© Santosh Subramanian – Some rights reserved - Under Creative Commons

Friday, October 02, 2009

Taking a Break!

I am increasingly finding it difficult to maintain 3 different blogs (1 official blog - on the office intranet & 2 other on blogspot). A time has come where I need to take a break and relax while paying full attention to the most important thing in life - Family.

I would not be posting anything on this blog for alteast until the end of 2010. I hope I would be able to comeback recharged - with increased rigor by then. I would still be posting on grinbear with my photographic experiments - but with a reduced frequency.

I wanted to take this time to extend my thanks to everyone who took time out to read and sometimes even post their comments and opinions against some of my ruminations & rantings.

See you all in 2011.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To all drivers!

Anyone who had had a very close encounter in a road accident knows that all it takes is a few milliseconds to change your world, your family's world & even somebody else's world. I & SH had had a very close shave in Feb 2003 at Bangalore and the only reason we survived was helmets - The helmet almost broke into two and my head was intact... Apparently most of these awakenings/self-realization come only when one personally go through such a trauma because words, in any language, does not have the power to translate all that trauma into paper/web/media.

Drive Safely, Wear Seatbelts, Use Helmets if riding a bike! You are saving your life and may be a lot many others too. Nobody thinks high of you when you are speeding!

Watch this video & this is one of the closest that I have seen where the author/director has been successful in translating the trama - I dont know if it is just that I am able to correlate to it well..

Watch it here...

Friday, August 14, 2009

Rats - For a novel protest!

The pay-scale of top executives has recently invited a lot of debate and anger in the common public, especially after the US government had to bailed out a lot of companies, contrary to their general capitalistic stand on market and industry issues.

In February this year, The US President Obama branded Wall Street bankers “shameful” for giving themselves nearly $20 billion in bonuses as the economy was deteriorating and the government was spending billions to bail out some of the nation’s most prominent financial institutions. He had proposed a cap of $500,000 for the top executives whereas here is what some of the top-notch Banking guys pocketed in 2008.

Kenneth D Lewis of Bank of America - ~ $9M ($20M in 2007, down 58%)
John J Mack of Morgan Stanley - $1.2M ($41.4M in 2007, down 97%)
John G Stumpf of Wells Fargo - $9M
Vikram S Pandit of Citigroup - $38.2M

Rick Wagoner of General Motors - $14.4M in 2007 (I am wondering, for what!?)

I am no judge of executive salary & whatever reasons they have, I am not planning to break my head on that. There had been a lot of protests and debates around this topic here, especially since the public money is being used to salvage the drowning organizations.

But here is a very novel protest that appeared in Wall Street over the last week. This one moved location to the doors of company to company (most of them Banks - in the Financial District where Wall Street is) everyday!

Courtesy for the statistics: - A New York Times Project

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Toy Story...

Act #1
Driving back home from office along with little one.
Started at 4PM since it was a Friday

LO: Daddy, Can we go to the store?
Me: What do you want to buy?
LO: I want to buy a baby toy.
Me: You already have a lot of toys to play with. What toy do you want to buy?
LO: Just… a baby toy… please?

I decide to go to the store, double it up with some pending grocery shopping.
Since SH would anyways take another 3 hours to reach home.

Act #2
Grocery shopping done, she did not get the toy from the Food Mart. Little one is hungry (time for evening snacks) & my mind worked a plan [LOL]. Mc Donald’s has a kid meal package that comes with a small toy. And she already has two suitcases full of toys that gives me Goosebumps when I think of packing up.

Me: Let’s go eat a burger? You must be hungry.
LO: No… I am not hungry daddy. Let’s go to this store (pointing to the nearby store in the shopping complex) & buy a toy
Me: Alright. Are you sure you don’t want to eat anything?
LO: Yeah…

Act #3
Little one picked up a miniature school bus from the store, and we are walking out to get into the car.

LO: Let’s keep this toy in the car & go eat the burger. OK?
Me: What??!
LO: Let’s KEEP this toy in the car and go EAT a burger… (Slow & loud – just in case if I didn’t understand… LOL )
Me: You said you were not hungry… just a few minutes back.
LO: Well, I am hungry now.
Me: OK. We can carry this toy with us. Let’s eat & then we will go to the car. OK?
LO: Okay.

We head to Mc Donald’s & she is particular about the kid meal with the toy!

Act #4
At home, me describing what happened to SH. We are having a hearty laugh over it

Me: ഇവള് നിന്റെ കൊച്ച് തന്നെ. നസ്രാണി ബുദ്ധി. സമ്മതിക്കണം.
SH: അത് കൊണ്ടു അവള് പെഴച്ചു (ജീവിച്ചു)പൊക്കോളും. അല്ലാതെ നിന്നെപ്പോലെ ആയിട്ടൊന്നും കാര്യമില്ല...
നിന്നോട് ഇങ്ങനെത്തന്നെ കാണിക്കണം... പിശുക്കന്‍...

