Monday, May 30, 2005

Car trolley in a store!

Was pretty much at home today playing with my niece,watching TV,browsing the internet etc.In the afternoon,went to a store near home to buy some groceries and saw a car-trolley!Its a trolley where kids can sit in a car sort of a cubicle in the front of the trolley,while the mothers can push the trolley and buy the groceries from the store.No hassle of keeping track in which part of the mall the kid is running around etc!Again, what struck me was the manner in which this country thinks through the simplest of processes.I mean, just going to a store with your kid and concentrating on what to buy at good prices, rather than hurrying up and getting distracted with a kid running around all over the place!Oof!

Chatted with Leena from Mumbai too,for a couple of hours,uploaded some photos onto my Yahoo Photos today and had total Indian food at home.No junk food for a change!

Returning to San Antonio tonight.

the Galleria mall- May 29!

It was an afternoon in upmarket,downtown Houston.Some real flavours of the US.Visited and loafed right through theGalleria mall.Reminded me so much of CrossRoads in Mumbai,The Forum in Bangalore and the Spencers Mall in Chennai, of course, those three being miniature versions of theGalleria.HUuuuuuuuuuuuuuge mall,very,very upmarket,all the leading brands,terrific jazz,amazing quality,brilliant decoration,fantastic ambience and of course,equally terrific prices!

Infact,I entered a women's store with my sister,can't pronounce it(Neimus Radis or something).And it had a wing full of lingerie,another wing full of gowns and party wear,another full wing of robes,coats and chic stuff,flannels,umbrellas that the really,really rich wave in the heat(remember people like Mrs.Thatcher,waving an umbrella with her hat on?Same type!)...oof,it was mind blowing!I had fertile imaginations of my dream girl(am still wondering who it is!)in those outfits and it had its impact on me!The very imagination of her was a WOW feeling!And to top it off,there were very,very UPMARKET bikinis!Made me say a bigger, WOW!

Had one of the experiences in my life,with a visit to Band & Olufsen,the electronics supergiant!Amazing products!And it was an experience in selling techniques for me at that store.There was this bespectacled professional,who met my brother-in-law and me at the door,pretty much figured out that it was our first trip to that expensive store,spoke to us so well,talked about the technologies behind those sound systems.And then gave us an experience, which we will treasure!He took us to a small room which had a couch each on two corners of the room,two sofas directly facing a home theatre system,and a fantastic stand with candle in that room.Speakers were there at each end of the hometheatre video screen.

Anand and I sat on the sofa facing the video screen and this salesman,played a clip from the movie,Kill Bill.Look at the way in which he made a sales pitch!To show us the stereo effects,as the scene enveloped on the screen,and the audio in the closed room reached a crescendo,the salesmen DIMMED the lights!Yes,for added effect!Oh!That was something else, I felt as if I were transported into some other place!Amazing piece of electronic genius and even better way of selling it!And as the scene in that clip ended,the bright lights came on again.Wow!I was almost wondering why on earth I was stuck with my bro-in-law:a hot chic in that romantic setting would've been a blast!But,it sure was an experience!Supposed to be one of the best audio systems in the world!

We exited that electronics store and a couple of carts went past us,full of cakes and cheese,with a hot blonde to follow!As Anand remarked to my stare at the hot blonde,"the icing on the cake,the blonde"..!!I just smiled!

We then went to Starbucks,and I got an aerial view of an ice rink!Yes,an ICE RINK!It was stupendous!People ripping at the rate of knots with ski shoes on,turning,skating,dancing with partners,playing the fool...quite amazing!We had our coffee and slowly trudged towards the ice rink on the grownd floor for a closer view.It was even better!Have taken a lot of snaps of that ice rink!Quite something else.The manner in which this country packages,markets and does anything is what has struck me most.I mean, an ice rink in the middle of a shopping mall!Such a simple concept and so real!And a great business idea,if I may add!

Got to learn some of these things from these Americans.They know to create avenues to enjoy life and make it accessible to the general public,even in upmarket malls.Terrific!

Came back home,checked email,chatted on the net with a few more India friends and crashed!Of course,I chatted with that new,lovely Chennai friend of mine too!

Katy Mills Mall - May 28!

