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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Friday, August 31, 2007

A tag in time saves NINE ;-)


The following post contains 9 facts about me, one of which is a bland lie. I know , I know I have written so many facts about myself in so many tags that even you must be tired :-p. But well, since you are coming back and reading this, its basically your problem :-p.

Accidental Diva tagged me. So lets start off without much ado :).

  • I have bitten my nails for more than 16 years. I stopped when I got my first job in campus, but resumed after getting married (one of the excuses I get to tease Sri , saying "Its all because of you" ;-) :-D). Right now, I am proud to say I've stopped this dreadful habit (for more than an year now). But looks like it can return anytime after all :-p.

  • I can yap, yap and yap. I'm so talkative that I talked to a person who was practically a stranger (she was my dad's student, but I didn't know her) for about 2 hours over the phone (and this was the first time I ever spoke to her!!) :-D.

  • I've said it a couple of times and I'll say it again. I love adventuring. I have done bungee jumping, white water rafting, ski-ing, rappeling, river-crossing, jet boat rides and para-sailing. Trekking and hiking are what I consider "normal" :-D. I have been wanting to sky-dive for quite a while, but Sri absolutely refused to go and then refused to let me go alone (Awww!! Cho Chweet!). Still there is jet-skiing (or wave-runners as they are called here), scuba-diving and mountain climbing to do ;-).

  • I love travelling. Travel and adventures go hand-in-hand for me. I hope that I get to see the seven wonders (the old ones) atleast once in my life. Additionally, I have aspirations of scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef, travel across Sahara desert on a hot air balloon and go on an african safari! I wish I could have unlimited money just so that I can see everything there is to see ;-).

  • I am a cleanliess freak!! I can't handle even a speck of dust anywhere. My kitchen has to be spotless, my bed has to be made and there should be nothing scattered anywhere on the floor. I don't accept anything thats not upto "my" standards!!

  • I have a habit of becoming totally silent whenever I am upset over anything. It is a sure-fire way for Sri to know (now he recognizes the signs ;-) :-D) that he has done something wrong :-D. After all I am talkative otherwise ;-).

  • I am online the whole day on yahoo messenger. As soon as I get a mail, I "have to" open the mail and see it. There's no "it can wait" or "later". Its literally "now". Even when I was working, it was the same case, but then I had my work mail in addition ;-).

  • I admire every single thing in nature. I am fascinated by waterfalls, sunsets, night skies, literally anything in nature and I consider these as "live" paintings by God :). If you go on treks with me, I can guarantee you that you'll spend half the time watching me examine/admire every flower/mushroom/fruit intently and the other half watching me click pictures of anything and everything I see :-D.

  • I am not one of these continuous shoppers. Whenever I go shopping (or even window-shopping for that matter), I can concentrate/show any interest only for about 1-2 hours. Afterwards, I kind of feel dazed, start getting a head-ache and can't wait to go home. It maybe due to the hugggggggggge shopping malls here in US and all that different kinds of lighting inside :-O!

Tell me which one's a lie?
Where, how and why?

Good luck! Well, most people have already done this tag, but if you want to take it up, hey, I'm not gonna stop you ;-) :)).

We are off to Miami tomorrow for the long weekend. So I'll be updating about which is the lie only after coming back (most probably Wednesday :-D). So long!

Update on Sept 6th 2007: I am completely opposite to a cleanliness freak :-D (the 5th point is the lie). Doesn't really mean I allow dirt to be gathered around, but am a bit messy ;-). Maybe due to my inherent laziness. Obviously my parents and Sri knew this (Sri, after seeing the messy bedroom, commented "Wow, this is spotless!" :-D).

Those who got it right, are allowed the privilege of helping me clean the house :)).

Saturday, August 25, 2007

No answers..

No answers..

What do you do when a dream
Unexpectedly comes true?
Do you applaud?
Do you feel awed?
How can you measure
that which you vastly treasure?

What do you do when a pain
Lingers in your being?
Do you cure?
Do you endure?
How can you forget
that which memory cannot reset?

What do you do when a moment
Makes you happy?
Do you smile?
Laugh a while?
How can you secure
that which no camera can capture?

