Saturday, April 29, 2006

Darna Zaroori Hai*

After reading a good review for DZH on Rediff, V, A and me decided on an impulse to go watch the movie last night - first day, last but one show. We reached the theatre as per plan, bought the tickets and then went to stuff ourselves with a good dinner. Then back to the theatre.

The movie was okay timepass. Nothing very great or very scary but at least it kept us engaged till the end. That is all the review I am going to give here. The main reason for this post is the wonderful members of the audience who sat in the row right behind V, A and me.

From the word go, or rather, from the time the Film Board certificate flashed on the screen, the group of 8 people right behind us (4 couples, I think) chattered non-stop - I doubt if they even paused to take breaths. Their range of subjects ranged from what was happening on screen to how they thought the scene should have been shot to what they thought of Ram Gopal Verma - quite a spectrum of topics, but at no time did its intellectual level ever raise to beyond being the torturously inane.


(Scene on screen: An obviously dead guy outside what has been mentioned many, many times in the movie as a graveyard)

Annoying Female in the row behind us (AF): Oh, woh kabristan hai kya? (Oh, is that a graveyard?)
Annoying Guy in the row behind us (AG): Haan. Lagta hai. (Yup. Looks like it.)
AF: Mar gaya kya? (Is he dead?)
AG: Haan. (Yup.)
AF: *giggles*
AG: Tee hee!
Me (muttering to myself): Don't kill them, don't kill them.

This went on for practically every scene in the movie. The four pairs sitting behind us multiplexed the chattering efficiently among themselves to make sure that there was never even one moment of silence right till the end of the movie.

You can imagine our plight. At some point, A, V and me, all three simultaneously (no, we did NOT plan it) turned around to glare at them for almost a minute. But no effect whatsover. As V put it, it looked like they were covered by some protective bubble which precluded anyone else from intruding upon their enchanting world.

Oh my God! Is it just me, or does everyone feel like throttling people who keep chattering in movie theatres continuously? An occassional comment is understandable, but torturing other movie-goers with non-stop vacuous conversation? I think theatres should have a safety mechanism in movie-hall seats whereby members of the audience who talk for more than five minutes when the movie is running will be ejected automatically from their seats and be dumped outside the theatre.

Till then, when you get stuck with such movie-goers in the theatre, darna definitely zaroori hai :-(!

*Darna Zaroori Hai roughly means "It is necessary to get scared".

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Row, row, row your kayak

Many of my discerning readers seemed to be under the impression that the previous post was the only post about my San Juan trip. Ha! I don't let people get away quite so easily when I get into one of my rambles. And the San Juan story is definitely a ramble. So, not to worry - there are plenty more where the first one came from ;-)! Here goes part two!

Once we landed in San Juan, we quickly found places to park our cars. One of the things to do on our agenda was sea-kayaking. San Juan being an island and everything, sea-kayaking is very popular there. We went into the first place we spotted which advertised sea-kayaking. After a brief chat with the proprietor, we all decided to go for it - the total duration of the kayaking trip would be around three hours. We would be given the gear as well as the equipment. We were asked to eat lunch before we began though.

As we were not too hungry, the girls decided to eat the leftover parathas from breakfast (yup, thanks to C's idea, we had packed yummy parathas from a desi restaurant) while the guys bought lunch. Note, we also had bread and peanut butter in the car, ostensibly for breakfast. All of us refused to touch it with a barge pole even. R, who had bought the stuff, was glared at by everyone "Have you heard of jam? Why could you not have just got jam?". This piece of information is relevant in the context of future happenings. But for now, I will get back to the story. After lunch, we trooped back to the kayaking place.

We were taken to the kayaking start-point in a van. We yacked all the way - we also decided how to split into pairs for it was two people to a kayak. It was decided that the groups would be R & P, S & C, J & D and A & me. Once we landed, we were given the life-jackets and leather "skirt"s to wear. Most of us kept our original jackets on underneath the life-jackets as the wind was pretty cold. I decided to opt for the lighter jacket that the kayaking people had instead. A was perhaps the most over-dressed among us. She looked more like an eskimo than anything else (she even had her hood pulled up :-D).

