Friday, December 29, 2006

Miracle on Flight 160

Last week early noon on Friday, I set off to the airport from work. This time, the destination was Miami, Florida. My colleague N dropped me off at the airport. As a part of my usual preparation for long flights, I bought food at the airport - a nice plain bagel sandwich filled with sun-dried tomato spread and veggies. I decided to eat it on the flight (to while away an extra fifteen minutes on my pretty long flight to Houston where the layover was).

Reading my book and observing other passengers helped me easily while away time till boarding. Soon after taking off and reaching cruising altitude, I pulled out my sandwich and smugly ate it even as they announced something about the complimentary beverage service on the flight. All satiated, I settled back into my economy-class seat while the beverage cart trundled past my row.

Then, up ahead, I could hear the stewardess say to a passenger "Would you like pizza?". Huh? Pizza? Oh, maybe we had to pay for it. But then, before my disbelieving eyes, the airhostess handed out hot pizza, a box of salad and a chocolate bar to all passengers!

Yes, they were serving actual food on the plane. My jaws dropped open. This is the first time this event is happening to me on a US-domestic flight since the meal I got on a flight in the summer of 2002. Miracles will never cease. In a daze, I took the pizza and salad my neighbor passed to me.

Of course at that point, I was already stuffed with my bagel sandwich. But then, you don't say no to miracles. So I dutifully finished half of the mini-pizza and most of the salad.

In case you are wondering which airlines performed this miracle, it is Continental Airlines. A word of caution though, it is quite possible that this miraculous event happens around Christmas time only. So don't blame me if your next Continental flight kindly offers you "a beverage of your choice" (and only a beverage of your choice) for your 4+ hour flight!

Anyways, my stop-over was in Houston. I continued my reading/observing activities at the Houston airport while waiting for D to turn up. D was flying in from Seattle and by happy coincidence we had got the same connecting flight from Houston to Fort Lauderdale (FLL).

D arrived and within the first few minutes of our meeting excitedly told me about how she had got an actual "meal" on her flight (she had flown on Continental too) - LOL - so I wasn't the only heathen disbeliever :-))! Anyways, we then had dinner (just to clarify, I might be a glutton but in this case, a significant amount of time had elapsed since the lunch miracle) and boarded our flight to FLL.

We had, of course, been chattering non-stop all the while till then. Boarding the flight changed nothing and we kept up a constant flow of conversation without wasting a single minute on the 2 hour flight :-)) - it was super fun catching up!

Our arrival at FLL happened past midnight. The first thing which struck me when we got off the flight was the blast of warm air which hit us. Warm air at midnight in winter? Uh-huh, maybe I should not have packed quite as many full-hand shirts as I had. Oh well, it was too late to start having those reflections.

We picked up D's checked-in baggage and then proceeded to pick up our rental car. From there to the hotel in Miami was a not bad 25 minute trip. Our hotel was bang in the middle of downtown Miami and we got a room right on the 22nd floor where the view of the downtown was super awesome :-D!

The beautifully lit up Bank of America (BoA) building. Note the golden snow flakes - the flakes alone were no longer lit-up after Christmas!
Another view of nighttime downtown Miami.

The same view in day time.

And, two of the three travelling musketeers had arrived :-).

Monday, December 18, 2006

Hair today gone tomorrow

This weekend, at long last I went to the salon to get a long pending haircut. The hair stylist was mercifully not one of those chattering kinds (I am pretty poor at doing polite conversation) and I had all the time in the world to think and observe as the stylist went about her job. This stylist was different from the other stylists I have been too - after cutting each side, she would not look at my hair to compare if it was even, instead she would hold the ends with her fingers, stare at the ceiling and feel if it was even or not! Wow, how much experience she must have to achieve that (needless to say, she did a good job and I am happy with my haircut).

As with all my other sudden career aspirations, I suddenly started wondering how it would be to work in a beauty salon. But it was not as if this was so totally out of the blue.