What do you do when a person
Touches your heart?
Do you cry?
Do you sigh?
How can you confess
that which words cannot express?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Dcube is 3cube!

3cube = 27
Dcube = Dare Devil Deepthi!
=> Dcube = 3cube today..

Hmmm 27 eh? I hadn't really gotten over being 26 yet :-\.

Seems like 1 year went off pretty fast!

Hmm maybe I could have accomplished a lot more than what I've done so far...

Though I am 27, I love birthdays. I like it that people remember and so many wish me on that day. Makes me feel special, though I haven't done any ghanakaarya :-p.

But hey people! I'm 27...

... not DEAF!! :-p.

Hmm maybe I'll try this trick. How about I republish all the old posts in reverse? ;-) :-D. Maybe it'll feel like going back in time ;-).

Thinking of being back in time, here's D-mix in chronological order :-D.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Bharatha Jaya he!

Double posting today, must be a miracle. But saw this video mentioned in a couple of blogs, saw it, got so overwhelmed that I had to post it.

Thanks to YouTube and user emmicity for the video.

I didn't put up any post on Independence day this time. But...

Patriotism is not saying it with a few words..
Patriotism is not singing sogns about the country..
Patriotism is not cribbing about things going wrong..
Patriotism is not "supporting" the troops..

Patriotism is a lingering feeling in the heart..
Patriotism is the love when you think about your country..
Patriotism is the sigh when you hear the national anthem..
Patriotism is the tear you shed when you miss home..

My heart vibrated when I heard the Jana gana mana in the video, my eyes welled up in tears. I miss India so bad that I can taste it. Well, better late than never, hope you had a happy Independence day folks!

Camping Continued..

I said we'd go camping again and so we did on 10th August 2007. This time to the Natural Bridge State Resort Park. We had been to the park 2 years ago, when we enjoyed trekking to the actual bridge and various points and also tried the sky-lift they had. I thought I had written a post on that then, but we trekked so much that year that probably I had no patience to write posts on them ;-). Anyways this time we didn't go anywhere near the bridge (which is a huge sandstone arch) or the sky-lift. Just went to the campgrounds in the evening, booked a campsite and put the tent.

We didn't even have to use the instruction manual for the tent this time :-D.

As usual, we took a nice stroll around (there is no lake around but the area is almost like a forest), gathered a few kindling sticks (we had bought firewood earlier) and later had a campfire. Sadly, the campfire didn't really turn out to be as roaring as we expected it to be (must be because it had rained a bit the previous day and so the wood might have not been all that dry :-\). Anyways, we were able to roast our corn cobs and later roast the veggie pattis without any problems.

I rubbed the roasted corn cobs with lemon, salt and corriander chutney and they were ready to eat! Yummmm..

The pattis were also ready in a matter of time (as soon as we had gobbled up the corn cobs :-D)..

Soon veggies were cut and the pattis became a part of the Veggie burgers (and soon landed in our stomachs :-D) :)).

We sat in front of the fire for some time and later took another walk around. It was a really beautiful night with a clear sky and billions of stars visible. And I just love the night sky without the moon. Its such a lovely sight :). Still later, we retired for the night. This time, thankfully, our air pump worked fine, so soon the air bed was almost like a real bed. We had also taken pillows, so were able to have a good night sleep :).

Morning, we packed up the tent and left. And so another camping adventure came to an end..

Monday, August 13, 2007

Tulip thrills :)

I've been wanting to write this post for months!! After all the tulip season is somewhere in March - April. Well, as they say, laziness is the source of all troubles :-p :-D. Since the post is about tulips grown by my own hands in my garden, its is going to be more of a picture post than anything else. Consider yourself warned ;-).

Lets start off with the pink tulip evolution :-D.

I cannot describe the joy and the pride I felt when I actually saw these grow :).

Next are the peach tulips. There were 2 plants of these and they really were wonderful to see..

