Thursday, March 25, 2004

They say you are bound to get jet lag. They say the culture shock is BI-IG! They say it is difficult to get used to the accent or understand conversations easily, at least for the first few days. They say a lot of things. Not one is correct!

Of course everything is quite impressive. The fast cars, the clean roads, the use of technology (!) everywhere. But somehow, it doesn't appear to be alien, as it logically should have. Maybe because of the large number of English movies that we watch, or maybe because of the ten straight seasons (>200 episodes) of Friends that we have seen over the past couple of months, the American culture was quite easily acceptable.

The journey was quite boring. I slept off most of the ten hour flight from Bangalore to Frankfurt, another ten hour one from Frankfurt to Denver, and a couple of hours from Denver to Dallas. The four hour wait at Frankfurt was even more boring, specially since I couldn't find a place to sit and sleep! I had to clear immigration and customs at Denver, and flew domestic upto Dallas. The immigration officer at the Denver International was really nice, and gave me one and a half months stay permit while I had asked for only a month! (I actually intend to return much before that.)

Parag and Avinash from office were there at the airport to pick me up. It was 9:30 PM. We went to a diner (forgot the name), where I had a turkey sandwich. Maybe because I was really famished, it tasted delicious. After dinner, we came to the hotel, where I checked in.

Since then, all the places I have been to in Dallas is the hotel, a couple of restaurants, and the n TI offices and buildings in Dallas. Work has been slightly hectic till evening. The positive side is that people are really impressed when you can solve their bugs (albeit, simple ones!) for them!! I find American food quite apetizing, and free of oils and spices. But a big source of calories. Thankfully I don't care much about calories!

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Lack of inspiration, and at the same time, a feeling of guilt at not posting any entries for a long time...what is a man to do? Answer - He is to give a dull account of what he has been doing lately, and what he will be doing in the near future.

Updates of my whereabouts for the past few days: Bangalore.

Updates on my what-have-I-been-up-to for the past few days: Nothing.

The same old life going through the same old motions of routine visiting to the office, attending a few meetings and reviews, designing a few blocks etc, etc. Okay, the designing part is interesting, but, one needs a life outside work also, doesn't one?

Coming to the future. Now, that is an area (the future, that is!) which promises a lot out of the ordinary. For one, I am supposed to be travelling to Dallas on work on saturday, for one week. That surely ought to be interesting. And then, I plan to go home in Kolkata for another week. And I don't intend to do much in Kolkata except maybe meet a couple of old friends, and relax at home!!


To end, a question for any reader who may care to comment. I have tried posting on many different topics. Which kind of articles does the reader find most appealing? For those who don't want to think much, here are a few options to pick from:
a) My dreary accounts of real life (like, what I did this weekend etc)
b) My feeble attempts at romantic writing
c) My descriptions of our trips to different places (which no travel guide would like to publish)
d) My senseless cryptic posts (they really don't make much sense, do they?)
e) My attempts at humorous writing (my personal favourites, even though probably no one laughs).

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

I am not a big fan of F1 racing. I don't understand the technicalities involved, and don't share the passion as do so many of my friends and associates. But once in a while, while surfing through the 'n' channels that we get nowadays thanks to Cable-TV, if I come across Start Sports or ESPN or TEN Sports showing some F1 race, I do occasionally stick around and egg Michael Schumacher on. Such was the case this Sunday.

The season opening doesn't hold any particular significance for me. But when people around me very enthusiastically discuss F1, I can't help but feel a tinge of interest towards the races. So, I had noticed the F1 itenary in the newspapers a couple of days back. When I switched on the TV on Sunday morning and switched over to channel 13, I straight away realised that I was looking at the Australian Grand Prix!

There is no particular reason why I support Michael Schumacher, other than the facts that he was the first F1 driver whose name I had learnt, and that he is good! I mean he wins more races than anyone else. He has won most of the races that I have seen. Being technically challenged as I am, I needed no more reason to support no one else. And since I like Schumacher, I also like Ferrari. Naturally I was delighted when I saw that Schumacher was leading. (It was the 4th lap going on.) I still did not know that he had timed best in the qualifiers, and therefore had started at the head of the crowd. I came to know later during the race from the commentary. What I saw then was that he was half a second ahead of Barichello, another Ferrari driver.

