The Story Of India.
Saw a wonderful 6 hour documentary, on the history of India. Presented and conceptualized by an Englishman called Michael Wood. This is an ambitious undertaking, trying to distill the entire history of India in a manner that is cohesive and comprehensive. He and his team do quite a good job of it. Shot on actual historical locales like Turkmenistan , Madurai, Khyber Pass, Harappa, Kurukshetra etc. The documentary offers a good panoramic view of different aspects of Indian history.
Starts with the pre-Aryan Dravidian history, Indus civilization, Vedic era. Then it describes the birth of religions like Buddhism and Jainism. The prominence of the Silk route and the Spice route. The Golden Ages of India under the Mauryan,Chola and Gupta empires. Followed by the Mughal era, ending with the British and the Partition. The narrator travels in trains by 2nd class or by road giving a very earthy feel to it, he is effusive and enthusiastic throughout, and seems to be an ardent Indophile. The documentary also borrows footage generously from various historical dramas on TV or Movies .
It was like the NCERT history books I had read at school had come alive. If I had seen this in school, it would have been so fascinating to co-relate all this information with the written stuff. I found the books for history in school well-written and exhaustive, but did not get the feel or involvement as with the visual and aural medium.
I would definitely recommend this documentary to anyone who is even remotely interested in Indian history.
Oscar Wilde Plays
From the treasure trove, that is the local library, I got a set of Oscar Wilde's plays on DVD. It was a BBC Production from the 70s, featuring some good TV actors. The plays were "The Importance of Being Earnest", "Picture of Dorian Gray', "Lady Wildemere's Fan" and "An Ideal husband". The wit, humour, satire, complex characterizations and the gentle twists in the plots make it worth the while watching these plays. Though set in the late 19th century, the plays still feel contemporary in the issues they deal with. The dialogues and repartees are fresh, they could be called the early sit-coms, but with much deeper significance. I also had watched the "Importance Of Being Earnest" live in one Off-Broadway play here in San Francisco last year, and found it fun. In fact that acted as the catalyst in my watching this set.
Wilde was an iconoclast during his time, had a tortured time due to his unconventional outlook of society, in part not helped by his homosexual entanglements. Had to spend time in jail, also died penniless in an indigent state in Paris.
But he truly was a genius, as he famously said when he arrived in USA for the first time "I have nothing to declare but my genius".
Last month had a great opportunity to watch top-flight tennis action at the San Jose ATP tennis tournament. Saw Andy Roddick and Fernando Verdasco in action. It was an awesome experience to watch live tennis, we had some good seats just behind the baseline. It was an indoor arena, the lighting was fabulous. One of the best ways to spend an evening.
First up, the home crowd favourite Roddick demolished his opponent in straight sets. The famed Roddick serve was a treat to watch ,one could hear the the thump of the ball loud and clear whenever he blasted an ace. It was also a learning experience to observe the footwork and movement of the players off the ball, as those are nuances we do not always see on TV, another thing was that by watching live action you get to see the gulf in the levels of the Professionals and Amateurs, because when you watch on TV playing and hitting shots look quite simple.
Verdasco was up against Benjamin Becker from Germany, it was a tight match, with Verdasco's vicious spinning forehands, against Becker's solid groundstrokes, some of the rallies were engrossing, I could identify more with Verdasco's game as I am also a leftie. We tried to cheer Becker up by shouting the name of his other illustrious namesake Boris. But he couldn't match up to Verdasco and lost. This experience has certainly whetted up my appetite to watch more live tennis action. Next stop is hopefully going to be one of the Grand Slams.
Have been a regular tennis player since I came to US in 2008. Almost every weekend I play around 2-3 hours of tennis with friends. Have been an ardent fan of tennis ever since I was 10 years old. Followed the Grand Slams quite closely then, including the earlier rounds. Waited for the Quarters and Semis because from that stage onwards, Doordarshan used to telecast the matches. My childhood heroes were Becker, Edberg, Sampras and Steffi. Used to spend hours watching tennis, and celebrate wildly India's Davis Cup wins, of which were quite a lot during those golden years of Vijay Amritraj, Ramesh Krishnan and Leander Paes.
