Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Football fever..

yeah..I'm also suffering from it. am no nostradamus or something, but just offering my opinion on the WC so far and beyond...

so, now the WC has boiled down to the Quarterfinals and what do we have here? A German side in awesome form, faced with an Argentinian side equally good, both teams with some newfound heroes like Podolski and Maxi. Anything's possible, Argentina is planning to employ German tactics of attacking right at the beginning. Its gonna be a cracker of a match..but I feel Germany can go through..

There is the normal Italian side who are yet to lose a game since 2004, my favorites, though it was a bit lucky the way they got through to the quarters due to a bad decision (but they were in the recieving end last time, so their luck evens out), but hats off to the Socceroos, they played really well. Playing the Ukranians. Should not face much of a problem, though Ukraine is playing well, I dont think they can break the Italian defence, but lets see. Go Azzurri!!

England, the football equivalent of our Indian cricket team, studded with stars, play like fools. They just managed to beat Sweden because of that yet another awesome goal by Beckham. I dont think they can go beyond Portugal. I like the team, but its useless. Portugal will struggle due to Valentin Ivanov but should still be able to get through.

And Finally, France suddenly seem to have found their class and played superbly against Espanol. Good to see Zizou for yet another game. But can they beat the Brazilians? Brazil, I dont think is playing to the best of their form, though they have improved against Japan and Ghana, but they are still ok, its gonna be a close game, but I feel its gonna be curtains for Zizou and his team.

so, my semifinal lineup is gonna be Germany v/s Italy, Portugal v/s Brazil. 1st game, will be a close game with great German forwards and great Italian defenders, but I guess Germany will prevail, though I'll cross my fingers for Italy. The 2nd game is gonna be fun, with Portugal's coach, Scolari being Brazil's former coach. What tactic will he implement? whatever he does, I guess its still Brazil who'll go through making it a Germany-Brazil final yet again, and I really cant tell what can happen in that game, will be watching the game on big screen and supporting the Germans..

in between all these, the Wimbledon is taking place at exactly the wrong time, India still havent won after that 1st ODI, there is no stopping Alonso, and I dont care a shit about some of the other sporting events taking place.

will be missing the Eng v/s Portugal game as we will be on the road to Indianapolis. Will reach there in time to catch the Brazil v/s France game, and then shifting focus for a while to the F1 race on Sunday!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Great Madhatters Reunion

If you are wondering what reunion is this, the Madhatters is a group of current and ex-Infosyians who, by chance, did their training together in Mysore from Aug-Dec 03, and who are also devoted Calvin fans. Now dont ask me why that name, that is irrelavent.

So, some of us Madhatters decided to meet together. The plan was to meet during the Memorial weekend and the venue: The Niagara Falls. All of us were pretty excited about the trip. From the group, 2 of us, Me and Sid, decided to take a long holiday and come to NY a week before and while off in Manhattan. A 3rd member, SS, who works in Manhattan, stays in NJ, was there to recieve us and we stayed at his place. I first went to Pennsylvania with my roomie, and I met SS at a place called the Pocono Mtns, where we played paintball. Now, that is an awesome game for playing once-in-a-while. I thought paintball is all about shooting madly at people in a closed room or something like that, but this place was no room, but a forest! and we were dressed like US Army soldiers, and we had several missions to complete! This required us to hide and shoot behind trees, guard the Pentagon, among other things! In the end, I realized I can never be enrolled for the army! The max I can get is being called a paintball veteran, nothing more...

After that, went back to NJ, picked up Sid from Newark, came home and slept. The next day, I went to meet my cousin while the others went shopping and the movies. During the next 4 days, me and Sid roamed around every corner, Streets and Avenues of Manhattan, Sid extending a bit and travelling to Bronx also for a brief period. Now, there are many roadside sellers who sell the "I love NY" at $2 a shirt. I did not pick that up, but I definetely loved NY!! That place rocks! After coming from small towns like Knoxville, u'll love that even more! Took a photo of the 1st skyscraper i saw, and after a while, got bored of taking pics of each and every building! We visited the Brooklyn bridge, Staten Island, Wall St and broadway, Times Square, Liberty Island,Empire State Observatory, a few museums like Madame Tussauds etc..In between, we also went and applied for our Canadian Visa and got them. All along, we also had a taste of great Desi Khana, topped by the Samosas at Cafe spice and the rolls at Kati Rolls. One more thing I saw, large crowd of Desis, they are everywhere in NY and NJ!!

