Friday, October 21, 2016

Warren And Plymouth Cities - A change of Sights

The ladies in the house have a phenomenal capacity for shopping.

I claim to be a walker and boast that I can walk ten kilometers with ease. Put on the sidewalk with me, the ladies tire out before they cover two. But put them between the shelves in stores like Kohl’s, J C Penny or BBB (Bed Bath and Beyond) and they beat me hollow!

Every morning before my sister in law leaves for work, there will be a stock taking session as to which store/mall is left un covered, which are all the items from the previous purchases,  to be exchanged? What is to be returned?  (The ‘no questions asked’ return policy of US stores is a big boost ) etc etc. and plans are drawn for the evening.  I overheard a conversation yesterday morning where in my sister in law said that she would leave for work around eleven and would be back by five. She was suggesting her mother and sister to be ready by then. Her office is in a place called Warren, about an hour’s drive from the house. Since she would not be staying long in the office, I thought I could tag on to her and look around Warren while she attends office. Warren is not a great place for sightseeing but having finished everything in a five mile radius around the house, I felt that I could do with a change of place. I packed a light lunch, put the bicycle in the boot of the car and went with her to Warren. Warren is a sort of industrial city and also has large business establishments. There are more trucks on the roads but they do stop at signals. I could ride without the fear of being mixed with the asphalt. Loitering is not an offence and use of public spaces is free. It was not difficult to while away  four hours.

The shopping destination this evening was IKEA. It is a huge store (you can easily cover few miles inside the store and my wife says she exercises inside the store when it is cold/raining outside) selling everything from a pin to penthouse, which will make you feel ‘can’t do without’ while being inside IKEA and which turn out to be mostly useless and make you alter your feeling to ‘could have very well done without’ once you reach home. ( Disclaimer: The above sentence is according to my perception. Perceptions are known to vary from individual to individual and vary greatly between individuals of the same family. More so if the individuals happen to be husband and wife)

The route to IKEA from home is through the city of Plymouth of which I had had a fleeting glance while driving through, during my last visit. I had liked it but had not been able to go there again. So I  requested the shopping party to drop me at Plymouth on their way to IKEA and pick me back during the return trip. They were reluctant but relented after I assured them that I shall have no claim over my place if the same was occupied by shopping bags during the return trip. I spent an enjoyable two hours roaming the Plymouth Downtown and they did pick me up on their return trip. But I could not help overhearing them repenting about miscalculating the space available in the car!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Fall Colours

Novi Orthopaedic Center
Few months back we had a case of fracture jaw in our clinic. It was a young girl of about ten years. We admitted her in a nearby hospital, requested an anaesthetist to administer a sedative and repaired the broken bone. The surgery was done around seven in the morning and the girl remained groggy till evening. I had that in mind when my son said that his reconstructive knee surgery (to treat a damage caused by an old wound) would be done under sedation and regional anaesthesia. I was pleasantly surprised to see him fully awake and alert just one hour after the surgery. We reported to the hospital at half past seven in the morning and were out by half past twelve! I do not know whether it was a different technique of sedation/anaesthesia or a different drug. But I am impressed.

Other than the surgery nothing much happened during the week. We went to a place called Lansing, about an hour’s drive from here for a boat ride on the Grand river, to see the 'fall colours.' I understand, at this time of the year, going places to see the fall colours is a major activity in the US.The trees which were green a month back, turn yellow, orange or red and it is a beautiful sight. Shortly after that, the leaves are shed and the tree is bare. People travel hundreds of kilometers to places where the vegetation is dense and enjoy the view. I do like the sight of the colours but feel, when seen closer, that the leaves appear lifeless, which they really are.

Well, as I said we went to see the fall colours. 15th of October has always been the date to take visitors on boat ride for seeing colours. On reaching the place, our guide said that this year the trees refused to obey the orders and change colours on designated dates. I believe they did not like the weather. Anyway, the surroundings were nice, the boat ride very pleasant and the picnic lunch very tasty. But not much colours. Still, I haven't missed much. I see plenty of fall colours on my aimless rides or walks around the place.I think others don't have time to stop and look around. In a hurry to reach their work or home, they zoom past the trees in their neighbourhood with their eyes on the mobile phone screen and ears tuned to 'Ways', the app which informs them about the road condition ahead. As a result, they have to fix a time and place to go, open their eyes and see colours!
The Boat ride. Even my son, who was on crutches, was tempted. 

