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....

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

So what's booking?

So whats cooking? Books, books and more books :-D. In the past one and a half months, I guess I have read more than 20 books!! Have I found some kind of a treasure? Yup, of sorts :).

I've always been fond of good books. Reading has been one of my all-time hobbies. I can finish some motu motu novels in hours if I put my mind on it :-D. So since I came to US and heard there are public libraries here in Lexington, wanted to become a member and see what books I can find. But all the 5 branches of the lexington public library were somewhat far away to our previous apartment, hence never made it to them then ;-). As soon as we shifted to our now home, we found that there was one branch very near to our current home. So, finally the day of becoming a library member had arrived :).

It was a lovely surprise when actually went on to become a member. All it takes is a photo id and proof of residence. No money!! Not even a single paisa or should I say cent ;-) :-D. I still don't have a photo id except for my passport and so Sri became a member showing his driving license. I had thought we'll go the next day again and I'll become a member. But it sorta became irrelevant when we found that you could borrow, not 2, not 10, but 35 books at a time!! What the heck were we going to do with 70? :-D.

At first, I was disappointed with the library near my place. It was a bit smaller than what I had imagined to be and there didn't seem to be many books around. But soon the disappointment changed into another pleasant surprise, when we found out you could borrow books from any branch and return anywhere!! Better is the online system. You can search for the books you want and place a hold to collect them in some particular branch of library. If they are available in some other branch, they are actually transported to the one where you want to collect!! You just go to the library and collect them from the counter where they have it waiting for 7 days :). The online site is here, if you want to take a look. You can place holds, check the due dates of the books with you, renew once, all online :).

This scheme of things is not only in Lexington, but in every city in US. So how do they maintain all this, if they aren't taking any money for membership? The money is being looted out of us in another way, but I don't have any complaints since its being put to good use. The income tax here in US is divided into something called Federal tax, State tax and County tax. The Federal tax percentage is comparitively less when compared to the State and County taxes. The county tax is used in laying roads and basically cleaning up that particular county. And it is used for that purpose!! Thats why the roads are what they are here in US. I believe the state taxes go into maintaining these public libraries.

I remember we have some public libraries in India too. The insides of most of them look like a haunted castle, with dust and cobwebs. No cleaning up, no maintenance plus ollllld ollllllld books. No latest books except for some magazines and newspapers. After all you can't keep ancient newspapers, warna they'd probably have had them and no new ones :-p. Here you can get the latest books, DVD and video casettes for borrowal. Of course there is a fee if you forget the due date. If you are within due date, then no fee, nothing. Just shows how things go if taxpayers' money is put into good use, which sadly is lacking in India. Not that there isn't any corruption here, but atleast some part of the money actually is going into good purposes!!

So far, I have ready many collections of Calvin n Hobbes and Garfield in comics and read lots of novels I've been wanting to read for sometime now - Dan Brown's "Angels and Demons", John Grisham's latest "The Broker", Frederick Forsyth's "Avenger", "The Day of the Jackal" and "The Odessa File". Already on hold are Frederick Forsyth's "No Comebacks", Dan Brown's "The Deception point" and "Digital Fortress". Should be finishing them by next week :-D. Frederick Forsyth is my all time favourite author and the best part is, all of his books, I repeat, ALL OF HIS BOOKS, are available in the library. So plan to read a couple of them again :-D. Haven't borrowed any DVD's till now, 'cause my mind's on books right now.

While I have been hogging on my favourite fiction novels, Sri's been reading up on non-fiction and we both are enjoying the library assets in our own ways :). He also made me read Stephen Hawking's non fiction "A Brief History of Time" and yeah, it felt like I was reading a physics text book after oh-so-long :). He also has "Interpretations of Dreams" by Sigmund Freud on hold for me. I have loads and loads to read and yup, I'm lovin' it :-D. And so my love affair with books continues.......... :) :).

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A fork in the path...

How many of us believe in fate? I'm pretty sure many of us do. Its so good to believe that whatever we do is not controlled by us, but is all pre-determined, isn't it? Makes us feel a little bit irresponsible. You don't have to think too much about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Just go with the flow..

