Monthly Archives: May 2009

My vacation in parts..

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Refreshing, If I were to describe my time stay at the beaver state in one word, that would be it, refreshing.

The beginning was kind of sad because believe me I was in a meeting till the plane literally took off, I dropped off at the last moment when they ask you turn of your cell phones, and this time I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to think about work even once when I am there, and unfortunately the start was not a good sign.

One of my very good friends picked me up from the airports, it had been a little over 3 years since I last met him in person. Even though we kind of talk  almost every weekend, it was kind of odd after a gap of 3 years, well I always find it difficult to get back to things the way they were, and this wasn’t much different. Initially we didn’t have much to talk about, and we were kind of toying with topics which died down after a few sentences. We decided to have dinner at a Cuban restaurant, and since this was my first time at a Cuban place, I was all excited to look at their menu. The place had excellent ambiance, a little hippie in appearance, and great looking crowd. If you guys ever visit Portland, please do not miss pambiche, specially if you like trying new cuisines. We caught up on old times, we spoke about few things, drank a drink, just had fun. He wanted to take me to a club, and we did have some fun there. We went around to check out his new place and took some pictures, unfortunately unlike last time around I was not able to spend more time with him because he had to go to SFO the next day, so we ended up spending just one evening catching up on old times. He dropped me off at my cousin’s place late night around 1:30 am, which is like 3:30 am my time, so my vacation has not yet officially begun and I was already spending sleepless nights 🙂

When I arrived at my cousins place, something wonderful began, getting reintroduced to a thing which I was unknowingly missed for a long a time, the “pampering”. My cousin snatched the bag out of my hand and just scooted me into his place. Of course we had the customary talk with my friend and wished him goodbye, and he did agree to drop by to Dallas before I get back to India, so we can spend some more time. But this time around it was just a small meeting with him.

Oh I forgot to mention about my flight, it was with a brief stopover at Denver, and the weekend had a girl’s soccer tournament there, so all flights to Denver had this high pitched teenager school girls yickety yacking their way into the city. I found myself seated next to a this girl, who had her hand glued to her I phone, music and games all her way, and as usual I had a crying child right behind my seat. My woos with crying children in flight continues. The flight from Denver to Portland had a old couple seated next to me. For some reason the old lady had the strongest of the fragrances on her which started giving me headache instantly. The old guy on the other hand had hard time listening because of which his wife kept screaming into his ear all the time.

I have been avoiding this subject ever since I started writing this piece, and in a way its not really a big deal but still its sad when I see the very few of  friendships which have survived for long, now, slipping away. Time does this to you, just like any relationship, when you dont get to spend quality time with each other, you tend to disconnect. When you talk, you just reminisce, Which is not really good because you will end up not building on anything but get stuck at the place you were. You have these doubts how the friendship would have changed since you last met, and you know its not going to be the same, but you still hope that time hasn’t done that much of damage yet, but you see it unfold before you, and see it has been affected just the way you feared, and you just want to escape it. You know the biggest problem with me, I do not move on, I do not replace people easily.

Since we all had pounced on my cousin’s place the same weekend, there was this other cousin and his wife, both my age, my aunt and uncle from India, and me, my cousin’s house was running out of rooms and beds :). So being the only single guy, I got the couch which pulled out into a neat queen sized bed. We had a nice chat before I finally went to my bed.

The time difference had upset my sleep cycle a great deal, I was up by 5AM pacific time, which is like 7am my time, and what a treat it was. My aunt ready to make me coffee, not one round like always do here, just like in bangalore, smalls cups of coffee every hour, with every one who woke up I got my share of coffee too. This made me realize how I much i have missed the coffee, the home style. Even though I make it the same way as home, I had missed the taste. Hot steaming cups of coffee, in those steel cups, ready to burn your tongue, with a little less sugar, just the way I like it. Man, getting your cup of coffee, made right to your tasre, early in the morning, is just a bliss. I can’t stop thanking my aunt for 4 days of hot steaming coffee.