I never knew that a human being could spend 6 hours in a shopping mall and still not be done for the day! That's exactly what happened today. We went to Katy Mills Mall here in Houston today.Reached at 12 noon and got back home only at dinner time! It was something else.

Beginning with the sprawling parking lot to the technology and range of products inside,it was something seen to be believed. I must have walked at least 5 kms inside that shopping mall today in the course of those 6- 7 hours.Not a very athletic rate of walking, but that's the key.Every stall/store/shop had me spellbound!

Hell, there was a big store for pets! Another one for yatching, cycling, canoeing, mountaineering, boating...basically,the rough terrain stuff! Shoes, jewelry, junk food, clothes, denim wear, summer wear (yes, revealing, colourful bikinis were there all over the place!), gadgets, phones, food stores, icecreams, coke vending machines, puppets, electronic stores,home utility stores,medicals,furnitures stores,painting and artifacts stores (a famous one called, Kirklands), stationery items, hats, caps, suits, lingerie, sexy negligees, balloons, pillows, CDs, DVDs, car interiors stores, caricature artistes... you name it,and that mall had it!

The highlight of the day HAD to be that massage I got for USD 12.00. Oh!What an experience!Was damn tired after walking all over the mall,taking snaps etc.And massage was just the right recipe to sign off the day.The guy was a trained massage-er, some Chinese variety,and he relaxed every inch of my masculine body,I swear.He even massaged a couple of hot blondes,lucky girls!Wish there were a babe to have massaged me,rather than this hunk!All the same,it was very,very refreshing and incredibly relaxing! There was another mechanised massage sofa too in that mall!I mean, the manner in which technology has permeated every facet of livelihood in this country, is seen to be believed!

Anyway,did some sample shopping here and there, had the best vanilla icecream of my life so far, ate a spicy garlic pretzel (not too much of a garlic freak, but this was yummy!), and finally left the mall at 6.45 p.m. Of course, was with Priya, Anand and Anjali throughout.

We ate at IndianWok on the way home and I was chatting with a couple of my Indian friends till 1 a.m - one from hometown Bangalore and one from Mumbai!Slept at 1.45 a.m.! Just crashed!

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Drive home - May 27

The drive from Houston Hobby airport to my sister's home was something else. There was one big road that we entered called the Beltway 8. It was a looooooooooooooooooooong,very,very,very long road that we went on for nearly half an hour non-stop.Every vehicle on that road was ripping at, at least 120 mph.Huge road,with about 6 lanes,almost reminded me of an exaggerated version of Mount Road in Chennai,or Marine Drive in Bombay!The trip from the airport to the house was longer than the duration of my flight from San Antonio to Houston!Chatted away with Anand,and we stopped at a Starbucks Coffee joint on the way,before finally reaching home at ust past 7p.m.

Immediately,ran into the arms of my lovely little 4 year old niece, Anjali and played the fool with her!All of us then went out for dinner to one of my sister's friends' place, Umesh & Priya.It was pretty nearby and I dived into the food like a starved pig!Paav bhaji with masala,tomato rice and curd rice with Lays chips and Coke!Yummy!The paav bhaji was something else.Met some of my sister's other Indian friends,all couples(I was the only singleton there,other than the little kids!) - Suresh:Kavitha,Hari:Raji:Umesh:Priya,and my sister & brother-in-law,Priya:Anand, of course!Took a snap of all of them,and finally was so tired that we just left that place early.

Came home,got online and chatted with that new,lovely Indian friend of mine for more than 2 hours!Just didn't know how time flew by.Slept at 1 a.m. eventually!Felt great to chat with her!Finally,dozed off!

Team lunch and off to Houston - May 27

Well,was really busy and couldn't write on this page for the last 2 days. Its been incredibly happening.Its the long Memorial Day weekend here in the US.

Friday began with everyone in office entering office in a holiday mood.Went with Ashwin,after packing in my luggage into the trunk of his new Nissan car.In office,as I was checking my emails,a tall,red-haired,blue-eyed American came to my desk and introduced himself as Joe.He is the global VP for our technology research practice!Wow,he could pass off as a pop icon,that's how he looked.After the initial pleasantries,he invited me for the team lunch. All of us went out to an Italian restaurant and had an amazing vegetarian pasta!Yummy,even if a touch without the Indian spices that I am otherwise used to.We sat outside,in the garden,under a tall greenwood tree,it was amazing!Reggie,Ashwin and I were at the edge of the table, while SV,Mireya,Mukul,Stacy and Joe sat along the other seats around the table.

