Dec 31, 2010

Bike Drive on New Year Eve

Until evening, I was having no plans on how to celebrate the new year's eve. I could go home and celebrate the dawn of the new year with my parents, or I could celebrate it here with my friends, or since the music season is not yet over, I could go and listen to some concert, or I could spend an evening by watching films either in laptop or in theatre if I could get ticket, or I could simply roam around the city and be back to my room around night. These were some of the options that came to my mind when I contemplated on what to do.

The time was around 7 pm and I still don't have a concrete plan. I was making some chess moves on gameknot, reading to Shobhan Saxena's thought provoking articles of TOI, and was having room-made black tea when I got the call from my friend. He asked "Hey...are you awake? If so, I want to know if you are willing to join us to Parfait for dinner?". The idea of having dinner at Parfait located in Taramani link road was exciting as they prepare excellent cakes. So I decided to go there and so I changed my clothings from extra casuals to somewhat decent casuals and got ready in five minutes, joined with two of my friends who were waiting for me already at my hostel entrance.

We managed to by pass the traffic and reach the destination by our bike, but Parfait is such a small place that they were already choking with orders. All the chairs were occupied and more people were waiting outside to get their turn. We thought its not worth a long wait. Since both my friends are from Maharashtra, I suggested them to try Spice Masters, a small dosa centre located near Velacherry bus stand where we can have excellent south Indian dinner at low cost.

So we biked our way to the Vijayanagar bus stand from Parfait through the Taramani link road, all the way honking on our bells and braking the wheels to avoid collision with chaotic traffic and decided to park our cycles near an auto stand and walk to the place. The judicious decision to walk to the venue proved to be useful as so many people were on the roads today, some with their family and some with friends. Spice Masters has Adai avial and Idiyappam with coconut milk as their special menu today. We ordered the same, and my friends added plain rava dosa to their menu. We finished our dinner with a cup of filter coffee each.

That's me having bunny hug softie

Opposite to Spice Masters is the Kalinga restaurant attached to which is a softies ice cream shop in their basement. We decided to have a softie, and so we crossed the road leaving our cycles at the auto stand. One of my friend and myself ordered for Bunny Hug, one of their special, while my other friend ordered some other variety. We had our ice creams, returned to auto stand, took our cycles and biked our way back to the institute. None of us were ready to call it the end of our new year eve and so we thought of going to Besant nagar beach. However, my early morning appointments made me to opt out of the plan and so we gossiped outside my hostel about local and state level politics, called it an end and parted in our directions.

Dec 26, 2010

Christmas trip to Alamparai fort

A superposition of strokes of icy cirrus, splendid and dark heap of cumulus, and the rhythmic rhyme of bell from a nearby church marked the beginning of my Christmas day. The joyous cycle ride from my hostel to the insti's main gate in cold and crisp air bring in some soothing experience that ended up with a cup of "hot" chips coffee. It was while having my coffee that I self-assessed my health condition - "Should I go for it?". Its only a couple of days back that I caught cold and I have been on medication which had drained all the energy that was left in my body.

"I still can stop all this", I told myself, "by calling Prasad and come up with an excuse". "Sorry yaar, my cycle tyre got punctured...I overslept and just got up...my brother is coming to meet me..."and so many such excuses came to my mind while I aimlessly browsed for an application on my mobile. "Why not I facebook one more time?, or I can check the weather forecast for today", thinking this I opened my application folder from the menu. Something odd caught my eye that time, ya... it was the application I downloaded previous night, but din't install and configure as I slept while the downloading was in progress. What is it? Nimbu or something? No...Nimbuzz. Is it from Google (because it has "buzz" on it)? No! It seems to be a chat application.

Well, its asking me for a tag line! What shall I type here? What's coming in my mind at this moment? Concentrate...Think hard...
I think my inner voice told "Let's do it"! Is this a tag line? Or is there a hidden message that tells me what I should decide upon that moment? Ok...here we go, "Hello Prasad! This is Jam, I just reached main gate. I'll catch bus to Tiruvanmiyur now. I'll call you once I reach the bus stand. Please guide me to reach your place from there on".

