[ To Express, To Reflect, To Give Back ]

Keshav – New member of Family!

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

On April 4th, Harini and I were blessed with a boy as a new addition to our family. Rishi picked Keshav as the name of his choice for his little bro. Though we were very anxious, He has embraced his brother pretty well so far. We are slowly settling down amidst the hurry burry. I am getting used to diapers and 2-hour sleep schedules while Harini is beginning to see a “bright” future dealing with all the boys around the house.

Thanks to wishes from everyone.

Stunning Popup Dinasours, Slick Ganesha and Malgudi Days

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Today, my in-laws joined us for an extended stay through the summer. Rishi was instantly elated seeing them though he last saw them over a year ago. Being somewhat of a sticky kid he is, I was expecting he would hesitate to respond to them. Wrong! He was on his way and within a few minutes it was as if we have all been together forever.

Robert Sabuda's Stunning Dinasour Pop-Up Book

With every visitor from India comes loads of books for me and Rishi. My FIL has a fantastic collection of old books mostly published in 70s-90s of last century. I suppose he hasn’t still read many of them, for he religiously travels only with books from his own collection to read. This time I have quite a few “gold pieces” (as he would call them) including a couple of RK Narayan’s books to spice up my summer.

But what seized my attention was not the usual suspects but two books intended for our 2.5 years old, who exhibits symptoms of a ravenous reader.

The first is a pop-up book titled Encyclopedia Prehistorica Dinosaurs: The Definitive Pop-Up.  I have seen pop-up books before and Rishi has a few that are fantastic, but this one is unbelievable. Not without reasons has it scored solid 5 stars in Amazon review from 167 reviews. I was flabbergasted with the production quality of this book, specifically the pop-ups of various sizes, shapes and intricacies.  Today, I become a unofficial disciple of pop-up book design guru Robert Sabuda. Dude, you are one heck of a creative person who will inspire me from now onwards.

Cool Ganesh's Mousescapes

The other book is YAG (yet-another-ganesh!) book. I got to believe there must be millions of Ganesha & Krishna cartoon/illustrated books published just in the last few years in India. But this one is unlike any that I have seen. That it is commissioned by Chinmaya Mission and written by one of it’s swamini’s seemed little odd. Nevertheless, we must appreciate their courage to take a more innovative route in how the book turned out. Cleverly titled, “Ganesha’s Mousecapade” is work of beauty in the hands perhaps the best, contemporary designers and illustrators in India . Where the quality jumps out is the work done by Brahma Design and owlandbat.com in creating fantastic “2D animation and motifs from  India Madhubani art“.  The illustartor has done a masterful job of juxtaposing the epic characters and mythical timescape with today’s sensibilities and slickness – reminded me of KungFu Panda.  The Ganesh illustrated in this book is as cool as a movie star you have never heard of, but can read about in this brilliantly-written Slate article. You don’t have to believe me, but find a way to check out “Ganesh’s Mousescape” yourself.

Oh, flipping through one of FIL’s RK Narayan book reminded me of Malgudi Days. This website, aptly named, Malgudidays.net, carries the full set of 39 episodes of Malgudi Days which arguably is the most beloved TV series of last century – or may be even this century.

Yearning for the times...Malgudi Days

Will an Indian compete in Snowboarding in Olympics?

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

I am not surprised about lack of attention to India’s representation in the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Most Indians aren’t interested in winter games and even amongst those who follow it, there is lesser people who actually play winter sports themselves.

Personally, I actually snowboard. Yep. Many of my Indian friends and family think, it isn’t much different from skiing. But it is not. I never skied so I wouldn’t know which one is harder or better. However, It did take a long time for me be a decent snowboarder, especially since I had not seen snow until I was 21 and started learning snowboarding only when I was about 25 or 26. I can come down the hill in most trails with no issue, but my speed and aesthetics still sucks in steeper trails.

Let me tell you my secret – just do it and don’t give up. Most newbie give up after the first day on snowboard. But the truth is you can really get a hang of it within the 3rd day of learning and rest is just showing up and mastering it.