There is something about we Indians and treating guests with great food, from the day I stepped into their house to the point I came back, I have been in a food heaven, since my sister-in-law, it feels weird to call her that because she is so much like a friend, same age as me. It was her first to Portland, so 3 guests meant that, my aunt and my other sister in law made a lot of special dishes. Even though we spent most of the days out and hence ate lunch outside, breakfast used to be huge, with lots of things. The last day we had a feast ala festival, with complete set of dishes we do during a festival. The Basundi my aunt made still makes me drool.

First day saw us visiting the gorgeous Mt St Helen’s in Washington state. Its the place which saw an volcano erupt during the 1980’s. You have a view point in a neighbouring mountain straight across the volcano. You can get to see the smoke coming out, and also the crater formed due to spit lava. The place was beautiful, with snow covered at the peak. I was at my cheerful best, doing one thing I do always with family, thats tease and pull leg. There’s something which happens to me when I am around family, I turn into this guy who just cannot stop teasing people. And I assume people like me that way.

St Helen's

St Helen's

We spent a lot of time having lunch at a ranch overlooking the valley the view was very good, and so was the veggie sandwich and the curly fries, one of the few vegetarian options they had. At the end came out the chocolate cake, which we all pounced on like hungry rats. Some of the moments which I wont forget from my vacation.  That evening, sitting there with family, with kids playing around, and we just talking nonsense, laughter and chatter around. I just loved it. Not for even a second I remembered about what I had done before, or what I got to do later, I didnt even realize I was having a great time, I just lived it.

After St Helens we drove back to Oregon, and straight into Columbia gorgue, to view the famous Multnomah falls, I had seen it before, but this time we were there right around the sunset, the golden orrange at the top added the right coloring which was missing from the canvas. It was beautiful. A perfect end to a perfect day.

Multnomah falls

Multnomah falls

The first day of my vacation introduced me to the best of the trip, thats my neice T. I had met her when she was 4/5 months old, and now she is almost 2 and was she fun. Just like any kids she was shy to begin with, hiding behind her mommy, slowly she got used to me, as soon as she got of her car seat, all she used to do was scream on top of her voice, Rambler mama [of course she used my real name]. I had a great time with her. T got a barney DVD from me,which she calls her Barny TV, so the whole evening was spent with her watching her Barny TV on the couch, as my aunt made some delicious dinner for us.

As usual I woke up early on saturday, and so did my nephew. We began working on his toy car with my morning cup of coffee in my hand. It was fun spending time with him, he has changed so much, grown so much quieter, and less clingy then the last time I visited him. He was so much like T during my last visit, this time he has grown mellow.

Saturday was our time to hit the cannon beach, and the Tillamook cheese factory, it was a beautiful day, unfortunately it turned out to be very cloudy at the beach and also cold. My aunt and uncle struggled so did the kids, and it was a bad day to choose to wear shorts, as I could see my knees turn red with cold :). I did get into the cold water, getting inspired by the bikini clad women getting into it, if they can I can too right. After few hours of kite flying and numerable picture later, we started our drive on the pacific coast highway to the cheese factory, as my niece T would say “seeze” factory, even though the tour of the factory was very small, we feasted in the freshly made ice cream, we got to taste almost 8/9 varieties as all of us had taken different flavor, and mine was the caramel Toffee delight, and I followed that with a strawberry cheesecake flavor.

Beach view

Beach view

That night we went out to the downtown, to catch a late night view of the lights, and also the rose festival which was about to begin in portland. We walked around the water front, and finally hit the bar. My aunt and uncle had skipped, and the kids had slept, so it was time to do some beer tasting at a brewery in hillsboro. My SIL had a fiasco, as she forgot to get her ID, and the waiter refused to serve her, and also barred us from sharing it with her, and she had to settle for lemonade, which we pulled her leg forever, and I got to taste some really cool flavors of beer.

