Thursday, July 27, 2006

Rose beauties

In December of 2003, me and my undergrad friend S decided to visit Los Angeles. We were planning to go to Disneyland and Universal Studios and Hollywood Walk of Fame and ..well, basically, all the usual tourist places :-).

That was the Christmas season. So more often than not, you could spot bunches of people wearing red Santa hats, snow-patterned jewelery and other Christmas-y looking accessories. I eyed them all wondering if I should also get some zany accessory but did not really act on the thought.

I flew to LA right on Christmas day. One of the flight attendants on the plane was wearing a really cute pair of toy reindeer horns on her head. That was it. I decided that I was going to get back some really whacky-looking souvenir back from LA.

As I have mentioned before, I generally collect magnets as souvenirs from trips - magnets being easily portable, inexpensive and easily exhibitable (just stick it on the refrigerator :-)). But this time, even after I had bought the mandatory magnets, I still kept my eyes open for my whacky souvenir.

I told S of my plan and told her that we both should get similar whacky accessories so that we could wear them together and take pictures (yeah, I love both taking and posing in pics :-)). S enthusiastically agreed. That is, till I finally found THE Whacky Souvenir in the Universal Studios gift store. It was a pair of shrek ears made of green plastic. I pounced upon it with glee and told S that we both should buy it.

S looked at me speechless - she couldn't believe that my whacky-souvenir-wearing agenda involved going about in public wearing plastic ears on our heads. Finally she said "You know what? I don't think I will ever wear it again after taking the picture." And it struck me that she was right. No point buying ears that you won't wear ever. So I gave up buying those ears, albeit a little sadly.

Then, towards evening, S spotted a face painting stall. "Aha, I will get my face painted. That is the whacky thing I will do." I hemmed and hawed. But S's enthusiasm rubbed off on me. Besides painting my face was something I had never done before (not counting the tons of white paint-like stuff they used to put on your face as make-up while participating in school plays) and I too decided to get my face painted.

S chose a pattern called Rose Beauty. Needless to say, like it often happens in such situations, I could not find any pattern which I liked as much as the Rose Beauty pattern. So I decided that I would get the same pattern too. We both got our faces painted. In a funny kind of way, it looked really cute and we both were extremely pleased with the results.

For the rest of the time in Universal Studios, we fit into the equally well made-up crowd very well. By now, we were also wearing the free beads flung by the members of parade which went around Universal studios every hour or so. With painted faces and beads, we looked like total hippies and were loving every minute of it!

Finally, as the night wore on and the cold December wind began freezing our marrows, we decided to skip the Spiderman show we had wanted to watch and just return back to the hotel instead. But first, we had to return the rental car.

For a change, my navigation skills actually got us to the rental-car return center on the first try itself. Yaaay! We returned the car without any problem even though the lady behind the counter seemed to look at us rather keenly while processing our receipts.

Then we had to wait for the courtesy shuttle which would take us back to the hotel. Which was when I had this queer feeling that someone was watching me. I turned around and caught a lady to my side quickly turn her head. Then I noticed a teenage girl whispering to her companion ( whose back was facing us). The teenager's face had the exact same look that people have when telling their companion: "Don't look immediately, but if you look at that person behind you, you will see that he/she is looking weird/queer/funny".

Sure enough, a few seconds later, the companion turned a little too nonchalantly to stare at me. When she realized that I was already looking right at her, she gave an embarassed smile and quickly turned back.

I found this behavior funny but very weird and decided to call it to S's attention to see if she had noticed anything strange too. Which was when I noticed her painted face and her beads and realized I still had them on too. While we had been ultra-cool, hip and had completely belonged at Universal Studios, at this car-rental center, far away from Universal Studios, we probably looked like two hippies who were part of a travelling circus or a rock band! No wonder everyone wanted to stare at the weirdos!

The moment this realization hit, both of us burst into laughter. Whoever said "When in Rome, act like the Romans do" was obviously not talking through their hat!

Mercifully, we had to endure further stares only from the shuttle driver and hotel conceirge before we could hit our room, take pics and finally wash it all off. The pics came out very well :-D.

