Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

diwali : this year was on nov 5th.we were heavily jet lagged and that totally worked in our favor !! family, food and fire crackers throughout the night, with a view of the fashion institute in navi mumbai was perfect !

diwali with family

shatabdi : mumbai to bharuch  is about a four hours train ride. we boarded in the early hours. the train is clean, they serve quality food (a lot) and the seats are perfect for obese mammals (leb)..!!

shatabdi, an express ride from indian railways - obesity friendly

we chanced upon a  mumbai sunrise…!!

sunrise in mumbai from within the shatabdi

breakfast: is the most important meal of the day,  and on some mornings,… best with an antacid !!

breakfast of the kings - with no acidity issues

dam : damn, …..the sardar sarovar dam and narmada look awesome !!

colors at sardar sarovar dam on the narmada

at any hour of the day … !!

sunset on narmada at sardar sarovar dam

crows: do not remember seeing even one of these in all my years of stay in the americas

oblivious of their vocals

tirupati: is always crowded and busy with tirumala devotees.we found a place to stay, close to the bus stand, with a view of the hills !!

tirumala hills in the early hours

sunrise ‘n’ sunset : is probably when the day looks best, no matter which part of the world !!

sunset in chittoor - andhra pradesh

photographs : all the photographs were shot with a 8.1 mp digital camera and there was no Photo Shop editing done to enhance quality. If you liked the photographs and would like to use any of them, please be kind to acknowledge the source.


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Today is a very important day !!  The man who is paying for the services of consultants like me, is back from his vacation. Now, when I say he is paying for our services, what I really mean is he is the Global Director, Project Sponsor ….Executive Board et al. He is the client !!

The timing of his “time off” could not have been better. We were in a critical phase as far as the project deliverables and decisions were concerned. Sort of along the same lines of when Arjun and Krishna were tweeting on Koffee with Kauravas. Now imagine, just before Krishna begins, Arjun decides to take a month-long vacation. You know to explore the hills of Gangtok I am sure that would sit really well in the Pandava camp – “dude just go….. have fun !! ….and bring us back some yak milk cheese.”.

History repeats itself is proof, when our Local Arjun brought back some candies from Zurich. Based on inputs from my intra office contacts I have established, that these are the ones which are always on sale in the Duty Free stores. And I digress. At this point, it would be rather insignificant for the reader to note that our Local Arjun is of Bengali descent. It would also be negligent of me, if I forgot to mention that Local Arjun believes – being a fellow Bengali, it is my moral duty to kiss his Bengali paachha (buttocks)…. especially since it has client written all over it !!

Now that is where things get a little hairy. Let me explain briefly with an example!!

So, Local Arjun cruised in this morning, sporting his Sree Leathers shoes and wearing his cheap cologneof the 80’s man who badly needs a wardrobe makeover”. And then he embarked on his Vijay Yatra (raucous walk through the cubicles). As the decibel on the periodic  “haoo are yoooo”’ s amplified –  I knew it was just a matter of time, before I would have to strike a subordinated posture and enquire  – “Boss kemon ghurlen?” (how was your trip, Boss ?).  

I have to admit, this was not the best question !! Local Arjun took the cue and promptly filled up the air with details on how “vaery beeootifull Vaeneece (Venice) was !!  He slurped on the memories of a “deeleeshush” duck in Paris. And almost mourned the loss of his lugg – age (including his wife) at the Munich airport. Four weeks of relaxations has its effects, and at that point he just wanted to get back home to some dal bhaat (lentil and rice). The “vaery” vocal travelogue continued,without any consideration for those that were on conference calls or any other business related activities.

As everywhere, there were some dedicated schmoozers who posed some challenging questions – “ how were the hotels ? “. Local Arjun believes in – always explain briefly with examples. (now you know why I am how I am). He did not disappoint the listener. “ Oh they were so vaery costtlee”  he said and concluded the ten minute monologue with – “I had to spend $40,000 just on hotels itself !! It was horr-aybell, you know !!

Like so many others, this is another bone dry IT project. One which is supported by a group of under paid technocrats. Those who have had a really rough June. The client sliced and diced us with inane accusations and rolled off some key resources without any specific reason (read : because someone needed to be blamed). One of the guys lost his father before he could reach India. He was not allowed to leave sooner. And yet our Local Arjun finds in himself the “right” to flaunt bleat about his pleasures pains to those that held fort during his totally deserving holiday.    

It is likely that working “14 hour” days has pushed my head, so far up my behind, that my thinking has got all muddy. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the part where I question the Gurus of the Service Industry. When they say “the client is always right !!”  how “always” is that ? ?

