Christmas Trip

Posted December 31st, 2001 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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Am back from my “looooong vacation” and here is the description!!

Here is the details on my Christmas trip….
Seejo and I landed at Las vegas on Thursday night.

Early Friday morning we decided to see Vegas attraction outside of the main city. These included the Hoover Dam,Lake Mead and the Red rock canyon. Hoover Dam is a large dam supplying electricity to 3 states in US. It certainly was large. We took a helicopter ride to see an aerial view of the dam and that was what impressed me. Lake Mead is an artificially created lake. To see a strect of bright blue amidst the dry rocky Nevada desert was wonderful sight from above. From there we went to see the Red Rock Canyon. The red rock canyon is a mountanin range which not surprisingly is red in color. It was pretty good sight to see. Basically all we did was to drive around a route which had various overlook points to see the ranges from different spots.

Aparna landed in Vegas that very evening and we went to the airport to pick her up. Then all three of us went on a tour of the “night life” in Vegas. Las Vegas is just what you expect a “sin city “ to be.Glitzy Glamourous and Great!! . Las vegas is actually a desert surrounded by mountains on all four sides. The heart of Las vegas is the “strip” . It is one road with all the big hotels and casinos are …All these are brilliantly lit with flashy neon signs .All hotels have a residence area,a casino are and shopping arcades. The shopping arcades pander to the richjand the famous and all most any branded shop can be found there, Each Hotel has also some attractions ..like s free show or something. Most of them are developed after a theme. For example there is the Venetian ..having the ambience of Venice. You can have a gondola ride in an artifical canal and the main piazza is decorated to look like it is one of the streets in Venice.

The Luxor is shaped like a pyramid and the inside is also like the streets in Egypt ..Most of the interiors in each hotel leaves you dumb struck..Because they have tried to make it a replica of the streets in that city. There was Ceaser with a Roman Influence ,Alladin with the Arabic influence,Paris ,New york with their charm. etc.

The hotel we stayed was called the Stratosphere. It is built like a tower and is presently the second tallest building in America after the WTC went down. The “attraction” here was a ride called the BIG SHOT. On top of the tower there is another structure like a mini tower. The ride seats you around this second structure about 1000 ft up in the air and then takes you up with an acceleration of 4 G . so basically you are out in the open and you can see entire Vegas before you and then it drops you down with 0G . you get a feeling of floating and it is terrifyingly scary!! But definitely enjoyable,

We gambled a lot using slot machines and even won about 60$ .Did a lot of window shopping. Basically gambled a bit n each casino …almost like well since we were sightseeing here let us give something back to the casino …!!!

Early next morning …by early I mean the ungodly hour of 4.30 am ( which is even more significant in the light that we slept at 2.30 am ) we set out for a drive to San Diego. With Seejo driving and Aparna and me alternately sleeping and chatting we reached San Diego about 10 am., San Diego has one of the most famous aquariums in US .The Sea World had ,other than the usual display of fishes , a lot of shows. There was a whale show, dolphin show, sealion show, a few rides etc. There were Arctic animals like walruses, white whales, penguins etc. Then there were simulated rides which take you on a helicopter ride to the arctic etc.

From San diego the next stop was Los Angeles. We met up with Vidya and Eashwer there. Vidya looked a little thinner and eashwer looked a little fatter than I saw them last.

After dinner we went to see the Santa Monica boulevard. It was one of the happening places in LA cos it is a street which has live musicians street acrobats etc. It was almost dark when we reached there and we were tired and sleepy so we didn’t really enjoy the ambience a lot!! Then back to the hotel where Vidya ,Aparna and I sat talking for some time ,called Siddhi and Pooja back in India ..talked to Pooja ( didn’t get siddhi online) .It didn’t feel as though we were meeting after such a long time….The next day ,Aparna Seejo and I left the hotel early in the morning and drove around the Malibu beach area. (Vidya had already been there the previos day to see the Malibu temple ….All three of us were not really into temples so we decided to bypass that and take the scenic route) The Malibu beach area also houses some of the rich and the famous guys …It had huge houses which we were sure belonged to the Hollywood stars and Aparna and I had a good time assigning houses to different stars!! Especially when a complete stranger asked us totally out of the blue whether we saw “Oceans11” and smirked at our nods. We promptly made him the director of the film and were gloating the whole day that we met a Hollywood director. On second thoughts..he could have been the producer as well….or may be even the spot boy!!!