Just 1 or 2 days after I took this snap, 2 of these peach tulips were stolen!! I couldn't believe it. I mean, frankly you expect such things in India, but certainly not in the US!! They had neatly been cut off. I literally cursed and raved for one whole day. C'mon, I could have cut them myself if I really wanted to keep them in a vase :-p. Well, atleast hope they made somebody's boygriend/girlfriend happy :-p. Thankfully the "stealing" incident stopped at the peach tulips.

Then there were yellow :).

The above were the only ones where I actually could capture the evolution as such. But the beautiful tulip saga didn't end at that. There were other light pink tulips...

..., colourful combinations of tulips...

... and sets of streaked tulips.

Ultimately, when they were all in bloom, the rows looked like this:

Well, sadly all good things must come to an end and so did the tulips. They slowly faded away and later even had to bear the assault of a few neighbourhood children's cycle wheels :-\. But, never mind. I have retained the bulbs in the ground, so hopefully they'll come back next year and bring even more cheer :).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

How to Camp - US style!

Camping in India is wayyyyy wayyyy different from how its done in the US. Yeah the tent and the campfire are same, but everything else is totally different.

Firstly, the campgrounds are usually accessible to roads and each site even provides a car parking! This is unless you are determined to go into a forest, trek a bit and then camp. Thats the only situation where you need to do donkey work. Otherwise, your car will carry everything. So whats advantageous is that you can stuff all necessary as well as unnecessary stuff and take it along :-D. Also since its accessible to road, you can get firewood, fuel and even ready-made food if you don't want to cook in open fire ;-).

Secondly, you get camping accessories of all sorts. One major example is a air-filled bed! In India, the couple of times I went trekking, we hardly had blankets to sleep on. Here a bed is almost mandatory :-D. You get a pump which needs to be charged before and all you do is place the bed in tent and pump it up :-D. You also have camp chairs, battery-lanterns, coolers (for cold drinks), fire-grills, gas-powered grills (if you don't want to cook directly on the camp-fire) and people actually use these! Believe me, I've experienced it when we had been river-rafting.

Thirdly, you can rent a campsite in which water/power outlets are provided! These make much sense here as people own trailers which they bring to campgrounds to enjoy the "camping" experience! Worse, this time I actually saw Television sets and even dish antenna receivers on a few campsites!! Looks like the definition of camping is not what I thought it was :-p. Camping and luxury go hand in hand here.

Lastly, the most important are the restrooms! Most of these campsites come with pretty good restrooms, which also have showering facilities! Personally, I like this luxury, but again its not "camping" according to me ;-). Well, who am I to protest when facilities are available :-D!

Coming to my story now (finally :-p). We have been wanting to go camping for a while now. We had bought the equipment (tent, camp chairs and bed ofcourse :-D) last year itself, but never got around to going camping. After dilly-dallying away half the summer, we finally managed to go on 30th June 2007.

Since this is a how-to story, here are the steps to successful camping:

1) Buy equipment:

To camp you need a tent. As I said before, this does not change no matter where you are. Choosing a tent is pretty important. You have to carefully judge the height/width you require. Also you sometimes get good deals ;-). Rest are optional. But camp chairs and an air-bed are good to have :).

2) Buy food and accessories:

Depends on what kind of food you eat. Since we are vegetarians, we carried corn cobs, veggie patties (Indian store ones, as I have said numerous times the American store ones taste like rubber tyres :-p), burger buns, various veggies for the burger and for grilling (like onions, capsicums, tomato, cucumber and lettuce), panner and lemons. We also carried paper plates, water, knives and grilling accesories (to roast the corn/patties). And yeah, you need firewood if you plan a campfire. But usually firewood is available at the campsites.

3) Book a campsite:

If you are in US, another advantage is that you can book a campsite online. But you need to do this atleast 2 days in advance. We didn't do it in advance but drove straight to Kincaid State Park (which is about an hour's drive away). Thankfully they did have some spots available. We were ready to come back if there weren't any.

4) Put up the tent:

Well, if you want to sleep, then you need a tent. Unless you want to sleep in the car. That experience will not be camping but car-ing :-p. The instruction manual is usually available with the tent, so the main thing is to follow the instructions ;-).

The first step is to spread the tent on the ground.