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 4 - Disney's Magic Kingdom

Since I raved sufficiently about Magic Kingdom in the last post, I am not going to repeat that again here. Day 4 was one of those short days where we decided not to have the second entry to the park, instead decided to catch a longer sleep, & hit the pool in the hotel. It was also one of those days where the afternoon rain continued until late evening & killed the excitement.

As planned earlier, we reached the park at 9AM promptly after the sumptuous breakfast & hit the Fantasy Land. Since we had spent a good 4 hours in the same park last evening, we were pretty much comfortable with the layout & have even thought of where to go & what to see. We started off at Ariel’s grotto where my little mermaid met the Disney’s little mermaid – Ariel. She was in a shock for a minute (never expected a competition with the real look & feel), and then was a little shy to talk to the real Ariel. After a photo-shoot session with Ariel, we decided to move on to see the Snow White’s Scary Adventures – This was a dark ride where people rode in small cars though a location with visual effects where the scenes from the Story of Snow White are depicted. One particular scene that sent a chill in the spine was at the final stages where the evil queen trying push down a large boulder down on to you... just before the lightning strikes her down, and that – was scary! We went on to see the Many adventures of Winnie the pooh (Another dark ride with a story of Winnie, Tigger and their friends) before heading towards the Mad Tea Party.

The Mad tea party was fun & it is probably the one that little one enjoyed the most. We were all sitting in the small cars shaped tea cups and it starts rotating. The speed & direction of the spin of the cup can be controlled by the individual riders of the cups & believe me, it was real fun! Little one wanted to get onto it again & even went on to stay in the queue again. It took a while for us to explain to her that there are many more things she will miss, if she decides to hang on to just one ride. Little one came up with me to ride a racing cart on the Tomorrowland Speed Way & the interesting part was that she was managing the steering wheel & I was in charge of accelerating & breaking! It was really funny that after a little while, she lost interest in driving & wanted to just get off the car because of the bumpy ride. We went on to see one of the most popular attractions of the park then – It’s a small world. It is also the name of one of the very famous Disney tunes. It has probably become so famous because they play it continuously as a background score in the theme park. The ride features a large number of audio-animatronic dolls (~450 in number) in the style of children of the world, frolicking in a spirit of international unity and singing the ride's title track promoting a theme of global peace. In the 15 minute ride which you sail on a small boat, you probably come across most of the cultures in the various countries across the world.

We decided to have our lunch in the Columbian Style Harbor restaurant on seafood delicacies & some rest before heading off to the Mickey’s Toontown Fair. The Mickey’s Toontown Fair was probably the most crowded place inside the park, especially because they house the attractions such as Mickey's Country House, Minnie's Country House, Goofy's Barnstormer, and Donald's Boat. This place stood the testimony for children that the characters like Mickey & Minnie really do exist and you are actually visiting their home while they were away in the Court House meeting their friends, taking photographs & signing autographs. We went on to see Minnie’s house – the living room, her kitchen, study and the backyard. What amazed me most was the attention to detail that the designers had – in building the house, linking each and every aspect of the design to the stories that they had published earlier as books & animation films.

It was almost 2 PM by that time and the heat had already started to take its toll on us. But little one was very energetic with ‘Give me more!’ attitude. So, we went on to the Goofy’s Barnstormer which is a covered play area for children and let little one discover and play there while I & SH decided to sit in a corner bench watch her making new friends & playing together. She played for almost half an hour & from her face we could make out that she is dead tired and will crash down anytime. We took the WDW Railroad train from the Toontown station to Mainstreet USA and then the Monorail to the Ticketing Center & the Tram to the parking lot to drive back to our hotel for our nap. Little one already went to sleep in the Monorail (we weren’t surprised!) and it had already started raining by the time we reached the hotel.

It was still raining when we woke up at 5 and then we decided that we will stay back for the rest of the day rather than driving ourselves too much to fall sick & ruin the vacation. A nice time in the swimming pool and a home-made dinner followed.

End of Day 4!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Feel at home - for a change!

Fourth of July calls for a lot of celebration in the United States on account of Independence day (July 4, 1776 from the British). It is a federal holiday and it is marked with a lot of fireworks, parades, barbecues, carnivals, fairs, picnics and concerts. And if we are in town, we never try to miss the nearest fire works that starts shortly after sunset ~ around 9 PM.

This time, we had a birthday party to attend in the evening and managed to scoot just in time to get to the venue at Florham Park, NJ only to find that the parking lots were full! There was a policeman controlling the traffic, walking up to each of the cars in the queue telling us that there is no parking space and we might have to turn back & look for alternatives... We had the expectation built for little one and were disappointed that we had to head back home or find any other viewing spot - which I had no clue about and the show will start in another few minutes!!