I have been hitting the slopes at least 2 or 3 times a year for many years now though I only frequent ski resorts in NY area. I have tried out resorts in Colorado, Vermont, and Candada too (Tremblant!). There is no comparison to the quality of snow and the overall boarding experience in Vermont or Canada. The local resorts here are just easier to access but not for great snow.

In all these years, I have seen many people from India in the slopes. Almost all of them ski. However, I am yet to meet another Indian (1st generation Indian like me) who snowboards. I am sure there are many out there, it’s just that I haven’t had a way to connect with them. I continue to go all by myself, year after year. Its a great meditative feeling to snowboard down a long hill all by yourself.

Since the day I picked up boarding, I always wondered if an Indian will ever compete in Snowboarding in Winter Olympics. May be, who knows, someone might be training today for it.

Shiva Keshavan thinks we can do something about winter sports and India. From India’s standpoint, he is a veteran winter Olympian even though he is only in late 20s. He has been participating in Luge, representing India for three Olympics now. While I know nothing about Luge beyond being a spectator, I got to imagine its just as hard as any sport and at least, he finished at a decent spot, unlike his two other counterparts who literally ended up at the bottom of all participants. Sad as it is, I applaud their courage to participate (against the usual odds) and hold India’s flag in Winter Olympics. Let’s not forget that we got to start somewhere to get to the top!

I found just a few blogs or news items on Shiva Keshavan :

A Chance Interview with Indian Olympian Shiva Keshavan (btw, he speaks genuinely and very sensibly)

Kamala Bhatt (who also runs a popular Internet radio show) blogged about Shiva.

Lakshmi Gandhi pieced the ten facts about Shiva’s sojourn to Vancouver.

CNNGoAsia cribs about the beaten Indian team

Comments are closed since I couldn’t keep up with deleting spam. You can reach me at my yahoo at skchary.

In India

Friday, October 17th, 2008

We landed in Chennai earlier today. Its humid but not too hot and apparently been raining heavily but not today! The Jet Airways experience was more than what we had expected and their entertainment and service were well worth the price. Even better was the off-season timing so the flights were not as packed as it could have been so many folks got to sleep in economy just as they would in business class. Flying with Rishi went ok and once landed, he is taken over by family *grandparents. So until we leave, there won’t much debate on who will pick him up when he is cranky. But then, after we return, we have would have to start all over again!

Flipping through the TV this afternoon made me wonder about how the media is growing so heavily here. Man, there is more channels than any sane person could ever ask for. Was wondering who consumes all of this but seems this Lintas Media report indicates more channels to come.

Its an odd feeling every time I visit India : I don’t belong here, yet some of me wants or feels like it does.

A new beginning

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

On June 2nd, we had a new beginning in our life. Rishi was born. To me, it was a unique emotional and defining moment when he came to this world. I was in tears. I felt the love for the new life and at the exact same time appreciate the pain of mom delivering him. I have witnessed a miracle. It truly was, not only because it was our own child, but because I hadn’t the faintest idea what it would be like to witness a birth. One life form, taking in extraordinary, unexplainable amount of pain and suffering, giving way to another life form, all in exchange for just one thing : love

Puerto Rico – part 2

Saturday, November 13th, 2004

Part 1 is below here:

Continuing from where I left: On Saturday afternoon, the wave runner session ended five minutes ahead of the 1/2 hour schedule as I finally realized that Harini was really pleading to get off the water. Tanning was the last of the things we went to a sunny state like Puerto Rico but lying in the sun was the only sensible thing to do there. Lying there after the salty dip, we literally got broiled as the Caribbean sun was unbelievably blazing. (It will take a couple of months I guess to get back to our original complexion, we both came back pitch dark).

Choice of food was very limited within polimonos island and any choice for vegetarian food must be least expected there. In addition, these all-inclusive resorts charge twice or even thrice the normal price tag for even a pint of anything eatable. They also make paying for it less painful by allowing us to chargeback everything to your room so you will never realize how much you will be surprised at your final bill at checkout (we were bit cautious after we realized this from the second day) You have no choice anyway but to just keep charging it back to your room. Finishing the lunch with whatever we could get in the only restaurant there, we returned to the resort at around 4.