Throughout the race the first three positions remained unchanged. What was amazing was that four laps from the end, Schumacher was about 20-25 seconds ahead of Barichello, who was in turn another 25 seconds ahead of Alonso. And Schumacher was about to lap the fifth place driver (Montoya, I think)! At that point of time, he slowed down dramatically for the last four laps, to go easy on the engine, as he explained later in the press conference.

For me, the best part of the race came somewhere around lap 35, when the two Ferraris went in for their second pit stops. Barichello was the first to go in. When he went in Schumacher was just ahead of him. While Barichello was in the pits, Schumacher did one of the fastest laps of the race (1:24:xx if I remember correctly), and when he came out of the pits in the next lap, he was way ahead of Barichello. I think that was the point where he began to pull away, and the difference between the race leaders started going up from the 1-2 seconds as had been earlier.

They say that the Ferrari guys always pull in Barichello into the pits one or two laps before Schumacher. They say that this is like a warm-up for the Ferrari team, so that they can pull the fastest and most efficient pit stop with Schumacher. I don't know how much truth there is in this point of view, but what I did notice was all of Barichello's stops took the same time (7-8 seconds) if not less as compared to Schumacher.

There were very few overtakings in the race. Australian tracks are less suitable for overtaking, as Sumeet and the commentators tell me. But there was one good piece of overtaking by Montoya (I think) when he went ahead of Button towards the end of the race.

Finally, Williams have launched a new car, which I did not find anything outstanding (from the results), and particularly ugly with the broad nose.

I may have gone wrong with details at many places, experts on the field visiting this page please correct me.


P.S. This post is dedicated to my friends who are passionate F1 fans!!

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

It's been some time since we went somewhere on a trip. The last trip was of course to Pondicherry in the second week of Jan. I had enjoyed the trip more than the ones to Koorg and Madikeri, probably because I prefer the sea to the mountains. Hills rather, since I haven't been to any proper mountains as far as I remember. One thing I do not like about hilly terrain is the winding roads, which invariably make me feel sick if I am travelling in a car, which is mostly the case.

I had gone to Chennai a month back. I had gone there alone, to meet my father, who had come there for a meeting. The meeting was in a hotel/ beach resort called Fisherman's Cove, which the hotel owners claim, is the best hotel in Asia. While it did not appear to be something totally out of the usual, it was actually pretty good. I had accompanied my father to the hotel, and while he attended the seminar, I spent time in the hotel's lounge and the beach.

The beach was very nice, clear, unspoilt and not crowded at all. There was a cool breeze blowing across and it was very pleasant to walk along the soft white sand. I had a lot of time to spend, so I went to one end of the beach and sat down on some rocks, and contemplated about life for some time. The scenery was beautiful and the weather pleasant. But I soon got bored of sitting there. A lone person sitting on a clump of rocks in a deserted beach, with not a human soul within miles, may be a pretty picture to paint, specially for greetings card, but it is definitely not very enjoyable for the lone person for prolonged periods of time!

I came back to the hotel lounge and sat there. Observing the people milling around while sitting unobstrusively in a corner was definitely more interesting. The hotel staff were going out of their ways to be nice to the guests. Someone at the reception was giving away shell necklaces to everyone. As the day progressed, quite a lot of guests came to the lounge to lounge about! Presently a couple of provocatively dressed girls and a guy with chinese features came out and started to sing english songs. I suppose they were singing famous songs, but being illeterate in western music as I am, I didn't recognize any. The guy was singing pretty well. The girls were more busy smiling at the guests and dancing lightly to the rhythm.

There were quite a few foreigners, presumably Europeans, among the guests. A few of them went to the beach later in the day and sunbathed. What enjoyment they find in lying around on the beach under scorching sun, I will never know. And it was really hot by noon-time. Most of them were however sunbathing next to the kidney-shaped swimming pool. The pool did look cool and inviting.

We had our lunch there. It was not regular hotel cuisine, some caterers had been hired to cater for the seminar guests and their families. The food was okay, nothing particularly great. But I suppose that was to be expected. I never enjoy the food at such parties.

We returned to the hotel where we were staying after lunch, although most people stayed back for the cultural programmes and games to follow. I returned to Bangalore next morning. The short break was quite refreshing except for the fact that for the last twelve hours, I was worried about something at work following a phone call received on saturday evening.

***

I was not planning to write about the Chennai trip at all, when I started. But then I didn't have anything particular in mind, so wrote whatever I thought of at the moment. Going by the number of comments on the previous post, I should probably stick to writing more about romantic stuff, than give a dull account of a weekend I spent long back doing nothing!