California has this amazing landscape of having cliffs on one side of the road and the ocean on the other. The drive was beautiful and we really enjoyed the fantastic view. Our next sstop was the famous “holly wood “ sign which we see in movies .Seejo ‘s earthly ambition was to photograph that sign so off we went trying to find a vantage point to photograph it. After seing that sign ..”which actually is ust the letter Hollywood “ on top of the mountain….. we went to see the Walk of Fame.

Walk of fame is this street in Hollywood which has the names of all stars on the street. If i remember right Julia Roberts picks up Richard Gere in Pretty Woman on that street!! The entire road has these star shaped structure with a particular stars name in it stanped across the sidewalk. There are also imprints of their footprints and hand prints. We didn’t have much time to see there cos we had to reach Universal Studio where Vidya and Eashwer where waiting. So after taking the mandatory Patel photographs we went off to Universal Studio.

Universal Studios has this tram tour which takes you around the studio with precreated sets. They have facades with European ambience, Mexican bars, etc. They even show a few speciall effects. My favourite one was that of the earthquake when the train is in the station. You see sparks of electricity and you are certain that the entire thing is going to explode.Meanwhile half the station is come apart due to the joltings and then there is a sudden flood which comes out cos the water tanks are broken .somewhere across you can see a opart odf tha station has caiught fire. Definitely Great. They let you into some of the tricks they employ while shooting.Like you feel the hero is jumoiung onto this huge ocean when actually it’s a small puddle of water!

Other than the studio tour there were several rides and shows. The two best shows were that of the Water world and the Wild West. In water world they actually perform most of the stunts we see in ta film’s climax live. YOU see shootings and acrobatics and vilian bombing the place up and people somersaulting all across the stage. It was wonderful to see . Wild west was another show in imitation of the western movies and that was really fun!! TO see these trigger happy people go shooting each other was great.!

Universal Studio also had a few other rides .Basically all rides were just the same but each had a different amnbience and hence a different thrill …Like the ET ride which made you feel that you had actually reached a planet somewhere …and the Jurassic park ride strewn with dinaousrs everywhere . Then there were a few shows like the 3-D terminator show which was great. It was a 3-D cum live show , so you had people running through the theater. And they had seats which could move you if there was a sudden landing un the film our seats would give a jerk…if there was water splashing on the screen you could feel a spray on your face…It was great!

Next day was Disney land .We were lucky in a way cos it was Christmas eve .Disney land also thas the same kind of shows,rides and 3-D film but in a very cute setting. It was very enjoyalbe to see Sleeping beauty’s castle,Pinochio,snowwhitle and seven dwarves etc. The rides were not as great as in Universall studio ,but perhaps they were beginning to apll after three consecutive days of rides…But as I overheard a visitor say “Disneyland in Christmas time is magical”. There was a special Christmas parade with all the farily tale characters .You sit by the road and see the fairy tale characters we know so well dance by. Snowhite,Cindrella, the little mermaid,gingerbread man,mickey and Minnie ,and finally to end the parade Santa claus with his elvwes and reindeers.

The next attraction was the fireworks, It was a fifteen minute show above Sleeping beauty;s castle and it was wonderful. Quite the best thing I saw in the entire three days.

Colourful rockets lit the sky forming different formations and converting the sky to a fantasy place .

It was good bye to LA and to Vidya and Aparna.Aparna was going to go to SFO to Vidya’s place and I was planning to go to Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon is in Arizona the desert state of America. It’s a drive through nothing ness..On both sides of the road there is anothing to see other than a wide expanse of land with mountains in the distance, We reached William,Arizona(where we were going to stay) just as we despaired of ever seeing civilization again . We had a quick nap before we set off to see the grand Canyon.

The first glimpse of the Canyon is indeed awesome. It was snowing the previous night so the canyon had a sprinkling gof snow at the top. Grand Canyon was really grand. It was amazing to think that a river caused this maginficient structure,we drove around the place ,pausing appropriately at all the outlook points, clicked a humungous amount of snaps and oohed and aahed at the right spots .We drove back to Las Vegas that day evening.

2 days left to see Vegas in….we went in the gondola ride.strolled through every possible casino .saw the beautiful fountain show at Bellagio,the volcanic eruption at Mirage ,the pirate battle in Treasure island.

That ends my description of the trip. Reached home to see Mark’ s mails overcrowding my inbox!!

Austin Adventures

Posted August 22nd, 2001 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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The news this time around is my Austin trip!

It was rather a hurried trip because I could not spare much time ..Rather my advisor could not spare much of my time!!! I reached Austin on Friday evening and Anjum and Pulkit were at the airport to receive me.. and so were a couple of their friends ..Pallavi and Virat. We went straight from there to see Dil Chahta hai….Unfortuntely we were late and the tickets wee sold out..But that itself was an amazing thing for me to see a houseful theatre swarming with Indians J.We resolved to come there the next day and set off towards the univ area.

