Rough Book

random musings of just another computer nerd

Category: Travel

The Worst Journey Ever. The Best Vacation Ever.

I finally got some time to sit down and write about my leave. I have been rather busy. Our days are long, and after I get back from work, I don’t have very much time and I’m too tired to sit down and write a journal entry! Well, anyway… here it is. Be warned… it’s pretty long!

Ok, so this last month (May), I went on leave. My leave date was the 8th of May. Little did I know that this day would be the beginning of what I would like to call…

The Worst Travelling Experience Ever

We meet our hero at BIAP where he is waiting with his fellow soldiers to get a flight to Kuwait. It is around 8 in the morning, and the day hasn’t gotten hot just yet. Everywhere there are Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Seamen and Civilians sitting and waiting. Some are playing cards or talking amongst themselves. Others are listening to music, or watching movies on their laptops, or reading books. Still others are sprawled out on benches or on the dusty concrete floor, sleeping, using their luggage as pillows. At about 9 in the morning, a formation is called. As our hero hurries and falls in, he looks around and notices Captains, Majors, and Sergeant Majors also in formation. It strikes him as a little funny since he usually sees them in front of a formation, and not in one. Leave – the great equalizer. Somebody comes up to the front of the formation and informs everyone that there are two flights leaving Baghdad. The first one leaves at 12 noon, while the second one leaves at 10 pm. However, there are personnel who have been waiting at BIAP since yesterday, and therefore, they will be given preference for the 12 noon flight. Our hero hopes and prays that there is enough room on the flight for him. However, he has been in the Military long enough to know that expecations are rarely met, and Murphy’s Law holds sway most of the time. Sure enough, there isn’t enough room on the flight and he has to wait for the 10 pm flight. He settles in for a Long and Boring day.
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Some Hiking Pictures

A few months ago, Josh, Michael, and I went backpacking up in Payson. I took a few pictures. I’ll put them all up here… someday. But here are a few that I really liked.

Creek
Hillside Creek in the early morning

I took this one on the second (and last) day of our trip, before we started hiking back to our car (incidentally, it was a 4-mile trip, but we travelled 12 miles. That’s another story though). It was early in the morning. The morning air was fresh, clean, cool and crisp. The only thing you could hear was the chirping of the birds and the bubbling of the creek as it gushed out of the side of the hill.

Campfire
Our Campfire

This is a picture of our campfire. It kept us pretty warm. Initially we couldn’t find that much wood for it. So Josh and I scavenged around for some wood. We found a few dead trees, and then we used this huge rock to break some of them into pieces that we could carry. We sat around the fire drinking beer and whisky, and simply talking. A wonderful experience.

Blue Campfire
Blue Campfire?

In Oman

I’m in Oman right now. I feel a strange mix of emotions. I felt like this the last time I was here. “Bittersweet” would be the right word. It feels really nice to be back here – being with my parents and all. Although I wish my sister was here as well. It would be nice for the whole family to be together again in Oman. I feel really empty sometimes though. All my friends aren’t here. Actually, only one of them is here.

I went over some old ICQ conversations today. It made me feel happy, and very depressed at the same time. I used to talk to so many of my friends through ICQ on this very computer.

It was an amazing time; my last two years in high-school. All of us had so much fun. Reading those old ICQ transcripts brought back some old memories… old hopes… old loves… Towards the end, the transcripts got especially poignant. It was the part where we all said good-bye to each other – when we parted ways. I didn’t feel it as much then, as I do now.

Those transcripts are a time-capsule. I was looking at a younger “me”. Five years younger, to be exact. I don’t think I have changed much fundamentally. Perhaps wiser… a lot less naive… and a little cynical… even a little darker perhaps. Five years ago, I was a young lad setting out on the grand adventure known as “college”. Now I am a young man setting out on the grand adventure known as “The Real World”. Five years ago, my friends and I were just kids. Now most of us are employed. Some of us own houses… and some of us are married.

