp! I still have to checkout). My projectmate-the-destroyer left for India last week. Well, the next night after he left, I was sleeping soundly when I started hearin LOUD sirens in my sleep..I was startled out of my slumber - and then realized that the sirens were for real. So loud that my ears hurt. I looked at the time and it was 3:35am, and then it struck me what the sounds where -FIRE ALARMS. I got out of bed and stepped out of my room into the corridor, to see lights flashing everywhere.Many females from adjacent rooms were running out screaming. Other sleepy hotel guests like me were stepping out of their rooms too and getting out. I didn't feel like getting out into the cold, so I stood their waiting (what for dumbo!!?). Well, I had no idea cos I was inside, but within 10 minutes two fire engines arrived. Next thing I see is a group of men, heavily equipped and wearing yellow, walking towards me in the corridor. Here's the weird part, I had gone to sleep watching a show called Engine 54- about this firehouse that was involved in the 9/11 tragedy and how the firemen that day became heroes. And when I saw these men walking towards me, it was just as I had seen it on TV a few hours in slow-motion, and I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't still alseep and dreaming. They then started shouting, "Sir, you have to get out please!" and so I snapped back to reality and ran out. All of us hotel guests stood out there in the blistering cold (Eminem lyrics? Stan?) for 15 minutes and then they came and informed us that it was only a false alarm. Bah!

It's been a nice 3 months.
I feel kinda sad leaving this nice place.
But nothing beats your home and your motherland, I can't wait to get back!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

DC Travel Logs-IV

Alright...this is the last post about my visits to DC's major tourist places...nothing much to say about it too. We next went to the 'most loved' American's house...yea..I am tellin ya, he is sooooo loved by his fellow Americans, it is untrue. Not a day goes by without me seeing a joke about him either on the net or on television...they have a public comic scapegoat, and they make sure they don't stop at anything while tryin to make an a** out of him...or they have to try THAT hard? cos I thought he does all the hard work himself :P've obviously understood whom I'm speakin about..the man - the machine - the President himself..Mr. Bush. Yup..that's were we went next - the White House. Wait a sec, I'd better rephrase that...we went near the White House..haha..not near also..a mile away!! Cos you only get to go as near it as its huge boundary steel fences will allow you..and that's pretty far..but the funny thing is...the place is crowded! There are like 100s of people standing out there like fools and squinting their eyes trying to spot him I guess..well, they day I went, he was away holidaying (how many vacations does he take!) at Camp David. Anywayz, the tourists just stand there and keep taking pictures, and what not. I think the view with your behind to the White House is better, cos you get a very good shot of the Monument.

Well..I spent like 10 minutes there, mostly trying to take good pics with my cam on its full 8x opt zoom..and then left. The Federal Triangle area nearby is very good also, you have the Spy Museum..the FBI headquarters, fountains, statues..and a lot of sesski buildings. Like I've said before..ahh-s0-classy these redskins. (All of them are RedSkin fans ofcourse). Ohh yeaah..I forgot to add, very classy equals very costly. Most of the eateries and restaurants in downtown DC are damn expensive. The shops are even more expensive. Well I guess one should expect that in cities like these too. I saw one snazzy restaurant having around 5 flags outside their building, and surprise..surprise..the Indian flag was there too! The DC Visitor Center is a few blocks away, and is so elegant and majestic..this is where they have concerts etc take place. It's weird, they have memorials and statues at almost every block. You keep wondering if you're in a modern city or an ancient historical site. I think its a nice mix of both really, which makes it one of those special cities that has a bit of everything..

Have to stop now...
more about life here tomorrow.

spot the house


8x better

view of the Capitol from within the city

The DC Vistor Centre

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

DC Travel Logs-III

Okay a quiz question first....

Think Hollywood...
Think long rows of white headstones...
Hear any bells ringing? ( I mean in your head, not in the church across the road!)

think........ think......... ok time's up!

The Arlington National Cemetery is the answer.

Now, the Arlington National Cemetery is the other place that I was looking forward to visiting (like the Capitol), and I'd been pestering my projectmates to come along with me ever since we got here. To which they replied, "What?! Are you crazy? you wanna go and visit a cemetery??!!" Now honestly, I didn't know much about it, but I'd heard about it ....from..I don't know where exactly....yeah maybe from watchin a lot of movies...! But anyways, just to atleast convince them to accompany me, I was like "C'mon guys...this is no ordinary cemetery...I've heard its special!...C'mon!!! please!!"

Truly speaking,
I had no idea how un-ordinary it was.
I had no idea how special it was.

Until we got there.

Techincally, the cemetery isn't actually in DC, its just opposite DC in Arlington County, Virginia, across the Potomac (the name of the river that runs along these areas, and the name of a good pizza outlet too :P). It's situated very near to the Pentagon and we went there on a hot sunny day, right after my excellent Pentagon photography lesson.