We headed out shortly after a shower to drive to a popular shopping area in Old San Juan, which should have been an hours drive from Fajardo. Back in the lobby, one of the hospitality girls warned us about the traffic on a saturday evening into San Juan. But we underestimated it citing new jersey and new york city traffic is much worse. A big mistake, within 15 minutes we were stuck so bad that signals go from red to green to red and we weren’t moving a single cm. After a criminal waste of our precious vacation time, halfway in that traffic we decided to turn around and return. Harini was bit hungry ( you sweat everything you eat. Besides, as most star resorts, we were given less food for more 🙂 ) so we decided to get into a Subway that she spotted at the next strip mall. Although we suspected that they might not speak English, we didn’t expect them to be puzzled when we said we said ‘One veggie delite please’. She had no clue what we said and smiled at us and stared at the lady at the billing counter. No one could understand what exactly we wanted. It was so difficult to even explain her by pointing to the menu that we wanted “no meat”. Thankfully a lady next to us in the line helped us as by translating it to them.
Traffic driving back was much better so we got into some local roads to get a sense of the country side of puerto rico. It was already dark and we couldn’t really see much farther than the street lights as the roads curve a lot in the hilly country side taking us up and down from town to town. Another startling difference to US life, people hang around in groups in front of shops, parks and houses. You hear loud Latin music from some where as we drove slowly with our windows down but locals drive reckless even on such narrow and slippery roads. About 10 miles into local towns, we felt it as not a good idea to be lost during that time of the day. Harini reminded me of a similar unplanned drive that we took when we were in New Mexico where we completely lost our way. Deep into the deserted mountains of New Mexico, we were running very low gas and not even a single soul was to be found much less a gas station. We were extremely lucky to have reached one just in time when the gas was almost over. Recollecting that experience and ensuring that there is still half tank left, we drove back to Highway 3 to the known route to Wyndham.

After finishing dinner at the pool side restaurant at the resort we decided to wrap the day little early as we had already planned for the next day to visit the Culebra island, a very famous island 20 miles off the east coast of Puerto Rico. A lot many people and web sites said that not visiting Culebra would be an mistake(Why would we do that when this probably is our only trip ever to PR )

flamengo

The public ferry next day was at 9.00 am and we had to drive for about 10 minutes from the resort to reach the fajardo public ferry marina. Not to take chances this time with the PR public ferry system and traffic, we left early and reached the marina at 8. Locals around the marina apparently rent their front yards for parking during the weekends during which we learnt that most of the Puerto Ricans camp out to Culebra for day picnics. Parking in one such local guy’s front yard, we joined a line to buy tickets. The ticketing area and the line resembled our Chennai managaram’s bus stand and train lines with zigzagged steel rods under asbestos sheets. As in India, more than a few people crowd before the counter sticking their heads and forearms into it. The crowd included variety of people including a lot of tourists from US, but most of them had packed their own bags of food, water and of course, crates of Beer. The waiting area was very much thrid-world style with trifling dwellers screaming in multiple tones trying to sell lotteries and bottled water. The ferry departed sharp at 9 for a 2 hour ride. The ocean was roaring with beauty and the splashing water from waves were adorable. Admiring this and many tiny islands (just few yards by length and width with a couple of palm trees in the middle; I am sure we have seen those in movies and posters, it was cool seeing them in real ) on our way, we reached Culebra around 10.45.

Walking down from the ferry, we had no idea what to do. Its a reasonably big island that you cant just walk around to see everything. Exactly when we were wondering about what to do next, some locals marched in asking us something in Spanish. After I said, ‘No Esponala’, he said, ‘Taxi to Flamengo?’, We said ‘Yes’ and followed him. We saw a bunch of mini buses wooing tourists for a $2 ride to Flamingo Beach (which we were later told by somebody as the world’s second most beautiful beach; First is in Hawaii it seems). Few minutes and we reached Flamengo. Walking past the vegetations in front of the beach, we were welcomed by the breathtaking view of the beach. It was truly a spectacular with greenish rich mountains on either side and crystal clear water and foamy waves. Surprisingly, there were just around 100 or so tourists there. The mountains surrounding the ocean were all so admirable definitely God must have taken time to create such a beautiful place. I was reading the history of Culbera and apparently the tiny island was used by Pirates in past as a hideout. So the island became notoriously dangerous for anyone to visit and hence was least inhabited among the carribean islands. Even today, there is no shops, no fancy bars or restaurants and no big name resorts. There were a couple of tent-style temporary shops in front of the beach selling some snacks and beach wear. I remembered to buy a snorkeling gear before we went deep inside the beach to settle down at a good spot.