While you reflect on that, I shall now get back to comforting him with my sincere concerns – “You look tired Boss. I think you should take it easy for a couple of days !”.

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Ricky Gervais’s .gif courtesy: google images

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Ladies and gentlemen, today is a sad day for the “Rebublic” of Bubbles !! Yesterday four of our youngest and bravest, lost their lives, in what can be defined as notebook example of premeditated cold “bubble” murder !! What is most absorbing, is the amount of planning that went into this heinous crime. This photograph was taken, minutes before the fatal episode. What follows is a transcript of the note found at the “splash” site, moments after the bubbles’ “burst” !!

What’s her face, is the reason for our death ! You can see her hand and how she used it to “blow” us into our demise. There was not an ounce of remorse, as her  partner in crime jumped gleefully with his sadistic squeal  – “ bawel bawel” (damn kid did not even pronounce our names right). They even had a photographer, at the soon to be “scene of crime”. As gravity pulled us towards the prickly greens, we could hear the haunting chuckles of the shutter.

They say, moments before you are about to die, your whole life flashes in front of your eyes.Who these “they” are, ….is unknown to us !! What we do know, is – that is a load of crap !!  If you look closely, you fill find our eyes are filled with images of the white balcony where our killers were situated.

This summer has been really bad for all of  “bubblehood”. From the time, State of Wal-Mart came out with the Summer Clearance Act, “bubblcide” rates have multiplied. We request all “bubbles” to try and relocate to the overstock section.

Let us observe a moment of silence in honor of  “bubbles lost in air”. We have to be strong. There is no room for tears .. ..Bubbles Don’t Cry !!

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Photo Information: This photograph was taken by le embrouille blogueur. If you wish to use this, please acknowledge the source.

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Link to day two : here

Link to days three and four : here

Beer is everything  a key resource  for revitalization. Ask anyone. And not just any kind of beer. A true desi (Indian) can literally feel the increase in rbc’s with every sip of energy drinks like ….Kingfisher, Royal Challenge, Hayvards etc. I knew exactly what to do. I needed to get to Little India on Newark Avenue !!

The women had no clue needed to get some rest. And sometimes, a man has to do what he has to do. So I lied. I told them – “let me get some veggies, fruits and milk for Onga“. They were curious – “why would  you need the cart?”. Before I could start about  my weak arms, they had left the scene…as usual. Now it was just a matter of me, walking the walk and talking the talk. Which translates into – get directions, pick up beer and get back home as soon as possible to put them beauties in the refrigerator. We all know how sensitive, beers are to excess heat !! 

To cover my true purpose, I stocked up on the unnecessary (read:veggies and fruits). Just enough to not use up all the room in the empty boxes. I lay the bottles on the comfy bed of bitter gourd and onions, and covered them with the cold from the methi leaves. I chuckled at the soon to be baffled women – “why did we need so much methi?”. Having ensured the safety of the hops. I started my journey back. People in the train looked at me and then moved their gaze to the boxes and I could tell what they thought – “that is a lot of leaves for one guy to carry around “. …..little did they know.

Women need to be constantly praised encouraged .A good dose can do wonders to the plates. And very soon we had kabobs, masala (spicy)peanut, soondal(chick pea snack) and all those goodies which cause instant heartburn and gradual dehydration. More reason for us to stay well hydrated (wink wink). All made and served, it was like old times. Same friends and great humor. The cold of the concrete floor had given way to the polish of the wood. And instead of  a view of cheap posters, we were looking at the lights from across the Hudson river. We sat around the food and talked away into the night and the early hours of morning. Perfect ending to a much awaited day of rest and evening of drinking fun conversation !!

We spent most of the next couple of days outdoors, visiting key attractions. We would take the train everywhere. It was super convenient and cheap, since parking in the city would cost us an arm and leg and with us having to carry Onga the way we were, that would be a tad inconvenient. The only down side was that every time the train doors opened and closed, Onga would bawl in fear. He was not used to the crowd. His mom and I shared a wicked laugh … “wait till he gets to India… this is nothing……hee haa haa !!

I compiled some of my clicks from one of the spring days ….. thanks to auto focus on the camera settings ….!!

Today is Mother’s Day. Growing up and actually till last year, I did not even know about this day. To me and to a lot of people who are like me, we just know that every day is special as a mom and for a mom.I wish my mom and Onga’s mom – Happy Mother’s Day. And I wish you and yours as well !!

Photo Courtesy (Cart) : here

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evening of day two : We found for ourselves, an Indian junkyard bistro – Kohinoor. We settled, only because it was close enough, for us to walk without dying of wind chill freeze. And true to its name, we were gifted with that “once in a lifetime dining experience”.  And I say that with total spite through the holes in our wallets.