After dropping rest of the public at the respective houses ,Pulkit gave me a tour of Austin downtown by the moonlight!!! The university of Austin is situated right in the downtown area with the University Tower facing the state capitol, both of which were illuminated beautifully. The capitol in Austin is grand and actually bigger than the one in Washington D.C.

The next day we went to see a few sights in Austin…..The Austin tower …we went up the tower to get a birds eye view of Austin.The Austin tower is something like the center around which the university is built ..It’s a pretty tall structure and although closed to the general public  at any time we could up in a guided tour..The guide did babble a bit about its history and the quality of cement used to build it etc but all in all it was pretty cool…. Visited the O Henry museum..actually dragged Pulkit to the O Henry museum..He barged into the house asking to speak to Mr.O Henry ..The museum curator loved him and insisted on telling him the entire story of his life …which fascinated me but am sure bored Pulkit to death …O .Henry lived here and was actually takem to prison ( where he wrote almost all his works) from Austin..It was a pretty small house and had all the artifacts they had collected of him like his books ,his desks ..etc…

Another must see sight in Austin according to the guide books is the colony of bats near the down town,,,Pulkit gave me a look that suggested”Finally she has gone of her rockers ” when I mentioned bats but as he was trying to essay the role of a perfect host had to take me there. To my obvious disappointment and to Pulkit’s not so obvious relief the bat colony seemed to be depleted and unlike the “millions and millions of bats which the guide sites suggested there were just about a hundred or so) Still the Colorado river by the night,framed by the Austin skyline  was a pretty neat sight .In the evening Anjum, Tejas,Pallavi Pulkit and I went to see Dil Chahta hai… Really liked the movie…The fun part was Aamir Khan is related to Anjum and Tejas said that the girl who played”Deepa” ( the only thing I hated about the movie…couldn’t they find any other name) was his cousin…This prompted me to adopt Akshye Khanna as my cousin and Pulkt claimed that the second girl on the left in the third scene in the first dance sequence was his long lost sister !! All in all FUN movie!

After that we went to sixth street ….the “place to be in Austin” …..Most of the guys  would have loved this place ..It is a street with pubs and pool parlors  and occasionally you might even run into a sozzled First Daughter!! ;-) Many of them have live music bands like jazz ,rock etc and Austin does live upto the name of being the LIVE MUSIC CAPITAL …It’s the alive place in Austin and the party goes on till 2 in the night!! Oh yes that day we also went to a bookshop where we get books at half prices…Great place I HAD to buy a few books and Pulkit in his newly found status of earning good money rashly promised to pay for them ..and he did pay dearly for that promise!!

The next day we went to Dallas ( which is a three hour drive…) .Texas is such flat country compared to the hills in Virginia ..nor is it that green..Although there are fewer African Americans there it has a large number of Mexicans. And I thought Public displays of affection( smooching, kissing making out!!) were much more here than in Virginia!!

Met Vijaya and Sundar.( my classmate and her husband) Vijaya had made lunch with kheer for dessert! With them we went to this chaat place where Pulkit insisted on asking the Chaatwala…what kind of water he used and where he got his water from..much to the embarrassment of Sundar..He was trying hard to pretend he didn’t know this person!

Coming back was fun though….With my sense of (mis)direction and It being Pulkit’s almost maiden ride out of Austin…we got lost in Dallas downtown several times..We reached this godforsaken place and then Pulkit got down to ask at a gas station about the directions.We were told”This is not a good place to be on foot, mate”.Apni to fatli ..jhat se car mein aur phat se car chalu!!  Dallas has these flyovers in layers ..almost like 5 layers and would you believe it we passed through all of them in our quest to get the right road!…….Although we manages to see the Dallas skyline from all possible angles …it was a relief when we finally reached back home..tired and worn out at 3 in the morning!

Next morning a brief spell of shopping and me back at the airport!

I left Austin on Monday morning ,,,and now its back to work…

Anyway back to courses and research and dreams and plans of the next vacation!

Home Sweet Home

Posted May 21st, 2001 by Deepa and filed in Uncategorized
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Back to home sweet home…

It would be stupid to say that it is great being at home ..for everybody knows that ..still it is so great that it is worth a repetition. Its GREAT being back.

Actually after a few hours it didn’t seems as though I was ever away ..the 10 months in America simply faded away..Everything was so same..that It was difficult to visualize that I was ever not at home!!

