Sunday, September 4, 2011

East of Omaha

Right. This post comes after a whirlwind few months on the road. It all started with Memorial day long weekend (05/31) when I made the trip to the west. (Los Angeles/Las Vegas/AZ) This was followed by several trips to meet friends on the Jersey Shores. This was the first time I was in that area. Had a lot of fun on the beaches, just floating around in the Atlantic is a lot of fun. And excellent seafood fare later of course. Then came the epic trip, Istanbul, Mumbai, Pattaya and Bangkok.

Flew into Istanbul via London-Heathrow. Heathrow is by far one of the worst I have been at so far. The ST bus stand at Dadar/Panvel is better. Also on the flight from London to Istanbul the meal options were interesting, so you get a choice of veg/non-veg. I took the non-veg of course which was prime beef and the veg option was chicken. :) Thankfully noone on the flight threw a fit since it was just for 4 hrs anyway.
Once I landed at Istanbul, made my way over to Immigration n got my visa paperwork sorted thru. Noticed that Canadians have to shell out 60 TRY(Turkish Lira) as compared to the rest who shell out 30-40TRY. Apparently the canadians raised the visa fee for the turks and they followed suit. Next dumped my stuff in the cloakroom and took a cab into Sultanahmet (The main district/downtown) with a backpack.  Checked into the hostel and started roaming the district. Over the next few days covered all the usual suspects, Topaku Palace, Aya sofya, Blue Mosque, Grand Bazaar, now that was the touristy stuff, won't get into much details there is a ton has already been written about these.

Now this is the middle east, one of the more politically unstable regions in the world today and usually in the evenings when I came back from my wanderings I met a lot of interesting ppl in the hostel area like South Africans who were mercenaries, ex-special forces dudes from Mogadishu (remember Black Hawk down, I met a guy from there who was half cyborg due to the amount of plastic n titanium holding him together.), Afghani and Syrian refugees, German Lufthansa pilots, Irish drunks :), Egyptian merchants, Macau gamblers, pretty much ppl from everywhere who didn't want to do anything with the EU, since its expensive n also pretty strict. A ton of conversations around the situation in the middle east and how turkey is becoming the china of that region and North Cyprus being the North Korea, how the Syrians n Egyptians see their govt's turning out, the turmoil in Greece and Gaddafi's rule over Libya, lots of world history n politics basically over some fine Turkish coffee and hookah. These conversations  usually ended up going late into the night and once found myself sipping Raki n Vodka over the banks of the Bosporus with some Germans, Scandinavians, Afghans and Turks. All I can say is am hooked to Raki now and don't miss a chance to down some.

A week flew-by in Istanbul and I hardly saw any desis. Reasoning being, there is no shortage of mosques n minarets in India, also this is the middle east we are talking about, its the friggin' desert here, nothing grows in these areas except palm trees and cacti, thus veggies are in short supply and most of them have to be imported, hence the staple diet consists of kebab n more kebab. Its not like you can't get veggie fare, its just that its extremely limited even more than the US and also if you do find some chances are you will pay thru your nose for it. The few desis that I did see were folks like myself who were already residing outside India.

Over that week made a ton of friends in Istanbul and just walked around Sultanahmet a lot. Would I go back myself to Istanbul, YES for sure. Would I go there once I had a family, ummm...probably not.

This post was typed up a while back and was in draft until now. Hence the delay.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Taking flight

Insomnia has been plaguing me for a while now especially with the trip getting closer and closer. Got done with some final packing/shopping yesterday evening. Never realized I had as much stuff as I did and even then considering just 1 checked-in bag which still has space in it I prob have a lot less stuff than most of my other friends who travel.

I made some last minute travel arrangements n will be stopping over in Istanbul for 4 days before I reach Mumbai. Turkish Airlines were fairly accommodating to my inquires and queries. Their customer support is good but the background music while you are put on hold is just irritating. Found out its actually a lot cheaper to book an entire round-trip flight and then pay the charge to change a certain segment of it, instead of booking the 2 segments separately. Once I land in Istanbul after paperwork n customs are cleared will prob just dump most of my luggage at the secured airport lockers and head into the city with a backpack. Have always wanted to do an extended stopover but never had the time/energy/money to attempt these. Istanbul came as a culmination of all three and it helps that its a lot cheaper than the rest of the EU and requires considerably lesser paperwork.