First played tennis when I was 11 years old, in Srinagar. There was a tennis court in the army area we were staying.My father used to play tennis with a colleague, my sister and I usually turned up to watch. Dad decided to buy us racquets in due course, then we started knocking around but it was lot of effort to get the ball across the net, and it wasn't lot of fun. So I decided to shun actual play and take my racquet and ball, and start hitting against a wall near my house. I used to like the rhythm of the shots there, it was more under my control. I started treating the wall as an imaginary player, drew a line on it and on the floor, and devised a couple of rules for points. I became hooked to this format, thereafter I used to play for hours. Take cut-outs from the Grand Slam tournament draws from the newspaper or from Sportsstar magazine, and conduct my own tournament, keeping records of results. This became one of my favourite pastime, also since we were in quite a remote place, there was no one else of my age-group, so there wasn't much else to do after school. Continued playing like this for many years, both in Srinagar as well as in the next place Panagarh, where I found the terrace wall a convenient place. Then gradually grew out of it. For almost two decades of high- school as well as college and work did not play any tennis at all. Though always used to love watching it on TV.
In early 2008, suddenly I decided one fine day, that I should learn to play actual tennis. I enrolled for coaching classes in Bombay, the instructors were quite pleased with my rapid progress, little did they know the countless hours I had spent hitting in my childhood. For one month I rigorously practised tennis, used to get up before 6am regularly for the classes, which was a big sacrifice for me. My quest to become a decent tennis player got another boost when I came to US. US is a tennis lover's paradise, abundance of courts and many interested players. Got good friends Hirak and Atul as enthusiastic partners, kept playing on a regular basis and also improved my game by watching online videos and reading tennis books from the library. At this stage I feel good about my game, and hopefully keep getting better. I enjoy every moment I am on court and am grateful for that. I feel it has been an interesting tennis journey for me, from those early beginnings to the resurrection in my thirties.
1000 Ways To Die
Was watching this program on TV. It was showing all weird ways of dying in which few actors enacted the method of death, followed by a specialist explaining the causes. Was really interesting. most of them had a catchy caption in the end
Few which stuck in my mind were.
An entire decade just went by. The fourth such event in my life, do not remember anything of the transition from 70s-80s as I was a toddler then. 80s-90s was quite significant, as I became a teenager then, India was changing rapidly, Indian political landscape was in an unprecedented mess, it was also the advent of the Cable TV, liberalization, Sachin Tendulkar. 90s-00s was also a major milestone for me, as it coincided with my graduation and stepping into the adult world with my first job. And the 00s-10s also had a special gift for me in the form of a little angel as a daughter.
So can't wait to see what the 10s-20s will have in store :) and nothing to say about the years in between.
Saw Barcelona in action in San Francisco. It was my first world class soccer action, my previous experience being limited mostly to East Bengal-Mohun Bagan match-ups at Calcutta.So saying this was an upgrade is an understatement.
Barcelona was playing against a top-flight Mexican league team, Chivas from Guadalajara. The stadium, belonging to the NFL team San Francisco 49ers, was filled with more than 60,000 fans. Most of them were boisterous Mexican fans. One could hear Spanish all-around, even the official announcements were ONLY in Spanish; English being dispensed altogether, which was kind of strange. But luckily we had a Mexican friend with us and she translated, and there were a few interesting incidents like the Chivas coach being ejected from the sidelines by the referee.
It was really a dream come true to see the best team in the world. Though it was only a friendly , but the quality of soccer dished out was top-notch. Messi was in sublime form with his precision passes and assured runs. Henry was menacing, but still hasn't ever reached the heights he set at Arsenal. Also a couple of young players in the Barca team were outstanding; especially Daniel Alves. The entire match was mostly played in the Chivas half of the field with Barcelona camping there, but Chivas defence was a tough nut to crack. Inspite of getting numerous chances and hitting the post twice Barca couldn't score. And against the run of play Chivas scored. But Barcelona came back strongly to equalize. And that's the way the match ended at 1-1.