Its nice to eat mangoes and drink rasna and kokum sherbet

Nice to eat food without worrying about cleaning up and washing dishes

Nice to meet all the people who come home to see you

Nice to have “jhi TV” blaring songs all day

Nice to go out in the colony

Nice to see haji ali

Nice to come back home at 11 pm and still find the streets teeming with humanity

Even nice to see the Muslim women in Kurla station with a horde of children.

Nice to hear a bus conductor comment sarcastically to a passenger

Its funny how quickly we adjust back to the routine that was once ours here…

How quickly I managed to walk on the roads here trying to edge away from the eve teasers…to sidle across once side or to side step the sly advances of a budding romeo..

Its easy to revert back to Hindi to talk to the bus conductors, shopkeepers etc

Easy to get back to bargaining with shopkeepers.

Easy to get back to chatting away on the phone with friends without worrying about the phone bills.

ITS GREAT TO BE HOME!!!!

Lost my voice

Posted April 7th, 2001 by Deepa and filed in Personal
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I HAVE LOST MY VOICE…. A terrible cold coupled with an irritant sore throat and aided by a unreliable workload has seen to it that the “voice” that characterized Deepa has changed from a impressive intonation to subdued squeak or even worse a unbelievable silence. Having lost the power to convey my all important feelings to the general public I have resorted to the task of email writing .For the internet requires no vocal cords and even a sound card is not mandatory to receiving mails!! The days are no doubt full, it being the final month before I become a 50% graduate in the eyes of the American public. The Indian education board granted me that title long back and the few Indians that know me well have even doubted the wisdom of such an action. Assignments have piled up, projects demand complete dedication ,presentations claim a few hours of my time ,classes require attendance and I need a break!! Still the think that keeps me going is that there is little more than a month before I can go back home. So I allow myself a few delicious moments of dreaming about “Once I land in Bombay…..” Newswise a pathetic week for nothing major happened other than what I chronicled at the start of this mail… Advisor is in a better mood nowadays and now that I have convinced him that my clock runs according to a nocturnal rhythm has acceded to my request to work at night and I am spared the torture of labwork at daytime  save a few day time lab meetings which I bear for the sake of the money my advisor puts into my bank account once a fortnight.

P.S.My throat definitely feels better now :)