Anyway, after spending the week travelling in NY, we had to start preparing for the Niagara trip. One more member, Moo joined us on Friday and went for his Canadian visa with SS while me and Sid went to pick up the car. Had a scary ride back, getting lost around NJ, before finding home finally. We planned to leave NJ by 4 PM but as usual, IST was maintained and we left at around 5. The next 1 hr was spent circling around NJ itself, completely lost and had covered only 5 miles! We could have had a party out there when we finally found the right direction! After that, things were pretty smooth, crossed Pennsylvania and entered NY state again, stopped from Dinner near Binghampton, and finally reached Buffalo at around 1.30AM, passed through Canadian Immigration and Customs without any problems and finally reached Canada! the 5th member, Kiran had come over there from Toronto where he works and had booked a hostel room. We arrived there around 2.30, but not before giving him a scare, saying that we were not allowed inside Canada!

So finally, after an year almost, we met up again! before that, we used to meet everyday for lunch at Infy,Bangalore. Hmmm..those were the days...2 more were supposed to come, but could not make it.

The next day entirely was spent at Niagara Falls. Do I have to say anything about this place?? I dont think its required..All I can say is we had a great time over there. The best part is the "Maid of the mist" ride which takes us close to the Falls. And boy, there is so much mist out there!! Some snaps of that ride..

After that, we went around some of the other attractions before heading to Niagara-on-the-lake in the evening, and thats a small town near the Niagara, spent some time there throwing stones into the lake and came back to Niagara to the Casino Niagara with the hope of making some money. Kiran decided to take the 1st chance at the slot machines and lost $20 trying to find the right combination. Moo went elsewhere to pursue his luck while the others sticked together. I tried my hand at Blackjack with the computer, won some, lost some, and ended with a loss of $6. We then decided to go bigtime and me and Kiran went to a Blackjack table which had people betting in 100s while we were betting $25. Again, I won some, lost some, bet upto $50 and ended up with $55. Could have won more, but it was already late and we had to drive to Toronto after dinner, so we decided to call it quits. Not too much of a loss for me, just $1, Kiran lost some $30, Moo had lost $35 before he won back everything. In the meanwhile, some 80 year old lady won $10,000. What is she gonna do with so much money? How come we never win?? Too many questions to be answered...

After the casino, we left Niagara to Toronto, had dinner in one of the subways we found. Reached oakville (near Toronto) and stayed there in a motel and went to Toronto in the morning. Roamed around the city, then we went for lunch at Saravanaa Bhavan, and it was one meal we can never forget! We ordered idli, Vada, Sada Dosa, paper dosa, Rava dosa, pongal ,Bisi beLe bath, loads of coconut chutney, and every plate was empty in seconds with 5 hands going for it! After everything, we ordered Meals! Rounded it up with excellent madras filter coffee served in the Indian way in a steel cup and bowl, covered with froth, and we also packed some badam halwa as it was to tempting and we could not have it there after coffee. Also, got to eat Paan after a long long time! In the end, we had a bill of $100! worth every cent!
We thought we'll relax, watch Fanaa which had released that day and was showing in the same complex and come back for evening snacks, but decided against it. We went downtown and visited the CN Tower, one of the world's tallest buildings which has the world's highest public observation deck at 447 m or 1465 ft. The queue there was very long and was painfully slow, but it was definetely worth the wait to watch from the glass floor. Yes, the tower has a section where the floor is made of glass, and if u step on it, you'll see the ground 1,122 feet below. It was a great sight and some pics of that are given below.

We could not go to the highest point as there was a huge queue for that and we had no time, so we headed back, went to Oakville and dropped off Kiran, rested a while, and left at around 9 back towards NY. We had to come quick as Sid and Moo both had flights the next day morning at 8 AM from 2 different airports, located in 2 diff directions, one in Newark in NJ, other La Guardia in NY, and the journey was a 10 hr journey through the night!! We arrived at Rainbow bridge at exactly 10 and we were lucky to catch the fireworks show at Niagara, which happens every Fri and Sun night, at 10PM for 5-10 mins. There was a delay at the US Immigrations counter but once we were through, it was a long drive. We reached Scranton in Pennsylvania at around 4 AM where I got down and went to my roomie's place, while the others continued to NY, reached there around 7.30, and just made it to the flight, while I slept well at my friend's place and we left his house the next morning for another long drive back to Tennessee..

We were greeted home with a sink blockage and water flowing out from the kitchen right up to the front door, but thats a different story and we can ignore that. Thus ended a memorable trip and the great Madhatters gettogether. Whew! now, let me get back to work!

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