Thursday, March 31, 2005

Looking for the Colors of Spring - 3

The Return Trip
On Sunday morning I woke up with a sense of dejection for the fact that this was the last day of the vacation. The weather too was a bit glum as there was a forecast of rainfall. It was decided that staying further in Asheville was of no use due to the weather, but we should head back and maybe stop somewhere on the way where the weather might be better. We made a few calls to some river rafting companies, but the one that was on our route was closed. Another one a bit further away was open, but they started in the afternoon and we didnt have enough time to wait till then. We started our journey back and on the way we stopped at any rafting places we saw. Unfortunately most of them hadnt even opened for the season and some of them that were open were closed as it was Sunday.

We moved on, V being the driver and me the navigator. After scanning the map for possible places to visit, we decided upon Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in Tennessee. Me and V had already been there during the fall season last year, but we didnt mind going again. These two towns are close to each other and located at the foot hills of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park on the Tennessee side. Gatlinburg is a lovely, lively, quaint little town and the main street is full of small local shops. You could spend hours just exploring these shops. The last time we had been there, we had booked a cabin at the top of one of the steep roads leading to the top of the mountain. The mountain around these two towns are dotted with these log cabins which you can rent. Staying in such a cabin is one of the best experiences I ever had. The creepiness of being in an isolated cabin in the midst of a forest infested with bears... mixed with the sense of excitement and adventurousness...the whole experience is awesome. Reminds you of movies like Wrong Turn

Last time we had been there during Halloween so the entire town was decorated with huge pumpkins, straws and scarecrows. This time around the town was decorated with huge colourful easter eggs and chocolate bunnies. We roamed around Gatlinburg for some hours...again clicked lots of pictures and set off after lunch. We just passed through Pigeon Forge and didnt stop. Pigeon Forge is like a small Orlando with lots of small activity parks and shows. They have everything from Nasscar go-kart track to Chinese acrobats to Ripley's Believe It or Not. I guess the most famous of all is Dollywood. Yes, you read it right , they have Dollywood!! Its a kind of amusement/theme park solely dedicated to the famous country singer Dolly Parton. This is her home town and she often visits and performs there.

N drove on the way back while me and V slept. V had been driving all the while and the night before was awake till 3am connected to his office network and working. The journey back was uneventful. We had to make a stop in Louisville to return the rental car and get out own cars. It was raining heavily in Louisville and all the way till Columbus making it difficult to drive in the dark. We had a burger at Mc Donald's and came back home. Watched TV for some time and then went off to sleep with a heavy heart for the fact that the next day I would have to wake up early and drive 1 hr to work.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Looking for the Colors of Spring - 2

The weather is awesome out here..sunny bright and warm. Dont wanna be stuck in this cubicle with artificial lighting!!

Saturday dawned bright and sunny. The weather was awesome and our mood was on a cheerful high. After breakfast we started off but we got kind of disappointed to see that the spring has not yet arrived fully. The plants were still budding and most of the trees were still all twigs and branches. One of the biggest attraction of Asheville is the Biltmore Estate. It is a huge estate with acres of land that boasts of beautiful grounds, lawns and gardens. The highlight of the estate is an old Victorian mansion which is supposed to be America's largest home. We went there but were astounded by the entrance fee which was $40 per head. We decided the amount was not worth since the flowers were not even in full bloom.

We made a u-turn and went to the next stop, the Chimney Rock Park. As the name suggests, the park consists of a 315 foot tall rock shaped like a chimney located at 2300ft. There were numerous hiking trails of various lengths and difficulties. We took the shortest almost all the way up, ride up an elevator and then climb 42 steps to reach the top of the chimney :-). The road was narrow and winding...which reminded me so much of the roads in Sikkim specially as the surroundings were mountainous too (Smoky mountains). The elevator was quite amazing as had constructed it by cutting through the mountain...we had to go through a small tunnel to reach the elevator which took us 26 storey up in 30 secs. The view from the top of the rock was spectacular. One side of the rock was the rocky mountain wall and the rest faced the faraway mountains and down below we could see forest sparsely dotted with small villages. The rock also overlooked Lake Lure, which it seems is a man-made lake. There were a number of tiny nooks and fissures in and around the rock which had been made accessible by constructing wooden staircases. We stayed there for a while..exploring those quaint corners and 'view-points', enjoying the scenery, taking lots of pictures, and buying some souvenirs.

Our next stop was the North Carolina Arboretum which we decided to go via the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway is a long scenic road that connects the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with the Shenandoah National Park both of which are a part of the Appalachain Mountain range. It is supposed to be America's favorite drive and the ride is beautiful. It twists and winds up and down the mountains providing breath taking close-ups of the mountains and the rivers. The roads are in perfect condition and V had a great time driving the van. I too wanted to drive on the road, but since it was a big car, I did not feel confident enough. We were wondering how awesome the view would be during the fall season. V and me have thought of coming back here during Fall in the MR2 as the thrill of driving on the road would be best experienced on a sports car.

