Friday, December 28, 2007

Turn the Page

But your thoughts will soon be wandering the way they always do,
When you're riding sixteen hours and there's nothing much to do,
And you don't feel much like riding, you just wish the trip was through.........

Here I am...on the road again...

My sentiments exactly. Here I am - in Dulles, the Gate B31 lounge, waiting for my flight to Newark..and not surprisingly, it's delayed! But somehow I'm not the least bit concerned, even though my flight to Bombay from Newark takes off at 8.20pm, which means it's gonna be very tight. Think I'm getting used to this ;) Everything's gone smooth so far, perhaps the only bump in the ride being the baggage check-in, where I found to my dismay that my bag was overloaded and was 3 pounds above 50, which is the max limit. Damn those chocolates! :P So they asked me to move stuff to the other bag..and I opened my overweight bag, took my time analyzing what to do...and moved only a sweater, my sandals, and my bro's camera-package. Checked the weight again..and voila! Exactly 50 pounds! I think the lady at the counter gave me a "Do you work in some warehouse weighing boxes all day?" look before proceeding to complete my check-in. LoL.

Had a good farewell lunch at Bugaboos today which included like ten people, the usual gang and Jay, Josh, Isha too. We all kept eating and speaking which meant I had to say a quick goodbye and run off in the end in order to catch my taxi, which thankfully waited for half an hour. Nice cab driver, I didn't mind giving him a few extra dollars as part of the tip. (All company reimbursed though :P)

Well, let me gather my thoughts back...kinda hard to believe one year has passed quickly, I don't even know how. It's been a pretty quiet year actually...composed of the usual stuff. Hmm wait, I made a lot of new friends this year - good thing..I put on some weight this year - good thing again! I wish I could write a post like how I did last year, about the highs and lows of the entire year...but I guess there isn't much to write home about. Oh, what the hell, I'll try anyway...

I guess the best parts of the year came back to back for me..first the Roger Waters concert in February..without doubt the highlight of my year. The trip to Mumbai with Naveen, spending time with Shahil and Swan, and then the concert itself. Brilliant. The Iron Maiden concert in March is next, had a lot of fun and was a good reuinion of sorts with all my buddies too. What next? Ah yes, ManUtd winning the league! Had been waiting on that one....and it was sweeeet.

Lows of the year? Well, not many...I guess the worst would be the fact that my dog Timothy passed away in August..that was painful...he was 12 years old. My CAT paper was another downer too, but that was sorta expected with the kind of prep I put in and the type of exam itself.

Well, I can't wait for the new bro's getting married in Jan, my sis is expecting in Feb..lotsa stuff happening. My team's playing very well..can't wait for the CL to start again in Feb and can't wait for LOST to start again on Jan 31st! shallow am I eh? :P Well, I wanna play tennis with my new racquet too as soon as I can...but might have to wait on that for a bit, cos the month of January looks very busy.

Well, I think I'll be off to the DutyFree sections now...cos I've nothing better to do..

A Very Happy New Year to everyone! God Bless!

//Posted using Dulles' 6$ a session WiFi connection. My first time at an airport, and it ain't bad at all..should do this more often.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

The Amish!

Well, let me get this news out of the way first.

It's regarding my all-time favorite driver, the one, the only, Michael Schumacher, and I just read it on an article titled 'Schumacher turns taxi driver' on a F1 site. Well, it seems the Schumacher family was on holiday in southern Germany, got delayed and were in danger of missing their flight back home. So what does our man do? He hails down a taxi and then takes the wheel himself, since he really wanted to make it to the airport in time. Talk about confidence in your own abilities man! Awesome. "It was crazy having Schumi driving, with me in the passenger seat'" were the words of the stunned but lucky taxi driver. End result - they did make it on time, and what's more, Schumi paid the driver a 100 Euro tip on top of the 60Euro fare. Talk about someone doing your job and then paying you for it also! Haha, wonderful I say...

Alright, getting back to current affairs..ahem, I mean, my own current affairs. Well, it's been pretty much the same routine for the past three weeks, so I've nothing much to say actually. It's been 'The Office' marathon this time. I finished two seasons last week, and I'm on course to finish season-3 this weekend. Not bad at all. Steve Carell, take a bow!

This weekend is Grand Slam Sunday, and I can't wait for the big two matches - Arse vs. Chelski, and the dippers vs. my beloved team. I found a link last week that does free online streaming of every football match played in every league. It's crazy! And I can't believe I never tried it out the past 3 times I've been here. Shame on me!

Today me and Charles went to the Amish market. Was quite the trip alright, the official name of the place was the Lancaster County Dutch Market. Well, thanks to Charles, who's been my source for almost every new info I get these days, I learned that the Amish are a denomination of Swiss-Germans based mainly around Pennsylvania, who immigrated to this land in the 1640s. They live a very simple life, are avert to technology, meaning they don't even use cars or phones...and dress up in very traditional attire. It was like walking into the village set of a late 19th century based movie! Their main sources of income are based on farming, cultivation and in this case, a restaurant of sorts. The food is unique too, but very simple and we were there for the breakfast platter, which is basically a combination of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, fries - the works. Oh, these people are also called the Pennsylvania Dutch, but have no connection to the real Dutch. You see, they're actually from Germany, or 'Deutsch', and hence Dutch :) Voila! These Americans like to keep things simple you see! :)

So after that we went to the Univ of Maryland, College Park. Just to play some tennis! In the freezing cold, it was crazy. I bet people were looking at us that way. It was so cold I had to play with gloves, and couldn't feel my face after a few minutes. Anyway, I had a better day at the game, with Charles giving me some useful pointers. I spent some time watching a girls' soccer game, appreciating them...umm, I mean...the way the cold didn't seem to affect them! :P We went to the Recreation Center after that, which is a huge indoors facility having a huge swimming pool, gyms, racquetball, squash and TT courts...just amazing I tell ya. I envy the kids studying at this place. We played a bit of racquetball and headed back to Rockville after that.