We did some roaming around & finally decided to go home and while passing through the Columbia Turnpike, by a very low-lit open space, I thought I saw a bunch of cars parked there. We took a chance to take a U-turn & get back to the open space. There was not a bunch of cars, but scores of cars, each of them neatly parked on the right side of a road, winding through a large open grass land and families waiting outside their cars, some in their beach chairs, some sitting on the bonnets of their cars waiting for the display to start!! We got a spot at the far end of the line, and a couple of more joined later, behind us.

I sat on the bonnet of the car, while SH & Little one leaned on to the door, waiting for the fireworks. It was a large grassland (with some swamp somewhere - I could smell it), unused space, sounds of cicadas piercing the night, no street lights and some mosquitoes too (yeah!) and I started getting a very familiar feeling... a very close feeling that I use to get when I go to see the fireworks early in the morning at Pariyaanampetta Pooram or Elavathikkal pooram near my ancestral village!

What a spectacular place to see the fireworks than this one! We were actually happy that we did not get a spot at the venue. And for a change, I decided to watch & enjoy the fireworks with my naked eye - so decided not to pull out the camera, hence the only photographs are etched in my mind!! ;)

We realized later, while returning home, that we were near the runway approach of Morristown Muncipal Airport & that explained the open space with no trees or construction!!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


J: So, How are you doing Santosh?
S: I am doing OK, pretty busy off-late.
J: Yeah, life’s been crazy for everyone I guess… and how is your daughter?
S: She is doing fine
J: Did she get the swine-flu yet?
S: What!??
J: I mean; does her school have cases of swine-flu?
S; None, so far
J: Ohh yeah, she goes to the school here… right?
S: Yeah, and I believe it originated here…
J: (a long silence....)

I felt like getting up from the chair, lifting it up, and smashing it on the other party to put an end to it.
Well, some people are inscrutable!

Friday, June 19, 2009

I nearly fell off my seat...

Got this one through a forwarded email from a friend & I nearly fell off from my seat laughing. who ever created this one, I should say, real talent!!

And well deserving for the kind of statements that comes out of people like Jayarajan. Can't they stop making a fool of themselves?

രാഷ്ട്രീയക്കാരോടുള്ള വിശ്വാസ്യത മാത്രമേ നഷ്ടപെട്ടിട്ടുള്ളൂ. ചിന്താശക്തി നശിച്ചിട്ടില്ല! കഷ്ടം!

Image courtesy: Malayalam Fun

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 3 – Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Disney World has 4 theme parks and 3 Water parks in Orlando. Water parks are more or less like the Veega Land / Wonder La kind of parks – though I had been to neither of these places :) – and do not even have a good liking for Water Parks. The 4 Theme parks are Magic Kingdom – Built on the theme of the fairies and princesses, Animal Kingdom – Built on the themes of the getting to know the different animal species around the world, Hollywood Studios – A sneak preview of how the different Disney & Pixar animation films are made and EPCOT which is an acronym for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow – An Utopian idea of Walt Disney which was never completed.

I was very impressed by the way they are organized and especially the way how everything is managed in the parks. During the 5 days while we were visiting the Disney Theme Parks, I was NEVER disappointed for anything except the weather – which of course, they can do nothing about :). Parking lots up to the size of 20-30 football fields, trolleys that keep running every 5 minutes to take you to the gates, the SMILE on the face of EVERY employee starting from the parking booth attendant to the sweepers cleaning the walkways– it is just amazing! It is very true that a smile can do wonders and I really wonder how they manage to have each and every employee to have a pleasant and smiling face always - rain or shine. I am sure there must be lot of lessons for organizations on induction and orientation programs for employees.

So, Day 3 belongs to Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

The Park has various streets named Hollywood Boulevard, Sunset Boulevard, Streets of America, Pixar Place where they had the various attractions & the shops selling Disney Merchandise. The first show that we got into was the ‘Voyage of the Little Mermaid’ – Little One’s favorite – in the Animation Courtyard. Almost every other day, ever since she read the story of The Little Mermaid, she turns out to be Ariel and myself King Triton!! This was a stage show with real people acting up as characters and I was really awed by the way how they created the 3D effects without having all of us wear those polarized glasses. The best one that I thought was very innovative was how they created the effect that all the audience was under the Ocean, They created some mist in the theater by fine spraying of water and used the laser beams on the 4 corners of the theater to make an illusion of the waves at the water level – which was projected on the mist! Little One did not want to go out even after the show ended & made up a small scene there.

