Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

********************************************************************************************* Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers *********************************************************************************************
Lilypie Third Birthday tickers *********************************************************************************************

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Xmas lights :)

Just like halloween, I couldn't resist the Christmas decorations around my neighbourhood. Its almost like our Deepawali. Only no old-fashioned hanathes here :-D. There are lights put up in most houses with different colours, shapes and sizes and its all a delight for the sight :).

Since the decorations were all lights, the photos had to be taken at night and man! Was it freezing when I finally ventured out to do the same!! But anyways I couldn't let go of the wonderful opportunity and so with my freezing hands captured the wonderful decorations. The things I do in the name of blogging!! So what are we waiting for? Lets start off :).

The first one is from a neighbour who I always thought was Indian. We never had a chance to get to know each other (they live about 3 houses away), but they looked Indian somehow. Maybe they are Indian christians, who knows! Their decorations were really good. The best thing is that they had candy canes, Christmas tree, star, Santa Claus and a reindeer - all the main symbols of Christmas :).

The next one somehow impressed me just by the green lights on the tree. It looked really pretty, though it might not really seem so in the photo :).

As the last one did it with green, the next one used red lights to capture my heart. This one was very festive and when I took the photo I could hear the laughter of many people gathered inside the house. That made it all the more special :).

This next porch, you might recognize from my halloween photos. Looks like the people are really fond of decorations and aren't worried about the effort needed to do the same :).

The next one signifies the colour differences in the lights in houses next to each other..

Reindeers were rather a common factor in most lawns. These are mechanized ones which move their heads either up and down or side to side..

The winters are really cold here. And most of the days are dark and gloomy. But the lights somehow made all of it go away and brought a bit of cheer. I guess thats the point :).

Like halloween, the trees were not spared this time too. They took an active part in supporting the lights. Well, they might have actually enjoyed the finery, since they have lost all their leaves now :-p.

Thats it. Thats it? The thing is I took several more photos, but they didn't come out too well, mainly due to the darkness :). Anyways I am happy with the above ones and hopefully they'll bring a bit of cheer to the people who are reading this post :).

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Nostalgia :)


It just seems like yesterday
When I learnt first to talk.
Held safely by my parents' hands
When I was taught how to walk..

It just seems like yesterday
When I stepped out of the house.
Studied, played, made new friends
Fights, exams and all such grouse..

It just seems like yesterday
When life turned yet another page.
Crushes, mischief, complex subjects
There was so much to do in college..

It just seems like yesterday
When I first became independent.
Faced my first job and workplace
The first time my money, I spent..

It just seems like yesterday
When I met the man of my dreams
Two years of bliss have flown
Like moments, or so it seems..

It just seems like yesterday
And so it always probably will..
I only hope when I'm old and frail,
It'll all feel like yesterday, still...

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oven chronicles :)

Its been more than 1.5 years since I have come to US. In this long time, every house we've lived in has had an oven (yes, here they come with the house/apartment). And I've never once taken a proper look at it, except for using it to store potatoes in one house ;-) :-D. I was determined that I'd never be one of those who bake their own cakes, biscuits, etc. But curiosity has slowly but surely killed the cat ;-). I started thinking seriously about it some weeks ago. I even got a ready-made veggie pizza and some ready-made samosas which have to be baked, for the initial oven experimentation. Never got around to actually doing it until this weekend :).

I always thought the oven operation would be complicated, maybe the older ones were. But most of the houses here have the most recent models which are not very difficult to operate at all. This I discovered only when I sat and read through the manual :-p. It was as simple as pressing 3 buttons for some previously-wayyy-out-of-understanding-concept called "Pre-heating" :-D and just keeping what needs to be baked inside the oven next for whatever specified time :). Ok that understood, it was time for my first "experiment" :-D.

