TOP 10…

Posted August 30th, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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In tradition with all the countdowns here is a list of my top 5!!

5 Things i love about America!!

1)     The automatic doors! Absolutely the best thing! It really feels very welcoming and you feel really royal when doors open in front of you!

2)      The libraries..Till now all the authors i have given in Search have always returned me some answer!

3)      Fruits and Fruit juice ..plenty available and as cheap as drinking water!

4)     Of course the free internet..how can i miss that!

5)      Labs …really cool and everything available and soon! no wait period of 1 month!

5 things i hate about America

1)     no newspapers…yahan pe woh habitich nahi hai

2)     Have to have a car for roaming! and the roads are uphill downhill most of the places…so walking is tough!

3)     U go to a restaurant and try to find a non carbonized non alcoholic drink….no way!

4)     Everybody seems to be alone …its like each man for himself!

5)     No baambaiyya Hindi!!! no sick jokes …That’s bad

Shenandoah

Posted August 27th, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Personal, Travel
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This Friday evening the BME seniors had taken us to downtown to FRIDAYS AFTER 5..which means that there is a kind of open air fair ( a very small one!) with stalls selling knick-knacks and stuff..There were ppl playing the guitar at one corner and some guys were singing..basically as the Americans put it everybody does their own thing!!!

They were serving beer and pretty soon the whole place had an alcoholic smell to it..and then they had this big open air amphitheater…its kind of a like a bowl.. where the band plays in the deep end and ppl sit on the grass slopes on the side and drink beer and “just chill out”. I met another girl there from my own department ..An American called Linda aur usko bahut pakaaya. It was fun to talk with a “proper American” girl and she was telling me all about her brothers( she had two!) and her parents and hobbies ( it is swing dancing!…woh kya cheez hai bhai….its some east European dance !) and  it was fun! and then we discovered that she too wanted to study literature and then she started reciting a Robert Frost poem (Fire and Ice) and I continued and then we ended up reciting the whole thing together …Talk about international bonding!!

The next day was really nice that is Saturday…. we ( the band of desi at U.VA)ad  planned a picnic for the day…we went first to Natural bridge… As the name suggests it is a natural bridge made of limestone millions of years ago and being made too!! It is 515 feet high ( for those who are statistically inclined) and that is twice the height of the Niagara and it is AWESOME! Right at the top of it there is a natural etching which looks (or the Americans say it does) like a spread eagle…We strained our eyes trying to make out the shape and finally got it.!! Then there was a lost river there,,,jiska matlab we could hear it but no amount of digging and tracer studies could figure out its course…

This place was originally an American Indian place,,so as a tourist attraction they had some Indian tents and a few ppl dressed as Indians carving some stuff and making pottery! Animal skins decorated the place…Elks ,weasel ,skunk ,deer and they were so soft! The ( mock) Indians were really happy to see our group (the real Indians!!) or as they put it and they said “i really cannot use the word Indians in your presence cos you are the true Indians!!”

Sorry for the detour…now to move on we next went to the Blue Ridge mountains part of the Appalachian mountain ranges which extends upto Tennesse..and it is upto 3000 ft high ..The scene was beautiful..Virginia is supposed to be the most beautiful state in Us in terms of natural beauty and certainly the greenest..THe fall colors were not yet out ( it seems the leaves of each tree has a different shade ) but even now the leaves were in different hues so i could well imagine what a riot of color it would be in mid September ( we plan to go to another place to see the Fall colors then!) We stopped at a shady grassy spot to have our lunch :Sandwiches of ham and turkey with mayonnaise and peanut butter ,cool tomatoes(!) ,fresh butter and cheese and cola to wash it all with!!! ( just to give a touch of Enid Blyton to the whole thing!!!)

The view from the top was astounding…Mountains on one side ..and a valley on the other and the drive was full of hairpin curves it was almost like driving on the Lonavla ghats! Our next halt was the Sheranado lake …It was like those idyllic locations : a lake set in the middle of mountains..They had created an artificial beach out there…Unfortunately we didn’t know that earlier so none of us had got our swimming gear..The guys easily stripped to their undies and dived in and we were just watching the show(!) Vrushali had major enthu so she dived in with all her clothes but poor me was wearing white so couldn’t even do that !!

After which there was a long drive back home….and i spent the whole time actually entranced by the scenery …would you believe it i hardly spoke to Seejo!!

The English Countryside

Posted August 10th, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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ok here is the next edition of my travelogue…..