Soon we were in the sea playing in the water. As I inaugurated the snorkeling gear, Harini was hesitant again. She was already terrorized by our wave runner experience the day before. She just wanted to get knee deep in the water and sit with snorkeling gear on and just look into the sea from there. But the reeves were a little deep inside (not too much farther but at knee deep water but at hip deep) the sea. Watching me float there and enjoy the reeves, she got excited. After an hour she also learned to float holding my hands and enjoyed the reeves. She got so excited that she started humming a song while snorkeling and in that process drank a lot of water, extra salty water :). She also reminded me of the alabatross poem “water water everywhere but not a drop to drink”.

We had a very good time swimming and snorkeling, looking at the scales on the sea bed, a few colorful fishes and a lot of other strange objects that people left under. Switching between water and sun, we spent a the afternoon there. It was a memorable experience. Some more snorkeling and running around, it was time to return as the last ferry from that island was at 4.30 pm. The return ferry was late by 2 hours and that forced us to hang out at the Culebra marina area watching the local kids diving into the ocean and playing all sorts of catch and run games. A chinese carry out in front of the marina saved us from hunger as we grabbed a vegetable low mien. When we reached Fajardo at 8, the parking lot was locked with a board hanging on the gate that read “Corredo” (you guessed it, ‘Closed’).As expected, he lived in the house right opposite to the parking lot and so rushed in a few minutes to open it for us. We were so tired that a hot water shower only made us feel worse and even more sleepy. Hit the bed early again since we had to start early morning the next day to catch our 9.30 am flight.

falmengo2

Bidding farewell to the beautiful resort and Fajardo, we headed out at 5.45am on monday. Pathetic, we got stuck in the monday morning traffic again. It was so horrible that I was whining all along about it and that we would miss the flight. But some latin God saved us as just about 10 miles away from the airport the traffic cleared and we zipped through to the airport car return in a flash. Rushing to the gate and see people already in line to board the flight, I had just enough time to grab a breakfast sandwich and stuff it into my backpack before boarding.

This time the flight took off right on dot at 9.30 and landed in Newark Int Airport at around 2 pm. Flying back we enjoyed the movie “Notebook”, which we had already seen but couldn’t resist watching it again (Its a good romantic sentimental drama). After we reached home, I excused myself for a nap while harini started planning her usual chores : grocery shopping, laundry, dinner etc

Our experience in Puerto Rico – Part 1

Friday, November 12th, 2004

Its our first anniversary and aren’t first anniversaries supposed to be special and taken seriously? (its got to be if one considers the marriage as successful 🙂 ). As I always do, we were planning for it for almost two months, but it remained ‘planning’ and was never executed! [my greatest virtue (call it weakness or strength) to date is to delayed decision making, put more bluntly, dragging things to the very last minute 🙂 ] But this time Harini was adamant to go ”somewhere” as it was almost a year since we went out for a vacation. The last one was early this year to New Mexico. After bugging me for so many days, and myself wavering all the way from Munich, Germany to Poconos, Pennsylvania, I brought it down to one choice : Puerto Rico(PR). How and Why? It was the farthest sunny place I could go without have to go thru the painful process getting a visa. Puerto Rico(PR) is a US colony and moreover, American Airlines flies non-stop from our closest airport. [I still don’t know who its part of US and still not part of US, Puerto Rico represents itself as a separate nation in Olympics and Miss Universes etc but everyone is a US Citizen there!] .

Even after fixing up the place, I took time till the 11th hour to finalize the hotel/resort. PR isn’t a big country but there is still whole lot of choices on where to stay and on which side of the island nation. For a few days, I thought we were going to stay in a small-time motel in Boqueron Bay on the less crowed south west coast of PR but just the day before leaving NJ, I liked the idea of staying in a full-fledged resort, I booked into Wyndham Resorts at the El Conquistidor Spa & Resort in the city of Fajardo, on the north east coast of PR. pool .Harini took care of every other pre-travel planning from finding things to do, spots to see to packing our clothes and charging our camera batteries. On Thursday, Nov 4th, we reached Newark Liberty Intl Airport around 6.00pm and it was freezing cold and raining heavily (may be couldn’t believe that we were finally going for a vacation :)). After checking in our baggage, we still had an hour before boarding the flight, so we were hanging around the food court area talking to Dana, Nags and grabbing a bite from subway.