Now this place is steeped in history...I literally mean steeped..(cos major parts of it are atop a hill too). Well, it is an American military cemetery primarily, and it was established during the American Civil War. 260,000 people have been laid to rest here. It has graves of some of the most important people of the USA - Presidents, Chief Justices, but most importantly, the soldiers who served during the 1st World War, the 2nd World War, victims of the Iraq and Afghanistan US exploits, ranging all they way back to those slain in the American Revolution.

The place is huge, across many acres, and it is impossible for a person to walk and visit the cemetery's most important sites. Well, maybe not impossible, but very tough atleast. So there are plenty of bus tours that operate within the cemetery, and these take you to places..where..where a tourist would wanna go. And these tours are guide-accompanied, so you get to learn a lot too. Our guide was a cheery old guy called Mervin. We first went to well, the most important site of all - the grave of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Not just his, his wife Jacqueline's, and their son's and daughter's too. Fours graves aligned in a row. And adorned by the Eternal Flame, that has been lit at the head of the tomb. The Eternal Flame supposedly is never put off and burns brightly throught the year, 365*24*7. Mervin told us that reportedly, after JFK was shot dead, he was going to be buried at their home estate, but Jacqueline said that he "belonged to the people" and so, America's most loved president was buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. Just a few yards away is the tomb of his brother, Robert F Kennedy, that is symmetrically just across and below the Arlington House - the mansion of Robert E. Lee (who once owned this whole estate and used to live here before it was converted into a cemetery).

From the JFK site, we went to the site which perhaps, is so famous, many people use it as an alias for the cemetery's name, 'The Tomb of the Unknowns'. Formerly known as 'The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier', this site is what can be picturised by the "long rows of white headstones" image. It has the graves of unknown soldiers from both the World Wars and the Korean War. Mervin told us that it used to contain an unknown soldier from the Vietnam War, but they later identified the person, and the body was exhumed and moved to another location as per his family's wishes. We got to witness the Changing of the Guard ceremony which takes place every half-hour at the tomb memorial, cos there is a guard standing at the Tomb of the Unknowns at any time of the day. It was brilliant watching the solemn ceremony take place, as a new guard took his slot and replaced the guard who had been there. Reminded me of the beginning scenes of 'A Few Good Men'. Anyways, after that we went to the Lee Mansion, which has been made a tourist location, however with a lot of the furniture in the house (used by George Washington too) preserved and kept the exact same way it has been since ages. A short walk to the Memorial Amphitheater was next - amazing architecture again, as a lot of DC is. We then covered the rest of the cemetery, and other famous tombs of people were pointed out. The whole place is so serene and peaceful, and the authorities have made sure that tourists respect and honour the rules within the cemetery.

Here's a piece of trivia - contrary to what most people think, atleast what I used to think, Mervin told us that the cemetery is still very much an active cemetery - in the sense, on an average, atleast 25 people are buried there! And this rate the cemetery would get saturated in another 20 years, and then it would cease to be active.

We spent half-the-day there...and then went on to our next tourist location...random tourists in a foreign land.

However....those long rows of white headstones will remain etched in our memories forever.


JFK tomb

Changing of the Guard

The Amphitheater

View of DC and the Potomac - from the Lee tomb (in front of his mansion)

Monday, September 25, 2006

DC Travel Logs-II

The Smithsonians
The Smithsonian Museums are among the most famous in the world. They are situated at different locations around the National Mall, and are a total of seven in number...or eight? or maybe even more! hehe..I'm not sure actually...let me list them down --

1. National Museum of American History
2. National Museum of Natural History
3. National Gallery of Art
4. National Muesum of the American Indian
5. National Air and Space Museum
6. National Museum of African Art
7. National Portrait Gallery seems there a few more..(atleast wikipedia tells me so) but these are the main ones anyway. Well, the sad part is (gulp) I visited only one of these (boo hoo hoo). You see, I'd actually planned to visit atleast 3-4 musuems the day I first went to the National Mall, but I ended up spending the whole day (really!) in one of them, arguably the best of them - the National Air and Space Museum. It was so huge and so spellbounding that I didn't realise time flying by. Okay, the first thing - which I feel makes these museums extra special - all of them are open free to public - something that makes me really appreciate the Smithsonian Institution - I mean, they could make so much money if they had priced tickets or something, cos people would still throng here to see them, but they haven't and that's awesome.