Some changes have started to appear.If the fall was on schedule, the whole vegetation would have turned vibrant yellow and orange 

Enjoyable lunch

Fall colours closer home

A neighbour, with an eye for colours, festoons his sign board!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Dussera, Dentist and Hines park

Creating scenes from mythology and social themes using painted clay dolls was an important part of Navaratri festivities during my childhood. We did not have many dolls in our house. All that we had were the traditional rose wood husband and wife ( which you may notice at the centre of the top step in the picture) a set of a dozen or so birds, a couple of painted wooden dolls, a replica of patton tank which used to give out sparks and made firing noise when dragged on the floor, a petrol tanker and a painted clay idol of goddess Saraswati. We used to display all these on my study table, the only table that was available in the house. I envied those who had hundreds of dolls and created elaborate displays of  royal court, zoo gardens, scenes from Mahabharata and so on and so forth. Over a period of time this practice had waned and the display restricted to the traditional rosewood dolls of husband and wife and goddess Saraswati. In the recent years I find that the old practice is gaining popularity once again and many of my relatives in Bengaluru spend considerable time, energy and money arranging the doll's display. Americans over do everything and so do the indians in America. Elaborate displays are done and lots of people are invited to view the display and enjoy the lunch/dinner. While returning from one such dinner the day before, I saw this dentist’s office in Northville, which had a ‘teeth fall’, similar to  a waterfall, cascading from his windows.

I checked the map and found that the place was not very far from where I stay, and decided to walk over and take a closer look. Last evening I went there and as  I was taking some pictures  the dentist came out to arrange lights for illumination. I introduced myself and he was very happy to show me around his clinic and explain the concept of his ‘teeth falls’. He says that this arrangement was aimed at creating awareness in the society about children’s teeth which ‘fall off’. Each teethfalI has 1100 models of a molar tooth and they are made in his clinic. I got an invitation to be present in his office (In US it is a dentist's 'office' not a 'clinic') for the Halloweeen day parade on the 29th of October  and also a gift of two teeth (costing10$ each) as a memento of my visit to his clinic. He has arranged a painting competition as part of his awareness programme. One may buy a tooth for 20 dollars, paint it and submit it for competition. It is available for 10 dollars if you just want to buy it for 'fun'. Proceeds go to a charitable mobile clinic which attends to children who can't afford dentist's fees.

I walked around Northville taking in the Halloweeen mood and while going around I found that very close to the dentist’ place a twenty one mile walking track begins and runs next to a protected park known as Hines park. The next day we went for a walk along the track enjoying the pleasant surroundings. Walked about eight kilometers. Following are some pictures of Nortville and Hines park.  

A historical house in the centre of Northville with the traditional Halloween 'decoration' on the front lawn

Another Halloween 'decoration'. In my mind the word decoration brings about something  appealing, beautiful or grand. Like a christmas decoration. I fail to understand why they call this halloween decoration. May be for the lack of another suitable word?

People enjoying the pre-halloween mood in the centre square. Traffic is blocked for the evening, Pizza, burger, ice cream vans are out and music is on. 

Hines Park

Cycling/ walking path running along the road next to the Park.

A lake always enhances the beauty of a place. One of the many, in Hines Park.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Meeting Old Friends And New York City.

Our batch of first year BDS at the Govt Dental College, Bangalore,in 1974, consisted of about twenty students. It was a mixed group of students from Karnataka, Andhra, Haryana, Punjab, J&K, Sri Lanka, Malaysia so on and so forth. Our classes started at eight in the morning and by the time we were done with our clinical and laboratory work, it was usually six or seven in the evening. Even those who did not have work of their own stayed back in the college helping friends or playing table tennis or badminton. As a result we spent most of our waking hours together and we turned out to be a very cohesive group.

Most of our teachers were helpful and kind but we had our share of nasty teachers with high egos and cheap minds who used students as weapons while settling scores thereby making our life miserable. Handling the situation required collective planning and action and it brought us even closer. Barring such incidents our student life in Dental College was an enjoyable one and we had a good time. At the time of our exams, many of my batch mates made the boy’s common room their home and virtually stayed in the college sharing their food, notes and knowledge. And all they had to do to get away from the stress of excessive study was to jump over the college compound into the premises of the ‘Apsara’ theater next door, for a late night movie show!

