Like Duck to Water, thats how I have taken to life :). This blog is the saga of love and adventures of a small duck in a large water body called LIFE....

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Horrors :).

Its that time of the year again, when little ghosts come out to play :-D. Halloween means lots of decorations, costumes and chocolates. The best part was that I had been to my doctor today and the nurses there were having a costume contest and were all dressed up. I even got to vote for the best costume ;-).

The horrorful decorations in my residential locality were a treat to watch as always and so I clicked away like last time :). So lets start off with some pumpkins - hanging ones, swaying ones and staying-still-on-the-ground ones.

Next I present to you a witch, some pumpkins and a skeleton, all inflated. The wonderful thing about this is that the witch pops out every minutes and hides back into the couldron.

Tired already from the tour? Please have a seat with the scarecrow ;-) :).

All rested? Then you are ready to be scared by a group of ghosts hanging from trees!

And if you were not scared, maybe a close-up will help? :).

Next is webs galore, and no its not the world wide web :-p.

In the next house, a smiling scarecrow welcomes you :).

I was really impressed with this next one - a huge spider weaving a big web around a prey :-O.

Looks like a troupe of spiders attacked this house!

And finally, let me join a ghost, a scarecrow, a devil and some other scary beings in thanking you for taking this tour with me and saying goodbye (look at my dialogue dramebaazi :-D).

Happy Halloween to all :).

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Orionid showers!

I have been into astronomy since my 10th standard. Note that its "astronomy" and not "astrology" :-p.

the science that deals with the material universe beyond the earth's atmosphere.

the study that assumes and attempts to interpret the influence of the heavenly bodies on human affairs.

I guess the confusion is pretty common, I have had many people showing me their palms when I have told them that I am into astronomy :-p.

My interest started, as I said, in 10th standard, when we had loads of astronomy in our science syllabus plus a teacher who was crazy about space :). We learnt about constellations, comets, meteors and what not. Plus the teacher told us about a planet in the andromeda galaxy which was like earth. He was so enthusiastic about the subject, that it was so easy to get involved myself. I was so into finding constellations in the night sky :). I was seriously considering a career in astronomy, well, until I found that studying meant lots of maths and not just star-gazing :-D. In fact, even now, one of my biggest wishes is to buy a very powerful telescope and gaze into the sky all I want ;-).

Though the career option never worked out, my interest never lessened. In fact it slowly increased, what with the appearance of Comet Hyakutake the next year and Comet Hale-Bopp in the subsequest one. Hyakutake was lots of fun as it was the first comet I had ever seen and I didn't really know what to expect. After having watched a show in a planetarium, I really thought that a comet was a shiny little line running all over the night sky (I'm not kidding, I was 16 years old and I really believed that!). After reading in the papers about Hyakutake, I actually woke at about 4 AM in the morning just to watch it. I watched and watched but didn't find a single line running over the sky ;-):-D. It was only after gazing for a long time and refering to the map several times in the newspaper did I discover that the comet was actually a blurry looking star-like object (which stood absolutely still :-D). There is movement, but its so small a change that it maybe noticed only the next night. I was so excited that I woke up everyone at home just to show them the comet :). Comet Hale-Bopp was much easier, as I knew what to expect this time.

My interest also extended to meteors and eclipses (I have never seen a total solar eclipse till now :-D). Meteors, normally are difficult to watch out for, as they are just shooting stars in the sky. You might wait a whole night and see nothing. But there are some special times, when the earth's orbit crosses over a comet's path. The comet usually leaves a trail of debris behind and when the earth's atmosphere comes in contact, they suddenly are subjected to earth's gravity and fall as meteors. This makes for a very beautiful view as many shooting starts occur over an hour and its almost like a very slow firework show in the sky. I first came to know of these "showers" through Leonids.

Most of the meteor showers are named after the constellation from which they "seem" to erupt. Leonids, as the name suggest, seem to radiate from constellation Leo and are caused by the debris left by Comet Tempel-Tuttle. They occur every year, but I have watched them about 3 times now. The fun in waking up at a really odd hour in the night, sitting in the cold to watch a meteor shower is something else :-D. Once we were living in an apartment and the Leonids were supposed to be really good that year, so there were about 50-60 people from various apartments gathered on the terrace just to watch them! I remember seeing about 60 meteors that time :-D.

