Wednesday, November 30, 2011

America-dalli Narayana

My doggy friends in America
My experience with Mowgli, Sassy and Caesar moved me. They know just to love - no questions asked. Their warm backs, soft necks, tender looks, instant energy and frank doting
aaah! A whole new world of joy for me.

Mowgli in San Jose

He looks at me with soulful eyes
And sweeps me off my feet
I come back from a half-hour walk
And he licks my face - like I'm his treat.

Caesar in Chicago 

Expensive dog food is yucky! He ignores it.
And jumps up and down for simple - curd 'n rice.

50 pounds or five, knee high or half way
You guys won me over, before I could say coffee and fries.

Is that why we call him Narayana??

Sassy in Boston
I think thoughts of a large dog at home. But it will remain just that. I am not ready for the hard work.
Would you like to keep a pet?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Starbucks and to Coffee

Our trip to America

We had taken the early morning flight to Dallas from Lexington, deciphered the Dallas airport and made our way to the different terminal and the gate to catch the flight to Sanjose. phew! Soon after take-off the flight attendants came by with loaded trolleys. One coffee please - I said. The gentleman gave me a stern look and said, 'madam you have to tell me if you want milk and sugar, or I give it black'. I smiled and nodded. With a flourish he announced, 'One coffee with milk and sugar for the lady'. and handed them all to me ... the coffee, the milk and the sugar.

During our stay in this foren land, my husband and I often ventured out on our own. We packed a mini snack of muffins, Oreo biscuits, or some sandwiches. caught a bus or got dropped off and wandered around. We walked into mom-and-pop shops, sat by lakes, did the tourist stuff, and some wandering around. Starbucks Coffee has been our biding companion during the America stay.

Starbucks coffee was the first purchase we made in dollars. God! their small cup is soooo tall!
After munching on packed goodies we dropped into the stirring aroma of Starbucks coffee
When it got too cold or windy we wrapped ourselves into the nearest Starbucks and sipped a Tall One.
That's where we rested after an elaborate walk-the-mall experience in Lexington
That's where we waited for my brother to pick us at San Francisco
That's where we waited for a friend's daughter at Taylor's Street, Chicago.

One can nostalgic about - the overpowering aroma of rich coffee - the feeling of Youngness that pervades the shop - the chattering line and the wait for turn - the placing of the order - picking up the cup and walking to the counter for milk and sugar - capping on the lid O so perfectly - mmmm I so liked it all
Not that we can't do it all here in India - just that we don't!!

And when I saw this steaming kettle at the Starbucks near City Hall, Boston, my day was kind of made. I hastily put down the hot cup of coffee from Dunkin Donuts (more of a Boston thing) that was in my hand to click this one.

steaming brass kettle

They say the kettle weighs 200 pounds. and the steam comes from the boiler of the building. Starbucks just has a retail place here. But I like to think that the kettle belongs to Starbucks!!!!

Get lot more info here The steaming kettle


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Laguna Beach

The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew
The furrow followed free;
We were the first to ever burst
Into the silent sea.

These lines from the Rime of the Ancient Mariner evokes for me images of the vast and silent Pacific Ocean. and I had dreamt of gazing upon the waters of the Pacific some day.

Laguna Beach

I did just that at the simply amazing LAGUNA BEACH.
The beach is a paradise for brush strokes and shutter bugs. We approached it from Tustin. We walked up to the cliff and from a vantage point looked down at the blue waters of the pacific.
A fringe of tall palm trees swayed in the October breeze.
Hard grey rocks offered their strong backs while the sea splashed against them in white mirth.

Smooth stretches of sand invited barefoot romping.
Silken skirts edged with bridal lace appeared here and there, when the sea reached into the shore.

Elsewhere surfers rode high on rising tides, making me wish I had the guts to do that too.
Volleyball on the beach...there were teams of mixed groups playing the game, with boisterous cheering from the enthusiastic ring of spectators.

we then walked down the streets. stopped at an art studio. sipped coffee while gazing into the watery horizon.
an amazingly beautiful place.
almost surreal
No wonder many artists have made Laguna Beach their home. If you can, do spend a day at Laguna beach.
Thank you B for suggesting the place. It was exactly what we would want to see.