A great result undoubtedly for Chivas, but Barcelona got what they wanted, they were able to test out their team before the season, and the superior quality was there for all to see.
Day off from Office/School ...
The list :
Ae Watan Ae Watan hamko teri kasam - Has a simple jingoistic feel to it.
Ae Mere Pyare Watan (Kabuliwala) - A nostalgic melodious song, having a Persian/Central Asian music style. doesn't matter that it is not about India, as it still evokes the universal love of the country.
Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo - Gives me goosebumps and tears every time I hear it. With great sadness the plight of the brave Jawans in the icy rocky terrain of the Himalayas comes to mind. Inadequately equipped, facing extreme physical hardship while battling against hopeless odds the relentless Chinese human wave after wave.
Kar chale hamein fida jaan o tan saathiyon, ab tumhare hawale vatan saathiyon - Reminds me of the school celebrations of Independence day
Vande Mataram - The original Vande Mataram from the movie Anand Math, in Sanskrit, has an ancient feeling to it. Brings to mind the black and white grainy pictures of the freedom fighters and their struggles.
Jahan daal daal pe - another of those special I-day songs in school.
Meri des ki dharti - Manoj Kumar, Mr Bharat, pumping it up for rural India.
Mein Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya - Not really patriotic, but the suave,carefree, Dev Anand in the jeep, is a perfect embodiment of an ideal Army officer of the 60s. Can imagine my father and father-in-law, both of whom were in the Army during that time.
Mile Sur Mera Tumhara - Bhimsen Joshi and the assorted multi-lingual singing cast makes this a gem of a song for national integration. No song can be more nostalgic than this; as during my childhood this used to be on TV almost daily. I had memorized the entire song with the 20 odd languages.
vandemataram rehman - The modern avatar of Vande Mataram, good music and well sung, but doesn't bring out the whole patriotic mood as the others
Yeh Jo Des Hai Tera (Swades) - Nice song, One of the few patriotic movies of recent years. One can identify more with this song after coming to the US and speaking to Indians who have been here for decades.
Been over a year in the USA now. The best reminder of it were the NBA-Playoffs. Last year also I started off watching the Eastern conference finals between Detroit Pistons and the Boston Celtics, and this year I improved on it by watching and following both Eastern and Western conference finals, Le Bron James was literally a one-man army, but he couldn't sustain the momentum for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as the combined might of Orlando Magic proved too much for them.
Lakers were clinical in their Western Conference final win, as well in the NBA Finals. Pau Gasol and Kobe were amazing. and they deserved to win it.
In addition to NBA I watched the ice-hockey Stanley cup final series between the Detroit Red-Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins. The same teams as last year. I was supporting the Red-Wings due to my past six month stint in Detroit. Red Wings were the overwhelming favourites, but again sporting world is full of glorious uncertainties. The Penguins won the roller-coaster series by 4-3. The irony was that last year one of the Penguin players Hoffa left the team to come to Red-Wings as he wanted to win a Stanley Cup, to turn up again on the losing side. Maybe a bit of faith and patience in his former club would have helped.
Pittsburgh as a city must be quite thrilled as they have two of the biggest titles in American sport. The NFL Super Bowl by the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Stanley Cup by the Penguins.
Been over 9 months in the San Francisco Bay Area for me. This place must rank as one of the best in terms of the natural beauty. A sprawling crystal blue bay merging into the immense Pacific, dotted with emerald islands like Alcatraz, Angel Island and Treasure Island; crisscrossed by imposing architectural marvels like the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge and flanked by undulating mountain ranges and highlands. On a clear day, a hike on any of the innumerable trails, will ensure a marvelous vista.
Few notable points about San Francisco which is a unique city in lots of ways.