We went on to the see another stage show next – Play House Disney. If you are a regular at the Disney TV Channel, you would have come across this show; the only difference was this was live. The kiddos had the option to dance along with their friends Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Daisy, Pooh, Tiger, Handy Manny, Piglet et all (Phew! I got most of them…:) ). Little One was very cranky by the 10 minutes waiting time and added to the fact that she wanted to use the rest room, but wanted to go home & not use the public one – Her paranoia of public restrooms still continues after she got really scared by the noise of the flush after using one in an airplane. She also met Mickey in person near the Animation Courtyard & we took a couple of photos with her & Mickey.

The next pit stop was at the Toy Story Midway Mania where we rode on spinning vehicles wearing polarized glasses to play interactive 3D games by using the Toy Cannons to throw darts/shoot at an imaginary projectile to hit the target. Little One enjoyed this one and I was pleasantly surprised to note that she & SH had a better score than me!! (enough to brush up my male ego… grrr). We went on to see the attraction of the Chronicles of Narnia which did not really excite us – mainly due to the factor that we hadn’t seen the film series and had no clue on what is going on – I had an after thought at this point of time. If Little One had not been in our lives forcing us to read & see most of these story characters, we would have been really lost in most of the places not knowing what was going around. All I knew about animation & cartoons until she came to our lives were Tom & Jerry and Mickey Mouse (mascot)!

We decided to have our lunch at the Mama’s Italian Grille near the Streets of America where SH & Little One had a bountiful lunch of Raviolis, Pasta and Spaghetti. I ended up paying through my nose for a tuna steak, grilled to perfection (?? huh) on a fire-wood grill decorated by crossed asparagus resembling the swords in the Saudi Kingdom’s emblem. After lunch, we started off to see some of the attractions in the Streets of America. We skipped the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and the Extreme Stunt Show where they enact the various stunt scenes from the movies to give you an idea on how some of the scenes are shot in the movies. We did some walking around in the Streets of America around the sets created as New York City and San Francisco and we ended up at the Kid’s attraction – Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! Based on the movie by the same name, you get into a kids play area where you have large grass & weeds & Coke cans as large as you – A total change in perspective when you get onto a lawn as a small ant or a fly. I rested a while under a ‘leaf’ while the girls went around playing in the play area. I lost my cool for the first time during the vacation because the girls went missing & I ended up scouring the whole area to find them. We then decided to check out the 3D Muppet Show. The waiting time was boring – mainly because we were not a big fan of the muppets, but however the A/C hall on a hot afternoon was welcome :). Indirectly, we were ready to even get bored to hide away from the Florida Sun. It was almost 3:30 PM by then and we decided to get back to the hotel for a quick nap.

Up and recharged by 6 PM, we decided to make a quick entry to the Disney’s Magic Kingdom since we knew that this park is open until 10 PM (We had a park-hopper ticket which actually allowed us to hop between the parks). The best park among the four, truly living up to their punch line – “Where dreams come true” – Magic Kingdom is a true wonder.
From the parking lot, you are ‘transported’ into a Magical World either by a Ferry or by a Monorail (you can chose what to take) and this place is where all the characters in the Disney’s Princesses, Fairies and other animated magical stories live. The kind of happiness and surprise that I saw on Little One’s face when she got to see Tinker Bell, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Rosetta, Jasmine & Aladdin in life – It is just beyond description! Very true to their slogan and the punch line – To believe in your dreams, you should believe in yourself – they motivate children to dream bigger, larger, king size and to believe in their dreams… It will then come true… It is not a surprise that even now, most of the innovations happen on this side of the world.

The biggest attraction and the icon of the Magic Kingdom is the Cinderella’s Castle. We walked through the Main Street USA which leads to the castle and went through the castle to the Fantasy Land. SH & Little One rode on Dumbo – The Flying Elephant and the Cinderella’s Golden Carousel - The oldest ride in Disney World, while I went out to get the Fast Pass for the Mickey’s PhilharMagic – A 3D movie experience with Mickey & Donald. It was already 8 by the time we finished up with Philhar Magic and we wanted to grab our dinner and get a nice place to watch the “SpectroMagic” parade that starts at 9 PM and “Wishes” - The Fireworks Spectacular that will start at 10 PM after which the Park closes for the day. We grabbed some bites from the restaurant at Tomorrow Land since we could not find a good place to watch the SpectroMagic Parade, and waited for the fireworks to start.

And the Fireworks, it is all in here!!! Just no words to describe (Listen with the Audio on to hear the background theme song – Wishes!)

I was again and again impressed by the management & organizing skills of the Park while at the end of fireworks, thousands and thousands of people exiting out of the park at the same time, and the only way to get back to the Parking lot (real world - as they say) was through the Ferry or the Mono Rail, it took us no more than 25 minutes, end-to-end. Talk about Capacity planning…

Day 3 ended past 11PM while we crashed back at the hotel.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The absent minded -

Sometimes, your brain tells you to stop, take a breather and then step on the gas again. And you don't listen because of 'priorities' - A convenient name that most of the professionals use to hide behind. And after a while it starts intervening with your day to day routine.