I never knew that there were other showers, I never did bother to research about them till now (sad fact for an amateur astronomer :-p). On Saturday Oct 20th 2007, I was just talking to somebody over phone, when I noticed that Sri had a webpage open about a meteor shower. I was on it in a minute and found out these were Orionids, caused bythe debris of the famous Halley's comet. And the shower was going to peak the very same night (it was predicted that there would be 20 meteors per hour), i.e Oct 21st Sunday early morn at about 5 AM! Look at my luck ;-).

So I decided to be up at around 4:30 AM, but actually was up by 4 AM. Imagine the scene. A 7 month pregnant woman, dressed up in 3 layers of clothes, sitting outside in the cold at 4 AM! I'm crazy, I tell you :-D. It was really chilly, but I pulled up a chair outside in the back yard where I had a good view of the Orion constellation (which is where the Orionids are supposed to emerge from). I saw meteors, but the frequency was very slow. Now there are supposed to be 20 per hour doesn't mean that you get to see everything. Some might be too small for the naked eye while you might miss some when you are not looking at a particular direction. Sri did come out for a while, but he could see no meteors and was off into the warmth of the house in a matter of minutes :-D. Meteor-spotting requires a certain amount of patience and patience pays only sometimes ;-).

I was up for about 2 hours and managed to see about 25 meteors, which was quite ok. Two of them were really bright and left a visual trail! Soon it was going to be dawn and none would be visible anyways. It was a great experience, considering I hadn't been into watching anything for the past 3 years! Well, I guess I had different kind of stars in my eyes :-D. Anyways, Leonids are in November, so if possible (seeing the cold conditions and my conditon), I'll try and make it. There is also a comet in the sky right now (only need to wake up at 4 Am again to watch it), but the sky's been cloudy for a week now. So if and when I am awake, I'll try and catch it :). Meanwhile I actually found a video on Youtube of the Orionid showers (it seems repetitive, but its better than anything I could have photographed myself).

Thanks to YouTube and user briandjin2 for the video.

So long until next time and may the skies watch over you (or may you watch the skies :-D)...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Function aarthi ()

Function aarthi()

Software engineer mentality hehehee :-D. In a gist, the above was the format of the aarthi function mom held for me on Sunday 14th october 2007.

Before I start off on my (usually huggge) account of the event, just wanted to mention that today is another "Highlight point" of my pregnancy, what with me completing 32 weeks. Babies born after 32 weeks generally do well and are supposed not to have any breathing problems. Not to mention that in general, the longer the baby stays in the womb the better. But well, one hurdle crossed, in 4 weeks the baby will become "full-term" :-D.

Coming to the aarthi function, many people were surprised in the beginning that my mom was coming to US so early. I mean, she was here almost 3 months before my due date. Most of the times, the mothers arrive almost during the last month, so that they can remain longer after the baby is born. But in my case, I had different plans and moreover, mom wanted to hold a small aarthi function for me in my 7th month (it can be held only in 5th or 7th or 9th month according to the "rules" :-D and 9th month is kinda too late). Previously I had planned to be in India in the 5th month, so we could have the function there with all the relatives. But our travel plans did not work out :( and that was that. So after mom arrived, we decided to have the function on that Sunday.

I called up and invited 5 families in total, but 2 of them informed me that they couldn't make it, what with one travelling to India and another's child having a competition the very same day. 3 families confirmed, but another family had some issues last minute, so they couldn't make it. Well, it finally ended up with 2 families, but we just had to accept that.

The preparations started on saturday itself. We bought all the fruits, coconuts, beetle leaves and nuts (ele-adike) required. Mom wanted to make oththu shaavige, which is a type of shaavige made from scratch in Udupi and surrounding areas. She got a grinder for me from India (weighing more than 10 Kg!) and another contraption to press idlis (made for shaavige) into shaavige! I helped around in making the idlis and later Sri helped in pressing them into shaavige. Mom also made chakkulis for the occasion.

Next day she made some khaarada kaddi (she's unstoppable :-D) and after noon I helped her in making kaabul kadle usli, oththu shaavige chitranna and normal shaavige paayasa :). My MIL sent sweets and my cousin Rajeshwari sent packets of puri unde. So we arranged everything in front of God.

The kaabul kadle usli, oththu shaavige chitranna and normal shaavige paayasa are not in the snap as they had already been taken out to serve the guests by the time this photo was taken :-\.

Firstly, Sriram presented the saree that my MIL had sent for me to me to wear. The best part of it all was that my inlaws had logged in at 1:30 AM their time to see the whole function! After I wore the saree, mom put a nice plait and decorated it with fresh flowers from the garden :-D.