There's a huge storm headed this way, so I'm just sitting indoors with the heater on, watching TV and blogging away. Will be heating up some food later after a shower. The life of a single man in a single-bed hotel room. :)

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

..and then it snowed

Pictures from a fun filled day of playing in the first official snowy day! It was just awesome I tell ya...and the scenery was just breathtaking..will be posting more to my flickr pblog later!

The meltdown

Just outside office

Thy name shall be written in snow...



Iced tea? :)

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Tennis, Guinness, my goodness!

Holla everyone, I just passed my first weekend of being alone here, and boy, was it fun! (Last weekend didn't qualify since I'd been to NJ). Me, Shrini and Charles had been to Bugaboos (my fav steakhouse) on Friday night and after I'd come home I finished off the last few episodes of Friends season 10, something I'd been stuck on, for believe it or not, 2+ years!

Got up pretty late, around 11am, and that's when Shrini called. Seemed Charles wanted to play some tennis and he'd come over and pick me up. We went over and had lunch at Cici's pizza. Funny place, actually meant for kids but they have a pizza + salad + desert buffet for just 6$! That's a steal I tell ya...and mmmm..the salad bar always just rocks just cos of this.

After that, we were off to the hardcourts for some tennis. The best part of my trip so far! Shrini and Charles have had some prior experience playing tennis before, but for me it would be just my second time, the last one being almost five years ago! I first tried taking off my Woodland shoes since I didn't wanna sprain my ankle running with it a.k.a WonderKid (hee hee). But it was sooo freakin cold, it felt like running on ice so I had to put it back on. Charles gave me one of his racquets to play with and I slowly tried to get a feel of the ball. Needless to say, I was pretty hopeless in the beginning and could not get anything right, so Charles started giving me tips on how to time my shot, serve etc. He then told me something else - the racquet I was using was a Babolat PureDrive, the official racquet of Andy Roddick! It's the same company that makes racquets for Nadal too, though that's the AeroPro Drive model. It was only then that I knew I was holding a 150$+ expensive racquet! I knew I had to up my game that very second, I just couldn't insult my beloved A-Rod or Rafa! :) Almost instantaneously, I started to get more shots was so damn weird! My hands were aching after just an hour cos this was the first real physical exercise I've had in months. I still sucked compared to other two guys but I now have a very strong resolve to get myself a racquet and start practicing as soon as I get back to Bangalore. Man! What a beautiful game! We played for like two hours in almost freezing temperatures (it was three degrees outside!) and by the end of it I was totally exhausted but had a huge beam on my face :)

I spent the night at Shrini's place after we'd went out and got some Guinness and SamAdams (both my favs). We watched 'Catch me if you can' (the third time for me) and Shrini made some rice and chicken masala for dinner. Today morning was more of the same. Shrini had missed all the T20 WorldCup fun so we hooked up to stage6 and watched the hour-long highlights of the Indo Pak final. More Guinness. Took a small nap and then watched 'A Mighty Heart'. Pretty good I must say especially cos of Jolie and Irfan Khan. Had dinner at Tara Thai after that and came back to the hotel.

Next week I'll probably be off to NJ again, but it kinda feels sad cos I just wanna play Tennis as soon as I can! :)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Yankee land again

Well, I guess the title says it all. I've come back to Rockville again :) this time it's only till end of the year, which feels kinda nice, cos I've come alone and stayin alone sucks! My trip didn't start off too well, with both the Indian flights getting delayed. This resulted in me missing my connecting flight to DC from Newark, with my baggage going prior. Anways, that was how bad it got luckily and I managed to reach in one piece.

This weekend was Thanksgiving, which was a nice break of 4 days. I took the greyhound to New Jersey to stay with my cousins who're at Elizabeth. A good time to get some sleep under my belt and to get out of my jetlag. We went to Staten Island,NY the next day for dinner's at the in-laws. Did some shopping on Black Friday at Jersey Gardens, a pretty decent outlet mall in the area. NJ has no tax on apparel too thus making it a pretty decent place to do some shopping! Spent the rest of my time chilling out at the house, since it was pretty chilly for my liking outside. Watched the EPL highlights on FSC (Fox Soccer Channel) which felt sooooooo good...felt like being back at home! Saw the Giants lose to the Vikings in the NFL after that, and rushed off to catch the greyhound back home. Reached pretty late, past 1am. Pretty scary to be all by yourself on a cold night in strange places I say.

That's all for now. More later.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Chak De ishtyle

Is it a co-incidence or is it not? I'd like to think not.

How is it that barely a month after the release of 'Chak De India', a film about national fervour and pride (albeit via the not-frequently-visited path of Indian sport), there has been three major achievements for Indian sport in real life?