But what if there's no fate? What if the decisions you take each and every moment are changing something in the future? Yup I'm talking about chaos theory. So our destiny is purely controlled by our actions. A simple decision like today I'll go to market to buy vegetables, maybe changing my life drastically. Scary, isn't it?

Most of the times I do believe in fate. Its fate that I have parents like mine. Its fate that I have friends like I have. Its fate that I chose to study engineering. Its fate that Sriram came into my life. Its all fate :). But sometimes, just sometimes when I am taking a drastic step, I start wondering whether I am changing my life. I believe that all that happens, happens for the good (so in one way pushing all my decisions again on fate :-D), but when I can see a clear path that I could have gone on, thats when I wonder. What if I had taken that fork in the path instead of the one I'm going on...

This thought first came into my mind when I had decided to leave my first company for the second. My first company gave me a carrot of sending me onsite just when I was leaving. But my decision had been made to join the second. And that decision has turned out to be wonderful in many ways since then. But at that point, I could clearly see another path I could have taken i.e staying with the first company and going onsite. If I believe in fate, then I was meant to join the second company. But if, if by any chance, my destiny was in my hands, then I took a right decison which is still working out for me so well. What if I had made the wrong choice? Or was the other decision a wrong choice? Maybe my life would have been equally well then too. Who knows!!

Surprisingly I never felt the fork in the path when I married Sri. If you think about it, I could have not married him and my life could have gone in a totally different path. But I never thought of not marrying him. I never thought of the other path, so I believe its fate :-D. Some weird logic huh? :-D

Again, when Sri was offered a choice to come to U.S on a project, he asked me whether I was comfy with the whole thing. I just told him that whatever decision he takes would be fine with me. But again, I could feel the fork, where we could have stayed in India or could have come to U.S. Very strange, the way the mind works sometimes. But what if, I had stayed in India? Would I have been so close to Sri, like I am today? Now I know that I love my parents and miss them a lot. Had I been there, would I have been aware of some things that I am more aware of now? I don't know.

Ok, why did this topic come up suddenly now after all these days? Thats because we recently encountered another fork in the path. Since we came to US, our plan was for Sri to look for a job here. And 2 weeks ago, the job came and fell into his lap without him even making huge efforts. Do you call that fate? ;-) :-D. There's actually not much change. We'll continue to be here in Lexington, KY. So there's no house change either. Even if he had continued in his current company, we'd have been here in US for about 3 years and that plan hasn't changed. So why do I define it as a fork? Just because maybe, just maybe, had he continued in his current company, Sri might have been asked to do a project in Bangalore. Maybe we could have gone there and stayed there for some time. So many maybes {sighs}. Now its sure that we'll be here for 3 years. We are planning a vacation to Bangalore, but its not the same as going there for good :(.

The new job is a wonderful career move for Sri and yup, logically everything's turning out good. If its fate, its wonderful. Even if we are controlling our destiny, I know we are making the right choice. So why does the mind think about forks in the path etc? I guess sometimes we just need a reason to be unhappy. Probably one of human being's variables is always equal to not being content. Thats the way God's software works...

Friday, January 13, 2006 and Thud!!


n. pl. skis

One of a pair of long flat runners of plastic, metal, or wood that curve upward in front and may be attached to a boot for gliding or traveling over snow.

v. intr.

To travel or glide on skis, especially as a sport.

Please note that ski-ing is not falling. Though thats the case in the beginning, later trying not to fall (balancing) is ski-ing :).


  • You

  • A ski resort

  • Thermal wear

  • Ski gloves

  • Ski pants/bib

  • Waterproof coat

  • Skis

  • Ski boots

  • Ski Poles

Yup, you are the most important ingredient for ski-ing. And preparing yourself takes time especially if your partner has been ski-ing before and would continuously tell you stuff that scares you :-o!! Sri had been ski-ing before and he'd continuously tell me how difficult it all is etcetera etcetera :-p. I'd pretend to be calm and tell him "lets see" :).

A ski resort is the second most important thing. You cannot ski everywhere and anywhere, even if you do see snow on roads. A ski resort has snow fields carefully maintained for ski-ing and people to help you if anything happens to you. We chose a ski-resort that was just about 1.5 hours drive away - The Perfect North Slopes in Indiana. Here's a photo as usual:

We decided to go to the ski resort on 29th December 2005. We'd get back in the night and if we were ok the next day (no muscle spasms etc) then we'd go the next day.