It was stumbling upon the pics while looking for something else which reminded me of the whole incident and prompted me to write this post :-)! Ah, now you know it did not come quite out of nowhere ;-)!


On an entirely unrelated note, how many of you poor folks in California have a tough time enduring those horrible Tom Shane radio ads for the Shane company? Those ads always used to annoy me but of late they seem to be on radio all the time. I can feel my blood pressure raise every time I hear Tom Shane's boring and pedantic voice. Unfortunately, I listen to the radio the most while I am driving and I am sure that driving with extreme irritation is a not good thing. If someone knows of a petition to prohibit the Shane company from advertising till they change the format of the advertisements, please let me know. Ugh, ugh, ugh :-(!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It's summer time

Just a few days back, I was boasting about the lovely, wonderful, marvellous (insert some more good superlatives here) Bay Area weather. Now I feel that the nice bay area weather is a myth. Any person who can call this baking weather as nice is surely out of his/her mind.

I guess the heat wave all over the US started sometime last week. Thanks to sitting in an air conditioned office all day long, I never noticed it. Even the noon walks at lunch was okay. The first time I really noticed the heat was on Friday night. Me and a bunch of friends had come back to my apt after dinner. When I opened the door, I felt like I was entering an oven set at medium baking temperature. For goodness sakes, it was 11.30p in the night at that time. After opening all the windows, the patio doors and turning on the fans (my apt does not have air conditioning - at any other time I would have thought of it as a wasteful accessory), the apt finally cooled down a bit.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. I woke up due to the extreme heat. The first thing on my agenda was to get out of the heated crock-pot called my apt as soon as possible. Where to go? Ah yes, my favorite while-away place - the library! Lots of cool air amidst lots of books - could heaven be better? "Ah, Archu, you are a genius," I thought as I got ready at double fast speed and zoomed away to the library.

Self-praise still ringing in my ears, I arrived at the library. Yes, I had had a stroke of genius. Only problem was that only about 95% of the other residents of my city had also had the same stroke of genius. For, turn where I may, I couldn't find a parking spot :-(. Ugh! So I drove around for quite sometime before I finally found a spot. This spot was only a little bit closer to the library than if I had parked at my apartment itself and walked the 1.5 mile distance to the library. So much for my brilliant ideas to avoid the sun - hmph! Anyways I trudged all the way in the shimmering heat and finally arrived panting at the library.

The blast of cool air as I entered was a welcome relief. As the umpteen cars in the parking lot foretold, the library was chock-full of people. I grabbed some magazines and started hunting around for a place to sit down amongst the zillion other library patrons. Then, the first nice thing of the day happened. To my amazement, I found an extremely comfy chair, facing the park. Yippeeee - even as I sat down, another lady sitting nearby said "you are very lucky you know". I know, I know!

Anyways, the next few hours sped by and then it was time to go back home to get ready for meeting another friend in the evening. By this time, the parking lot was even more full. So much so, there was competition for my far-flung parking spot too and a minivan was waiting to squeeze into my parking place. When I got into the car, the hot air felt like a blast from the furnace. I inserted my keys and pronto rolled down the windows. Then turned to put on my seat belt. Ouch, ouch, ouch - the metallic tip was HOT. Then put my hands on the steering wheel. Ouch, ouch, ouch! I gingerly place my hands on the baking steering wheel and pulled out. And drove back to my oven, oopz, my apartment.

Phew! Its so darn hot, its unbelievable. My first words to anyone I have met or spoken to in the past two days has been - it's hot! I am wishing for a speedy return of the famed Bay Area weather before I completely evaporate and turn into a new compound called ArB or some such thing!

I am unable to to believe I am the same person who used to survive Chennai's smouldering summers with great elan. It's surprising how much just three years of staying in a place with nearly always pleasant weather can spoil you!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

What the @#$%!

Warning: @#$%! language ahead!

