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 *********************************************************************************************

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

If I were not Deepthi...

If I were not Deepthi, then certainly there wouldn't have been this blog :-p. Tagged by Orchid :).

If I were an animal/ bird:

I think (hope) that I'd have been a lioness. I'd be tame as a house-cat when my stomach's full, but when I'm hungry, would bite the arm off of anyone who'd come near me ;-). If I was a bird, I'd certainly have been a peahen. Its nice to have the males really handsome and dancing to your whims and fancies ;-).

If I were a vehicle:

I think I'd be a Kinetic Honda. Sneaking in and out of tight spaces and situations, I am easy to manipulate ;-). Not to mention, a bit heavy to handle :-\.

If I were a city:

Have to say Bangalore for this. A place that anyone can adapt easily to. A place that accepts everyone, does not differentiate. Friendly and infinitely adjustable :).

If I were an art form:

I would be any melodious song (I consider music as art). I am generally able to charm my way into everybody's hearts :). Sometimes I can be very soothing, at other times make you want to dance :-D.

If I were a color:

I'd be shades of white and black. My happiness and sadness are extremes, so when I'm sad, I'm entirely black. When I'm happy, there's no limit to my joy.

If I were a film star:

I would be Kajol. I am usually the fun sorts, but when it comes to family, I'd give up everything :).

If I were a vegetable:

I think I'd be a tomato. I'm obviously plump ;-). I am unpredictable. Though most of the times I'm sweet, I can suddenly be very sour too. But I'm always fresh and fun :).

If I were a fabric:

I would be velvet. There is a smooth and a rough edge to me. I can be soft, but sometimes I can be very scathing too ;-).

If I were a flower:

I hope I am a rose. I can be passionate about certain things, I'm friendly always, I'm usually liked and seldom ignored :-D.

If I were a perfume:

I don't really like perfumes, but if I were a perfume, I'd be something very light and lingering. I am not very easy to forget at all :).

If I were a gizmo:

I would certainly be a computer - no one but my creator understands my internal logic and even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later review (stole this from one of the usual forwards comparing computer to a woman ;-) :-D).

If I were to tag:

I would tag Thanu and Preeti. If you have aleady completed the tag, nothing better :-D.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Drive all around...

Yet another travelogue, this time about the North carolina trip we took on the New Year weekend (I know I've been absent for quite a while, but I'm back now :-D). This was the longest drive that we have taken since I've come to US, with Sri doing all the driving. The trip to orlando last year was pretty long too, but Sri and his friend took turns driving then. Well, I still have to get my driving license (I have the learner's permit now {grins sheepishly}, have been driving quite well for quite long now, will probably take the test in the next couple of weeks..). Here's the google map sketching the drive :).

29th December 2006:

Friday evening we started off. We planned to leave a bit more early, but a friend of Sri's called us and indicated they may join us, so we waited until their plans got finalized. But well, they decided not to after all. So we set off only at about 7 PM in the evening. To reach North Carolina, we have to cross 2 states - West Virginia and Virginia. We drove till Wytheville, VA and stopped for the night there.

30th December 2006:

Saturday morning, we started driving again, drove, drove and drove more :-p. We actually had planned to see Kitty Hawk on Saturday itself. But the drive was longer that we thought it would be. It was already evening when it looked like it'd be dark when we actually reached Kitty Hawk. So decided to drive directly to the hotel at Washington, NC and change all the plans to the next day.

After arriving at the hotel, we did go to the waterfront there. The bay was not really big, but it was nice for a night time stroll. No pictures to account for the bay though, as it was too dark for that :).

31st December 2006:

We started driving pretty early on Sunday morning and reached Kitty Hawk pretty soon. What's interesting about Kitty Hawk is that its on a stretch of islands on the Atlantic ocean. These islands are connected to the mainland US by a bridge.

As the Dayton citizens are proud of the Wright brothers, Kitty Hawk is too. This is because of the fact I mentioned in my previous post that the Wright brothers actually conducted their initial experiments there. So as usual, they have a museum and a monument dedicated to the Wright brothers. The museum again had a model of the Wright brothers' first flight.

The field in which the brothers experimented is also preserved (as usual :-D) and so are the distances made by their first few gliders, marked by stones like this:

They also had 2 small hangars full of museum artifacts:

The monument looked beautiful, but we didn't really walk to it as it looked pretty far off..