The first was on August 29th - when India defeated Syria 1-0 to win the ONGC Nehru Cup. Football. The second - on Sept 9th, when India trounced Korea 7-2 to win the Asia Cup. Hockey. The third and the latest, (and the only way you'd not have heard of it is if you've been living 20 feet underground for the past two weeks) when India defeated Pakistan by 5 runs to win the inaugral T20 World Cup. Cricket.

Three different sports, and three very impressive results. Please note that I do not say 'equally impressive', but just 'impressive'. That's cos I believe the last one was the best and toughest out of the lot. Hockey fans and players and managers can make a hue-n-cry but for all I care, nothing beats winning a World-Cup.

Now, just for fun's sake, suppose we were to draw comparisons between this chak-de trilogy and the movie itself. In both cases, the protagonists and the real-life victors weren't expected to win anything. They were at-the-most expected to perform decently well, and not put us to shame. But they proved us wrong. Very, very wrong. They just didn't win, they did it in style too. Take for example, in hockey - India trouncing the Lankans 20-0 in a group match, winning the final 7-2 etc. In cricket - Yuvraj's 6 sixes off Broad, RP Singh's wickets etc. In football - we won the final 1-0!! (Ahem..yeah, that's big too - after losing 0-6 to Japan and others in the recent future :P)

Next, the drama involved. In the movie, the women from India defeat Australia in a penalty shootout, coming back from 2 goals down to win 3-2. After watching the movie (although the final was based on an actual match), you'd be forgiven for thinking that it was just a little too dramatic, that these things don't usually happen in real life and all that. Think again. Even the most ardent asportheist (definition: a person who does not believe in reel becoming real, especially in matters of sport) would have eaten his words, the moment Sreesanth a.k.a our very own Gopumon (yes, mallu pride, a little bit, I do have..ermmm) pouched Misbah's attempted lob. You could not have written a better script, even if you wanted to. Latest reports state that most hospitals in Kerala had two major emergency situations almost exactly 12min apart - one after the 18th over and one when the match ended. Some even switched off their TVs in the last over in the post-op heart-surgery wards, in the fear that their treatment and credibility would take a huge hit. Ofcourse, all the doctors were bunched together in front of a 14" box in the snack room at around the same time too, but that's a different story.

Now for the 3rd (and almost eerie) similarity. In the movie, the Indian lasses first played Australia in the group stage and then had to meet them again in the finals. Agreed? Now get this - on each of the three occasions, India had their toughest match of the tournament against a team, say X, and had to later meet the same team X in the finals. Football - India played Syria during the group stage and lost 2-3. Hockey - India first met Korea in the group and scraped by 3-2 then. Cricket - The Indians only won via a bowl-out against Pakistan, in a match that looked a lost cause many a time. Amazing right?

Now back to my first question. Co-incidence? I think not. Call this farfetched - but we Indians are not known to be mentally supreme in sports and something has changed the players attitude and thinking recently. It might be 'Chak De' spirit and confidence instilled post watching the movie, might be the fact that the tune is now played at every game, giving these players the backing that they have a huge base of supporters rooting for them. Ofcurse, it might not be related to any of these, just that we've started playing better :) Whatever it is, hats off to these guys for making us proud and giving us a lot of things to smile about. Personally, I can't wait for the Ind-Oz cricket match in Bangalore this Saturday where we're gonna give the 'World Champions' (didn't expect to be using this term anywhere in the near future after the F50 debacle in March) a wild reception. Yeah, we've got tickets - we're gonna be there baby!

Umm..not that I'm a MCP or anything, but one striking disimilarity between the movie and these recent incidents, is that in real life - It's ALL MEN, not the women! hah :) I see a stampede of females with hockey sticks rushing to strike me down? Gotta go, cya!

Friday, June 29, 2007

iLoves iPhone

Well, I've been waiting for it ever since the now-famous Steve Jobs keynote at Macworld in January. I've seen loads of pictures, videos, feature tours but I've never got tired.

And finally, today, June 29th, the iPhone had it's world premiere at 6pm. Seriously, I'd been practically waiting for days for this. Me, Charles, Wonderkid and Spandi made it to the Apple store at Montgomery Mall by 9pm, after finishing up with work for the week. It seemed Charles' friend had waited for hours at another store waiting for the 8gigs model but it got sold out by the time he could enter the shop.

Anyway, this Apple store was so crowded too, but the queues had died down. We had to wait sometime to get our hands on the models kept on display, since there were droves of people ahead of us checking them out already, but it was worth every second. I just couldn't stop gaping at it when I finally got my hands on it.

First impressions - it is SO damn sleek, so much so that when you actually hold it in your fingers you actually try to be delicate as possible lest you hurt it or something. The screen is so bright and clear that you keep blinking just to believe what you're seeing in front of you is actually real.

The touchpad (the screen itself) feels so accurate under your fingers, that you gain confidence very fast about the fact that you're doing it right, something that I personally had doubts about - since it would be rather irritating for such a device (that depends entirely on multi-touch) to not be very accurate. I took the contacts list and the smooth-scrolling was oh-so-damn-SMOOTH! It was unreal I tell you! UNREAL. I went into a frenzy after that, trying out the call mode, Google maps, Safari, YouTube, the 2-meg camera. Everything was like so perfect that you couldn't help but feel that you were using a technological marvel, a masterpiece.