Then we all sat on the kayaks on the shore and practised rowing with our paddles. I guess we must have looked pretty funny - four kayaks on solid land with eight souls sitting in them, diligently rowing! After a couple of tries, it was time to launch our kayaks into the water. I don't know how many of us knew good swimming. One thing was obvious though - in case the kayaks did capsize, the guide would have one heck of a time rescuing us all. So we all collectively prayed for a capsize-free trip (we had all ready signed what the kayak-proprietor called the "death certificate" stating that we absolved the kayak folks of all responsibility in case of injury or death :-0).

Then it was onto the water. We all started off pretty much at the same time. Then A and me noticed something - everyone else seemed to be growing tinier by the minute. We too were rowing pretty furiously - but for all intents and purposes, our kayak seemed to be standing still. What the @&#$! After a while, all the other folk (who, by now, were quite ahead of our kayak) seemed to stop. We finally caught up with them and stopped to rest, thinking that the other people were admiring some scenery. The moment we stopped, the rest of the them chorused "Don't stop, we were just waiting for you to catch up, lets go." Grrr! This happened multiple times - after which A and I decided that something was wrong with our kayak (hehehehe, convenient excuse ;-)) and besides we were there to enjoy nature and not to participate in a kayaking competition.

The kayaking was good fun though. The water was extremely clear in spots and we could see all the way upto the sea-floor. Some of the vistas we could spot around us were extremely pretty. We also spotted a bald eagle and lots of zoo-plankton. And due to the exercise and the constant presence of the sun, it was no longer chilly - it was very pleasant! That's A and me on our kayak in the pic. R and P are in the background.

After about an hour and a half or so, the two kayaks with R & P and S & C seemed to have gone off in some tangential direction. We spotted J & D's kayak somewhat near one of the shores (we were essentially kayaking around a big island). A & I pulled up beside them and we relaxed for a bit and ate energy bars while our guide went off scouting for the others. After a while, our guide returned with the other two kayaks in tow and asked us to follow him. Thus began our great U-turn saga. A & I would pull out backwards, try to turn completely, and wind up hitting the shore with a scrrruuunnnchh. And repeat the process all over again. And again. It was pretty good entertainment for J & D who were watching us - but we weren't going anywhere. Finally, we managed to pull out, by which time, of course, the other kayaks had long disappeared.

That was the last leg of our journey. A & I were again lagging behind. Our kayaking guide finally gave up on us both and towed our kayak (what an insult!) for some way after which we kayaked by ourselves to the shore. It was some 2.5 hours since we had started kayaking and we were at the end-point. We all pulled up to the shore and lined the kayaks by the beach.

All of us had got plenty of arm-exercise. Poor D was the only one who looked completely washed out though (only later, after seeing the number of movies J had made of the kayaking with his digi-cam, I kinda suspect that D did most of the kayaking on their kayak while J was busy shooting videos ;-) - and to think we girls had convinced D to go with J stating that she would then have an easy ride...!). You can see one of the views captured by J below (he, bless him, was the only one who had got his camera for the kayaking trip - all the pics on this post are from his camera).

While we waited for the pick up van, there was (what else) a lot more general chatter. Once the van came, we helped heft the kayaks onto the attached trailer. Then it was back to main area of the island and time to check into our hotel. Since I have rambled on long enough, what happened next will be the next post :-)! Adios amigos!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

San Juan Ho!

My first travellogue on this blog was the one about my trip to San Diego. Now that I have tasted blood, er... tasted writing about trips, I have decided to put up further travellogues (or to put it more accurately, account of my travelling experiences with some tit-bits about the destination thrown in). This one is about my trip last weekend to Seattle. Given my tendency to ramble on and on, even though the trip lasted for exactly two days, I won't be surprised if the write-up about it spans more than one post. Here goes!

So, right after my trip to SD with A and S, they invited me over to Seattle to spend a weekend. The main attraction for me was the tulip festival which happens only once a year, in the month of April. Besides, I have a whole bunch of friends in Seattle whom I had not met in a very long time. It took very little convincing for me to book my tickets. As the days crept by, A came up with the idea that, when I visited Seattle, we could also go to San Juan (an island near Seattle) and spend sometime there.