The oven came with baking pans, so there was no need to buy those. But I did need some oven mitts and aluminium foil. There was aluminium foil left over from our barbeque (vegetatian ofcourse :-D), "experiment" last summer (we enjoyed roasted corn and home-made veggie burgers on the barbeque actually :). Oh, I forgot I could have written a post on that! What a waste! Well, maybe next summer ;-) :-D), so again only thing required was the mitts. But they weren't really necessary for the first time. Any thick cloth to handle the hot baking pans was ok and so the experiment proceeded :).

The first trial was nothing complex and I decided to go with the ready-made samosas I had gotten from the Indian store. I set the oven for preheating and covered the baking pan with aluminium foil. Arranged the samosas on it and put the pan into the oven after the pre-heating was done. After about 15 mins of baking, took the pan out, turned over the samosas and put it in again for 15 more mins of baking. Everything worked fine and the first experiment results were declared successful when the samosas turned out to be delicious. My hubby declared that they could be a bit more roasted, a point which was duely noted :-D. Anyways, I can't really take the credit for making them, but sure for baking them :-D. All this happened with only one itsy-bitsy-miniscule burn on one of my fingers which happened when I was trying to turn over the samosas and mistaken scraped a part of the hot oven. And nope, its definitely not something serious.

Ok, so I was ready to go to the next level immediately. I confess to missing the Indian bakery items here in US, a lot. So yesterday, we went shopping and got a few things required for Veg puffs. I actually made aalu palya (potato curry) puffs and I took the recipe for puff making from here (I made my own potato onion peas curry and I am not going to bore you with the recipe here ;-) :-D). So we bought mitts and Puff Pastry sheets. Puff pastry sheets are actually flour rolled into a sheet in layers (thats one wonderful advantage in US, you get almost anything you want here :-D). And I did everything according to the recipe - thawed the puff pastry sheet, rolled and cut it to 9 equal pieces (not exactly equal, but who cares :-p), made and then cooled my aalu palya, put the palya in the sheet pieces, sealed them, preheated the oven, got the pan ready with the aluminium foil, arranged the puffs on the pan, baked them for 15 min, turned them over and baked again for 15 more minutes. Only one mistake happened in this whole procedure, I didn't seal the puffs properly with water (a point to be noted for next time :-D), but this only meant the palya peeked out of the puffs a little and no way spoiled the taste.

So voila here are the puffs :-D.

Shown are only 4, as the other 5 were gulumed (consumed :-D) by us as soon as they were cool enough to bite into, which was plenty hot, believe me ;-) :-D. They came out really tasty, almost as tasty as the ones available in Bangalore bakeries, little less oily and I'm quite proud of myself. Though puffs might be a very easy and most common thing baked by many people here in US or in India, I'm still happy with myself because I tried something new and it came out good.

The success of the 2nd level of baking, as defined by me :-D, has inspired me to try many further things. I'm already looking at aalu palya buns, khaara biscuits and many more repeats of different kinds of curry puffs :). Moreover baking is really easy and hardly takes any effort :). So, I'm sure that this is the beginning of a new beautiful relationship :).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cinema seen-it-all..

Over the past 5 weekends, we have seen exactly 5 english movies in the multiplexes no less, one for each weekend and not to mention the various hindi and telugu movies we end up watching at home :-p. Though enjoyable, its practically tiring ;-). The 5 english movies is what I'll talk about in this post of mine. Nope I won't be reviewing the movies as such, for that you can refer to the links I'll be providing with each movie. This will just be my opinion of the movie in a few lines. I have included a rating by my standards though. And, no, I'm not going to make this reviewing movies a habit ;-).

{Disclaimer - Start}

I may unwittingly say something about the movie in my post that may/may not be a spoiler to the movie. I advise extreme caution to the reader who's reading and who still hasn't watched the movie. Also if you haven't watched the movie and do want to watch the movie, then clicking on the IMDB links I'll be giving may not be the right thing to do ;-) :-D. I don't want to be the one blamed for spoiling the movie for you ;-).

{Disclaimer - End}

Ok so here goes :).

1) The Departed

They say its a copy of some Hong Kong movie. Well, I can't compare it to anything as I haven't seen the Hong Kong movie anyways. Its just a story about moles, moles and more moles! And the moles trying to find the other side moles :-D. Sounds confusing? Nah, in reality its not!

