[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Back in town

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

It was so easy to change the clock from 6.30 pm to 9 am today, but my body clock is still swaying at its own will. I guess it will be a couple of days to get back to the two cycles in sync.

The flight(s) back to US was ok. On the chennai-frankfurt leg, next to me on the middle seat was a middle-aged tamil lady who comfortably used my shoulders as pillows for her 6 hour nap! She persisted inspite of my repeated attempts to remind her of my neighbourhood existence! The one good thing was she was candid enough to apologize right before we landed. On the frankfurt-newark leg I was next to a young exchange student from Stutgart, Germany on her way to LongIsland, NY looking forward to a year of US life with a host family here. It was so sweet when she referred to her local gaurdian as ‘host mom’ besides being naive enough to list every item (and its monetary value!) she had brought in the US Customs form.

Walking into the house gave a strange sense of ‘coming back to the nest’. After three weeks of stillness, walking in felt as if i was spy in an alien land. First thing was to water the plants and thankfully, except for one out of the six, all were still live and welcoming. Unpacking the chennai-style-wrapped suitcases followed. Running to the local grocery to refill the fridge with milk, bread and fruits followed next. Leveraging the Indian culture, stopping by at the kind Indian neighbour’s place for hot dinner followed next. A 10 minute browsing of CNN & NBC to ensure the America is still as it was three weeks ago, I hit the bed only to be awake at around 3 AM. While I knew I can’t force the body cyle, I continue to roll around the bed till 5.30 AM and back to work. What sort of man would have time to write a blog on the first day after 3 weeks of vacation when 300 emails is waiting? When you want to brief whats fresh in mind everything else must indeed wait.

Wraping up India

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

I wish I could wrap India for all myself. 3 weeks of vacation has come to an end today and all set to leave to NJ tonight. Eventful trip with a bit of rest here and there through all the rain and sun. Amidst all, I am surely charged up for another year of American life.

I could either write a really really detailed account of the trip or simply say it was worth all of it to come here and carelessly wander around with my fellow Indians. India will never fail to amaze me, the more I see other countries, the more treasures seem to show up here for me.

Another week to go

Friday, August 19th, 2005

A week has gone since my last post and another week to go before I head back to NJ. In the past week, two more cities added to my checked list of places to visit. A day in Bangalore and a day in Kumbakonam and hence four nights on the road on buses and trains. The weather in Bangalore was pleasant while in Kumbakonam it felt really hot and humid, no different from chennai.

Two family events packed in a single day forced to spend the entire day at my uncle’s home in Bangalore. The little I saw was a glimpse of horrendous bangalore traffic and the series of high-tech ( a lot of high raised residential i suppose) stacked buildings on either side of the hosur-bangalore highway. With so many people travelling these days, getting a train tickets to chennai or bangalore from coimbatore is perhaps as difficult as finding a timely air ticket from newark to chennai. An 8 hour bus ride from coimbatore to blore costs twice as much (Rs.350 for non A/C!) in the last 3 years. Every travels boasts of ‘Volvo’ pushback coach bus and I wonder if people care for specifically for ‘volvo’, but it must have become either a symbol of pride or a question of business for every travels, literally every, around the gandhipuram circle in coimbatore has neon lights flashnig the words ‘Volvo’ coach.

Most of our time is spent in chatter. I hardly watched TV. Even if I did, there is so many channels these days that I don’t know where to start. In the past I have read some good reviews about some talk shows and other shows on cable, but I hardly remember whats is what. Both at our house and at Harini’s place, they have a beautiful traditional indoor swings right infront of the TV. So in the few minutes I find once in a while to stay infront of the TV and browse, I tend to quickly lay on the swing and sleep peacefully with the breeze.

