Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Carmel Electric

Carmel's 17 Mile Drive

Entrance Fee: $8.50
Unleaded Gas Price: $2.19 per gallon
Gas price for trip: $16.50
Starbucks coffee: $4.20

Watching the sun set in Carmel...Priceless.

There are some things in life money cant buy, real estate in Carmel is one of need gold bullions for them.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Christmas with Barney


My friend Mark went on vacation to Cancún leaving me his frail beagle, Barney, to house-sit...A perfect location and occasion to host a happy holidays party :)

Barney was fairly low maintainence but he wasnt accustomed to having more than 30 south-asians doing the karaoke and dancing to bollywood numbers, keep him company. When the excitement reached a peak he convenienty soiled the carpet.

Exactly what I call a Party poop-er!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

New York Calling - I

Armed with the '2004 NYTimes Guide to New York', roundtrip redeye tickets from JetBlue and a hotel reservation at the Habitat (the cheapest hotel with the tiniest rooms), I headed to the Big Apple for my first vacation of the year. I now know why NY is called the big apple... its the largest advertisement for Apple iPods...everyone on the subway has them (atleast the white headphones). While on the topic of gear that New Yorkers wear, Ugg boots were in the rage...women that is (Men with these boots are...Ugh)

First, a walk thru Park place to the Central Park and then a visit to the American Museum of Natural History featuring the best exhibits on biodiversity and lots of stuffed animals.

Next order of business...head to Little India- a tiny strip in the lower east side, home to several 'Indian' restaurants with almost identical menus (Mitali is a wee better than the Calcutta restaurant). Little India doesnt exist on any manhattan map like Little Italy or China Town, its just a passing reference in the NYTimes book. The restaurants arent even owned by Indians but by Bangladeshis from Chittagong/Dhaka and Pakistanis. My search for the official India Town outside India continues...

I also paid tribute to the fallen site...Silicon Alley. Once touted as the east coast's answer to the bay area, it is now reverting to Shops and stores.

Subway at Silicon Alley

A word on 'Service with a Smile' in NY. New Yorker's choose to beam the smile at the most inappopriate time. It isnt appropriate for the Hotel Reservation Manager at the lobby who's informing you that the reservation made from the cheap hotel booking site hasnt gone through, to finish the sentence with a smile. If you are spoken to kindly in the have only spoken to an out-of-towner.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

29 and Feeling Fine

Bouquet from my brother and his girlfriend to cheer me up. Look at the bright side they said, next year it will be the big 3-Oh!

Friday, November 26, 2004

Thanksgiving Stuffing

Thanks to Shal and Roopesh who invited me for Thanksgiving, I cant fit into my Levis' anymore.

Thanksgiving Turkey Chicken

Turkeys were sold out in the Bay Area and Shal did a wonderful job preparing the meal with chicken. Also, mashed potatotes didnt require boiled potatoes and the kneading process, She simply added potato 'flour' to boiling water.

Topped off with Apple the end even freshly brewed cappucino couldnt prevent us from passing out on the couch after lunch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

In the Line of 'Fire'

Learning from QueenOfSky's experience at Delta (Diary of a Fired Flight Attendant), troutgirl's at Friendster (ShitCanned), Michael Hanscom's at Microsoft (Of blogging and unemployement), I have made a few changes to my blog for reasons of anonymity. I have removed any mention of my last name, email address and IM handle from this blog...with the assumption that my first name is as common in the bay Area as are Paul, John, George...and Ringo in the UK. More tips here if you need identity protection for your blog.

Things arent exactly rosy at work and while blogging is a welcome distraction I really dont want to join the ranks of the unemployed with my tirades. Its hard dealing with attrition at work, dealing with an exodus is even tougher. Colleagues who constitute a healthy part of a techies social circle are suddenly scarce. I can only take heart from this core truth identified by Buddhism: Everything changes, and our desire for things to stay the same causes us pain. My ranger colleague also motivates me with these lines from the Ranger Creed:

"Readily will I display the intestinal fortitude required to fight on to the Ranger objective and complete the mission though I be the lone survivor."

On a lighter note, the bloggers who got fired have found well as an alternate job which has only whetted their blogging appetites. On the same day that I read about QueenOfSky's termination on (she had posted certain risqué pictures of herself in Delta air-hostess garb on her blog) I read this article in CNN Money about McDonald Gals featuring in a forthcoming edition of a bestselling girlie magazine, as a follow up to their pictorials on Walmart, HomeDepot and Starbucks women in their work attire...and also without their work attire ;)

Guesses on which corporation's women the magazine will feature next...not too sure about Delta Airlines!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Road Trip Blues

Like the migratory birds in winter, I decided to head south to Irvine this weekend...primarily to hangout with my high school buddy - Aditya Chauhan and his fiance. Unlike the migratory birds, however, I decided to drive down. Some lessons learnt from the trip follow:
  • A road trip can become a guilt trip. If not the melting ice caps in the artic, the upwardly mobile gas prices should urge you to consider public transportation.
  • Consider Mapquest instead of Yahoo! Maps for your directions finding needs. It can not only shave off 50 miles off your iterinary...but will also give you peace of mind.
  • LA traffic is not for the faint hearted. 24 hour carpool lanes (I-405) should give you some idea. Graciously allow the southern californian swinging in from 3 lanes away to cut you off by inches.
  • Consider renting audiobooks from the local library for the trip. Caution: If there was a book that you couldnt get past page 2 while reading (for example, Men are from Mars Women are from Venus) dont expect a narration to work will only end up turning on the radio and gladly listening to fading radio stations playing mexican serenades.
  • Exits marked with gas stations might be duds. Make sure you have atleast a quarter tank full at any time.
  • The Lonely Planet guide to California has a section on San Luis Obispo in Central Coastal California. You can skip the Bubblegum alley on Higuera St. It is just a narrow alley abandoned by the municipality. For Indian travellers think of walls splattered by Paan (Betel) juice and if such an alley is worth visiting :)