I loved it. The story, the direction, the acting. And what acting!! I have been a fan of Jack Nicholson since I saw "A few good men" and I see it again and again just to watch him in the end :)). He is so good in this one too. Matt Damon and Leonardo Dicaprio are not far behind. I hadn't seen any Martin Scorsese movies before this one, but this one impressed me so much that I have to take a look at the older ones now :).

2) The Prestige

A movie about two rival magicians? You may ask whats so interesting about that. But when its Christopher Nolan doing the directing, you have to think twice :).

I was blown away when I watched his "Memento" some time ago. I did see "Batman Begins" too and though it was not comparable to "Memento", I thought it was quite good. I mean Batman movies were pretty cheesy before "Batman Begins" and this was quite dark and brooding and impressive somehow :). Anyways, returning to "The Prestige", the movie was shocking to say the least. It showed perfectly the extents men go to achieve something. It was horrifying, yet was extremely fascinating.

I guess both Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman can add me in their fan list :). Also, Christopher Nolan has a fan for life :). And yes, this movie is rated the best of them all :).

3) Casino Royale

I really didn't want to see this one. Somehow it felt like betrayal. Like I was cheating on Pierce Brosnan, hehehe :-D. Though I didn't even watch the earlier 2 Bond movies in theatre, somehow I felt he was James Bond. There was no one to replace him. This thought was obviously shared by lots of people. And boy!! Were they all wrong! Was I wrong!!

Daniel Craig's James Bond is rugged, not afraid to soil his hands and neither does he need the protection of expensive gadgets. The movie tries to do for James Bond, what "Batman Begins" did for batman. "Tries" is the keyword here. The usually untouchable James Bond is vulnerable here. A softer side of Bond anyone? Don't get me wrong, I loved Daniel Craig. I loved the storyline too. But somehow it just didn't seem like a James Bond movie to me. I didn't really miss the Bond babes as there were 2 here ;-) :-D, but I did miss the gadgets, I did miss the style, I did miss the "traditional" Bond movie. But well, these are changing times, I guess I'll just have to "kindly adjust" ;-). Doesn't mean I have forgotten Brosnan though ;-) :-D.

4) Deja Vu

This one receives the least rating from me, but I still believe it is worth one watch. I was actually so impressed with the trailers of this one that I pestered Sri into taking me ;-). I had imagined all sorts of things from the trailers, but it turned out to be a story about time travel. And it was kind of disappointing. Especially after "12 Monkeys"!

I had looked forward to seeing Denzel Washington after "Inside man" last year (man, now that was an unexpectedly great movie!) and he was good as always. The effects were good and the story was innovative to a point. But somehow the ending was disappointing. And my main complaint is that it was a happy ending ;-) :-D. If you have already seen the movie, I recommend reading the IMDB boards. The theories some people come up with are amazing! I also recommend watching "12 Monkeys", if you haven't done so already :).

5) The Fountain

Living each day to its fullest is wayyyy better than trying to fight death. That was the message I personally got from the movie. A man is so involved in trying to discover a cure for his wife's tumour that he doesn't have any time to spend with her. Thats it! Thats it?

I have seen 2 other movies of director Darren Aronofsky. While "Pi" was strange and disturbing to say the least, "Requiem for a Dream" was tragedy at its best. I remember think "it cannot get any sadder" and it did, did and did! God!! Anyways, I think of his movies as abstract paintings. They are full of vivid repeating images, colours, emotions and as somebody said, they make you feel. Its what you take out of the move that matters. You may not totally understand his movies, as they are certainly the opposite of conventional. But they'll strike a chord somewhere, somehow. Something like a poem. The poet writes a poem with one meaning, but the people who read it might interpret it however they want to.

