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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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Up, Up and down :(

Sometimes things happen quite unexpectedly. When it is a tragedy, people start asking "Why?". One such tragedy struck our town on Sunday, 27th August 2006 early morning around 6:15 AM. A Comair flight going from Lexington, KY to Atlanta, GA, carrying 50 people (47 passengers and 3 crew members) crashed as soon as it took off, killing everyone except one (Latest news here). This is supposedly the first plane crash in US after 9/11. The one survivor is the first officer of the flight, still battling for his life in a hospital right now. I guess, nobody can determine whether he's a survivor or not..

It came as a very big shock to us. Why? Because we are hardly 4 miles away from the airport!! Though we can't really see the take-offs and landings, we generally see the planes that have taken off or are about to land. We didn't hear anything though there was supposedly an explosion (the reason may have been that we were sleeping like kumbakarnas :-p. Also can't expect sound to travel 4 miles :-p). We came to know about the whole thing only when Sri turned on the morning news. I cannot really describe why it was scary. Maybe because we have started taking planes for granted. Maybe it is because our house is considerably near to the airport. Or maybe because every single person except one guy died!!

Speculations started immediately. Most probably there was a mechanical failure on the flight. There was no other thing that was possible. Only later was it discovered that the flight took off on a short runway when it was actually supposed to take off on a longer runway. The questions immediately was, "Was the plane directed to a wrong runway?" and "Did the pilot take off on the wrong runway though he was directed to the right one?".

The Lexington Bluegrass airport is one of the small airports in US. It was the final airport I landed in when I first came to US. It doesn't have too many runways, only 2 , in fact.

The runway 26 is the shorter of the 2 runways with a length of about 3500 feet and is strictly for small planes. Runway 22 is the longer and is about 7,000 feet long. The black boxes were recovered from the plane and it was deduced that the plane was cleared for take-off on runway 22. After interogations, it was also found that the runway 22 was the only runway lit. The runway 26 wasn't even lit. The conditions on sunday morning was a bit cloudy and dark, but shouldn't the pilot have seen the lights on the runway?

As you can see from the google map, the plane should have taxied from the terminal, taken the path shown by the blue arrow and taken off on runway 22. But right now it looks like the plane took an extreme left at the point where the blue dashes begin and tried to take off on runway 26. The size of this particular flight is such that it needs minimum 5000 feet of runway to take off. The momentum of a short runway was just not enough for the plane to take off and hence it resulted in a plane crash. But what was really running through the pilots minds? The pilot and the first officer are both experienced people, then how come they made such a costly mistake?

One thing that might have been a reason is the recent change of the path leading to runway 22. It seems until about a fortnight ago, the path was as marked by the green arrow. They recently changed it to as shown by the blue arrow. So for a pilot who has flown from this airport before, it would be a straight and then a left to the runway. But in this case, there was another left he had to take. So by the time he noticed that the runway is ending and the plane needs some more speed to take off, it'd have already been too late..

But experts are also arguing that the degree of turns that the plane has to make to reach the 2 runways are different. The plane obviously has instruments to indicate the same. So why wasn't it noticed? Was it plain over-confidence? Was it not enough sleep? Only questions, no answers. It is also found that the first officer was flying the plane. So the poor guy who's struggling to survive just maybe the one responsible for the crash!!

Now there are other reasons floating around. There was only one air traffic controller at the time in the airport and he was sleep-deprived :-p. Guess all the circumstances culminated in the crash. The Governor of KY has declared mourning and the US flags flying at half-mast remind me of this terrible accident each time...

Atleast the pilots would have known that they were going to crash. Imagine, the passengers would have been totally clueless. I have been on one of these early flights. Most of the people in US are so used to travelling in planes that they don't even look out of the window when the plane takes off (I still do!! I'm like a kid when it comes to take-offs and landings :-D), they just read newspapers or take a nap. So it definitely would have been instantaneous death without any knowledge of it whatsoever. The fight attendant wouldn't have had time to warn or help any of the people. Heck, she'd probably have been totally clueless herself!!

The thing I was sad most about was that 2 of the passengers were a honeymooning couple who had gotten married just the previous evening. A couple who were just looking forward to a new life together. There was also another couple who were on their way to their wedding. I don't know what to say. I feel like crying because I know how its like when you are on your way to your honeymoon. So many dreams, plans and what not!! I even saw the first couple's wedding snap on TV. They were looking so happy in it that it was kinda heart-breaking :(. Atleast they both died together :(. Not that the lives of the other people on the flight were any less important...

49 people died not very far from where I was. It did something to me. I remember the big air crash that happened in Bangalore airport more than 15 years ago. It was because of a plane landing way earlier. There were many killed in that too (Google tells me 92 people). I used to get nightmares after that. I remember this horrible one where a plane crashes into my home in Bangalore :(. I remember being scared of planes after that and my dad telling me that death is inevitable. It need not happen on a plane, it might happen even when you are crossing a road. Somehow the idea stuck to my brain..

