Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Melancholy X'mas

I used to hate it when
                my mom used to poke me for midnight mass on X’mas eve
I used to hate it when
                the cold bites deep down to my bone.
I used to hate it when
                I had to wait for the mass to end to taste the chicken curry
I used to hate it when
                the crackers burst all night interrupting my sleep

I used to hate it when
                I was forced to go along with the X’mas carol
I used to hate it when
                my brother made me do all the menial job for the crib
I used to hate it when
                my dad snored after the afternoon meal interrupting my X’mas movie
I used to hate it when
                my mom sends me off to give X’mas cake to neighbors

I used to hate it when
                few of my cousins get delayed for the X’mas night party
I used to hate it when
                no one cared about the games that I have put a lot of thoughts in.
I used to hate it when
                everyone leaves when all I could think was how to make them stay for couple more minutes
I used to hate it when
                everyone left with a smile and I am the only one with a sad face.

Now I miss all these……

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Fall in LA

You all look really great! The program coordinator at UCLA was being very vocal about it during the photo shoot. I remember searching in vain in the mirror on that morning to find some signs of handsomeness. May be that’s just an American way of saying nice about anything and everything. Also I was not expecting her to say that “You all look great! Except you Feeebin” But I have seen many Americans greeting each other saying you look amazing/great/nice even though the other person looks as if he/she  just got out of bed. The key point here is that Americans are generally very courteous. Any random person you come across in the street will smile at you and greet you with a Hi or How is it going? They walk away as if they know the answer. After all, in America everything is great so what negative answer do you expect?

I started my exploration in the very first week, with Hollywood walk of fame and Santa Monica beach. UCLA had organized thanksgiving program in which I was invited to dine with an alumni from UCLA for thanksgiving dinner. They prepared a wonderful dinner for me and we had a highly intellectual discussion during the dinner. I had to use all my current affairs reading to be involved in the discussion.  This was little strange for me as my family usually discuss people and movies during our dinner time.

At Hollywood walk of fame

The happening street of Santa Monica

Mr Clark and Family at Thanksgiving
For the next two weeks, I joined the UCLA hiking club for two different treks. One was at Devil’s Punch Bowl which was relatively easy. The next one at Santa Paula waterfall was highly adventurous as we had to do some rock climbing where a loose step could lead to a fall as deep as 20m below. The effort was completely worth it as we reached the natural pool at the end of the trek. I consider this as one of the toughest treks that I embarked upon, that too with a history of five shoulder dislocations.

First Trek @ Devils Punch Bowl

Second Trek @ Santa Paula. The toughest part

Santa Paula Pool

Enjoying a natural slider
The finals week came soon. I couldn't wait for the final night mischiefs that me and my roommates had planned. (I am leaving this to reader's imagination) In this excitement I finished my exam with half time remaining and went to the Jenss step to enjoy a cool sunset. The very next day we left for a trek to Hollywood sign trail. I extended this trek further to conquer Chahuenga peak as my friends returned back. At the end of it I visited the Bat cave famous from the Batman TV show in 1960’s
View from Janss step

With Roomies at Hollwood trail

Getting photo bombed @Chaheunga Peak

My impression of the entertainment capital of the world has been great so far. This vibrant city has a lot to offer and I am patiently waiting for more and more wonderful experiences.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Why people are awesome

I happened to think a lot these days, which is very unusual with me as I have very limited thoughts, and I have found that people are genuinely good irrespective of the belief they follow or irrespective of the race they are in. I felt that people have a natural inclination to help others which might be more related to genetics than the bible saying “Thou shall love thy neighbors”. I don’t think anyone who helps a complete stranger thinks that he is increasing his chance to the “Heavenly abode” or “Moksha” while involved in the act. I was trying to recollect few of the incidents where a complete stranger helped me without expecting anything in return. Here is my list.