New York and Washington DC
Left home(Detroit) at 3.30 am in the night. Drove about 2-3 hours till Cleveland, took a break and slept around 2 hours in the car. Had breakfast and started off fresh again. Then had a wonderful scenic ride in the morning as we passed through Pennsylvania. The Fall colours were so vibrant, with trees in various shades of yellow, orange, carrot and red. Cruising along at 70-80 miles an hour, with nice music and a bright day outside, it was blissful. There was hardly any fatigue. Started approaching New York in the afternoon, the traffic suddenly became quite crazy with people driving rashly, I was somewhat stressed as I had already been driving for 12 hours. On top of it my GPS system and Google Map directions were leading me up the garden path, and I was sort of lost. But using my general sense of direction and recall of the map, somehow made it to our hotel. I had thought that I would be too tired for any further exertions, but got a second wind, and with a 30 min rest in the hotel, we were all set to go out and explore New York. We went to Times Square, took us about 45 min to cover 5 miles in the bus, was sadly reminded of Bombay traffic.
The neon dazzle of Times Square did not disappoint, people of all nationalities were in full glory. Roamed around generally, admiring the various stores. Then by 10pm we were dog tired and craving for some well-deserved rest.
We were up and away early, braving the rush hour traffic on the roads and sidewalks, made our way to the pier to undertake a cruise of Hudson river, was a breathtaking sight admiring the towering Manhattan skyline from the boat. With an informative commentary on the history and significance of the various neighbourhoods of NY. Soho, Tribeca, the Greenwich village, Chelsea, Brooklyn, Queens. Went passed some of the world's costliest river facing apartments belonging to celebrities like Will Smith, Calvin Klein, Robert De Niro, Nicole Kidman etc. Then viewed the majestic Statue Of Liberty. Post the Cruise ride we purchased a subway pass to roam around the city and view sites like the Rockefeller Center, St Patrick's Cathedral, Wall Street, the WTC site etc. The highlight of the day though was watching a play on Broadway. It was a comedy play called 39 Steps, a hilarious spoof of the Hitchcock thriller of the same name. In this play 4 actors effortlessly played over 70 characters! Must be a record of some sorts. The witty dialogues and innovative use of props was a treat. It was staged in a heritage building called the Cort theatre. We ended the day with a few cocktails and sumptuous Thai dinner near Union Square with Meghna's friend who works as a reporter with Forbes magazine and had some interesting anecdotes to share, including an interview with an Afghan warlord.
Roamed in Central Park, an oasis of green and serenity in the hustle bustle of NY . Very well preserved. The nearby inhabitants are a mighty lucky, and may I add a very wealthy lot. Went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. A massive complex, one of the largest museums in the world, with about a couple of million artifacts. since the collection was so overwhelming, we opted for a guided tour so that we could admire and get insights on some of the highlights. The Picassos, Rembrandts , Van Goghs were dime a dozen. Particularly liked Andy Warhol's wacky paintings. So after spending half a day there, we were on our way out of NY in a jiffy to beat the rush hour traffic.
After spending a few hours shopping in a huge outlet mall in New Jersey, we were on our way to Washington DC. Though it was a pretty tiring day, but driving was not a chore. In fact I was glad to rest my butt on the seat, as the whole day I was just walking or standing. It was a comfortable drive, listening to melodious Hindi songs, and we reached DC at midnight.
Washington DC must have one of the world's best and most traveller friendly subway system. It covers the vast suburbia through a classic hub and spoke layout. Modern and clean trains and stations. DC seemed so spacious and relaxed compared to NY.
Most of the DC attractions are amenable to a brisk walk schedule, but since we were so tired after the NY stint that we decided to take a hop-on hop-off tourist open decked double decker bus. Admired the architecture of the various stately buildings. Visited the Arlington cemetery, it was a sombre sight viewing the 3,00,000 plus graves of all the American military personnel. Saw glimpses of the huge Pentagon and the Washington monument. The Capitol and the area around it remind me a lot of the Rashtrapati Bhavan, North and South Block in Delhi. Then paid a visit to a few of the Smithsonian museums, they have such a amazing repertoire , and the best part is that there is no admission fees in any of the museums. Particularly enjoyed seeing the vintage aircrafts, the cursed Hope Diamond, the only painting by Da Vinci in the Western Hemisphere.