It was an engaging conversation with Reggie and Ashwin about the US automobile industry.Both of us(Ash n I)got enough and more tips on how to use the automobile industry to our advantage, to find hot babes for ourselves.There was a suggestion that we buy inexpensive cars,so that we figure out whether the babe we are out with loves us for our cars or loves us because of us!With an expensive car,answering that becomes a stiff proposition!After lunch,we dropped off Joe at the office.He was an engaging conversationalist.Real good fun!Was talking about the technology practice too,and apparently, our boss had some kind words about Ash & me!Whoops!Felt good hearing that from the global VP!

From the office,Ashwin and I went straight to the San Antonio airport where he dropped me off to catch my flight to Houston.It was a nice drive as we played some really terrific,old Hindi classics and got lost!Reached the airport,handed over a cover to Alpita there(Ashwin's old friend)and then walked into my aircraft.Took a snap at Starbucks Coffee too,and walked around the airport terminal!The flight was a bit boring, was deep in thought about a million things in life!

Waited outside Houston's William Hobby airport terminal for Anand for nearly half an hour.Was observing the US systems at the airport terminal.Quite amazing.Not a SINGLE car honked,no traffic jams though there were scores of cars and people running helter-skelter.Just amazing.Perfect discipline,no noise,no shrieking of people,pay phones working perfectly...amazing!Anand came,and I hopped into his Toyota Camry and we began a long drive home!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Frost & Sullivan CEO visit to San Antonio

Its been an incredibly busy day. Got up late, gobbled up some bread for breakfast and rushed to office at 9 a.m. Lot of work and had to finish two write - ups today. Just no mood to work at all. Had tons of emails to catch up with from India, and then sent tons of sms to my new Chennai, lawyer friend. What a fantastic friend she is! Itching to get back to India and meet her in person. Got mails from Tash, Lizz, Ami, Namrata and lots of other people today. Felt great! Just added to my 'no-mood' to work!

Finally, got down to some serious work by noon and wrapped up my two write-ups and sent it to Seema and Fred by 5 p.m. Lunch was a bit of a bore, had rotis and coconut podi with Hari. It was an interesting combination of dishes, just gulped it down as I had no time to breathe and wanted to wrap up my work while I was in the mood to work!

Just as I was peaking and finishing my deadline, got an email from the admin guys saying that there is a meeting in the training room. Went up there with the other Indian folks around me and saw my company's CEO for the first time. He was a shortish man, blonde hair,bearded, firmly built and of course speaking endlessly!He took off on growth, global companies, markets etc for a while. Typical American CEO language! Had seen it on TV for years,but saw it in front of me for the first time. No great shakes, I thought.He presented a few awards to some oustanding people in the company and many of them were hot women!Well, it was cloudy outside, so sure could've done with some heat around the place!!And these bosses are so lucky here, they get to kiss these award winners in skimpy dresses!

Got back to my seat after that session,and just put my head down and finished my work. Once that was done, sent a long email to my new,special Indian friend in Chennai! Also,spoke to Priya and confirmed that she would pick me up at Houston airport tomorrow.Ashwin will drop me off here to San Antonio airport.Long weekend coming up!

Created a record of sorts today by sending in 62 text messages from the internet to a mobile phone!

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Roopa's birthday - Indian lunch!

It's my colleague's Roopa's birthday today! The day began for me even before midnight with Ashwin & I being the first ones to enter Roopa's apartment for the birthday bash. Slowly, the others in the Indian gang put up in different apartments in our Suite, started trickling in and soon,there were nearly ten of us at the same time,all set to wish Roopa on her birthday!And as cliched as this may sound, as the clock struck 12, we gave Roopa a cake and she was surprised as hell, cut it in the background of a noisy, boisterous bunch of guys!All of us wished her and dived into that cake, yummy, slurp!What an amazing cake that was!Lip smacking, in the true essence of the term!And once this was done, Pavithra entered the room. It was her wedding anniversary!All of us wished her and she cut another lovely cake, this time,a doughnut cake!It was a feast allright, at midnight!