I selected the iPod mode next, and was blown away by the video mode. Played Lost on it and I gasped in awe. Widescreen video playback RULES. Browsing through the cover art of the music albums great too, and the way it flips to let you select the songs is awesome. Played Audioslave and the sound quality still rocks. I kid you not, I could practically hear the oohs and aahs from people ALL AROUND me whilst I was checking it out.

I couldn't spent more than twenty minutes with it, since I had to keep my manners and give a chance to the other people who were waiting impatiently for it, but I did manage to take some pics and videos.

I've posted some pics below. Will put on the videos later.

Here are some links to the iPhone release stories, by, NYTimes, BBC, and some other interesting source that I found.

Phew, I'm still breathless...

Here it is!

LOST (Looks like Jack wants the iPhone too :P)

Google Maps.


Sessski, ain't it?

..and that's me, outside the store :)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Paris: Publicity Personified.

Everyone's talking about it. Everyone's complaining that everyone else is talking about it. But sadly, no one can stop talking about it too. The radio, the television, the web, the paper have only one thing on their minds - Paris Hilton. Yeah, hate her or love her, you just can't get rid of her.

My client and me were speaking over dinner at Silver Diner's about this today. He mentioned something that I felt was very true. In the USA, there is nothing like bad publicity. Publicity, in whatever form, good or bad, is publicity itself and that's what people, or rather celebrities here thrive upon. You take the Britneys, the Lohans, the Hiltons. They all have the same thing in common. Whether they do it on purpose or not is another story though.

Now after getting out of jail, Paris had her first TV interview yesterday. On CNN. Larry King Live. I caught a few titbits of the show in between the Copa America match between Brazil-Mexico (was keeping an eye out for Anderson of course). Now, here's a honest confession. Call me a sucker but I'm generally for Paris usually. True, she does the craziest and stupidest things, but give her some credit too for still managing to keep her chin up when the public throw every possible insult in her face. You need some pretty thick skin for that. (Or do you? No brains would suffice! :P) Did anyone watch what she was made to go through during the 2007 MTV Movie Awards that took place this month? If not, go to youTube, and search for "paris 2007 mtv" and you'll get to see what I'm talking about.

Anyway, the interview went off pretty well, with Larry (in his usual monotonously dead sounding voice) questioning her about many things ranging from what she thought of the public's view of her to the time she'd spent in jail. She answered them pretty maturely I felt (call me a sucker again) though it was plain simple that she just spoke some pre-prepared good lines, maybe wanting to make a change in front of everyone? She spoke about how the timeout she had in solitary confinement made her think about her life and God. And that she finally realized that she wanted to do something good with her life and do good to people around her. So Larry then asked her what was her favorite Bible passage. And she goes..."umm..ummmmmmmmm........I don't have a favorite actually." And so there I jumped up and said "Hah! She's bluffing!", but then she flashed that sweet innocent apologetic smile of hers, so I forgave her instantly. =)

On 'The Tonight Show' today, Mr. Leno just couldn't stop making enough fun of her. He cracked a good one when he said, "After the one-hour interview with Larry, Paris said she wished she was back in solitary confinement again." Haha. But whatever, there is not going to be an end to this it seems. It's gonna go on and on. That's Paris. She's famous for being famous. Simple.

And me thinks that's hot. ;)

Pssst..tomorrow is June 29th. Think Phone. Think Apple :)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Gnarls gone Theremin crazy...

Came across this video on the net, and found it simply amazing. Due to two reasons. Firstly, the song (if you didn't guess it already) is Gnarls Barkley's Crazy (and if you haven't listened to already :) should do so as soon as possible). Well, I could have just posted the link to the song, if I wanted you to hear it, but that's isn't my intention. Which brings me to my second reason. This video is basically an experiment to reproduce the song using the musical instrument called 'Theremin'.

 Many of you may already have heard of it, but personally, I'm learning about it for the first time today. It apparently is one of the first ever 'electronic' musical instruments, and will complete a century of existence by 2019. Ok, the best part - it is the first musical instrument that can be played without being physically touched. All you have to do is move your hands around it, and lo! music is created.

Heh, it ain't that easy. The Theremin consists of two radio frequency oscillators and two metal antennae. The player moves his/her hands around this antennae, which control the instrument's pitch and volume. The electric signals created are amplified and sent to the loudspeaker. The sound created is eerie and alien-like, and has been used in many old horror movies, including the voice of Frankenstein I hear. Many old music bands have used it, although not mainstream. Therefore I was pretty surprised to come across a picture of Jimmy Page (of Led Zep fame) using it at a concert in 1973.

Alright, enough said already. Check out this video. It's done by 4 guys and it's well shot/edited too.

Ummm, you may need more than a little bandwidth to view it properly. If so, here's the link, copy-paste it into and get it downloaded.

PS: I've finally switched to Windows Live Writer 2.0 Beta :) Yippee!!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

It's been a long time baby...

Alright, apologies first.

It's been 108 days since my last post.

Whoa..a pretty long time, but no excuses mama, I somehow managed to not post for this long. I just wanted to write this post for the sake of getting my blogging life back on track, and I'm glad I'm managing to do it atleast now.

Updates? YES!!! Lots! Soo mannyyy....ok so let's get started!

ManUtd won the League in May!! yeaaaah!!!!!

umm..and I guess that pretty much covers updates :)

Naaa...juz kidding, so basically I'm back in the US of A now, got here a week ago (had to leave the day Aerosmith was performing at B'lore), and will be here for a month or so. Things look fine, I guess nothing much changes in 5 months, though its a much warmer and brighter climate than the last time I was here. The journey was pleasant...the high point being the fact that I was able to see the A380 at the CDG airport. Huge I say, huge. I mean huge. Did i say huge? Damn, couldn't get any snaps though cos we were on the runway and I didn't have the time to reach into the overhead compartment and get my cam.