On sunday when we were watching a bit of news, this bit of conversation happened between the news telecast announcer and an expert. The announcer asked him "Does this crash imply that its not safe anymore to travel in Planes?" and he replied "Definitely not. Getting into a plane is extremely safe compared to, say, getting into your car. There have been far lesser people killed on planes whereas tens of thousands of people are killed in highway accidents each year". That somehow brought a smile to my face. 'Cause it reminded me of what dad had told me years ago :).

Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes - Benjamin Franklin.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Beyond Comparison :)

No Comparison

Though you always stand strongly beside me,
I cannot compare you to an enormous tree..
'Cause trees do get uprooted in heavy storms,
They bend, they break and they fall to debris..

Though you protect me with a graceful flair,
I cannot compare you to the all-permeating air..
'Cause even pure air turns dangerous sometimes,
Vicious poisonous gases lurking in its lair..

Though you do follow me no matter where I go.
I cannot compare you to a faithful shadow..
'Cause a shadow too disappears on cloudy days,
Today it is there, but not there tomorrow..

Though you stick with me, thick and thin through,
Be it laughter or tears, be it old or new..
There is nothing I can compare you to, my dear,
'Cause there's simply no comparison to you..

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The circus of life :-D

No, this is not a KANK (for the ignorant, Karan Johar's movie Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna) review. Hell, I haven't even seen the movie, am not sure whether I really want to. Not after seeing a review on every blog I read saying the movie is terrible!! Anyways why the heck am I talking about this? Hoping atleast mentioning the movie name will make me appear magically on google :-p. Shameless I am ;-).

Well, what I'm talking about is a circus. One which was called "Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus" and their caption being "The Greatest Show on earth". Well, it was ok, but not that really grand extravaganza that I expected. Anyways, the addiction to blogging resulted me in carrying my camera to the event and taking snaps so that I can "log" the experience :-D.

The Circus was held in one of the largest auditoriums in Lexington called the Rupp Arena.

Before we saw the show, we went and saw the animals. Acually it was only me who saw the animals as this "view" was provided from the top of the bridge next to a busy road. So Sri couldn't park the car. He stopped for sometime, while I went, looked and snapped away pics :)).

The animals really didn't look very good. But it was only later that I found out that the circus has a lawsuit against them regarding the treatment of animals. Well, the animals in US are lucky I guess, what with people constantly fighting for them. In India, they are probably treated worse and will still have nobody to even care (there maybe a few exceptions :-p).

Anyways, the show was supposed to start at 5 PM and we entered the auditorium by 4:45 PM. It was decorated rather prettily with colourful lights.

Our seat allocations were pretty far off, but there were hardly any people in the next section, so we shifted to a closer-to-the-show seats.

The show started off with an American anthem and an elephant with the rider carrying the American flag.

The march of the Titans :)).

There were different types of animals on the show. The people made horses and zebras(!!!) run around in a circle and made them do a few tricks.

Camels :-o too!!

And llamas, oxen etc :-o :-o :-o!!

There were also dogs doing various tricks. Thankfully all the animals looked well fed atleast. The lawsuit targets circus having animals, thats it, though they may not be ill-treated. But I don't know whether elephants made to sit, stand on stool, stand on 2-legs can be classified as ill-treatment. It has to be. Its not normal behaviour for them..

But you somehow had to admire the way in which everything was organized. I mean, one act over, everything was ready for the next act in a matter of minutes. This involved putting up of rings for the animals to run in, various stage settings for the clown. Even when some animals, including the elephants above, decided that err, that the stage was their own private loo, all of it was immediately cleaned with a professionalism that was really amazing!! Looks like running away to circus is not that romantic as its described to be :-p.

The most amazing part of them all were the tigers. They setup an iron mesh in a matter of minutes!! And there was a single guy in the middle of about 6 big tigers!! I know that they'll have all sorts of contingency plans and the tigers are all well trained, but it was something scary. Moreover there was this incident where an illusionist's white tiger turned on him and mauled him and caused him severe injuries. Looks like he's ok now. Anyways, nothing happened to this guy :). And none of the tigers decided to poop :-D.

Then there were acrobats. Some climbed poles like monkeys, jumped from pole to pole without any fear. Others were better than gymnasts in olympics, jumping through loops with different types of somersaults. Some skipped ropes wearing stilts. I've never seen so much talent under one roof before. 2 climbed onto this huge 2-looped giant wheel (dunno what else to call it) and performed various stunts!!

Another 2 climbed onto this highwire and crossed it with an umbrella riding a cycle!!. One even jumped on the rope where a fire was arranged without any airbags below. God!!

Lastly came the trapeze artists. There was net below them but the somersaults they execute in the air is truly a wonderful sight to see.

Well, it was all very nice. But I wasn't as much impressed as I thought I would be. Maybe it was the fact that they were making animals do all these things. I don't know the mindset of animals, so I can't say whether they were enjoying (or not) what they were doing. But err, it did look like the elephant enjoyed dumping digested food (hehehe :-D) on the stage :-p. It was as if it was laughing behind our backs :-D. Or maybe the poor thing had stage fright :-p. To me the main fact was that they were using the animals and that was somehow not very appreciable..

