Much Ado About Nothing

Musings on technology & travel

Happy Diwali!

Our little one, Rishi, brought so much excitement and enthusiasm in to this year’s Diwali, it reminded me of my childhood Diwalis where unbridled excitement about the impending bursting of crackers & lighting of fireworks would enter my system around 4 AM the morning of Diwali.  Oh, the joy of being the first on the street celebrating Diwali, the pride in lighting a fire-cracker held in your hand, tossing it to see burst mid-air.

Come evening, we would be witness to the misplaced bravado of our older cousins and friends launching ‘rockets’ by hand.  The ‘victims’ of these rockets would usually be the richer neighbors with the bigger houses – all in good spirit, mind you.  And, how innovative is the child’s mind that thinks of embeding a fire-cracker in freshly laid cow dung!?

And, the finale would be this family with a lot more cash to burn than you bursting a 10K ‘sara’ (Kannada word meaning string); the cacaphony lasting a good 20 minutes with the whole street counting down the end of Diwali.

Here are some pics from Rishi’s first Diwali.  No fireworks for him, just yet.

Cricket & pigging out – Our trip to Bangalore, India

I come from a family of cricket (the sport, not the Arthropod) fanatics. We also love our food. So, its no surprise that we talk about pigging out in cricketing terms. Preeti and I dashed to Bangalore so as to let our parents spoil us silly in two competing baby showers (can’t wait for our baby to arrive). Both showers were very well attended and boasted an extensive menu of mouth watering Indian delicacies. So, without much ado, here are the more popular “fricket” (food+cricket) terms perfected over the last 30+ years:

  • Pitch inspection – Send youngest cousin over to check the playing field (menu, dessert, whats hot)
  • Is the pitch ready? – table set?
  • Batting paradise – great food, even better service
  • Spinning deck – watch out for a couple of items on the menu, play it easy
  • Bouncers/Beamers – May get hurt if you don’t watch it. ie, a particular menu item (or two) has to be eaten in moderation. Also doubles for ‘not so good service’. Typically frowned upon when used to describe close family members that are serving. Ok (even encouraged) to make fun of distant cousins, etc.
  • Land mine – might as well be eating the plantain leaf that Karnataka food is served on
  • 2nd (or, any integer) Innings – 2nd Course
  • Not out, Carried the bat through – cleaned up plate, not a morsel to be seen on leaf/plate.
  • Slog – eating quite hurriedly (eating in this manner when late for a meeting or some other official appointment is just rude, ain’t no slogging)
  • Clean bowled – poor eating performance. if one performs badly consistently, he/she may become an outcast
  • First ball duck – Bowled over (see above item) with the first item served. Terrible.
  • Double century – incredible performance, a rarity

If some of these terms just don’t make sense, check out this glossary.

And, here are some pictures from our Bangalore trip:

Silicon Valley Bubble 2.0

Trip to Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico

Qué Pasa Hombre? Got back from a short break in Puerto Vallarta over the Thanksgiving weekend. I guess we’re not the kind of travelers that fully appreciate sitting by the pool or on the beach for hours at a stretch – that’s exactly what people seemed to enjoy over there. It was still a nice break from the wearisome constancy of the bay area.   Here are a few photos.

Trip to Olympia, WA

Spent some quality time with my good friend from Bangalore, Ravi Srinivas & his wife. Here are some photos.

Trip to Yellowstone national park

The world’s first national park (thanks to the efforts of F.V. Hayden & President Ulysses S. Grant) Old Faithful has a mind blowing array of sights, smell, and wildlife. From the many magical geothermal features (including Old Faithful), spectacular waterfalls, to the rare and majestic grizzly bears, this park welcomes visitors to unwind, relax and take it all in. I recommend a minimum of 3 full days within the park; if you are an avid walker/hiker, you can spend a whole week easily. Food (especially for veggies) can be a big problem during the off-peak season; so, carry a camping stove and do all the groceries in the park before sunset.

See pictures here

Battle at Kruger

What a rush it must have been to witness this live. Click here to see Wikipedia entry for Kruger national park.

Sequoia national park weekend trip

General shermanHere are a few photos from the gorgeous land of redwood trees. The park is especially renowned for General Sherman tree, purported to be the largest living thing on earth.