I trudged back to my room as I was too sleepy and was into dreamworld in a matter of seconds. Came to office with Ashwin in his new Nissan and had these series of interesting emails, from my very interesting,exciting new friend from Chennai. We were busy exchanging email after email, despite the time difference between India & the US!And at the end of it,were still not done with it.Hmm,been a while since somebody brought so much of excitement into my life, let's see!

After that, it was back to work.And then, lunch time with Roopa,Ashwin,Anand and Norma!We first went to check out an Italian restaurant, Olive Garden,but it was choc-a-bloc!We then turned to good old Indian cuisine,and went to Sarovar here.Had a feast of a meal!Tamarind chutney,idly,cauliflower pakodas,coconut chutney,rotis,daal,paneer,and kheer just fulfilled the appetite in ample measure. To top it off,was the best ever mango lassi I have ever had. My goodness,gracious, me!What an awesome drink that was, gulped it down like I have never done before!Too good, had me gasping at the end of that gulp!

Returned to office and all of us were struggling to stay awake after such a hearty lunch!Our plan is to leave office early today,go to the hotel room, have an early dinner and catch up on lost sleep!Anyway,most of us are taking off to different parts of the US this weekend,as its a 3 day Memorial Day weekend.So,we need to ensure that our sleep is not back-dated,during the weekend,lest it creeps in and spoils the fun!

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Holiday mood sets in!

We have a long weekend coming up in the US, this weekend.Memorial Day weekend,as they call it - May 28 to 30th. Am off to Houston and then to New Orleans.Leaving this Friday, but am already into a holiday mood!That too,am taking a half day on Friday,which makes it even more exciting!

It was pretty much a usual day at the office.Spoke to Fred(boss!)and he told me that I write very well.Was quite surprised to hear that as I have not even met him and he has only seen some of my reports so far.Well,I am not complaining one bit!He is a terrific boss,not just because he gave me a compliment,but,even otherwise!He has even told me the see the sights around the US during my trip here!Now, how many bosses would speak THAT language?Should be meeting him sometime in June when he comes down to meet the team here - all the desis in his team,that is!Should be fun, even though he is an old hat!

Had a 9 a.m call with a client and it lasted under half an hour.Set up a few more meetings for the week and next week. Let's see how it goes.

Poor Norma, she is so saddled with work.Chatted up with her and got her to smile!Oof, she hasn't slept properly for a few days now, thanks to deadlines!

Am off early today,want to go for a jog and trim some flab.Am eating too much of junk food here-cookies,chips,pizzas,wafers,chocolates,strawberry,yogurt,etc!

Monday, May 23, 2005

Rasam - soup juice!

I've never heard that before.It happened during lunch time today,when Roopa,Hari,Norma and I were sitting and chatting in the lunch room about Indian food.In the course of conversation,we spoke about the typical south Indian dish,Rasam.And Norma called it,SOUP JUICE!I just burst out laughing!Haven't ever heard of that version of rasam's identity before!But it made perfect sense. For an American, not used to the Indian tongue,rasam would indeed be soup juice!An unforgettable moment!

The day began with Ashwin dropping us off at office on his way to return his rented car.Pretty much saddled with work all day.Had brought rotis along for lunch, but no side dish. So Hari and I went down to the canteen and had cheese castilla!Fattening,again!But I'm jogging since yesterday!

Received long emails from Emilie,Kamala,Nirish and Subha and replied to all of them!Nothing like a friend's email to cheer me up.Oh yes!Sent in my next article for zine5,this time its about my spotless shoe!

Chatted with Fred and got an approval to take a half day on Friday;off to Houston and New Orleans, you see!Can't wait for Friday lunch time to arrive!

Weekend at San Antonio

It was a very interesting weekend, most of which was spent with Ashwin. On Friday evening, had a quiz in office and it was very interesting.Managed 3 answers, after which all of us left office.Ashwin had rented a car, a nice Ford Focus!We made plans of eating out and seeing the city of San Antonio on this lovely Friday night!