After boarding the flight at around 7 pm our flight had to wait at the gate for more than an hour for which the pilot gave some vague excuses (some external startup not working so we are borrowing from other airlines who aren’t working either so we going to our workshop etc…reminds me of a joke Seinfeld gives as a reason these pilot give excuses for delayed take off when the real reason is that they forgot the keys to the flight in their hotel room!!! ). Finally he managed to take off at around 8.30 pm. Just then we learnt Puerto Rico is 1 hour ahead of us (eastern time) and it was a 4 hour flight. After the pleasure of watching the Tom Hanks/Spielberg movie “The Terminal” on-flight ( The movie is OK, worth a home video), we landed in San Juan (capitol of PR) Airport at around 12.30am and after collecting our baggage we stepped into the PR land at around 1.00am. It was warm and humid. Within a few minutes I started feeling the sweat on forehead. Somewhere I read it was 85 degrees.

It felt like we stepped out into Chennai because of sultry and sticky weather. Not only that, people were shouting at the top of their voices(very unlike USA) from one corner of the terminal to the someone in the other corner. The arrival area, just like the one in Chennai, has secured metal rods around the arrival gate and around 100s of locals, at 1.30 AM standing around not letting the each other see anything. All the voices we were hearing were in Spanish. Spanish has a strong emphasis on ‘R’ syllables and I felt almost every word has an R. So imagine people screaming all around you, you only hear ‘CURRR PUR MARRR RROSS PURR JERRR RRRAKK’. Perhaps, someone who doesn’t speak Tamil would also feel the same way getting out from Chennai airport (makes me wonder how it would sound). After waiting for the rental car shuttle to pick us up, we rolled out into the PR highways in our upgraded Chevy Blazer around 2.00 am.

golfThere is probably only one high way, Highway No: 3 from San Juan to Fajardo. After a small mix up trying to understand the Spanish highway signs, I managed to reach that highway from airport. Thank god it was 2 in the morning, there was literally no one on the roads. We drove for about 1 hour lost our way again a little bit at the junction where we had to split for the resort and eventually reached the resort. I believe this resort is one of the biggest and best ones in that area which I certainly didn’t know until I saw this one and a few others around ( All I cared was the rates per night that this one offered and it was under my budget plus the pictures on the Wyndham website looked pretty inviting). It was high up on a hill surrounded by full of palm trees and other tropical plantations. We drove past a golf course on the hills and Atlantic ocean was roaring on the other side of the hill. The combination of the oceanic breeze and the sultry weather was inviting after the chilly nights in Jersey. It was almost 4 am when we checked in and reached our room. Again, we were lucky to be upgraded ( they didn’t have the room size option I had asked for so they had no choice but to upgrade me on to next level ) and we got a ocean view room with a private bar, DVD, Cassette and Music players ( Except for the first and last one, we had no time to use the rest 🙂 ). view The view from the walk-out balcony was truly spectacular, even at the time of the night. The ocean was more noisier now perhaps the world was sleeping, lights blipping far into the ocean from the cruise ships and other smaller islands away from the coast. To the right of the balcony we enjoyed the bright lit night view of the entire resort (We were on the right corner of the V shaped resort). Admiring the ocean view sitting in the balcony for a few minutes, we hit the bed at 4.30.

Sun broke early but we were too tired to realize it, we woke up around 10. and hurriedly rushed to the breakfast cafe as we just read the note on the desk that said breakfast clsoes at 11. Finishing the breakfast with a hot cappuccino, we decided to take a drive around the resort to start with. With sun light, the resort looked much like a paradise. Believe me, it was. The moment we rolled down into the curvy driveways of the hill, I only remembered our “God’s own land” Kerala which is could be compared with this for its tropical beauty. It was beautiful drive amidst the rain forest, the lush golf course and with the line of beautiful beaches on the horizon.