We dumped walked the women back to the hotel and promptly returned into the fresh air, away from the constant  noise music that they generate. We had no time to waste. On our return, we carefully  packed the ladies in green under  the ice, in the sink of the ……ahem.. bathroom. The women gasped and I thought I heard them say – “how disgusting ….people spit and wash in there”. At that point in time,  our ears were blocked. In retrospect  I do have two key reasons behind that act. Firstly – I had checked for any oral dissipate before I poured the ice in there. Secondly  – there is an unwritten law among guys “we could be sitting naked, on rocks with snakes, under the hot Sun in the Sahara…… but  when someone offers us a beer, …….we want it cold !!”. I hereby rest my case.

day three  – The plan was to stuff a heavy breakfast, pick up something quick and get on the road. We had to reach Venkateswara Temple in Pittsburgh on time for lunch  the Saturday Abhisekham (prayers). Now, each time,  anyone asks me about the temple, I always begin with something like this …“their sambar rice is ….mmmmm and their tamarind rice … ah ha ha …. and the curd rice …. oooooo.” And then there is the pinch on my arm and I go….”sorry…it is a beautiful temple, in the mountains…near downtown…. and very close …is Udupi where the dosas  are just too good…..wait…don’t leavelet me finish..!”.

We arrived, several hours later (than planned). As the women rushed to redo the make up, freshen up, we took Onga to the men’s room … as appropriate. K held the wipes, as I lay the little fish between two sinks (they did not have a changing table) . Onga was quick to open both taps, one on each side, which in turn made other users give us that look ….”cannot discipline their kids, what kind of parents are these … two men ??” We paid no attention. Since it was just a flood, the change was quick and we were ready to meet Him.

I thanked Him for his kindness. Even at that late hour, they were not out of Sambar Rice (lentil rice) …or Tamarind Rice …or Curd Rice. He even pampered us with mango achar (Indian pickle) in small plastic containers. As we finished what we had come for, (you know what I mean) ….it was time for the pictures….for Orkut, Facebook,…etc. Each with a difference ….with the flowers,on the steps….with the elephants(and I do not mean fat people) , as couples, single. ….with children. next to the rental car … you get the drift

After the feast, darshan (holy respects) we had just one more task to complete before we hit the highway. Pick up diapers. From the time I entered the stadium sized store to when I started the car, it had been less than ten minutes. The crowd belched hooted in praise. I was a proud man,…. a man who had saved everyone  ….from baby mudslides …..literally !! We set off towards the mountains of Wheeling, West Virginia !!

I had arranged for royal accommodation. None of us had ever spent a night at any palace. Ever. Leave alone a Palace of Gold.  O.K….I lied.We did not stay at the Palace. We stayed at one of the cottages on the lake, next to the Palace. But it was equally awesome. There was a fully loaded kitchen, which moved the women,  to  prance around in joy. That  was odd … since we did not have any supplies on us. Next came the bathroom with hot water, clean towels, etc. and I promptly ….sat down to relax….ahem !! The cottage was all wood, which reminded me of the cottage I once stayed in, during a childhood trip to the hills of Mirik. We had two bedrooms, one in the attic space (you can see it in the picture)  and the other … well …not in the attic space. All in all …fantabulous !! 

day four : In the morning, after getting lost for the hundredth time, S and S finally met up with us.They  had been driving from Akron, Ohio. There was a primary reason behind us coaxing them to meet us. Our iPods were out of charge !!  Another not too important reason – we needed some milk for Onga !!

We all went to the Ashram temple and I thanked Lord Krishna…… for the khichdi (rice with veggies….yummmmm). Everyone else sneered at me….”how can he eat so much…… this early?”. Soon after, we cleaned up several plates of puri sabji at the ashram cafe.

Time for pictures. With buffalo (again, … not referring to fat people),  without, ….with the wife…without (nice) . ….and so on. Several clicks and an exhausting walk (of a couple of minutes) later …….we finally arrived at the Palace.

As Onga yanked the iron chain, which said “Do Not Touch”, I committed a mistake that could have been easily evaded. You see, ….this was my third visit. I could have easily opted to stay outside, attempted to entertain the boy and saved us some embarrassment. Not me !!  The tour took all of 5 minutes, which was really odd, since I clearly remember it to have been longer than that….the last couple of times. But then who knows !! Maybe we got the abridged version.

Our final journey back home, to Newport , New Jersey was slow, tolled and full of fried chicken. As we cruised into the city, Onga was cranky from sleeping too much and everyone else was too tired, … to replay the Bal Ganesh dvd….again !! We needed a good night’s rest before we could plan the next few days of our stay. We needed to recharge !! And I knew just exactly how… !! 