No...it's not about visiting my friend's place. Its a different thing. Its a thing that sounds like "motorcycle diaries" of Che. It was decided a week ago that me and my friend Prasad will go on a motorcycle drive in his Rajdoot to Alamparai Fort and the date was fixed to be on the Christmas day. I didn't ask Santa Claus for a gift, but little did I expect that time that there was indeed a gift awaiting for me to come and pick it up! My confused beginning soon started to evaporate like mist on grass in a sunlight and soon the enthu of the drive overwhelmed me completely. And thus we started our drive, from the periphery of Neelangarai, a drive that will last for a little less than 2 hours with a break in between for breakfast and tea. A drive that would take you to the road that is frequently travelled; the East Coast Road drive to Muttukad and Mahabalipuram; the road with a view of silvery reflection of the rising sun on the tropical waters in front of Nithyakalyana Perumal temple, the road that is used to frequent between Chennai and Pondicherry, the road which is simply used to exploit the pleasure of driving. It requires a different level of enthu to search and find a location such as Alamparai fort through the road that is less traveled by, and such is the enthu my friend Prasad posses, who had frequented to this fort a number of times in the past.

 The entrance

Once a magnificent fort, but now its nothing but ruins, Alamparai fort is located in a village called Kadapakkam, about 50km down south from Mamallapuram. The fort was used during war time and also as a port, thus I came to know from the numerous sources on the internet. When I heard the name for the first time, I thought its "Alam (banyan) + Parai (rocks)", meaning the fort with a banyan tree. We did spot some banyan tree rooted on the dilapidated walls which, once upon a time served as the walls of the fort.

Prasad (left) and myself (right) with Prasad's Rajdoot

Set in a typical village background, the village of Alamparai fort is a scenic beauty with lush greeneries on one side, and backwater fisheries on the other. The people here are found to be either at the fish market bargaining for the catch, or playing cards under a shady banyan tree. We reached the entrance of the fort, parked our Rajdoot in front of a modern day structure that housed a village family, asked them to take care of our helmets while we are on for the venturing. I should mention the hospitality of those village people here, for only they can not only agree to take care of our helmets, but also asked if we were coming on a long drive without having our lunch. In none of my world would I offer a stranger a meal and hospitality that we experienced!

 The ruined remains

After taking photos of the ruined fort from various positions, we went on a boating trip to the beach through the backwaters. The view of fort from the backwaters tell us how the fort would have looked like once upon a time. In fact, the highlight of this trip is the boat ride through the backwaters, which has got us two new friends, the boat drivers Ranjith and Kumaran, both localites who survives on fishing and taking the fort visitors on a boating trip.

A portion of ruined fort wall lying on backwaters

It's not the "road less travelled" thing, nor the fort or the backwaters, nor the hospitality shown by the village people, nor the drive on long stretches of the traffic less road on which you could not spot even a single bumpy drive or potholes, nor the scenic beauty on both sides of the drive that highlighted our trip, but a simple and extraordinary experience of having a siesta in a temple premises in some remote village located on the ECR road! The nap refreshed both of us and we both could feel the reborn much needed enthu in us that helped us to complete the trip. As my friend said, "If you aren't enthu of driving, you can't enjoy the ride".

Dec 24, 2010

My recent movie log

My film watching activity is not as buzzing as reading books. However, I decided to give a break for my reading and watch some movies to catch up with the motion picture industry. Some of the films I watched, no need to mention, are adapted based on popular books, such as "The Notebook" by Nicholas Sparks. The other films that I watched, only those I liked, finds its mention here:

Following, Memento and Inception by Christopher Nolan
A walk to remember and Notebook, written by Nicholas Sparks
Due Date (English comedy)
Mynaa (tamil movie)
Vaa Quarter Cutting (tamil movie, a bit boring though, can watch it once)

I half watched Nandhalala, though my friend strongly recommended me to watch it fully. I ll watch it later when I can find some time. I am planning to watch Harry Potter's part 1 of seventh sequel on Sunday if I could get a seat in Inox or Sathyam. Other films on my to watch list are "The Tourist", "Black Swan" and "Man-Madhan-Ambu", the last one is a tamil flick.

