Friday, January 27, 2006

Childhood revisted..

a group photo taken when I was in primary school..I am the tallest guy in the middle..

Another one, even older..but I had bunked this session! :) ..u can find some familiar faces found in the above photo..

Sunday, January 22, 2006

A new achievement!

Yesterday me and my friend beat a Chinese pair in Table Tennis twice!! :) :)
(we lost 5 games though..but 3 of them were close, one went to deuce as well!)
and they were playing quite well actually!

All my hardwork during engineering to learn this game paid off!! ;)

Now, we have registered for a ping-pong tournament! (overconfidence??nah...participation matters!)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Epcot, Disneyland..

...continued from previous mail.

We had 4 days in Tampa and out of this, 2 days were reserved for Orlando. We had to decide which 2 theme parks to go to in these 2 days. Disneyland itself had 4 theme parks, Epcot, MGM Studios, Animal Kingdom and Magic kingdom. Also, there is Universal Studios, Sea World and also Kennedy Space Center nearby. We ruled out Magic Kingdom first as it is for kids. We also ruled out Kennedy Space Center as we decided to go for theme parks completely. After much confusion, we decided that from among the rest, we will go to Epcot and Universal Studios, as MGM is similar but not as good as Universal and Animal Kingdom does not have much rides or anything like that, and Sea World had to wait. Actually, my friend Preetham, in Tallahassee also referred to that. He kept saying Shamu is in Seaworld and I was wondering, who’s this guy Shamu? We do have a friend Shyam in India but what will he do in seaworld? Who else is there? Have I met him in Bangalore? All these questions were answered when I realized Shamu (atleast that’s what the name is, I think..) is the name of a whale which does lotsa tricks!!

Anyways, so we had decided Epcot and Universal. Since Meghna also hadn’t seen Universal, we thought we’ll go there on Thursday and Epcot on Tuesday. Meghna and Mahesh dropped us off at Epcot and picked us up again in the night, around 9.30 PM. This place, Epcot has the 2nd largest Parking lot in the world (or US??, whatever), so don’t worry about Parking problems before coming here. And there is a tram which takes us to the entrance from the parking lot!!

The Entrance to Epcot is a huge dome which is really huge! It has 2 main sections, one part containing most of the rides and shows and another, which is basically a showcase of different countries. Once we enter, we have to plan our day properly in order to enjoy the maximum and get a full worth for the $60 ticket per head. Now, the good thing here is that, you don’t have to stand in queue at all places all the time. At every sow entrance, it displays the approx. waiting time and a “Fast Pass” time. If you cant wait till waiting time, you can go to the Fast pass counter and insert your ticket and it will give you a time when you can come back and also a time, only after which you can use another fast pass for some other show, generally, is after a gap of around 2 hrs. So you have to decide where all to use fast pass and where all to stand in queue. Nice system!

We decided to finish most of the rides and shows before evening and then to the world showcase section. We first went to this ride, where they take you across time and show how communication evolved, starting from pre-historic age to the modern age. Nothing scary, just a nice little dark ride for starters. We then went to a future world which was a total waste as we waited 30 mins just to see a futuristic house demo, typical family stuff, and we would need to win a lottery twice to get all this stuff! Our next stop was “Mission Space”. This is a really good place where there is a simulation ride to space. As the rocket launches and you go up, you actually feel as if you are flying to space! You are part of a team and you need to press some buttons from a console in front of you when you are asked to do so to ensure that the rocket lands safely on Mars. We really enjoyed that ride. After that, we did some time pass playing some video games and recording some videos showing our face which will be added to a prerecorded cartoon video as if we are a part of it! Here are some links of those videos. (You might be required to install some plugin for viewing it.)

A few more small shows later, we went to the show “Honey, I shrunk the audience” at the Imagination institute. This is a 4-D show and we will be wearing 3-D glasses to get the effect. This is an awesome show where the shrinking machine is targeted towards the audience and suddenly we feel as if we are very tiny as the characters on the screen are blown up. The 4th Dimension is basically a feeling effect, like mice running over you, and also, there is a dog which sprays water on us and actually, there is a sprinkling of water! So that was a very good show.

After this, we had one more ride, the GM test track left but we had it on Fast pass at around 7.30 PM and we had around 2 hrs to cover the world showcase. We first entered Canada and it had some restaurants and a waterfall, there was nothing special there. We next went to UK, and there was nothing there as well, except for a few English pubs and a castle. Next was France, and there was a replica of the Eiffel Tower but we could not go near that. There was also a show about France on a 180° screen and it was good. After that, we covered Morocco, Japan, Italy, Germany and 19th century USA. After that, was wild Africa, followed by China, and it was pretty good. We then entered Norwegian territory where we spent some time checking out different Viking helmets and swords. We finally rounded our world tour with Mexico, which was undoubtedly, the best. Situated inside a Mayan pyramid, there is a huge Mexican market with a boat ride which shows Mexico in full light as it goes along and was good. So, in around 2 hrs, we covered the entire world. Who needs 80 days for this?
The only bad things during this “trip” was my camera battery which went down and so the snaps came out bad as it was dark and flash was poor, and also the “hot” peanuts which we bought and which turned out to be sweet and bad! :(