Will try and keep this space updated with some updates while in Turkey else probably some when I get back. For now though, Hey Ho, Lets Go.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Human Powered Vehicle

This weekend I went and got a cycle finally, after many months of contemplation, with being only able to bike 8-9 months of the entire year and when its not snowing/raining. Thus just spent the entire weekend on the bike. A 12 mile bike ride to Georgetown, followed by some tennis and more biking after.

Trek Tiburon Gary Fisher Ed.

Instead of going for a bike from a big box store I went to a local store and ended up with a pricier one, ensures that any issues with the bike, extra fittings can be taken care of and also the store was pretty closeby so I could bike the way back to my apt.

Capital Crescent Trail

DC has some fantastic cycling trails, and it helps that this section (Northern Virginia, Montgomery County)  is among the greenest. Currently am biking the Capital Crescent Trail which runs right behind my apt all the way to Georgetown and once you're there pretty much the entire Tidal Basin/National Mall strip is an open playground.

The last time I did biking was in Santa Monica, Los Angeles and Mackinaw Island near the upper peninsula in Michigan. Both were excellent bike rides, Santa Monica of course for the whole festive atmosphere near the pier and Mackinaw Island for the entire circumference around the island. I plan to get the bike out a lot more now with a backpack and the Nikon D90 along for the ride, especially since the trails run parallel to the Potomac providing some mind-blowing panoramas of the Great Falls region of Northern VA and MD.

On a side note, I booked my tickets for India and will be going next month after almost 2 yrs now :D Plans for hikes/treks along the Mumbai - Pune section are already on, especially hoping for the monsoon to set in. Khopoli, Bhandardara, Malshej Ghat (near Pune), Lonavala are some of the places am hoping to hit this time around.

Saturday, May 7, 2011


Stealing this meme from SEV

20 years ago I . . .
1. was in elementary school
2. discovered swimming
3. was watching mahabharat n visiting ppl over summer vacations

15 years ago I...
1. was still in school.The last stages of it.
2. playing soccer in the monsoon
3. started playing the guitar.

10 years ago I . . .
1. was doing engg.
2. attending a ton of rock shows all over the mumbai landscape. So much that I was there when PDV was first starting out at Terna Engg, Nerul.
3. Just having a blast going thru college, made some lifelong friends in the process.
4. did a lot of PC gaming, AoE, Halflife, NFS (this is when I first heard about the Nissan Skyline)

5 years ago I . . .
1. was in the process of coming to Rolla.
2. travelled alone thru some remote areas of interior Maharashtra on local transport. One of the best trips ever.

3 years ago I . . .
1. switched from working in the auto industry in LA to the Insurance domain in Lansing, Michigan.
2. found a fantastic mentor at work, if you have seen HOUSE M.D. now that is what the mentor was like.
3. got my first car, the Mercury Cougar

2 years ago I . . .
1. was working 60hr/week shifts
2. got promoted at work and was mentoring another guy now
3. but gained the lbs as a result.

1 year ago I . . .
1. moved to DC from Michigan, got back to swimming
2. got the G37, (ref. from 10 yrs back,the Infiniti G37 is known as the Nissan Skyline 370GT in Japan)
3. started exploring the DelMarVa and started using the Nikon outdoors more
4. discovered that the best time for a drive is early Sat morning when 
everyone's wasted from the previous night of partying. 
Thus got upto 130mph/210kmph on the I-70 at 5am, thanks to clear roads.

So far this year I . . .
1. have been busy with parents n relatives visiting.
2. have got a receiver + surround sound setup now and the blu ray on the ps3 is being used to its full potential
3. thanks to the above have been hooked to the full sonic range capabability from the likes of Yanni, Satriani

1 week ago I . . .
1. saw Chalo Dilli, Fast Five
2. ate awesome dosa at Udipi Palace
3. saw Braveheart after a very long time. It's still kickass.

Yesterday I . . .
1. got a colleague's large library of Dvd's, gladiator, troy, pirates, matrix, generally good stuff.
2. got done with my regular 2km/day swim.
3. put on the Division Bell, audio bliss.

Today . . .
1. is a Friday and may meet some friends later tonight
2. will start watching some stuff from the library
3. Hookah + Tandoori/Chinese nights.

Tomorrow I will . . .
1. recover from the hangover.
2. check out tickets to India again.
3. will try to swim some more.