I felt personally that this movie was not as powerful as the previous two and hence the rating. But it had its own merits and is certainly worth one watch. The splash of colours was enjoyable and you could see the typical Aronofsky style everywhere. Though I thought Rachel Weisz was kind of wasted, this movie turned out to be another reason for me to like Hugh Jackman :-D. He is absolutely wonderful and he runs the show from beginning to end :).

OK I'm done :). I basically enjoyed all of the movies, can't say the same for Sri though, 'cause he hates unconventional movies :-D. Right now there are no more movies in the pipeline. No trailers were interesting enough to actually look forward to the movie. Maybe next year, we'll have some stuff to see :-D.

"The End" people :).

Friday, December 01, 2006

Similes for Love :)

Similes For Love

Like a sharp thorn protects a rose,
Like a sting is the armour of a bee..
Like a shell safeguards a turtle,
Your love always looks out for me.

Like water helps the plants thrive,
Like bees survive on sweet honey..
Like little grains that birds peck on,
Your love is the nourishment for me.

Like a kite bound by a thick string,
Like a wind that pushes clouds gently..
Like a tree holding onto its leaves,
Your love lets me fly, yet chains me.

Like a volcano exists because of lava,
Like most humans are after money..
Like breath, food, clothes and shelter,
Your love means the life to me.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sriram's new love :)

He had been looking for the one for a long time. He had searched and searched. He had researched, looked at all positives and negatives, the advantages and the disadvantages. He had asked for advice from some knowledgable ones and also referred to other available knowledge databases. And finally had zeroed in on the one. But there never seemed an auspicious moment for the one to actually arrive in his life. The auspicious moment was because of the cost factor associated :-p.

Does the above paragraph look familiar? Thats because I copied and pasted it straight from my "A new love of my life ;-)" post with only changes being from "I" to "He" and from "my" to "his". Why? Because it applies aptly. The new love of my life then was our camera and the new love of Sri's life now is our brand new SUV :). Though Sri has owned a couple of cars before, they have all been 2nd hands and the old Nissan sentra we have now is actually 3rd hand!! So this is our (as well as his) first new car (well, Sri hates it if I refer to the SUV as car, as its obviously bigger and sleeker :-D).

Car shopping in general is an experience in the US (probably anywhere for that matter :-p). And my hubby is a research freak which is definitely a good thing when it comes to car shopping as such. He had been researching for months before zeroing in on the Toyota Highlander.

One major rule in buying a car is that you wait until almost the end of the year to buy the current year's model. So the next year's model will already be in the market and hence you get discounts on the current year one. It helped that the 2007 Toyota highlander was in no way different from the 2006 one. No major improvements. Now that decided, we only had to look out for a deal. Thanksgiving weekend is always a great time for deals. Since last week was Thanksgiving, it all started then.

Now car-buying can be pretty tricky. There are some hidden discounts that the customer can actually get, but if he/she has no knownledge of the same, then the dealer may not actually give the discount. In short, you have to ask for it to get it :-\. Not only that, the dealer agent can be extremely pushy and can actually manage to push something onto you which was probably not the thing you wanted. So Sri warned me multiple times on how to make some negative comments, so that we get exactly what we want :). Ok points noted. The only thing remaining was actually visiting a showroom and buying one.

The first time we went to a showroom was pretty fun. They didn't have the exact specifications of what we wanted, but they could get it from an out-of-state dealer (they don't go to the nearby dealers as its not profitable to any one of them). We could get a test drive on a higher edition (test drive is fascinating here, you can actually keep a car for overnight before you decide to buy it or not) and we made some negative comments appropriately :-p. After which came the haggling :).

Haggling for a car here is like the bargaining we do in markets (santhe) in India. Its literally "I'll take it if you give it to me for $___"!!! It was really an enjoyable experience. After about an hour of haggling, we agreed on a price and the dealer agreed to get the car for us from another state. We couldn't believe that we had booked a deal on the first visit to the showroom, 'cause its not supposed to work like that :-D.

Anyways we were looking for a black coloured one and 2 days later they called us to inform that they couldn't find a black one and they had a white one instead. So we thought of looking some more and landed in another showroom. They didn't have the exact specifications either, but the whole experience wasn't as good as the first one. It felt like they weren't really trying to bring us what we wanted.