Secondly, the reason maybe Enid Blyton's book "Hurrah for the circus!". I read it when I was very young and maybe it left quite a big impression on my mind. I had imagined the circus to be a really grand thing then and imagination is far greater than reality :-p.

Also Sri has been to a circus in India and he was of the opinion that it was actually better than this American circus! That says something alright :-D. Well, it was an interesting experience nevertheless. But I'm not sure I'll go again. Somehow just doesn't seem right...

Monday, August 21, 2006

Me = Me + 1;

Oh man, its a monday :(.

Hurray!! Yup!! Its my birthday after a whole year :-D. People might ask me what special I'll do today. Nothing much ;-).

How old am I? Err...

Yup, am 26. Doesn't feel like I'm 26. In fact, it just feels like yesterday when I celebrated my 25th and wrote this huggggggggge post recapping all the years. Looks like the year has gone off quicker than I expected. Guess that means its been so good that I didn't know the time passing :-D.

The year has been eventful, I have learnt a lot, but no recaps this time ;-). I don't want to scare away the 1 or 2 readers I actually have :-p. Moreover my blog is a recap and more :). Just wanna say it feels good :).

Recently one of my friends asked me "What are your wants?" and my reply to her was "I have all that I ever wanted" :). There's nothing more I can say :).

And in the end it's not the years in your life that count.
It's the life in your years - Abraham Lincoln :).

Saturday, August 19, 2006

And she scored a century!!

I thought I would:

  • Write 100 lines of poetry :).

  • Upload 100 photos for a single post :).

  • Write exactly 100 words in a post ;-).

  • Think of 100 excuses why not to write a post and list them all in a post :-D.

  • Write "100" 100 times in a post ;-).

  • Search for 100 synonyms for 100 and list them all :).

  • List 100 favourite somethings in a post :).

  • Made 100 sincere dedications :)

  • Say 100 heart-felt thankyou-s :).

  • Rename my blog as "100" and change the outlook ;-).

  • Jump 100 times in the air and describe the experience in my blog :-D.

  • Eat 100 chocolates in celebration (certainly not a good idea :-p).

  • Light 100 candles in rememberence :).

  • Play and listen to 100 songs :).

  • Yell 100 Hurrays :-D.

  • Not write a post for 100 days :-o.

  • Make 100 faces at my computer :-D.

  • Mail 100 friends/relatives ;-).

  • Make 100 phone calls :).

  • List 100 of my favourite posts ;-).
Uhh, wait, I only have 100 posts total in my blog :-D. Hehehehe :).

A toast to 100 posts completed and 100s of more posts to come :). Cheers!!


Sau posts pehle mujhe tumse pyaar tha
mujhe tumse pyar tha
Aaj bhi hein aur kal bhi rahega :)

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Me, Myself and Deepthi :)

Another tag. This time I have been tagged by Harish. Well, here we go :).

I am thinking about:

The tag I am trying to fill up :-p.

I said:

"The Brave may not live forever. But the Cautious do not live at all". Ok I may not have said it on my own, but I love repeating it now and then (especially when I'm in an adventure mood ;-) :-D).

I want to:

Live a life where I have no regrets whatsoever :).

I wish:

I could see my parents every day and be near them. I can see them on webcams but its just not the same :(.

I hear:

Weird voices in my head. And I see dead people :-D. Just kidding!! I hear music all the time in my head. Which is why you'll find me humming to myself most of the time :).

I wonder:

What happens to people after death. What is dying?? I even wrote a poem on it here :-D.

I regret:

Nothing in my life except a few broken friendships and the fact that I am responsible for those :(.

I am:

What I am :). A Bundle of Contradictions :).

I dance:

Not so good. But I do dance when I hear real dance-able music. The definition of dance-able depends on my whims and fancies ;-). Oops, never in public :-p.

I sing:

Yup I sing :). Classical, Light, film, western pop, rock and metal. I am a good sing-it-all :-D.

I cry:

When my emotions get the better of me (how come this coincides most of the times with PMS, I wonder!!) :-D.

I am not always:

The nice person I am. Sometimes I am downright wicked and bitchy :-D. If I can't stand a person I believe it shows in my face and attitude :(. I should learn to be more pretentious I guess :-p :-D.

I make with my hands:

Good food :). For a person who didn't know what cooking was before marriage, I'm very good :). I also love planting flower bushes :).

I write:

All the things that happened/are happening to me. Kind of a reminder to myself that I'm doing so many things/have done so many things in my life :). I don't actually write, I TYPE :-D.

I confuse:

Supermarts and the roads they are on. But I'm improving slowly, step by step ;-).

I need:

My loved ones. I only care about them and their well-being.

I tag :

None. Its "Once bitten twice shy" after my 7s tag :-p. Requests will be entertained :-D.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Its a bird, Its a plane...

Its not superman either. And I haven't seen the new Superman movie, so this is not a review either :-p.

