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

Friday, June 29, 2007

Bbbbbbbbaseball :-p

The race was last weekend and this weekend was a baseball game. Not that I ever wanted to see a baseball game. I don't even know the rules properly, for heaven's sake! But since Sri got the tickets free, we thought why the heck not! Our idea was that it would be a new experience.

And so on the evening of Sunday, 24th June 2007, we were off to Applebee's Park in Lexington itself (hardly 10 min dirve away). The tickets were from Sri's company, so they had actually reserved a suite and we were treated like VIPs :-D. There was also some food and drinks available (The hotdogs were non-vegetarian and hence prohibited, but there was popcorn, peanuts and colas). So we made ourselves comfortable and had our first view of a baseball field:

Before I start my rant, let me give a simple explanation of baseball (for those who are ingnorant like me :-D). There are 2 teams of 9 players each and they play for 9 innings. Each inning has 2 halves - one in which a team bats and the other in which the other team bats. The visitors bat in the 1st half of the 1st inning (so there's no coin toss to decide) while the home team pitches. In our case the home team was the Lexington Legends (lets call them LLs) and the vistors were the Asheville Tourists (ATs) :). There are 4 markers called bases through which a batter (thats what the batsman is called :-p) has to run to complete a single run. Few simple rules:

1) If the pitcher pitches right i.e within a range around the batter and the batter is not able to hit the ball with the bat, then its called a Strike. Now pitching is like bowling straight to the bat. And 3 strikes means the batter is out.

2) If the pitcher pitches wrong i.e not within a range around the batter then its called a Ball. 3 balls mean the batter gets to walk to the next base.

3) When the batter manages to hit the ball with his bat right i.e the ball does not cross a line next to him, then he can run to the next base and so on. If it crosses the foul line, he has to bat again. Once a batter runs to the next base, a new batter bats.

4) If the batter hits the ball and the fielders catch it before it touches the ground, then the batter is out.

5) Also if a fielder catches the ball and manages to touch the batter/other runners inbetween bases, then the batter/runner is out.

6) 3 outs mean end of one half of the inning.

7) If the batter hits the ball out of a certain boundary (like the Cricket Sixer) or if he manages to run through all the bases, then its called a Homerun.

More details here.

So the match started at 6:05 PM. As mentioned earlier, first to bat were ATs.

It was kinda interesting, but it never got exciting. The ATs scored "0" runs in the 1st half of the 1st inning and later the LLs scored only 1 run in their half. There were breaks between the halfs and there was some entertainment for the audience.

There also was music to encourage the audience to clap, cheer and so on. But maybe the teams themselves were not capable enough :-p. Well, I'm not an expert in baseball anyways, but to be honest, it was kinda boring :-p.

Just as it got a bit exciting, what with the ATs scoring 3 runs in the 2nd inning and the LLs were lagging in the 2nd half of the 2nd inning, it started pouring crazily. There were thunders and lightnings and the field had to be covered up for protection from rain.

While many people ran helter skelter, we thankfully had a cover above our heads. We thought the match would get cancelled as the rains were really bad. But the skies did clear up a little after about half an hour. But there was no indication of the match restarting even then. We waited for another half an hour before finally deciding to leave.

On Monday we found out that the match resumed after 2 hours and LLs managed to beat the ATs 4 runs to 3 runs. Pretty exciting eh? :-p. For cricket fans like us, who are not satisfied with any score below 250, this feels like loose change :-p. We also found out that some of Sri's colleagues stayed on till 10:30 PM and the match still wasn't over when they left :-D.

So that was my first experience of baseball. Not bad, but not very good either :-p.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Zoom Zoom Zoom!

Last weekend one of my dreams of experiencing a Formula One Race live came true. I've been wanting to go to the Indianapolis Grand Prix ever since I came to US. The first year, I didn't even realize when the race came and went. Last year I was all excited about going when I realized that the race had gotten over the previous week :-p. This year finally, after aptly being warned by Darsh about what weekend it was on, I pestered Sri (as usual :-D), into taking me.