Getting out of the resort and driving into the outskirts of the city of Fajardo, we soon realized that Puerto Rico, though being a part of US is still very unlike US. We noticed dirty roads with garbage all along the curbs and overflowing garbage bins. But that didn’t stop us from enjoying the natural beauty of all the other things. The best was the low-ceiling colonial-style houses, one after the other ( no lawn or front yard very much like what it will be in places like cochin) colorfully painted in pink, green and blue. Yeah, this was strikingly contrasting to how houses are built here in US (almost all in a community look alike). But in PR, there was no uniformity and it looks different but natural.

The previous night while driving from the airport to Fajardo we stopped on red lights watching as no one waited except us. Strange ! We realized much later that after midnight nobody needs to make full stop for the red light !.The roads are designed in the US way with multiple lanes and perfect lane dividers but people just drive in the middle of the road not following the lanes. On another day driving out in heavy traffic, we saw people use the shoulder(not really a drivable lane) as the 4th lane and driving high speed comfortably, the cop included I should also not forget to tell you how prompt and rule binding one guy was. In the middle of an intersection when the light changed to red, he stopped right there, and cars honking big time turn either from front of him or behind :)…….Rules is rules isnt it? no matter where you are!

Back to our first day; Returning back from that late morning drive, we did some shopping for a while within the resort. There were shops all over the place selling beach wear to cigars to art/crafts. While having lunch at the pool side restaurant, we decide to dive into the pool. Looked like everyone in the resort were already in the pool, can’t blame ‘em, at around noon the sun was scorching at 90+. Hanging out in the pool and playing some water games (just between us with the volleyballs and tubes) we came back to our room for coffee time. During the morning outing, Harini already had her eyes on a Chinese restaurant “Chopsticks” just outside a few miles from the resort. So we came back to Chopsticks for dinner. We encountered the real Puerto Ricans there for the first time. No one in the restaurant spoke English. We managed to use some sign languages to ask for ‘No meat, vegetarian fried rice’ and luckily got what we asked for. I don’t remember when the last time I was in a place when everyone around me spoke a language that i didn’t know but this was one little embarrassing and at times, bit scary. As soon as we finished dinner, we said better return back to resort where we know we will be fine. The day was not yet over, apart from those rooms up the hill this resort also had private villas, which were located down the foot of the hill for which we had to take a tram which incidentally was located just outside our room on that floor. So we went down to Las Castle village(Private Villas) in few minutes. That walk on the edges of that island overlooking the sea was unforgettable. It was warm and cozy walking amidst the coconut and palm trees resisting the ocean breeze. After chatting for a while at the ocean front bar there, we returned back to call people in India to take their wishes and also to wish Harini’s mom on her birth day(Its the same as our anniversary). Exactly at 12, we wished each other marking our first anniversary stepping into our second.
polomios
Harini by now has already learnt a bunch of Spanish words…how? From the signs on the streets :SALIDA(exit), Pare(stop), Velocidad Maxima(maximum speed limit), Solo(only). With that vocabulary I felt a little better stepping out into the country side. Next day we decided to visit a small island, called the Palominos, owned by the resort where they also offered many water sports and recreational activities like parasailing and horseback riding. We took a 15 minute ferry ride from the resort and reached Palominos. The sun was at its peak at 10 am and everyone were enjoying the sunbath. We found a good spot, that was sunny but still shady and started enjoying the sun and the beach. The water, crystal clear sparkling with sunshine, but still cold enough to keep us cool below the sun, invited us shortly. So we went into the beach and Mr.ActSmart (that’s me!) slammed Harini into the sea (don’t worry just knee deep) :)..she came out safe but was cursing me with fury. Back to the shore shortly, but I am not among the ones who would sit quite and idle for long and I was already take the wave runners for a ride. Poor Harini, innocently agreed, it was all fun until we both got bit farther into the ocean on wave runner. Although she was sitting at the back, once we reached the middle of the ocean ( about a mile into it) she was shouting at the top of her voice as if her lungs will blow up soon and as always, I kept laughing and enjoying the tides hitting them harder and jumping higher every time. (In her own words : I actually felt like being tortured by some devil having fun watch me cry and shout. I was so glad that we hired it for half hour and not the full hour.30 minutes looked like 30 hours of breath taking rollercoaster ride, I took a sigh of relief once I touched the earth). Now when I think about it , I know for sure that it was FUN!!!!(Am not sure if she will do it again thou!:))

The experiences from next two days will folllow shortly and the photos shortly after that [blaming it on me, we still dont have a digital camera, so waiting to develop the rolls!]

