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This weekend was meant to be a relaxing weekend. Sit at home, see a couple of movies, catch up on reading etc. I reached home Friday at an unbelievably early time of 5 pm. Generally the junta reaches my place at around 9 pm which gave me 4 hours of free time to do whatever I want. Relaxing has become synonymous with a bathtub for me nowadays. So I filled in the bath tub ,picked up a book ( currently reading Gore Vidal.. he writes novels based on American history ….)and lay there soaking myself in warm water till Vrushali had an urgent need to answer natures call and banged on the bathroom door till I had no choice but to come out .

After that dressed in a salwar kameez…( a rare ocassion..) and was wondering whether to cook or not when Siddharth and Subha landed up at my place with a suggestion that we go down town. Unusually pleasant weather was the reason offered. Seejo reached from MD around that time and vociferously supported the idea.

Downtown was already lit and tables were placed outside the cafes indicating that spring was around the corner. We went to a small Mexican eatery ,sat outside and yakked away. The topic of discussion was “what would be the first thing to  save and buy if you had a job”. I said books,( ofcourse!) Subbu said ( Bose audio system),Siddharth voted for a projector, Vrushali for a sports car and Subha for a better car! Seejo by mutual consensus was out of the reckoning cos he already booked himself an Audi, furnished his flat and bought his audiovisual needs.

After dinner we headed home, Siddharth and I took a detour to the local Blockbuster to pick up a few video cassettes. Picking up a cassette with Siddharth is a tough task ,cos while I head for the comedy/musical/drama sections he opts for only one section-the martial art section. I must have watched scores of Jackie chan and Bruce Lee movies with him, discovered that Bruce Lee is a different person from Bruce Li and cooked up hundereds of excuses for not watching the latest Jet Li movie. Today however we compromised ..Let us look at the thriller section : Both of us wanted to watch a Hitchcock movie…but to that public waiting back home is difficult..Seejo had warned us “No black and white movies” .So we picked out a Cary Grant movie “To Catch a thief”.

Enjoyed the movie!

By the time we hit our beds it was past 2!

However Seejo got up early next morning….and decided that weekends are meant to be for traveling. I refused the bait saying I prefer to relax! But By the time I could convince him about the “joys of a relaxing weekend” he was already on the phone with Siddharth ( who was only too eager to leave C’ville ) Together they decided to go to West Virginia…I said No..I already was there less than a month ago….Ok then Duke (in North Carolina was the next suggestion). I refused again….its not an interesting enough place but by that time both of them had guilt tripped me into thinking that it would amount to a criminal offence if I wasted one perfectly nice day sitting at home. Then again there was the irresistible lure of driving on the interstate which was offered to me.

By the time we tried to call Atha ( who was already in Duke ( his best friend stays there))Subha, Vrushali, Neelima and Amit Naidu also decided to accompany us. Morning ablutions, sundry chores, and minimal breakfast later we were all set to leave by 1 am. Duke University was around 220 miles from University Of Virginia. Seejo drove for the initial 70 miles and then I drove for the next 70 miles or so. The roads were almost empty so it was not much of a problem. I had great difficulty initially to maintain my speed at a constant 70mph. It kept fluctuating from 60-80 mph and even dropped down to 50 when I had to take turns. But more about driving later…We reached KD (atha’s friend)’s residence at around 7.30. Sat for some time, chatted and since our lunch was negligible went off to an Indian restaurant to have dinner.

Now a little facts and figures about Duke!

Duke Universtiy,University of North Carolina,Chapel hill and NCSU are all situated within 30 miles of each other. All three are high ranked good universities. Together they also form one of the famous tech areas in East coast called Research Triangle Park.

We walked around the area around the main street for the UNC wallahs, went to this place called “international tea center” ,which atha descriped to me as a “non alcoholic pub”. It had a female in salwar kameez yelling( for lack of a better word) an ila Arun song. While people around cross legged around small tables and played games ( carrom, checkers) some were dancing in the aisle, yet others sitting on a mat drinking “chai”. I loved it. Seejo was grinning when we came out of the place. Says” I never thought I’ll see something similar to the Osho ashram in North Carolina!!!”.

Then for the “piyakkads” in our group we went to an alcoholic pub and sat around watching them guzzle 24 ounce glasses of beer!. Reached back at KDs place around midnight. I went upstairs to meet Anjum then ( Anjum is my class mate).We caught up on some old times, exchanged the latest news we knew about everyone…..

Then went down again and saw that the whole junta was watching Filhaal..

Slept at 2 am .Got up around 9. Formed a queue to finish using the bathroom and went for the Duke tour. Duke is famous for two things

the Duke Chapell:

Duke Hospital ( the best med school in America)

We went around the latter and inside the former and it was impressive. The tower of the duke Chapel stands 210 feet tall. It is made of grey stones .The interir has 73 ft tall celings and six stained-glass windows representing women of the Old Testament.

Next stop was Jordan Lake a huge lake 14,000 acres of water. There was a beach kind of place around the lake….and we sat there for some time playing Dumb charades etc ,clicked a few Patel snaps .

We started the drive form around 4 pm with me at the wheels. Driving is definitely not a fun experence especially when you have Seejo sitting next to you shouting instructions. Seejo ‘s idea of a good driver is one who wins the Grand Prix while at the same time setting records for cautious driving. And let us just face it …I am not a world class driver….yet!!

Anyway I did understand the thrill people get in overtaking cars and speeding and zipping through traffic.

The huge truckers which hurtled dowm the free way was scary and even more scarier was the idea that I had to overtake them! But I survived and so did my passengers.

Today is Monday morning

I am back at the lab…..pretending to work!

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