Saturday, January 26, 2008

Clinton Has a Dream!

Retirement can be tiring!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Buy one.. and get blessed for free!

There is no doubt in my mind that India is going to be a force to reckon with in the next decade or so.
Where else can you find this!

Now you can have your car and step on it too! You have been blessed... for free!

Can Gieco beat this!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Perpendicular parking

Last night I went to Oakland, that hallowed land of parallel parking. (Small wonder everyone walks here!) I espied a parking-meter and smoothly backed up into a slot, a coffee-cup bigger than my car. There! I looked around smugly and stepped out to admire my handiwork.

Then this morning I saw this:

(Pic is from http://www.georgesteinmetz.com)

That has got to be the most beautiful place in the world! That zig-zag road, the palm trees, the colorful boats and... perpendicular parking. That's what we want more of!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

A tribute to TZP

Raise the volume on your speakers, click on the link below and repeat after me:


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Camels in a desert

What color are the camels... look closely!

I'm sure George Steinmetz went to a good photography school :)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Tata - NANO: No Horn please!

I was thrilled when I learnt of the launching of the Nano for < Rs. 1 lac.

Here's a great post on what the NANO means for the Indian consumer!

Just goes to show that there's always another point-of-view!

Ratan Tata should now get into the road building business.. got the cars.. now fix the roads ;)
I can only imagine what a traffic snarl in small North Indian towns will look like with Rickshaws, cows, pedestrians, Marutis, Accords, bikes, scooters.. and now the Nano thrown in the mix!

I really wish the Nano has a bike bell instead of a horn!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Taare Zameen Par

Like everyone else in Pittsburgh, this last weekend, we also saw Taare Zameen Par. And like everyone else we too consumed our share of kleenex tissues :)

I think the movie is great and all kudos to Mr. Khan for tackling this issue. But what I found much more superior to the movie were the songs.. They tugged at the heart-strings and make you want to reach out to all the kids in boarding schools!

I also liked the part where he made one little boy who was bussing tables and treated him to a shake. Small act of kindness but if all of us take one little one under our wing, what a difference it will make! We need more Ram Shankar Nikumbh's in the world!

Great movie... even greater songs!

Here's a link to the songs... listen and get transported to a different planet!

After listening to 'Maa', I'm Shanker Mahadevan #1 fan! That is one song that if I saw written on paper, I wouldn't have recognized as a song. A poem maybe... but not a song! Shanker does wonders to it!

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Our first Cruise!

Cruise - What a way to vacation! Dec 21 ~ Dec 31
Pittsburgh - Orlando >Miami, FL >San Juan, PR > St. Thomas > St. Marteen > Miami, FL > Orlando > Pittsburgh.

Pitt to Orlando by air. Miami by 4 pm the next day after a night at Ft. Pierce, FL. Cab from Avis to the pier. That is where Neel/Niki are waiting now.

Look at these behemoths! Docked in St. Marteen. On the left is the "Liberty of the Seas" and on the right is the vessel we sailed in on called Carnival Triumph. There were approx, 3600 guests and 1100 crew on this monster!

Just outside Miami. We had the coast guard escort us out to the open sea. (Nothing special tho', they do that with all cruise ships everyday! Including the helicopter escort!)

The seas were calm but the ship was rocking!

Neel took the time to show Niki around :)

And we all enjoyed 7 glorious sunsets! (The sunrises were dutifully missed :)

A view of the ocean from our room:

San Juan, Puerto Rico was where our ship docked adter 2 days at Sea. Land ho!
San Juan is a combination of Chowk and Europe! Cobbled stoned walkways and very laid back living. We had a VERY nice time walking and joking around downtown.

Here is where we saw that woman who seemed to be singing from the depths of her soul. I have never heard anyone singing like this. Quite an experience!

Niki loved the local birds... and they loved her :)
At the back are the ships that we will sail out on at midnight.