[It took both of us four days to write this which is why it got bit lengthier, hope its enjoyable—i am sure we will enjoy it years from now]

The Part 2 of this travelogue is here. [Click]

Anniversary Day

Thursday, November 4th, 2004

Bush victory yesterday has only made the mood sober and thankfully we will be away not having to repent too much for it. You never know, four years from now we may as well witness an Arabian Union (UDAS – united democratic arabian states!!!) and a unified korea with their own liras and dollars! Even if Bush has nothing else, he has all the luck in the world up in his ass. Who would have expected him to win citing moral values as central theme! Poor kerry perhaps conceeded because he figured Red Sox winning the world series is good enough for him!

On Nov 6th, we will be married for one year. In retrospect it has been a wonderful journery that we both have truly enjoyed and cherished. We only wish and pray that it will be alike in the coming years. Looking back, I dont think I have compromised or changed anything in the last year except for the time I used to have for all myself. Life now revolves around two and not one. In fact, I have only become lot more lazier than I used to be. Thanks to harini, she has been taking care of herself, the house and the ever demanding me!

To celeberate this occasion, we are leaving on a weekend vacation to a land that I recently read as the carribean island Christopher Columbus fell in love with. To impress Columbus must mean something for he was such a seasoned explorer who must have seen the best of every island in the globe.

ocean view

So we are heading to San Juan, Puerto Rico from where we will be driving east to the coastal city of Fajardo.

A new life for krithi begins

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2004

Krithika has left today to Mumbai to take up new and first job as financial analyst at Shoppers Stop. She is very ambitious and intelligent but conservative when it comes to risk taking. Finance and Risk, inseparable isnt it? It will be interesting to see how her career unfolds.

Amma has also initiated her look out for an wedding alliance for her. It will also be an interesting thing to see what happens to her love life.

A bird flies out of the nest with everyone’s blessing and wishes!. May all the good things be flowered onto you.

Amma in Pune

Thursday, April 15th, 2004

Krithi has completed her MBA, a wonderful milestone indeed in her career and life. After a short two months, worry-free vacation at home, she will fly to the city that never sleeps, Mumbai. She will take over a financial analyst job at Shoppers Stop. Its going to be a new and interesting chapter in her life. May God bless her with everything for a wonderful and successful career.

Amma is in pune for two weeks. She will have nice change with mamas and family. Its been a few years since her last visit to pune, for Bharath’s marriage. As soon as she is back, kirthi’s marriage alliance work is expected to start full blown, though krithi is more keen on trying out what she studied so hard in past few years, before getting into a wedlock.

Family Happenings

Wednesday, January 28th, 2004

Marriage – Nov 06, 2003

I got married to Harini on this very special day, carefully chosen after a lot of hot discussions and phone calls between the family astrologer and harini’s thatha. I think their efforts were worth it. It was indeed a special day with Rain God honouring us right thru the three days of marriage. We had a wonderful time. Everything went as per plan, except the nalangu function, whcih we could not make it becoz of the delay Registrar office and also due to appa’s insistence that we should go to Kalayana Peruma kovil (Temple). Most of our relatives on both families turned up for the occasion. They had all praise for the way the marriage was conducted with nice coordination and relationship between the familes ( usually there will be some kind of hickups in any marriage, mainly from groom’s folks demanding something ). We all drove back in a mini van back from Kumbakonam to Coimbatore. The Reception went on well too on Nov 8th. We had some last minute delays with video guys and decoration but it ended well with almost the expected crowd turning up, inspite of the pouring rain. Almost 80% of the peope were amma’s friends / Chinmaya mission folks. Everybody said the Food was great (Annapoorna). We also left the very next morning to Coconut Lagoon Resort in Kumaragam, kerala. It was a relaxing and wonderful experience on the lake front in rural kerala.