Soon, a bunch of eight people, the guys, P, R and J and the girls, A, S, C, D and me were all set to go. The plan was to spend a night at San Juan and then visit the tulip festival and some other points of interest on the way back. Since I was the "guest", all I had to do in the trip-organizing was to arrive at the Seattle airport on the Friday night before the San Juan trip. The rest of them took care of booking the accomodation, planning the food, deciding the itinerary of places to visit, taking printout of the directions printout et al. - hehehehe!

So Friday at work was a breeze (doesn't time fly by when you are excitedly anticipating something?) and V dropped me off at the airport in the evening. The flight to Seattle with me (well-stuffed with the sandwich I ate at the airport - I always manage to over-eat before flights in the anxietly that I *might* die of starvation with just the measly pretzels they traditionally serve on the flight) on it was on time. S and A picked me up at the airport. We managed to visit some other friends and then crashed around 12.15am. We were supposed to be on the road by 6.15am the next morning, as J, who was in charge of finding details about the ferry to San Juan, reminded us in multiple emails.

The next day morning, miracle of miracles, eight people were actually good to go by 6.30am in the morning (yeah, my jaw dropped too). Two cars, four in each, and the fun had begun :-)! We had to drive up to Anacortes to board the ferry. From Anacortes, the San Juan ferries have a bunch of destinations - we were going to Friday Harbor. There was an option to take the cars on the ferry too - we chose it. We reached well before the ferry's departure time and hence had the luxury of coffee, breakfast and some souvenir-shopping before actually getting onto the boat. You can see the ferry to the left in the picture. In the background is the Olympic mountain range. The water itself is the Pacific Ocean backwaters.

The ferry journey took about an hour and a half. Oh yes, I forgot about the weather! It was bright and sunny - so much so that C decided that capris were the order of the day. C spent the rest of the morning (till she got the chance to change) cribbing about her cold shins and ankles. Darn - its so deceiving when you can see the sun and you step out in a t-shirt, only to be hit by a blast of cold wind! In Chennai, where I come from, when you see the sun, it's HOT. Guaranteed. Oh well, coming back to the story, so, in spite of the sun, it was *extremely* chilly and none of us could stand on the boat deck for more than a couple of minutes. So we all pretty much sat inside the huge, covered cabin and played games, chatted and did general timepass.

The ferry finally docked at San Juan - Friday Harbor and we rolled out in our cars. We had arrived!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Hullo folks! This is Archana's blog here. I know I have been maintaining silence all along - me being very discreet, modest and everything. But today looks like the day I need to break my silence to have some self-celebration. Ideally A should have done something about it and thrown me a surprise party and all but *sigh* since she has happily forgotten (hmph, I notice she wasted no time in making announcements on her special day), before the day ends, let me announce: I officially turn four years old today :-D.

Yup, I came into existence on e-blogger on April 25, 2002. A created me as a fad because some of her friends and other people she knew had created such accounts. Of course, after that, she wrote exactly two entries before forgetting me completely. Thankfully, all the hype about blogging reunited us last year. Since then, we connect at least once a week most of the time. And that's how, though I have been active only for one year, I am still four officially (hmm, four years sounds old and wise(!?!) in the blogging world)!

From being a for-her-eyes-only blog, I have evolved into something which is shared with other people too! Wheee - I am growing up :-)! I said I am modest but I admit *sheepish grin* - I am really enjoying the additional attention :-)! Thanks to all the people who take the time to pay attention to me. Some more thanks to all the people who also take time to fill up my comment-space and thus make me into an interactive two-way communication channel! This place has become even more lively and fun now!

A's a bit lazy and sometimes stays away from me - but I do know that she likes me a lot and cannot ignore me for too long. Here's to wishing Archana and me many more years of happy togetherness!

p.s. A should be back shortly. She's been a bit on the busy side lately (that still does not excuse her forgetting my birthday like this, though!). Thanks Prabhu and Saranya for asking!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

If you come today...

Shilpa had sent me the link to the audio of a wonderful kannada movie song when I was back in grad school. It was a super-duper hit with anyone who heard it. S and I have been trying to locate the video (after all, with a song so cool, could the video be far behind?) for the song since then.

