Sunday, February 27, 2011

Another Sunday.

Another Sunday and it is almost over. I decided to type some words to keep the blog going. Posted the last piece on our US visit about fifteen days back, felt relieved and forgot about the blog for some time. I read one book of PGW, short stories which I had either not read or did not remember and one Conandyle. Tried a third book from V S Naipaul (award winning - a bend in the river) and gave up after some fifty pages. Tried one or two Kannada books and did not find them to my liking. Started the Bhagavadgita for the 22nd time and have reached the third chapter. I have kept the book published by ISKCON (having a colourful and easily identifiable picture of ‘geetopadesha’ on the cover) on my clinic table and it seems to have boosted my image a lot.

Attended a lecture this morning on ‘Failures in Fixed dentures’ and found out how many mistakes I make and how tolerant and forgiving my patients are to keep coming back to me.

When I returned home, Tendulkar was on 97 in the thirty seventh over or so and with out my knowledge the cricket mania engulfed me. Turned a couch potato for the next twelve overs temporarily shedding my assiduously cultivated anti cricket stance.

In the evening took my old scooter for airing. It has got a faulty light and a faulty horn. The horn suddenly comes alive on its own. Just as I was approaching three teenage girls walking back home after their tuitions the horn started blaring making them turn in unison and cast nasty glances at me.

I was thinking of going on for some more time but Zahir khan has just taken three wickets at a crucial moment ( England needing 42 runs from 24 balls) and I will be damned if I miss future action. World cup Is not going to leave anyone in peace.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Back In Goa.

We had hugged, suppressed the tears, waved and were on our way to the departure gate. Just as we turned the corner there was a corridor joining the passage to the lobby and we saw all four of them waiting there for a last wave before we took off.

Both the children had been in the US since birth and our earlier interaction with them was only during their visits to India. One or two days. Our seven weeks stay with them had created a stronger bond and the whole week prior to our departure, they had been begging us to postpone our journey. I had half a mind to concede but it was not practical or possible.

As we reached the departure gate the mind turned towards the journey ahead and we were happy that the flight was on time. Once we took off from Frankfurt, we would be free in mind. I am scared of getting struck in unknown places and fortunately for us there were no delays or cancellations any where during our two month’s trip.
We got into the aircraft and I had the window seat. A good opportunity to test the new camera and I utilized it to the full as the following pictures show. The first three pictures are Detroit during takeoff and the next four are Frankfurt before landing.

Frankfurt, starting at 4500 meters.

Landed at Frankfurt as scheduled and since we knew what to expect, it was not as bad as it was during our onward journey. We knew how to use the utilities in the airport and I had even carried a plastic tumbler from the flight, for collecting water from the water fountain. The coffee and snacks stall had a friendlier vendor and a cup of coffee was really one full cup. Not a quarter as I had experienced during our onward journey. It was a better Frankfurt.

Our flight to Mumbai was overbooked and the airline was offering six hundred euros to passengers who volunteered to take a flight departing an hour later and flying via Dubai to Mumbai instead of the direct flight that we were booked on. If I had been sensible I could have earned one thousand two hundred euros on the spot. But I am not. So we struck to the flight that we had booked and arrived at Mumbai on schedule at the ungodly hour of 01.30 AM. Our luggage arrived on the belt an hour and a half later just as I had started to worry about them. They were intact and we had enough time to catch our connecting flight to Goa.

We arrived at Goa’s Dabolim Airport, at six in the morning of 21st July. We had had a very enjoyable and memorable trip and I had a great time. All that i was required to to do was relax, see new sights, get new experiences and enjoy. Everything else was taken care off. After my carefree child hood, this was the first time I had found myself in such a situation. Thanks to Vishwa and Bhanu.

It had taken a week for our biological clock to get adjusted to the new settings when we landed in the US. I was hoping that it would not be so bad on our return. It wasn’t. It was worse. It was nearly a month by the time I was back to normal.

We have a multiple entry VISA and Bhanu has urged us to visit them again extending a very strong and affectionate standing invitation. I don’t mind planning another trip but for the expense, journey discomfort and jetlag. Right now i am back and happy to be in charge of our lives again.

PS: I started writing my l experiences in the US on 28th May 2010. I enjoyed writing them but many a times I felt that it was getting to be monotonous and a pain for me and more for my friends. I did not have a clear idea (nor do I have now) what to include and what to exclude, where to focus and where to gloss over. I Typed whatever occurred to me when I was in front of the computer. If anyone read through the lot, thanks for keeping up. For those who felt compelled to give up, sorry for boring.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

MGM Grand Casino.