Well, like many other places I've been to here, the Air and Space Museum was an experience in itself. It supposedly houses the largest collection of the world's aircraft and spacecraft. The place is SO huge, I tell ya, even one day is not enough if you wanna religiously go and learn about each exhibit. Along with loads of attractions like WWII planes and other aircraft, it has four prized posessions - the original Wright 1903 flyer, the Spirit of St.Louis - in which Charles Lindbergh made the first solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean (yea yea, this lazy guy did a lil bit of learning too), the Apollo 11 command module, and the "Rock from the Moon". The Museum also has a huge 3-storey store, restaurants, flight-simulator machines, etc etc. Ohh yeah, another thing I noticed while walking around was the number of Indians...crazzzzy! almost every 3rd person I saw was an Indian - I'm not kiddin! - I kinda had to remind myself constantly that I wasn't back in India.

Well, the two most exciting places for me in the Museum was the Albert Einstein Planetarium and the Lockheed Martin IMAX Theater. *sigh* We watched the 20-minute show called Infinity Express in the Planetarium, which was basically about the Universe - was so beautiful I tell ya, but wasn't totally new to me cos of having gone to the Planetarium in Trivandrum about 4-5 times. What totally - I repeat, to-ta-lly, blew me away was the IMAX experience. We saw "Magnificent Desolation", a 42 minute 3D-show about the trips to the moon - ( now get this) -written, produced and narrated by Tom Hanks. After getting out, I was so-much-still-in-disbelief-cos-of-whole-damn-thing that I just wanted to go in and experience it again. Well...I can't write about it...was that damn good! :P

No actually, its pretty late, and I have to stop now. More about DC tomorrow.

The Smithsonian Institution Castle

Aircraft here, there, everywhere

Wright Bros. Flyer

Original Buzz Aldrin spacesuit

Outside the theater

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Countdown...

has Begun.

My trip out here has come down to its last 7 days.
And so I've decided, as much as I can, to write a post everyday, describing and reflecting on my travels and experiences in this foreign land, until the day I take my flight. where do I start? Right here..Right now.

DC Travel Logs-I

Since I hadn't written anything on my local travels here in DC (except the post about the weird Pentagon incident), cos I'd decided on writing them all in sequence, I think I should start right there. My stay for the last 3 months has been in the sleepy town of Rockville - quiet, peaceful and amazingly scenic. It many ways it reminds me of the Shire..and looking at the vast stretches of green and the huge trees, I sometimes almost expect Merry and Pippin to rush out from behind the bushes, with bags of stolen carrots. Well, this place is just 15-20 minutes away from "proper" or rather downtown which I mean, the National Mall, the White House and all that jazz. Travelling is pretty easy also, cos the metro is such an easy and comfortable way of going places. Sitting on the metro and just studying the different people aboard is so satisfying (seriously!) in many ways. People reading books, kids furiously tapping away on their PSPs, couples sitting n giggling close together, and ALMOST everyone listening to their shuffles, nanos and iPods. It's amazing how one amazing company can amazingly change peoples lives with one amazing product. (More on that in a later post ;))

Hmmm..I digress too much at times, (who cares!) but I'll try and force myself to stick to what I feel I should write upon. So the first place I wanted to see when I got my first free weekend here (which surprisingly was almost a month after I'd landed here!) was to go see the, no..not the White House..not the Pentagon..but something else that had caught my fancy ever since I'd watched Independence Day in my 7th std. In the movie, it was literally pulverzied by a bluish greenish laser beam from the alien spaceship. If you remember, it was the US Capitol (Something I've noticed many people actually mistake for the White House). Now the US Capitol building (which can be likened to India's Parliament) is situated at one end of the National Mall - the one place in DC almost every tourist would first go to (something like our Brigade Road?) cos it's oh-so-famous and oh-so-beautiful. The long-stretch of green is one landmark you can head to and be confident of finding everything else you want to see, cos it has the Washington Monument, the Smithsonian Museums, a lot of Memorials, and the US-Capitol on its perimeter. It's pretty tiring to walk from one end to the other, cos its almost 2 miles in length! Anyway, in terms of metro-connectivity, the Metro Center and the Union Station are the best, and the former is where you would wanna get down if you wanted to reach the Mall fastest.

The Washington Monument is what would first catch your attention when you reach the National Mall cos its so huge and striking. You can see it from practically anywhere in downtown DC. The US Capitol is almost a mile away from the Monument but is still very majestic from even such a long distance. As you get closer to the US Capitol, you can't help but admire the architecture of the building, the greenery surrounding it, and the astounding symmetery of the Mall, making the whole experience breath-taking, and very photo-friendly. My friends and I made the long walk all around the Capitol, and behind it to the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court buildings, all the while gaping at how artistic each structure was. That is something that would differentiate downtown DC from other places here - class. Everything looks so classy and polished, I guess they want the Capital to hold its head high, worthy of its position in the US of A. And I'm not just speaking about these special buildings, even regular buildings and streets have this proudness about them that you don't see anywhere else.

Pics for now, more tomorrow.