Reached the hotel,refreshed, got into some dashing clothes and off we went for dinner first. Reached Taco Cabanas,a Mexican restaurant near our hotel. Just didn't undertand one word on the menu card, and Ashwin did all the explaining to the waiter about our need for veg food.No meat,no frying in non-veg pans etc!It was an effort.Finally had a strange item that was a combination of rice,roti,rajma and papads - sorry, can't pronounce the name of the dish even now!Generally fooling around the place on the dinner table, with full manners - fork, spoon,towel on the lap etc - oof, just wish I could eat with my hands, full Indian style!So much easier!

We then took off to the city side of San Antonio.Was struck by the huge malls,arcades,car dealer joints,roads,lights,hoardings etc.As Ashwin said,"Everything in the US is big".Naughty fellow!On the way back, we stopped at iHOP, a coffee joint.Am not usually too much of a coffee drinker,prefer good old tea,but this iHOP coffee was quite something else.And the pancake with the banana sauce to go with it made my mouth water.Lip smacking dish!Reached the hotel after that and was in deep conversation with the crowd, before hitting the sack at around 3 a.m.

Saturday,ah, the laziest morning of the week!Got up at 11.30 a.m(mom would've freaked had I done that at home, but well, charms of being alone!).Went to the bank near our hotel and encashed the cheque for the month.Was half-expecting a nice, attractive blonde at the teller counter,only to run into a hunk with a crew-cut!Groan!Collected the cash,stopped at the nearby foodmart,bought milk and Pringles wafers and back to the room and watched a nice Michelle Pfeifer movie, Dangerous Minds. It was about a bunch of students who did everything but study in school and how she transforms them into good human beings. Good that I was indoors,as it was just too hot outside,almost a 100 degrees Fahrenheit!

Spent the evening in the electronics world at Circuit City and Best Buy.What products!What a range of electronic goodies!Incredible product features,amazing utility value,tremendous value for money.Checked out a couple of laptops and digital cameras.Will indulge in them before I leave for India in August!Mind blowing stuff!
The best part of the day was Saturday night, where we sat back and laughed our gut out watching Dil Chahta hai for the umpteenth time, still not getting tired of it!I added further flavours while watching the movie, by chatting with Namrata,Arundhati and Pranit for close to 2 hours,right there in the hotel room!Felt on top of the world!Nothing like a good old Indian friend to make the day!Slept at 4 a.m!

Sunday began with another laidback morning. Nothing too spectacular till the evening, actually.Watched The Untouchables in the afternoon.Will just say that I was speechless at the end of it!Must see movie,for anybody even remotely interested in classy movies.Sunday evening was big bang!Ashwin turned up with his brand new Nissan Centra car, with a crocodile frontage.And we hit the road for a long drive on IH 10,a lovely freeway,just outside San Antonio!Beautiful car,lovely moon up above and was left wondering what I am doing with guys around me in a brand new car on a warm summer's night on a Sunday night!Groan!We ordered food from Papa John's and it definitely has to rank as the best pizza I have ever had.This is the second time in two weeks that I've tried that place and its quite something else.Wish they open an outlet in India, I will surely be one of their regular customers!

After the pizza,it was back to the room and a long walk around our Budget Suites hotel just past 11 p.m. with Roopa.Nice,engaging conversation!Walked her back to her room,chatted for another hour and then went off to my room to sleep.Further conversation with my room mate,Hari before we hit the sack at 3 a.m.!

Interesting weekend,I must say, a nice mixture of rest,sleep,doing nothing,and then overbalancing that with outings,drives,pizzas and internet chats!

Friday, May 20, 2005

Kudi in the lift - what a morning!

I just got into office, and couldn't resist writing about the person I just saw.I was standing near the main gate of the office here and waiting for the security system to open(its so procedure driven here in the US!).As I did that, a tall,striking American girl came and stood behind me.She was blonde,wearing a cream skirt(hmm,yes,a mini!)and a greenish shirt with her sleeves folded up.Incredibly striking!

The gate opened and I remembered one of the first lessons I was taught on getting here - always open the gate or the car door for a girl,if she is going the same way you are!Remembered that lesson just in time!As I got to the gate,I opened the main door,and stood there for her to arrive behind me with her short,firm walks & black sandals making a tick-tock sound(music to the ears!).She reached the gate and smiled at me - ah,I fell flat!What a striking smile!And added to her beauty!

