Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Da Vinci Code

This book, one of most widely read, by Dan Brown obviously needs no introduction. Personally, it holds a significance of being my fastest read book. I finished it in two consecutive coast-to-coast 6-hour haul between Seattle and New York. A gripping edge-of-the-flight-seat thriller that keeps you 25000 feet above the ground, literally in my case, till you encounter the last full stop in the book. While reading it gave me enough thrills, I am waiting to see if motion and sound in Hollywood's attempt at it with Tom Hanks in lead can pull off some additional magic.

Also give a shot at the "webquest" at on the internet. An interestingly crafted treasure hunt laid out in the virtual domain called the world-wide-web, it certainly gives a taste of the book. I don't want to write about it and spoil the fun.

Happy deciphering !!!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Skiing the second time

Here I am, back with a post on yet another pretty venturesome trip.

The gang.......

Skiing for the second time in the Shawnee valley nestled in the picturesque Pocono’s mountains in Pennsylvania, I realized that I got a handle on the winter sport. The beginners lessons in Snoqualmie was enough to get me flawlessly buckle up the ski boots, latch the boots onto the skis, pick the poles and smoothly set gliding over the powder. Well it really wasn’t one single smooth sequence as it might sound. Had a couple of baby falls and had to get up quickly before the 13-member gang could catch a glimpse of me lying supine over the snow.

In front of Shawnee Inn.......

Most members of the group, though beginners, dared to try their hand even before the instructor could begin the class. That was the beginning of our fun, with people demonstrating some rare skills like skiing on their butts or getting into non-stop reverse mode till they bumped into some unwitting skier or the orange fence. Like their feats on bunny slopes were not enough, the group migrated to “Green slopes” (the easiest ones) lead by the most experienced skier of us all, Vishal.

The Green slopes provided the turf for all the real action. Vivek, for a first-timer, was too good to believe. Without flinching for a second, he would set off the top, ski half way through, make an arc to stop, all well executed. After that control suddenly seemed elude him. Unwillingly turning backwards, he could be seen skiing on all fours in the reverse direction till the bottom. And all this, he managed to do each time faultlessly! KVR always managed the first 50 feet down the slope, artfully tumble, and then would be sitting and watching helplessly others ski by. Ask him what happened and spat comes “I am resting.” What say about Kapil’s merciless bull-dozing of fellow skiers on his way? The only photographic evidence we have is of Madhu. Gaurang looked like a pro….in photos.

Came to know, Shyam was beaten at the hustings by all the kids doing snow-tubing. Pity! They couldn’t find tubes small enough for Shruthi. Wish her “growth” in life!!

Hey! I forgot about the night on 24th Dec, when we stayed at Shawnee Inn. After we annealed ourselves playing in the pool and Jacuzzi alternately, it was time for smoke treatment. Yep! Bon fire…..sounds great, isn’t it? But, it isn’t easy to start a fire when there’s snow all over and the air around chills yours bones. Hmm…clever & experienced that we are, gasoline was bought to light the fire. Not to mention of the potentially explosive situation that was averted with good presence of mind. Powered by the music from car stereos, the crowd danced around the fire laced with some good cracks by Shyam. It was a memorable trip on the whole.


Stephen Hawkin's "A brief history of time" pulled me through scientific philosophy, Scott Peck's "The road less travelled" through the physcology of love and spiritualism, and lately Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" through objectivism. While I found it is easier to relate to the first two ,the last one, though a flagarant thought process against ethos that have been entrenched as "right" in our minds for centuries, seems apalling and appealing at the same time. Its gonna take some solitary thinking about objectivism before I come to terms or not with certain aspects. Whatever, it certainly has been a good intellectual stimulation thus far.

Objectivism is a philosophy started by Ayn Rand. Her short reply to "what does it mean?";
1. Metaphysics: Objective Reality - "Wishing won't make it so."
2. Epistemology: Reason - "You can't eat your cake and have it, too."
3. Ethics: Self-interest - "Man is an end in himself."
4. Politics: Capitalism - "Give me liberty or give me death."

Essence of her philosophy – a concept of man as a heroic being with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life (thus challenging the altruism based theme of living preached for ages), with productive achievement (i.e his work) as the noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

It's more than clear that Ayn Rand's thoughts got shaped because of her birth and childhood days in tyrannical-socialist regime of the former USSR.