Yesterday, my friend J sent me this link, adding a note "old memories". It was the video of the song!!! I am proud to present it here:
Please to turn up the speaker volume and do follow the lyrics closely too :-D.

p.s. Dr. Rajkumar fans, please note: I am just kidding.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Indian Ocean

Okay, looks like everyone is going to be "treated" to all the happening events of my weekend ;-)! So after yesterday's momentous meeting, today was concert time.

About three weeks ago, I came to know through one of my friends that the Indian band "Indian Ocean" was coming to town. I have heard of Indian Ocean before because one of my friends, V, is a very big fan and had once asked me to get a CD of the band when I went to India. So I promptly told V about the concert and he was very excited and all set to go. He asked if I was going to go and I was like "Hmmmm... let me see". Then, another friend S also heard about the upcoming concert and was all praise for the band. S looked incredulous when I told him that I was still wondering whether to go - what was there to think about!?!

Oh well, I have always enjoyed the concerts that I have been to and all the sample bits of music of IO I had heard so far were pretty decent. So I decided to go. Then, me being a very generous and altruistic person ("the whole world should get whatever happiness I get" is my motto ;-)), started spreading word around about the concert. Finally, eight of us were all set to go.

Today dawned bright and sunny. Ooops - make that cloudy and rainy. Nevertheless I landed up at the concert hall about the time they were beginning to let people in. The show was sold out. Of the eight people who were supposed to turn up, I could see only yours truly. I anyways went inside the concert hall, and in true Indian tradition, put my sweater on one end, the program on the other and then sat in between those eight seats I had "blocked", waiting for the others to show up.

Two more showed up but of the rest five there was no sign. They called and said they were on the way. Grrr - I just hate it when people maintain Indian Standard Time. Anyways, the show started. The music was simply awesome. Especially listening in a concert gives music a "feel" which is out of this world. I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Unfortunately, my enjoyment was marred somewhat by the fact that every 2 minutes one of the organizers would come and ask us whether the 5 empty seats were taken. And we would be like "Yeah, those people are on their way". After some ten times of this, it was hard to decide whether I was more annoyed with the organizers or with my unpunctual friends. Nevertheless, I made a mental note to kick V hard when he and his friends did show up.

Thankfully, the rest of them all showed up some 30 minutes after the show started. The performance continued for a while after that and there was a break. During the break I bumped into some friends from grad school and some friends from my undergrad. There were tons and tons of desis there and so I guess my usually low rate of accidentally bumping into people I know got a big boost :-)!

Well, back to the performance. The second half was even more awesome than the first half. Their kind of fusion music is energetic and lively. I was tapping my foot and enjoying myself very thoroughly. I like their "Bandhe" (you can listen to it on Raaga from the Hindi movie Black Friday) and "Kandisa" renditions the best. It was mesmerizing.

All too soon the show came to an end. And it was time to leave. Which brings me to why I am putting this post up today. Apparently, Indian ocean is playing in Washington DC and Morrisville (North Carolina) soon. If you live in nearby areas and get the chance, do go and check them out! All the four players are immensely talented and the show will be worth your while. You can get more details on the Indian Ocean website.

Anyways, after the show, I bought a CD of one of the Indian Ocean albums (am listenting to it right now :-)). Post-concert, all eight of us decided to have dinner together. We managed to congregate at the correct meeting point and had a good dinner at a Thai restaurant. Perfect ending to a nice day :-). Now, if only tomorrow was Sunday instead of Monday ....

Saturday, April 15, 2006

After ten years

As on most weekends, tonight's agenda consisted of meeting up a friend for dinner. But tonight's program differed in one major way: I had met my friend P last when I finished my 10th standard. Which was more than 10 years ago. After that, in a short while, we completely lost touch with each other. Until one fine day, somehow we got each other's email-id and mailed again. After that, it was an on again, off-again kind of contact - sporadic emails once in a year probably. Then sometime towards the end of 2004, I got a call from a strange number. It was P! And what's more, she was in the US on a company project and in the same area as me! What a surprise! I don't remember how she got my cell phone number but I was totally thrilled. A friend from the past! We managed to talk over the phone a couple of times but somehow couldn't meet. Then P returned to India and that, was that.