You see, since childhood, me and my sister have found tons of outlets for our creativity in the make-up area - mainly because, on both dad's and mom's sides of the family, we are either the eldest or near to the eldest among all the cousins. So we always had an entire brood of younger cousins at our disposal on whom we could try our "talents".

Since childhood, we have polished lots of nails, applied lipstick to lots of lips, lined a lot of eyes, dressed up lots of "kings" and "queens" - either because the younger cousins asked us to do so or more often, because we felt like experimenting (of course, us being the honorable akkas (big sisters), our younger cousins were only too delighted to be the models - unfortunately, now they are all grown up and don't have quite the same adoration for us any more :-(). Anyways, dressing the cousins up was a good pasttime for us. We were reasonably okay at doing it and as we grew older, we sometimes even helped the "elders" with their make-up and clothes.

However, it was only after reaching the hostel that I discovered my flair with hair (ah, that rhymes :-)). I don't quite remember how it happened but it was during the first semester of my first year in hostel. AD, one of my first year hostel mates, whom I hardly knew, somehow decided that I should cut her hair for her. I was thrilled to get a volunteer for my experiments with hair and agreed immediately.

AD wanted it shorter than her present just-above-the-waist length hair but did not specify just how short. I started off with great enthusiasm. There were five other girls in the room as audience. They all sat on the cots to watch while AD sat on the floor in the center on a bunch of spread out newspapers. I knelt behind her with the scissors.

Initially, the process went off pretty smoothly. But then I realized that one side of AD's hair was slightly shorter than the other. So I chopped off some more hair from the longer side. And, you guessed it, now that side was shorter than the other side. So snip, snip, snip I went on the other side. Oh no, now the other side was shorter than the previously shorter side.

At this point, word had gotten around the hostel first year students that someone was getting their hair cut and that it looked as if it was going to be lots of fun. The number of girls in the audience had now swelled to a dozen. More wanted to come in but there was no space and I was getting distracted with all the attention.

Finally, the doors to the room were closed but people continued to peer in through the windows - I guess everyone was betting about whether AD will have all her hair shorn off or not with my monkey and the pie act or not :-(.

Anyways, the bright spot was, since AD could not see her hair herself, she cheerfully asked me to continue doing what I thought was right. Eventually, when her hair had reached shoulder length, both sides had finally equalled out and I was done. AD marched to the mirror - everyone held their breath to see what her reaction would be to her considerably shortened hair.

AD took one look at herself and went "Oooooooooh, thank you so much - this looks so nice". And actually, it was true - AD has really fine hair and the free flowing shoulder length hair instead of her usual single thin pigtail made her look cute. Ta da - success by accident :-D!

After that, requests poured (okay, a few of them came) in for the miracle hair-stylist ;-) - I once even cut someone's hair using a pair of ultra tiny foldable scissors as we could not find the regular sized ones (ah, the things we did in hostel). After that word got around that I could help with other "make-up stuff" too. So during the final year of undergrad, during college functions, I helped with eye-liners, drawing elaborate free hand bindi patterns etc. - it was fun to experiment on different people :-)!

Sitting at the salon that day brought back all these memories.That's when it struck me - being a beautician would give me a lot of subjects to experiment on and what's more, actually get paid for it - cooool :-)! Is it too late to start learning to be a beauty specialist?

Acknowledgement: Thank you Saranya for acting as the initial catalyst in bringing up the memories :-)!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Winter mornings

...can look like this at 7.30a.

Like waking up on week-day mornings when it was sunny and warm was not tough enough.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

'Tis the season

... to stuff yourself.

I went to the office kitchen after lunch to fetch a cup of coffee. There was a small crowd around the table in the kitchen-center. The reason was soon evident - the table was sagging under the weight of delicious looking cookies, candies, chocolates, crackers, cheese and nuts - someone's gesture of appreciation.

Within a space of a few seconds, without even consciously stopping to think about it, I had joined the crowd and had stuffed myself with a yummy mint chocolate rock, a very sticky but super yummy English candied toffee and a butter cookie stuffed with fudge.

Self-control, where art thou? Apparently it is with all the people who religiously stick to salads and always daintly refuse anything which remotely resembles real food.