Engagement with Harini – June 04, 2003

It all happened on a day, a memorable day. I met harini in her home in chennai. I decided right that second, that she was the one. She tells me she kind of felt the same thing. I for once realized that love at first sight, does work. I am very glad that we met on that day. We feel as if we have been made for each other. Hard to believe is it? then trust me, its true.

Part Time BE Admission for Sridhar – Dec 27, 2002

He has been waiting for this for a long time and finally he made it! This is going to be a BIG break for him and hopefully should give him the right sense of direction in his career. He is starting on Jan 2nd in GCT, Coimbatore. Good Luck and Let this be the beginning of great career for you.

The Memorable London Trip – Dec 24, 2002 – Dec 29, 2002

It was just a fantastic memorable trip. Its a great feeling to roam around in london. Though I would have wanted to spend more time and see a lot more places, I managed to see most of the important stuff. The UnderGround system is really good and they have a neat public transport by train, bus and taxis that its just a breeze going across the city. It indeed, is raining all the time, as everyone says!!! And you have to walk, walk and walk…

The Inevitable – The PC – Oct 5, 2002

After contemplating the need for a computer at our home with my parents for almost an year, It has finally arrived yesterday. The delay is also partially attributed to the delay in the completion of the construction. Amma is expected to go Hi-Tech pretty soon. Appa has already started on his computer courses in Kumbakonam and with lots of help from Gayathri, he is typing and sending his own emails nowadays. Krithika, I hear she has already started using it, as she is the most literate in computers as of now. I am expecting Sridhar to be rocking with CAD and design softwares pretty soon. Thanks to Sridhar’s friend, we got a great deal on the computer, with the best/latest configuration for less than Rs.30K.

US Grand Prix, Indianapolis Speedway, Indiana – Sep 29 & 30 2002.

We never planned for this. My colleague, Chris Collins, was telling me that he was going to the grand prix and he told me that this is cheapest Grand Prix anyone could go. I was told that people fly from Europe to see US Grand Prix as the German and Italian Grand Prix were really expensive. I thought I should go. We made it.

It was a fantastic experience. While we have watched it before on TV, the real life experience was phenomenal. Its no where close to what you see and feel from watching it on TV. Schumacher was unbeatable until he deliberately gave up at the last lap to his team mate. I had hard time contemplating the fact that they are driving the cars at 220 mph at peak speeds. We chose to support montoya, but he miserably failed on the second lap but crashing with his own team mate. But he came back to finish 4th, to save some face. Overall it was worth the expensive trip. Dana and Santhosh were with me and we had fun the entire trip.

India Trip July 27, 2002 – Aug 9, 2002

While Appa managed to build our house with his savings, it was just enough for us. Hence this past January 2002 when I was there, We decided to extend it into the next site to make it good for a family of five. The work started in late February. Our in-house Civil Engineer, Sridhar, was given the responsibility of make this dream of ours happen. He finally managed to complete 80% of the construction by end of August right on time for Appa’s Sashtiapdha Poorthi ( 60th Birthday ). I landed on coimbatore, right on time for the function, the next day. We celebrated Appa’s 60th Birthday on July 30, 2002, at ‘Then Thiruppathi’ Kovil in Karamadai, Coimbatore. We were happy to have some of our relatives come over to coimbatore for this special occasion. It was a great two days for me, especially when I was on a short two week vacation from US. The house extension and its civil work was praised by everyone and all the credit goes to Sridhar.

After the hectic two days, myself and appa went on a ‘one day’ spiritual trip to Rameswaram. This is the south most tip of India. It was a different experience, with all the trouble we have had with the tour guides, auto rickshaws, fake iyers, sitting in the ocean front doing fake ‘tharpanams’ etc. It was still worth the experience. We decided to take the early train back and we stopped over in Madurai to visit the Meenakshi Temple. We spent the rest of the day in Madurai, before catching the late night Thiruvalluvar bus to coimbatore. I spent rest of my vacation hanging around coimbatore.

I spent the last day in chennai visting some of our relatives. I met some of my best friends, VPL Ganesh, R Saravanan (Muttai) and Saravana Kannan ( Lufthansa ), before boarding the flight to Germany, enroute to Detroit.