As we walked towards the elevator together, a couple of eyes in the corridor darted towards us.I was grinning.Loved the attention for a change with that babe right next to me!Agreed,as usual,she was taller than me.But hey,I have a great track record of getting along very well with girls taller than me!That too,the pretty ones!

Well,we stood in front of the elevator as she pressed the UP button and we waited for that engineering machine to come down from the top floor to take us upstairs.It was a good wait,as the elevator took its own time.I wasn't complaining one bit!Took the opportunity to smile at her,watch her closely.And I realised what a beauty I had run into first thing in the morning!Ah,delectable lips,awesome features,sharp nose,incredible attire,long legs,blazing smile,and a cute little handbag tucked up under her arms(how I'd love to have been that handbag!Groan!).

The elevator finally arrived and we got in.We were the only people inside.I couldn't believe my luck!I immediately started smiling within myself,remembering the power cuts back home in India and all sorts of naughty thoughts crossing my mind!How I wanted a power cut right then, but sad,they just don't happen in America!

As the elevator moved up,she shifted about in the space inside,lifted her hair back with her left hand(oh,that was so stylish!),inserted her shirt into her skirt(oblivious to my presence!),touched up her cheeks and stood firmly with her hands in her pocket and that handbag under her arms.Oh,she was so pretty,nay,cute!

As we got off the elevator,I was dancing when I saw her walk into the other cubicles in my office on a different wing.Now,that is a start as I can find out more about her!Lonely Indian in a strange country,sure could do with some company and see the "sights" around the US,right?

What a way to begin the day!Incredible beauty,who I didn't even talk to!Had me vibrating!Hmm,its a Friday too...!

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Spoke to Caroline!

Another extremely long day and a very long client call in between. The guy who spoke to me was a former sales guy, so talking was in his "jeans" (wrong part of him,that is)!Was tired just listening to him go on and on and on about his company and his products!Oof!Chatted with my colleague,Seema,about it and she told me that the more the client talks, the better it is for us and our projects!There is no sympathy for my ears, I concluded!

Anyway,the highlight of the day was another long call. But this was a refreshing one and something which I will treasure about this trip!Caroline called in the evening at around 5pm and we chatted till 6.10 p.m.It was an amazing talk. We chatted about India, life in the US,my girlfriends,old times,her times in the UK and how she likes England more than the US and wants to go back.Told her about developments in our hometown, Bangalore -new malls, more junk food joints,big new movie theatre,even snazzier crowd than when we were in college together etc.

Want to meet her!She said that the tickets to her place(Orlando) from Texas are so damn expensive and I wished as hell that I could go to her city and stay with her for a weekend.We've known each other for 13 years,the least I should do is visit her.Shucks,if not for empty pockets!Wow,just imagine going to Disneyworld with her!Wow!Came crashing back to earth in a second, the minute I heard the fares to reach Orlando are high.

We laughed for a while too,though couldn't laugh as we usually do(heartily!),as I was in office!Told her about my new blog here and she said that there are so many pages and she couldn't read all of them!Typical, Caro!

Just finished writing my 3 write-ups for the day.Have a bit of spreadsheet jazzing up to do,will do it tomorrow.

Oh yes!I got a lovely mail from one of my good friends in Mumbai.Leena.Poor girl, she is so caught up with work and hasn't slept in a while.I hope she takes proper rest this weekend and gets back to her upbeat self on Monday again!Another awesome mail was from that phenomenal writer, Lizzie, from the Philippinnes, who is now my best international friend!Generally sent me a mail replete with pep talk.Needed it badly!

I had rajma and roti for lunch today.It was pretty ok,and generally felt a great kick by eating Indian food in the western world!Am off now,to my hotel room for a hot shower(wish I had a nice babe with me!)and then diving into my Michael Crichton novel,State of Fear,which I started reading last night.May go for a walk as well, though doubt it.Just a day more for the weekend,anyway!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Long,long day - May 18

OK,the reason I am putting dates after each title on the blog is because I am running short by a day.As in,I am writing yesterday's happenings,today!Will resurrect that as soon as I write two blogs in one day and be back on date!

Today was a very long day at office.Just work,work and more work!Groan!Missed my 604 morning bus and had to take another one (92) and walk about 15 minutes to office from the other bus stand.Didn't have time to eat breakfast(too lazy and overslept!),so had a banana in office

Began work in right earnest and before I realised it,was done for the day.Its still 7.40p.m. here,but it seems as if its 5p.m.That's how very bright it is in San Antonio today!