All across the cities, all sorts of cars have swarmed the roads. With even more motorbikes being sold, no wonder the traffic and pollution has become unruly. Just today I was reading in Hindu about how civic infrastructure development has royally failed to catch up with Auto and real estate boom. There is cell phones every where you see. And so all sorts of local business is flourishing with cell phones providing the quickest channel for information exchange. Every type of service is just a cell phone call away. The best example is the ‘call taxi’ service which I guess has made ‘Auto rickshaws’ run for their money. In the last few times I have used the ‘call taxi’, it has always been cheaper than if I had taken an ‘Auto rickshaw’. But I am puzzled how Call taxi’s use the meters while Autos has traditionally failed to use the meters. Plus, taxi customer service seems lot better: the car shows up at your door step right on dot. If I would do one thing then I would request the call taxi owners to clean up their cars and keep it clean! or may be I am mistaken, the city itself is so dusty that its what is taken for granted.

One day at Kumbakonam is well spent with visits to two temples of Oppiliappan and Swamy Malai. Back in chennai, we are catching up with some shopping and visiting the rest of family and friends.

From India

Thursday, August 11th, 2005

This is probably the first time I am writing my post from India. It is exactly one week since we landed at chennai and we have already visited three major metros! (Chennai, Calcutta and Coimbatore). Time flies by and with body cycles not yet completely set for the Indian standard time, unusual things such as the inevitable afternoon naps takes up more than we would want.

Weather in Chennai was hot and humid and in the 2 days I was there, we took a late evening train ride in the broadgauge electric trains, which are way better than their predecessors. After visiting Calcutta for a day and half on Aug 7 & 8, I have started to believe that I know less about India than I had thought. “Unruly traffic” is what we experienced for the most part of Monday we spent there. That said, the metro underground train system is world-class and saves thousands of kolkatta souls everyday.

Back here in Coimbatore, Weather is lot better. Warm day and reasonably cool night. Less humid overall. My parents house here in suburbs is still way off the broadband world and so I am managing with some Dial up.

It was a blunder that we forgot to bring our digital camera. Even worse, I forgot to bring my Indian driving license. Folks here tell me that the police have geared up in their public services here and I stand a lot more chances of getting caught than it used to be. So I am staying put for the last two days, simply eating sumptuous meals and sleeping like a drunkard and waiting for the driver to come in before we can go out!

My dad warns me that I should type everything I want upfront before logging into the internet(aka. save on phone bill). I think I should agree and so until next…

Hot air balloon festival

Monday, August 1st, 2005

It has been weeks since we had been to any serious outdoor event or activity. We had taken it easy especially with only 4 days left to leave for our vacation (with all the travel and visiting to do, its hardly a ‘vacation’) to India. This past weekend, we hit out groves again and went to the hot air balloon festival at Readington. It was less than 5 miles from where we live and would have been a terrible thing to have missed it being so close. We joined with two other colleagues families to enjoy the evening and it was a gorgeous view to see all the giant balloons inflate and float up in the air. Some of the balloons were based on themes such as one that was shaped as pepsi can, another as an eagle, another as honey bee and one balloon as a cute baby monkey.

With propane flames filling them, the balloons started prominently glowing up as the sun started hitting the horizon. The event was at the local airport and yet, jam packed. There would have been easily 20,000 to 30,000 people on site. Infact, it was a three day festival and fair with foods, snacks, rides and art and game shows. To add to it, they had a classic rock band, a former STYX lead singer Dennis Deyoung performing live on saturday evening. After the 7 pm ascensions, We stayed back to listen to dennis sing few of his classics and they sounded pretty good, though we haven’t heard him before. Apparently, he was a 1970s star who is now in his late 50s. but still sounded fantastic, just as Phil Collins still amazes me.

More pictures of the festival here.

I caught up with digital camera and my Gallery installation to uploaded a lot of pictures that I should have long ago.

Sruthi’s visit to NJ [Ganesh – Sruthi’s Daddy’s blog]

A visit to Macy’s Flower Show

oh and this cute little “buddy” picture I took with two sweetest toys we have. Sadly, his hair style is blacked out with the background, but trust me, he has one of the hippiest hair styles you will ever see, just like this.