The White House was an anticlimax, it looks so ordinary and small compared to all the footage that I have seen in various movies or TV. I have seen Kothis in Delhi larger than it. But I am glad I saw it, as I was really keen. There are always some protesters in front of it, this time we saw some Anti-nuclear and Tibet activists. After this whirlwind tour of Washington, we went to a Lonely Planet suggested bar, downed a few beers, then went to a recommended Ethiopian restaurant, and had an exotic meal.
Got up late, and started on the drive back, again some spectacular scenery on the way. Reached Detroit at nightfall. Was a marathon driving effort on my side. More than 1500 miles on the whole! but it was well worth it.
Vonnegut and Chocolate
After coming to USA , one of the best things has been the access to a wonderful local library, where everything is free and unlimited. An unheard of concept in India; was pleasantly surprised.
Hope to utilize the opportunity to the fullest and devour through a diverse collection. Have started off by diving into the works of famous American writers like Vonnegut, Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, Paul Theroux. Really enjoying going through them as one gets to know a cross-section of American society, philosophy and evolution of lifestyle.
Vonnegut is a riot as he dishes out over-the-top, satirical stuff. Especially Thank You Dr Kervokian , Galapagos, and Cat's Cradle which is about a mad-cap nuclear scientist. The punchlines in his plots are always directed at the traditionally pro-war and hawkish American establishment. He has a strong pacifist streak in him, which he brings out through his strident anti-war tirade, which he masks so effortlessly in humourous and wacky scenarios.
Dr Strangelove is the closest a movie could resemble a Vonnegut plot. One of Vonnegut's favourite example is to point out that the only successful genocide in the history of mankind is the obliteration of all native Tasmanians, who were hunted down similar to dodos by the White Settlers, as they thought that those aborigines were sub-human in nature and like vermin who should be exterminated. So much for the superior Western civilization.
Also read a brilliant book by Carol Off called Bitter Chocolate, in which she has laid out bare the sordid reality of the sugar coated chocolate industry over the years. Starting from its Mayan origins superseded by the Aztec civilization which was in turn plundered by the Spanish Conquistadors led by Hernando Cortez for its Gold. What followed was the slavery of the Native Americans , to satisfy the cocoa appetites of the Europeans.
Then she talks about the Anglo-American chocolate barons, Hershey, Cadbury, Mars, Rowntree, who popularized chocolate and brought it to the masses. But inside the benign chocolate candy, lies a brutal history of slavery and persecution of the African and Native American people who have throughout the ages borne the brunt of the burden, but have hardly enjoyed the fruits of their toil. In Ghana and Ivory Coast, none of the poor cocoa farmers have ever tasted what the end-product is like. Currently ravaged by Civil war, changing climates and extreme poverty these cocoa farmers have a really miserable existence and Big Cocoa is doing precious little to ameliorate these conditions. She has brought out the issues quite starkly and in an engaging manner in her book.
After reading it one feels that the Chocolate industry is one that could definitely do with a dose of Fair Trade
Sports in USA
Came out of India when the IPL series was in its decisive phase. followed the last few matches on cricinfo. The semi-finals were damp squibs, but the final was total paisa-vasool(value for money), sorely missed watching it on TV.
Also managed to catch the much anticipated dream French Open final, but Nadal made it look so lop-sided, he played a fabulous game to again thwart the greatest player in the world. My advice to Roger is to not dwell on it too much, Rafa was better on the day. Roger's chance will come again.
Other main sporting event was the Stanley Cup finals, it was the first time that I watched it. My only ice hockey viewing prior to this was watching a few Winter Olympic matches in the 90s. I was fascinated by the game then, played at such a breathtaking speed, non-stop action, and with minimal rules. Unfortunately on Indian TV did not get to view it much. then when i went to Canada in 2006, I saw what a big sport it was, with sports shops stocked with Hockey accessories and merchandise.