The highlight of the day was a nice,long internal chat with Ashwin,Pavithra,Vijay and Sachin on our plans for the weekend.We are looking to rent a car and were looking for value-added services.Well, I suggested "lap service", viz.,the car has limited space and so,the babes can sit on the guys' laps!I think that is a fair deal,especially since we will be footing the gas bill,lunch bill,etc!C'mon girls,give us a chance.This is America!Like the say,when in Rome,be a Roman!In the same vein,we Indians in America for these 3 months,want to be Americans!Anyway,have to get back to India eventually right?So,why not live life to the fullest.Lap service!I just hope it doesn't end up as lip service,eventually!

I've been harbouring studying further today.Maybe do a good master's programme in a top university.Just finished 4 years work experience a couple of weeks ago and I think I can take a crack at these universities,GMAT,TOEFL etc.Let's see how it goes,at least the seed of thoughts are planted!

Am off for the day now.And before I sign off,am back on track today.I have written today's happenings,today itself.Hopefully,won't write the date on the title field from tomorrow.

Not feeling upto it,will mostly take the bus back home today,not in a mood to walk.Good night!

Walked to Budget Suites - May 17

Met Ashwin today after a week.What a blast of a team mate I have!Sure am lucky!Had lunch with him in the canteen.We are not supposed to take our own food to the canteen,but bent the rules and did just that by taking my good old lunch box to the canteen,as Ashwin ordered some noodles for lunch.Soon,we were into a very animated conversation!

Got into an adventurous mood in the evening as I was leaving office at 8p.m.(I just don't know why,we Indians work so hard and so long,when all the Americans leave at 6 pm sharp!).As I exited office and walked towards my usual bus stand to catch the city bus(its a great piece of jazz here in San Antonio),I just hit upon the idea to walk home.Have been walking home from office,back home in India,so just thought I would try that out here in the US as well.And it works just fine.

Walked down the spick and span street,on the even cleaner footpath with finely trimmed grass,lost in my own thoughts.Hit the bend on the road about half a mile from office and bumped into my room mate!He was jogging all over the place,and had taken the day off as he had overslept!Lucky guy!Anyway,here he was,with his walkman on and a chewing gum to boot,with his jogging attire stinking!Chatted up with him for a few minutes and walked all the way to my hotel room.Made it in 25 minutes flat!

And then had choco-biscuits, chocolates and vegetable pulao for dinner and crashed!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Just office today and Indian music - May 16

Back to San Antonio today, back to office,back to my desk,back to my computer and telephone - with loads of Monday morning blues!!!Nothing very interesting today.Just a normal day at work.

What I forgot to mention in my blog yesterday,was the security check last night on my return trip from Houston to San Antonio.Pathetic security check!That security officer checked everything in me and with me, except my undies!And that is NOT an exaggeration.The nerve of that nerd, just because I am not a white!Grrr!Anyway,that insulting experience was forgotten the minute I set my eyes on the interesting airhostess in the aircraft!Ah,what a lovely damsel!I made sure I carried good memories of Houston with lots of snaps at different places,with a final one at the Houston airport,inside the terminal.And then, this airhostess to top it off!Wow!

Further, when I reached San Antonio airport at 11.30pm on Sunday night,I was treated to true American culture,with scores of guys n gals at the terminal hugging and kissing each other(nattily clad,if I may add!),greeting each other,welcoming each other to San Antonio!Amazing,and I dare say,just short of their getting naughty,once away from the public eye!Even my cab driver from the airport to the hotel was an interesting lady!

Back to today,Monday,work was ok,had a client call, then lunch with my room mate,Hari,at his desk.I had baked potato for lunch,can you beat it?Fattening agent for sure!I' m going to be careful about this junk food(and hopefully should keep my word this time on this!)

Left office early,went to TARGET store with my room mate and bought groceries for the week,signing it off with a tasty choco-doughnut(fattening agent,again,groan,when will I learn?!).Beautiful store,all shelves etc are red in colour,but the store is a touch more expensive than Wal-Mart. Only both of us were carrying grocery in that city bus back to our hotel room, the rest of America drives away from malls in its snazzy cars!