I had been having very long working hours in the past few weeks - thanks to some of the excellent support I receive from my counter parts. And it started to show off. I came to office one of these days to realize that I left my laptop back at home! Thankfully, I stay just a mile away from office, I could drive back & pick it up with in 20 minutes.

The best one happened yesterday evening. I locked myself out of my office with my car keys inside the office at 6PM. The regular office time ends here at 5, so visibly only a very few folks around. The icing on the cake? The keys to my office AND my home was inside my car! Thankfully, the admin assistant had left her office open last night and I was able to search the drawers to get the spare key to my office.

I & little one would have been stranded yesterday without the car ending up walking to our home or call a taxi to home which is just a mile away and waiting outside for SH to come home at 8:30PM (She carries a pair of the house keys)!

I think I should learn to stop for a while when my mind tells me to -

Friday, May 29, 2009

Day 2 - The day with Shamu @ Seaworld

The Day 2 started off well after a relaxed waking up at 7 & a nice & filling continental breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast was complimentary for the stay (which is normally the case for most hotels in the US) and was really filling. We have also developed a liking towards bagels, eggs, sausage & cheese off-late; but the real advantage was that little one would have a decent meal in the morning because this is her normal routine & breakfast at school – most of the days!

And the plan for the day was to spend time at Sea World Adventure Park in Orlando. We picked up the print-outs of the vouchers which we will have to exchange at the gate for the tickets, punched in the address in the GPS & started off. It was just 5 miles away from where we stayed & we were at the gates in less than 25 minutes. The walk from the parking to the gate gave us a taste of the day that was ahead of us, the temperature soaring at a 90F by 9:30 in the morning.

The crowd was big, being a Sunday and we started short-listing the attractions from the maps – after a photo-shoot with the mascot of Sea World – ‘Shamu, the Killer Whale’ near the entrance. Deciding to take the stroller was one of the best decisions, especially due to the heat. We walked past a few Flamingoes towards the Dolphin nursery and also stopped near the Sting Ray pond to see the ‘teacher’ of the famous Disney movie – ‘Finding Nemo’. Little one was expecting a larger fish as the teacher and was quite disappointed to see that the Sting rays aren’t as large as she thought it was. SH came up with the idea of going to see the Dolphin show that was scheduled to start at 11 in the Dolphin Theater. We thought of seeing the Dolphin Nursery & the Alligator pond so that we spend our time judiciously until the show starts. Little one wanted to pluck a bunch of flowers from the garden (and she managed to do that without us noticing it!!) to hold it in her hands & that led to some ‘exciting moments’ with dad & daughterJ.

We got our seats in time for the Dolphin Show which was choreographed as the story of a girl who meets her Prince intertwined with some suspense, drama and some exciting stunts by the dolphins. We also met Kirsten from Ohio, a year-and-a-half old boy who had come to visit the Sea World with his Mom & Dad – He was in the row ahead of us and was very friendly & playful with us (especially my hat & the sunglasses) – until the show started! The show lasted for almost 45 minutes and we decide to stop near the watering hole before we headed towards the Penguins Cove. The girls ordered the frostees and I had a large glass of lime-soda a.k.a Sprite. The Penguin cove was an indoor attraction & not surprisingly was very crowded – the heat must have been in the upper 90s by then. One of the interesting designs that I found in there was the multiple levels of Penguin spotting – the upper level was a hard floor level where people who want to stay for a while, take photographs & spend some time could use, while the lower level had an escalator belt that kept moving at a minimal speed so that the people who just want to see it as a part of their checklist, could do so without really feeling disappointed by the slow moving crowd! There was also a whole bunch of Artic & Antarctic birds apart from the Penguins that were show-cased in a glass enclosure with a temperature appropriate for them. And then, it was lunch time!!

After lunch (What else? Burgers, nuggets & fries…) at the waterside restaurant, we started off to the Shark Tank where after the display of various sea creatures, they take us though a glass tunnel under a large tank of Sharks. The conveyor belt ride was deployed even here, may be to reduce the congestion inside the tunnel by people getting crowded there. The mood of the crowd (me included) started switching, thanks to the heat and we decided that it is time to get into the crowd puller show - Shamu, The Killer Whale. We checked the map to see that it is half way on the other side of the park and planned to get there for the 2:30 PM show with a quick stop over at the Marine Carousel where little one rode on a little dolphin with her mommy standing by!