The Monument - view from the Capitol

The US Capitol and the Reflecting Pool

Capitol - view from the right

View from the Capitol gardens

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Indian Sweatshops two-week long hiatus from blogging has been ended with this post I hope, if I get around to posting it.

You see, the time is well past 3:00am on a Friday night, and you can't be blamed if the question popped up in your mind, "Why break the silence in the dead of the night?" Well, I have my reasons. And quite a few of them too. First of all, I'm in a slightly foul mood - for the most vaguest of reasons you can well argue. And as the saying goes - "Don't go to bed mad. Stay up and fight", I've decided to stay up and fight out a mental battle, not against anyone in particular, not as much as to reach any logically satisfactory solution, but maybe just to let my thoughts out. Maybe I've surpressed them for some time now. Now, the reason for all this does not concern my personal life, so this mood is not emotionally-driven I add. But it does concern me in the exact same way it concerns you too, depending on what your profession and nationality is. If the answer to the first is "the IT industry" and the second is "Indian", you may fall into a similar scope, else you can be satisfied this does not concern you in anyway, close this page, and be on your way to more productive things.

Well, I'll add a disclaimer now - "This post in no way relates or refers to any specific company, or people, or person. If you feel this way, it may just be an unfortunate co-incidence, and I'm sorry about it, but not sorry enough to accept any blame."

Okay, the reason for my unrest is a well-used word, that the White man fears. The fear that there is some dark-skinned person out there who may take over his/her job tomorrow. OUTSOURCING.
Ahh..I could stop right now and be happy, but no, I'd like to be a bit more verbose and go on. Don't get me wrong, Outsourcing is very good for India and her economy. It also make us Indians proud, thinking "Aaahh...we're smarter than them, that's we are stealing their jobs." But think about it, why are we getting their jobs? Every businnes is profit-driven. What's one way to increase profits? Cut down your costs. And that's exactly where we come in, we actually "help" them in getting their costs reduced and thus boosting their businesses. There are smart people all over the world. But not all smart people are ready to work cheap. Sadly, we can't help it. That's the way our service industry has been structured. We are selling ourselves to any buyer who has the money to offer. In the end, ofcourse your company is helped too, their cash resgiters are ringing too, but what about you? Do you have the satisfaction that you need to have about the hours you've put in? Or don't you care as long as you get something in your account at the end of the month? If so, do you realise that what you just got is what someone else working in a different country in a similar job like yours made in less than a week? My friend just commented upon this a few hours back, when he said "This body-shop wages per hour work is non-sense. This attitude of taking all what the client assigns - makes us look that we are desperate for work and will do anything for $10 or more". Do we need to be like this? Unfortunately the whole Indian IT Industry is fiercely competitive, trying to bag offers (read better cash - not better work) from foreign clients, by saying "Pick us! Pick us!! We have more bench strength than Company-X, we 'supposedly' have more specialized people for your work than Company-Y, we are ready to work for 20$ lesser per hour than Company-Z!!" Ultimately we (the employees, not the employers) are just pawns used in a deal.

I have a lot more to say...but I have to stop now. However, I stress again - instead of being more of a cheap labour workforce, I hope we can soon reach a state that is the simplest of words, atleast different from what it is now.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

I feel pretty!

Thank God for the US-Open! I atleast have sumthing to watch on TV while the storm rages on outside.
This is my favourite ad on TV right now....It is "pretty" funny and Sharapova (as always) looks "pretty" pretty also.

Check it out!


Damn Ernesto.

Damn Ernesto.

Damn Ernesto.

Damn Ernesto.

Damn Ernesto.

Damn, Damn B.Becker~!

Monday, August 28, 2006

My baby's arrived!!

Was delivered via UPS today at 1:14pm...
Weighs a healthy 8.1 lbs :P
Aaah, zeee wait is finally over...

Waiting to be opened...

Halfway out....



likey! :)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

This is how close....

...I came to taking a picture of the Pentagon.

Yeaah Yeaah Yeaah..that's right..I managed to take a pic of the freaaaakin Pentagon Metro Station board!! I was crazy..there were signs and pictures almost every 10m to make even the most retarded person get it - NO PHOTOGRAPHY. What are they so freakin scared of that they don't even allow you to take pictures in the subway station! I walked around almost the entire perimeter of the Pentagon only to see more signs and hidden cameras everywhere!

Seeing all this security...made me (insanely?) even more determined to take a picture of the US Defence HeadQuarters.

And..nothing comes in the way of stan_da_man when he sets his mind on something.
Gulp..well almost...

You see...stupid-dumb-call-me-anything-you-want yours truly decided to go over to the entrance and try taking a I walked quietly to a good spot in front of the parking lot where I could get a good shot..I looked cautiously in all directions..didn't see anyone..guards especially...and ever-so-spy-like took out my cam.