Now coming to the ski wear. Hindi movies lie period. You cannot prance around in a ski resort wearing mini skirts, shorts, sleeveless shirts etc. Unless you are totally sloshed ;-). To protect yourself from frost bites, you have to have minimum 3 layers of clothes on you. Thermal wear is not absolutely necessary, but its just to keep you warm. And ski clothes are necessary as they are waterproof. When you are ski-ing for the first time, you are bound to fall a couple of times. Snow is nothing but water in crystalized form, so you are, inturn bound to get wet. Sri had learnt this lesson the hard way when he had been ski-ing for the first time. He had worn jeans and he says those became totally wet and cold later :-D. So one of our preliminary preparations was to buy thermal wear and ski bibs. Bibs are waterproof overalls :). Ski gloves are really another thing that are needed. Believe me, without the gloves, your hands freeze. We just took them off to have lunch and sometime later, they were oh-so-cold!!

Don't buy skis, ski boots and ski poles. Because you just can't afford them. And if you are only ski-ing once (if you decide never to ski again :-D), then you can buy them only if you are filthy rich :-p. As you can imagine from my words, they are very costly. All ski resorts will have these in rental, so no point in buying them anyways, unless you are a professional skier, which we obviously were not. So we rented them. The boots weigh a ton!! I don't know exactly how much they weigh, but after wearing them, they feel like a ton weight on each of your feet. You start walking like a robot!! Here's one boot (of Sriram's when he took them off as he couldn't go till the car in them to get our packed lunch!):


If you are a beginner, then a beginner lesson is recommended. Obviously there's no point in going on a ski-lift when you don't even know how to balance in the skis :-p. So we did that. Sri had taken a lesson previously, but that was the only time he went ski-ing and it has been 5 years since he did that!! So we took one. The class was for 1 hour and an old skier took the class. The first lesson was to slide the boots and fit them into the skis. You have to slide the toe part of your boot into a slot in the ski and push down on the heel until to hear a loud click. First time was very difficult for me. When I had one foot in the ski, trying to fit in the other foot was a major hassle as the ski on the other foot would slide :-D.

Next he taught us that people don't actually require ski poles for going down the slope. They are a hinderance rather than actually supporting your cause ;-). He also taught us how to turn on one ski without having the other ski on. Then came the difficult part. He took us on the beginners slope which is actually nothing in comparision with the slopes shown on TV whenever any ski-ing is covered. But for a beginner like me it was like a mountain. There were about 10 of us in the group and we were shown how to stand on a ski-slope without sliding. You have to stand sideways on a slope for that. And how to walk upwards - you can't walk up straight as the skis have a tendency to slide backwards, what you have to do is walk up sideways, step by step. That was all fun. The trouble came when we actually had to ski.

The instructor told us that a body always needs to be perpendicular to the ski slope, for it to not lose balance. So when you are sliding down, you have to bend forward and not backward. Backward means you lose balance. It sounded simple when he said it. The reality struck only when I was actually sliding on the slope, my mind went utterly blank and all I could think was "Hey I'm totally out of control, so let me lean back and stop". But leaning back = losing balance = falling. Falling on snow doesn't hurt, but when there are 10 people like you watching you and them doing pretty well compared to you, what hurts is your pride ;-). The instructor also showed us how to stop and not fall when sliding. You can do it by putting your skis in an "A" shape and putting pressure on your toes. He also showed us how to ski left and right. According to him, just sliding off the slope isn't ski-ing. Turning left and right in a curve while sliding is the ski-ing. But no matter what he said, I just wasn't getting the hang of it. I fell a couple of times, wasn't hurt anywhere (except the pride part ofcourse) and was totally tired in a short time. I was also disappointed that ski-ing was one sport that probably I will never try again :(.

It was my knight in shining armour who came to my rescue then :-D. Sri tried to cheer me up. Since he had attended the beginner lesson once before, he had his concepts right. We were in the least slopy part of the beginners slope and slowly we both tried out the concepts the instructor taught us. Sri made me concentrate on what I was doing and slowly I was able to grasp what I was supposed to do. We took a break for lunch when we took the following photos:

We obviously didn't take the camera with us while ski-ing. Falling in snow may not do anything to us, but that guarantee is not there for the camera. So the above photos are poses and we are not actually ski-ing ;-) :-D.