Laguna beach is in California, driving distance from LA.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

We go before we leave

As kids we grew up in Calcutta and my aunt, whenever we had to go out for long would ask us in a subtle manner, "did you go? we will be leaving in a few minutes..."
and my cousin, who would always leave it till the last minute would rush to empty bladder.
20 years later, I would tell my kids, 'go to the bathroom, we are going to Cubbon park and then for lunch.'
A lady in India will do two important tasks before she locks the door.
check if the gas in the kitchen is turned off, and then 'go' even if she does not really need to!

That is one thing you don't have to do in the US......
go - before you leave
predictably located, predictably arranged, and predictably well equipped with hand-dryers,  water and auto-flush cisterns, the restrooms are in plenty!

On the streets of Boston

but every tap is a learning experience. i wish those would be boring predictable too. some of them would make me look like an unpad gawaar. i place my fingers below the nozzle - nothing
i press down on the bend - nothing
i look for a foot pedal - nothing
i press some lever on the side - i get a spray of soap
now all the more - i need water badly
i rub my hands and hey ..... a refreshing mini-shower bubbles forth.
what did i do right this time? i wonder.

and i go out to buy a coffee. i need not avoid drinking fluids...!! but looking at the size of this "small" serving of coffee......i may need to find one again soon!
You find food there in plenty.........and such large helpings!!!!! a single serving was lunch for the two of us!

Monday, November 21, 2011

No jet-lag here

just some connectivity issues.

We got back to Delhi last Tuesday at half past five in the evening. were royally received at the airport and escorted to her home in her new car (her = daughter). we rested, chatted, continued our holiday for some more time and returned home to find that the phone bills were lying unpaid and internet was severed.
it took us this long to sort out the mess.
completely our fault. I don't blame the telephone dept one bit.
but to cut a L S S ... the excited We Are Home post got dampened in spirit.

i have so many narratives in my head. i have so much to share about our US trip
we enjoyed much warmth and care everywhere,
we saw an America that perhaps very few tourists get to see.

but hey, though we travelled right across many time zones, from the east to the west coast and back, we did not experience jet-lag. perhaps this is the reason:
how to avoid jet-lag

  • once you board the aircraft change your watch to the time of destination.
  • change your sleep and food routine to approximate destination time.
  • drink water and juice - no ice! no alcohol!
  • watch movies, listen to music, read, play sudoku,  keep yourself engaged
  • visit the bathroom. but makes sense to avoid the pre-lunch post-lunch rush. i hate to see that red-occupied sign!!
  • have a definite outing plan on the day of arrival to keep you busy. (i went shopping for grocery with my brother!!)
  • or
  • have an energetic two or three year old with you! then jet-lag is a mere luxury!!

The setting sun in Chicago

The evening lights in a big city

The rising sun - somewhere between chicago and delhi

heaven = the smell of baking chocolate brownie ... when you are slightly hungry .. and can wait!

Friday, November 11, 2011

It works! Let's try it. & make it norm

About our trip to America

Copy exactly
This is the Intel line. But this seems to be the model everywhere in the US.
we went for a walk in San Jose from my brother's house. we strode briskly for 15 minutes, taking a left here and a right there. Then we decided .. enough ...let's go home. it's getting cold. we did the reverse route. but
hey! where's the house? is it this? every house here looks the same! did we see this bush with so many roses? and since roads have names and not numbers we trudged up and down for another 20 minutes till
aaah! we found the road... and then the house! shhh dont tell anyone. my sister-in-law had warned me
dont get lost...and i had laughed at the suggestion. me? get lost?

Most expensive row houses - San fransisco

Improve everything
but this copy exactly is a boon in large shops. they are so similar, you've seen one you can find your way in them all.
to apply serious thinking to get a perfect model
and then to do exactly the same thing every time ...since it works so well
but to be open to new ideas
so that if a better idea crops up, that can be tried
and then the idea is copied exactly.
i wish we could have that discipline. i would love to see this discipline in India.


Monday, November 7, 2011

San Diego zoo

About our trip to America

We had heard a lot of positive things about the san diego zoo, moreover my brother got an amazing offer of five safari tickets at the so we decided to go for it.