This is not the ship we sailed on but it's (slightly bigger cousin) from Norwegian Cruise Lines docked alongside. Our's is called "Carnival Triumph" (and details are here http://carnival.com/Ship_Detail.aspx?shipCode=TI)

At midnight we sailed for St. Thomas with is also a part of US Virgin Islands.

When you come back to your room, you always find your bed turned out and that cute towel animal! We had swans, elephants, polar bears, dogs, monkeys

Mornings we were on the walking track on deck 13. "Dauda dia!"

Docked at St. Thomas at 8 am on day 4. St. Thomas reminded us of Mussorie/Nanital. But Megan Bay was just breathtaking! We took an open mini-bus that took us on a ride-from-hell! It was quite a roller-coaster ride to various patel-points on the island. Here is one of the stops.

Here is where we had our ONLY bit of bad weather in the entire 10 day trip: 15 minutes of rain! This is Paradise point. We can see our ship docked in the distance.

Here another view from Paradise point:

And this place is just amazing: Megan's Bay. The black spot in the middle is supposed to be a school of fish (not a cloud shadow, as you city-lovers may think ;)

The afternoon was spent in the auzure depths of the Atlantic aboard the submarine Atlantis:

View from our sub. We saw plenty of fishes, a LARGE turtle and one 4 feet shark. But for most part, the coral was not as colorful as we would have liked :(

We had a pleasant walk in the evening. Niki got her hair braded while Neel stood guard ;)

When we came back to the ship that night, there was a white guest waiting for us :)

And then we proceeded to one of those formal dinners that the women love and the guys .... just suffer through :)

The next morning at St. Marteen which is a good mix of Europe and Island life. Spent half a day at the beach getting my now-legendary tan ;) and half boardwalking where we bought the 'magic-shirts'!
At the beach ($10 for 2 beach chairs + 2 floats.. what a deal!)

Then some board-walking...

And put on your shades to see....

.. the magic shirts!

At around 7pm, the population of the island (that had one up by 100%: from 15000 natives to 30,000 people(5000 per ship and there were 3 ships)) returned to normal as guests streamed back. The island was happy for thier hands were laden with gifts bought from the islands. Gold/silver and diamonds (bought from almost 90% Indian-owned stores) made their way back to the ships and to places far off. This is how it looked from our room's balcony:

That night we ate good!... atleast colorful!!

And when we returned to the room, a friend was waiting for us :)

We left St. Marteen for 2 fun-days at sea!
Niki made tons of friends in Camp Carnival

And so did Neel.. but his were invisible so no picture :)

Instead... enjoy pics of this gala buffet. Easy on the eye and on the stomach.. but given it was at midnight, I doublt any of the 3,600 passengers would have had the stomach to eat the finely sculpted food!

This is just a sample.. the guy said he took 30 minutes to make this! Carrots and Watermellon:
For the incisive: The red-stuff that forms the core of the flowers is beet-root and the yellow petals are turnips!

And here is the centerpiece of the buffet.. a 6 foot ice-sculpture that was brought in in 3 pieces:
(Should have got something for scale.. my photographic-skills are lacking!)

There was a live demo of making an ice sculpture earlier on:

There were these great Vegas type shows.. I'm not much of a dance fan but these hi-energy dances were very impressive!

On the last day the cruise director talked about the 10 most stupid questions asked on the ship. I dont remember all but here's what I remember. If you intend to go on a cruise, DON'T read on. I was exchanging notes with a guy who'd come off of another cruise ship and his questions were pretty similar!:
  • Is there a generator on board - no.. there's a giant extention cord all the way from Miami!
  • Do the crew go ashore at night?
  • What happens to the ice-sculptures after they're melted?! Cruise director takes out a water bottle from under the podium and takes a swig before he answers...
  • Old woman asks the Cruise Director... "Those people with a patch behind their ears... what relegion are they?" And someone pipes up.. They're Apache.. baby!