My day

Posted March 8th, 2001 by Deepa and filed in Uncategorized
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Just to describe the day today…..
Didn’t wake up in the morning…cos didn’t go to sleep the previous night!! No earth shattering reason other than the fact that I had an exam and that too in Physiology. Which means cramming useless information into the brain and -I-hope-it-stays-there-till-next-day-morning. And it was a particularly bad topic -Endocrine Physiology which means it had twice the number of twisted names and even a smattering of biochemistry. Reached late for the exam (whats new?!!) but what luck..the room was full ..no place to sit so we (subbu and I) got to sit in another room…. with no supervison.  And so with a little bit of “share and care” attitude the exam went off peacefully..
Reached the lab with only one thought in mind…Finish off the next test ( I had another one yesterday too- a take home test!) and go home and sleep…It was a comparatively simple test so I figured well it may take me just an hour or so then I can go home…when …when,…when…Subbu comes in a scribbles a note..” Bahar aa ek minute ” it says. That’s how we pass messages so that others in the lab don’t know anything!! I frown at him but he insists…Once I am outside he grabs my arm and pulls me out of the building…all the time murmuring ” there is something I have to tell you ..its important..” yes go on I say rubbing my arm….”Bahut badi baat hai..main dip change maar raha hoon…(Which translated into UVA Grad speak means ..I am changing my major and shifting my department). I gawk at him open mouthed…Apparently he has got aid and a transfer to the EE department.
Subbu launches into a monologue on why he is doing ( hates this that and the other) how he did it ( secretly oh so secretly….) and when he will do it ( as soon as possible) and advisor’s reaction ( who cares a damn)!! I sit there staring at him ….all the while thinking (lucky lucky lucky devil!!) .It is a long conversation punctuated by a visit to he cafeteria and a slice of pizza. and bitching about others in the lab!! By the time I am back its time for the take home to be due…I scribble down the answers …simple stuff ..for once…
And I am just about to pack my bags when Mitali walks in. ..” we are taking images across the street ..it would be nice if you could join us”..Hmm..ok …I murmur giving her back DARK looks…”couldn’t she arrange it some other day…I grumble” and go off…. Well 2 images means 20 minutes or so and then I ‘ll be back home..But well how could it all go smoothly…First the comp complained of less disk space …then the cooler refused to cool the detector to the right temperature and finally the program just didn’t initialize …SO after a bit of fantastic troubleshooting ( Shut the whole damn thing and restart it again!!!) everything went off well…Shot a couple of X-rays and done done done at last
Reached home at 3
Oops I forgot to mention the reason for this rush earlier…I had invited the members of my International graduate women’s club home and promised them something Indian!!! It was already three…house in a mess..trash still full….sink overflowing with dirty vessels left over from some ancient day…my room scattered with papers after studying for the exam..Whew and just 2 hours to do it all and these videsis are so goddamn punctual!! Well when lots need to be done and there is no time to do it in….Call Seejo
Woke him up …and rattled off a list of instructions…while he stared at me bleary eyed…Before he knew what was happening he was already at the sink washing dishes…I gathered the trash and dragged it over to Seejos place,,,(keep it for the time being there…throw it later..i promise!!!) Kept the cooker to make dhoklas (tarla dalal ki jai!)..Ok ..Seejo done with the dishes ,,,well then you can make me some chicken!!!) While I made pav bhaji cleaned my house , shoved all my papers under the table…Well By this time Vrushali runs in Screaming” I GOT A CAR I GOT A CAR” Rushed out to see her new second hand car!! Mazda Protege ,,,Cool nice car…Refused the offer of the maiden ride ,,,,had to go back to the kitchen….Finally everything was set…Changed my dress and waited for the others.
Helga was the first one to come ( German female studying German literature and interested in philosophy) .As we waited for the others talked about India and Indian food and Indian dresses and she show my photos and then pleased her by applying a bindi on her forhead….”its soooo prettttty”…Ah well!!.Kareen was the next to come ( Singapore born Chinese MBA from UVA now working in her own start up with her professor husband) we ate food and talked about the rigors of academic life, and then topic changed to guys…
Helga was the one to start it….” I woke up one day and decided enough was enough I need a man in my life….so what do you do when you want a man ..and don’t know how to get one…you open the newspaper and search ( didn’t know there was such a column!) And she was telling about this guy whom she met…Kareen says that she is thankful she is married and doesn’t have to go through “is he right one for me “question anymore..I shut up wisely…no experience ..When Kareen asks me “are you going to have an arranged marriage” .What do I say” By this time Helga is intrigued by the thought of arranged marriages ” I explain the concept to her ..she stares at me open mouthed..
“Are you going to come back with man in June?” she enquires…ahhhhhhh
I am the youngest of them ..Helga is 34,kareen 30,Ruby 25 and me the baby at 23…”oh how come you are so young Helga asks…Well I didn’t enough time to grow.. I reply…
Ruby comes in by this time —we have almost finished the food—tasty they say–and the topic turns to roommates .Ruby is looking for a girl…”why a girl enquires Kareen…” Ruby says she is more comfortable if her roommate is a girl”… I murmur assent…”Kareen yells” oh you two are so traditional ..and conservative get out of that mindset..” Me traditional…me conservative..never thought so before
Helga goes into another anecdote of how she jumped out of bead one morning to answer the phone in her underwear ..while her roommate ( a guy) stood staring at her all the time.. Kareen comments “well ,if you are most comfortable in your underwear..perhaps you should share with a girl”
Then we comment on the health system in America compare it with Germany and Singapore and Taiwan…again had no idea what to say about the Indian health system!!
Its late by this time ( 8 o clock ) and they decide to leave ,..offer to wash dishes which I magnanimously waive away…Talk about how helping to wash dishes is an Asian /European concept ..Americans don’t offer to do it…
Anyway its 8.15 and they have all left…
Its just me and the dishes now…
Let the dishes go to hell….me off to bed
Dreamt about hitting Subbu with a jhadu on his head and smiling as he yells,,,

Just to describe the day today…..

Didn’t wake up in the morning…cos didn’t go to sleep the previous night!! No earth shattering reason other than the fact that I had an exam and that too in Physiology. Which means cramming useless information into the brain and -I-hope-it-stays-there-till-next-day-morning. And it was a particularly bad topic -Endocrine Physiology which means it had twice the number of twisted names and even a smattering of biochemistry. Reached late for the exam (whats new?!!) but what luck..the room was full ..no place to sit so we (subbu and I) got to sit in another room…. with no supervison.  And so with a little bit of “share and care” attitude the exam went off peacefully..