Yes. We were a jolly group. Too very jolly sometimes for people around us to bear. For example, our co passengers, when we took a bus or  train for our picnics. We enjoyed the picnics a lot and in the process, sometimes missed the last bus and/or the deadlines given by the girl student’s families. Once, we had to hitch a ride on the back of a tractor carrying sand but we made ourselves comfortable in the sand and sang all the way back to the city. On another occasion we had to include our professor in plotting a picnic and make him assure the unconvinced father of one of the girls that we had really been called on a holiday for extra work!

We also converted many of our trips to small towns around Bangalore, part of our social dentistry curriculum, into picnics.  I particularly remember one such overnight trip where we spent most of the moonlit night on a hillock near the traveller’s bungalow, our designated accommodation, singing and listening to old songs on a tape recorder. One of our classmate’s family owned the tape recorder and all of us contributed towards the cost of batteries! Similarly, by sharing the cost of films and processing we could record the good times and I am grateful to my friends who have still retained those B&W photographs with them.

I fail to think of an explanation as to how such a group of friends lost contact with each other soon after completing our graduation. But for a few who lived in Bangalore I had no idea about the whereabouts of my other batch mates. We had unsubstantiated information about some working in gulf countries, some having migrated to UK and US and so on but no concrete information. Thanks to whatsapp and the sincere efforts of some very good souls, we have regained contacts and I am very happy to say that the old bond has remained strong even after forty years. Unfortunately we still have about half a dozen to be traced.

Recently I came to know that two of my classmates are in New Jersey and decided to make a trip to NJ to meet them during my present visit to the US. And that is how I ended up in New York City. I met them after a gap of thirty eight years  and it was a picnic. Though we rode on top of a hop on hop off bus and not on the back of a tractor carrying sand, the fun and feelings were the same!

The story explaining my presence in NYC turned out to be longer than anticipated. Now, I shall allow the pictures to take over.
My Classmate and gracious host in NJ  Hema with her husband  Bharat. 
They went to great lengths to make my visit to NYC a memorable one. Three old classmates on a picnic in New York. Not in our twenties anymore but it almost felt the same. And I did not even had to contribute towards food and fare! Uma, self and Hema. 
New York is not complete with out the empire state building, which remained the tallest for more than half s century.
While walking in NY watch out for the (in)famous yellow taxis. Traffic rules do not apply to them. Seen here parked right on the zebra crossing. 
It is people like him who make the NY sight seeing very interesting. Rob Greenfield, adventurer, and environmentalist in the course of one of his projects on sustainable life. Here he is trying to create awareness regarding  the quantity of trash generated by an average american, by wearing all the trash he generated on his body. It is a 30 day project and it was the 16th day when we visited NYC. 
New York provides a stage to all kinds. A group at Union Square, protesting against the practice of circumcision! Look out for white dressed people holding placards, with red paint on their crotches.
The grand City Hall.
On top of the hop on - hop off bus, after walking most of the bus route. The lady next to me is my wife Latha and the girl next to Uma is my niece Sushma, my guide to New York.
All street junctions are places to whileaway your time. . Take your choice between the street dancer, musician or the acrobatist. sit and relax if you could keep away the peddlers of tour and theater tickets. 


Monday, October 3, 2016

A Wrong turn and a Beautiful ake

Yseterday I made the mistake of accompanying the ladies to Tanger mall, a large open air mall which houses retail outlets of all major brands of apparel, bags, footwear and such other  items.  Yet another pillar of American consumerism. Actually I had second thoughts about joining them but since there was nothing else to do and since the mall was about fifty kilometers from where I stay, I thought I may find some new avenues to explore while the ladies shop. Also, when I checked the map, I found a small airport almost next to the mall. I can spend hours looking at aircrafts taking off and touching down and I thought that it should be fine. I left the ladies at the mall and started walking along the road towards the airport. It was about a mile from the mall. Half way through I looked up at the sky and found dark clouds forming at the horizon. It was already cold and if it started raining I would be having a tough time. There was no shelter of any kind anywhere around. I quietly returned to the mall and spent a miserable three hours while the ladies had a great time! Since it was cold, I sat in the parked car, and they enjoyed the services of a hand to pick them up/ and drop them off from/to one outlet to another.