Bubblegum Alley - San Luis Obispo

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I have the Power...Book G4

After two years of staring enviously at my colleague's 15" PowerBook G4, I finally got my own..his powerbook. When I first laid my eyes on the PowerBook I had this klunky Dell that I used as weights for my on-the-road workouts. My colleague who owned the laptop, Dan, urged me to get the PBG4 (he owned several shares in Apple). I resisted the temptation at that time and persisted with Dells. Dan decided to to get a new one with a SuperDrive and now I got a hand-me down PB that I gladly use for my Blogger posts...notice the elegance of my recent posts.

This computer is now the "apple" of my eyes :)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Birds Eye View

View of my apartment from 2000 ft. above the ground. It just isnt safe to walk around my apartment in my boxers anymore!

Birds Eye View

This image was obtained using the keyhole software, which google acquired lately.

Prediction: In a few months you will be able to enter an address into the google search bar and get a satellite image of the location. Satellite images of Indian territory will be off the air due to a certain government regulation that prohibits creating an exact map or satellite image upto a certain level of detail.

Update: True to my prediction, Satellite imagery was added to

Whats better is the ability to get directions entirely based off satellite images...Google never ceases to amaze.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Tribute to the ZX Spectrum+

Exactly 20 years ago, a home computer was introduced that would eventually transform several lives...primarily mine. It was the ZX Spectrum+...powered by a 3.54 MHz Zilog Z80A CPU, 16K of RAM and a display of 256 x 192 pixel resolution on the television monitor. It was introduced in India a couple of years later with a different name- dB Spectrum+.

My Dad, who was terribly concerned about his kids obsession with soccer, cricket and tennis, introduced us to computers hoping to get us concentrate better on our studies. He took my brother and me to a local computer store (Computer Point, Dickenson Road, Bangalore) and entrusted the sales guy to teach us something about computers. No sooner did Dad leave to run some errands, our new instructor loaded a game of cricket on the computer and had us experiment with the game using the keyboard.

We absolutely loved the game and the machine. Never had blinking lights on a television monitor enamoured us brothers more before this. India's TV media was still state-controlled at that time, and besides the sunday afternoon star trek, there was no real entertainment broadcast on the only channel available. When Dad returned, we harrassed him to no end to buy the machine, citing educational aspects of the computer (which we never availed). We got the computer...and also a free game of cricket and practical chemistry-I which I never recall having ever loaded.

As days passed, we spent more time indoors playing games...actually mostly loading games from the tape cassettes which took horrendously long times to load as compared to todays hard drives, cds and yesteryears cartridges.

The ZX Spectrum+ a was very sensitive device. Long periods of usage would get it to automatically reboot..which would require us to restart the lengthy loading period. I however enjoyed my many hours of playing pacman, maziacs, bricks, enduro racer, renegade, bombjack and several others that my fading memory doesnt recall.

I came across a post of the ZX Spectrum clones on slashdot. The ZX spectrum still lives on :) Infact, My office mate- Ben Kolin actually has simulators of the ZX spectrum. The sight of the (c) 1982, Sinclair ZX spectrum on his monitor got a tear out of my myopic eyes.

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The Windsurfing Diaries

Saw a beautiful movie - The Motorcycle Diaries. It inspired me to begin my windsurfing diaries ...

I windsurfed at the Foster City lagoon along with May and her friend Stefan. It turned out to be a very humbling experience :(

Conditions were overcast and the winds fickle...changing directions like bollywood heroines dresses during an item number. The worst was when the winds died completely leaving me stranded at one end of the shore. With my sails rendered useless I tried every technique to prevent my board from being pushed back to the shore by the waves. Swimming along the board (salty mouth), dragging the board (grimy feet), lying on the board paddling hard (exhausted arms) had all the lake visitors chuckling except me. There was even a marriage reception crowd who took a break from the festivities to watch me get out of the doldrums. An hour later, the wind resumed and I finally got into some action.

Next time...I should better check the wind information channel!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

America India Foundation

This weekend I volunteered at the AIF Summit in the hospitality department. Ran into a few celebrities, pictures of whom follow...

With Nandita Das

With Rahul Bose

I also met Usha Uthup and the Bombay Dreams and they rocked the San Jose Convention Center with their music and dance.

Pictures courtesy Tony Sehgal. Check out his real work at his web site.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Nephew is born

I am an uncle again. My nephew was born on Sept 30th. Sinij is his current name chosen by his sister...until a more meaningful name is found :)

She was also responsible for naming her female labrador pup - princey...and the name stuck that time.

Nephew and Neice

Update: 11/15/2004
My sis plans to stick with the name 'Sinij' for her son. We searched the web for languages having this name, just so the kid wouldnt grow up wondering what his name ever meant.

In russian, Sinij mean 'dark blue'. There is a ukranian flower named Sinij Dozh , theres a german andUkranian blogger who go with the same name, a german album - The blue album.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Certified Windsurfer

I am now a fully certified Windsurfer. I use a 3.9 size sail and a fastboard...and lifejackets too :)

Windsurfing in Lake Del Valle, Livermore.

There are several windsurfing locations in the bayarea, but none as placid as this one.