Dec 22, 2010

Chennai in December

I am having a good time and a bad time since yesterday evening.

One of my friend who is working on a thesis for his Master's got a job offer through campus placement cell from one of the best core companies in India. He came from a village background, and faced lot of difficulties in getting educated with the limited resources he had. I am so happy for him.

 My friend's job treat at Rain Forest, Adyar

Chennai is facing one of its worst ever winter this year. The mercury dips below normal low temperature and sets a record every day! Cold weather is  OK, but cold and humid is terrible. Its highly unpleasant, at least for me, and the worst you can imagine in these days is to catch cold. The cold virus spreads like California wild fire, with the weather condition providing the fuel to propagate.

Chennai in December is famous for the Carnatic music season. All the halls and mandaps are booked during this month for which classical music stalwarts are called for to preside the dais and exhibit their talents. While I am interested in classical music, I hate crowds and so I din't make it to any of those concerts. I heard there will be a concert organized by our music club during first week of new year. I am looking forward for a good evening then.

Dec 21, 2010

The Setting Moon and the Rising Venus

PS: The following post was written when I started chronicling in another domain.  I decided to merge my chronicles with this blog, however, I have imported those articles as it is.

What is the perfect way to start a blog than wishing you a Good Morning! While I am writing this, the Sun is just getting up and stretching his (time) arms from the eastern horizon.

The morning view of the sky was splendid today. While the setting moon captivated my attention towards the west, the rising Venus, which you can't see during winter unless you are nocturnal like me, or an early bird to rise before the Sun, is certainly a sight to watch. Here are the photographs of those two celestial bodies that I took with my Sony H55 Cybershot camera.

 The setting full moon on the west


 The rising Venus from the east


Pardon me for the noises in the image as its too dark and I don't have a tripod to capture the photo with long exposure.

Dec 2, 2010

Review of Mynaa

Mynaa is a tamil film released during Diwali. But I get to know about the film only recently, and happen to see it as well. The first impression about the film is not so good, however, if you are a person who believes in "first impression is the best", you are in for a surprise! Because I loved this film as it progressed. I felt like I am reading a classic love story and not a movie!

The likable things from the movie are the location at which the film is set. The story revolves around a love story between a couple who lives in a backward village area amidst the beautiful hills. From the film, I found that the people don't have many basic facilities such as roads, electricity and water. The only way to reach this village is by a jeep which keep ferrying people from base of the hills until evening. The place looked like a forest area and as I guessed, there is a wild elephant chase scene in between.

The other thing that I liked is the philosophical line of thought, which can be summarized in one word: fate. The male protagonist happens to threaten the mother of Mynaa (obviously heroine of this film) because she wanted her to marry a rich guy from neighbouring village. One can't say she is against love; at the least, I would say she is trying to think practically. Having lost her life to a drunkard, she wanted her daughter to live happily by marrying her to a rich guy. This result in protagonist being sent to jail. He had to escape since he doesn't want Mynaa to be forcefully married while he is away. The escape happened during diwali, which is Thalai Diwali for the S.I (first diwali since marriage which is celebrated grand in in-law's house) who is longing to go to his in-law's house for celebration.

All is well if it ends well, so goes the sayings. The situation that happens in between which eased the tension between the police and the accused made one to think that Love eventually wins, however, the tragic ending twisted the story and that's the part I liked loved the most. In my opinion, Mynaa is one of the best movie from Tamil industry.

My ratings: 4/5

Jul 4, 2010

Spain vs Paraguay

The fourth quarter finals in the 2010 FIFA world cup was perhaps the best match I have ever watched. Not that it was played between the two best teams in the world cup. In fact, Spain had created a history today by winning the quarterfinals for the first time! The reason is that the game had la ot of dramatic sequences in the entire 90 minutes.

