Monday, January 29, 2007

A trip back home...

After desperately waiting for a trip back home, here I am, sitting in my office after finishing that trip last was not a small trip, but not big was for 5 weeks, and I had decided to make maximum use of those 5 weeks!

I wanted to give a surprise to my parents, so I decided to go 4 days in advance of the date I told them I would be coming. Luckily, my friend Adi said he's free and can pick me up from the airport, so that issue was solved. Landed in Bangalore, generously paid Rs.200 + 1 USD like an idiot to the porter for pushing my trolley some 50 meters, gave a call to mom using roaming service telling her that I'll call back in an hour and made sure she'll be at home. Went home and gave her a call from outside and asked her to come out. I wanted to go in myself but did not want to give too much shock! Mom was baffled as to why I am asking her to come out and thought maybe there is some celestial event sighting in Bangalore!! :) She came out and started looking towards the sky, and I asked her to look down!! :D Even my sis was present and both were pleasantly surprised, but we did not inform dad yet who was in office. When he came home in the evening, it was another shock! In between, I slept liked I've never slept before due to the jet lag and the long flight journey via Atlanta - Chicago - London - Colombo - Bangalore!

Oh, By the way, a special mention to the traffic..the first time I came from the airport, I was scared to shit looking at buses and autos and cars coming from all directions! Throughout my stay, believe it or not, while driving my bike, I was checking the rearview mirror regularly, stopping for pedestrians, and even stopped at a stop sign once or twice, before realizing the (extra) noise pollution it can create for the next 5-10 secs, and moved on. And once, me and my cousins decided to go to 'Kabul Express' 9.40 PM show at 8.45 PM. Called up another cousin who was near Inox theater to go buy the tickets. As she had a car, we decided to go by taxi, and called a city taxi service. By the time, he came to pick us up, it was 9.15 PM and we had to pick another guy, we picked him and left at around 9.25 types, pretty confident that there is no way in the world, we can reach on time. And we stay in Nagarabavi, 15 kms from Inox. The taxi driver was confident he can take us on time, and he did, almost, but not before creating a situation where 3 people in the car almost had heart attacks! Me, and my cousin and his wife who had come from Dubai. We reached at 9.45 PM and by the time, we went 4 floors and went inside, we had just missed the opening credits! and the movie was not bad, actually.

Bangalore (or Bengalooru, as some people want to call) hasn't actually changed that much, except for the traffic, which has increased 4-fold, and addition of 1 or 2 flyovers. And the BTM lyt flyover was completed (finally!!! I had never dreamt to seeing it complete in this lifetime), the airport road was partial, anand rao circle is complete and has something which is both good and bad, its closeness to Race Course. For those who havent travelled on that flyover, it gives a wonderful & close view of the race course, thats the good part. The bad part is that, it gives such a good view that people park their vehicles on the flyover to stop and watch the race!! I had heard of this before, I could not witness such an event, but I did witness something similar when I was driving on Mysore Rd. flyover. Around 20 bikes, including a police vehicle (wtf) had been parked on the flyover and everybody is watching below, and guess what it was, some stupid sports competition on Parade grounds, and a running race is going on!! If this can bring such a crowd, imagine replacing people with horses! Something needs to be done seriously!!

Coming back to my trip, I actually waited for 4 days before eating outside the 1st time! Wanted to get adjusted back to Indian conditions. My arch rival, cold with running nose, decided to pay me a visit pretty soon and did not want to let go of me throughout the trip. Thankfully, I did not bring him along to US. My journey to good actually started 1st day itself with wonderful rasam made by mom and many other home made dishes later. And boy, I enjoyed the chaats so much that sometimes, that used to be my dinner! And I did make some 8-10 visits to Indraprastha restaurant for its heavenly vada-sambar and dosas!! I could not afford to miss the pubs and paid visits to Styx, P.Haze, Mojo's and B11. Tried out Andhra style as well. And of course, a dhaba, where I used to have lunch 3 times a week during college times! Overall, it was a pretty satisfactory outing for me in terms of food, but my belly did not sound so happy. For it, it was like working during UAT (User Acceptance Test) phase of software cycle. I was accepting everything and it had to slog to keep me healthy without breaking down!!

I made an honest effort to meet as many friends and relatives as I could. Met most of the close relatives. My school buddies were all there, and 3 of us were making the trip to India at the same time, so it was a time for get-togethers and parties and bringing up lots of childhood memories! Also, had a good time with my cousins, one day we went to Wonder-la, Bangalore's new theme park, and believe me, it rocks! Met some of my college buddies , Infy team (I couldn't go inside Infy, but it looks too good with those new modern buildings) and few other friends. My good fortune: Deep Purple came down to perform in Bangalore, and I made it to the event this time after missing them last time and it rocked!! My bad fortune: Iron Maiden is performing in Bangalore on Mar 17th and I am in US. When they performed in US, they did not come anywhere near Knoxville. Anyways, there were some friends whom I really wanted to meet, but unfortunately, could not. If you are one of those, sorry! I hope u undertand my situation.