And then...OUT OF NOWHERE...
A police car turned right into the parking lot! I hadn't seen better (or maybe worse, from my perspective) timing in my life.

Out of the corner of your eye, you glimpse the examiner turn and see you taking a chit from your neighbour during the final year University Exams. (Hasn't happened to me!)

You bunk a boring class and you try and sneak back after the class gets over. So you hide in the bushes nearby, waiting for the sir to leave the building. He gets out of the building, starts walking past, but SOMEHOW sees you hiding there and tells you to come out. (Has friggin happened to me!)

You're playing BZFlag with your project-mate during office hours when you're supposed to be working and then see a bad reflection - the relection of your PM on your monitor. He's standing right behind you. (No comments!)

Anyway, what I wanna say is...
Its one of those moments in life when you know you're done for. Khatham..Kallas...Finissssss.

I couln't hide my gut-feeling was that the police officer had already seen me. Sure enough, the car took a U-turn and came straight back at me.

The police officer got out of the car, walked towards me and politely said, "Sir, I'd like to see your camera." Now that's another thing I've noticed here, the police are very very polite. I think even if they cornered Osama bin Laden, they would say, "Please Sir, please come this way..we just want to ask you a few questions. Its for your own security sir!"

I didn't know what to do, but suddenly decided to play dumb tourist. Smiling brightly, I said, "Oh you mean I'm not supposed to take pictures here?"...Even a blind person could not have missed all the signs, and both me and the officer knew it. "No Sir, you can take pictures of other places in DC like the White House, but not of the Pentagon sir. Now please show me the pictures you have taken sir. You will have to delete them or else I'll be forced to take your camera sir." I told him I hadn't taken any and proved it by showing him the pics in my cam. "See? Nothing!" "Ok ThankYou Sir, I was just jokin about taking the camera..but you should'nt take any pics here sir." Hmmmm...I don't know why I said the next statement, but I suddenly blurted out, "If I can't take any pics of the Pentagon, can I take one standing with you?" What the heck! "No sir!" he said, bursting out laughing, "you can't take pics of me either!".."Ohh alright then" I said smiling stupidly and he got back into his car saying, "Have a nice day sir". "You too!", I shouted back. that's how I got atleast this pic in the station after the incident. And you won't believe it, I got caught again! This time it was a lady guard, but luckily, she didn't ask me show her my cam, so I still have the pic! Yeaaah!

PS: I deleted my "When Terror Strikes" post cos atleast 6 different people over here in the US told me to, citing reasons from bad humour to a FBI arrest! Well, I deleted it finally cos I was worried if it would hurt someone's feelings. If someone did get hurt, my apologies! :)

Monday, August 21, 2006

In My Cubicle

Haha...this is outrageous...check it out - "In My Cubicle", a take-off from James Blunt's You're Beautiful song. And it especially relates to people who live their lives sitting in a cubicle...That means almost ALL OF YOU MY FRIENDS!!

Thanks Ravi! :P

Sunday, August 20, 2006

We are on top!


ManUtd beat Fulham 5-1 in the season opener at OT (with a record attendance of 75k+) and are now top of the league..I know the season has just begun, but there's no better way to start!!!
That's all I wanted to rant about now.

Nope wait - One more thing.
I just want to state that I love the technology we have today and I love ManUtd fans too!!
Reading live text-commentary instead of watchin a match is pretty depressing actually..That's why I was so happy when I got to see all the videos of the goals within just 5 hours of the final whistle! Posted by some true ManUtd fan! Awesome I say!

See all the goals right here.

Aloha mates!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

My first Tag...n I'm not lovin it!

Grrrrrrrr.......I got tagged by pangu boy sometime in the last 24 hours, and I'm forcing myself to pen some answers down. 50 Questions. Why bother wasting time, let me get my hands dirty right now!