Well, since my hubby is a total enthusiast in such things, we decided to (more like he pulled me into) driving to a nearby town called Richmond and visiting a showroom. The dealers there were even worse! They didn't have anything we wanted, they said so, didn't bother trying for anything and almost literally pushed us out :-D. Sri again managed to convince me into visiting a couple of showrooms in other towns and thats where we headed this saturday.

Meanwhile the 1st showroom dealer called us and let us know that even the white one was gone and our only option would be a 2007 model which would cost a 1000 bucks more!! And yes, I'm talking dollars! That was a considerable difference, since Sri had planned for a loan and all that. We were kind of disappointed, but hopeful of finding some other deal. So saturday morning first we headed to Frankfort. There the dealer attitude was pretty good. They didn't have any 2006 models either, so we discussed 2007 models and they didn't hesitate giving us a final figure on a 2007 model. There wasn't much haggling and we were grateful for that. We said we'd get back on that and got out.

Next we headed to Louisville to see our final 2 showrooms. But luckily the first one we visited had a 2006 model. Only it wasn't black, it wasn't white either, but metallic blue. The colour was pleasing and since I was thinking that as a second option after black, it was agreeable for both of us. Again some amount of bargaining ensued, after which a deal was finalized. While we worked out the financial details for the loan etc, the SUV was cleaned, pumped with gas (thats what they call petrol) and brought to us nice and shiny :). The whole process took about 4 hours!!

Here's our brand new SUV. The photos are taken at a different place and time as we really didn't think we would be buying a car that day and hence I forgot to take the camera with me.

After everything was over, we took the SUV to the Louiville temple and got a pooja done. I missed the camera all the more :-p. After that we had a nice 1 hour drive back home :).

It was really nice to see some sort of excitement on Sri's face after a long time. He's so calm that usually you can't make it out at all :-p :-D. Also I am so proud of Sri and glad that he was able to achieve his dream car (correction SUV :-D) at this point of our lives :). And I am grateful for the power of internet for we could show it to both our parents that day itself on webcam. Its really nice to be able to share your joy with loved ones :).

Thursday, November 23, 2006

He sang to me...

He sang to me. He called out to me.

It all happened a few months back when the trees still had leaves and the leaves were still green. On a lazy day, when I was following the day's guidance and being lazy myself, his voice overcame all the noises my fingers were making on the keyboard while playing a game. At first I didn't pay him any attention, but he persisted. Again and again he reminded me that he was there. I just had to do it. I had to move the drapes on the window in my room and peep out to see him.

And there he was. Standing proudly and still calling out. As if the attention I was giving him from my window wasn't enough. Well, I just couldn't help myself and had to go outside to see him. As I fascinatedly stared at him, he preened and primped himself, subtly telling me that an admirer watching him wasn't sufficient. Then it hit me. He wanted me to take pictures of his highness :).

I didn't waste any time. I ran inside to get the camera and started clicking immediately. He posed proudly all the while singing in a melodious voice. But as soon as I had clicked a few shots, he turned his face as if he had had enough. And moved away. He was gone in a few minutes.

I never saw him after that. Its been more than 3 months. I have heard his voice now and then, told myself that I am not going to fall for that again. But I have fallen for it and have turned to look for him, but I never found him anywhere :(. All I have of him now are the pictures and the sweet memory of his song.

As you can see, since in his kind, the "pretty" ones are the males, I have been guilty of referring to the bird as a "he" :-D. Hopefully he'll be back when the summer comes back. I'll be eagerly waiting to see him again ;-) :-).

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hanigavana :)

For me poetry has always meant rhyme and minimum 3 paragraphs of 4 lines each :-D. I am saying this for myself and the poems I write. I really admire poems that don't have rhyme, yet convey so many emotions and feelings, because they are probably the "actual" poems. They also "look" more sophistacated somehow. But, again, thats really not for me. Its difficult for me to write a poem without rhymes.