When my sis and I were little kids, like in scores of other households, swear words were a complete taboo. Although at that time, we were still in the infantile stage as far as our swear word vocabulary was concerned. We had never even heard of the f-word or the s-word or the a**h*** word and their variants. Instead we used words like idiot, goose, fool, ninny and idjit (the last two were borrowed from some Enid Blyton novel - they have roughly the same meaning as fool and idiot) as insults. When we were really upset, we used to use bloody-fool and bastard.

Now, while the former set of words were still considered to be in the realm of decency, my parents did not like us using the last two words. Using them resulted in a terrible scolding or a sharp slap on the back from mom. This, of course, made it into a useful blackmail tool. Whenever one of us inadvertently, between ourselves, during a fight, used these words, the other would gleefully pounce upon it and say "Ha, I am going to tell mummy!" And thus would begin the pleading and the bargaining for silence!

The funny part in this story is not that we did not know the meaning of bastard then. Yes, we did not know the meaning. But even more interesting was the fact that we did not even know the spelling of the word. Hence we both spelt it as "basket" based on what we thought the villains said in the Tamil movies (bastard used to be a very favorite bad word for villains those days). I even used to wonder why "basket" had such an bad reputation when used as a swear word and not when in normal usage! Ah, the innocence of childhood!

Anyways, as I grew, my swear vocabulary also grew. As in, I at least knew the meanings of the common swear-words. Somehow I still couldn't bring myself to use most of them myself. Yup - I even stayed away from the s*** word! Even now I remember what one of my English teachers in school said. "Why dont you translate 'bull-shit' into Tamil and use it? If you think it sounds bad in Tamil, why do you think it is cool to use it in English?" Hmm, something to ponder about!

And then it was time to enter college. Of course, colleges have their own unique lingo which adds much color to any language. I used to find some of the insults very funny without them being offensive. My hostel friends, especially S, came up with their own specialities "Soplaangi" and "Gulbeku" are two insults which I use with great relish till date :-)!

When I set off to the US, my English teacher's words were still ringing in my ears. To my shock, as soon as I landed here, I realized that the word "shit" was something which people used for describing anything and everything. "Shit man! I forgot to read the journal paper." "Oh shit, its my cooking turn today!" "She really said that? No shit!" and so on! It was not long before the s-word became a very well-used part of my everyday vocabulary.

And then of course, there was the great f-word. In India, among my circle of friends, you could see the looks of horror on everyone's faces if this word came out from anyone's mouth. Whereas, in Davis, among other people, it was one of roomie R's favorite words! I remember our friend V once brought down a heavy book on her head to stop her from using it! I think the she stopped using the word only as long as the ringing lasted in her head :-)! In any case, pretty soon, I no longer cringed upon hearing the word. But surprisingly enough, it did not enter my list of "usable" words. Till date, the only time I ever use the f-word is - in my head - when I am driving and another driver makes me mad! The a** word and its variants I use when I am really, really angry - but otherwise those are off-limits too!

Using swear words is a way to vent off steam. A much better way than hurting someone or causing property damage. Still, somehow that childhood training is so ingrained in my head that I cannot use filthy language without getting a very yucky feeling! Same with reading any book or article which contains too much foul language. Like one of the characters in the Flavors movie (before the character is encouraged to drink and lose all his wordly inhibitions), the number of times I repeat the swear words from my limited allowed-swear-word vocabulary rather than their intensity is an indication of how frustrated I am!

BTW, here is the disclaimer: Let not all the above declarations lull you into a false sense of security that I am Ms. Goody-two-shoes or something, because I am NOT. Or maybe you can get lulled - at your own risk ;-) X->!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


Whenever you are typing out stuff on your computer, keep saving your work at very frequent intervals. Otherwise, when an unexpected shutdown occurs, you will lose all your work.

I am ashamed to admit that, me, a qualified computer professional (with a Master's degree, no less, to boot) just now did not follow that crucial basic axiom of using a computer. And hence lost the blog post that should have appeared in this space. Learn from my example. Save, save, save!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Treasure hunt

Since the time my parents returned to India mid-October last year, this kind of conversation is very common place between me and my mom.

Me: You know what, Mee, I thought I had run out of sombu. So last week, I went and bought some from the Indian store ...