The drama started with a referee's wrong off-side call which ended up in Paraguay not being given the goal that they deserved, which would have made the score to read 1-0 for Paraguay. The replay showed that one of the Paraguay player was slightly offside, but unfortunately he did not receive the pass. The player who received it was way behind the Spain's defender while he took the ball in charge and hit it on to the nets. Perhaps it happened too quickly that the referee did not see this clearly and so awarded off-side wrongly. The score was still 0-0 till the off-time.

In the second half, both the teams played their heart out trying to get that one goal which would make the difference to them. Just one goal was all that was needed for both the teams, and they were not ready to give it to the opponent so easily. Each team made their competitor to sweat hard to even bring the ball to some 30 meters from the net. Occasionally, desperate attempts were made by both the teams to shoot out the ball from such a long distance as they were unable to go past the defenders. In such a highly dramatic situation, it was likely to expect some kind of mistakes to happen, and it started with a Spaniard. One of the player committed a foul inside the penalty area which resulted in awarding a shoot out to Paraguay. Guess what? Paraguay failed to convert the shoot out to a goal and lead the game! Worse. Spain take charge immediately and the counter-strike ended in a near goal to Spain which was stopped by another foul, only that this time it was committed by a Paraguay player inside the penalty area.

Alonso from Spain did what Cardoso from Paraguay could not! He puts the goal!!! The moment was electrifying and Spain players were celebrating, but the referee was not pleased with the result! He noticed something which no other player noticed; Spain players committed a fault by moving into the penalty area even before Alonso shoots out the ball. The referee calls for shoot out again and this time Alonso could not beat the goalie! Two penalty shoot outs, one for each team, and neither converted it to a goal! The scores were still reading 0-0 and the desperation in both the teams to get that one goal was clearly surfacing now.

The penalty shoot out drama started and ended in just under two minutes. The last time such a drama happened wherein both the teams got a shoot out and failed to convert it to a goal was in 1930! Villa finally made the difference by putting a goal when only 8 minutes were left for the final whistle and created history for Spain.

Jun 16, 2010

How to define success?

A person finishes his engineering from some xyz college of engineering which is affiliated to one of the best universities in India. He then went on to apply for a software job through campus interview, got selected and have been offered posting in IT hub at bangalore. After few months of training, he was offered to go abroad (typically to US) for a period of few years to work on client’s side, allowing him to earn in dollars. After completing his tenure abroad, he comes back to India with a “US return” tag which enables him to automatically get a priority while looking for a suitable match. Fortunately, his horoscope matches with one of the beautiful girl in his community.

He marries the beautiful girl, takes her abroad for honeymoon either to Europe or US, buy a car, a home, spends his weekend trip with his wife on trekking and other activities, organizes party every week with his “close” friends, becomes father, read books to his kid and bring him up in rich atmosphere, provide him/her the education from one of the best (also the richest) school in India, and on and on and on.

There is this another person, who manages to finish his under graduation from abc college of engineering, not happy with what he had learnt, went on to pursue masters, still not convinced he has done anything, went on to struggle himself day and night, spent lots of sleepless nights arguing with his peers and colleagues, make a small but significant leap which enables him to get a Ph.D, still not satisfied, takes up a teaching post in a research based institute, does research with help from his grad students, spends lot of times with his students than with his family (if at all he gets one), make a startling discovery of something which nobody in this world is interested on. In pursuit of his dreams, he realizes that he doesn’ t have time to socialize with his friends, can’t afford to spend time with a girl in cafeteria unless she is his colleague and talks about research but not sex, felt bad because he couldn’t get priority in looking for a suitable match, even worse when he was told that beautiful girl’s horoscope does not match with his own, can’t stand questions from his relatives/friends who keeps asking him “what you do for your living?” and on and on and on.

Who among the two persons you see here has a successful life?

Inspired from Peer cruelty.

Jun 15, 2010

Right and Wrong!

It can be right. It can be wrong. But can something be right and wrong at the same time?

I was having my usual small allegro at sweet sinuations at Lory Student Center (LSC)  when I read this strange article. Well, my routine is to grab a cup (mug?) of coffee from the counter, add sugar and cream and mix it together, spot a chair just outside the cafeteria and have the drink. But there was a change in the usual seating area which makes me to look for an alternate space to rest my ass till I finish my cup of coffee. On the chair was placed an "USA today" daily magazine, neatly folded and was very inviting to read.