So here I am, in the same hotel (didn't get the same room this time *sigh*) but having two roommates this time around. Spandy and Wonderkid. Work is good, the food is great :) Went to Bugabooz and had a meatloaf within two days of getting here. I just had to! Had a decent last weekend too, went to the Univ of Maryland with Charles, went and checked out this latino restaurant called Samantha's, went to the IKEA showroom, and went to Fort Meade to get some other stuff too. I've got back on track with LOST again, though not into top gear. Planning to go into marathon mode this weekend.

Everything else is going along well, although it took some time for the fact that I was travelling tithe US again to hit me, during my journey. Well, that went away in a jiffy once we got here. We exited the Dulles airport, had a Pakistani taxi driver pick us up, and when he switched on the radio, the first thing we hear? "And the latest news at this hour, Paris Hilton is going to jail folks....". I turned back and said to Sid, "Dude, we're back in the US alright."

That's it for now. More posts very soon. Ciao!

PS: A few pics of the University posted below.

The 'M' spot...

Fraternity buildings?

Whatever, but looks good ain't it?

Main CS Lecture Hall

Wonderkid, Spandy and Charles.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Dark Side of the Moon - Live

The following post is a "time-lapse" view of one of the most inspiring and memorable incidents of my life - Roger Water's Dark Side of the Moon Live concert, that was held at Mumbai on 18th Feb 2007.

Fri-16/02 8:17pm
Naveen and I board the Udyan Express from Cantonment Station, Bangalore. Felt Stuffy. Crowded. But nothing could curb our enthusiasm. The excitement had been building up in me ever since I'd heard Waters was coming back to India. I'd missed my chance in 2001, but I knew I would give it a shot this time. And here we were - on our way finally. I checked my watch - less than 48 hours. Phew.

Sat-17/02 12:02am
The bogey was quiet. The only sounds being the wheels on the track. The only light coming from an overhead dull bulb. Yet the two of us, lying on opposite upper berths couldn't sleep. Naveen was watching the Live-8 Floyd performance on his iPod, while I was refreshing DSotM on mine. Yet again. The nth time this week.

Sat-17/02 10:23pm
I got up. Had a disturbed sleep, mainly because it was freezing with the air conditioning so un-aptly placed almost right above my stomach. Sunlight was streaming in from all angles. The train was abuzz now. We didn't have toothpaste. Naveen was better off, he atleast had his toothbrush, which we shared in turns. Eyyuck?!!? Just kidding. We made do with some peppermint he had. Had a sumptuous breakfast of bread-sauce-omelette and tea. Continued with our floyd trivia talk for the rest of the day. Discussed songs, and other common gossip. I got down only twice from that berth the whole day - when I had to take a leak.

Sat-17/02 5:30pm
Realized that our train was runnning late. Was starting to feel cramped lying in this 6" x 2" space the whole day. Hadn't eaten anything after our breakfast too, save a few biscuits. But no, this was no time to get grumpy. In just a day, we would be undergoing the "floyd experience".

Sat-17/02 8:15pm
Reached Mumbai. Got down at VT, which was the last stop. Finally. 24hours in a train was not ideal preparation for me, but the night was still young. Called up Shahil, who said he'd meet us in an hour. Walked to Marine Drive. My first real experience of Mumbai. The only other time I'd been here was more than 15 years ago. Hardly had any memories about that trip.

Sat-17/02 8:40pm
Breathe. Breathe in the Air. Don't be afraid to care. Standing at Marine Drive, looking at the Mumbai skyline, the Queen's necklace and gulping down the cold air was refreshing to say the least. Gave me a feeling of being back in NYC. I'm serious. Just picture this. The taxis. The skyline. The buzz. I love big cities.

Sat-17/02 9:30pm
Met up with Shahil, whom I hadn't seen in two years and James Swan, whom I'd never met but heard a lot about. We were at Geoffrey's, in Marine Plaza, a Dawood Ibrahim owned hotel according to our Mumbai expert - Shahil. Had a whale of a time.

Sat-17/02 maybe a few hours later?
Crashed at our hotel, which was in West Andheri. Air-conditioning and Cable-TV. Bliss.

Sun-18/02 9:55am
Woke up. This was the big day! was cold, and the blanket made it cosy. Comfortable. I was already starting to feel numb. :) Shahil didn't get much sleep and space it seemed, cos he said I'd slept in a fetal position. Don't ask me!

Sun-18/02 11:30am
Brushed. Refreshed. Settled down in bed again watching VH1. DMB's Crash Into Me was on. Talked with Naveen and James about their Kuwait UIS days and how they'd played cricket with Dinesh Karthik then. Shahil had left in a hurry to his home, in Panvel, more than 60km away. Why? Small emergency. The concert tickets were playing hide-n-seek and had been left behind at his place. Nothing is ever complete without a lil drama is it?

Sun-18/02 1:00pm
James goes home, he isn't there for the concert. Naveen and I dress up (with me wearing my floyd tee proudly) and get out into the sun. A vada-pav and an auto-ride takes us to some Citi mall. Have brunch at a so-called italian place called Ginger Marie's. Stomach's happy. Good to go.