Nope, its not a comet :-p :-D. And I'm talking about the line in the middle. The blur on the right side of the photo is that of my camera on the window of the car as I took this photo when we were driving.

Ok ok I'll not keep you in suspense any longer (if you ever were :-p), its actually an American military jet. This is one of my favourite sights here in US, on a clear sunny day. In the mornings/evenings sometimes, I've seen as many as 5 jets (simultaneously!!) in the sky! And the trail they leave is beautiful :).

And I'm talking about only that small town we are in, i.e Lexington. Imagine how many jets must fly all over US every hour, every day!! So what are so many jets doing in the sky? Practice run ofcourse ;-). Every day every hour they practice. No matter whether the sky is sunny or cloudy, though you can't really see them when its cloudy..

So you want to know why they are using up so much fuel daily? Don't you get it? Its a kind of investment. They get all the fuel back and more, when they bomb a middle-east country and occupy the fuel resources anyways :-p. Seriously speaking, I know the fuel variant for jets is different, but more purification of the same results in the fuel used by vehicles. So imagine, when other Americans (and Indians who live in America and have cars) are paying more and more towards fuel (the excuse being that there is a middle-east crisis :-p), there are jets flying all over the place for practice!!! Can you believe that? Better believe it!!

A country has to spend some amount on its security, I agree. God knows, the situation is like that these days. There's trouble in the air and I can smell it hehehehe ;-) :-D. But what about the people of the country? Or what about the people of some other oil country who are bombed given the weapons-of-mass-destruction excuse? Nobody cares.

Anyways the Americans are fuel junkies. Every house has as many cars as the number of members in the household. Fuel prices don't seem to matter to most people. "So what if there's a fuel price rise?" seems to be the general attitude. People crib about it but they don't stop taking their cars out. A very few travel by buses. Hence there are not many buses provided from point-to-point. Even in New York, though it is a traffic hell, people prefer to travel by their own cars. People seldom take the connecting trains. Though in the city, people do use the subway.

So the only people affected are the ones who are being bombed. No wonder they form their own groups and scheme ways of terrorizing America. As it been said many times by many others before "If Americans bomb other countries, its termed as looking for weapons of mass destruction (or some other equivalent term) and if others try to return the favour, then its termed Terrorism". Weird :-p.

Anyways I don't even know why the topic of fuel/terrorism came up. I wanted to write a post about the patterns and thats it. Looks like I got carried away with so many other things. The situation is sad. Until the people themselves realize the value of the fuel (The BP CEO argues that there's no shortage and its all rumours circulated by the government!!), cars and jets will keep moving on roads and skies, err, respectively :). And Americans will go on bombing the oil countries using other sweet terms. And yup, there will be so called "terrorism".

But you know what? I still like the patterns the jets make ;-). I guess thats the true meaning of complacence...

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Confessions of a dangerous mind >:)

Well, not that dangerous. Have been tagged by Shubha to confess big time, so here goes :-D. Since I have a tendency to write too much if I am asked to write about myself, I'm gonna try and restrict myself to a maximum of 5 points each :).

Guilty Pleasures:

There is no guilt associated, believe me :-D. These are more like indulgences ;-).

  • Chocolates and Icecreams :-D.

  • Long head baths (Love that feeling of hot water on my hair :-D).

  • Listening to Music most of the time (even while working).

  • Fragrant candles (my latest fascination ;-) :-D).

Things I can't forget:

  • My parents and the way they have brought me up. They have done so much for me. I only wish I could be near them :(.

  • My friends'/relatives' birthdays and anniversaries. Not that I actually remember each and every date. I have reminders setup and I never forget to setup one whenever I get a new date ;-). I take immense pleasure in wishing people :).

  • The reassuring look Sri gave me, when I cried during the dhaare in my wedding :).

  • Some close friends that I have made so far in various phases of my life and the wonderful moments I have shared with them :).

Things I wish to forget:

  • Some broken friendships which probably will not get mended for life :(.

  • That I actually cried when I was not selected to Infosys in campus interviews. its was only later I realized that things worked out way better for me because of that ;-).

  • My grandfather's death :(.

Unforgettable dishes:

  • The goodies that my mom makes. Whatever she cooks are goodies to me. But I especially love her pathrode, semige (a type of vermicelli made from scratch), the varieties of bajjis and bondas she makes, the side-dishes she makes for puris and chapathis, oh this is impossible!! I'll have to list all the dishes she has ever made!! Hehehe :-D. I hope I am half as good as her :).

  • Hot Chips' spring rolls, burgers and chocolate-dip softy (Yum, brings back lots and lots of memories).

  • The bhel puri, masala puri, pani puri of this one paanipuriwaala in Jayanagar 4th block. Dad used to take me and Darsh there when we were very young (he used to tell mom "Makkalna meisikondu barthini" :-D, hehehe, can't really translate it without spoiling the meaning) and the taste stuck. I even went there this India trip ;-).

  • The samosas and the naans that my Puttanna chikkappa makes :).