I browsed through the first page which talks about the sudden flash flood due to heavy rain in camping areas and about missing and dead people. When I flipped the daily to its fourth page, a news article about new birth certificate rule on Puerto Rico grabbed my attention. It was only a week ago that a friend of mine who is doing his Ph.D at CSU told me that Puerto Rico is an US territory and people who are born at Puerto Rico are US citizens by default.

Well, its not about what my friend told me about the territory, or the new rule that has been discussed in the article that I wanted to talk about here. The interesting thing comes at the end of the article which talks about some problem with the new law. A 78 year old Puerto Rican have applied for new birth certificate as per the rule, got his fee waived because he is over 60, but got his age printed on his new birth certificate as 33! Is there a mistake on waiving his fee, or on his age? One is correct, other is wrong. We know which is what, but does the Puerto Rico government knows about it?

May 21, 2010

Colorado Diary - Apartment Life

I have been fortunate to have come to the US on an exchange visitor program sponsored by an educational institution. It has revived my good old college days experience and have made it possible to compare the kind of education I had back in India with the US. Again, I haven't traveled or visited any college other than the CSU and so this comparison cannot be used for any extrapolation.


First comes the apartment life. I was not fully prepared for my US trip partly because I followed my junior's suggestions who visited the same university last summer. He said I can take food in the mess for which the money will be taken directly from my monthly stipend. But it came as a shock to me when I came to know that they don't allow graduates to the mess. They expect graduates to take care of themselves and so we are given an apartment furnished with a kitchen.

The apartment is about 15 minutes distance by walk from the CSU transit center. The front portion of the apartment is secured by a gate. The key to unlock the gate and reach the front office is available only with the residents. The new comers are helped by the inmates or the concerned care taker to open the front entrance. Checking in is done at the front office by filling a few forms with your name as in passport, duration of your stay etc. The apartment has to be booked well in advance in order to get an accommodation. The CSU department and Prof. Chandrasekar's (under whom I will be working at CSU) assistant helped me in reserving an accommodation by paying $140 deposit and so a room was already allotted  for me by the time I arrived.

One of the Ph.D scholar working under Prof. Chandrasekar has already taken the key from the front office because my arrival time is after the office hours. The keys include  one for the front entrance, another to  my apartment and the third one to my bedroom. The fourth key, which is used to open my mail box located opposite to the front office was given a day later, after my check-in process is completed. All the keys but for my bedroom one were working fine. After registering a formal complaint from me, they changed the lock and gave a new key the next day. I must say that the maintenance people are very good and lot more friendly. They helped me to get in the apartment with a spare key and changed the lock with in the next working day.

I am living in the second floor at West Elizabeth. The apartment is called as The International House and the resident inmates come from various countries from all over the world. The entrance to the I.House has a lobby where people gather every Friday and introduce themselves to the new comers. The lobby also houses a snooker table,  hand socker game and table-tennis. Opposite to the front office lies a couch facing the television, and two computers on the left side which is for the resident inmates to get connected with their parents, relatives and friends through internet.

It is here at this lobby that I have made most of my friends who all have come from various countries to study at CSU. Well, actually you don't have to 'make' friends as people here are lot more friendlier and start to talk with you themselves. I started conversing with a guy from Russia when I was using the internet to send sms to my mom about the recent happenings. I told him about the time difference, about the cyclone Laila, about climate in Chennai, Himalayas and in some major cities. He seems to have known about Calcutta (he pronounced the 'cut' as in 'put') through his friends. He is a very good listener, and later he told about his country, but soon he got a call from his friend and so I couldn't learn much about him.

The lobby leads to a washing machine room on the left side.  Inside the washing machine room there is a place for inmates to share their stuffs with fellow residents, mostly left over by the students who are graduating/graduated in the current semester. I found lots of plastic utensils some of them are new, some CD's, a telephone instrument, some food items which are unopened and a book. My roomie picked up the telephone instrument; since much of the food items are non-vegetarian, I prefer not to take anything from there. But now I know when I leave the apartment where to keep the stuffs that I had bought so that other inmates can use them. They call it as "green recycling policy".