Okay so I wanted to write a poem, but there were so many topics that were swirling in my head, that there wasn't any thing "concrete" to write about. By concrete, I mean the minimum-3-paragraphs-of-4-lines-each-rule (lets call it MTPOFER) :-D. Therefore I was forced to look for other ways.

I had recently read a haiku in one of the blogs I visit. I thought why don't I try that. But well, its not as easy as it looks or sounds :-p. The rules are even worse than my MTPOFER :-D. If you visit the wikipedia link, you see the rules listed. Though a haiku is made up of only 3 lines, it has a rule that it should have totally 17 syllables with 5-7-5 i.e 1st line consisting of 5 syllables, 2nd 7 and 3rd 5 again. First of all, I still cannot make sense of syllables, suprisingly I never learnt it in my English classes. Though I did spend time on learning about them on the internet, I didn't really think I could stick to the rules. Well, maybe some other time.

Then it hit me, in Kannada we have something called a "hanigavana". It means "drop poem" if you translate it exactly. It is a very short poem, but has rhyme and usually is full of sattire. I am sure it must have some rules, but I couldn't find any on the internet atleast.

So I just decided to follow the basic context of a short poem with my own rules - 3 lines, rhyme is welcome but not mandatory and last line must consist of 3 words with an "and" in between. Well, you'll see the pattern :). So here goes:



Learning life as wife and husband;
Laughter and love; hand in hand;
You and I.


Human nature

Memories of past, realities of present;
Hopes for future unlimited;
Everybody and nobody.



Crossing seven seas is a fairytale;
Not returning back is not;
India and America.



Tears flow with water;
Pitter patter pitter patter;
Rain and pain.



Bright light and dark shadows;
Barren land and lush meadows;
Life and death.


The Wait

Life is slowly but surely trickling away;
Today was tomorrow, today will be yesterday;
Time and Tide.


Monday, November 13, 2006

Constant change ;-)

2 years? 2 years. 2 years! 2 years!!

Its been 2 years since the day Sri and I met. Life couldn't be any better, touchwood :). I know I have said it before, but my god! I still cannot believe all this is happening to me. Sometimes life feels like a sweet dream ;-).

They say change is the only constant thing. In 2 years, I've changed a lot. I have talked previously about changes like cooking, working from home, but thats not what I want to write about today. Its about how my attitude has changed from where I was before I met Sri and now :).

Before I met him, I didn't really trust my judgement. There were too many "what if"s and I didn't really know how or whether I'd find my "Mr.Right".Now I know my judgement is excellant :-D.
Before I met him, I thought a couple could understand each other without words. The spoken word was negligible.Now I know thats not so. Communication is the foundation of a relationship. If there's no talk, then there are so many possibilities for multiple misunderstandings. Telepathy just doesn't work ;-).
Before I met him, I wasn't very career-oriented as such, but was determined to be financially independent.Now, I don't mind leaving my job as such, not that I'd leave it. But am not hung up on my job as I earlier used to be.
Before I met him, I didn't really think leaving Bangalore (staying very far away from my parents) was a possibility. I thought I was prepared for such a scenario, but I really wasn't.Now, not only have I left what I ever knew as home, I have gotten adjusted to living in a country with very obviously a different life-style altogether. I now know that though living away from everyone is sad sometimes, it has actually helped us grow closer together, made our bond stronger.
And lastly, before I met him, I thought I knew what love was. I thought I knew how a marriage worked.Now I know its nothing like I ever imagined. Its even better ;-) :-D.

And this is only the beginning ;-) :-D.

Listening to: "Ek Din Aap Yoon" from "Yes Boss".

Ek din aap yoon humko miljayenge
Phool hi phool raahon me khiljaayenge
Mene socha na tha..

Ek din zindagi itni hogi haseen
Jhumega aasmaan gaayegi yeh zameen
Mene socha na tha..