I had also put on mehendi on my hands the previous night (not really professional, so no snaps :-p). Then we waited for guests to arrive.

Once the guests came in, we started off with Sri first putting green bangles in my hands (bale todsodu) and later doing the udi tumbsodu (in this he puts rice, coconut, dry fruits, arshina kumkuma etc into my saree pallu). My MIL sent all the ingredients required for that.

Later mom repeated the ritual with stuff she brought, a saree and ear-rings she bought for me.

She again repeated the udi-tumsodu with stuff my cousin Rajeshwari sent (she sent a saree and bangles and mom carried everything :-\). After this, the guests also did udi-tumsodu.

Then with the help of the guests, mom did aarthi to me and Sriram (I'm not putting up the others' photos here due to obvious privacy concerns :-D) and posed for photos :-D.

Once that was done, I changed into the saree mom had brought for me. Meanwhile the guests were served food. After eating and enjoying conversations, they all left. And we clicked a last photo with us all together and me in the changed saree.

That was it. I didn't really expect the function to be as grand as it ended up being. It was really satisfying to have everything go well :). But I do wish that dad could have been here :(. If wishes were horses....

Monday, October 22, 2007

Happy Vijayadashami!

I know I'm late by a couple of days. But well, you know me :-p. Hope you all had a happy Dussehra. I did :). My celebration started with being invited to a Sarswathi pooja and Bombe habba Organized by an Indian lady here at her house last Friday. It was really fun to be dressing up for the occasion and later seeing the nicely arranged dolls at her house. What amused me even more was the fact that everyone arriving was in a saree and how it must have seemed to a passing American :-D. They must have thought its a speacial kind of Halloween party :-D, hehehee :)).

I drove myself and mom to the place (the invite was for ladies and children only, poor Sri ;-) :-D). We took some fruits and flowers (chrysanthemums grown at home). We recited everything from Lalitha sahasranama to Lakshmi astaka. It was one of those moments when a foreign country feels like home :). Later after aarthi, we were served a dinner of avalakki oggarane, mosaru vade, idli with different chutneys and badam milk :). After which we came back home.

Saturday was Ayudha pooja and mom made garlands from flowers picked fresh :).

This changed into the following very soon :-D.

Yeah, I am pleased by the way the flowers have been growing this year too. Will surely be putting up a post on it soon (before they all vanish :-p).

Meanwhile, Sri washed and cleaned the car, while I washed and cleaned my cycle (my achievement of the day ;-) :-D). After having bath, the first step was the devaru pooja and aarthi :).

After devaru, next were the ayudha - the cycle and the car.

The car is still enjoying the garland :).

Yesterday, on the occasion of Vijayadashami, mom made hayagriva (a sweet made from kadle bele) and so went the festival :).

I still have to post on the aarthi function that mom held for me last weekend and that will be coming up shortly (I hope :-D).

Friday, October 19, 2007

Life and me..

Was somehow feeling very nostalgic today. Was reliving some of the simple happy/sad moments that make up the story called life. Yeah the fact that I listened to this song also made some difference. Wish I could say exactly the same, when I stand at the edge of life...

Thanks to YouTube and user emmicity for the video.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Award Shaward Hai rabba!

Timepass has honoured me with the "Power of Schmooze" (the meaning being power to network - hmm I don't really know that holds good with the one or two comments I get :-p) award :).

I would like to thank the various snacks/fruits/juices who have sacrificed themselves so that I could write a single post. I would also like to thank every cow, crow, frog that posed for my not-so-good photographs. It would be unfair if I don't thank my colleagues and boss who, though I was pouring precious work time on the improvement of this blog, never said a word against me. And how can I forget the strangers who became fodder for humour!

But seriously, thanks to Timepass, who thinks I deserve the award, thanks to Sri, mom and dad who have always encouraged (in fact, forced :-p) to write more :), the friends who regularly visit and leave comments and all the people who have dropped in from time to time just to keep me writing :). Thanks a lot :).

Lastly, I am the queen of the world!! :-D.

I have to pass the parcel, oops, award, so here goes :). I give the "Power of Schmooze" award to

Monday, October 08, 2007

The pregnancy diaries :)

Since I announced the pregnancy news on my blog, most of my posts have been about it. I do want to write about other things but right now this is a major part of my life. Even later when I have the baby, there will be lots of posts about the baby (probably more than about myself), but then again the baby will be the major thread of my life then. Though I don't really want this blog to turn into one of those baby-blogs (I'm kinds selfish that way since this blog has always been about me) and though I'll try my level best to make it as multifaceted as possible, I have to accept that it maybe the case in the future :-D. Consider that a warning :-D.