The apartment entrance leads to a kitchen and a common area. There are two bedrooms on either side of the common area and a common bathroom. The common area has a couch and a chair, a tea table and provision for cable connection. My roomie has bought a Sony television with wide angle. I watch programs during my lunch break. The programs includes Miss USA competition (which got over recently), random flicks, TBBT, Star wars and Exploring the universe with Stephen Hawking.

The common area, bathroom and two bedrooms are heated electrically the control for which is located near the bathroom. The bedroom was unfurnished before, and furnishing is done at free of cost at the time of checking in as per your requirement. I got a double bed, a desk and a chair and a cupboard to keep my stuffs on. Later I bought a comforter and a pillow to keep myself warm at nights. Its too cool inside my bedroom in spite of having a heater as the upper cut off is set at 70 deg Fahrenheit to save energy.

Unfortunately, I am not able to mingle with more people because most of them had vacated and had gone home for summer and will return back only by the month of August. The only Indian I had come across so far is the Ph.D student who works with Prof. Chandrasekar. The apartment life is good, but it will be in its full glory when more students are here, that is when the CSU is in session. I hope to make friends with more people and plan to meet some fellow Indians here in days to come.

May 19, 2010

Colorado Diary - Traffic

To talk about the traffic in US by observing how the rules are followed in Fort Collins is like an extrapolation outside of the domain, which is prone to lot of error due to uncertainty. So in this article, I am going to talk only about the traffic at Fort Collins. As I had mentioned earlier, Fort Collins is a college city, with the population majority from college students who are either in their teens or early twenties.

The city is well connected by roads and all roads are either parallel or perpendicular thus forming a regular rectangular grid like pattern. The major roads are identified, and are within 1/4 to 1/2 mile (they don't follow metric system in the US). Majority of the people living in Fort Collins owns at least one car. The city's major roads are also connected by the city bus transport called Transfort. A single ride in Transfort cost $1.25, 60 cents for senior citizens, free for kids under 17 and for CSU students with a valid ID (its called as Ram card).

There are three important junctions, aka transit centres; the one closest to the CSU is called CSU transit centre, the one in the north is called as Downtown transit centre, and the other own down south is called South transit centre. Buses are numbered from 1 to 17, the route map is available at any of these transit centres, or at the apartment's front office for the benefit of new visitors. Each bus starts from their particular destination which is one of the three transit centres and always proceed in one direction in a cyclic manner.

Contrast to the keep-left rule in India, the vehicles move in the right lane of the road in the US. At any of the 3 or 4 way junction, the vehicles traveling in all direction comes to a halt even if there is no signal, and are proceeded on first come first drive basis. I call it as a gentleman agreement as the drivers agree the order unanimously without any conflict. Horn is used only when somebody is angry with your driving, which is the case when either you don't follow the lane rule, or when you don't listen to other vehicle's movement.

School zone and other important zones are identified and speed limits are mentioned. The lowest speed is near the school zone where the speed limit is set to 20 mph. To say that they obey those traffic rule is an understatement. Because they religiously follow it. Preference are given to pedestrians and heavy vehicles such as trucks wherever possible.

Since I don't own or use a car here for my transport, I will talk about the bus service at Fort Collins. All buses are air conditioned and has two exit doors whose functioning is controlled by the driver. The buses are equipped with video and audio recording device for the security purpose. The front half of the bus is designed to provide comfort traveling to old people and people with disability. The bus is also designed to lower itself using pneumatic control for easy boarding of these people.

Every bus has a chord passing above the shoulder level connecting from the first seat to the last which is operated by the passenger to request the driver to halt at the next bus-stop. People pull the chord, sit on their seats till the bus comes to a full halt, get down the bus and say "thanks" to the driver. Most of them are lot more friendlier and say "have a good day" in addition to saying thanks.