  • Tirupathi Laadu and Nippattu :). In fact, most of the temples have really tasty prasadas, including Raagi gudda temple's boondi laadu and Udupi Krishna temple's delicious lunch :).


Where to start? I don't want to list each and every one, but will list a few important ones ;-).
  • When I was in high school, was crazy about Sachin Tendulkar :-p. Don't frown at me, call it a kind of insanity and forget it :-p.

  • As soon as I got over Sachin, was head over heels in love with a senior who was a basket ball player (this was in high school again). Man, that guy had killer dimples ;-).

  • A senior in NCJ. Sadly the crush lasted only for 3 months as he was in final year. Out of sight, out of mind, you see :-D.

  • A senior in PESIT who used to sing real good. Man, he had a lovely voice. I even wrote a poem on his voice ;-). "But your voice is not my home..", pathetic, amn't I? :-D.

Close brushes with death or danger:

  • Bungee-jumping :).

  • White Water rafting (fell into the water in the first rapid. But it wasn't really that scary, since I had a life-jacket on :).

  • Ski-ing. Was really scary the first few times, since I was totally out of control. But after that it was child's play :-D.

  • Rappling. The first time when you leave your weight on the rope is scary. After that, loads of fun :).

Strangest dream:

Too many to list. But I did write a post on it some time back and it does have some really weird ones :-D.

Preferrable modes of suicide:

Hmmm I don't prefer suicide period. But unlike some people who say that those who commit suicide are cowards, I beg to differ. I think it takes some amount of courage to end it all, so to say. I believe in "Known devil is better than an unknown angel", so I'd rather stick to troubles than think of suicide.

Favourite characters:

  • All characters in "Calvin & Hobbes". Especially Calvin's mom. "I wanted a sweet little girl, it was your stupid chromosome that did it" (she says this to Calvin's dad) :))).

  • Michael Scofield in "Prison Break", a serial on Fox. He's smart, he's sensitive, he's oh-so-cute :)). Its coming back!! Its coming back!! Season 2 is starting this month!!

  • Most of the characters that Aamir Khan has played except the stupid Mangal Pandey :-p.

  • Jerry in Tom & Jerry. My mom actually roots for Tom :-D. She says the poor cat never gets a rat to eat :-p.

  • Fatty in Five find-outers. I love his intelligence and I love the way he boasts about the colours of his bruises. In fact whenever I get bruises, they turn into wierd colours too. And I'm actually proud that I'm like Fatty atleast in one way :-D. Not that I'm not intelligent :-p.

I tag:

None. I tagged people in the 7s and got scolded royally. So if you want to get tagged, send me your request in the comments and I will seriously consider adding your name here :-p :-D.

That's it. Hope you enjoyed knowing about my quirks :).

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Falling for Niagara Falls :)

As promised, here I am with the extremely long post about our beautiful Niagara adventure :). Seeing Niagara falls has been one of my dreams for most of my life, though they might not be the widest or the highest falls in the world. So this trip was a dream fulfilled :).

Lets begin at the beginning. We had been planning this trip for quite sometime. We had to wait for summer as Niagara falls is closed in winters. Niagara falls is only about 9 hours drive away from Lexington, so we thought of driving. We thought we might actually get the company of a couple of Sri's friends, but later, because they had their own plans, it ended up with only us two going. And with only Sri driving as I haven't even got my driving licence yet {smiles sheepishly}. I was a bit worried about that, but Sri said he could manage. Moreover, we planned it in such a way that he'd have enough breaks in between.

June 30th 2006:

We left in the afternoon. We decided to drive upto Cleveland which is in midway to Niagara and stop there for the night. The drive took us more than 5 hours. But its been sometime we went on a long drive, so it felt good :). We managed to get hold of a south indian restaurant in Cleveland and enjoyed some mirchi bajjis (jalapeno bajjis :-D). Thats one part I love about the trips we take, we somehow manage to find a new Indian restaurant each and every time to try out some great food :).

July 1st 2006:

Saturday morning, we got up early so that we could leave early and reach Niagara Falls as soon as possible. But there was some traffic and it was almost 12 in the noon when we reached the Niagara Falls State Park. The American side of the falls is protected as a state park, so there's plenty of vegetation around. Our first view of the falls was this:

The one thats falling over is the American falls and the far away one is the Canadian Horseshoe falls. The Niagara falls consists of 3 falls - the American falls, the Bridal Veil falls (which is almost a part of American falls and is seperated only by a thin ridge of land called the Luna island) and Canadian Horseshoe falls. The American falls and the Bridal Veil falls are completely in the US, whereas the Canadian Horseshoe falls is half in US and half in Canada (the US-Canada border falls right inbetween and then continues in the middle of the Niagara river). The only sad part is that the falls fall from the American side, so there is no good view of the falls from anywhere in US except from the Maid of the Mist.

The Maid of the Mist is a boat that takes people on a tour in the Niagara river. It passes the American falls and takes the people to the centre of the Canadian Horseshoe falls. Yeah they give free ponchos so that you don't get wet from all the mist :). Before I show you the Maid of the Mist, let me show you the first rainbow we saw in Niagara :).