The second step is to take the long curved rods provided (these will be a collection of small sized rods whcih you have to join to form a bigger rod) and insert them diagonally to the top portion of the tent and fasten them. This helps in raising up the tent like this:

The next step is to fix the roof (this will have smaller rods similar to above) to the top of the tent. The final step is to attach hinges to the floor of the tent and hammer them to the ground so that the tent cannot move (slide off or blow away due to heavy winds if any :-p). Finally the tent looks like this:

And this is how the entire campsite looked like after putting up the tent:

Note that it has ample space to park the car, place the tent, space for a campfire, camp chairs and a wooden picnic table :).

5) Enjoy the surroundings:

Once the tent was up, we took a stroll around. Our campsite was almost next to the lake.

And the lake was absolutely beautiful. We sat near the lake for sometime before sunset (Sunset currently is at 9 PM :-p) and later returned to the camp.

6) Make a campfire:

Now that the living quarters is taken care of, next thing to worry about is food. For food, you obviously need a campfire. So better start off early and get the fire hot enough to cook food. The equation is simple:

Firewood + some starter fuel + matches = FIRE!!

We already had the starter fuel as we do some vegetarian barbeques sometimes. So Sri, with some amount of help from me in arranging the firewood (well actually I also gathered some wooden chips and sticks to start off the fire :-D), successfully had the fire going.

7) Cook the food and enjoy:

As I said, we roasted corn, grilled veggies and later grilled burger patties and had a comfortable meal (didn't really take photos :-\). Moreover since we had some cool drinks in place, it was nice to have in the hot weather. We put some soft music in the SUV and basically enjoyed sitting in front of the fire :).

8) Get the tent ready for the night:

Two important things here - one, don't forget to take pillows and two, make sure the air pump for the air bed is funtioning and recharged. We didn't do both and had to struggle a bit. Sri did recharge the pump for 2 hours, but it wasn't enough (its supposed to be recharged for atleast a day). The air bed was almost flat by the time the pump gave out, so to say the least, the bed wasn't comfy at all. Another important thing is to find how the waether will get in the night. For us, though we had taken blankets, it got really cold in the night, so we could have done with a couple of extra sheets ;-).

Morning, we had a breakfast of croissants, packed up the tent and left. The camping was only for a night, but it was worth it. It was basically a relaxing time without TV/Computer/internet :-D. Well, we all need come time away from the gadgetry :).

We are planning to go camping again probably this weekend. And yeah this time, the air pump has been replaced and checked :-D, so hopefully there'll be no further troubles :).

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Buh-bye Potter!

Well, not really an actual good-bye. I mean there are still movies to come, a huge Harry Potter park to be built and I'm sure many more generations will enjoy the series. But still, its kinda weird knowing that there is no new "Harry Potter" book coming from Joanne K Rowling (or Jo as fans call her) again. Just to lay the ground rules, I'm not going to be disclosing any spoilers from the latest and the last in the series - "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" and will try not to reveal anything of the other books just in case. Its just going to be about how I feel now that the series is over and I have read them all :).

Believe me when I say, I am not one of the insane Harry Potter fans. I have to admit that I have been quite addicted since I read the first book "Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone". And I didn't read it until 2 years ago! It was only after the release of the 6th book in the series "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince", that I wanted to know what the fuss was all about. In fact, I also knew of the major spoiler of the 6th book before I read the 1st one :-D. The worse thing was that I had already watched the 1st movie. Obviously the book is much much more than the movie. You can't really expect them to fit the whole book inside a 1.5 to 2 hour movie anyways :-p.

Since I was already in US by this time, getting the books was pretty easy and I pretty much gobbled them all up. I am one of those people who grew up on Enid Blyton books. Even though my favourite series of hers will always be the Five Find-outers and Famous Five, I loved the boarding school stories of the Malory Towers series and the St. Claire's series. To my delight, the Harry Potter was somewhat of a boarding school story with lots and lots more. No wonder I was hooked :).