I wonder where I’ll be five years from now… More so, I wonder who I’ll be five years from now…

Garden City or City of Boiled Beans

Bangalore is known as the “Garden City”, but it was once known as the “City of Boiled Beans”. Legend says that King Ballala of the Hoysala dynasty lost his way in the forest. He ran into this old woman who gave him some boiled beans to eat. So he named the city “bende kaalu ooru”. However, history says that the name “Bengalooru” was in vogue even before King Ballala’s time. This is just as well – I’d hate living in a town called the “City of Boiled Beans”. Many reasons come to mind.

Anyway, Bangalore was loads of fun! I arrived there by bus. They have this thing called an “Airbus” now. It rivals the comfort of the long-distance buses in the United States. For one, you can push back the seat much further, and you also have this cool foot-rest thing. It’s pretty awesome. It takes anywhere between 10 to 12 hours by bus, from Ernakulam to Bangalore. I slept most of the way. When I woke up, I started seeing store signs in an unfamiliar Dravidian Script. Once I reached Bangalore, I was approached by dozens of auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers, who asked me where I wanted to go. I had no idea of course. I was waiting for my uncle, who was coming to pick me up. This was actually one time that efficiency worked against me. I had told my uncle that I would be reaching at 8 am. However, the Bus Driver thought he was in the INDY 500, and we reached Bangalore at 7 am. I bought an issue of “India Today” and listened to music with my head phones, or my “Princess Leia Headphones” as Sadhana calls them.

My aunt and my cousin didn’t have too much trouble picking me out from the crowd. I hadn’t seen my aunt in 5 years, and my cousin Deepthi, in 7. It was a really nice seeing them again after so long.
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Frankenstein AC Adapter

Excuse the time on this entry. I am donig this through vncviewer. For some reason, I can’t login to my admin section from the cyber-cafe. It is actually 1:40 in the afternoon. Anyway, I got the new AC adapter. It is HUGE and HEAVY. It is a metallic box and lavender in colour. I was very scared when I first hooked it up. I thought it would blow up my Gamecube. But it didn’t! It works like a charm! And I got it made for only $6! I have to hand it to the electricians here. They did a wonderful job. Sure, it looks like a mad scientists’s creation, but it works!

I am unable to post pictures due to the fact that each of them are about a meg and a half. The upload speed here isn’t so good, so I can’t transfer them over to AZ. They are all on CD right now, and I will put them up as soon as I get back to AZ.

Other than that, nothing much is going on. I am going to try and go to Bangalore sometime in the future.

New AC adapter and pretty malayalee girls

I got a new AC adapter. I got the electrical shop here to use the cable from my fried Nintendo Gamecube adapter and attach it to a 220V AC to 12V DC (3.25 Amps) adapter. This way I will be able to plug it into my Gamecube and use it… FINALLY! I just hope it doesn’t get fried or anything. That would really suck.

I haven’t been doing anything at all here. It gets a little boring at times. The day passes quickly though for some reason. I went to this kid’s first birthday yesterday. It turns out I am an uncle of sorts, because the kid’s mom is my second-cousin, which makes the kid my nephew. Crazy. Anyway, the party was good. There was good food. That is one thing I will miss when I come back to Arizona. The amazing food… sigh. You know, I am almost tempted to ask my parents to find me a nice Malayalee Hindu Nair girl who can cook some nice avial or something. I think they will be more than happy to do so. Actually, I must say that I have seen some really gorgeous girls here. That’s why there are not that many pretty Malayalee girls in Arizona. All of them are here in Kerala.

It rained like crazy yesterday – for almost the entire day. It hasn’t rained at all today. There is nothing much going on other than that. I am starting to like this cyber-cafe. It’s pretty neat. I am pleasantly surprised by the availability of broadband.