Reached the lab with only one thought in mind…Finish off the next test ( I had another one yesterday too- a take home test!) and go home and sleep…It was a comparatively simple test so I figured well it may take me just an hour or so then I can go home…when …when,…when…Subbu comes in a scribbles a note..” Bahar aa ek minute ” it says. That’s how we pass messages so that others in the lab don’t know anything!! I frown at him but he insists…Once I am outside he grabs my arm and pulls me out of the building…all the time murmuring ” there is something I have to tell you ..its important..” yes go on I say rubbing my arm….”Bahut badi baat hai..main dip change maar raha hoon…(Which translated into UVA Grad speak means ..I am changing my major and shifting my department). I gawk at him open mouthed…Apparently he has got aid and a transfer to the EE department.

Subbu launches into a monologue on why he is doing ( hates this that and the other) how he did it ( secretly oh so secretly….) and when he will do it ( as soon as possible) and advisor’s reaction ( who cares a damn)!! I sit there staring at him ….all the while thinking (lucky lucky lucky devil!!) .It is a long conversation punctuated by a visit to he cafeteria and a slice of pizza. and bitching about others in the lab!! By the time I am back its time for the take home to be due…I scribble down the answers …simple stuff ..for once…

And I am just about to pack my bags when Mitali walks in. ..” we are taking images across the street ..it would be nice if you could join us”..Hmm..ok …I murmur giving her back DARK looks…”couldn’t she arrange it some other day…I grumble” and go off…. Well 2 images means 20 minutes or so and then I ‘ll be back home..But well how could it all go smoothly…First the comp complained of less disk space …then the cooler refused to cool the detector to the right temperature and finally the program just didn’t initialize …SO after a bit of fantastic troubleshooting ( Shut the whole damn thing and restart it again!!!) everything went off well…Shot a couple of X-rays and done done done at last

Reached home at 3

Oops I forgot to mention the reason for this rush earlier…I had invited the members of my International graduate women’s club home and promised them something Indian!!! It was already three…house in a mess..trash still full….sink overflowing with dirty vessels left over from some ancient day…my room scattered with papers after studying for the exam..Whew and just 2 hours to do it all and these videsis are so goddamn punctual!! Well when lots need to be done and there is no time to do it in….Call Seejo

Woke him up …and rattled off a list of instructions…while he stared at me bleary eyed…Before he knew what was happening he was already at the sink washing dishes…I gathered the trash and dragged it over to Seejos place,,,(keep it for the time being there…throw it later..i promise!!!) Kept the cooker to make dhoklas (tarla dalal ki jai!)..Ok ..Seejo done with the dishes ,,,well then you can make me some chicken!!!) While I made pav bhaji cleaned my house , shoved all my papers under the table…Well By this time Vrushali runs in Screaming” I GOT A CAR I GOT A CAR” Rushed out to see her new second hand car!! Mazda Protege ,,,Cool nice car…Refused the offer of the maiden ride ,,,,had to go back to the kitchen….Finally everything was set…Changed my dress and waited for the others.

Helga was the first one to come ( German female studying German literature and interested in philosophy) .As we waited for the others talked about India and Indian food and Indian dresses and she show my photos and then pleased her by applying a bindi on her forhead….”its soooo prettttty”…Ah well!!.Kareen was the next to come ( Singapore born Chinese MBA from UVA now working in her own start up with her professor husband) we ate food and talked about the rigors of academic life, and then topic changed to guys…

Helga was the one to start it….” I woke up one day and decided enough was enough I need a man in my life….so what do you do when you want a man ..and don’t know how to get one…you open the newspaper and search ( didn’t know there was such a column!) And she was telling about this guy whom she met…Kareen says that she is thankful she is married and doesn’t have to go through “is he right one for me “question anymore..I shut up wisely…no experience ..When Kareen asks me “are you going to have an arranged marriage” .What do I say” By this time Helga is intrigued by the thought of arranged marriages ” I explain the concept to her ..she stares at me open mouthed..

“Are you going to come back with man in June?” she enquires…ahhhhhhh

I am the youngest of them ..Helga is 34,kareen 30,Ruby 25 and me the baby at 23…”oh how come you are so young Helga asks…Well I didn’t enough time to grow.. I reply…

Ruby comes in by this time —we have almost finished the food—tasty they say–and the topic turns to roommates .Ruby is looking for a girl…”why a girl enquires Kareen…” Ruby says she is more comfortable if her roommate is a girl”… I murmur assent…”Kareen yells” oh you two are so traditional ..and conservative get out of that mindset..” Me traditional…me conservative..never thought so before

Helga goes into another anecdote of how she jumped out of bead one morning to answer the phone in her underwear ..while her roommate ( a guy) stood staring at her all the time.. Kareen comments “well ,if you are most comfortable in your underwear..perhaps you should share with a girl”

Then we comment on the health system in America compare it with Germany and Singapore and Taiwan…again had no idea what to say about the Indian health system!!