But ah, really happy people eat real food* :-D - and I am a really happy girl 0:-). That's why I am especially glad that this is just the beginning of the goodie deluge.

Enjoy the season folks :-)!

* I concede - I so totally made that aphorism up. But it sounds true, doesn't it :-P?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Girls and boxes

This evening, I was busy putting away clothes from the laundry. I was folding a particular top when I suddenly wondered whether I had an accessorizing chain for it. So I immediately abandoned my laundry and went off to check (yeah, I come up with innovative ways of putting off tiresome chores).

While rummaging through my accessories collection, I came across a pendant-chain and suddenly remembered - this chain was a part of a gift-set given by my friend M after her return from her first trip to the USA when we were in undergrad.

That time, seven of us in the hostel used to be very good friends. So M had brought us all back similar gift-sets consisting of a chain and matching ear-studs in elegant paper boxes. She handed it out to us and gave the last box to R, apologizing at the same time "Sorry, they did not have any more matching sets, so yours only has a chain and no ear-studs - please don't take offense". The rest of us were silent for a moment and then all the gift-recepients (other than R) burst out at the same time "R, can I please, please exchange my gift-set with yours?"

You see, R's chain came in a small, cute metal box. And all of us wanted the cute box more than any of the other contents! M was taken aback - she had been under the impression that R was getting the raw deal! Obviously, we other girls did not think so.

I have noticed that most girls have a strange attraction towards boxes of any shape and size. The boxes in question just need to be made of somewhat durable material and be at least half-way decent looking. When I see such a box, I get busy mentally allocating a space for it in my apartment. Never mind that I already own dozens of such boxes. Just the thought of adding another "nice" box to my collection somehow makes me happy. I always rationalize that I can store something or the other in it and of course, I could always use it for gifting.

I still haven't explained to myself as to how a person can find a use for every single of her gazillion boxes (some boxes being so small that a pepper-corn would have difficulty fitting inside it) but there it is!

I know I am not alone. I remember my friend S had gone perfume shopping last year. I recommended one of my favorite fragrances, J'adore, to her. But I also added a warning, "Don't buy too much of it though, you will never be able to finish it." S sagely accepted my advice and went off shopping.

When she returned, she called me and sheepishly told me "Archu, I bought the biggest J'adore bottle they sell!" My jaw dropped and I started laughing, "What? Adi paavi, after all my advice! You are going to be smelling like J'adore for the rest of your life - hehehehehe....". S interrupted me, "I couldn't help it you know - they had this really, really, really cute box for free if I bought the biggest bottle and I simply had to have the box."

And suddenly, enlightment dawned - the perfume marketers had it right! Throw in an ultra-cute box with something and most women would never be able to resist and would simply go rushing to buy it. S never settled on any particular use for the cute box and now it has been stashed away somewhere out of sight but she is still happy when she talks about it. I know that feeling :-D!

This year, a friend C and I had decided to make handmade gifts for each other for fun. I chose an unfinished wooden-box from the arts store Michaels and also bought a bunch of decorating materials. I had a great time decorating the box. On the day of the meeting with C, I filled it with chocolate truffles.

So pleased I was with my "finished" box that I showed it off to my friend V at work - he looked at it and declared it to be very nice. Then he thoughtfully added, "But what will C do with the box once the chocolates are eaten?" I confidently said, "Oh, C will store something else in it or will simply keep it." V doubtfully agreed, "Ooooookaaaaaay - if you say so." Then I started having doubts myself about how well C would like the gift.

I needn't have worried. After all, C is a girl. She took one look at the box and went "Ooooooh, how cute! So nice, now I can store knick-knacks in it. Ohhh, the box is a wonderful idea - I think I am going to get boxes for my other girl friends and decorate them and give them as gifts" - LOL :-D!

I have never noticed this box-hoarding or box-loving tendencies in guys. Is this something which only afflicts girls?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Wisdom for the day

LOL :-D - I knew there had to be a reason! Thank you Jim Davis and thank you A for forwarding it to me!