The bus driver waits until the lane is clear before starting from any bus-stop. Once he starts from a particular place, he doesn't have rights to stop in between to take-in or drop a passenger until he reaches the next one. In order to not to miss a stop, the driver announces the next stop over mike well ahead of it. The gentleman's agreement follows even with the co-passengers. If you are sitting in any of the front seat at the latter half of the bus, got up from your seat to get down, the co-passenger who is getting down at the same stop coming from behind will stop, allow you to move ahead and then gets down. One can see this gentleman's agreement at many places, such as from a parking lot, or while driving out from a mall or an apartment.

Its a human's nature to compare things what we have got with what we see. I personally believe that its not a good idea to compare, because the system which works at Fort Collins might not work in Chennai for various reasons.  In this  post, I have tried to avoid comparison to the possible extent by putting things only that I observe in writing.

May 18, 2010

Colorado Diary - Fort Collins Public Library

In any new place one can observe several good things and several bad things. To take good things and ignore bad things requires a certain level of training, which comes out of practice. Often, we tend to be biased by accepting things that we like as good and things that we hate as bad. One has to reach a level to understand and appreciate the fact that often times things that we like the most need not be good.

I was contemplating on the good and bad when I was beginning to feel that I got lost in Downtown,  north of CSU on Saturday. Earlier, my roomie dropped me at the Fort Collins Public Library, which is in Downtown, about 4 to 5 miles from my apartment. Having no other job to do in my room, I went to explore downtown, one of the busiest center in Fort Collins. Since I am yet to receive my first month stipend here, I choose not to shop and lose the few dollars which I still carry and so I went straight ahead to the public library. The library is well maintained, and very well organized. Its not very large and not too small. I should say its spacious enough to house the collections that they have. The ground floor is the juvenile section, where they have collections in all forms such as text, graphics, in various fonts for kids of varying ages.

The public library was not crowded on the day I went.  Partly because Fort Collins is a college city with majority of the population coming from CSU students. The vacation started on last Friday and so the population dwindled to about 10% of the total. I went to the first floor of the library after skimming through the juvenile section. On the stairs was a display board exhibiting various competitions and events asking the locals to participate, however much of them got over already. One of the event which caught my attention is the reading competition wherein the participant should read a book continuously for 4 hours!

After coming out of the public library, I lost my direction and so wandered along a random path. On the way, I asked a person how to go to downtown. He was in a hurry and so he didn't stop. I returned back to the library road and found a bus stop. I remembered that some of the buses don't run on vacation days. Not knowing if the bus will come in this route or not, not knowing if it will take me to the downtown transit center, I walked slowly to the bus stop counting on my fate. To my surprise, I found an old lady sitting on the bus stop talking over her cell phone to someone.

I approached her and asked if the bus that comes to this stop will go to the downtown transit center and received a positive reply from her. After she finished her call, we don't have any other job to do until the bus comes, which is about 10 minutes from then. So I casually started talking to her, telling that I came to see the public library. Then I told her I am coming from India, came here to CSU as an exchange visitor and will stay here for about 2 months. She was surprised to hear from me that I am doing Ph.D from IIT Madras and that I will be finishing it in another couple of years.  She told me that her daughter have just finished her school and will be joining some college next semester.

We talked about the weather at Fort Collins. Then she said she enjoys traveling and she has traveled herself to several countries in Asia, Europe and Africa including China and Pakistan, but never to India. She said India has changed a lot since her childhood days. She likes Indian culture which she came to know through Indian immigrants staying near to her house. Then the talk moved on to the places to see in and around Fort Collins. Earlier, my cousin brother had planned to take me to Aspin, a ski resort. But the old lady said there is nothing to see in Aspin except some wealthy and rich people from all over the world. Rather she asked me to go to Estes park from where I can get a beautiful view of the mountains.

I am still planning the trip with my cousin brother and we are yet to finalize our plan. My bet will be we will travel to Estes park, take a peak-to-peak drive having breathtaking view of the mountains through the natural forest, drive up to rocky mountains park and end up the trip at Denver. I will post about my trip after I undertake it, which will be by the end of this month.

Wondering if my contemplation have got anything to do with this article? Nope, it doesn't have anything to do with it :P.