Anyways, as the first paragraph suggests, this post is going to be about my pregnancy history and some of the highlight days as such :).

  • The day I took my pregnancy test and it turned out to be positive. I didn't really want to believe in such a test and took a doctor's appointment for the next day. There was no limit to my joy when the doctor confirmed it. I was oh-so-excited and at the same time worried. Worried whether I'll be able to handle the whole thing and the responsibility of a small baby dependent on me for everything. I have fluctuated between confidence and doubts for all these 7 months and I'm sure it'll go on for the rest of the days or more :-p. Anyways we announced it to both side parents as soon as we got it confirmed from the doctor (with a clause that it be kept secret until 3 months from the rest of the relatives) and they were all ecstatic as its the first grandchild for both sides.

  • The day I had my first ultrasound. I don't really know about India, but here in US, the first ultrasound is done at about 8 weeks, to make sure the baby is ok and its heart is beating properly. Also to know whether there is a single baby/multiple babies in the uterus (one of my close friends had twins and there was no heredity factor anywhere, so I was worried about that too). And it was an absolutely amazing experience. We could see just a finger-sized clump on the monitor (not really able to make out head or bottom :-p), with a heart beating, literally jumping out of the tiny body. Sri held my hand throughout and I had tears in my eyes. It was the first visual proof that I had another life in me and the feeling is totally indescribable. Not to mention we were relieved that there was only one ;-). The next check-up, we were also able to hear the heart beat thanks to a machine called Doppler machine which magnifies the heartbeat. The beat was really strong and somehow I was so proud of the tiny life :).

  • The day I completed 3 months. The initial 3 months (which make up the first trimester) are considered the risky phase where anything might happen. Hence there was relief then the hurdle was crossed and sort of a "mission accomplished" joy (though obviously there was a long way to go still :-p). Also the first trimester is when a woman gets most of the morning-sickness/nausea and I didn't have anything. Nothing at all :-D. Meanwhile, I was subjected to more tests, one of which entailed taking out 3 test tubes of blood from me and checking it for everything from the Rh-factor to HIV. needless to say, everything was normal :).

  • The day of my second detailed ultrasound. The second ultrasound is done after 20 weeks and this is very detailed where they check whether the major organs/systems of the baby are developing/working properly. Without any doubts whatsoever, this was a major highlight of the pregnancy. Any major defects would be discovered in this ultrasound. Thankfully there were none. The physician at the ultrasound took us through the process step by step. First she showed us the face and the head (she took measurements of the brain). Secondly zoomed in on the heart. We were actually able to see the 4 chambers of the heart and the beating! It was so fascinating! We were also able to see the Iorta taking blood to the rest of the body. Again she took some measurements of the heart and some blood vessels. She had a tough time as the baby would move every time she'd point out something :-D. Moreover it made me laugh, which shook my belly and in turn spoiled the ultrasound images :-D. We moved onto the spinal chord (the clarity was awesome!) and later to the kidneys (which I couldn't make out at all though she kept pointing). After all measurements possible, she declared the baby extremely healthy :), which was our priority. We also did find out the baby's gender (my curiosity) but decided not to tell anyone, not even our parents :-D. Its just that the gender was never important to either of us (the health was much more important)and moreover I want to wait to know for sure (one of Sri's friends was told they'd have a boy and later the baby was a girl).

  • The day I felt the baby's first big movement. Yup, I did see the baby move in the ultrasound, but the doctors were asking me whether I felt any movements and I was not feeling anything. No wonder I was worried (actually ay little thing can lead to a big worry in pregnancy :-p). Even some of my friends had felt movements much earlier in the second trimester and here I was without anything. I did feel some bubbles in my 5th month, but since I had some heart burn, I was never sure whether it was the movement or some gas :-p. But on one Sunday, I was up early and was sitting alone when I felt a hugge kick. One slowly went on to be several and it was wonderful. Initially Sri wasn't able to make out anything. Surprisingly he'd keep his hand on my stomach and the baby would go quiet. I would tease him that the baby is already showing respect to the dad ;-). But later he too felt the kicks and even now is amazed every time! He even tells the baby to sleep and play "later" every now and then :-D.