First: I was eighteen years old and had just got my driving license. During some family function, I was asked to go and get my cousin who was coming from Bangalore to a particular place. This place was around 40 Km from my home and I had to travel through the ghat sections and narrow roads. This was my first trip alone after getting my driving license and to be frank, I was scared about travelling alone through the secluded area. Just some 15 Km from my home, my tires got punctured. I didn’t notice it and an auto driver who was overtaking me shouted at me. I stopped the car and got out; I didn’t have any clue on how to change the tires. Just as I was worried and was staring at the jacks in the car dickey, the auto driver who warned about my punctured tire came back. He said that he noticed that I was alone and he thought he could probably help me with this. In the next five minutes he replaced the tyres, with me just playing the role of supervisor. I didn’t even have the courtesy to say thanks or give a gracious smile. I was just happy that I could get my work done without moving a little finger. As he drove away, the ungracious little jerk that was me sped away just to manipulate the story later as an adventurous experience to my cousins.

Second: I was on a bike trip with my friend to Hampi. It was almost midnight and we were still 60 Km away from Hampi. We decided to stay the night at Bellary and leave to Hampi on the next day. I was driving and my friend was the pillion rider. I missed one Hump completely and this made the bike to skid. I could still balance the bike and myself and the bike were safe. But my friend lost the balance and he fell to the road. He suffered a bruise on face and small other injuries. As it was pitch dark, we were left with only the lights coming from the vehicles passing by. A person came in jeep and stopped near to us. He offered to help us. We were really skeptical about him. He told us that he doesn’t expect anything in return and was just doing this because someone helped him sometime back. We were still skeptical. He told he will take us to hospital or atleast help us in finding a decent hotel. First he took us to a small mess where my friend could clean up his wounds and he asked few of his friends who were studying nursing to help us get first aid. He was trying hard to help us and we were trying to wade him away thinking he was looking for monetary benefits. We never paid him, but thanked him a lot and exchanged numbers in case he came to Bangalore. I recently deleted his number while I was cleaning my contacts.

Myself and injured Vishnu at Hampi

Third: I was 2 min late to catch my Bus to my native and the bus had left in the busy Bangalore traffic. As I had the number of the conductor I called him up. He asked me to get into an auto and come to some hospital bus stop. I got into an auto and asked the auto driver to speak to the driver. They both spoke and the auto driver got to know the exact location where I was asked to go. He took me through the heavy Bangalore traffic. As we were moving through the traffic, I realized that I did not have enough money to pay the auto driver. I had a couple of ten rupee notes and 17 one rupee coins. I remained silent as I thought if I tell the auto driver about this he might not take me to my destination. He was a skilled driver and he used all his driving experience to reach the destination in time.  As I got out I told him I don’t have enough money with me and handed over couple of ten rupee and the 17 one rupee coin. I told him I will be back to Bangalore on Monday and then hand him the remaining money. I exchanged my phone number and also gave my driving license as a security to him. On the Monday after that I called him up and he came near to my office where I paid him the remaining money. To add to that there was another stranger in the bus, who was sitting beside me, after hearing my small adventure felt pity for me and offered to buy me dinner when the bus stopped in a remote location with no ATM’s around for dinner.

I am sure that everyone who read this will have many more and even better experiences than what I had. I was also cheated once when I was trying to help a stranger. Also I was given a ferocious look by a big bosomed lady when she mistook my signal to switch of the lights of her motor bike. But these setbacks doesn’t make me stop and I contribute in my own way in doing small things which might help the stranger without expecting my name to be written in “The book of life

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Famosa Diary

I was good at dumb charades, but my talent did not stand a chance before the two Taiwanese receptionists. I tried my luck again. Wheeere eeese daaaa BUS STOP????  During this question I was acting as if I was driving a Bus and leaned forward as I pressed the break. After this I pointed to earth and gestured my hand as if asking where. The two receptionist started looking at my feet and later nodded in sync conveying that they didn't understand a thing what I said. I had no clue what was so confusing about it. It is just two words BUS and STOP. They could easily understand credit card and Taxi but not BUS STOP. No Place for common man I guess.

I was in the second day of my Business trip to Taiwan. Actually I was there to debug an issue reported by a customer, but hell yeah business trip sounds more cool.  After coming back from office, I was planning to catch a bus to the nearest metro station so that I can catch a glimpse of Taiwan before I leave back to India. Our sales representative/GM in Taiwan was a one good person and gave me a detailed map of Taiwan. I made a list of main thing to be done and Taipei 101 fell first on that list. After my failed effort with the receptionist I strolled out of the Hotel to catch a bus to Yonging, the nearest metro station. I had noted down the Bus number to Yonging but failed to find the Bus stand. To my luck, a Taiwanese girl came to help me and pointed to direction and told BUS STOP. I bowed my head in the Japanese style conveying my thanks but she had disappeared before I finish my stretching.