The Shamu show was disappointing mainly because of my ignorance (I think). Shamu is not a ‘Whale’ in the true sense. It is an Orca (sea wolf) and belongs to the dolphin family and are apex predators in the sea. They are the largest species in the dolphin family and an adult male can measure up to 6-8 meters in length. The reason why it is called a ‘whale’ is still unknown, though that is the commonly referred name to Orcas. So, partially due to my ignorance & partially due to the marketing gimmick of the Theme Park, I was really disappointed to see a gloated dolphin with some other distinct features like the eye patches & the dorsal fin as the Killer Whale! But that provided a good rest of 40 minutes in the open shade for a very hot day outside.

It was almost 4PM then and the heat had started taking a toll on each of us (yeah, the first day of fulltime out-doors after a very long time) and we decided that it would be beneficial for all of us to return back to the hotel before the situation gets worse and ending up spoiling a good vacation. Good sense prevailed and we decided to head back to the hotel, with a small stop over at the dolphin nursery. The guard at the gate had a very pleasant smile asking us if we enjoyed our day & we told him that we were tired of the heat & was unable to see a lot of the attractions. He took the initiative to process an additional set of tickets for us to come back to the park on any of the days within the next seven days – absolutely free of cost! – Talk about Customer Service!!

We reached back at the hotel by 4:15 and little one had already slept off in the car. We too had a quick nap for an hour to jump into the swimming pool at 6. By 6:45, we were all fresh and recharged and that’s when SH suggested that we go to the Downtown Disney Shopping Area. (Did I hear shopping!???!! LOL ). We had picked up some bare minimum groceries for the week while returning from Clearwater the previous day; SH prepared a quick dinner and then we went for a drive through the Downtown Disney. I was very particular that we drive very slowly near the stores, with special emphasis that we are not stopping anywhere… LOL

End of Day 2!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Day 1 - The 'Home Alone' Story

The end of another tiring week and by the time I & my girls came home on Friday, it was 30 minutes past 8 in the night. We were very excited, not just by the fact that it is going to be a weekend, but that we were going to be on a week long vacation!! At the same time, we hadn’t even started packing for the week. I am a very ‘light’ traveler, (there had been instances while as a bachelor, I had gone home from Bangalore empty handed – and Amma would be like…Did you lose your bag?) but things have changed since the last 7 years… My significant half (SH) is a ‘check-list’ traveler. She normally keeps a checklist of stuff that she plans to carry & ensures that they are packed (talk about quality control…) and 2 girls – they are a crowd!

It was past 1 AM by the time we finished packing, finished QC checking round 1 & 2 and retired to bed. With the fact that we have to catch a 7 AM flight and the airport 14 miles away from home, we decided to wakeup by 4 so that we can plan to push-off by 5:45. I was entrusted to change the daily alarm to 4:00 AM from the regular 5:45 AM, which I religiously did & we crashed.

That one jolted me up from the sleep!

“The alarm did not go off… It is already 5:30!!!” The long story short, we literally enacted the ‘Home Alone’ scene to start off in the car by 6. I did my first ever (in 2 years) over-speeding of 15 miles above speed limit of 65mph (in patches) and managed to reach the Airport by 6:20, returned my rental car at the counter, caught the air train to the terminal, went to the counter for baggage check-in, security check & to the gate, to see the half the crowd has been boarded & the rest of them in the queue. “Run, run, run… run baby run….” I bought some chocolates & some other stuff to engage little one during take-offs & landings and we finally boarded the Jet Blue flight 531 as the last set of passengers heading towards Orlando Florida.

The three and a half hour flight gave some time for SH to catch up more on sleep, little one to mess-up with the drawing board she carried & me to introspect why the alarm did not go off. After the take off was complete & the permission granted to switch on electronic devices, I switched on my phone to see what went wrong. It didn’t take longer for me to figure it out… Advanced settings are so convenient, but do not take care of exceptions! There was an option in the Alarm settings – ‘Ignore on Weekends’, because they knew most of the people will sleep longer on weekends & my phone did exactly what it is supposed to do. It ignored the Alarm on the weekend! Damn!!! So far so good, thankfully the vacation did not start off with a disaster & the excitement started to flow back in…

We landed at the Orlando International Airport at 10:45 AM (on time), collected the baggage & went to the car rentals office - Our companion for the next 8 days was a Chevrolet Equinox. I am no expert in SUVs (never owned one & have had some of the drives with friends), but I felt it was a decent one & comfortable. I started the GPS, punched in my hotel address & started towards our hotel in the Lake Buena Vista area. We decided to have our brunch before we checked in & had a Mexican brunch at Chevys (A Mexican restaurant chain). After an initial hiccup (check-in time was 3 & the rooms weren’t ready), we managed to check-in to the hotel at around 2 PM & got some sleep for a couple of hours.