The Tanger Mall. Shop till you drop
When my wife buys something, it is almost always followed by an exchange. They decided to make another trip to the mall today and I very wisely excused myself. Though it was cold, there was bright sunlight and the outdoors was inviting. The map showed a township called Northville not very far from where I stay and there was a district library on the central street. I decided to cycle there. I rode happily along and turned into the road leading to Northville. After fifteen minutes I realised that I had taken a turn too early and started back. Half way through I found a side road and had a glimpse of water at the end. I turned into the road and found myself facing  a beautiful lake. As I have mentioned earlier I love the sight of rivers and lakes and spent an enjoyable half an hour in the vicinity. A gentleman was fishing at a distance, few ducks were floating without causing the slightest ripple in water and an occasional otter broke the surface to take a breath and dived in the next second. It was wonderful. Few pictures here.

View of the house tops next to the lake - from a hillock by the side

The sidewalk, a pleasure to ride up on
A tree on the way, exhibiting the fall colours 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Making A Fool Of Myself And Some Pictures

The weather forecast said that it would be cloudy and that it may rain. The weather man was right.  He is, most of the times. It is chilly and gloomy since morning with a mild drizzle every now and then. This is expected to continue for the next five days. So nothing much to do other than fighting with the dog. It is said to be a Siberian breed and it loves sleeping next to the open door enjoying the cold wind. For us, the tropical animals, the chill is very difficult to bear and the wind just cuts us into pieces. It is a task to push the dog aside and close the door.  Once the door is closed the dog is irritable. It whines, barks, tugs at your clothes and in general does not allow you to be in peace. War of nerves is on.

Did not do anything much during the last week, other than making a fool of myself during a dinner invitation. I am used to making a fool of myself now and then but manage to cover it up well. This time I was caught. The graceful hosts had prepared stuffed pancakes and some very tasty pre dinner snacks.  I was hungry when we arrived at their door and helped myself well with the snacks. We sat for dinner, I finished a pancake and was carried over by the taste. I asked for a second helping. “Are you sure you want a second one?” my wife whispered in my ears. “You need not monitor my eating.I am not a child” I shot back.

The second pancake was served.  The stuffing consisted of onions, almond flakes and cashew nuts. And the pancakes were served with a side dish made of potatoes. I thought I was enjoying the second one but even before I finished about one third of it, I strangely felt full. I took a closer look and found that our host had made a bigger one this time and had  been generous with the stuffing too! I managed to eat a few more morsels and before I knew it, I was stuffed. I still had half a pancake on my plate.  
I looked around for the trash bag hoping to empty the contents of my plate in stealth. There was no trash bag in sight. In a low tone I explained my predicament to my wife and begged for help. She did give a stern look and did not forego the opportunity to say “I told you so”  but was kind enough to accept half of what was on my plate on the condition that I finish the remaining.

Much against the advice of my stomach I put yet another morsel in my mouth and swallowed it with the help of a sip of water. One fourth of the pancake was still on my plate with almonds and cashews pouring tantalisingly out of it. But it was impossible for me even to touch it. I was not stuffed anymore, I was suffocated. In distress actually. There was nothing I could do. I pushed my plate aside, took another  sip of water and  some deep breaths.  I Got up, apologised to our hosts for leaving the food on the plate and ran outside - to freedom from pancakes!

I had to hear a lot about it after coming home but it was nothing compared to the embarrassment I experienced during dinner.

Other than that there was nothing interesting during the past week. Visited some picturesque spots close by and a colourful farmer’s market. I will allow the pictures to talk about them.

The Maybury park close to our house. The picnic spot along the cycle track. 

The walking track

A view of the walled lake, walled lake city

A cafe on the shore of the park. You may park your car here but please remember to order at the window!

Flowers for sale at the eastern market, Detroit

colourful bell peppers - same market

A walnut Brownie and a Dates and nut bar. Both yummy.  3.5$ and 2.5$ respectively. 5$ both. 

Detroit river front, Detroit

View from the river side

The Detroit river with crystal clear water. the opposite shore is the city of Windsor, Canada. Can't help shed a tear for our own Mandovi at Panaji

A poster that may interest my fish loving friends.