Teenage kids at home shook their head firmly and dipped their nose into their laptops. so we went on an elders only safari! that was the only place we could take my mom. so that was the plan.
My brother's Subaru that we fondly refer to as Subbarao accommodated us all comfortably. My cousin G did not qualify to come with us as she is not yet 50...and so stayed at home with the kids.
The safari is miles before San Diego city. its a fine place showcasing animals in natural habitat. An open tram car takes us around on a 25 minute ride. the lady at the controls keeps us informed and entertained.
the graceful giraffe, the lazy zebra, the buffaloes with large horns, the deer in herds, the condescending lions, two conspiring rhinos chatting across the short wall, and some animals i still dont know the names of ...
we gazed at them all, and laughed at the guides many jokes.

 reticulated giraffe poking their noses into affairs!

What i like is the way it is all showcased. so much thought and effort has gone into giving the visitors the feel of jungle life. The dampness, the woody smell, large leaves, moss, its all there to experience.
A cave that a kid can fit into,
a large concrete weaver bird's nest to take pictures in,
a walkway that weaves into woody areas and
a sudden animal area that surprises us by its presence.
i loved it all. yes, the san diego zoo is worth a visit. But take some kids along!!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

UCLA Vs Berkeley

About our trip to America

We cheered with the blues and clapped with the CALs.
we are watching a football game. The local UCLA team has many supporters. I see a sea of blue around me at the stadium. Seated in front of us is a fair selection of the energetic fan following. Moms and dads, ex-students, girlfriends, classmates ... 
Our own group has a strong UCLA supporter - reason ... she lives in LA
and a strong Berkeley supporter - reason ... his daughter has threatened him he dare to otherwise! 
My cousin explains the intricacies. Look he's going to throw the ball back. look the quarter back catches the ball.
o there... he is running to the post
the explanation stops. My cousin is way to involved to say anymore. The young man with the ball is soon intercepted.
I expect the fans to weep. But no. getting to that point is no mean achievement. and the crowds stand up and clap.

the cheer leaders come and dance their steps. its all there on big screen. and dads and moms watch their daughters with tears of pride.
the school bands that are the joy of their Alma maters. everybody is waiting when they march to the field at the half-time and play fine tunes.
we munch peanuts, and fries, and glug some cocacola.
we click pictures
we share lots of stories
a fine time of brothers and sisters and their spouses bonding .... we were seeing each other after ages.
that football game was sheer energy. and we enjoyed every moment of it.
down to the bit where we sold off the extra ticket in la calcutta style
instead of dus ka thees (thirty rupees for a ten rupee ticket)
we were saying
thees ka dus.... we sold the ticket of 40 $ at 15. a loss prevention of 25
not bad eh?
a fine an unusual experience of passion for a fine and quick game.
here is a picture

UCLA Vs Berkeley

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

She is coming at 5

About our trip to America

I must tell you about what happened here on Friday. We were all set to leave home for an overnight stay at LA. Suddenly there is this realisation at home.
a crisis of sorts...I kind of gathered
go clean your room........the son is reminded
I'll do the kitchen says my sister-in-law
the hall is mine offers my brother..... clearing things from the dining table.
What's happening? I ask, a little puzzled. 'Norma is coming at 5, soon after you all leave. and I completely forgot', said my sister-in-law, offering an explanation.
O no! and we were going away leaving her with a frolicky young golden retriever too!
I remembered the chaklis i had made for my neighbour Suman when her husband's boss had come for dinner.
and ofcourse that time when Brinda had suddenly come home with her colleagues .... unannounced. we created a record of sorts in clearing up the living room!!!

I pitched in too. I straightened up our room. Picked up magazines from around the house. Puffed up the cushions in the seating area.
and casually asked my sister-in-law who was actually giving me a puzzled look...
How come you haven't brought some fresh flowers? and who is Norma?
Oh! Norma? my sister-in-law said
Norma is the lady who comes twice a month and helps clean the house!!

soon the whole family collapsed in a heap of laughter at me.... with me
but thats a different story!!

but believe me this is a strange country.
i have seen well dressed stylish women wiping around the wash-basin after use in a public restroom.
i have seen men apologising to the cab driver for making him wait.
i have seen cars in two merging lines religiously allowing one from each line to alternately merge.
treat others as you want them to treat you, is a way of life here. atleast so far as their own citizens go.
i would like to see some of this in India too.