I consider myself quite a voracious reader. I have read lots of books as a child as well as an adult. But I hadn't seen anything like Jo's imagination in the Harry Potter books. Its a whole new magical world, if you know what I mean ;-). Though the adult in me scoffed at the idea of wizards and witches, the child in me was absolutely fascinated. Though the adult in me was not surprised at the dark side of the book, the child in me was scared. It was the ultimate in imagination to me. From magical books to magical creatures, from the widely etched characters to the weird curses/jinxes/charms, it is a whole new world. A book for both kids and adults to enjoy, all thanks to Jo :).

Well, as I said I finished the first 6 books ("Harry Potter and the Sorceror's Stone", "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", "Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban, "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" and "Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince") in probably 2 weeks. I was excited about reading the final book. When it was announced that the 7th book would be published on July 21st 2007, it was certainly a thing to look forward to. But as I mentioned, since I'm not "insane" enough a fan, I never pre-ordered it. I placed it on hold in the library and was in the 36th position for recieving the book. I knew it'd take time, so I thought that I'd probably run to Barnes and Nobles bookstore on 21st, settle there for 4 hours and finish the book :-D. I'd have the library hold for the re-read anyways ;-). And if I couldn't go to the book store for some reason, then I had even planned to avoid the net for a period of time until I could read the book. Man, the spoilers are like ants crawling everywhere!

But life has a thing of springing surprises when you least expect it. Someday about one week before the release date of the 7th book, I got a letter from the library saying since I was one of the first 150 people to place the book on hold, they'll be giving it to me (giving as in lending :-D) on July 21st at 12 AM itself!! Looks like the library is full of Harry Potter fans too ;-). They even had a get-together organized at 10 PM with some Harry Potter activities :-D. Just look at my luck!! I called and confirmed the next day itself that I'd be there. I also placed all the previous books in the series on hold and borrowed them, so I could re-read them once before reading the final book :-D.

And so on the release day, we had dinner and went to the library (They had food, but we vegetarians have to be careful ;-) :-D). We still had 2 hours to go to collect the book, but I had a very nice time playing a Harry Potter scavenging hunt (its like a treasure hunt where there are clues) for the time. They also had a costume contest, trivia quiz, some games like chess and cards, some crafts etc. At about 11:45 PM, they distributed prizes. Well, I didn't get any as I couldn't even complete the scavenging hunt :-p. Then it was 12 AM and those who attended were lent books. And so I had/have the "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in my hand :).

I read the first 200 pages that night itself (it was about 2 AM when I slept that night :-\). I finished the book within 11:30 AM next morning. So within about 12 hours of getting the book, I was done :). Now this is where my feelings come into picture. The story is wonderfully written, I felt no part was incomplete. Yet I was a bit disappointed. I don't know whether this is because of the fact that this is the final Harry Potter book or whether my expectations were too high. Maybe it wasn't as grand and tragic as I expected it to be or maybe I had read too many theories to be satisfied with the way it went. There were some parts which went the way I expected them to and others totally unexpected. There were some parts which stood out and which I really loved, but there were quite others where I was bored and wondered where the heck it was all going. Generally, I liked the way it went and ended. It felt like a good closure. But somehow it all seemed too convenient, too easy. Well, those who have read the book will know what I mean. And as somebody else said, I liked the book, but I didn't love it :). Again doesn't mean I hated it. To be short it was a 3.5 stars out of a 5 rather than a 5 out of 5 from me..

But all this doesn't mean that I haven't enjoyed the series. It was the best I have ever read and as a whole constitutes some of the best books I have ever read. And it is an experience worth repeating. Well, which is why I am reading the whole series once again as of now {smiles sheepishly} and hence the Harry Potter books are the only ones right now on my shelf :-D.

It feels nice to have the whole series in my hand :-D.

And I'm sure after some period of time, I'll be re-reading the series a couple of more times just for the experience and recommending it to people who like to give themselves up to a highly imaginative story and believe in magical worlds like me...

Update: If you really want to know why I felt disappointed, you can visit the Mugglenet forums, The Deathly Hallows Discussion, "Deathy Hallows: A disappointment?" thread, Page 17 :-D. The longest post is mine :-D. I have not put the link directly as it'd have led to spoilers ;-).