Photo Courtesy:le embrouille blogueur

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It had been a six hour drive from NYC and the weather was not in the best of its moods. I told everyone in the car – “when you see her for the first time, you will just forget everything else….everything will cease to make sense and her power will fill in the silence of amazement“. That is exactly what I think in my head, when I visit The Niagara Falls !! Everytime… !!

As we parked our chins on the cold metal railings, I found myself thinking. “wow, has it really been that long? ” and I realized ” it has“. The first time that I had visited The Falls, was when, I was a graduate student. I was fairly new to the country and it was all about making sure, that we (my roommates and I) had clicked enough pictures to send back home and then call them to attest “Ma dekhecho… asadharan naa?” (Ma, is n’t she out of the world?).

This time, it was slightly different. There was a backpack stapled to my shoulders. Filled with bare necessities viz.diapers,wipes,baby food, extra set of baby clothes,lipstick(s),hair comb(s),hair clip(s),……I may have missed a few items, but I am sure you would not mind !! On my left arm was a child (my son) who had successfully proven that strollers are for losers. To my right was his (my son’s) mom, who for some reason suddenly felt the need to death grip my right arm. Blame it on The Falls, that it makes people …..behave strangely….romantic !!

On that cold morning, as everyone around me, clicked away at the awesomeness of The Niagara, I had to (do something to get my mind off the extreme physical pain) get at least one good picture for the blog. The lens obliged. I found this tree……waiting patiently for spring (attempt to sounding poetic). In the far back are buildings in Canada and to the left is the mist from the Falls. I hope I am able to pass on a little bit of that visual treat, that I  feasted on !!Please click on image for a larger view.

This was day “two” of a week that we spent doing….. nothing !! Switched off our cell phones and stopped checking emails. We met up with friends who live in this high-rise, one with a view of downtown Manhattan and the Hudson River. In the next few days, I will relive some moments from that week,….moments which I loved to be part of. If you are reading this, I hope you are back for more !!

Photo Courtesy:here

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The last time we checked, our 6:14 had been cancelled and we had been re-booked on the 7:50,which was now delayed by couple of hours.Terminal B at EWR is probably one of the most unexciting terminals of all times.I had two options …finish the last quarter of my book or…… finish the last quarter of my book.What I did not know about, was a third available item on the menu – to relax in the NWA® lounge (courtesy:platinum member coworker).I made it a combo (the junk food effect) picking all three of the above.I even got myself some snacks while we lazed around dreading a potential cancellation (didnot happen).As we walked through the gate, I was told that I have an upgrade.I am now in 2D. I told myself – “now that I can live with, more leg room….nice”……and that was not all…..

As people started to come in, (clearly tired of the delay and the wait) – a lot of them smiled as they got close to my seat.After some doubt that they were glad to see me (but why??) or about my upgrade (really??) I realized that they were actually greeting the person next to me. I held back my ever daring curiosity and consented to politeness by not turning to look (stare rather) at who he was.That attempt lasted for about half a minute, before I had to pretend that I was getting comfortable. To give it a real touch, I slid my obese (lack of)frame on the leather and in effect got a glimpse, and almost immediately told myself – “I know who he is …he is one of the guest speakers at the Bill Maher show !!

There was this girl (she addressed him as Professor) who shook his hands and he whispered back at her – “take care now”.Then the band (from Jamaica) did the fist bump with him (each one of them). While I had been “doing nothing” in the lounge, an impromptu performance near the gate for the “professor” and other passengers had been a real hit.They were on their way to a music festival in Chicago.He wished them luck as they got lost in the crowd towards the end of the aircraft.There were few others who wished him on their way to their seats.Meanwhile I sent a text message to my friend -“sitting next to guest from the BM show, cannot figure out who he is”.Got a response – “Cool”.Yeah,that helped. ..I have to confess, for a minute there, I wished I owned one of the fancy gadgets (read:iPhone®, Voyager® etc.) where you can Google® and not have to wait till you “connect” otherwise…..and then I drifted off into my “in transit” slumber.

I finally looked him up and a cauldron of shame, embarrassment and “do not know what else to add” feelings got stirred!! I had spent close to three hours sitting next to Professor Cornel Ronald West and I had no clue who he was.All I could relate him to, was a television talk show.I felt shallow (the word I was looking for) at my lack of knowledge.Currently a Professor at Princeton University he is extremely respected for his political and moral insight.For someone, who had to actually find out who he is, I do not want to replicate that information from another website on my post. I had not spoken one word to him and that will be one of those regrets which I will not get over easily…..!!

Photo Courtesy:here

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