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Magic of Mandrake :)

If you are my age and you haven't heard of Indrajal comics' Phantom and Mandrake, that would be weird :-p. C'mon not even one comic book of Phantom or Mandrake? They are even featured as strips in newspapers! Well, its certainly your loss and you definitely have a chance to make up for it.

I've always been fond of comics, since I can't really remember when :). I think I probably started off with Tinkle, but am not really sure. My cousins had this collection of Phantom and Mandrake comics that I'd gorge myself on :-D. Then there was borrowing from friends and reading. Still later we were living in this rented house where the owners lived above us (they were a very sweet old couple, I am guessing they are no more now :( ), there was this old storeroom in their house and I remember discovering this huge collection of comics there :)). The mysterious Phantom with his horse Hero and wolf Devil, his wife Diana and kids, nephew Rex, wow, there was so much to read. More so Mandrake, his fascinating magic, his friend Lothar, girlfriend Narda, cook Hojo, I was very ready to get swept away by the adventures.

I was more into Mandrake than Phantom. Who could forget the magic school, Mandrake's evil twin Derek and his evil teached Lucifer, the magic cube, his encounters with a rich oil sheik (who crashes their plane and kidnaps the whole bunch), with the future people (who take 6 year old geniuses and their families from all times to control the world in the future), with the invisible scientist (whose formula can put a city to sleep in 6 seconds :-D) and so many others. Man!! Did I want more!!

And this was all before I discovered Asterix, Calvin & Hobbes and Garfield. Yes my comics-interests have widened, but doesn't mean that I can actually forget the old ones I loved. I tried searching for the old ones in the libraries here and nope, sadly none could be found. As my quest pregressed (searching nooks and corners on the internet :-D), I found this amazing place which was here in blogspot all along!

A place where some like-minded kind souls are actually scanning their old comic books for desperate people like me :-D. In addition to Mandrake and Phantom, there are also Bahadur, Flash Gordon and other Indrajal comics being scanned (I don't read any of these, so I might be "weird" according to their fans :-D). I've finished about 3 months of archives for now and there are more than 15 more months to go!!

Well I for one, certainly didn't want to keep such a goody for myself. So spread the word people, you never know who will turn out to be a Indrajal fan around you :).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Smokkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkies 2nd edition!

As hinted before, here's the post on our weekend trip to Smokies. We hadn't had a chance to go anywhere special this autumn. Yes we did go to Corbin at the start of autumn, but it wasn't the full colour spectacle that we were expecting. We had been to Smokies last year, but that was in summer, so we thought why not see the autumn version? Though the trip format wasn't exactly like last time, the agenda was basically to visit the Smoky Mountains :).

27th October 2006:

On Friday, we wrapped up our respective work and set off in a rented Ford Taurus. The plan was to drive to Johnson City, Tennessee, which was about 4 hours away and then rest for the night there. The trees and the colours were wonderful and though I wanted to take snaps, I didn't. The snaps taken while driving come out hazy, the factors being the car window in between, plus the movement. We had previously marked an North-Indian restaurant in Johnson City for our dinner called Sahib. So as soon as we reached there, we went straight to the restaurant and had dinner. Though there was a hugggggge party crowd there, the food was served pretty quick and it was all very tasty. Tired from the drive and full of food, we went and immediately crashed in the lodge.

28th October 2006:

Saturday early morning, we had Subway sandwiches for breakfast and set off. The plan was to drive onto a scenic highway called the Blue Ridge Parkway and drive to Asheville, North Carolina, obviously stopping in-between for the various sights :). The Blue Ridge Parkway starts in West Virginia and extends all the way to North Carolina. And it can be visited anytime in the year, but autumn is when you can see the most picturesque scenery at every point on the road. We didn't actually go to West Virginia, but joined the road somewhere in Tennessee.

As soon as we entered the road, we couldn't help but gasp at the beautiful sights surrounding us. We couldn't help stopping now and then either. The weather was cloudy and freezing, yet that couldn't bring down our spirits.