Then again, this Friday, P mailed again - she was in the US again, sent by her company back in India. This time I was determined to meet her and we decided to meet up today. I was extremely excited about meeting P again - when I saw her, I realized that she hadn't changed too much in appearance. The only difference was that the folded pig-tails of the days of yore had been replaced by a staid plait. And she said that I had lost weight (eeeeehaw :-)) and that my face was no longer round (gosh, exactly how fat was I before?)

And to my surprise, there was absolutely no awkwardness at all. I for one, felt like I was continuing a conversation left over from the previous day. And the talk flowed. We spoke of all our common friends, about each other's lives, about our hopes, our plans - about everything! It felt so good :-)! P was not my closest friend back at school - we both used to compete for the first rank (yeah, yeah, I was a geek back then) and hence never got too close to each other. But surprisingly, after I left school, I was more in touch with P than with my close friends from that school.

Thanks to my dad being in a transferable job, during my childhood, I had to go through the process of making new friends every so often. When I was younger, it was much easier. Now, even when I go to new places, I no longer make too much effort to make new friends. Even with the people I have become good friends with now, there is something missing with them which exists with the "older" friends. Have not really figured out what that is. But one thing I do know, there is no feeling quite as warm, comfy and happy as the one you get when you meet up with an "old" friend. That's why tonight was special!

Friday, April 14, 2006


Happy Tamil New Year folks :-)!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Whose birthday is it anyway?

I have always been one of those people who have no trouble remembering birthdays. Anytime a person I met on a regular basis told me their birthdate, my brain would automatically catalog and file away that information under the appropriate month and date. And on the correct day, my head would pop up a reminder and I would wish the person. Everyone loves having their birthday remembered and everyone loves the persons who remember it too :-). So I was in a lot of good books.

This happy status of affairs lasted for many, many years. Only two significant mishaps occurred. Once I forgot my mom's birthday (I still don't understand how I managed it and feel bad about it even now) and once I called up a close friend to wish her and when she said that it had been her birthday the previous day, I insisted that her birthday was on the day I called (I had such good faith in my in-built reminder system that I actually started asking her to verify her memory when it struck me that I might get killed by her if I argued further and shut up). But as I said, such stray incidents were very few and far in between.

Then last year, something strange started happening. I started missing birthdays and *gasp* forgot to wish people. Not just one or two birthdays but quite a few of them. Oh, it was not that I forgot any birthday completely. It was just that I would remember it a couple of days earlier or later. It was as though my reminder system had a sudden software malfunction. The good part was that though I had lapsed quite a few times, I had still managed to remember birthdays of most people "close" to me and wish them on time. So I was still okay.

Then the inevitable happened. One fine day, my friend A mailed me asking me to pacify our common friend J on her behalf. I was like "why"? A said that she had forgotten to wish J on her birthday and added rather frostily that I might have reminded her. That was when I went "Oh dear God! I forgot completely"! A chortled with glee when she realized that I had not wished J either (misery loves company) - going by my previous record she had just assumed that I would have wished J!

Now, J is a very dear friend and she is one person who takes the effort to *always* wish her friends on their birthdays. I felt extremely annoyed with myself and finally gave up on my no-longer-reliable in-built birthday reminder system. I remembered that someone had once told me about the birthdayalarm website where you registered birthdays and from where you would get reminders. I promptly signed up on the same day.

Since then its been smooth sailing again. I always remember birthdays (thanks to the reminders from birthdayalarm) and am now making up for all the badnaami of the previous year. I was back to feeling contented with my reminder system - till today.

As I was driving back from my fitness class, it suddenly struck me that I had received the second birthdayalarm reminder for my good friend V's birthday which falls tomorrow - April 12th. It's only April 11th today, but given my treacherous memory, I decided that I would just call him up in advance and wish him (V's in the mid-west and it probably was around 11pm for him then). The conversation between us went like this:

Me: Hullo!

V (in sleepy voice): Hello.

(feeling bad about waking V up but thinking that its his b'day eve - he ought to be awake): Oh, were you asleep?

No, no - was just going to bed. What's up?

Happy Birthday! I know its early and all but still, I am the first - hahaha!

No its too early. You see my bday...