In Taiwan they have a single card which can be used to travel in Metro and the Bus even to buy groceries from Seven Eleven and Family Mart. I reached the main metro station. The well lit streets look like a series of Vittal Mallya Road in Bangalore. I could see people renting out cycles from the metro station. As I love walking I decided to walk through the main streets in Taipei city. At a distance I could see Taipei 101, the second tallest building in Asia, only behind the great Burj Dubai. It was a flood of famous Brands inside the Taipei 101. Most of the lone wolves who enter a posh mall have three main activities to do.
1.       Take a selfie
2.       Ask someone to take a portrait of yours
3.       Curse all the arrogant women who do not spare a second look to your handsome face.
After finishing of the ritual, I called it a day and returned to my hotel.

The Selfie

Inside Taipei 101

The next day I decided to visit Longshan temple, a Buddhist temple located at the not so posh area of Taipei city. I got down at Longshan temple metro station. The streets in Taipei are well marked and it is very easy to find direction to most places especially tourist place. After watching the ritual in the temple I decided to walk around. It was not long before I saw place which are impoverished and smell like feet. There were homeless people lying on the pavements and smoking cigarette. There was a night market nearby which sold many food items especially crabs, snakes and other sea creatures. I saw a shop selling sex toys in the night market, but was chased away when I tried to take a photograph. The night markets especially Shilin Night market is well known for its late night shopping centers. These places have exotic dishes like juice made of frog eggs, stinky shrimp fry etc. Mc Donald’s was the official food sponsor for my trip. A malayali christiani who likes tapioca and beef curry will be very much happy with the Big Mac and the French fries at the Mc D.

Longshan Temple

As I wanted to visit geo thermal valley and my main plan for the Taiwan trip was to finish of the business related issues, I slogged on Wednesday, but made sure to visit the secretariat and other main building in Taipei. I also decided to do a bit of window shopping to get some stuffs back home. I took some snaps of bags and shared it to my techie mother who figured out how to use Google hangout in no time. Thursday morning I woke up very early and caught the first bus to the Metro station.

Food served at the Shilin Night market
Geo Thermal valley
The Thermal valley opens at 9 and closes at 5. I reached there at 8 30. I had taken an extra pair of dress, in case I decide to take bath in the hot springs. Thermal valley was a different experience as I could see the water boiling and Sulphur fumes rising from the water. The main pool is very hot and the temperature is near to 100 degree Celsius. In downstream there are hotels which offer people at a nominal rate to take bath in the not so hot natural hot springs. I decided not to take bath. My size zero body figure is something which I would not want to expose in a public (yea both men and women) hot spring.

Friday was the swan song day, the issue was fixed, everyone was happy. The General Manager/ Sales representative took me out for lunch as promised. He made me eat god knows what. I remember eating a cooked jelly fish, shrimp fry and sushi. I tried by best not to puke. That night I went for a massive shopping. I bought enough stuff so that I can go home without any complaints. While returning back to Hotel with loads of stuff in my hand, an old woman gave me a helping hand. She knew a little bit English. I told about all the places I visited. By then I had got acquainted with the driver of the last bus. He had helped me earlier in finding my Hotel. I asked the old women to convey my thanks to the driver and tell him that I am leaving back tomorrow. I got down at my stop and walked slowly ahead.  As the bus was catching up with me, the driver stopped very near  to me. He opened the door and gave me a salute.

With Chaucer Kuo, the GM in Taiwan

The food Taiwanese savored and I gulped 
The next day morning after the buffet breakfast a Taxi was arranged by the Hotel to drop me to airport. I had packed all my stuffs already. The receptionists were giving me a warm smile though intermittently watching my feet. I got into the taxi, there was some Chinese melody playing. As the car started, I started feeling nostalgic about the last one week. The awesome places I visited, the awesome people I met right from the GM with all maps, the receptionist who thought something funny has happened with my feet, the girl who showed me the direction to bus stop, the hardworking customers, the old women who helped me with the luggage, the driver who gave me an warm salute. As the car speeded away, I asked the driver to increase the volume and leaned back on the seat to enjoy the final moments in Famosa.