Sunday, 18th July 2010. Our flight, Detroit - Frankfurt - Mumbai - Goa was for Monday evening. One suitcase had already been packed, weighed and kept aside. There were two more, along with a kitbag and two small cases. The remaining items were spread all over the floor, cots, side table and the chest of drawers making the room look as if a cyclone had just crossed over. I was trying to sort out things and assign them to various containers. But there were restrictions. Some of the things had to go specifically into the suitcase borrowed from my wife’s brother. Some into the case borrowed from my sister, some to the small case to be carried by hand etc etc. Also, important (only my wife knew what was important) items had to be in the bottom and perishables had to be suitably packed in sarees, towels etc etc. If I do the packing and on arrival we find some toy bought for our servant maid’s daughter (one of the 'important' items) missing, god save me. So, I tried to ignore packing and was in the process of searching the Lara Ingalls book which I had to finish and return to the library before we left, when Bhanu asked me to get ready to go to the Casino.

The Casino was the last thing remaining on her ‘must show’ list and she had to finish the list. I told her that I was not interested in seeing that. I knew what a casino was. A few hundred slot machines, roulette, black gammon and what not and people smoking, drinking and gambling. She was not ready to accept it. She insisted that that it will be a worthwhile experience and said that she was sure that I will agree with her later. We were going to the MGM Grand Casino in down town Detroit. Vishwa excused himself saying that he just cannot survive in that tobacco smoke for more than two minutes.

When Bhanu decides to do something, it is done. We set out after lunch around two in the afternoon taking Uma with us as Bhanu was not very familiar with the area. As it turned out even Uma had to search around a bit and we arrived near the Casino around three in the afternoon. I was expecting it to be a large but seedy place but from the outside it looked like a five star hotel.

We found the parking lot, parked and the lift took us straight into the casino lobby. We passed the security and entered the Casino hall. I was dumbstruck. It was no seedy place but a huge posh hall as large as a football field where gambling was a very sincere and serious business. There were rows up on rows of slot machines numbering more than four thousand and almost all of them were occupied! It was not just the good for nothing, rowdy types gambling to while away time but elderly ladies, house wives, pensioners and even the handicapped in wheel chairs playing with rapt attention in the hope of turning out to be instant millionaires. They were very seriously pushing the levers and pressing buttons with all concentration. Once in a while some one won and the machine made a lot of noise and multi coloured lights lit up announcing the win to the world and tempting others to keep at it.

There was an elegant bar and in front of every high stool there was a gaming console. There was a cafeteria with consoles on tables. I did not see the toilet but Vishwa said that there are consoles in front of every toilet seat. The place runs twenty four hours and there are no clocks anywhere. I believe the idea is to make sure people lose sense of time.

We walked around the place for half an hour and tried one of the slot machines putting in a dollar. None of us knew what to do. The old lady in the next machine very kindly consented to initiate us in the art of gambling and showed the basics. We decided to gamble away two cents at a time, and pushed the buttons and pulled the levers till the machine said that our dollar is no more there.

Not satisfied with the dollar that we had contributed towards the profits of the MGM Grand, we purchased two coffees and a muffin in the attached cafeteria adding another ten, spent some more time lounging and window shopping looking at the exorbitantly priced bags, hats, caps, footwear etc etc, and returned home by evening.

Bhanu was right. Casino was a worthwhile experience.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Ann arbor

It was Friday, 16th July and we were to leave Canton on Monday evening. I had no intentions of going out anywhere anymore. My wife said the same but I knew that she was hoping to dash into IKEA and Bed Bath and Beyond one last time. I suggested that we sit at home talk and pack. Bhanu agreed with me as usual but had already planned something else as usual. We were going to Ann arbor, a city which is a part of Detroit metro, roam around the down town and have dinner in an Indian restaurant. Vishwa’s sister Uma and her husband Krishnakant (KK for short) were hosting a dinner in the honour of visiting (shortly departing) dignitaries.

We drove down to Ann arbor around six in the evening. Vishwa was happy to get a convenient parking place and we started roaming the streets. Ann arbor is a university town. It houses the University of Michigan around which its activities and economy revolve. We had been there earlier but had not visited the downtown and university campus. I liked Ann arbor. It looked exactly like the ‘foreign’ scenes which I had seen in books and magazines. Most of the people seen on the streets were young, probably students.

It was very pleasant to walk along the streets lined with shops, theaters and restaurants. No one seemed to be in a hurry. Traffic was not a hassle and not much. There were people everywhere but no crowd. It was an informal and relaxed atmosphere. Our first halt was the ice cream shop.

Children selected their flavours and we sat on the chairs outside the shop under the tree and spent about half an hour. Then we moved onto the university campus. The campus was clean and green with old ivy covered buildings. University of Michigan is one of the oldest in the US. Since it is a state funded university all the facilities are open to public. We walked into the library just to have a look. The library made me wish that I were a student there.

It was around eight in the evening when we headed towards the restaurant. The streets had the typical small town feel with people sitting outside the restaurants enjoying their food and drinks and musicians playing violin and accordion in the street corners.

The restaurant was good and I do not remember what we ate. The company and conversation is what I remember. It was past eleven and children were sleepy when we came out.
An enjoyable evening, thanks to Uma and KK.