Sri was a bit apprehensive about the whole thing as he had attended a cricket match previously and was less than impressed by the so-called "Live" experience. But somehow I managed to convince him to take me. This despite the fact that my favourite, Michael Schumacher is obviously retired. I cursed myself 100 times for not making the last year's race. Yet, since he is the current Ferrari technical advisor or something, I thought I could catch a glimpse of him at the Ferrari pitstop.

So we bought the tickets online (which meant we got only a printout and had to collect the actual tickets at the circuit) and set off early on Sunday June 17th 2007 to Indianapolis, which is about 2.5 hours drive away from Lexington.

Sri had decided that it'd be convenient for us to drive to downtown and catch a bus to the speedway from there (though the cost of a round trip on the bus for race day was $15 per person, while on a regular day its $1.5 :-p. Multiply by 10 anyone? :-p). And so we reached the Indianapolis downtown at around 11 AM. Since food and beverage were allowed inside the stadium, we had bought Veggie burgers on the way and carried a cooler full of water bottles with us. The bus stop was pretty easy to find and so we set off. We were dropped off at the stadium at around 11:45 AM.

There were loads of people in all directions, especially many of them Indians :). We are the only ones crazy about F1, I guess :-D. The race was to start at 1 PM, so we thought we had enough time. Sadly, we had underestimated the power of queues. We had to collect the tickets at a reserved ticket counter and the queue was really long. We had to stand for almost an hour (Sri stood in the queue, while I stood waiting for him with the cooler and stuff :-p) before we got the tickets. The preparation for the race begins at 12:30, but yet by the time we reached the stands it was almost 1 PM. Thankfully the race hadn't yet started.

I had selected stand C thinking that the starting point would lie somewhere there (it did look like that in the map :-p), but it kind of was pretty far from the starting point. So well my dream of seeing the faces of some of the racers went for a toss :-p. But anyways, we could see the starting point and that was something :).

Our stand was pretty empty so we could sit anywhere we wanted. So just when we found a good place to sit, the formation lap started. The formation lap is the preliminary lap where the cars simply move on the track before the actual start to the race. After a minute, the race start lights came on one by one, the excitement mounted and the cars were off!!

Click on the snap for a very large view. You can see the Mclarens of Hamilton and Alonso and the Ferrari of Massa :). Well, I was standing on one of the benches to take the snap when the sound of the cars actually shook me. Man!! I hadn't worn my ear plugs yet and the sound is literally like that of a jet plane moving very close to you! The cars are so fast that one moment they are there, the next moment they are not! It was absolute bliss :-D.

From where we were sitting we were able to see the first corner and the some more curves, the end point and the cars coming out of the pitlane :).

Again, if you click on the snap, you'll be able to see Alonso in McLaren, followed by Massa in Ferrari. On the road behind, you should be able to see Kovalainen in Renault followed by Raikonen in Ferrari.

It was a thrill to see the cars go by, especially if there was a skirmish between 2 cars. Since some of the maneuvers actually happened in the first corner we were able to see the tiff between Fiscicella and Speed and later Raikonen overtaking Heidfeld in a brilliant move :). Coulthard, Barrichello and Ralf Schumacher went out of the race before I could even recognize their cars :-p. But sometime later, the race got kind of monotonous what with Lewis Hamilton first in McLaren, Fernando Alonso 2nd in Mclaren, Filippe Massa 3rd in Ferrari and Kimi Raikonen 4th in Ferrari again. I am a fan of Ferrari and was continuously cheering for them despite the fact that the time gap between the McLarens and the Ferraris was too much (almost 15 sec!!). We ate our burgers watching the cars zoom by..

I kept looking at the Ferrari pit hoping for a glimpse of the legendary Michael Schumacher, but got nothing :-p.

It was only later (after reaching home :-p), that I found out that Schumi didn't even make it to US :(.