The NC Arboretum turned out to be a HUGE disappointment. The pamphlets boasted of acres of gardens and lawns with hundreds of varieties of flora. I guess we came a bit too early and like in other places, the flowers were not in full bloom. There were some patches of flowers here and there...but not much. There were a few gardens which seemed too small...good enough to be someone's home garden. The Vrindavan Garden is so much better than this. We took a short tour and didn't even bother to go to the green house.

Since we still had plenty of time in our hand, we decided to go to another place called Hot Springs. We expected some hot springs and S was particularly looking forward to take a dip due to the medicinal value of the mineral water. It was another long but beautiful drive and when we reached there we were met with one more disappointment. Though the place did have hot springs (we had started to wonder if maybe the place was just named so)...there were 12 in all. They had constructed hot tubs around each spring and enclosed them so groups of people normally book them for some hours. Since we reached quite late in the eve, all the springs were booked for the night.

We then headed back to the town, had dinner at the Indian restaurant there. This was a treat to us from S to celebrate him buying the car :-). We had no plans for the next day so we decided we will do river rafting, provided the weather was good.
To be continued..

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Looking for the Colors of Spring

Oh Sucks...the weekend got over too soon and now am back to the same ol' routine. I hope you all had a wonderful time like I did.

The Beginning
As most of our vacations, this one too was planned on the fly. Thursday night, a bunch of us sat down armed with laptops, exploring the possibilities of where we can go for the weekend. After weighing all the pros and cons we decided on Asheville, North Carolina. Supposed to be a beautiful small town perfect for exploring during the spring time. After a lot of adjustments and discussions, that normally comes along during a planning of such a trip, the final people to join me and V were decided and all arrangements were made. We were 5 and a half of us, me, V , a friend N, his wife and baby and another friend S. A few hustle and tussle later, we finally set off on Friday noon. The total drive time was appx 7 hrs.

On the way, we stopped at a car dealer at Louisville, KY where S wanted to look at a car he had searched for on the internet. The car is a bottle green 98 Ford Mustang. After test driving it and haggling with the dealer for the price, he settled for a good deal, gave the dealer a token amount, and we set off with a happy and satisfied member amongst us. The rest of us of course were happy too with the prospect of a good dinner treat in the near future.

We set off from Louisville and were going at a pretty good pace with V driving the van. But then as we were approaching Knoxville, Tennessee, we encountered a lonnnnng traffic jam on the interstate due to road work. We had to move at a tortoise pace for about 2 hrs. After a long tedious 2 hours the roads cleared and we were also able to take a gas exit to refill. We noticed that the owner had kept a bunch of printouts on how to by-pass the traffic. Seeing that we realized there was another jam further ahead. We were amazed on how helpful this guy was that he got out of his way to type and print the by-pass route! We decided to go ahead with the guy's suggestion and followed the by-pass route which took us through small American villages. It was an interesting ride and we were wishing the gas station owner brisk business as he saved us a couple of hours.

We finally reached the hotel late in the night. Was surprised to see a very very old lady...probably 65+yrs the counter. She gave us the keys and was very happy when she came to know we came from Indiana. It seems she was born and brought up there. We were all pretty exhausted and almost immediately went off to sleep...looking forward to a nice day ahead.

To be continued...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

What's your color?

Its that colorful time of the year....Holi Haiiii!!!!
My childhood memories of Holi has been watching endless 'Holi Aayi Re' songs in Chitrahaar. We didn't play holi with colors back home. We used to just have water gun fight with no colors mixed. At the most we smeared a lil bit of gulal. Somehow that took the whole fun and meaning of 'holi' and gradually as the years passed I lost interest in it.

However, once I came to Pune, things changed. By the time I was in my 2nd year of college, there was no escape and I finally stopped resisting and was totally into it. As they say, 'if u cant fight them, join them'. Last few years in Pune, I played Holi with full gusto. Colors, eggs, mud, et all. Once we had our full, we used to scourge the city on two-wheelers...unrecognizable with faces smeared with all kinds of colors and hair stiff with dried eggs. Looking back, now I realise the restaurant owners in Pune were a sport, by not disallowing color-laden Holi-ers like us to sit in and gorge down their scrumptious lunches. Sigh! Those were fun times.

Came across this article on colors and thought wat better time than this to share with you all. Dunno how true this is, but what the heck...such stuffs were anyway meant for fun. I chose blue and the interpretation seems quite true.