May be the tour of the countryside was worth all the trouble we went through! Just a few words about Cardiff though…..It is in Wales … (Great Britain of course comprises of England, Scotland, Wales ) It appears to be  kind of a hill station and is situated at around 31/2 hours drive away from London!

The first thing I noticed when I got out of the plane was that the sky is really “blue”. It was a colour had not seen before! The drive was lovely…the lanes were narrow and on both sides there were this HUGE meadows in various shades of green stretching as far as the eye could see! There were just a few houses scattered here and there and they were exactly like the houses we used to draw back in first standard! An inverted “V” and then a square within which there are 4 small squares for windows and a small chimney. Most of the houses did have “Red-roofs”!!

All the road signs were in Welsh and English for example Cardiff in Welsh is CArdydd and the word lane is “llath”! The landscape didn’t vary much …Alternating shades of yellow and green could be seen! with grazing animals. I saw the Jersey cows (they are just a bit longer than Indian but they are somehow more elegant!)

Most houses had paddocks with horses in them and some even had the jumping bars for the horses. Also Welsh being the country of shepherds there were plenty of sheep!!! I could almost see what Enid Blyton wrote in her books about sheep in the hills and actually looked quite hard for a glimpse of the “shepherd!”. But you know the funny thing is that in the three hours that we had to get to London I didn’t see even a SINGLE person on the road..All the ppl were moving about in cars. Huge flock of sheep, herds of cows ,horses …even goats but no man!! The cars in England are somewhat conservative compared to the more jazzier American ones and smaller too…Many cars had bicylces taped on at the back!

Welsh is separated by England by a channel of water which our airhostess called the English Channel( i am not sure but I though that was between England and France!!) The best part is that travelling in England is very familiar …… road signs are as familiar as Andheri, Borivili or Dadar……I mean when you see Eton and Reading and Swindon you feel you are on familiar ground! i saw a part of the grounds of the Royal Ascot ( all I could make out was that it was huge!!) And i got such a thrill when we passed thru Bath!! Agreed the countryside hardly differed ( it didn’t throughout most of the journey ) but Bath was Bath!!! We passed through the counties of Wiltshire and the royal counties of Berkshire

The only “spot” that I really saw was the Windsor Castle. It looks just like the castle should look like,,,with moats and turrets and towers!! The Heathrow air port is a HUGE place …it takes a long time to get to the airport after getting in the main gate! Most of the bus drivers in England were sardarjis .with “dadi” and pagdi! The weather was very nice and pleasant except that it got a bit chilly at night ..It rained a bit in Wales but it seems it always does!

Something about the food ..the veggies would have had a real problem.. because here they mostly don’t bother to ask whether you want veg stuff! At the Sheraton all the veggies could have was a few boiled vegetables and asparagus soup! Even the non-veg was bland…I finally understood the importance they give to “carving ” the chicken …each piece was a huge chicken itself!! I could just manage a few bites!! And yes I had the “authentic English apple pie and it was delicious!!..

Thats all I saw of England…

Bubble Baths

Posted August 10th, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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Ok Ruby  this is for you….Unfortunately I couldn’t have a bubble bath at Sheraton…less time and weary limbs….but I had one once I reached Jayasree chechi’s place!! Just thought I’ll describe “my first bubble bath”!! ( you guys asked for a detailed mail and here you are ….!! don’t wince!)

The first thing I realized is that bubble baths are going to be a luxury not due to lack of time but lack of moolah! To get up a decent foam you half to empty like quite half the bottle of the soap solution and woh to apne ko parvedega nahi !! Anyway this time around Jayasree chechi did all the work of getting the lather …( I don’t know why the Americans haven’t invented a device to do that…you have to actually thrash about with your hands to whip up a decent lather!!….)Ok so there i was a few seconds later ..with my hair piled up ( as seen in all the movies, but not that elegant though!!) soaking blissfully in the tub..But I must say there is something about foam that makes one look quite sexy!!

Ok So there I was soaking away..with a book in my hand..unfortunately my cousin didn’t have “Elle” or the “Vogue” or some glamorous magazine so I had to make do with an “Archie comic” .what a pity!!  It kind of takes the charm away from the whole thing but AH! what cannot be cured must be endured….:-(

And yes one more thing was lacking ….the all important glass of wine!! Come what may …the next time I am going to make sure I have atleast a glass of orange juice with me….and the next time is going to be soon!!

I filched a couple of bottles of the bubble bath from the Sheraton!!

To the United States!