Sun-18/02 1:45pm
Shahil calls. He's at home. The tickets are safe. He's starting back, and tells us to meet him at the Barista opposite National College in Bandra. We were to meet Vineetha too, our STCS batchmate, and so decide to rendezvous with her at the same location at 4:00pm.

Sun-18/02 3:01pm
Naveen and I are walking around the Citi mall area, checking out the crowd. We'd been doing this for the last hour. And I'd been refreshing Time's and Comfortably Numb's lyrics for the guy. To make it more interesting, we decide to start singing it spontaneously in mallu. "Njan orru kutti aayirinappam, enikku orru pani vannu...ente kaikkal randum vellya panthinte kootu ayeee". Yentammo....

Sun-18/02 4:34pm
At Barista. Shahil and Vineetha have arrived. I keep looking at my watch almost every 5min...are we gettin late? The gates open at 5:30pm and the show at 7:00pm sharp, the ticket says. And I know about concert queues...MLTR and B.Adams in the past have taught me to go early and book your place. Shahil and I say our goodbyes to Vineetha and head out. Naveen will come along in 30min.

Sun-18/02 5:25pm
Reach the MMRDA grounds at the Bandra-Kurla complex. This area is so different from the rest of Mumbai and seems so spacious. The crowd is huge. The long snake-like queues seem never-ending. I get a reality check. There are more than a 100 people wearin the same floyd tee that I hav on. We somehow sneak in between and wait for the gates to open. A huge cheer goes up when they do open. Security was high. The cops knew that floyd fans tend to be a little extreme, to say the least. Not all though :)

Sun-18/02 5:55pm
We're in. Hardly 4-5 rows from the stage. But I pull my friends a little further back, cos I want to see the stage in one straight view, without having to keep turning my neck. We're dead centre. We sit down to save our energy. And our places.

Sun-18/02 6:37pm
It's packed now. The crowd is bustling. The electricity in the air is unbelievable. People have smuggled in everything imaginable and smoke rises from all around me. The Mumbai sun is setting now. There is not opening band, but Chuck Berry plays softly in the background. The tuning crew on stage is greeted with cheers everytime they strike a note. It's crazy. And I'm loving it.

Sun-18/02 7:10pm
It's dark and 10 minutes past the scheduled start time. People are getting impatient. The only visual aspect now is the picture of the scotch bottle, ashtray and the radio on the giant screen in front of us.

Sun-18/02 7:25pm
I keep looking ahead and suddenly see smoke rising on the screen. It's no longer a still picture, but a video now. I go crazy, screaming...along with a few thousand. The show is about to start. Madness.

Sun-18/02 7:30pm
Everything goes pitch black...only wild screams are heard now. We see the band trooping onto stage. After everyone has come, Roger Waters steps to the front, the bright white spotlight shows him with his black base and one hand raised, fist clenched. Absolute madness all around me. The crowd erupts in unison.

Sun-18/02 7:32pm
Everything goes black again....and then the stage erupts in a bright flash. In the Flesh. Fireworks go off behind the band, matching the loud guitars. I go numb. I feel I've got my money's worth already. Little did I know that I would keep getting it's worth over and over in the next 150 min. This is why a concert is so special. It's so damn REAL.

Sun-18/02 8:00pm
Mother. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun. And then, Shine on you... starts. Ian Ritchie plays the spectacular sax piece to loud crowd cheers. People in the front start bowing down in respect. Have a Cigar is done briliantly and by now, you are fully immersed in it..the lights..the quadrophonic sound..the works. They play Wish You Were Here next. Dave Kilminster does a good job in place of Gilmour. But you still missed him ofcourse. The crowd sings so loudly, almost eclipsing Waters. Southampton Dock and Fletcher Memorial Home are next.

Sun-18/02 8:15pm
Perfect Sense I and II is next, with the last bombing sequence ending with an actual mini-explosion on stage. The Floyd Experience. Waters then plays a new song, Leaving Beirut, one of my picks of the whole show. Awesome video and strong lyrics. Sheep is next, and a giant pink pig is set into the sir and hovers over the crowd during the song. At the end, the ropes are cut and it takes off into the Mumbai night sky. An unforgettable sight. That marks the end of the first part of the show. Waters announces that the band will take a 5 minute break and come back with Dark Side of the Moon.

Sun-18/02 8:50pm
Again madness when Speak to Me and Breathe starts. On the Run. Time is next and was simply oustanding. Great Gig in the Sky. Money. Us and Them. Brain Damage. Eclispe. The non-stop rendition of one of the biggest hit albums of all time left us speechless and breathless. And hoarse. Screaming lyrics at the top of your voice ain't a very nice thing always. The band did their pseudo-farewell next, with the crowd chanting "We want more! We want more!". Waters then came back and slyly said, "Oh, if you needed more, you should have just asked". He introduced the band next, Dave Kilminster, Snowy White and Andy Fairweather Low (guitars) and John Carin (keyboards) getting the most applause. Everything goes black again. The cheers go wild.

Sun-18/02 9:21pm
The stage again blasts into life with Happiest Days of our Lives and Another Brick in the Wall-2. Magic. Absolute crazy-crowd-go-crazierer. Vera and Bring The Boys Back Home are done next. Lastly, but not the very least, Comfortably Numb. The lead drives us all into the air...but again..Gilmour? Yes, he was missed. So was Nick and Rick too. But this was awesome enough, and you have to accept you cannot have everything.