After lunch, the ski-ing experience was much better. We climbed on to the beginner slope through a ski-escalator (this one doesn't have any steps, you slide on to it and the rubber belt takes you up the slope, because otherwise the slope's too hard to climb sideways) and ski-ed down a couple of times. I fell the first time, but falling is ok if you know how to get up on your feet again, which is what I didn't know when I was undergoing the training lesson. What you have to do, is use your ski pole and press down on a button on one/both of your skis. This button releases your boot from the ski and hence you can aaram se get up on your foot. Otherwise, the ski slides and its almost impossible for you to get up on your skis. But ski-ing down the slope this time was much better, I was able to slow down/stop. After a couple of times I was able to curve also (obviously not very good, but good enough for a beginner :-D). That was when ski-ing started becoming fun. If you are interested the Perfect North Slope website also shows live camera from the beginner/professional slopes here :).

Evening we left and came back home. Decided to wait till morning before determining whether to go ski-ing again the next day or not. Morning we both were ok. Legs weren't aching very bad (not due to the falls, the strain is basically the boot and its weight) and arms ache were ok (this ache is due to you pulling your body on your ski-poles at plain snow grounds). So we decided to set off again. And this day, 30th December 2005, we had lots and lots of fun ski-ing.

We started off on the beginner slope, but we were getting better of it. So decided to try the next level. The beginner slope continued to a bit steeper slope after plain ground in between. The previous day, we had always stopped at the plain ground. This day we went on the beginner slope and continued to the steeper slope. Basically we were proud to keep our balances. After doing this a couple of times, we decided to try the next slope. Slope 2 (this is how I'll refer to it from now on) was sliding horizontally as well as vertically. The vertical slide is a complete slope and the horizontal slide is not that bad, but bad enough to slide you towards the left. All the time, we were watching people fall on it, so were a bit apprehensive. But once I was on it, it was exhilarating. I had to not only bend forwards for balancing but towards left as well :). It was wow :).

We ski-ed on Slope 2 several times, until we were able to overcome the fear of Slope 3. This wasn't sliding both ways like Slope 2, but was very steep. Steepness increases the speed of ski-ing and obviously lessens control. But it was pretty ok and loads of excitement :). We ski-ed on it only twice before attempting our first ski-lift slope!! We coolly sat on the lift and reached the top. But once you are at the top, thats when you know how steep it is and I was really scared. Though the first ski-lift slope is for beginners, its almost a hill!! But I somehow managed to control all my fear and start off. Until halfway down hill I was totally out of control. At one point, I was sure I was going to fall. But I ordered myself to concentrate and balance and made it coolly to the bottom of the hill. Sri made it fine too. We tried it again once and decided to end the day.

We didn't fall on the slopes at all the 2nd day. We were so happy that we decided to go ski-ing atleast a couple of more times until the winter came to an end. You know what the best part about the whole thing was? Little kids aged 4-6 years ski-ing so well. It was so nice to see the parents also being so encouraging, sometimes teaching the kids themselves. Little ones ski-ing downhill really made my day. I guess ski-ing is like swimming in some ways. The earlier you learn the better you will be :).

It was only when we were back home, we realized that we had aches all over our legs and arms. We were so tired that we rested continuously for almost 2 days without going out of house. But ski-ing was/is another beautiful adventure. The adrenaline rush was just amazing. If weather holds, we have plans to go ski-ing again tomorrow :). Just can't wait to ski again ;-)......

Update 15th January 2006:

Yup we did go ski-ing yesterday :). There was actually snow predicted in the morning, but it didn't snow. So the resort was dry and icy some places. But there was still enough snow to ski on. This time we went up the beginner ski-lift slope (its named Broadway :-D) about more than 10 times and ski-ed down. I basically learnt how to slow down and come to a stop on a steep slope. What you need to do is curve to either right/left (this slows you down), place your skis in A shape and put pressure on your heels. I fell a couple of times and Sri did too. But we learnt a lot about ski-ing on steep slopes and enjoyed it a lot. Again, I look forward to ski-ing sometime in a fortnight or so :-D...