So this time it was a treat to watch the best ice-hockey in the world, and to top it the local team Detroit Red Wings was playing the finals, one could see numerous cars on the road flying the flag of the red wings, Detroit is also known as HockeyTown, as it has one of the richest Ice Hockey tradition in the country, the final was with the Pittsburg Penguins, liked the name. One could almost imagine penguins walking in the middle of the cold ice rink, the name of their arena was even better Igloo.
Detroit won a thrilling series of matches 4-2 to be crowned the winners. There was a massive parade organized for the team, it took place right below my office in downtown Detroit, just caught glimpses of it.
What I gather from my experiences is that the most popular sport out here is American Football, so I am also awaiting that season expectantly, supposed to start in Sept. Let us see what the fuss is all about and whether it even compares to my favourite sport the real football(i.e. soccer), where they actually kick the ball rather than mostly throwing or carrying it around.
Life has taken a nine and a half hour phase shift, as I now find myself in Detroit for the next 8 months. Weather wise the timing was perfect having avoided the inconvenience of monsoons in Bombay and getting the best possible climate here with the onset of summer in this notoriously cold part of US.
Hope I could have said the same about the Economic or Political climate out here. Michigan has been the worst hit in this recession in the USA; in fact it was a laggard in most of the economic indicators for a long time, owing to the heavy dependence on the chronically under-performing US auto industry. It is a part of the so called "rust belt" of the US. One can see signs of a economy in depression almost everywhere, starting from empty roads (except maybe during rush hours), houses up For Sale signs, unusually high number of garage and other distress sales, half-empty malls closing down, heavy discounts on various goods, people talking about lack of jobs, low rents etc. Inflation is also at a high with high gas and food prices. A classic example of Stagflation.
Downtown Detroit the business capital of Michigan is also quite sparse compared to many other similar cities in the US. Though that cannot be solely attributed to economic reasons, but also due to other socio-political reasons. Phenomenons such as ghettoizing of Afro-Americans (being politically correct), white-flight, high operating costs and lack of a specially skilled workforce are some of the factors that have inhibited new investments in the state.
Politically it has been a roller-coaster ride for Americans as the electorate has become highly polarized on race, gender and class. The coming few moths will be quite charged politically, so it will be a good experience to observe the American Presidential elections with a ringside view.
Overall personally the last one month has been an eventful period, with lots of things happening mostly good some not so good. One can find somemore details on my wife Meghna's blog.
Had a bump-in with the rear-end of the mobility icon of the Indian Government, the Ambassador.
No prizes for guessing which party was worse off in it. With less reaction time and my bike CBZ's front disc brakes not responding fully; I went skidding into the Amby, and had visions of crashing straight into the rear window of the car and become an unannounced guest of the paper-reading babu of Maharashtra Govt. But I jammed my brakes hard, and didn't forget the cardinal rule of bike crashes i.e. never let go of the handle. The bike bounced off the car ,but somehow I managed to maintain my balance during the impact and was suitably shaken but not stirred.
Though when I got off my bike to assess the damage, suddenly my legs were all wobbly. Babu's driver comes out and says there is a dent in his car. I wanted to give him a piece of my mind, on his sudden power braking. He justifies by saying there was a pothole in front. Then a sympathetic crowd gathers around me saying that he is lucky that I didn't get hurt. On this he makes a quiet exit from the scene. I go to the nearby paan shop and uncharacteristically smoke a cigarette to soothe my nerves. I usually don't smoke, maybe the stereotype image of a cigarette to relax tension made me reach for it.
After a few minutes when I again mount my bike, I find there are no potholes in the vicinity. So still a mystery why that jerk braked so suddenly.
Went on an official trip Down Under to Melbourne for two weeks. Landed on the evening of the Australian Open Mens final, got to hear the radio commentary on the taxi!! Later found out that my hotel was a 5 min walk from the Flinders Park Station, and about 10 min to the Rod Laver Arena.