1. Were you named after anyone?
Yeah. But I've sometimes wondered if my parents actually named me after some arbit "Stanley" but got the spelling wrong. But, no worries, I've even questioned them about this, and it didn't happen that way! Thank God!
2. Do you wish on stars?
Very frequently.....I've done it like 2 times in the last 22 years.
3. When did you last cry?
Seriously speaking, its been sucha long time. I don't exactly remember the last time, but I'm guessing its been atleast 7-8 years. Not kiddin. Cos of this, I've even had a bet with one my dearest friends who'd said she would make me cry, but she hasn't succeeded. Yet. Is something wrong with me?
4. Do you like your handwriting?
YES, I humbly state. It has earned me a lot of not-at-all deserved marks many times. ;) How else did I get my B.Tech!!
5. What is your favourite meat?
Turkey has become a favourite in the last 3 weeks. Yum Yum! poor Bird!
6. What is your most embarrassing CD on your shelf?
I don't keep my CDs on my shelf..pooh..feel like kicking myself for that answer..
7. If you were another person, would YOU be friends with you?
Good question. Hmmm... I would, but it would depend more on WHAT type of a person I was. But more or less, I guess I would.
8. Are you a daredevil ?
I wasn't until a few years back...but looking back at the last 3 years and especially at the last few months, yeaaaah I'm turning into one.
9. How do you release anger?
Sit quietly and have a battlefield take place in my mind. Or just listen to heavy music or Eminem.
10. Where is your second home?
E-103, Adarsh Hill Apts, Kumaraswamy Layout, Bangalore. I'm missin it right now!!! :(
11. Do you trust others easily?
Yes I do. I like trusting people. Sadly, sometimes I do it too easily.
12. What was your favourite toy(s) as a child?
The ATARI my Uncle gifted me on my 8th birthday. I would buy one today also, if I could. Say what, I'm gonna try atleast damnit! eBAY here I come!
13. What class in school/college do you think is totally useless?
Social Studies and Civics. Waaaait, Civics was part of Social Studies right? Ummm...I never paid attention you see! :p useless alright!!!
14. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
A LOT. Sometimes I kick myself for using it too much. And at the most un-appropriate times.
15. Have you ever been in a mosh pit?
Nooooooo...Ragam '05 came close, but not close to what it should be like!
16. What do you look for in a girl?
Gosh...I could start a blog on that. But keeping it down to 3 points - character, looks and humour.
17. Would you bungee jump?
I wanna!!! When will I get the chance!!??
18. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
No...they're exactly the right amount of loose :P
19.What is your favourite ice cream?
That....watsitsname...choco-combo thing I once ate at baskin robbins. I can't remember cos it was very late, but it was gorgeous and I umm...was in a very very "good" mood. Maybe that's the actual reason!
20. What are your favourite colours?
blue,black,grey and red (my ManUtd jersey) sometimes.
21. What are your least favourite things?
Bad people. Can't stand them. Now bad is too vague a word for this I know, but that's another topic altogether. Maybe dishonest/egoistical/greedy will do for now.
22. How many people do you have a crush on right now?
Maybe one..or two. I'm not very sure. Sorry! :)
23. Who do you miss most right now?
Wow...well, let's just say I miss a LOT of people right now. Family and Friends. And I'm missing some people much more than I thought I would! ;)
24. What are you listening to right now?
(God save me) Some kannada song my room-mate has put on...
25. If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?
I don't want to be a crayon. HMPH. I wanna be a faber-castle colour pencil. My childhood love.
26. What is the weather like right now?
Hmmmmm.The weather in my hotel room or outside? It's cool and "GoForANightWalk!!"-like outside; smoky, steamy and humid inside. (Don't get any ideas please. I just burnt a burger)
27. Last person you talked to on the phone?
Tony. (my friend out here.He was scared dat cos I hadnt reached home till 9pm since 10am, and dat i'd got lost in DC as
28. The "first" thing you notice about the opposite sex?
Do I notice them at all? :p Well, the eyes I guess.
29. Do you like the person who sent you this?
Yea Yea I do like him. I'm kinda enjoying this now, so I'm liking you even more dumbo!!
30. How are you today?
Pretty good...good..I'm feelin nice...good good...(Conan O'Brien style) hahahahahaa!!
31. Favourite non alcoholic drink?
Hmmm...Lipton Brisk and Gatorade. Just AWESOME!
32. Favourite alcoholic drink?
Gimme a B! Gimme an E! Gimme an E! Gimme an R! watahaveegot? ahahahaha. I don't drink anything else (alcoholic), so that's the one and its gonna be the only one. Am I treating it like my wife?? :P
33. Natural hair colour?
34. Eye colour?
Dark brown v/s Black. (I'm a Mutant you see, my X-name is Octomystique)
35. Wear contacts?
Nope, maybe I should.
36. Siblings?
Yup.. two. Both elder - that makes me da youngest!! :)
37. Favourite month?
Dec15th - Jan15th is a month too, and that's my fav time of the year.
38.Favourite food? many things to name! Well, right now, its the "Meat-lovers" Pizza.
39. Favourite day of the year?
Dec 25th. Nothing can beat X'Mas!!
40. Have you ever been too shy to ask someone out?
Yup! and I'm ashamed! No more shyness!!
41. Scary movies or happy endings?
Happy endings!! Maybe an anti-climax too which makes you feel happy but sad cos the happiness was at the cost of something else. (The ticket price for example?) :p
42. Summer or winter?
Both. Summer for the Sun. Winter for X'Mas!
43. Holi or Diwali?
Diwali..the sweets especially!
44. Do you like your name?
Love it. Will not change it to Stanley!! No No!!
45. What book/magazine are you reading?
Right now? The World is Flat. I've never finished it, but I think I should after this.
46. What's on your mouse pad?
Stopped using mousepads 5 years ago! They are meant for mice! (pun intended)
47. What did you watch on TV last night?
Some arbit movie on SHOwtime.
48. Favourite Smell ?
The smell of fresh roses at dawn...bwahahahha!!! actually Grilled Sausage!! Aaaaahh..feeling hungry!!!
49. Have you ever regretted breaking up with someone?
Regretted? Never...actually, I've never broken up with anyone, so this question is not Valid! next!
50. Most tiresome thing you’ve ever experienced/done?
Answering some 50 questions cos my friend tagged me!? Naaaa....I guess it would be the night I helped in moving furniture for a friend who was shifting houses. The whole process took 6 hours : 1am-7am. And Boy! the aches didnt end for a whole month!