Colors that surround us can influence our mood, our habits, our energy level & our health. To find out a little about yourself, choose the color among the eight listed below that most appeals to you. Colors say it all.

Red Orange
You are intense, vital, animated. You direct most of your activities towards success or conquest. You love to win. You hungrily desire all those things which offer intensity of living and fullness of experience. Thus you live life to the fullest.

You are firm, constant and resistant to change. You place a high value on yourself, sometimes to the point of selfishness. You want your opinions to prevail because you believe you are always right. You're likely to put yourself on a soap box with regularity to moralize and lecture those around you who are less 'enlightened'.

If blue's your favorite you need emotional tranquility, peace, harmony and contentment in your life. You need your relationships with others to be placid and free from strife. You believe life should be dealt with calmly and ethically. You have a need to be trusted and need to trust those close to you.

If you're a violet person, you probably live in a dream world. You're looking for a knight in shining armour to carry you away or that 'one big break' that will leave you set for life. You're charming, sentimental and yearn for romantic tenderness and may be mentally or emotionally immature.

You are industrious but your industriousness comes in spurts. You have a hopeful outlook on life with an eye always to the future. Finding greater happiness is on your mind much of the time. You may seek change in your life solely for the sake of change and are sometimes compulsive. You seek importance and the respect of others.

You may be ill or feel physically or psychologically distressed in some way. You may feel that you lack roots, that you have no place to relax and be at ease. You have an intense need for release from some situation which is making you uncomfortable - insecurity, illness, conflict with an inmate or problems with which you feel unable to cope.

If you prefer grey, you probably tend to keep to yourself. You remain uncommitted and uninvolved in the goings - on of everyday life so that you can shield yourself from any outside influence or stimulus. You are unwilling ti take part in what's going on around you.

A preference for black denotes intense dissatisfaction with almost everything. You believe nothing is as it should be. You refuse to allow anything to influence your point of view.

Wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous Holi...filled with love, colors and laughter!!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Movie Weekend

I am still living in the dark age with no cable and internet connection. Have been commuting to work from Columbus most of the days. Though kind of tiring, am enjoying being with V almost every day.

On Friday I finally saw Black. My spirits was however dampened as V took to bed the same day and was not able to come see the movie.Whatever I had heard of the movie was so true. Inspite of trying hard not to, I had gone in with a lot of expectation. I guess one would after hearing so much about it. And I was not dissatisfied. Black is truly one of the most beautiful movie I have ever seen. Many people have already written lots of good stuff about this movie and I dont have anything different to add to it. So will just say that I loved the movie. I didnt cry though. But it took a lot for me to control :-) My only wish was that of all the movies we have seen, this should not have been the one V had to miss.

I also saw Ring Two. I had been waiting for its release for a long time. The Ring is definitely the most scary movie I have ever seen. After seeing it, I was unable to look at the TV for a couple of days. The image of Samara crawling out of the TV still gives me the chills! Ring 2 is also scary, though I was not as scared as when I saw The Ring. Probably because V was there besides me to pinch, squeeze and hide behind whenever something scary happened. I liked the sequel too...felt it to be a perfect continuation and ending to the story. Before the movie started, they showed the preview of 'Dark Water' which is another horror movie by the same people. Now thats another movie to look forward to as it looked mighty scary too.

Another movie I saw this weekend was The Ghost and The Darkness. Its quite an old movie('96) starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer and Om Puri. About how 2 ferocious lions attack the workers building a bridge in Africa and how after a series of strangely unsuccessful attempts they manage to kill the man-eaters. Pretty good movie, kind of scary at times.

Well, the coming weekend is a long Easter weekend. Its already Tuesday and we have no plans as yet. Our plans to go to Las Vegas went down the drain due to the extremely high air fare. We want to travel, but dont know any interestting place nearby. What are you guys planning to do?

Friday, March 18, 2005

Different Colors

Came across these two sites recently and thought of sharing with you all:

Radio Free Nepal
The site's intro says it all:
King Gyandendra of Nepal has issued a ban on independent news broadcasts and has threatened to punish newspapers for reports that run counter to the official monarchist line. Given that any person in Nepal publishing reports critical of "the spirit of the royal proclamation" is subject to punishment and/or imprisonment, contributors to this blog will publish their reports from Nepal anonymously.

This is a
diary of Pushkar Shah of Nepal. Pushkar's mission is to fulfil his dream of travelling worldwide for 11 years on his bicycle to spread the message of World Peace. His journey began on November, 1998, and now seven years later, he has toured a staggering total of about 1,60,000 kilometers across 70 countries in Asia, Asia-Pacific, North America and South America and Africa.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Fancy That!!