Mom (interrupting): But I thought I left behind quite a lot of sombu when we left in October.

Me: Yes, I realized that when I hunting for something else yesterday :-(. There were two packets of sombu in that big ziploc bag. Sigh! Now I have to finish all that plus the one I bought last week! As it is you left behind so many spices, enough to feed two families and now... (launch into my usual whining about how I hardly ever use any of the kitchen stuff which mom had brought along during her stay here and then left behind for my use).

Mom: See, that's why I asked you to make a list of things you already have in your kitchen.

Me: Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa - I know. I should do it some time.

A couple of weeks later, this conversation would again happen. Just substitute sombu with mustard seeds.And then again. Substitute something else. But I never made that list. Yeah, I know, I am one lazy person.

Anyways, after all those conversations, at long last, this evening turned out to be THE auspicious day. On the spur of the moment, I just opened my freezer and decided to make an inventory of the contents. When I took out all the stuff outside, I was amazed that so much stuff could actually fit into my not-so-huge freezer. You can kind of understand what I am talking about - this is what the door of the freezer looks like!
Anyways, what I thought would be a ten minute project turned out to take up an hour instead. Being the conscientious soul that I am I decided to clean up everything before putting it all back. My inventory list is about three sides long. I discovered some spices and ingredients which I did not know I owned. Yes, and all this is just the stuff which sits in the freezer. I am yet to check out the rest of the kitchen cupboards :-( - but I shall save inventoring those for the next prick of my conscience :-D.
I also discovered some interesting-looking unidentifiable powder in an unlabeled plastic packet. After doing the look test, the sniff test and the taste test, I was still unable to place it. And then I found a small card inside the packet. "Manna Health mix" it read. My smart mom had labeled it after all :-D. So tonight, my dinner is the health mix.
If I disappear from the scene for more than two days, someone please call the medical services!

In case you are wondering why I have put up this whole rigmarole about cooking and cleaning, I was actually supposed to write a longer post. But since the cleaning took up my time, I had to settle for a short post instead. After I racked my brain for ideas, it came up with this brilliant topic.

I know, I should try to sharpen my brain with brain-games from now on :-P!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Yackity yack

The other day, I was on the phone with my friend from undergrad, S. I was telling S about a recent dinner party I had gone to. I had not known most of the people invited to the party too well. So the only times I had opened my mouth was to put some food into it. S was amazed. "You are kidding me!" she exclaimed "You did not open your mouth to talk? All the times I have been with you, I have found it hard to shut you up!"

Ah, there-in lies the difference. While I am very garrulous with people I know very well or when I am talking with people on a one-on-one basis, putting me in a room with more than two people who I either don't know or I am not comfortable with is the most surefire way of shutting me up.

I have always been one of those shy people. I used to hate drawing any kind of attention to myself. I used to recede into the corner of any crowd. In class, I hardly ever volunteered answers (even if I knew them) unless I was called upon. I preferred to keep my thoughts to myself for fear of being ridiculed. Basically, the shy-people works. You can get some understanding of exactly how shy I was when I tell you that, to this day, most of my sneezes are either completely soundless (really) or almost inaudible. You see, I was so embarassed about the attention my sneeze could draw to me if it got any louder that I somehow managed to quell it!

Of course, in smaller groups, consisting of people I knew well, I had a field day. In order to make up for all the silence otherwise, I guess I did more than my share of talking then! Obviously, my friends saw me in those situations the most and refused to believe I had a different side to me at all!

Anyways, given my aversion to speaking in public, all through school, as much as possible, I tried to avoid any activity which involved standing up in front of a crowd. I would have become a total introvert if not for two things: 1. In the age-old tradition of opposites attract, I always had more out-going friends who involved me in all their activities 2. I was good at studies. Since teachers usually love students who score well, I was pulled into many activities even without volunteering! Net-net, I did not miss out too much on account of being too timid to speak up. Still, public-speaking was one domain where I absolutely refused to put my foot into.