Rainbows are very common occurences in the Niagara falls, but it still feels wonderful everytime one appears. Its almost magical :).

Where was I? Oh yeah, the Maid of the Mist. Here it is:

Here is the American falls as seen from the Maid of the mist:

The Bridal Veil falls is the small separate falls in the right of the American falls. And here we are:

And this is the Canadian Horseshoe falls:

Oh man, the mist that falls on the people when the boat is in front of the Canadian falls is amazing. The feeling is indescribable. There was water falling all around us and mist was everywhere, its absolutely beautiful. I could almost hear this piece of poetry in my head :).

Niagara, the beauty of you is truly mesmerizing,
I stared at you so hard that my vision blurred..
What a rush, what a gush and yet a charming grace,
I came, I saw and I was completely conquered..

Its short and sweet and I call it "Ode to Niagara" :).

After the Maid of the Mist, we headed to the Crow's nest which is just a small landing beside the left side of the American falls. You have to climb some wet and slippery steps to reach it. But once you reach there, the feeling is wonderful. Its as if you are still standing there and are swept off your feet :-D (well don't try the swept-off-your-feet part - first of all you might not survive, secondly if you do jump and you do survive, the US government levies a $10,000 fine!! :-D).

After the Crow's nest, we ventured into the land inbetween the American and the Canadian Horseshoe falls which is still in the US and is called the Goat island (dunno why they call it that, there's definitely more space than that required for a goat. But it did remind me of mekedaatu somehow though I have never been there ;-) - maybe due to the similarity of names :-D). The Niagara Falls State park is well maintained with a tram facility that takes the visitors to various points and has restaurants/snack counters everywhere. Anyways we walked to Goat island and its a pretty big place. Here's a view of the American falls from the Goat island:

The tower you can see in the photo is the Observation tower from where you can see the falls pretty nicely. And the bridge is the Rainbow bridge from which you can reach Canada :). We also saw the Luna island (the ledge between the American and Bridal Veil falls) by crossing a bridge on the Bridal Veil falls.

The next stop was the Cave of the Winds. Here we were again made to wear ponchos and were taken down about 175 feet deep to reach the bottom of the American falls. There isn't exactly a cave. It seems there was one previously but some rocks came down and made it too dangerous. Now there are just wooden stairs which go very near to the falls:

The stairs lead to a deck called Hurricane deck, on which if you stand, you are a mere 20 feet away from the thundering Bridal Veil falls. We could literally feel the force of the falls and were drenched from head to toe. The poncho did save the upper part but about half of my skirt was drenched :-D. Here's Sri standing on the Hurricane deck:

Next we went to see the Canadian Horseshoe falls from the American side at Terrapin point. We couldn't see all the sides of the horseshoe falls, yet the effect is completely breath-taking.

We spent sometime loitering about and then took the tram to see a few more interesting places around the park. One was the Three sisters islands. These are actually 3 small islands lying side by side in the Niagara rapids before the falls. They are named after the 3 daughters of a general who are believed to be the first trekkers to the islands :). The islands are linked to the mainland by bridges.

We also visited the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center which had information about the types of stones forming the Niagara falls, the details about how water from Lake Erie flows as Niagara River to lake Ontario etc. We were also subjected to a stupid lift ride (supposedly a simulation) of a tour of the Niagara stone layers :-p. The other places we visited were the Festival theater where we saw a nice movie about the discovery of Niagara and the Aquarium of Niagara.

We had dinner at (surprise, surprise) an Indian restaurant, claiming to be a Punjabi dhabha blatantly. The food wasn't very impressive but was very filling :). After stomach pooja, we went to the falls again to see the illumination.

The falls are illuminated every day. The colours change every few minutes and its truly an amazing sight, though you can't really see everything from the American side. And July 1st is Canada day!! So there were fireworks. Actually there are fireworks every Friday and Sunday nights during summer, but this was a Saturday and the fireworks were specially for Canada day :).

The combination of falls, the illumination and the fireworks is delicious, to say the least. The fireworks lasted for about half an hour after which we made the way to our hotel and rested our tired souls for the night :).

July 2nd 2006:

Sunday was the shubha muhurtha when we stepped into Canada :). Yup we went to Canada!! Well, going to Canada is not really as easy as it sounds. You cannot really simply cross the border without passports and stuff :-p. American citizens don't need any visas and its enough if they have their passports. But as an Indian working in US, even with a passport, you are not allowed to loiter whenever and however you want into Canadian borders. So you need a Canadian Tourist visa. We applied for a single entry one :).


The main problem was that the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo, New York, which is the nearest to Niagara Falls, was not open in any of the 4 days that we were planning to be there. Had it been open, we could have got the visa stamped personally there itself, which would have been simpler. But since that option was not available, we had to mail all the documents - passports with work permits, I-94s, the application forms mentioned in the Tourist visa link, photo etc way earlier. I think we sent it by post in first week of June and received the visa stamped passports only in the last week of June. We thought if we don't get the passports by the time we leave, we'd skip the Canada part. But it looks like we were meant to set foot in Canada :).