Its late by this time ( 8 o clock ) and they decide to leave ,..offer to wash dishes which I magnanimously waive away…Talk about how helping to wash dishes is an Asian /European concept ..Americans don’t offer to do it…

Anyway its 8.15 and they have all left…

Its just me and the dishes now…

Let the dishes go to hell….me off to bed

Dreamt about hitting Subbu with a jhadu on his head and smiling as he yells…..

San Francisco

Posted January 4th, 2001 by Deepa and filed in Travel
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My flight was at 8.30 in the morning ..and it was at Reagan airport in DC.( that is D.C down town..) I had to reach there at 7.30 atleast and it was a 2.5 hours drive,,all which means i had to get up at the ungodly hour of 5 ..Whew! and with the temperature some thing like -5 we had a nice ride ( We is Seejo and I ) although the official version is that a Sagnik and Siddharth dropped me when they were going to see DC!!..”Seejo? would have to pick me up when i am returning!!:-) My flight had a brief stopover at LAS VEGAS .Las Vegas at least through the airplane seemed a like a small city tucked up among huge mountains : the ideal place for casinos and boy!! does it have casinos! The airport had these huge rows of luck games (video poker)at every corner and it was glittery and shining and it seems ?Oh! Las vegas!!?…

Arrived at San franciso airport to meet my cousins who were waiting for me…it was already evening by the time i reached here thanks to a 6 hour flight and the 3 hour time lag between the east and west coast..That day went in just visiting my relatives! The next day went to see San Jose downtown,,,It being Christmas eve ..it was decorated so beautifully…it seemed like a fairyland…christmas trees and and cribs and santa effigies…wow!! These ppl don’t ever have a white Christmas so there was an artificial snow machine which all he kids loved..( me I had enough snow for a while!!) Just for kicks let me describe San Jose and how it differs from East coast ( atleast Virginia) .Vidya pay attention!!( hehehehe)THe first thing that struck me was ?oh! my gosh kitne Indians hai!!I am sure Vidya you are not going to feel as though you are in ?America?..Plenty of Indian stores ,Indian restaurants , a theatre showing 8 hindi movies ( an occasional Tamil and mallu movies as well!!!) Or maybe it feels ?America? coming from India but after the east coast its too ?desi?!! You know what AParna you actually have ppl roam about in salwar kammez quite comfortably!! Shrirag?s School apparently has only 2 AMericans!! there are Indians and Chinkus!! and yeah there are Mexicans over here …and very few blacks!! Another thing that was evident that it was not a univ town ..all the cars were high end cars and GOOD ones..NOt like the ones in a univ which are sold and resold!!

OK now for the places i visited…

1) MYSTERY SPOT…A funny place which they say defies the laws of gravity….Interesting place : all the trees there are slanted at an angle..when we stand we too seem slanted at some absurd angle!! and if you roll a ball it rolls from lower level to higher level!!

2) Next Santa Cruz beach…. nice name wot?!!…..( San Francisco shows a lot of Spanish influence …all roads and houses are like San XXXX or Santa ****)In San Jose there is a EL Camino street where there are Indian restaurants and grocery shops at every other corner!! My first beach in America..But alas ..no chance of seeing bikini clad females sunbathing or lifeguards with rippling muscles ..it was Christmas day and the whole place was deserted and the water was cold ( what else can one expect in DEC???)

3)RedWood Trees: also went to see some red wood trees ..Huge monsters all of them!! We could go into the forest through a narrow guage train and that was fun…The trees are very tall ..I don’t remember the number of feet but really tall!! Some of them are over 1000 years old..

4) San Francisco down town: One day was reserved for San Francisco down town..It?s a nice city has nice big buildings good architecture without the hustle and bustle of New York!! Saw the Golden Gate Bridge, ( its actually reddish orange in color ..a color they call International orange!!) and the fisherman’s wharf..This fisherman’s wharf is a sea food lovers paradise,,,stalls of sea food crabs and shrimps and oyster …that place has an “Atmosphere”..any moment you feel like this old seaman will come and tell tales of the sea..! Nearby was a place called Gherardeli …all the ppl here told me it’s a must see..wondered why..cos all it is a well decorated mall like area..but is was very beautiful! Complete with Live native Indian Musicians etc!!

Other highlights of my trip included reading lots of books ,eating meals which I didn’t have to prepare, seeing TV(after 4 months!!) saw a number of movies ,ate in Indian restaurants , saw Raju Chacha second day of release in theatre …( Seemed like a kids movie with animation and over theatrical things ,,,but I really enjoyed it!!) They do not aim at any sort of realistic stuff,,,so could sit back and take the movie for what it was worth and anyway I like both Kajol and Ajay Devgun!!