Yaaahooooooooooo!!! I finished it!!! Hahahahaaa...I deserve a gold medal!!..and I've decided not to tag anyone too! No wait...maybe I should make one and tag pangu back!! hahaaa! awesome!

Mmmmm.....I'm lovin it!

Well...the smell atleast.
Cos I'm not sure if I can get a taste of it here in the USA.
Of what???????

The Community Shield just got over and Liverpool beat Chelsea 2-1, Crouch heading home the winner. This is (surprisingly) what the (usually bitter) Jose had to say post-match, "They are a very difficult team to beat. When you play them you can win, lose or draw."
DUUHHHH????? As if anything else was possible in football !!!
What an @$$!!

But this is why I love it...the whole feel and excitement of a Season start....aaaaaahhh...and it bugs me to no-end cos I can't get to watch it here!! Grrrr....makes me wish I was at home or in B'lore stuck to the television, watching John Dykes and Co. disussing about my favourite sport, league and team.


Sunday, August 06, 2006

The Baltimore National Aquarium

Last weekend, we decided to "put" a short Road Trip again...a very very short Road Trip to be precise..a visit to the Baltimore National Aquarium which is just a lil more than a hour's drive from our place. We'd heard quite a bit about it from people here, and boy! we weren't disappointed. We reached the place at around 11am, but could get an entry ticket for only 1:45pm. Entrees are allowed inside in batches, and there were a LOT of people too (probably cos it was a weekend). But we used the free time to do some local sightseeing...a visit to the ESPN SportZone in Baltimore was the first place on my list, cos a no-go to a place like that for a sports freak like me would be like a Muslim pilgrim going for the Hajj to Mecca and skipping the Masjid al-Haram. (Now where did that come from!) ummmm....kinda atleast..Old Trafford would be more appropriate. (*Hi-fives all my fellow ManUtd men*) The SportZone is a pretty cool place though, and contains a bar/restaurant/arcade center and had an awesome SportsCenter Store too. Alas, a bit too pricey for my liking. We spent the rest our time visiting local shops and trying out the local pier cuisine.

Well, our entry time came at last and we experienced a totally different world once we were in. I can't bring myself to explain every aspect of it, but in short, the place is HUGE. By the end of it all, I was so tired that I felt like a fish who'd injured its fins cos it had swam too much. We were treated to all kinds of aquatic species, (atleast our eyes were treated - not our stomachs) sting rays, sharks, small fish, big fish, medium fish,pretty fish, ugly fish, cute fish,NEMO...haha!That was sooo funny...I saw atleast 10 kids excitedly telling their parents "Look! There's Nemo!" when they saw a clownfish. Only two parents were good enough to respond "Oh look! there's Dory too!" Tch..Tch..Sad. (I'm not doing a survey on parent-child interaction over here by the way). We watched a film show by Animal Planet...visited the Australia Wild Extremes section, visited Frog World, Coral Reef, Tropical Rainforest etc. Saw turtles, sea-horses, octupuses, eels, and other weird species galore. The Sharks were very impressive too, but looked dull and bored. Seeing fresh meat through glass partitions for long durations can make you that way I guess.

Well, the BEST section of the Aquarium is the Dolphin Show. This is a 30-min special show that takes place only like 4 times a day. We had to get special tickets for it too. I've liked Dolphins ever since I was a lil kid and now I love them. Such cute and intelligent creatures! We were treated to so many tricks from them including 10-foot leaps, doing circus-like hoop jumps, swimming on their backs balancing toys on their bellies, heavy-duty doses of water splashing on the people who were sittin in the front 3-4 rows. The 6 female trainers were amazing too. Ahem...I mean...they showed the right commands, fed the dolphins with little fish after they had done their tricks, and so on..see!

I Want A Dolphin As A Pet!!!!!!! (even better if a trainer comes free with it)

Umm...I'd better stop now.