Back to the room with my room mate and I lugging on the groceries,we listened to Vaishnavi sing some amazing carnatic music songs that had me in raptures for a couple of hours!Terrific singer.She got married just a year back and her hubby plays the violin,I heard.Hmm....!

Hit the sack,immersed in Manna De songs!My team mate from India will arrive tonight,will meet him tomorrow.

First Sunday in the US - May 15

I am going to spend a little time everyday and capture the day's proceedings of my trip from today, till the end of my trip!

Today was a pretty homely day.Got up late,and emailed mom and dad back home in India, and few other friends.Felt great to be reconnecting.All these years,it was I who used to get these emails from my friends in the US, never knew that a day would come that I would write to people back home! I had a very refreshing bath in the bathtub(yes,I spoilt myself by lying down in the water,like in the movies - though all alone!).It was a nice, long bath that lasted an hour. And once I was finished with that,I discovered that I was locked inside the bathroom, as the lock had jammed from the outside!Banged the door till help came,much to the delight of my 4 year old naughty niece who was jumping to see me again after an hour!

Went out with my brother-in-law to the nearby grocery store and indulged myself in a Starbucks Coffee. The brands and the flavours on display was very similar to the menu card I usually see at Barista on good old M.G.Road back home in Bangalore!Of course,with a very different crowd!Bought my old American, fattening favourite, Pringles chips and my bro-in-law picked up some stuff for the house as well and we got home.

After that,it was a day full of people!Umesh,Priya,Anitha,TR,Sridhar came home for lunch. And I was at my best behaviour, with my new attire from Walmart - a striped tshirt and my new shorts!Had lemon rice,khichdi,alu chips, and curd rice for lunch with flavours of Pringles wafers to boot!Anjali,my niece refused to eat and need even more convincing that any client may have needed in making her see the point!Oof,these kids!The evening was with Renu,Hema,PK Anand,Anjali,Anand and Priya at Indian Wok,an Indo-Chinese restaurant,before heading off to George Bush airport in Houston to catch my 10.30pm flight to San Antonio.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

First Saturday Night in the US!

There it was,finally!I was witness to all that I had heard about Saturday nights in the US, and watched on those old soaps on TV back home in India.Ofcourse,sans the sex!It was an interesting Saturday in Houston.Went to Walmart in morning and just got blown away with the retail explosion that I saw there.By the time I exited the main gate of this mega store,I was convinced that I can get anything in the four corners of that building for my day to day living, EXCEPT a girlfriend.Incredible place!The range of products and the processes that are followed there, was an education by itself. I guess I learnt more about the retail world in those 3 hours at Walmart, than I ever did in my marketing classes,back in b-schoool!

Also visited mini-malls as it were - 99c store,and East West store(an Indian store!),and Sam's,which was the good old factory outlet kind of a store that I have seen back home in India!And then the afternoon drive from downtown Houston,to my sister's place in the elite Woodlands area of Texas!Wow!The drive itself was wonderful!And my brother-in-law just added that special flavour by letting me drive his BMW!It was an experience of a lifetime, behind the wheels of a BMW....oh wow!Very unreal world,but exhilarating,all the same,and SURELY,one of the moments of this trip!

We then went to a Mexican joint, Chuy's last night for dinner.The first ever night out for me on a Saturday evening in the US!And true to American weekend tradition,there were numerous couples all over the place,nattily clad(summer time,right?),having a blast,eating,drinking,kissing,laughing,playing the fool,getting naughty,letting their hair down,and leaving the main door of the restaurant hand in hand - I was pretty sure that they were all headed to a lovely,cosy bed after that!Well, I had some interestign Mexican veg food,french fries,salsa with papad(deadly!)and engaged in animated conversation with my sister,her kid and my brother-in-law!Talkign about family,and all sorts of other things, including Miami beach and the babes there!

Reached home,after that and played with my niece for almost 2 hours,running around the house,hugging her and absolutely loving every minute of the time with her.Then,hit the room upstairs with the DVD 65mm screen(SONY), with the movie Oceans 12.Well, I retired for the day in a cosy couch(all alone!), just past midnight!!A very interesting FIRST Saturday in the United States...