"Fountain Head" is a story of an architect, Howard Roark, and his battle against the tradition-worshipping society. Its theme is individualism versus collectivism in man's soul. Its also the author's projection of the ideal man

"Atlas Shrugged", next on my to-read list after "The Da Vinci code", is said to be the culmination of Ayn Rand's idea of objectivism and a master piece. Let me see what that book has to offer.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Icy chills

I took the pic above at Snoqualmie ,WA, during my ski-trip. But the one(Coutesy CNN) below, showing berries in icy trap, beats it better.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Nihaki Annual Party 2005

Read this as a continuation of Nihaki Crowd in Shenandoah Valley

While I can never dream, single-handedly, of capturing the essence of it better than what the yahoo groups “107parties” has done and shall do, there’s one thing I can say without blinking my eyelids….the whole pre-event preparation, the event itself and the post-event ripples seemed like an upheaval, eruption, and cooling-off of an active volcano called “107 brotherhood” along with its ancillary dormant ones like E8, Woodbridge, F5 and satellite catalysts in Seattle, Atlanta, LA, LongIsland etc. What binds the intangible 107brotherhood is unknown. But that it is there and is fun to be a part of it is true!!!

Big and Small details that came to mind;

- Thanks to Ravi & Co for sponsoring and getting us all together!
- Thumbs-up to Shyam, Vivek & Deepa for the spirited help in organizing it!
- Kudos performers: Chotu, Gaurang, Shruthi, Deepa, Sachin, Tripura, Jackie Chan
- Thanks to the bar-tender who adamantly made “Ultra-small” pegs and successfully prevented many from hitting the ceiling and subsequently landing in the restroom.
- Think of “Ramdas” who patiently captured your “beautiful” faces all along
- Can’t stop praising the range and taste of dishes ( or probably I was starving in Seattle)
- The satisfying feeling of landing in Newark airport.
- The "shaadi-ghar" ( sorry I did a straight translation from tamil) like atmosphere at 107.
- For dimensions of the party room, contact Madhu
- Viral was a good boy this time!
- Overwhelming presence of Latech
- DJ's did a good job
- Sorry! KVR was too well dressed to write anything about him this time :)

hmmm…..thats all I can think of at the moment………If someone has a link to the pics, send it and I will put it up over here.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Skiing in Snoqalmie

Right from the time I mooted the idea, my couple-friends and I were all excited about planning the micro details of our first ski-trip.....from the usual route maps to enquiring about driving conditions in the land-slide-prone mountain passes to traction chains for the car.

All set, we rolled off at 8:30am on a not-so-cold Seattle morning listening to carnatic music and the beats of mridangam ("sen-tamizh meets Seattle" ) instead of my regular fare of techno. Twenty miles off the gloomy-Seattle(yeah! thats what I have come to call it), everything around you seem to go through a slow transformation between each wink of your eye. Rain drops turning into snow flakes turning into heavy snowfall, barren terrain turning into snow-smeared one, pines and leafless trees covering themselves with white-coats to ward away the harsh winter. The white-carpet welcome to the mountains was breath-taking and we savored every frame of the scenic views passing by.

From the time we got down the car, there was this one guy who approached us and started helping us with all the information that any beginner would need like where to rent the ski-gear, what package to go for, which slope to ski down and so on. He seemed so much on our backs that we even started feeling if he was expecting some money like guides in India. But it turned out at the end that he was an employee of that ski-resort and was just doing his duty. Thats customer service! At the end of the day he wouldn't leave without us assuring him that we will visit the resort again. Now thats doing one's duty to the fullest. Oh my God! I am supposed to be writing about skiing, right? But, I guess its okay if something really grabs your attention....just like the rivetting way our skiing intructor went about teaching us!!

Getting into the ski-boots, fastening them to the ski and walking with kind of "suddenly-extended-feet" was in itself a big exercise. That, in fact, was the lesson taught for the first 30 minutes...walking on snow with the ski's. Hmm! Try it if that sounds like nothing. Next came lessons about propelling yourself on the snow, going on a "magic carpet"( just a name for an escalator) over to the top of a small slope, skiing down that, slowing down, turning and coming to a total stop. It was real fun doing all that, including the numerous tumble-downs that we had....inevitable!!

Four to five hours of doing all these was enough to tire us down. Then we sat and ate in the car watching the experienced skiiers doing their rounds down more steeper slopes. I kept wondering about "mera number kab ayeega?".....answer is "next season"!!!


Before I paint my blog white with snow from Snoqualmie, I just wanted to mention about another of my flights of fantasy. Its about trying ocean-kayaking out in the open waters of the pacific around San Juan islands near Seattle. You get to watch killer whales during the "fun-trip" !!! Any takers ???

Saturday, December 03, 2005

oh oho...Skiing !!!

Lined up for tomorrow is a skiing program at Snoqualmie ( 40 miles off Seattle ). An elaborate range of Indian dishes are ready to keep me and my friends going for the whole of the trip. I don’t know if I can sleep tonite ( just kidding), especially if I have to Ski for the first time in life tomorrow. Atleast sounds to be a promise of a great experience!!!

A little about the hide-and-seek that this friend and I have been playing since 1995.
1995 - We meet at Jamshedpur in the "famed" Bihar.
1999 - He trails me to Chennai.
2002 - I trail him to Hyderabad.
2004 - He trails me to the US.
2005 - I trail him to Seattle.

Destiny seems to be pulling us both on the same geographical path over the globe.
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