At around 4, we started our drive towards the Clearwater Beach, Florida. It is around 100 miles from Orlando & takes about 2 hours to reach there. The sunset at the Pier 60 is a famous attraction and even though we visitied the place we couldn’t afford to stay until sunset which was around 8:30 PM because it would be too late for us by the time we get back & we may end up spoiling our next day too – especially since we hadn’t had a good sleep the previous night (After all, a vacation is to relax & unwind – right?) Little one & SH had a good time at the beach (I am very reluctant to get into the water) while I watched them from the shore & took photographs. The real paradox of the story is that among us, I am the only one who knows swimmimg & I am the most reluctant to get into the water (at public places)! Little one did a very thoughtful act of collecting sea shells to give it to her classmates when she returns back after vacation (And she did that yesterday!). I am pretty sure that ‘sharing’ was out of my dictionary when I was 4… LOL.

We wound up by around 7:30 after an hour and half in the beach to get back to Orlando. One sight that amazed me was the drive over the Howard Franklin Bay Bridge on the Interstate 275 just before you arrive at Clearwater, immediately after you cross the city of Tampa. It is approximately 8 miles long over the Old Tampa Bay. At one point of time, you feel like you are driving on a bridge at the middle of the sea – though you can see buildings on each side, pretty far away… We stopped over at a Thai restaurant for dinner to reach back at the hotel by 10:30 in the night.

End of Day 1

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The vacation of a lifetime!

Back with a big-bang after a month of hibernation! And yes, I am planning to write a tour-diary about our week long vacation to Florida from 9th May 09 to 17th May 09 (Heavy draught of topics - you guessed it.. LOL). Hectic schedules at work, stressful days of uncertainty, and what we really wanted was a break. A good long break to chill off from the day-to-day scrambling with work & home.

Our schedule looked something like this when we planned & it pretty much stayed on plan throughout the week, except for some tight moments… :)

Day 1 - 9th May 2009 , Saturday
- Take the 7:00 AM flight from Newark Airport to Orlando
- Drive down to Clearwater Beach (2 hours drive from Orlando) for the evening
- Return by 10 PM & crash.

Day 2 – 10th May 2009, Sunday
- Visit the Sea World Adventure Park

Day 3 – 11th May 2009, Monday
- Visit the Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Day 4 – 12th May 2009, Tuesday
- Visit the Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Day 5 – 13th May 2009, Wednesday
- Visit the Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Day 6 – 14th May 2009, Thursday
- Take the bus tour to Miami

Day 7 – 15th May 2009, Friday
- Visit the Disney’s Epcot Center

Day 8 – 16th May 2009, Saturday
- Visit Universal Studios, Orlando

Day 9 – 17th May 2009, Sunday
- Catch the 8 AM flight from Orlando Airport to Newark

And the day by day adventures will follow…

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Happy Vishu!

What a better way to start a new year than by standing outside the office at temperatures close to 4 deg C for almost 45 minutes starting at 7:30 in the morning because somebody tried to toast a bagel & forgot to pick it up while it got stuck in the toaster!!!

The fire alarm went off in the adjacent building early in the morning with just 3 of us in our building and none of the floor wardens around...LOL. The security panicked and chased all of us outside the building while 2 fire engines & 4 to 5 police cars raced to a screeching halt near the front lobby. It was a good 45 minutes by the time they fixed it and I already missed my first meeting...

Anyways, here is wishing all of you a wonderful beggining in the Malayalam New Year - Vishu!!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Fairy Tale Concert

I have realized that my hobbies are getting switched pretty frequently - off late. Sometimes I am on full throttle with my still camera & then sometimes into video mixing & editing. And then the next day I get bored of each of this & gets settled with a book.

In between this switches, I had my baby's Annual Concert held at her school on the 6th of March 09. It was named as the "Fairy Tale Concert". The initial agreement (between the halves) was for me to handle the still camera whereas my significant half decided to record the show in the video cam. And I messed up by picking up the wrong lens with me (I was expecting that I will get a seat at the far end of the hall & carried my telephoto lens - whereas we were the first one to come in & took the second row seats...) And given the fact that I did not want to trade my seats for a better camera vision, I decided to trade on the camera. [:)] And here comes the icing on the top. My better half packs my "puttum kutti" (as she calls it) and pulls out her POS camera with a statement - "I knew this would happen, so I carried mine too..."

And we went on enjoying the show. It was wooookke..., but to the level of the kids, I think they put up a good show. The best part was the children themselves had made the stage decorations painted... end to end!

Watch it here - The Performance & my Camera work, Editing & Mixing... LOL

Thursday, February 26, 2009

In Layman's Terms...

On our way back from school, walking to the parking lot...

Me: How was your day baby?
Baby: It was fun, Dad.

M: What did you do in school?
B: We played in circle time

M: And then?
B: Shared my little Ariel toy during show & tell... And I passed it around for everyone to touch & feel it...

M: And then?
B: then... we practiced for our concert, we sang the speckle frog song....
(I don't know what on earth is a speckle frog!!!)