Great thing about alcohol is that it gets you talking about topics you would avoid normally. So it was an amazing night, spent sipping beer with family, even though I would have preferred better food to go with it, pizza tasted all right.

So there I was at the middle of my vacation, and two more days to come.

I am alive

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For people who have been worried about rambler’s whereabouts, this is a quick update that he is alive, with lots of things to say, just that he has been out since last thursday, and has come back tuesday morning, and has been swamped with work ever since.

Coming up: Vacation updates, vacation updates, and some more vacation updates.

Scaling new heights

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Guys I am talking idiocy and stupidity today, can I stoop lower?. If anyone were to ask me to rate myself, on a scale of 1 to 10, how stupid I have been or the heights of idiocy I have scaled, I would probably rate myself 100. Thats how much stupid I feel today.

I wanted this to be a discreet post, and just mention the super score I have reached, but then on a second thought I decided to list few things which took me to those heights

*My mom always said this to me as a kid, then followed it up when I went to college, and when I started to work, she kind of reinforces this every single chance she gets. Not even a single time, I agreed with her at any levels regarding this, but today after a visit to a restaurant, I kind of had a thought she might have been right. She always says “Rambler!, if you don’t contribute  some money to a shopkeeper’s register, you cant sleep, can you?”

*Paying attention to details has never been my thing has it?, Thai Rice N Noodles, is not same as Thai Rice Noodles, who misses that?

*Eggplant parmesan is an Italian dish, and Japanese eggplants are not really the same, definitely not when they are cooked instead of fried.

*In the US, even though you just need to cross a street to get to the other corner of the interaction, its not really a good idea to use the pedestrian crosswalks when you have a car. Specially when it is a 8 lane street.

*Just because others can break rules in the parking lots, it does not mean you can try doing that

*Can’t assume people really follow stop signs

*Can’t believe everything you see, just because you spot eggs and croissants does not mean there is no smoked bacon inside. Unlike Taco Bell, you got to think about things inside the bun.

*Just because a lady walks out of men’s trial room, does not give you reasons to hit the panic button, and rush out to check the board again

I have been reading

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Last few weeks has been high on productivity when it comes to my reading, I seem to have gobbled few books thanks to the fort worth library and their wonderful service.

I began with Augusten Burroughs, I sort of developed a liking to his style of writing after reading his “possible side effects”, and this is his 3rd book which I am reading. A Wolf at the Table: A Memoir of My Father, is a memoir about the author’s troubled relation with his father. It was very believable in parts, but at parts it was too dramatic to be real. I like his style of writing, which is adds a touch of humor to the serious topic being discussed. At places I felt I could relate in a way to the child’s thought process that he has depicted in the book. In all a decent book.

About a Boy by Nick Hornby, This was my shot at what I would term a time pass novel, no wonder I came to know its been made into a movie. This is a romantic comedy, about a relationship between a commitment freak Casanova and a kid who is being raised by a single mom. Many episodes in the book appears to be straight out of movie. I again liked character of the boy and more so of his eccentric girl. This was a real time pass, if you are not a serious reader and like romantic comedy movies, then this book is right for you

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, This is a very famous book amongst readers, and I had seen it on the shelf many times, somehow I am not into hyped books, never feel like jumping on them. This time too this was borrowed not by me, but my friend under my card. Since I had some time left before this was due, I kind of started reading this. To tell it in short it was a good book, I liked the depiction of Afghanistan and the harsh realities the author brings out, at many places you would want to dismiss the book saying it isn’t real, but the sad part is that, it is.
The Curious Incident of the Dog by Mark Haddon. This came as a total surprise, I did not expect this teen fiction would be this good. I just picked it up because the picture on the cover excited me and the description at the end of course.  I had never heard about the author nor the book. This is about a boy who is a little nerdy, good with mathematics, who tries to solve the murder mystery of a neighbor hood dog. If you think the plot is silly, you would be surprised how well the author has woven the story and the suspense. Its as though I am beginning to like troubled characters a lot. There were episodes in the book, which were extremely well written, heart felt and very real. If you like my kind of books, you will like this :).