As the race started reaching its end, I wanted to walk to a point near to the podium, but Sri kept saying he didn't want to. After a minor skirmish between ourselves ;-), I got my way :-D. So we walked and we got to see the end of the race. Just before the end, we could see Rosberg's Williams engine in flames. Thankfully they quickly put that off and there was no harm except to Rosberg who was off the race. Lastly, we cheered on as Hamilton, Alonso and Massa finished the race in 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions respectively. We also got to see the trophy presenting ceremony from pretty close :-D.

So after the ceremony was over, we walked to the bus stop, caught the bus and landed in downtown again. Meanwhile, as we were still hungry, we bought a couple of veggie burritos and devoured them :-D. After 3 hours and more than $210, we were heading home in full speed :-D.

All in all, it was such a great wonderful experience that I would love so much to go again. And next time, I know which stand I want to buy tickets in :-D.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Hurray for YMCA!

Long long time ago (actually only about 8 months ago :-p), I wrote about how I workout. But as I said in the post, soon the whole so-called routine was about to change. Winter came and how! There was simply no way I could go out without 3 layers of clothes. So obviously there was no question of running/cycling..

After about 1 month of doing no workouts whatsoever, we finally joined YMCA. Lexington has 4 branches of YMCA, we found the nearest one, took a tour and went ahead and joined it. Though the full form is "Young Men's Christian Association", its in no way a propaganda of Christianism. Well, maybe everything done stands for Christian values, but we were never subjected to religion as such...

I got into a new routine pretty easily. They have some pretty amazing group exercize classes, so I, who had never ever been to one, enthusiastically joined whatever was suiting our "time". Our "time" was in the evenings when Sri would return from work. So the routine shifted from mornings to evenings anywhere from 5PM to 8PM. While I attended classes, Sri worked out on the treadmil and weights.

I was introduced into a whole new world through group exercize. I mean, when I was working out alone, I kinda always had the option of quitting. So if I felt the least bit tired, I could give up ;-) :-D. But the classes are not like that. Though no one forces you to get back if you do give up, its a matter of pride to continue working out. Hence you are actually doing more justice to the job ;-) :). I attended 4 types of classes over a week.

1) Zumba fitness class:

This was a fun dance class every monday from 6 PM to 7 PM . Our instructor Cathya was of Columbian origin and was extremely thin (and she was a mother of 2 kids!!). So she was a good influence ;-) :-D. Zumba uses latin dance moves for a wonderful workout. Since it was held only once per week, we used to have more than 20 people in the studio. Dancing away without any care about how you look was really something :). Well, atleast the first step to the tango lessons I want to take someday :-D.

2) Cardio Kickboxing class:

This one literally kicked ass of everyone who'd attend. I used to attend this on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 PM to 6:30 PM. It consisted of hardcore boxing moves. So we'd jab, hook, kick, swat and what not! Our instructor Lisa would make us sweat and repeat every move until we would feel like begging her to stop :-D. But the best part was that it'd feel absolutely refreshing after the workout. Lisa also took an Abs workout class from 6:30 PM to 7 PM. I once took both classes one after another and was totally tired!. After that either I'd take only the Cardio kickboxing class or go half an hour late to the class and take the Abs workout class :).

3) Water fitness class:

This class was available 4 days a week from Monday to Thursday from 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM, but I'd take it only on Wednesdays. Basically, water fitness means getting into a swimming pool and instead of swimming, do exercizes in water. Since water makes you feel light, its more easier to do some exercizes which'd be difficult to do on land :). I absolutely loved it. We'd run across the swimming pool, jump, jog at place and use accessories for other exercizes like water dumbbells (you have to push these under water rather than lift them :-D), kickboards (which we'd use for arm exercizes like rowing, pushing and pulling) and noodles (they are not eatable noodles :-p). Noodles were the most fun, as you can use them as weights for the legs, or for an abdominal workout or to support your weight while you cycle/do stomach exercizes, all in water ofcourse :-D. Our instructor Mary was a 8-year veteran in water fitness and she'd take the class even if there were only 2 people around :-D. But imagine, I had never even heard about something like water fitness before I actually took the class! The things people do!