Sun-18/02 9:58pm
The show is over. Realization hits and almost drowns my euphoria. I can't believe it's over. People don't wanna leave and sit where they'd been standing. We manage to get out after over 30 minutes and reach Bandra past 11pm. Eat dinner and that's when I realize how much my back and legs ache. Phew. We'd been through Hell and Heaven without realizing it.

Mon-18/02 1:00am
Naveen and I reach back at our hotel. But we couldn't sleep. Oh no, not this night. We kept singing and listening to floyd songs for quite some time.

Mon-18/02 5:00am
Woke up from a fitful sleep and took a taxi to the airport, where we boarded our Air Sahara flight back to B'lore. My body was aching, my head was spinning..but I was still feeling on top of the world. I couldn't help but think...

Now I've got that feeling once again....I can't explain....

Monday, February 12, 2007

To tip or be a prick?

It's been awhile since my last post. And the reasons? Most prominently, the lack of time, and other things...well, excuses none the less. But the last month's been fun too, lots of things happening at a pace that does not make me sit n brood that life is boring. But life is crazy I should say, and gives you twists and turns when you least expect it. If life was a crazy stage drama, that would make the actors on stage behave in ways that would have to seem crazy right? Which is why every once in a while you come across people who behave in ways that can surprise, shock, or even humiliate you. All this when you least expect it.

Let me elaborate.

Just the previous week, on a Friday night, my friends Sohan, Naveen and I were having a good time at Styx. We were just finishing up, Sohan had paid the bill graciously, adding a tip of around 30-40 Rupees, when the waiter came back to us. "Sorry Sir, but usually people tip us more here". Whhaaaaat The!!!...What is that supposed to mean...Was he asking us for more..Or did the guy suddenly decide to follow the unwritten US tip rule, which is 10-15% of the bill? Sohan looked a little ashamed and started reaching for his purse again, but I was in no mood for that. I didn't want to take the same BS again for the second time in just over a month.

Confused? Read On.

I think I must have given the waiter a quizzical/dirty look, for he came over to my side. The guy seemed pretty ashamed himself that he was asking us for more. "You see Sir" he said to me, "We do not get much salary. Tips are one way we earn cash". I tried to smile, but couldn't. "Don't you think we have already given you a decent sum?", I asked him. "But sir, please sir, people do give us more too." I gave him one of those pitiful but disdainful looks again, and he must have thought I'd explode or something, for he said pleadingly "Sir, please do not feel bad or angry Sir. Only if you're willing Sir". Atleast this fellow had manners, I said to myself, and so I told him, "It's ok. We're sorry. No problem." And I nodded to Sohan who paid him twenty more.

As we walked out, Sohan and Naveen were feeling pretty shocked. "Can't believe he just did that dude!" I was actually feeling a mix of deja vu and relief. Relief? Yes. This wasn't half as bad as what had happened a month earlier.

We were in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was past 9pm on a chilly December 29th. It was the last day of our US trip, and we were to board our return flights the next day. We had finished up with work, said our goodbyes to friends at office, when Charles offered to take us to this slightly upscale Ethiopian restaurant, aptly callded Addis-Ababa. David Tucker, another employee at office, was already there, sipping on Guinness Stout. We were happy to enter the warm cosy interiors of the place. Me, FatRat, WonderKid and Spandi along with Charles. It was a respite from the bitter cold outside. Now everything seemed good about this place, and the excitement of trying out a really different cuisine made our already-hungry stomachs growl with anticipation. Umm..atleast mine did. The waitress seemed very nice too, greeting us with warmth, and saying "Oh, we have Indians today!" She then surprised us all, saying "I've been to India!" Oh really? "Yes, I studied for two years at Pune". Excellent. And she gushed about how she loved the idlis and masala dosas and other Indian dishes. "That's very nice", we said, slightly surprised to having met someone who'd been to India in a place like this. Well, after a few more pleasantries had been exchanged, she took our orders and left. But she came back just a short while later, cos she'd got confused about the number of orders. She'd thought there were just five of us, but we literally finger-counted and explained to her that there were actually six in our group. "Oh my mistake", she gushed, "I'll be right back with your orders." Just as she was passing us, WonderKid muttered to me, "She sure didn't take math classes in India", and I snickered at the snide remark. But from the corner of my eye, I noticed her head turn by just the slightest of degrees, and wondered if she had heard his comment.


Twenty minutes later, six happy people had finished their dinner. FatRat looked delirious with joy as he often did after a satisfactory meal, which for him, is rice and sambhar. The bill was brought and I decided to pay it on behalf on we 'Indians', as a farewell treat to Charles and David. The total was around 94$. Three seconds of quick mental math and I decided to put 105$ between the brown leather. (Which was exactly 11.7% I now know, but at that time I'd made sure it was between 10 and 15%, so I knew I was in the green. Pun intended.) However, less than sixty seconds later, our "oh-so-sweet" waitress came straight for us.

Revenge. Ethiopian Style.