M: And then?
B: then.... we played the freeze dance and... Kavi is not my best friend...

M: Oh! why?
B: Because he pushed me...

M: So what did you do?
B: I said... stop it... it is not nice to push friends...

M: okay...
B: So, what happened in Office?

M: I was working in the office
B: what work did you do in the office?
(Where is this going!!??)

M: Well, I attended meetings, wrote emails, talked to people
B: And then?
(This is definitely not getting good...)

M: And I attended more meetings...
B: You already said meeting, what else?

M: And I worked on documents (trying to simplify spreadsheets & proposals)
B: That's Mama's work, she writes documents...
(aahh... so a similar talk had happened on the other side too...)

M: OK, but I too have to work on documents
B: What work do you do with documents?

M: Well, Baby, do you like this song? Do you want to sing along?..
(We are already in the car by then and the stereo starts playing when I started the car...)

There was a time when I grew up in school where I used to think what do so many people do developing banking software while all that a bank does is to keep your money & give it to you when you want it... And later when I joined one of the German banking giants as a software developer, I realized that 'retail banking' is only a very small portion of the larger business called 'Banking'...

And another one was that - a company/factory would have an engineer who helped make the machinery (my understanding of engineering was only mechanical... LOL), so what do all other engineers do for a living?

How difficult would it be to explain what you do for a living? - in layman's terminology.
Does anyone want to try it out?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Thakara (തകര)

A word, A statement, A comment - When used in a wrong fashion, that can ruin your day, sometimes even a week.

That is what happened with me today. When you give all that you have got for a genuine cause, when you go beyond R&R in running that extra mile for your team, the last thing that you want to see is mistrust, skepticism and doubts on integrity. It just put me off today - first thing on the first day of the week.

I always believe that when it comes to knowledge, the more you share, the more you get. Same applies to teamwork and networking. What really matters is what you are giving to the team/network. When you do that, leverage will happen & will just come in search of you. You dont even have to ask... And I can vouch for it from my own experience... anyways...

Thank you 'X'! You proved it once again! And it is a shame.

Note: The heading (തകര) is a type of weed. It is a symbolism that I use for such instances in life.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Shortcut to Success

Is there a shortcut to success? Of course, it is a magic potion that has the following ingredients - commitment, hard work & perseverance!

I stumbled upon a videoclipping from a Tamil movie - Mayakannadi - the last day (Thanks to Pam's orkut updates) and I was pleasantly surprised that even now, there are some movies made that does its small bit of social justice to the community as a medium. You could hear various kind of arguments that justifies the storyline in various movies about the mass appeal, box office formulae and some amount of poetic expression of ideas & stories. Whatever may be the underlying factor, there is no doubt that cinema as a medium has an impact on the viewing public. It only varies in degree by the personality of the viewer.

I grew up viewing a lot of movies where we have the protagonist who has a poor financial & social background - have to face real hardships and finally we see him go off to "Bombay" or "Madras" - Time flies in a few seconds on the screen and we see a very well-to-do person return back to his hometown to take "revenge" (huh!?) on the people who insulted & assaulted his family in the past.

What happens to the protogonist during exile? How does he get so succesful in a short span of time? What makes him an overnight success? What other quality does he develop in a short span of time that he did not have in the 25-30 years he struggled in his village?

I feel dissappointed when I see a lot of youths nowadays who take on to making a quick buck, but not really ready to work or invest their time and efforts towards it. There are definitely a lot more smart ways now - than earlier - to develop a successful career or build an enterprise. Provided, you have the commitment towards that, you put in your hard work in building that, and finally having the perseverance in trying again and again when ever you fail!

I used to have a bookmark with me (forgot who gifted that to me!) which read like this -> It does not matter whether you get knocked down, but what matters is whether you get back up on your feet!

And here is the clip that I saw on youtube:-

I have started to like Cheran as a film director for some of the thoughtful movies that he had made in the last few years. Take out some of the sentiments & the masala from the scene above, I guess the message is loud & clear...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Exploring the Frontiers of Happiness - Talk by Dan Gilbert

Invest a 30 mins of time in seeing this video - Pretty interesting!!
Especially when Behavioral Economics is getting a great deal of attention off-late - in the wake of what we have made out of this world!!!

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Won the contest - Finally!

For me, 2009 does not look as gloomy as the market - after all! Things had been picking up for me (on a personal note) slowly since beggining of this year and here is the icing on the top - My photo got selected in our organization's calendar contest! Yes!! it is my photo that decorates the September 2009 month in our organization's calendar... yippeee...

Thanks a bunch to my friend Lalitha, who took the pain of photographing the calendar & sending it across to me. (I still haven't gotten a hard copy of the calendar yet :) )

And here is the link to the original photo in my photoblog:-