I tried to transfer the pictures from my digital camera to this computer. However, the computer does not have a CD drive. It has a USB port, but no CD drive. So, I cannot install the digital camera software. I am going to try it on another computer. I have close to seventy pictures, with a lot more to come. I will try to get the pictures onto the computer today. Otherwise, I will have to do it when I get back to Arizona.

India

I am in India right now. It’s been great!

I got here on the first. The very next day, I left at 3:30 am for Trivandrum. I got there at around 8:00 am. I got myself a hotel room and met up with Sadhana, Vibha, Rachna and Prakash (Suraj’s brother). It was weird meeting them there – “incongruous” is the right word. Kerala is so far away from our usual haunts in Arizona.

We went over to Gouri’s place and hung out there for a while. We had ambitious plans to see all kinds of stuff. A waterfall in Tamil Nadu and a Dam where we could feed fish. Eventually we ended up just going to Kovalam Beach. My driver is not very familiar with Trivandrum so it was kinda hard for him to figure out where these places were. He did know where Kovalam was though. We made my poor driver go all around Trivandrum. I am sure he thinks we are all positively insane. We had a ton of fun at Kovalam. We waded in the water and got drenched. After we got back to the car, I was appointed the foot-dusting-person. Mostly because I didn’t want sand in the car. Ani (my driver) handed me a duster, which I used to dust Sadhu, Rach and Vibha’s feet. And to think I wasted my time getting a degree in Computer Engineering.

The next day was Gouri’s wedding. Sadhu, Rach and Vibha took a million years to figure out how to wear their saris. Eventually we made it to Trivandrum Club (where the wedding was supposed to take place) and an aunty there fixed the saris for the girls. Prakash and I sorta hung about sticking out like sore thumbs. The wedding itself was a very short affair. Malayalee Nair weddings always are. The sadhya (feast) was awesome. Gouri was looking positively resplendent in her outfit. I have pictures and I will post them as soon as I get back to Arizona. That won’t be until early September though.

After the wedding, we went back to the hotel to change into more comfortable clothes. I then had to get Sadhu, Rach, Vibha and Prakash to the train station so that they could catch the Anandhapuri Express to Madras. This proved to be easier said than done. What followed was a veritable drama which involved Kerala Tourism, the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation – similar to the FBI of the United States), the local Superintendent of Police, the Assistant Director General of Tamil Nadu (or more affectionately known as “Santu Mama”), the conductor of the Train, and of course Your’s Truly, and his friends Sadhu, Rach, Vibha and Prakash. You see, Kerala Tourism booked Rach’s train ticket for the 4th at 4:00 pm instead of the 3rd. To correct this, we had to involve all the aforementioned people. Eventually, Rach ended up on the train. I had to wait in the train with Vibha while all this was sorted out. We wondered what would happen if the train left with me. I would have to explain to my mother and my grandparents what I was doing on a train to Madras instead of coming back home. That would not have been a very pleasant conversation.

I was a little depressed on my way back home because it was kind of a downer. We had hung out a lot over the past two days and had had a lot of fun. However after I came back home, I felt much better.

I haven’t been doing much at all in Chendamangalam. I’ve just been hanging out, playing with my dogs, and watching TV. I brought my Gamecube here, but I was an idiot and I blew up the AC adapter. It has an input voltage of 120V and everything here runs at 220V. The result wasn’t pretty. My Gamecube is fine. I doubt the adapter works though. It was pretty dumb of me to overlook that rather significant fact of “voltage difference”. You see, my camera adapater works over a range – 110V to 220V. The Nintendo Gamecube adapter doesn’t. Oh well. I am exploring other avenues. I found a site that ships the adapter to India. I am also going to check out stores in Ernakulam.

Other than that, nothing much is going on. Just chilling and relaxing and enjoying great food. My access to the internet is pretty limited. I have to drive (or take an auto-rickshaw) a little ways to get to the Cyber Cafe. But it is worth it! They have broadband at 512 Kbps! That’s awesome!