So guys here’s the next one on my desk, right now.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson

by the way, the book shelf on the blog has been updated too, go check it out.

Lets move in.

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Absolute Vanilla mentioned about the movie “Stealing beauty” on her tag, and made me curious about it so about a week back I watched the movie.

I was kind of fascinated by an idea in the movie, and it has occupied my brain for a large amount of its sane hours. This was not the main idea of the movie, nor did come across as the point of it, but it is the best thing I took out of the movie.

I don’t know what people call it, or how it should be addressed. I call it “community living”.  This post is all about how excited I am about the idea and how I would love to implement it some day.  Just to give you guys a hint, how important this idea is to me, this is the only other idea which I would love to implement in real life, apart from the adoption dream which I have for years now.

Anyways, coming back to the topic. For years Indians and Indian culture has projected to be high on family values, known to thrive under joint family, and nuclear families are a strictly frowned upon concept, moving out is an almost non existent, and living alone never heard of.  How much of these is really true?. I know joint families still exist, and people still live with their parents, but lets talk in percentages, do we really believe we are at the same place in society where once we were?. Honestly, I don’t think so. I do admit, my idea of India is way too localized to urban India, and honestly don’t know how it is in rural parts. One of the bad things about urbanization has been the rich and a wide rift it has put between the urban and the rural people.

I think I am wandering too much away from the topic. Coming back to community living. The idea goes like this, now when the society has evolved to an extent, where we do not share our lives with our relatives, or rather people who are related to us by blood, are we loosing the idea of community life?.

How wonderful it would be that, if a bunch of like minded people gathered together and lived in a single house. Of course, this has nothing to do with a ‘loving together’ in the cliched sense that has been projected by the media. This is purely at the social level, how would it be if people shared a dining table after a hard day at work, where one can talk with people who are interested in the same things as them, share an opinion, and just really live together.

I do understand that, there is going to be privacy issues, and a whole lot of problems which were a part of joint family system. But I just think all those problems will be too less, when compared to the good things that this would bring out.

Just picture some of the most important people in your life, friends, colleagues,  activity partners, friends of friends, or even strange people who have similar interests living under one roof, how cool would that be, where you need not have to go back home after a lovely meal, because you all stay there together. How your weekends can be full of activities which you love to do together. With all this, when you want privacy you have your own room to go to.

It’s so much similar to the old age homes, but the difference is you are not old, you still have the zeal and energy to do anything you want, you have physical strength to do anything you wish to, and then when you gradually grow older you have people to bond with, people are interdependent, rather than dependent.

I just love the idea.

I closed my eyes and imagined every single conversation I had wished did not end, every single day or event which I shared with people which I wished happened more often, the people whose houses I had wanted not to leave just because they don’t live at my house, or I don’t live at theirs. Just imagine all of them in your room everyday anytime you want. Isn’t that fun?.

Its NOT going to be all rosy, I do know. Its going to be really fun at the beginning and going to slowly show its bad face, and people whom you wanted to be with, may not seem livable with.

Again isn’t this worth an experiment?,  so what if we fail, we can always go back to where we were, but then just think about how great it would be if were to be a success?.

Any thoughts guys?.

Milestones.

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Here goes yet another milestone, today I complete 5 years in this cubeland. I can’t imagine that I lasted so long here, nor it is a big thing compared to the years generally our elder generation used to put in to a particular workspace.

Even though I joke with my friends that I have entered the wall of shame, The sad part is that, I am kind of happy about it.

Cubeland humor

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Wellness committee at my workplace has this habit of puting up titbits of information on the wall right on top of the men’s loo. So, it kind of sticks into your face, when you are standing there, doing your stuff.

The slogan this week kind of got me bursting out with laughter, here it is, imagine this bold on a flier.

“Your health is in your hand!”

Well they did want to warn us about swine flu, and remind us to wash our hands, but man the first look was funny 🙂