In the next year I will . . .
1. try to make an India trip during Holi. 
2. hopefully not be married ;)

Done. This meme was easy. Typed this up on Friday, posted it on a Saturday :)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A year in DC

Its been exactly a year now in DC, damn, time flew fast and I thought I was only gonna be here for 6 months. Since I moved to the east coast haven't been out much (exception being the St.Louis trip over new year's), partly this can be attributed to the fact that several ppl visited me over july 4th, labor day, thanksgiving, n even the folks visited last feb. So far so good. Am looking fwd to more friends coming over (prob. the Boston ppl) over this summer. May get out to Boston by myself over some summer long weekend. Probably spend a night in NY and drive on the following morning to Boston.

Sometime back made a trip to Rutgers,NJ which was good. I needed to get out of DC and also just go on a long drive by myself. Audiobooks are pretty neat. Last winter I didn't drive much and also had a colleague's Toyota RAV4 SUV at my disposal most of the time so put about 1k on the G's odometer thru the winter period. Have gotten the hang of rev matching now and it takes time to get used to it but it has its own share of fun. Got upto 130mph/210kmph on the NJ turnpike. Quite hairy, I assure you, especially in traffic.

Rediscovered swimming in DC and do about 2km/day on a regular basis thru the work week. Also thanks to another colleague have been going for tennis lessons on warmer weekends. There are several plans for this summer not restricted to just biking thru the DC trails or camping in the Shenandoah Valley. Figured that I might as well make some use of staying near a warmer place on the east coast and with a more relaxed work schedule compared to my days in Michigan. 

Hiking/Camping plans to Yellowstone/Yosemite/Alaska Glacier park don't seem feasible yet. Like the last post said I really need a vacation and time off.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The vacation

My last time off was Nov 2009 when I made the trip to India, since then haven't taken any time off, not even a short break from work. Its not that I can't take time off its just that before I moved to DC I had an entire tour of Italy all chalked out but had to scrap it right at the last moment for the big jump to DC. Also its been more about do I really need time off, I don't really feel burned out or anything that I need time off to "recharge my batteries" and "ease my troubled mind."

Infact I end up just hurrying along to every place I can on vacations. I have barely ever sat still on a vacation and its always been go-go-go. Also the photography bug means sitting still means losing some scenic vistas as well so all the more reason to snap click every little thing that catches my eye. My last trip was to St.Louis to meet the old gang, and it was just everything that I thought it would be and more. Just the feeling of seeing the same old Lambert International terminal again makes me nostalgic. I have spent New Year's eve at Times Square, & on a cruise in Miami but this last trip to St.Louis ranks right up there with the best of the parties.  That wasn't  a slow recharge rather it was more like a sudden jolt of energy to last me hopefully thru the entire year.

Winter is almost over now which does mean that driving season is comin up pretty quick. So far I have a few road-trips planned to the NYC area, maybe Pittsburgh (Rama's), and of course an annual trip to Boston and Quincy Market, the Harbor area. Last year I went to the Florida keys for some fantastic snorkeling, Mustang convertible action, camping on the Outer Banks of North Carolina and the trip to Boston and New York. This year I should make a trip to Atlantic City, the Chesapeake Bay, and hopefully find someone to go camping/canoeing with thru the Shenandoah.

For now its back to my good routine since winter is over. My punishing swimming schedule.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


As a latest update, have now quite got the hang of rev matching, have switched from Linux finally back to Windows, have been playing the drums (Alesis DM6), work related stuff will always be there on my mind, n watch a lot of TV thru the entire weekend (College Football, NFL and of course Dexter S5).

Speaking of TV, I hardly ever watched any sport as much as this NFL season, even cricket, partly this can be attributed to coworkers/ friends following NFL, College Football and also as in Lansing due to being around MSU where the Big Ten is a religion. Infact I have started following football so much that I tried to watch an EPL (Chelsea/Everton) soccer game a few days back and it just seemed slow and boring in comparison. College Football  is even more interesting since the Spartans had one of their best seasons in 20 years.

This brings me to Dexter, I usually don't follow a series but Dexter is different. I started following Dexter from last year in Lansing due to recommendations from various co-workers and so initially caught up on seasons 1-4 on Dvd's and finally started season 5 on the regular TV schedule. IMO, the best seasons have been in that order seasons 2,4,1,3. Season 5 looks to be shaping up as a classic as well, sortof a combination of seasons 2 and 1.

After moving to DC have hardly ventured out at all except for an occasional NYC trip, rather have had a ton of visitors for sometime now, starting from July 4th, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and prob thru the end of the year as well. Need to get out and connect with STL/KC folks sometime, its been a while since I met the old gang.