Colorado Diary - Horsetooth Reservoir

Having an Ethiopian roomie (Zeab), who is here in the states for the past 7 years, a green card holder and owning a Nissan vehicle is like a boon from God. Yesterday, my roomie and I along with my guide and his family went to Horsetooth reservoir, which is only about 15 minutes drive from our apartment. At first, we ended up in wrong place because the map mislead us, and so does the street which is named as 'horsetooth'. We thought the street will lead us to the reservoir, but it didn't. Instead, it took us to a community park where the dogs and kids relaxed themselves by playing lot of games.We took some snaps there, asked a local lady about the way to the reservoir and drove back to the actual place.

From a distance, we are able to see the rocks on top of a mountain which resembles like some tooth. We assumed its the horse tooth and hence the name. We took the road that leads us to the reservoir bank. Man...the view from reservoir road is mesmerizing! Alas, we couldn't find a proper place to park our car, so we just kept going all the while capturing the beautiful view in our eyes. Finally we spotted a parking lot where some people have parked their cars, but the foot of the reservoir is not reachable from there because the rocks are very steep. We weren't prepared for that sort of trekking as we were just wearing sports shoe. So we decided otherwise, found a place to sit and enjoyed our snacks. We did have a good view of the water from there, and we could spot people who are boating and water skating in the reservoir water.

On our way back, we went to the Indian shop, bought puliyodarai mix and vatha kuzhambu mix. I cooked the rice, mixed it up with vatha kuzhambu and puliyodarai and served it to Zeab for dinner. We both had a very good dinner, following which we went to nearby redbox and rented Sherlock Holmes DVD for about a dollar. I watched the movie alone in our apartment since Zeab doesn't like watching movies. But the movie was boring and I was also tired after all the journey we took. So I hit the bed at 10 pm.

May 17, 2010

Colorado Diary - Introduction

Travel is always fun. Especially if you get a chance to travel into an unknown place. For this summer, I am visiting the Fort Collins at Colorado following the invitation from the Colorado State University (CSU) as an exchange visitor. In fact, this is my first trip out of my country.

One thing unique about the CSU is the student population. People come here from all over the world to get themselves educated in current topics with state of the art facilities. My visit is being funded by the Dept of Elec and Comp Engg, and I am currently staying at International House, which houses grad students from various countries. People here are very friendly, and are willing to provide help any time. The campus also has a bus facility which connects most of the important landmarks with in the CSU.

To start your stay, there are a couple of good stores such as walmart. I spent about $90 to begin with by buying a comforter, pillow, an electric cooker and some veg food items with which I can survive for about couple of weeks. I am planning to do some more shopping today to buy some ready-to-eat food items which can be served with rice. I am also planning to visit the horsetooth reservoir today, which is only few miles from my apartment. I will write about it after my trip.

Feb 6, 2010

Understanding Nature

They divided themselves into three groups: First group collected the facts. Second group came up with theory to explain the facts. Third group contemplated to come up with new technology based on the facts and theories. They then pass it on to their offsprings.

Their offsprings divided themselves into three groups: First group used new technology to observed new facts. Second group debated old theories, found their ancestor's theories are either wrong or incomplete and put forward new theories. Third group contemplated in advancing the technology with new facts and theories. They then pass it on to their offsprings.

Their offsprings again divided themselves into three groups: The three groups did more or less same as their ancestors, but with newer technology, newer facts, newer insights and theory, more disagreement with previous theories.

It thus went on and on, offsprings to offsprings, generations to generations. They still collect new facts, debate on old theories, put forward new theory and advance in technology. All this, till they completely understand nature. Will they ever understand the nature completely?

Feb 3, 2010

317

317.

Lets list the above number in ascending order by taking one digit, two digits and three digits at a time, respectively.

One digit numbers   : 1,3,7

Two digit numbers  : 13,17,31,37,71,73

Three digit numbers: 137,173,317,371,713,731.

Now here comes the beauty. Numbers that are less than 317 (including 317) are prime (the number 1 is considered to be prime here in this context)! Numbers greater than 317 are composite! But what is so special about the number 317?

That's my hostel room number :P.

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