Her previous cheerful demeanour had vanished. If looks could kill...(yeah you know the rest), or even cook, I would be spicy flavoured Ababa-65 Chicken gravy by now. She "almost" slammed the book in front of me and exclaimed "You have NOT paid 15% of the total. It's hardly 10%!!" Gulp. I think my face went through colours of mild orange to bright pink to dark crimson. All six of us looked shaken. "Oh sorry" I squeaked. Almost everyone reached for their wallets at the same time.We managed to hurriedly put in a few extra dollars. Even more than a few. Who knew she wouldn't go berserk if we again missed the mark by a few cents!? We totalled it to 112$ (19.1% for the quant-curious), gave it to her (who didn't even say a thankyou back if I remember correctly, but I maybe wrong cos everything was happening in a blur) and walked out of there as fast as we could. Phew.

It felt really bad at that time cos we all felt she'd behaved inappropriately. But one thing was certain - she had made sure that we got one thing straight.

She knew her math alright.

Monday, January 01, 2007

LOST in Transit(ion)

Fergalicious definition make them boys go loco
They want my treasure so they get their pleasures from my photo
You can see me, you can't squeeze me
I ain't easy, I ain't sleazy
I got reasons why I tease 'em
Boys just come and go like seasons...


Mesdames et messieurs, nous entrons dans maintenant un secteur de turbulence. Tous les passagers sont priés de retourner à leurs sièges et d'attacher des ceintures de sécurité pour leur propre sûreté. Merci.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we're now entering an area of turbulence. All passengers are requested to return to their seats and fasten seatbelts for their own safety. Thankyou..

The announcment woke me up from my Fergilicious slumber. Sore Neck. Legs cramped numb due to lack of motion. We'd been airborne now for little more than 6 hours, and were scheduled to make a landing in Paris in less than an hour. 'Next' lay half-open on my food tray, yellow light blaring down on the print. I looked towards my left and smiled, seeing WonderKid (Rakesh Bhai) still asleep. The guy could sleep anywhere, anytime, and even an earthquake would feel helpless trying to wake him up. FatRat (Shan) had woken, looking confused and disturbed and disoriented. I'd seen the look many times, cos we'd been room-mates for the better part of 5 months @ 105, and I'd disturbed his sleep a lot. Both of them were in a not-so-happy mood since the meal we'd got a few hours earlier had been anything but good. WonderKid especially had been well embarrased just before that. The air hostess had come by asking if we'd wanted Veg or Non-Veg, and he somehow figured that she was asking his name, so he said..Rakesh Pant. She smiled and said, Sorry, we don't serve that. Ok, the last part was exaggerated, she didn't say anything, she just looked at him as if he was a tard. Spandi (Sid) was sitting just in front of FatRat, watching the in-flight movies that were on offer. Not good ones also, Miami Vice, My Super Ex-Girlfriend and some other french flicks.

Bounce..Bounce..Shake..Shake..yeah that's what our plane was going through right now. Soul Plane ishtyle. Our seats were on Row 48, right at the tail of our plane, a 777. I was feeling lethargic, but my mind was on full-alert, cos I couldn't help recalling the words, "The tail section of the plane broke off mid-air. It must have crashed on the other side of the island." Yeah, too much of LOST in the last two weeks were having its affects on my 35,000 feet high n tired mind. (I was oncourse for finishing Season-2 but the broke down and never came back up, and hence I was stuck on Eps-20). But I had since then wondered how it would be like if our flight back to India had a similar fate to Oceanic's. And my ever-crazy, ever-imaginative mind was on a roll now, looking at my co-passengers and thinking, yeah, he'd make an excellent Locke, that guy looks just like Sawyer, she could be my Kate (I was Jack ofcourse). FatRat was Hurley, and WonderKid was Vincent no doubt.

50 minutes later, we'd landed at Charles de Gaulle. Local time was 6:00am on New Year's Eve. We got into the bus that was to take us to Terminal-2E. And then everthing started to make me feel like I was back in India. All the tired passengers were like standing for 15 minutes, but the bus didn't start. To make things worse, the driver decided to get out and take his daily morning stroll. People were starting to grumble now - the french chick standing beside me looked sick. Oh well, about 10 minutes later, we were finally on our way, and thus began the long, winding, and boring journey to 2E. By the time we reached 2E, Spandi duely noted that it felt like we'd reached BSK from Airport Road. Seriously, de Gaulle is huge. Just too big. We'd now have to make our way to Terminal 2F from 2E, which took another 30 minutes. And I knew the worshhtt part was yet to come - the striptease - yeah, the dreaded security check. I think it's worse for the ladies, cos you have to almost strip down to the bare minimum. The men don't complain too much ofcourse. Oh yeah, my bag was caught during the striptease at Dulles, cos the officer didn't know what to make of the 8-can package inside. Nor did I. I'd just put in some extra stuff that Spandi had to relocate, and so when he asked me what it was, I simply said "No Sir, I don't know." Giving me a quizzical look, he called another officer. The guy put on gloves and all, and started examining my bag. It turned out to be dog-food in the end, much to the officer's embarrasment and my amusement. Anyway, the striptease at this airport went by quicker and smoother, thankfully. After that we had to walk for almost 20 minutes to finally reach our destination - Gate F49, heavy cabin baggage and all. Why don't these guys have the walkways (horizontal flat escalators) like they do in Dulles?

And now here we are, the four of us, at Gate F49, waiting for our connecting flight, AF 192, to Bangalore. Another 90 min of waiting, and then the 9-hour journey. I'm hoping for some better in-flight entertainment atleast this time around.

//This post was written during the transit in Paris. It didn't get posted then due to lack of time and lack of Euros. I'm back lazing in Tvm now, and decided to put it up now.