Mambo, Jambo – Kilimanjaro Climb & Serengeti Safari

“The darkest thing about Africa has always been our ignorance of it.”
– George Kimble ( Geographer, b.1912)

To me, Africa is not a continent or a place; it’s a state of mind. Amidst all the dust & fatigue, I could clearly see the elevated levels of plain & simple good human nature prevalent everywhere. Mind you, we spent only two weeks in Tanzania; but, that was time aplenty to plant profound images in my system.

See pictures here

Surviving Kilimanjaro
Ever since I saw a documentary on TV many moons ago (I think I was 17 or so), I always wondered what it’d be like to climb one of the 7 summits. This thought turned into a dream soon after I climbed Mt. Shasta in June 2001. When my lovely wife decided to ‘give it a shot’ as well, I had no idea that THE BEST outdoor experience of our lives lay ahead of us.

We were delivered to the Moshi Springlands Hotel (in Moshi, TZ) in a Van that was proudly belting out Hindi Bollywood numbers, leaving us mildly bemused. The rest of the day called for relaxation, good food, and a great night’s sleep. Well, we got none of that. We embarked on the 5-day climb (4 1/2 days up, 1 1/2 days down) the next morning, passing through thick rain forests to reach Mandara Camp at 2700 m/8858 ft after 5 hours of hiking. Day 2 from Mandara to Horombo (3720 m/12205 ft) took us through the Moorlands; the views of snow capped Kilimanjaro were spectacular.

Path to Kibo hut

Path to Kibo hut

After another sleepless night, we started our hike towards Kibo Hut (4703 m/15430 ft). An hour into the hike, we stepped into the beautifully eerie Alpine desert environment where bitterly cold clouds swept through the lunar like landscape. My iPod just quit working at this altitude & the temperature dropped a good 30-40 F in under 15 mins. We reached Kibo after 7 hours of hiking. While I welcomed the hot tea, smelly porridge, and biscuits, Preeti had to run out of the hut after a spoonful of dinner to puke it all out. A classic sign of altitude sickness. My attempts to convince Preeti to abort the summit attempt (due to begin at 11 PM that very night) all failed. I was both saddened and impressed to see her courage and determination. And, she was doing this all for me! After 4 hours of tossing & turning in a crowded hut, we put on 6 layers of winter clothes and stepped out into this most gorgeous star-lit night we’ve ever seen. We could easily discern the milky way. Preeti was felling a little better and braved the cold, fatigue, and mild nauseating feeling; very frequently taking a break to catch her breath and sip some water. Approximately 3 hours into the climb, Preeti and I realized she wasn’t feeling good at all at which point (5200 m/17060 ft) we decided to turn around. No point taking chances, we figured. I was relieved until Preeti started begging me to go up to the summit with the assistant guide. I somehow managed to stay adamant (this never works here at home, BTW) and began the walk down to Kibo. Would you believe if I told you that we came back down in just 45 minutes?! It was around 4 AM and Mndeme, our guide, suggested that we rest for a few hours before heading back down to Horombo Hut. We enjoyed the great views even more on the way down. Two hours into the downhill walk, seeing a girl stricken with sickness that looked like signs of HAPE (High Altitude Pulmonary Edema) convinced me that we turned back around at the right time. We all helped the girl down the mountain to Horombo where a stretcher awaited her to take her all the way down to a hospital.

Back at Moshi Springlands hotel, over Kilimanjaro beer with friends we made during the climb, we exchanged great stories and e-mail addresses.

We now looked forward to the:

Safari
There are probably not too many moments in life where one wonders “Is this really happening”? We probably experienced a dozen such moments during the Safari – Buffaloes and Hyenas right next to our tent, a herd of Lions basking in the sun right next to our Safari Van, a Lioness hurt during a hunt,

Elephant @ Serengeti

Elephant @ Serengeti

Zebras and Giraffes silhouetted against majestic mountains, a lone two-horned Rhino on the lake shores, an Elephant charging you… I can go on & on. I don’t feel words do justice to what our eyes saw. So, go on and see the pictures.

BTW, Mambo is “Wassup” in Swahili. Jambo is the more formal “How are you?”.

See pictures here

Haba Habanero

If you’re a spice addict like I am, you may find this video quite amusing Habanero(or shockingly tasteless depending on which side of your brain hurts more). On an even sadder note, the infamously famous Prince of Wales Pub’s, renowned for its Habanero burger recently closed. Check out this fan maintained site.

I have killed many a friends by letting them sample my Habanero recipes. So, by all means, indulge!

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