Then, when I was in ninth standard, my banker dad got transferred to the small town of K in Tamilnadu. I joined a convent school there. I caused quite a stir as the Madras-girl (hahahahah). To the residents of small-town K, Madras (it was just recently beginning to be called Chennai) was the Big Bad City :-)! Anyways, life went on. I was finally learning to speak up a little - had to keep up the hep (!?!) Madras-girl image you see ;-). Everything was going on hunky-dory and life was a bed of roses, so to speak.

Till, one fine day, I was called by the headmistress (or HM Sister as we called the bespectacled nun) who told me casually that I was to represent the school in the town-wide public-speaking contest. What!?! When I recovered from the shock, I hurriedly told her that I had never participated in a speaking competition before and that I was sure that I would be very bad at it.

HM Sister dismissed my arguments. "Your spoken English is so good," she said. "How can you not be good at public-speaking?" Hahaha! If only she knew. So, after I had hurriedly written up something on the proposed topic with mom's help and mugged it, off I marched to the HM Sister's office (this competition being town-wide and all, HM Sister wanted to oversee my efforts herself), quaking in my shoes, to present the speech.

Once there, HM Sister gave me the signal to start. So there I stood in the office, reeling off the words from memory, without taking my eyes off my shoe laces for even a second. I am sure any parrot would have been proud of my recital powers. I had zoomed somewhere into the second paragraph before HM Sister could get my attention and make me stop. I looked up and saw HM Sister staring at me with dismay. She finally realized what she was up against. Ha, now I would be let off.

Early celebrations I guess. Turns out nuns are made of sterner stuff. With an effort, she said that I was not bad (yeah, right) but I needed a little coaching. So for the next couple of weeks, till the competition, HM sister with the help of other teachers, told me how not to stare at the ground and instead look at the audience while speaking. And how full-stops and commas were there in sentences for a reason. About how to modulate my voice so that I would not sound like a flat note. In short, everything except how I could walk up in front of crowd and still not lose my voice.

D-day finally arrived. We students were taken to the venue from the school. My parents promised to arrive directly at the venue to watch me in action. My turn was somewhat towards the end. We had arrived early as the members of the dance-team needed time to dress up. I was having fun watching all the dancers get made up. However, as the time of competition approached and I saw the huge crowds, I began having panic attacks. Would they throw me out of my school if I turned from the stage and fled? And then, to add to my misery, I was told that my spot had been advanced. Oh well, at least the torture would be over faster.

The speech competition began. I watched the other speakers with a sort of detached sensation. Finally, my turn. I climbed up the steps to the stage, my knees quivering. I saw the huge crowd and my voice stuck in my throat. As they adjusted the mike, I had hopeful visions of the earth opening up and swallowing me. Finally, I had to begin talking.

And I started. Then, something strange happened. I was no longer on the stage. Instead I was in a huge classroom. I was the expert on the topic I was talking about. The audience depended on me to do a good job of explaining it to them. I spoke confidently without any sign of nervousness. And I went on and on.

Finally, I finished and with a sigh of relief (all my nervousness returned as soon as I stepped away from the mike) got down from the stage. I had done it! I couldn't believe it - but yes, I had participated in a public-speaking competition! Miracles would never cease. As if one miracle was not enough, I actually won the third place in the competition too :-D.

After that, I participated in other public speaking contests too. I was amazed to find that for someone so intimidated about talking in a crowd, I was not too bad talking to a crowd. So, that is how my dear school brought out a talent (if you can call it that) that I never knew I possessed. I am grateful!

Anyways, given my other talent of self-analyzing, I soon figured out that I am comfortable speaking in a crowd of strangers, as long as I am confident of what I am talking about. So work-related presentations are a total breeze usually. But work related meetings result in me usually having a stuffed-frog look as I analyze and re-analyze whether i should state my opinion or not (what will others think). Similarly, polite conversations with a bunch of strangers also finds me sporting the silent-as-a-tomb avatar (what if I say something dumb) as I keep waiting for a quote-worthy sentence to pop into my head. People I know well, of course, don't care (I think ;-)) even if I talk nonsense so I can always talk nineteen-to-a-dozen with them.