The other day me and V had gone to White Castle for dinner. They had a poster of "Kumar and Harold goes to White Castle" and we were talking abt it when the girl behind the counter asked us where were we from. When V said we are from India, she said, "Oh I have a friend from India". We just smiled politely and gave approriate expression as that is not a big deal even for a small town like Columbus. She then continued, "I have a friend from Nepal too". On hearing that, me and V were pretty surprised and became visibly excited and suddenly very friendly and chatty :-) V told her I am from Nepal and she gave me all the details. It seems the nepali girl is her 9th std classmate and had recently moved to Columbus with her entire family. Her dad and his 2 brothers and their family had all moved in (18 in all to be precise - as I said she gave me all the details!).

Since then I have been bugging V saying that now even I can form a 'Nepali Association', have nepali gatherings on Friday evenings and have yummy Nepali food. You see, the Mallu community in Columbus do that and whenever V goes for such dinners and gatherings, I feel so J and get bored and miss him. Anyway, I have asked a friend of mine who is the member of the Indian Association (and hence has lots of desi contacts) to help me find them out. Actually, I also checked out Yahoo People Search and have found out an address matching to the name (provided by the White Castle girl). Its now just the matter of me walking up and knocking at their door and introducing myself. Sigh! Wish it was so easy....lets see when I can get to meet them... and what happens after that.

Monday, March 07, 2005


That basically sums up my weekend.

Friday morning V called up to ask if we can go to Detroit, Michigan in the eve. One of his friend had come from India on Tuesday and was leaving for Florida on Saturday morning. We decided to leave early in the eve, spend the night there, drop his friend to the airport and return back. V drove all the was still snowing in Michigan. I hadnt eaten anything except for a burger for lunch and was feeling awfully hungry. But V didnt wanna stop and waste time as it was already late and we didnt want to keep the friend waiting for too long :(

We reached Lansing around 10:30pm. V's friend had ordered pizza and me and V attacked it as soon as we entered the room. We chatted all night long. His flight was at 6am and we decided to leave at 330am since Detroit Airport was like 1.5 hrs away. After dropping him off at the airport, me and V decided not to linger in the city but head straight back to Indy. As it is, the weather was cold, so we didnt feel like doing any sight-seeing. After an hr drive, both of us were dozing off. No amount of titaura helped us staying awake. We decided better to rest a while. We stopped at a rest area and slept in the car for about 3 hrs. After waking up we were famished with hunger. I knew the 2 slices of pizza wouldnt last long :). We then had a nice heavy breakfast of eggs, sausages, bacon and pancakes at Bob Evan's. After reaching Indy we again rested for a few hours and went to Columbus.

Later, a friend called and asked us if we can go to Louisville the next day with us. He had recently come from India and was car-hunting. Of course, we agreed....anything to get out of Columbus :-) We all decided to leave at 9am the next day and have dinner at Shalimar, the Indian restaurant there. The next morning, my entire body was feeling heavy and I didnt feel like moving a muscle. Going to Louisville seemed like a painful chore. V also agreed but when he called them up to say we wont come, he couldnt say it. V told me to rest and he will go...but of course even I couldnt stay without him. :-) So I pulled myself outta the bed...but once I freshened, I felt better. The entire morning was spent going to various car dealers, looking at cars, test driving a few, bargaining on a fewer. After getting out from the last dealer, we realized Shalimar had closed for the afternoon. All 7 of us hadnt eaten anything since morning...and that area had no store or restaurant nearby. We were ready to set off to some eatery when the dealer offered to take us to another dealer....Since the guy was being too nice, we couldnt say no. Thankfully there was a Walmart near the other place and while they were looking at cars, 2 of us went to Walmart and got stuffs to eat. Wow..that felt so good to the stomach! Finally when everything got over it was 5pm! Everyone was tired and irrtated since we couldnt even finalize on any car. On top of that we didnt know the way to Shalimar from that place. V was looking around at the strip mall near the dealer's, when he realised Shalimar was right there!!! Our happiness knew no bounds :-P. We eagerly went to the restaurant but it opened 1/2 hr later. We stepped into the Indian grocery store nearby and bought stuffs. Finally after the restaurant opened, we went in and had a wonderful dinner.

The after effect of the weekend is not yet gone. I see cars even when I close my eyes. I am still tired and worn out. I cant stay alone tonight...will feel not only exhausted, but depressed as I am going back to Columbus tonight ;-)

Thursday, March 03, 2005


I am so happy.....just came to know....BLACK is coming to IMAX in Indy soon!!! I had been waiting for this news for so long. In fact, I had already given up hope. Will book the tickets as soon as they announce the date of the show. Can hardly wait... me ready with my box of tissues.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

New internet