Melbourne is a great place for sports enthusiasts; the city has some of the best sports stadiums in the world, and another good aspect is they are so accessible. MCG, Telstra Dome and Flinders park, are just 5-10 min drive away from each other.
The public transport in Melbourne is the best I have seen. Though Mumbai could give it a run for its money only if it had around half the number of commuters and cars, with the frequency of buses and trains remaining the same.
Melbourne has regular trams, trains, buses criss-crossing the entire metropolis. The tourists can also hop into special trams and buses and take a round of the entire city free of charge.
The two weeks went off in a trice. The highlight of the trip was visiting MCG during the 20-20 Ind-Aus match. Though the match was a damp squib. But the thrill of sitting in a packed MCG, with a grandstand view and glugging away Australian Beer was memorable. Cricket wise it was a treat to watch Gilly hammering away. I gave him a more raucous ovation than even the Aussies themselves. Gilly has been a sweetheart, one of the nicest blokes in World Cricket. Also since it was the season of the "maa-kis", so I gave a primer to my Australian colleagues on Indian expletives.
Another interesting experience was visiting the Melbourne Zoo, was quite intrigued with the idea of seeing the unique Australian fauna, and it was a treat. Especially the playful Platypus,which was darting around furiously in its exclusive darkened enclosure; the serene koala and the cute Meerkats. Also enjoyed seeing the Gorillas and Orang-utans in action.The Kangaroos and Penguins were a disappointment, they were too small and frail than what I expected. Not that it is a valid criteria for feeling dejected, but somehow that was my first impression. After roaming in the zoo, walked around 90 min to go back to the hotel because we couldn't get a taxi. The walk was pleasant though, and we covered a lot of Melbourne on the way.
Triumph of the "Galacticos"
"Dusk To Dawn"
Back to India
Dozen Things I did not know about Canada
1. More probability of finding a Sardar than that of spotting the enduring symbol of Canada, the maple tree.
2. Topless women drivers tanning themselves, maybe getting the benefits of greenhouse effect in the car.
3. Canadian dollar is known as a "loonie" and two dollar is a "toonie", shows the seriousness with which they take their currency, and people prefer dealing in coins rather than notes, that makes one prone to the uneven butt syndrome.
4. Every second day I see atleast one banged up car on the roads (refer to point number 2)
5.A big fat tadka laden Punjabi wedding occuring on every weekend in the hotel, with gaudy dresses and even gaudier vehicles, which have personalized names like "Harkir 8", "Bund 007", "Sukhy 69" , "yuvraj 1" etc. Havent seen a "Flying 6" or a "5 pyaare" , or a Pammi 38-30-38
6. The Canadian english pronunciation is a mixture of the American twang and the British stiff upper lip.
7. Temperatures above 30 degrees is treated as a heat wave, and advisories are issued in the media, such a threshold in peninsular India would result thankfully in sparse traffic and schools never completing their syllabus.
8. Counting the number of world famous Canadians I now know requires help from my fingers rather than my ears and probably my nose.
9. Apparently Americans have had more success in Canada than in Iraq, they pervade every aspect of Canadian life, from media to corporate, almost all stores and brands are US based. Even the most famous Canadian product the Molson beer, has been taken over by US based Coors. It is almost like the 51st state of US. (Though it is bigger than the whole of USA). Even the distress call number is 911.
10. Most Canadians call electricity "Hydro", though most of the electricity is produced through coal and nuclear power plants.
11. License Raj in Canada, liqour is only sold in Govt shops called LCBO (Liqour Control Board Of Ontario), very surprising considering it is a neigbour of the free market champion of the world.
12. There is an Essex, Perth, Hamilton, Wellington, Birmingham, Kingston and London in Canada. Also a Holland, Finland and Khartoum! And believe it or not a reference to my Alma Mater, a town called Lucknow. Wow. In a few years hope to see a Ludhiana, Patiala and Bhatinda in Sada Kanada.
Impressions Of Canada