That was it. If we'd somehow manage to go on fridays (;-) :-D), I'd workout on the treadmill as there were no classes available on Friday. Sadly, the fun lasted only for about 4-5 months. Notice how I have written everything in past tense? Recently we both got free annual membership for Gold Gym (which is a chain of costly gyms across the country), so we have started going there. Their group exercize classes are quite different and their aqua fitness class is more vigourous (details are for another post another time), but somehow I sort of miss the YMCA instructors and the "classmates". Maybe next year we'll be back :).

Friday, June 08, 2007

Dearest Mom :)

Today is the birthday of my mom and my best friend. Not very surprisingly, both are the same person :). She is one person who I can talk to about anything, fight over very small issues, argue over nonsensical stuff but basically have lots of respect and love for :). We can gossip for hours, yet understand each other without saying anything. She's certainly one of the people I just cannot live without. She has held me at rough times, irritated me sometimes and walked as a friend by my side at all other times..

So continuing my birthday tradition of this year, here's the evolution snap :).

"Many Many Happy Returns of the day to a mom who's lovable, huggable and sometimes even scoldable :-D. Thanks for being the best mom/friend a girl can ever have :)".

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Blowing my own trumpet :-D.

A real quick update. I am feeling really proud and happy today. One of my blog posts is published in Vijay Times epaper's Jun 6th 2007 "Bloggers' park" section.

Here's the way to access it:

1) Go to Vijay Times Epaper.
2) Do not register but click on "Click here for FREE access to e-paper".
3) A pop-up window wil open with the day's online paper.
4) On the top right side there will be Edition and Date dropdowns.
5) Select date as Jun 6th 2007.
6) Scroll using "next" or "previous" to Page 6.
7) Scroll down a little to see the "Blogger's park" section and my post "The age of innocence" in it :). BTW the original post is here.

:-D. And thanks to Chitra for pinging and letting me know :).

Friday, June 01, 2007

KY to WV to VA and back :).

Some people called it Blogger's block. I call it laziness. No matter what name you give it, it means I haven't been updating my blog as frequently as I regularly do. Well, no excuses, after all this blog is mine and this is how I am :-D.

I have a backlog of posts to complete including a tag, but first I have to finish a post on the trip we took for memorial day long weekend. We had been to a couple of places in West Virginia and Virginia states. The total drive was something like 20 hours (don't be horrified, it includes the trip to and fro + roaming around :-D). As usual, here's the sketch of the drive we took :).

26th May 2007:

After humming and hawing on whether to actually take the trip or not, we finally left Lexington at around 11:30 AM on Saturday. Well, we didn't have many places to cover and even if we couldn't go to a place it was our wish and will anyways :-D. Sri drove for 3 hours to reach Beckley in West Virginia where we had decided to halt for the night. On the way, it was a bit cloudy, so it was nice to see light and shadow patterns on the roads :). I really love it when I get to see these :).

After checking in to the hotel, we drove to a place called Bluestone State park which is home to the Bluestone Lake. The road to the place was long and winding (ghat section), but the place was worth it :).

The lake was beautiful, very calm and soothing :). There were lots of people who had brought their own boats and were enjoying rides. We had a nice time walking around and taking photos :).

While leaving we also stopped at the bluestone dam. The bluestone lake is kind of a reservoir and the dam is what makes the lake :).

The opposite side of the road was a huggge wall of red stone..

Then we went back on the topsy-turvy road to the hotel to retire for the day.

27th May 2007:

Sunday very early morning (I got up at 5:30 AM!!), we had breakfast and started driving towards Richmond, Virginia. I drove for the first 2 hours on high mountainous roads. Very scenic roads with lots of greenery :). Later Sri took over and drove for the next 2 hours. Meanwhile we stopped at a scenic view point. Wow, what weather, what scene, what mountains!