This trip couldn't have been complete without a visit to RVCE, where I studied BE. Luckily, I had company and my classmate from BE, Bandy, now (Bandy during college x 4) in body mass, decided to come. We spent a whole day in college and every moment was nostalgic, right from, eating samosa from the little shop near the parking lot, to the IT department, the canteen, sports complex, hostels, basketball court, and of course, Dreamland and its famous CP and KP parathas! However, it was exam day and most of the profs had left after exam duty, was just able to meet our HOD and few attenders, but the new building for our department is way better than what we had. Best part of the visit, a new "Center for Gandhian studies" in college, Gandhigiri RVCE main bhi shuru ho gaya mamoo!!

Most of the above activities were done in December, and New Year passed by, and for a change, i stayed back at home this time during New Year's, was too tired after roaming around in the morning. 1st week of Jan was spent running around for visa and tickets for the family trip to Singapore and Malaysia. We went there for a week in the 2nd week of Jan. It was a fun trip, and Malaysia is an awesome place!! Went to Genting and Kuala Lumpur, couldn't go to some of the other places as it was not included in the package. Genting is a nice cool hill station with an outdoor and indoor theme park. Worth a visit, best ride is the Flying Coaster where you need to stand in the coaster!! And it does rotate 360 degrees a few times!
Kuala Lumpur, in contrast, is a big, well planned city, and Petronas Towers is one of its best attractions! One amazing tower, it looks beautiful in the morning and even more beautiful in the night! Here are some pics...

Spent 3 days in Malaysia and 4 days in Singapore. Unfortunately, Singapore was raining most of the time, still we did not let down our spirits and visited the Jurong zoo and bird park with $1 raincoats and umbrellas! and it was a good experience! And the zoo is fantastic!! And this animal below was the most amazing! Of course, you'd have seen it in NatGeo. The Hamadryas Baboon and its big red arse!! Yuck!!

Also went to Sentosa Island for a day, and luckily, it did not rain that day..nice place, with an amazing musical fountain and laser show in the end!

Ended the Singapore tour with a city tour and a final visit to the Merlion (I see this statue everywhere in Singapore! This is the main one)

Reached back India on the 14th after a nice trip and it suddenly dawned upon me that I have only 1 week left! And I still hadn't met many friends that time. The week was spent meeting friends for lunch and dinner, pubbing, and DVD purchasing in the mecca for DVD purchases, National market! and in this way, Sunday came. Sunday was a house arrest for me as mom forced me to stay home one day atleast, and we hadn't even started packing! Started packing only in the evening, and went on till 12.30 AM as my luggage was 7 kgs overweight, and most of it was foodstuff!! Somehow brought it to weight limit.

I hate Monday mornings (who doesn't?). Monday, 22nd Jan, I hated the most. It was time to head back to US. And my flight was in the morning through Colombo and I had a 12 hr stay in Colombo. We were provided free accommodation and food. And boy, they gave us a 5 star beach resort! Amazing service! Went roaming around the city in the morning, and was gasping looking at the prices! someone said SL is cheap, I wanna find that guy and ask him what he found cheap! One Plain Dosa - Rs.55 (approx. INR 23), not so bad, but masala dosa - Rs.195!! Meals - Rs.350! No, this was not in a 5 star hotel, we spent for lunch as our hotel was far and lunch was free only there. Had free dinner in the hotel containing mostly American and European style food with a wide assortment of pastries. Then I went to make a call home and spoke for 4.5 mins. Guess how much the bill came to? SL Rs.890!! to India!! WTF!! SL Rs190 per min! I spend 7 cents per min from US to India! Crazy!!

Anyways, left the hotel that night to the airport, had no problems in any of the flights . When the last flight landed in Atlanta, I was so tired that the lady next to me asked me if I am alive! From the airport, took the MARTA service and went to the bus station to catch the Knoxville bus and reached Knoxville at 4.30 AM on 24th. Did not sleep much (went to sleep at 6.30 and woke up at 8 AM) and dressed to go to college! By 3.30 PM, was dozing off in my cubicle, when my boss woke me up and asked me to go home and take some rest! Came home at 5, slept at 5.30 PM and woke up at 9.30 AM the next morning, and my body was adjusted back to US time.

Now, Still, some of the snacks are left, and my heavy workload is driving my homesickness away. Still, dunno when my next trip will be, but I am waiting for that day again to come soon!!!

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