Our next destination was a beach near Wilmington, NC and the shortest way to get there was to drive on the island and later catch 2 connecting ferries :). The first ferry connecting Hatteras island and Ocracoke island was not really a problem as there are ferries every half an hour. The second one we had to catch was at 1 PM and the next and last available ferry for the day was only at 4:30 PM. If we missed that one, it meant we had to go back and take the round-about route. Which certainly meant we couldn't reach the beach where new year fireworks were organized that day :-p. We had planned to take the 4:30 PM ferry, but we still had to make haste, since we had a pretty long drive.

So we didn't stop on any of the thin island stretch until we reached the 1st ferry at Hatteras. I've never been on a ferry before which carries cars across, so it was a new and a delightful experience :). This was a free ferry as there is no other transportation between the Hatteras and Ocracoke islands :). Here's our SUV on the ferry :).

The ferry took only about half an hour to reach Ocracoke island, but we encountered another one in opposite direction soon. You can see that the ferry was pretty big and could carry about 15-20 cars at one go :).

The distance between the islands is not much and I really wonder why they didn't build a bridge in-between. The photo below shows the 2 islands and the distance between them.

Well, it was fun travelling in the ferry. There was a lounge on an upper floor where you could have coffee and there were also restrooms!!

It was a short trip and though we did have a bit of a drive on Ocracoke island, we stopped to enjoy the views of the Atlantic ocean at an ongoing beach.

It was pretty cold and breezy. But the best part was a bird we saw. It'd peck at the water until the wave came. Then it was as if it'd get frightened of the wave and get back. As soon as the wave retreated, it's again venture forward pecking at the water :)).

After a blissful walk along the beach (the water was freezing, we put our feet in once and immediately jumped back to wear our shoes brrrr :-p), we drove to the ferry station to reserve our ticket for the 4:30 PM (this one had a ticket, a fare of about $15) Cedar island - Ocracoke Ferry :). Then we had lunch at one of the restaurants. Thankfully the restaurant had a few vegetarian options and we were able to enjoy the meal (we really didn't think we'd be able to find vegetarian food, as it is an island and we thought there'd be only sea-food :-p). We still had about an hour's time for the ferry reporting time and so were able to visit another beach.

Lingered on the beach just for a couple of photos and then we were off to the ferry station.

The Cedar island - Ocracoke Ferry was bigger, almost double the size of the earlier ferry and this trip was more than 2 and a half hours!

We both strolled around at first. There were seagulls flying over the ferry was we floated in the water. They were directly flying over the ferry, so I was able to take a couple of nice shots :)).

Later Sri had a nice nap while I read a book in the SUV. Still later, it was nice to see the sunset from the ferry.

The ferry was a beautiful experience. You are sitting in the car, moving, yet not driving ;-). We reached Cedar island (which is again connected to the main land by a bridge) at around 7PM and again started driving towards Wilmington. Since we had found out that the fireworks were at 10PM, we couldn't stop for a proper dinner and just grabbed veggie burgers on a Burger King drive-in.

We reached Kure beach at almost 10 PM. The place was all lit up and there was a dance party going on :). It was all nice, but it was only there we found out that the fireworks were actually at midnight. After much deliberation whether to leave immediately (as we had another 2 hours of drive to reach out hotel for the night), we decided to stay and watch the fireworks.

We walked to the beach in the dark, finished the dinner brought with us and sat on a lifesavers' high wooden chair at the beach for quite some time. We could hear the music from the party and it was really pleasant :).

After sometime, we actually went to the dance party and danced to a couple of songs!! Hehehee :-D. Actually, I pulled Sri into dancing with me ;-). I've never really danced in public before and I really enjoyed it. Anyways the people around us were all Americans and strangers. Its not like I'll ever see them again :-D. You don't really feel self-conscious when nobody knows you :-D :))). It was really fun. Hmmm maybe I should join the tango classes I've always wanted to ;-).

1st January 2007:

At precisely midnight, with the shouts of "Happy New Year" in the air, came the fireworks. I've never seen fireworks up and close like it was here ever.

As soon as the fireworks were done, we left the place and were off to our hotel in Burlington, NC. We were sleepy, but we still drove. Actually I was sleepy all the way and poor Sri drove :-D. We were able to reach the hotel only at around 3 AM.

Morning we got up late and set off again. Planned to visit some vineyards, got near to one and realized that the plants were all hibernating :-p. So quietly headed back to track..