We reached Richmond by about 11AM. Our main purpose of visiting this place was the Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. Its been more than 2 years since I saw a botanical garden (Pamplemousses botanical garden in Mauritius :-D) and I haven't seen one in the US at all in all the places we have been to. This one sounded interesting enough to plan a trip around it :-D.

After paying a fee for the entry, we were let in. They had lots of plants and the garden is pretty big. The best is the hugggggge greenhouse in the center (though the Lalbagh, Bangalore one is probably bigger ;-) :-D).

They also had a couple of beautiful modern art fountains which certainly contributed to the beauty of the plants surrounding them :).

Next we headed to the interior of the greenhouse. Inside were a wide variety of plants and flowers..

I don't even know the names to some exotic flowers :).

There were varieties of colourful orchids...

..., Cactus flowers (a more lasting and colourful kind of the Brahma Kamala we have in India)..

..., Gardenias, Lillies and loads of other flowering plants :).

As most gardens usually do, they had an exclusive garden for roses :).

There were pink roses..

..., red, yellow and peach ones (whose photos I'll not be putting up here just to save space and effort :-D).

After enjoying the rose garden, we went for a stroll around the garden. Had a good time walking around the small lake..

We stopped at a couple of other places which had ponds with lillies and lotuses :).

Overall the garden was wonderful. But we finished seeing it in about 2 hours, well maybe we missed a few nooks and corners. Since our plan was to be there for the whole day, we needed to come up with some other place for the noon..

After lunch at an Indian restaurant (food was so-so), we had some rest in our hotel and then left on a 2 hour drive to a place called Virginia Beach. Sri drove, but due to some circular roads which led to some confusion, we ended up driving for an extra hour :(.

We reached our destination, the First Landing State Park, only at about 7 PM in the evening. The park has its name due to the fact that it was the first place where members of the Virginia Company landed. It lies at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay which goes on to join the Atlantic Ocean. Yup, that meant a beach :-D.

We had a gala strolling around, sitting on the sands on the beach. It was a really lovely sight with a sunset, lots of pelicans and the beach all-in-one :).

Moreover there are several bridges across the bay which actually at some mid point become tunnels undersea! I have seen this in New York before, but you can't really make out the "going under the river part" from a train. Here we were traveling in our SUV across one of the bridges, so we were able to see the tunnel going down :).

Anyways we drove back to Richmond and reached our hotel at around 10:30 PM in the night. And so the day ended..

28th May 2007:

Monday morning (again pretty early, got up around 6:30 AM) after breakfast, we started driving back. I took the wheel for the first 2 hours and then Sri drove for another 2 to reach Beckley again. We had lunch of subs and pizza and stopped at a place called Twin Falls State Resort Park.

We walked a bit to see the Marsh Fork falls.

There were no people around at all, so it was very calm, cool with only the forest sounds :). The falls was a bit scanty, so we could actually walk over :).

After this, we walked about a mile to see if we could reach the second falls which is known as the Black Fork Falls. But the trail didn't have any distances marked and we didn't really know how long it was. Since we had another 3 hours drive ahead of us, we decided to skip that and return :).

Again I took over and drove for about 1.5 hours and Sri drove rest of the way :). We reached Lexington at around 7 PM after encountering a long traffic jam :-p. And so another trip came to an end :).

As usual here's your moment of zen:

Hehehehe. Sharkey and Farmers are 2 different places in Kentucky :). I found "Sharkey Farmers" really funny as it could mean farmers who look like sharks or farmers who grow sharks :-D. We also encountered the same Hurricane, WV that we had seen in our North Carolina Trip. There were loads of other weird named places - "Gum Springs" and "Mossy" in West Virginia, "Crows" and "Croaker" in Virginia, but sadly I was driving when I saw these, so no snaps :(. Well, it would have probably made for a new post altogether :-D. Maybe some other time ;-).

Also looks like no McDonald's representative took my suggestion :-p. Alas!! I saw 100s of "McDonald's Next Exit" boards along the way :-p ;-) :-D.