Posted August 9th, 2000 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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The start itself was horribly jinxed. The flight was postponed to the next day and I had to rebook my tickets on the previous day’s flight ( which was also luckily delayed by a day!!)The confusion was apparent at the airport cos there were horribly long queues for every thing. The immigration check took us nearly 2 hours. So all in all by the time i finished checking in the baggage ,completed the formalities and had the security check done I had barely 20  minutes left before the scheduled start of the flight ( and this too because I was in the business class line for checking in : courtesy a friend’s uncle). Anyway there were loads of ppl left even when I had finished so it was evident the flight would be delayed. .  ..Anyway by the time all the passengers were seated it was already 1.45 am (the scheduled time of departure was 12.45am) But problemo again……Some extra baggage got loaded or something and by the time all that was cleared and the flight took off it was 4.30 am By this time I was certain I would miss my connecting flight .so I relaxed and sat back and tried to enjoy!!! The journey itself was quite boring and I slept thru most of it.
We reached Heathrow at 9 am ( London time) . I had a glimmer of hope that I may even make my connecting flight but no way they were bent upon making this a memorable trip!! There was some fog at Heathrow and therefore the they couldn’t land the plane. So we landed instead at Cardiff International airport at Wales. which was a small airport even by Indian standards. But there was more to come … The pilots had completed their allocated quota of airtime and so couldn’t fly us back to Heathrow. So there we were stuck in the goddamn plane ,,,bahar bhi nahi ja sakte the!! Cardiff was such a small airport ..they didn’t even have enough buses to ferry us across to the airport .. To get all the passengers took them 2 hours!! It was 9.35 when we landed and 11.15 when we reached the airport! Then we had to undergo a long process to get a transit visa. The flight was full and staff at Cardiff inadequate so a five minute task actually took them two hours to complete So three more hours of waiting in a never ending queue…

NOTE: If this mail seems full of queues be assured it was so I spent more time standing in queues than the actual flying time and I thought queues in India were bad!!)

By this time I had ganged up with a group of Indian students so the talk was familiar the jokes were plenty and we all collectively cursed the BA authorities who had abandoned us!! But then came the rudest shock. We were supposed to collect our baggage and transport it ourselves to Heathrow!!! Most of us had three bags weighing a total of nearly 100 kgs so you can imagine the agony we went through. So there was another long queue to collect the bags and there we were waiting again for the bus to take us to Heathrow, They required seven buses and of course the first-class travelers got the first preference! It was 2 pm by the time the buses came and after loading that luggage (WHEW!!!!!) and getting settled it was nearly 3.30 pm by the time we started to London…

This was actually the highlight of the trip cos i got an excellent tour of the entire English countryside For those interested in a description please reply with a blank mail with subscribe as the subject . You will get periodic descriptions of Life in America as an added bonus!! The journey was around 3 hours and we reached Heathrow at 7 pm Suitcases nikaala aur khade hai qatar mein to get tickets for our onward journey . By this time the seasoned travelers had become wise to the situation . They knew exactly what had to be done …IT was of course we students who were treated us second class citizens. Moreover we were impeded by all that baggage ..Lugging 100 kgs up and down is no mean task I tell you!!! Anyway I got my tickets confirmed by the next days flight …the same one I was supposed to catch :but a day later! By this time It was 10 pm . Then back with bag and baggage to Hotel Sheraton to spend the night . We had to wait ( of course!!!!) for an hour in the chilly English weather at night for an hour for the bus to arrive–we were a group of 20 odd students–by this time we were ravenous the last food we had was in the plane at 8.30 a.m. in the morning. Now the best part there was no direct bus to the Hotel …So load bags get off midway unload them all and reload them again!( by the way almost all the bus drivers in England were Sardarjis with long flowing manes!!) The food at Sheraton was ….well……… English!! The hospitality at the Hotel was bad….. Some say it is because of the racial discrimination but I think it was because were staying courtesy BA ..there were not even porters and we had to carry the luggage ourselves to the rooms!

Anyway the bed looked welcoming…The sleep was erratic cos we students do not qualify for services like wake up call ….the receptionist didn’t even bother to pick up the telephone!!! so I had to wake up a couple of times in the night to check the time! We checked out at 6 am and were back the same way to the airport !!Actually the next few minutes were the most scary part …Till then I had all these students but suddenly I was all on my own ,…new place ..no confirmed tickets and all these formalities! and no idea what to do next! Well!!! when there is nothing there are queues…so checked in baggage and went thru the entire process of security checks et al and boarded the plane! The rest of the journey was uneventful ..Jayasree chechi and Jay had come to receive me so it was fine.