It was a 6-7 hour drive back. On the way, we encountered the hills we had crossed before and I took this picture of a tunnel dug in a hill. Look at how impressive it is :).

And last but not least look at this:

Yup, Hurricane is actually the name of a place in West Virginia :-D. Imagine living there and saying "I live in Hurricane" :-D. Well, with that laugh, I'll say bye. Hopefully, you don't have to wait much for the next post :-p.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Wright way to Flight :)

I know its been more than 10 days since I last blogged. Its not like I don't have topics to blog about. But was involved in some exit formalities and sending good-bye mails and all that. Its almost like I'm re-living the days I left Bangalore for US. I really thought then that one day I'd go back to that office and work with all those people again. Then I didn't expect it to work out and it did. Now I didn't expect it to end and it did. Isn't it ironic!

Anyways, I'm feeling mostly ok now, despite yesterday being my last day. And I don't really want to wallow in it anymore. Maybe will crib about H1 someday but not now. Today's post will be on a trip we took on 24th Dec 2006 to Dayton, Ohio, the "Birthplace of aviation" (this is the slogan on the Ohio state licence plates, Kentucky's is "Unbridled Spirit" as it is famous for horses :-D). Why is it the birth place of aviation? Because the Wright brothers (Wilbur and Orville Wright) were born there and made their plans and constructed their aircraft in their bicycle shop on Dayton's West Side.

I have decided that from now on I'll add a short google map indication of the drive we do, so here's my first one :).

Whats surprising is that Dayton is only about 2 hours away from Lexington and it took us 1.5 years to realize that :-D. So, when we did, without further delay, we headed there early Sunday morning. This was not really a long drive, but it was the first time we were going this far in our new SUV. The journey was not a problem at all. One of the first places we visited was a museum, but sadly it was closed on account of Christmas eve :-p. Worried that this would be the case everywhere, we headed to another museum which was situated exactly where the Wright brothers had their cycle shop befoe they ventured into flying. Thankfully that was open :).

Its nice that they have preserved the shop and the roads around it as they were in the start of 1900's. This is the museum:

They had very intresting displays about Wilbur and Orville Wright and their interest in flying since their childhood. Wikipedia has lots of details on them.

The most interesting of them all was a movie they showed us. It showed how they were always were interested in flying as children and later how they actually made plans without actually having studied engineering and basing everything on practical experiments. They first travelled to Kitty Hawk, North carolina and started their initial experiments there (which is why North carolina's slogan is "First in Flight" :-D. Competition anyone? ;-) :-D. The next trip we went was to Kitty Hawk, will be writing about that in the next post :-D). After some time in North Carolina, they returned to Dayton and located a field called the Huffman Prairie (preserved as a tourist spot till date, as usual here in US :-D), took permission from the field's owner and continued their experiments there. What first was a kite, slowly became a glider and then a glider with its own power. And they had success in Dayton in 1905 where the glider they built flew for almost 40 minutes in the air and totally about 24 miles :).

What I admire most is the sheer audacity of the brothers. They didn't know that they could fly, but with no regard to any danger, they flew in their fledgling flights. There were a couple of accidents too, but that only made them change the design and rebuild the plane. The town people called them "mad", yet they went on. But its due to their efforts, that we have such a comfortable flying system today. We fly tens of thousands of miles to cross countries, sleeping or even having food. People have even flown to space, to moon! Just think, we might not have any of this, had it not been for 2 "mad" guys :)).

Our next stop was the National Museum of United States Air Force.

They have converted what was earlier an Air force base into this huggggggge museum. Three hangars full of planes starting with a model of the Wright brothers' original plane..

The first hangar was all full of oldest planes. The second hangar had the world war 1 & 2 planes, the Vietnam war planes and the Korean war planes. They even had the plane that dropped the nuclear bomb on Hiroshima!! It was kind of shocking to see that the Wright brothers' path to fly later went on to cause such a destruction..

And below is the model of the bomb that was dropped:

The last hangar had all the latest planes including the B2 - stealth bomber! It was really fascinating to see and even touch such an incredible invention :).

It looks like an UFO right? There was another last section which showcased the missiles. The whole experience was beautiful, yet kind of sad. The planes are good, yet bad in some ways. The museum captured the spirit of flight, not really differentiating between the bad and the good. And so many planes under a single roof boggles the mind :).