Again stopped at another outlook:

Again at another (:-D):

Later we stopped and saw the Linn Cove Viaduct. It seems they had to build a road at an elevation of 4,100 feet without damaging one of the world's oldest mountains. The link shows the struggles they faced and how they built the viaduct :).

Next we planned to see a place called Grandfather mountain which has a hanging bridge, but when we were at the entry point, we found that the hanging bridge was closed due to high winds :(. So we moved on and later stopped at another mile post of the parkway to see the Linville falls. The falls were not easily accessible and so we had to trek in the cold weather. We wore our jackets, gloves and were off :).

We first went to a point which is called the Chimney view of the falls. We had to hike about 1 mile for it, but the view was worth it :).

Next we walked another 0.5 miles to see the Ervin's View point. The view here was even more beautiful what with the falls and the autumn colours seen together :).

After seeing both the views we walked back near to the falls to see it up, close and personal :). We couldn't see the lower falls as it was covered by the hill, but only the upper falls and thats what the view is called too :).

We were both pretty tired after the trek (total almost 3 miles!) and soon we set off again. We couldn't resist stopping at some points on the road now and then, to take some snaps :).

The colours, as you can see, were breathtaking :).

Next we stopped at another outlook to view Glassmine falls. There is no actualy way to trek to the falls because its on a different hill. But its a great view :).

Slowly the elevation of the road was rising and it was getting colder and colder. That was when we encountered the Greybeard mountain.

Seeing the trees, we thought the colour of the branched were grey and hence the name. It was only when we stopped and looked properly that we came to know that, it was ice!! It was so cold that water had gotten frozen at the tips of the branches and hence the colour!!

I think this is one of my best photos :). We soon stopped at Asheville, NC for our motel for the day. We actually planned to drive to another Indian restaurant, but literally crashed and fell asleep and missed dinner! Guess we were very tired..

29th October 2006:

Sunday early morning, after a healthy breakfast of waffles and sandwiches (we needed it after the fast :-p), we were back again on the blue ridge parkway and snapping away photos :).

Thankfully, the day was bright and sunny. Though it was cold, the sunlight helped :). Our main stop for the day was the Graveyard Field falls. The area got it's name years ago from the tree stumps and surrounding trees that look like grave stones in a graveyard setting. We trekked first to the lower falls which is about 0.5 miles.

The falls were not very full, but pretty nevertheless. There was also another falls in the same place called Upper falls, and since it was supposedly only 1.5 miles trek, we decided to go for it too. We walked and walked, got tired but still did not reach the upper falls. After about what seemed like more than 1 mile, we gave up and headed back. We still had a long way to cover and we couldn't afford the time :(. Well, there's always another time...

Back on the Blue ridge parkway, we reached the highest elevation point of the road. Its 6053 feet above sea level and it felt good to be there :).

We drove on until the parkway ended at Cherokee, North Carolina. We had been to Cherokee last year on our Smokies trip through a different road. So after reliving some of the memories, having lunch at a pizza place, we headed back in the road that we had taken last year.

Sadly, it looked like autumn had already been to the place and said goodbye, so we couldn't see any colours on that particular stretch. We stopped again at the Tennessee-North Carolina border which is at 5000-odd feet, but I have to admit I was quite disappointed with the view.

Well, maybe we were expecting too much after the wonderful views we had seen all along Blue ridge parkway ;-) :). Anyways the colours certainly got better as we travelled back to Tennessee :).

We stopped later at Pigeon Forge, TN for a game of mini-golf which I am crazy about these days :-D.

We played for over an hour and had loads of fun. There were some children also in front of us and it was also fun watching them take shots :-D.

And then it was time to leave. We had about more than 3 hours of drive back home. We aaraamse reached within about 9 PM in the night, which meant making dinner was my problem. I didn't really mind much because a tomato saaru (rasam) certainly tastes like heaven after 2 days of bland outside food ;-) :-D.

So thats how the story of this trip ends. With a tomato saaru that is :-D. Dunno when we will be able to go out next, what with winter shattering away the remaining warmth with its cold breath and shooing autumn away....