(not paying attention): Yeah, yeah, I know - its an hour early - but still, I am first!

Yeah, you are the first alright. My bday is on the 17th.

Me (still not paying full attention): Haha, I knew I was the first. (realization dawning) WHAT? Did you say your birthday was on the 17th? Darn, darn, darn!


(feeling extremely foolish): Heh heh!

How do you manage to do this every time? (last year I wished him a day after his actual birthday)

Just to be sure, your birthday is still going to be on the 17th next year also right?

(duh): Well, I hope so!

That's good! I just thought I would confirm. (duh - that question needs to go into the dumb questions hall of fame!)

And so the rest of the conversation continued with V having another hearty laugh and me apologizing. I finally hung up with the promise to call V up again on his real birthday. So much for my birthday alarm system! Looks like I overlooked the one basic fact while setting up my alarm system viz. the birthdays need to be the correct dates to start with. Sigh :-(!

Now, for some reason I have this vague feeling that April 12th is actually someone else's birthday and I have managed to mess around the dates badly and am going to wind up not wishing someone else again. I am hoping for my memory to come back with some result by tomorrow night at the latest!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Lunch Time

As much as possible, I always try to pack and take lunch to work everyday. For the following reasons:

1. I simply cannot stand outside food beyond a point.
2. Outside food is expensive and more importantly, fattening (gulp)!

Packing lunch everyday of course implies that I should have some food to pack in the first place. And if I need to have food, I need to cook. Sigh :-(! Actually I wouldn't mind cooking if there was no cleaning required afterwards. I just hate doing dishes. I have been washing dishes almost everyday for so many years now (dating from the time I landed in the US of A) - yet I *always* crib about it and wish I did not have to do it. But the same me goes to India and *always* washes plates and tumblers after eating due to force of habit :-/! But that's off-topic.

On most working days, a few of my colleagues and I go to lunch together. Most of these colleagues don't bring lunch and so need to walk to the food-court across the street to buy food. I accompany them with my lunch box after heating my food in the microwave. There is a nice eating place beneath a canopy of trees at the food-court where we all eat once everyone has bought their food. Sometimes my colleagues eat at the restaurants themselves and I just inform the restaurant management (even at buffet places) that I have my own food and happily join my colleagues. The restaurant folks never object.

I did not realize how common the sight of me with my lunch bag has become - till today. For a change, I had not brought my lunch to work (much to the surprise of my colleagues) and so had to buy lunch. We went to the Ethiopian buffet place in the food-court and once lunch was done, I got up to pay at the counter. And the cashier lady asked me "Oh, you did not bring your own lunch today?". Hehehehe - I did not know that I had become such a familiar sight! Maybe I am known as the "lady with a lunch bag" (like Florence Nightingale's "lady with a lamp" ;-)) in the food court :-D!

So, what do you do for lunch?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Little things

So my previous post was a good ol' crib session about commuting. This is how the travel times for my four days of commuting looked like finally:

As you can see from the chart (yeah, I already know I am vetti, thank you very much ;-)), Friday evening's commute took the longest. And guess what, I was NOT as irritated about it as I was on Wednesday evening. The reason was, just as I was beginning to fume in my driver's seat, I saw something bright in the sky, ahead of me.

It was a rainbow :-)! Thanks to the brief burst of sunlight after the incessant rain, the remaining raindrops had acted like tiny prisms and filled the the sky with a splash of color. And as though to apologize for all the rain, it was not one of those fleeting two/three color streaks that generally pass off for rainbows. Instead the rainbow extended all the way across the sky so that an entire, bright arch was visible. And what's more, I could count all seven colors in it (the famous VIBGYOR sequence). It was an awe-inspiring sight and the magic I felt at that moment has to be experienced to be understood!

This rainbow stayed right until the sun started setting. Even as I inched along in the traffic, somehow seeing the rainbow made all the difference between tearing out my hair in frustration and calmly enjoying my communion with nature. Little nice things can make a whole lot of difference, right :-)?

Fun fact: Did you know that everytime you spot a rainbow, you see your own "personal" rainbow? Each person's view of a rainbow is slightly different from that of another person's because the orientation of the raindrops differs from person to person depending upon the view-point. So a rainbow you see is your very own :-).