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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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....