After the world tour, we were pretty much tired as we had been walking all day, but we had the GM test track to cover. This is also an awesome ride. They show you all the tests which are performed on a car, like hi-speed braking, surviving crashes, different environments like extreme hot and cold and corrosive etc… After seeing them, we will see them practically as the cars we sit in are made to undergo these tests! The crash test and the speed test are particularly awesome, in which our car touches speeds more than 150-200 mph! let me tell you, life begins at 150 mph!!
After this, there was a car display in which you could actually sit in the car and take some snaps, and so it was time for some showoff. By then, it was around 8.30 PM and we rounded out trip with one last show which was something about universe and energy with TV host Ellen Degeneres hosting it.
Finally, there was a fireworks display which was really superb and I managed to capture a part of it on video (approx 1 min as I did not have enough memory left). The video weblink is given below:

It was 10.15 PM by the time everything got over and we were out. Meghna and Mahesh were waiting for us at the parking lot by then, and we left Orlando at around 10.30 PM and reached Tampa at around 12. All in all, a fantastic day, and we were in so much josh when we left Orlando that we were ready for another round, but by the time we reached Tampa, all our josh had sizzled away and hit the sack and fell asleep immediately.

Our next day was meant for local sightseeing and so we woke up pretty late. Lunch was a buffet at Udipi café! The buffet menu included Masala Dosa, Poori, ghee rice, carrot halwa among others and we savored it! Knoxville does not have any place like this except 2 lousy Indian restaurants serving bland food, so we never miss chances like these!

That afternoon, we went to a place called St. Petersburg (not the one in Russia), a nice town with an awesome beach with white sands, St. Pete beach! Before that, we went across Sunshine skyway, a superbly constructed cable-bridge and it kept my camera busy for a while. Some views of that bridge..

We could not swim in the beach as the water was cold but we did take some snaps of the sunset and it was a glorious sight.

We later had dinner at an Indian restaurant, run by an American! During this journey, I was again interrogated about my many “girlfriends” who do not exist. Wonder why I am only asked these things all the time??? My friends even selected my wedding venue and all I had to do was to arrive on time as they’ll do all the other hard work like inviting guests, arranging food and drinks, selecting a bride etc…! Anyways, we were back in Tampa early as we had to get up early the next day and go to Universal studios. All revved up for that trip, we called it a day. More about that trip coming soon...

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Tallahassee and Tampa.

We reached Tallahassee on Christmas morning. 5.15 AM to be exact. My friend Preetham came to pick us up from the station. We drove to his house and slept for a few hours, and got up at lunch time. Had lunch and then we guys went to play cricket in the tennis court. We later made plans to go to some "interesting" places that night but every thing was closed that day because it was Christmas! Man, I thought Christmas time was for celebrations everywhere but it was just the opposite! All the streets were empty and the only place which was open was Hooter’s and there was no place inside to even stand as it was filled with buggers like us! So we ditched all plans and decided to roam around Tallahassee and later go to the movies which was also open. We went to see the Capitol building (or tower) and took some snaps there. Some buggers were working that day too as only 1 floor was lit.

After that, we decided to go to the movie. But before that, we also found this Chinese buffet restaurant and had our dinner there and it was decent enough. All along, another friend of mine, Raghu who is also in Tallahassee was interrogating me to spill out all secrets about my love life, and the interrogations were hopeless as there was nothing :(. (Any babes out there reading this? U can contact me..)

So, the movie we decided to go goes by the name “King Kong” and is a hugely popular movie these days (wonder why? It’s just old wine in a new bottle… (hic)). For those who have seen the movie and liked it, no comments. For those who did not like it, join our group. For those lucky people who haven’t yet seen the movie, you do realize why you guys are lucky, don’t you?? Well, anyway, the movie is a slightly modified English version of the Hindi movie “Saajan” starring Sanjay Dutt, Madhuri and Salman. Surprised?? Yes, it TRUE!! The comparisons are told in the brackets. There is this hero (in place of Sanju Baba. Incidentally, even this guy is tall, slim with a long nose) who is in love with the heroine (in place of Madhuri) and is all caring for her while she doesn’t yet realize that and she is also an admirer of his plays (like his shayaris). All the action takes place in a deserted island (in place of Ooty) and filled with a set of “scary” tribal people (in place of the Ootians) who haven’t eaten a chocolate for years and mistakes the director’s hand for the chocolate when he offers one to them (unlike in Ooty, where they make chocolates!). So the scene is set, and suddenly, out of the blue, comes King Kong (in place of Salman) and starts jumping around & acting crazy (just like Salman, without clothes, but this guy used to wear them those days, but this is a new movie you see) and the heroine falls for him and a major love story develops between the heroine and King Kong . Our hero waits patiently till the end when King Kong sacrifices his love when he accidentally slips from the Empire State Building while prancing around with the heroine. (This was the modified part, Salman doesn’t slip and fall in the movie but just sacrifices). So hero and heroine are united at last!! See, just like Saajan, but a much sadder version of that.