//On the personal front...Life's going on takes up all the time during the weekdays...but then weekends come too! Watched 'Pirates' and 'Miami Vice' last weekend, and I thought both were pretty poor. Watched 'Omkara' yesterday..had to travel to the next state (Virginia) to get a hindi-flick screening theatre! But really liked the movie...Saif was awesome.
yup that's pretty much it!

Here are a few visuals of the Baltimore trip.

In front of the Zone

Sting Ray!

Beautiful scene in the Tropical Rainforest World

Spotted Nemo?..or Dory?

A diver feeding the fish

Whatcha lookin at?

Small in size, Large in number


The Dolphin Show

*Dolphin Leap*

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The day I met Tom...

Tom Who?
Tom as in Tom Cruise? NO.
Tom as in Tom Bombadil? NO.
Tom as in Thomas L Friedman? YES!!!

Well, I got the opportunity last week actually. He's a close friend of Dan Simpkins, the CEO of HillCrest Labs - the client we are working for. Dan had invited him over for a one-hour talk with us. I was under the impression he was kinda free or something, so he was doing his friend a favour. It was only when he arrived that I gotta know that he had landed just four hours earlier from Damascus, Syria! phew! Talk about on-the-go! And I don't think I know anyone who could stand up and speak to 60 odd people with such supreme clarity of thought after sucha long journey!! Amazing...

Ok..let me back up a bit, for people who are still like "Tom who?"...Here's a lil bit of biography:
He's a New York Times Columnist, "Foreign Affairs" columnist more precisely. He's world-renowned for his views and articles. He's a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner too. No simple fellow this. Not at all. Check out his website.

I could barely contain my excitement that Wednesday morning of 26th July. You see, I'd only met one other celebrity personally before, and that was Jagathy, mallu comedian actor, at my friend Sohan's house around 14 years back. I don't remember much, except that he was drinking whisky or something. He seemed very serious, asked me a few questions and my "ever-the-clown" impression of him vapourized instantly. Oh yeah, I've met Captain Raju (another mallu actor) too a couple of times, but that's because he's a family friend of sorts. Nice guy.

Well, you could say they don't come in the same league of Mr.Tom, and hence my excitement. He arrived right on time, and looked pretty funny in his light coloured t-shirt and khaki shorts. Not what I had expected. After a brief intro by Dan, he got into his act rightaway. And my, we were all held spellbound for the next sixty minutes or so. He started off on his new book, 'The World is Flat', which was actually released last year, but a new updated and expanded version is out now. He touched upon points like from where he got his idea of the book - in Nandan Nilekani's conference room at Infosys, Bangalore.

Yeaah...i know all my Infy friends are now suddenly very interested...hehe..aren't you guys? Anywayz, its not news for people who have read the book. But this might be - Nilekani was talking to him about globalization, the growth and advancement in technology today, by which countries like ours and China were becoming dominant. He said "Tom, the playing field is being leveled, (this second half has been left out in the book) and you Americans are not ready." This phrase kept playing in Tom's mind and he hit upon the line "The World is Flat". You see, his visit to India at that time made him very disturbed. He realised he had been sleeping, i.e. he had not kept track of the world of technology cos he had been totally focused on political issues post 9/11. Before that he had been writing on political and globalization issues (The Lexus and Olive forces in his words). But the Sept of 2001 changed all that. He decided to fully dedicate himself to the Lexus Tree and flew to the Middle East. Oh yeaah, he did come back just once cos he thought he should do two articles on a small start-up company..the company's name? GOOGLE.

He spoke to us about the current turmoil in the Middle-East, and said he was very worried with what has happening. He recounted incidents of his Syria trip and said he felt that things were taking a turn for the worse. He spoke about how the US were funding both sides of the war, by not taking a stand in the fuel price climb. We had an open QnA session with him. When one guy workin here openly asked him if he felt the Bush administration were any good (haha) cos they didn't seem able to cope with any major issue, he said he accepted the fact but he would still stick with the present government cos they still had 2.5 years to go...and he would do his best to make them listen and do better. His latest buzzword is "GREEN", and he's going all out on issues like Global Warming, energy effiency, the rising fuel prices, and such. He spoke about his well-publicized spat with General Motors. Man! The guy is hilarious I tell you! Sarcasm aplenty, which makes it all the more better.

He told us how he has almost stopped using the internet..cos he was gettin dragged into all types of wars..ranging from official stuff like the GM dogfight issue to arguing with some school kid who was angrily complaining on his MySpace that his teacher had told him to read some dumb book called 'The World is Flat' and he didn't wanna!!

And the icing on the cake, we got our personal 'The World is Flat' copies (that were gifted to us by Dan and his wife) autographed by him. All in all, a very memorable experience....unforgettable.

Thanks Tom!