Had an interesting plane journey..that of course is another mail!!!

That sort of ends my vacation …Back to work time!!

An Interesting Flight

Posted January 4th, 2001 by Deepa and filed in Uncategorized
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This is to describe my return journey fron San Francisco to be more specific the second leg of the return journey…by now I have become a veteran of intra US airplane trips …so the moment I got my seat number I knew I was going to be in a middle seat..My seat mates were the perfect Laurel and Hardy! The one on the right was so FAT she filled up the seat and more ..In fact the snack tray rested on her tummy,,,..the other female on the left was painfully thin..a sure competition to Scarlet O’Hara’s 17 ” waist was the first thought that popped into my head.

It is the thin female who is the reason for writing this …Before I could “sit back,relax and enjoy” this female decided that I must be the recipient of her lovelife tales..I have DECIDED there must be something that attracts lovelorn ppl to me…I mean desi to desi ab to videsi bhi..and that too a person on a flight!! Firstly she whispers to me that she is here with a “guyfriend”: “oh he is so young ,only 26, doesn’t really know what to do ( she is 24 by the way) He is so nice ..he is working ..you see… has lots of money ..paid for my entire trip and food and stuff’ he is really nice but I am not in love with him y’know…..I know him over ( her voice drops down to a whisper) 6and a half years…he is sweet but really young ..I don’t like young guys they are so kiddish”.

I learn that she is studying business at Maryland, lives alone has two brothers ,elder one is married and has two kids , mom and dad are still together and have a business and that she intends standing on her feet and working and she loves to travel and the guy who is behind is 26 years old ( very young!!!!) and she is not “really really “in love with him!!

Oof! I tell her I am from India …wonder of wonders she knows a bit about India..She knows about Sonia Gandhi losing the last Prime Ministerial elections And interested in the Aids figures in India ,asks me about the state of economy and whether the impact of the 93 bomb blasts still are there….I try to explain …anyway she soon leaves the topic and returns back to her favorite topic..”GUYZ..She asks me whether I have a boyfriend ” I sort of mumble .. She informs me that she likes DC because there are a lot of rich men and she like to date only rich men because ..well because they have money ( its not an original reason but ..) and that is why Dc is the place to be…Rich men abound there ( hmm me thinking of going to Dc as well!!)

And yes she likes her men older ..She was seeing a guy who was 46 and is really nice and only he is mentally depressed and takes 6 pills at night but is very sweet and takes her to Canada for Halloween night but he is still single and don’t you think there is something unnatural with a man who is still single at 46…may be that’s the reason he has a lot of problems …But she really likes her men old because they are successful ( another word for rich!!) but her mother tells her that older men will die early which is the biggest problem with older men ..what can a girl do ???

There was another man friend of hers whom she was dating ( she never really was in love with him) she just dated him with a lot of others ..he was a dentist and 41 years old and had his own plane ..He is considering buying a jet and he took her to Brazil in his plane and he is really nice but wht to do I am not in love with him you know …but he is really nice

But the guy behind he really loves her and (whisper again) wants to marry her but she knows him for 61/2 years, loves him a lot but she is not in love with him so what to do?

By this time I decide its my turn so I launch into how marriages are conducted in India , arranged marriages , the rituals and the customs ,believe me I was glad for the first time that Indian marriage process is so long…by the time I was half way thru she decided she wants to listen to music ” I speak Portuguese Spanish and Italian so I listen too songs in all,,,”I said I listen to Hindi songs plugged my walkman and pretended to sleep…only waking up long enough to wolf down the food and back to sleep!!

But soon its time for the descent and I have to shut my walkman…

By this time she feels I am her confidante..so she whispers again…I am seeing a Congress man now (Whew now I was confused what of the guy behind..what happened to the dentist and the 46 year old pill popping bachelor??!!) I have been seeing him for 2 years …(oh that’s long time I state..the only thing I could say confidently!) Yeah he is sweet spoils me rotten ..I don’t really need to work you know gives me 3000 bucks a month to shop and I am going to ask him for a car this new year ,,he has a car dealership you see…(AH!! I SEE!!) he comes on CNN and he is powerful and that’s why she likes DC because the men are rich and powerful …He is married though that’s the only problem ( I DIDN’T REALLY FIGURE OUT WHETHER HE WAS DIVORCED!!)..He is really nice and she loves him but she is not sure and she needs a guy and she feels its time to settle and ………………………………

Wasn’t that fun….Believe me I was never so glad that a flight ended!!!