These days, I am making a conscious effort to not be quite so self-conscious. I think I should stop placing so much value on other people's opinion of me. Like I read somewhere: Don't worry over what other people are thinking about you. They're too busy worrying over what you are thinking about them :-D. However, I am eons away from reaching my goal. Wish me luck :-)!

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Walkathon Monday

Hard as it may be to believe, I still have not finished the entire account of my trip to Canada. Being one of those people who have to finish off what they started, I have to put down this last (yeah, really, it is the last part for the Canada trip) part. So, with a promise to myself to not write quite so detailed travelogues in future, here it goes. BTW, in case you are hunting, here are links to parts one, two, three and four.

So anyways, Monday was the last full day of stay for me in Canada. As there was not much time left for sightseeing, Shilpa and I decided to mainly spend time in Toronto downtown and in The Islands. In order to get an early start to the day, I optimistically set the alarm for 7.00a in the morning (when will I ever learn?). As usual, after many snoozes, we finally got up around 9.00a. So far, so good. But it turned out that both of us were rather lethargic after all the activities of the previous day - so we just lazed about for quite sometime after getting up. It was well past 11.00a when we finally set off to the bus stop.

Unlike the first day, we had to wait for quite some time before the bus finally arrived. The waiting wouldn’t have been so bad but for the fact that the day was scorching hot. It did not help that the bus stand was constructed of transparent material. It looked very cool no doubt but the designer had evidently not considered the fact that, on a hot summer day, standing under a transparent roof is equivalent to not standing under it. Anyways, by the time the bus arrived, about 40 minutes later, S and I were already exhausted.

From there it was to the GO bus stand from where we had to get the bus to downtown. Obviously our luck as regards transportation had changed. The next bus would arrive an hour later. An hour? An Hour? So S and I stood for another hour at the bus stop (the bus shelter felt like an oven so we could not sit inside). Finally, we boarded the bus and arrived at downtown. There, we learnt that the Toronto Transit Authority had gone on a flash strike. So no trams or public buses were operating that day. Great! Our day of sightseeing was turning into a total nightmare.

But S and I are made of stern stuff when it comes to sightseeing - so we bravely plodded on by walk to the ferry terminal. We were planning on taking the ferry to The Islands. But before boarding, we had to have some lunch - it was already past lunchtime. We finally wound up getting food from a grocery cum fast food store! I don't know if it was because of my hunger or not but the pizza we had there was one of the best I have ever tasted.

After lunch, it was on to the terminal. Finally, we lucked out - the ferry to The Islands left almost immediately after we bought our tickets - no waiting for transportation, hooray! From the waters of Lake Ontario, we got an awesome view of the Toronto downtown. The skyline looked really cool. The breeze as we sat in the ferry cooled us off considerably and was a welcome relief from the sun. As we approached The Islands, we saw lots of greenery and a quaint arched bridge. It looked promising!

The Islands is a tourist destination which consists of three, what else, islands. I don't know what their original purpose was, but now these are completely developed into centers for recreational activities. We landed at the Centre Island. The first thing we noticed was the serene greenery that surrounded us on all sides. We spotted a board which actually encouraged people to walk on the grass! There were rolling grasslands dotted with maple trees. A lake with occasional ducks and a steamer on it made the place look like something out of "Tom Sawyer". It was beautiful!

We had picked up a map of the place. Our first destination was a maze. S and I traversed it. It was a small one - nevertheless it gave us the feeling of being in the Harry Potter book four :-D! By now, we had walked quite a bit and it was time to rest. The soft grass made a comfortable bed and I would have fallen asleep had S not poked me awake!

All this while, we had seen many people riding a strange cycle rickshaw type contraption. We found that it was called a "quadricycle" and we could rent one and drive it around the island. We rented it and briskly pedaled away. It was really good fun and we covered a lot more distance and attractions on the islands than we would have had we decided to walk. After half an hour of brisk pedaling, we returned the quadricycle and strolled to the beach.

The beach had a jetty sticking out into the water. From there we had a good view of the Ontario lake as well as the CN Tower. As usual we got obsessed with taking pictures which would make us look like we were holding the CN tower in our hand. We did managed to get a couple of them but not before irritating the heck out of the other visitors with our constant "move left, move right, lift your hand, lower your hand, aaargh - follow my directions" ;-)!