  • The day I had my gestational diabetes test and it turned out to be normal. This happened just last week. Gestational diabetes can affect pregnant women in late pregnancy and it happens due to some pregnancy hormones which can block the actions of insulin in the mother's body. For the test, they made me drink a sweet juice and one hour later pricked my finger for a drop of blood to check the assimilation of sugar in the blood. As usual I had been worried as I am a bit fat (:-p :-D), but the glucose levels were normal and I was very happy. The doctor even commented that my BP as well as weight gain were going as expected and that everything was great. Do I need anything more? :)).
And so has the travel been so far. There are still more than 2 months to go and lots more moments of worry/joy to be faced. Don't worry (as if you do), I'll sure keep you updated on whatever happens whenever it happens :).

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Having a ball with balloons!

Its been sometime since I found out about the Balloon Festival that happens every year in Louisville, Kentucky. But we didn't really know about the whole thing until the start of this year. It was only after I saw a hot air balloon on a drive to Louisville, that I actually did some research and discovered the whole thing :). The festival known as the Adam Matthews Balloon Festival is supposedly the fifth largest hot air balloon festival in the US and is supposedly the largest in Kentucky. Well, I had never seen a hot air balloon up, close and personal before and no wonder I wanted to.

Somehow, on a coincidence, the festival dates were September 28th to 30th and mom was coming here on the 28th. We thought we will wait to see how she fares and then decide whether to go or not. I mean, jet lag is a big factor when you are travelling around the globe, that too for the first time! But surprisingly, she was the first to get all excited and was most willing to go :). Like daughter, like mom, I guess ;-). She looked pretty alright too, so we decided to go after all.

The festival consists of a race very early in the morning, later a balloon glow show in the evening followed by a firework show. The race was at 7:30 AM, so it didn't really make sense to go there so early and then wait the whole day. So we decided to attend just the evening glow show instead.

On saturday, 29th September 2007, at about 3:30 PM, we drove to Louisville. We reached the Bowman airfield where the festival is conducted, at about 4:30 PM. Strictly speaking, I was really disappointed at what I saw when we reached there. There were no hot-air balloons whatsoever and there were only some inflated structures for kids to play in. The traffic was also a bit less and there were not many people around. Since there was still time for the "evening" to go, we started roaming around the place.

The festival has no admission fee and there's only a parking fee of $7, so its really great if you have kids ;-). We saw the inflated structures and also got some freebies (some new chips from Flat Earth and some goodies from Meijer, who were the sponsors of the event). There was a nice concert going on, so after roaming around a bit, we spread a blanket and sat around enjoying the view. The trucks carrying the hot air balloons (non-inflated), started arriving one by one, but they started setting up everything only at around 7:30 PM. The reason being that the balloon glow show looks good only after sunset! But it was fun once they started the process :). The crowds also seemed to come out of nowhere and soon the field was full of people!

First, they setup the basket and the balloon quite far away from it.

Next they started spreading the balloons (they were all tied up and packed like a tent). It took several people to actually spread the balloon material.

Finally, they tilted the baskets and started the hot air flow which would blow the balloons up!

And so stood this balloon and so many more! It was fascinating!! People were struggling to balance the balloons. Some climbed into the basket to stabilize them while others tugged to and fro :-D. Some tied them securely to SUVs and trucks :).
We started our roaming again and took loads of pictures as usual ;-).

Some of the balloons had shapes. While this below one was shaped like a tree and had twigs with birds on them..

.., another one had a face, hands and legs!

I couldn't take a snap of yet another one which was shaped like a bear's face. But this one below was the best of them all - a huge cow balloon!!

It was obviously sponsored by a milk company ;-) :-D. All the balloons were sponsored and there were some well known names too, first being the Harley Davidson balloon.

Looks like the bottom's on fire, doesn't it? :-D. And then there was the Coca Cola balloon.

I even noticed a balloon sponsored by a funeral home! Anyways, the best thing about the whole glow show was that at about every 5 minutes, they'd have a countdown from 10 to 1. At the zeroeth second, all the balloons would light up (i.e switch on the gas and blow the hot air) simultaneously! It made for a wonderful sight, to say the least!

It was like nothing I've ever seen and an experience certainly worth repeating! Not to mention, mom and Sri considered it really well done too.

The glow show went on from about 8PM to almost 9 PM. Later they had the firework display which honestly speaking wasn't really upto standards (maybe I expect too much after the fireworks of the Louisville Air show). But well, the balloons compensated for everything else ;-). Obviously there was a traffic jam when we finally left the premises. It was 10:30 PM when we got home and mom though exhilarated, was tired.

And so ended another lovely day :).