So early sunday morning, we got out of US and entered Canada by walk on the Rainbow bridge.

The border posts were not a problem at all as we were to be in Canada only for 1 day. The Canadian side is blatantly different from the US side. The US side is as I said before, protected by trees. The Canadian side hardly has any trees. The traffic is almost next to the path of the Niagara falls and its noisy. It also was lot more hotter, maybe because of lesser trees. It may have also been just that day's weather :-D.

The view of the falls is really good from the Canadian side, as you can see the complete falls. Here's the American falls:

And here's the Canadian Horseshoe falls. More closer photos of that coming up later :).

The Canadian side also has their own Maid of the Mist. But obviously we didn't go on it again ;-). But we did catch a rope way on Whirlpool. The Niagara river after the falls, flows into a valley and at one place almost takes a U turn. Thats where the Whirlpool is. And there is a spanish Aerocar that takes you over the whirlpool, touches the US land and comes back. It was not a long ride, but it was nice :). The whirpool is actually supposed to be dangerous as it constitutes of several small whirlpools that can actually pull a man under and keep him under for days :-o.

Next we headed back to the Canadian Horse shoe falls to see it from the Canadian side. Its really good from Canada as you can see all sides of the U-shaped falls.

It somehow feels like the earth has opened at one place and is swallowing up all the water :-D. Maybe its only me {rolls her eyes}. Folks, now its time for a Niagara fact :-D. The volume of water going down in the American falls is 567,810 litres/sec and that over the Canadian Horshoe falls is 2,271,240 litres/sec (Note that it is per second!!!)!!! And this is actually the controlled flow!! They control it to avoid the soil erosion thats been happening over the years. The horseshoe falls were previously straight-lined and over the years have become U-shaped. Some more interesting facts here :). Here's us at the horseshoe falls:

The tags on our shirts are all-day bus passes :). And they have these buses every 5 min carrying people to various points. Next we climbed onto an inclined railway to reach the downtown area of the Niagara city of Canada. There are several big buildings there. It makes a nice contrast to have a completely natural waterfall and manmade building almost side-by-side :). We were just passing by a building called Minolta Tower when an employee there gave us invites for the restaurant in the tower. The restaurant was really costly, so we really didn't want to go there. I asked him how much would just a view cost. I must have looked kinda pleading, so he said he'd allow us in the gallery for free :-D. Well, the sneaky guy probably lets everyone in the gallery the same way :-p, I dunno and I don't care:). I was glad 'cause both the falls looked awesome from the distance.

We never did have lunch in that restaurant. We did get down and have a simple cheese pizza/veg burger in another one. After lunch, we went to visit the Journey behind the falls. The Canadians are in no way less than the Americans. What they have done is constructed a tunnel which takes the visitors 46 meters along but behind the Canadian Horse shoe falls. There are 2 openings to the tunnel which show the falls falling in front and the actual force. They are barricaded in such a way that the visitors cannot actually go near the ledge. As we travelled through the tunnel, we could hear the really loud sound of the falls. The tour also has an observation deck from which you can see the Horseshoe falls real up close and personal :). Yup, they did give us ponchos again - yellow ones this time :-D.

After the wet journey, we returned to the street. Stopped for some snacks and sat for a long time in a roof top open restaurant facing the falls, just watching the falls. Then we went on to see the illumination tower.

Its very big and has lights on 3 sides. These powerful lights light up all the 3 falls of the Niagara after about 8 PM every night.

We went on further again back to the downtown area to see the next attraction, the Skylon tower. The Skylon tower is the highest skyscraper you can see in Niagara. Its height is 520 feet and it has a revolving restaurant at the top. The restaurant is only for the rich people ;-). It also has an observation deck and open lifts leading to it. The entry to the deck is also not free :-p.

Before we actually went to the top, we managed to find another Indian restaurant (in Canada too ;-) :-D) named Guru and thought of having dinner. The place was quite crowded. Though the food was good, the restaurant service was pretty bad and we actually got a bit late for the falls illumination. Anyways we scurried back somehow and caught the fireworks from the top of the Skylon tower!!

The blue coloured blur you see to the right of the fireworks is the illuminated American falls.

After the firework show was over, we got down from the tower, walked all the way back to the rainbow bridge and crossed the border back into US. There were many other people in a big queue and our passports/visas/I-94s were checked before we were let back in. Then we hurried back to our rented Subaru and went to the hotel. That was it, we never saw Niagara falls after that. But I admit, I fell in love with the falls and I would love to go back again one day :).

July 3rd 2006:

Since we had finished all we had actually come to see, Monday was a bit lazier :-D. But still we got up and got going to visit some other places we had planned to, the first being the Niagara Power project.