Beside the beach they also had a row of stones in the water - it reminded us so much of the bridge to Lanka in the Ramayana! We spent some more time strolling around. By this time it was getting late. Factoring in our travel time to get back home, it was time to head back. We stopped on the way at a restaurant for iced tea. It was heavenly in the hot sun and I finished the contents of my tall glass in two gulps!

There was a short wait for the return ferry but the evening had cooled down and the wait was not as tiring as before. Once we got back to the mainland, we had to again resort to walking due to the transportation strike. We wanted to see The Path - Toronto's underground shopping destination. We managed to find it all right but we were either at the wrong segment of The Path or were there at the wrong time. Anyhow, we did not find it very impressive. By this time, we had added another mile or so to our rapidly growing "Number of miles we walked today" chart. The immediate need of the hour was energy-boosting coffee.

Shilpa remembered seeing a Tim Horton's on Bay Street the last time we were in downtown. We walked in the direction dictated by her hazy memory and mercifully found it on the first try. Once at the store, we got a whole bunch of Tim Bits and two cups of coffee and spent close to an hour cooling our feet there. After recharging ourselves, we set off to the Union Station, where we had to get the GO bus.

Since we were early, we thankfully got seats on the bus. The bus eventually got overcrowded (which apparently is unusual) due to the transport strike. From there it was back to Missisuaga. We took a break in between to shop for some stuff for S's aunt's house and finally headed back home.

There was good food awaiting us. S's cousins eagerly welcomed us - "let us make the video, let us make the video!". S had promised to make a dance video featuring them. We were of course tired - but a promise is a promise. C had actually made notes about what steps to dance! Both B and C had dressed up in good clothes for the "video-shoot". So S set up the camera and we all danced crazily for an hour. Finally it was time to go to bed.

S and me, as usual, spent a lot of time chatting, seeing pics etc. I was leaving the next day and we wanted to squeeze in as much talking as possible before that! Finally, when our eyes were involuntarily closing, we called it a day and went to bed.

The next day, S's uncle dropped me at the airport on his way to work. Surprisingly, immigration to the USA took place in the Toronto airport itself! This resulted in me getting very confused while answering the immigration officer’s questions. But I was hardly asked anything and made it through immigration without any issues. So I was officially inside the United States even in Canada!

The rest of the journey back home was a normal, looong coast to coast trip. I reached Cal in an extremely exhausted state. But the Canada trip had been simply awesome. The hospitality, the companions, the places we visited - everything, had been great!

And that concludes my Canadian Chronicles!

In case you are wondering, I have decided to stop giving ratings to my long trips as it is redundant. I usually take the trouble to write about trips with five star ratings only :-P!

Credit: All the photos in the posts about Canada were taken either by Shilpa or by me. Please to pay any royalties to us ;-P!

And, here are some announcements:

Tomorrow (July 10) is Shilpa’s birthday. Happy Birthday, girl :-D! Go, wish her folks! She is currently marooned (but happily so since Vikram is by her side :-)) in her internet-less place in Dubai!

Don’t miss Pirates of the Carribean, Part 2. Johnny Depp is simply awesome and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen whenever he was on it! Watch it for him!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Phew - I tried really hard to force myself to put up a proper post. But I am now really jetlagged (yeah, I have decided to give a posh name to ordinary tiredness because I returned from a timezone which is three whole hours ahead - hehehehe ;-)) and sleepy. So this post is just a filler so that my blog does not feel too neglected :-)!

In the meantime, I am glad to announce that I am now a New York City certified driver :-D. Our route to Atlantic City unexpectedly took us right through the heart of NYC downtown, where, obviously, we got hopelessly lost. Yours truly was the driver and I managed to agressively compete with the aggressive NYC drivers (and got no honks or middle fingers) - yaaay :-D! My friends were totally impressed and tried to persuade me to do all the driving for the rest of the trip. Hahahaha - nice try!

But yeah, I drove in NYC - my achievement for the week!