Anyway, that’s it. I will be back with more updates as soon as I can!

Vacation

I am going to India and the Middle East for two months! Woohoo! I will be back on the 2nd of September. AT was fun. I might be getting a medal!

Pictures from Boston and Vegas

I’ve uploaded two sets of pictures.

The first one is from my Spring Break trip to Boston, where I visited Michael and Laura. The second one is from my trip to Vegas, this last weekend. The first one is titled “Chez Michael et Laura”, and the second one is titled “UNLV Dance Competition 2000”.

Vegas Dance Competition

Just got back from Vegas! I was there over the weekend for the USABDA (United States Amateur Ballroom Dancer’s Association) competition. My friend Jenny (who is also my dance partner) and I went there with our friend April. April ROCKS! She gave us a ride all the way there! We stayed there with Marc and his friend Arthur. We also met up with a bunch of other people, namely Michiko (Marc’s partner, and I think I have the spelling wrong), Michelle (Arthur’s partner), Sherry (she’s three-quarters Persian and a quarter Italian), and Ed and Maria.

First of all, the competition was absolute fun. We mainly went there to have fun. Jenny and I did put in more than a few practice sessions, but I think we could have done better had we started earlier. But for the amount of practice that we put in, we did really well. We made it to the semi-finals in the Bronze level smooth dances – Waltz and Tango. We also made it to the semi-finals in Open Salsa, and Merengue and the semi-finals for Bronze Hustle. We placed in the Finals for Bronze level Rumba, Cha-Cha and East Coast Swing.

Now I really am NOT a sore loser. I have participated in more competitions than I can count, ever since I was little and if I never made it to the top three, I have always felt (except in circumstances like these) that those who did, deserved it. However, I felt some of the judging was really unfair in this particular situation. Furthermore, I’m not the only one who feels this way. We were pretty confident we were going to place either first, second or third in Rumba or Cha-Cha, and even compete in the finals for Merengue and Salsa. We weren’t upset with the smooth dances, Hustle or EC Swing because those are dances neither of us have done much of. But the others ones… Good Lord! I really feel that a few of the people who did end up placing; didn’t deserve it in the least! I made a point of video-taping the event (mostly for memories, and also so I can see what my mistakes are, and also to learn from others) and I went over it when I came back home. The couple that placed first had horrible arm-styling, poor posture, and most of all, were off-time. I really don’t know how they even made past the qualifying round. Even if Jenny and I weren’t “Number One” material, I could pick out at least two or three other couples that deserved it more than the couple who did get it.

Then there was the Salsa – the couple that won first place didn’t have a CLUE what they were doing… and I have no idea how they even made it to the finals. My friends Sakeena and Atin placed second – I thought they should have placed first!

Oh well… that’s life I guess. Eitherway, I had a fun time. I’ll post pictures here as soon as I get them developed. After the competition we went back to the hotel room to take a nap since we had all been up since six in the morning (competition starts at 8:30 am). After that we went to the Bellagio Buffet. We had a LOT of food. After the meal, Marc said that we had eaten enough to deprive a small starving country. He had a point.

We tried to make it to the Light club in the Bellagio. Sherry’s uncle owns half of it, and she was trying to get in touch with her cousin to talk to his connections at the club, to get us in. Unfortunately it was on short notice and she wasn’t able to pull it off. We tried to go to a bunch of other clubs and all of them had lines (no surprise). We eventually ended up going to Studio 54. It was ok enough – not too much of my kind of music though. But still, we all had fun dancing. We didn’t get back to our hotel room until 6 am! Yeah… it was great!

The next morning we had brunch at Rio. That was great too. We had a ton of food and a ton of dessert! Man… it was GREAT! After all that, we began the long drive home. I got home at about 11:00 pm.

It was a fun trip and I think I’ll do the competition again. Jenny is leaving Phoenix for Houston, in May. But we’re going to try and partner up again for Vegas!

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