The power plant powers full New York state (Times Square probably takes half of it :-D) and most of the states in the east coast. Sadly, after 9/11, the visitors are only allowed to the vistor center and not actually taken to the plant. The visitor center was pretty informative, but I'd have really loved to see the huge turbines. Right opposite, facing this power plant, is the Canadian power plant(they share half of Niagara after all) and hence Niagara is helping light up millions of homes in North America.

After learning a few workings of the plant, we went and booked tickets for a jet boat ride and headed towards Lake Ontario. We saw a small light house which was, it seems, used in the civil wars as a beacon of light. Its seems its lit daily even now, only the oil lamp has been replaced by a powerful halogen one :). The lake was wonderful. Its so big that you cannot see the other side, its almost like an ocean. No wonder its one of the Great lakes :).

We returned back for the jet boat ride. The Whirlpool jet boat tours have a jet boat leaving every hour on Niagara river. The jet boat carries about 40 passengers and goes in full speed upriver. The driver stops inbetween to splash the boat into the various rapids in the Niagara gorge. The travel is until the Whirlpool (the same one that we saw from Canada) and it was fantastic.

We went on the wet jet. We were given thick raincoats and lifejackets, but ended up getting thoroughly drenched anyways!! We sat in the 3rd seat and man!! Was it fun!! The feel of the air on my hair and later water on my face, when the boat plunged into the rapids was exciting :). The rapids were upto level 5 (our previous white water rafting experience was only with level 2 :-p) and I have no words to describe them. We also had some stunts like the boat turning round and round as if out of control and then again speeding in one direction. We were shouting and laughing all the time. We did have a group of Indians on the boat other than us, but most of the people were Americans and that too teenagers. All in all, was another excellant adventure :). Well, the ride was costly, but the photos were really expensive, so we didn't take any snaps they took of us :(. Anyways the memories are enough :). Getting dried turned out to be a bigger feat, I tell you :-p, as we didn't have a change of clothes with us :-D.

After the real fast jet boat ride, we went back to Old Fort Niagara, where the Niagara river meets Lake Ontario. We sat for a long time on one of the Fort walls enjoying the sunset on the lake. It felt so peaceful after a hectic boat ride ;-) :). Yup, I took loads of snaps including this beautiful one of an yatch and sunset :).

After one beautiful sunset, we returned to the hotel and found an Indian restaurant :-D, called the Tandoori and had dinner there. The place - ambience, service and food were really good :). And so another day was gone.

July 4th 2006:

The last day! We had to leave pretty early as we had 9 hours drive back. But we ended up seeing some more places. The first one was the Lockport Locks, Lockport cave and the Underground boat ride. It seems when Erie canal was designed, the 60 foot rise at Lockport became a head-ache for the designers. How could the boats travelling in the canal suddenly ascend or descend 60 feet? What they did was design a stepped-dam like structure called locks. So the Lockport locks were designed to be a double set of 5 combined locks - one for ascending and the other for descending. Later one of the set was enalrged to handle both sides of boat traffic, whereas the other one was made fixed to handle surpluss of water. If you didn't understand head or tail of what I've been saying, there's some more info here. Also the following 3 photos might help :).

As you can see, the water is locked and filled up so that the boat can ascend 60 feet :). It was a real nice experience. I had never heard of such things, but Sri told me that the Suez canal is also designed like this and that too for bigger ships!!. That must be one hell of a sight to see :).

The Lockport cave is actually a tunnel built in the Industrial age to provide water power to 3 industries. As I have mentioned in some of my posts, the Americans have a way of extracting tourism out of everything, even a stupid water pipe :-D. The tunnel is not much to look at, but the history of it was pretty interesting. There is some water in the tunnel, which is where they have somehow brought a boat and took us on a short underground boat ride. I repeat, they do anything for tourism. Had the tunnel been any smaller, I'm sure they'd have had "crawling through the tunnel" as one of the attractions :-p.

After Lockport, we started driving back home. But there are some vineyards and fruit orchards in the New York state, so we stopped inbetween to see some of those. The vineyards were only green with very young grapes as it was not the grape season yet.

Next we visited cherry orchards where we had a gala time plucking cherries from trees. Most of these orchards have a pick-them-yourself offers, where you can pick how many ever you want and then buy whatever you pick. Thats also considered an adventure here ;-). Wonder what climbing a tree would be called - an extreme adventure I guess :-D. Somehow it reminded me of my childhood. I really miss climbing those mango trees at Udupi and eating the raw sour mangoes with salt {slurp}. Somethings you just can't do when you are older {sigh} :(.

We also went to some strawberry fields and picked lots of fresh strawberries. The whole thing was fun and we got loads of fresh fruit :). After these breaks we drove down straight. We did stop for dinner at a Tacobell (or as Sri says Tacohell :-D) at Cincinnati where we saw a few more fireworks (as it was 4th of July - Independence day). By the time we reached home, it was about 11 PM in the night.

And so my dearies, the story ends and all lived happily ever after :-D (couldn't resist that after such a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng story ;-) :-D)....

BTW, wow, I broke all previous records by uploading 33 photos for one single post!! Hehehe....