To further prove my point, check out this photo and u'll realize..

By the end of the movie, even our state was somewhat like those tribes and so we decided to come back home and hit the sack as we had a long day ahead.

The next day, the plan was that Preetham will take us till Gainesville and Meghna will pick us up from there as it comes midway between Tallahassee and Tampa. Raghu also joined in for another round of interrogation. All along the 2 hr journey, we had a lot of fun and a mini chase with some redhead in a chevy and reached Gainesville by noon. Meghna and her hubby Mahesh arrived after a while and we took leave of Preetham and Raghu. The drive to Tampa was Nostalgic time as me, Megz and Nidhi discussed our college days while Mahesh was getting bored and Deepak fell asleep. 7 out of 10 times, the discussions involved Muddy (cant help it dude, u were so popular! ;)), not just that day, but every time we discussed college. We reached Tampa in the evening and it had beautiful weather which reminded us of Bangalore (sigh….). Megz hasn’t changed one bit in nature but she definitely has turned into a great cook!
That night, we had a taste of good Pulao and to complement that, there was this Hindi movie ‘Kyun Ki’ starring Salman (not the gorilla, but Salman himself, not that it matters… but the gorilla is a better actor). In this movie, he plays a madman and so he was very sober throughout except for some occasional scenes during the flashback when he’s not yet mad. And there is also Kareena, Jackie and Om Puri who are all doctors but behave like madmen while the patients are more normal. After seeing this movie, I began to get serious doubts as to which is worse, this or King Kong!! I decided to award that to this movie because King Kong atleast had good special effects!! So 2 bad movies in a row…

The next day we decided to go to Epcot, Disneyland in Orlando which is an hour’s drive from Tampa. Meghna and Mahesh could not join us as they had some work and so they dropped us off at Epcot and picked us up at night. More about Epcot in the next post. Till then, do drop in the comments…

Vikas and Srinidhi go to chatpatti - Start of a very long adventure

It was decided a long time ago that we will be going to florida for christmas vacations. So after a lot of deliberations, me, Nidhi and deepak, my roomie decided to start our journey from atlanta on 24th december.

The action plan for the day was to have heartful of chats in a famous resturant called chatpatti in Atlanta, GA. As good ex-s/w engineers, we didnt make any concrete plan but decided to go with the situation. As usual we didnt take any address. And also we decided to travel by marta which is the subway train service.

we met in one of the subway stations and decided to keep all our luggages in a locker. First we checked out the greyhound stop but the lockers there were not working. We decided to go to the airport. Al these times, we were travelling by marta. If you are in atlanta, please travel by marta - It is not the greatest of experience but you will thank it anyways..

We deposited our luggages in the airport. Venkataramana Yellagondanahalli Vikas, thats me, decided to give my name at the counter. The counter guy blinked for 5 complete seconds and wrote down the name VY Vik.

This was just the start we never expected and dictated the mood for the rest of the day.

We had no clue about any indian resturant in atlanta as even Nidhi’s cousin who is in Atlanta was out of town. After getting some basic info from Kanth about the whereabouts of that place, we called up the Chatpatti people but they themselves did not know where they are located or how to reach their place from the nearest Marta station!! Not knowing what to do, we gave up our desire to eat Chats unlike Harold and Kumar as we also had to catch the bus to Tallahassee, Florida in a few hours. If not, maybe even we might have found some chick with a screwed-up husband or some despo TV star!

Neways, that did not happen but all we found was some scary and hefty looking Kallus who used to come and start talking to us and begging for some money. One said that he did not mean to scare us in a scary way, and another said that he does not like stealing on Christmas eve…boy, those guys were scary and u can get freaked out by their size itself!! we just decided to ignore them and walk on and look for more crowded places.

Meanwhile, our hunt for some other Desi restaurants near downtown continued. I was positively sure that there is one somewhere around as I had seen it in the afternoon while I had gone looking around for a restroom...(even the f*****g toilets were closed!!!). We finally found the restaurant named “Haveli” (after I found a restroom which was open, in the bus station…) but it was closed and the board said that it will open again at 5.30 (not 6). We came back at 5.30 and waited for a while but it was still closed!! So we decided to go back to the airport, roam around there, look out for chicks and also have some dinner there itself, and collect the bags and come back. No chats or Indian food that day for us and we had to settle for a pizza at Domino’s, but we made a vow that we will eat at Chatpatti’s after we come back from Florida!!!

We finally collected our bags and returned to the bus station around 9 PM while the bus was scheduled for 11.15 PM and so we had plenty of time to kill. And we somehow managed to kill it. Also, the bus was late by half-hour so more waiting for us. We finally left Atlanta around 11.45 PM to Tallahassee to begin a long, eventful trip…

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