Lastly, though it was a bit dark already, we went to the Huffman prairie, where the brothers first flew a successful flight after much experimentation. Here's the field:

The planes then were powered by a catapult mechanism that looked like this:

The picture is dark as the sun had already set. And so we headed home. But the very next weekend we headed to Kitty Hawk to see the other part of Wright brothers' lives. More about that in the next post :).

Monday, January 01, 2007

End of an era :(

I have always been "lucky". Things have usually worked out my way. It probably started way ago in primary school. I was able to join the high school I wanted, later the P.U college I wanted and still later the engineering college I wanted. Though when it came to campus recruitment, I badly wanted to get into Infosys, but didn't and was a bit disappointed then. But again, I got into a pretty good company. Again when I joined, I was to be posted to another city. But it again worked out and I was able to continue to work in Bangalore.

When I got married and later Sri was put into a project here in US, I really thought I would have to resign, but again things worked out (as I wrote in my "Ok now the real deal :)" post) and I was given a transfer. I have been telecommuting here since 1.5 years without any problems. And I have been grateful for the way things were going.

But good times, they say, don't last. Though my L1 work permit/visa is valid till June 2008, each 6 months an extension of my international assignment happens internally in my company. This particular thing has to be approved by a series of managers from my manager to the vice-president of the company (don't ask me why, thats the policy). Till now I thought this would be a mere formality. Maybe I had gotten used to working from home. Maybe I had gotten totally lazy. Maybe I had become complacent. So much that I didn't even bother trying for a job outside though I am being paid in India and my salary is nothing compared to what people get here. I liked working from home at my pace. It was a freedom that I had gotten used to.

Sadly one of the higher managers refused to approve the extension this time. Well, what were my options? Go back to India and work. Since that was not very feasible, what with Sri working here, the only thing to do was to resign. Which I did a couple of days ago. My last day of work will be in the first week of January 2007. What a way for the new year to start eh!!

I admit I was very disappointed. There were times when I was even bitter. But there is nothing I can do about it. There's no way I'll be away from Sri. And its a miracle this whole thing worked out for the past 1.5 years. Atleast I have been working and it has obviously increased my "work experience" factor. So I am grateful for that. My only woe is that had I just been given a hint about this some time back, I would probably have tried for something. But, whats done is done..

Meanwhile, I'm actively looking for jobs. But to do a job in US means acquiring a H1 which is a whole new story altogether (I'll be writing on it some other time). Another plan is to study either MS or MBA. Both require TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) scores and while MS requires a GRE (Graduate Record Examination) score, MBA requires GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) score. And man, are these exams costly :-p. So I wouldn't like to attempt them before I'm well prepared. Which is why I have a plan in place. First want to finish TOEFL and then decide whether to do GRE or GMAT :-D.

I'm not giving up. My major worry is that I'll become redundant and that sitting idle at home will make me kind of useless (I know I can never be that, still I am afraid I will). I remember when I graduated, it was recession time and we were not sure whether the company that had selected us in Campus recruitment would even take us or not. Many companies had absolutely refused to do so. A single walk-in/test from a company meant 1000s of students gathering in the place to attend. My company had postponed the joining date. I remember being very depressed. Because there was literally no hope then. But I joined music classes, visited relatives I hadn't visited for years (due to my studies) and when my company actually made us join, I remember actually being glad for having the break :). Hopefully this will turn out to be the same way.

Somebody (I don't know who) said:

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!

There are many funny versions of this, the latest ones being:

When life gives you lemons, find someone who has vodka and throw a party!

When life gives you lemons, sell them on ebay!

Hehehehe :-D. Anyways I am digressing. My only resolution for the new year, is not to let myself get into negativity. Though I may feel down from time to time, I am going to make myself get back on track and work on achieving a few things I have always wanted to (I have always wanted to do my Masters). Maybe this is for the good. Maybe this is going to make me get up, look around and strive hard to get what I want. Maybe this is going to make things better than they already are. As my dad always says "This is not the end of the world" and it certainly is not :).

Quoting Lee Ann Womack's song "I hope you dance", which is my motto as of now ;-)...

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance

Living might mean taking chances, But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake , But it's worth making

Don't let some hell bent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out, reconsider

Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance..

Thats my advice to anybody who's reading this post. I hope you dance, people :). Meanwhile wish you a very happy and a prosperous new year :).