Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Happy and having fun

Things are much better and relaxing after getting couple of admits and fellowship. It gives a lot of confidence and conviction in life. I always wanted to do this (spend 5 years for PhD at a very good graduate school).... and I now see it coming to reality. It feels nice. Such moments remind you that there are always soothing and satisfying moments coming up in life, you just have to work hard to get them and then savor such moments.

Have traveled a lot in past week. Went to Charleston for beach camping and then to rafting and to Chattanooga. Will be going to Charleston again next Monday for some work. After spending a lot of days under bright sun, I have got a pretty strong tan. I am almost black now :D. Hope it goes away fast. I remember this day: I was in first year and had gone for a 3 day trek... I came back with a lot of tan... and all building friends made life difficult by calling me Koyla. ShahRukh Khan's movie Koyla was running at the same time. Literally had to hide my face for a few days. :))... hope it doesn’t happen again.

Sunil has nicely settled into his job now. It's nice to see that he's living life royally and the way he wants it to be. I guess he's setting a very nice example of how to enjoy life if you have money, and yet to be in control. Keep going buddy.

...But still some people don't change. It was strange to see him barking like a dog at a girl in other car when we were driving on interstate, just to frighten off the poor soul. :)). It was really funny to see a man earning 60K barking like a dog and immensely enjoying the act :D:D.

I have around 50 days before starting my research. Have India trip in mind. There are a few very exciting Himalayan expeditions being conducted by Youth Hostels. I want to do Har ki Doon trek... it’s a 15-20 day trek in Uttaranchal’s Garhwal mountain range, with a lot of time spent on glaciers(http://www.yhaindia.org/Transaction/AdventurePrograms/ProgramDetails.aspx#).

Let’s see if it materializes or not. It all depends upon how soon I get my new I-20. But if everything falls in space, I should be in Bombay by 25th April. It’s been a while since I have seen my parents. I guess they are more eager to see me. Let's see what’s in store.

Ruby Falls photos

Chk Ruby Falls photos here:


Monday, March 28, 2005

Whitewater rafting and camping at Chattanooga:

We (Sunil, Jithu, Gaurav, me) started off our weekend trip on early Saturday morning for Whitewater rafting at Ocoee river. It was a beautiful day; it was sunny sky and cool breeze. Winter is over now and I guess it is an ideal climate for camping and outdoor sports.

Rafting is something I thoroughly enjoy, and the Ocoee River is an ideal venue if you want a bit of adventure and lots of fun (this was the rafting route for 1996 Atlanta Olympics, and provides level III and IV rapids. Considering that the Niagara Falls is a level VI rapid, this is not too bad). This time also, it was great fun. We traced almost all the rapids to perfection. It was basically a roller coaster ride on water, especially when we once made a 3-point whirlpool right in the middle of a rapid. Our guide, Shannon, was cool. We had a good time chatting. She holds a Masters in Communication from Appalachian State Univ. This is one thing I like in Americans: they would pursue their hobbies and interests rather sitting at home without worrying about future and money. We have a lot to learn from them.

Jithu was a bit hesitant for rafting initially, as he is hydrophobic and thought that if he falls in water, alligators would eat him. After a lot of convincing, he finally agreed for it. Sunil and I have rafted before as well, so it was OK. Gaurav was as usual hyper and excited.... till he learnt that Shannon was married. After that, he almost refused to follow her instructions. He was visibly upset. I guess his dreams were shattered (they shatter 20 times a day, anyways...)... But only till he saw a group of girls in minimal attire on riverside.

Next destination was Chattanooga. The plan was to do riverside camping and barbeque, and then visit Ruby Falls and Rock City next day. We got a lovely campsite, right besides the Tennessee River. This was my first riverside camping, and was pleasently surprised to see that it can be as enjoyable as camping in thick jungle. After setting up the tent, we started preparations for barbeque.

Chicken barbeque was the best thing I have had in many days. We marinated garlic chicken and fish fillets in Cajun seasoning and curd, and then roasted them on grill. It turned out really delicious. It was followed by Black Forest cake. It probably doesn’t get better that this.

It was a really wonderful but tiring day... and we fell asleep soon. But we had no idea what was in store for us at nite. It suddenly started raining, and then thunderstorms followed. It was raining cats and dogs by midnight... and we realized that our tent was leaking. There was water in tent. We had to vacate the tent and sleep in car. But that was a good experience. I had heard such stories earlier, but I would believe now that things can ACTUALLY get messed up badly if it rains and the tent is leaky.

Something funny happened in the morning. We went to visit restrooms. There were not too many people camping, as it was Easter Sunday. We soon realized that the toilet men's restroom was clogged, and was unusable. As it was an emergency, and there was no one around, we (Gaurav, me) decided to use women's restroom. (This was the first time for me to see women's restroom; and I was terribly excited, Anyways). There were two toilets inside, and one of it did not have the lock. We asked Jithu to stand outside and see that there was no disaster.

Well, Jithu was in photography mood. He saw some ducks nearby, and went to click them. AND at the same time, a lady came. Jithu was not there, he was behind ducks.... Well.... it would be best if the following drama is left to your imagination. Inside conversation was something like this: "Who’s that???", "Oh!! Oops...", "Oh! My god!", “Sorry”. :))). It was bit funny though ;).

Anyways, the next destination was Ruby Falls. They are basically underground caverns (360 ft deep) with a 100 ft underground waterfall. It’s a wonderful site to visit, and the view of Ruby Falls is breathtaking. It was just awesome and was treat to eyes.

My feelings would be best described if I recollect a conversation I overheard. It was between a kid (4-5 years old) and his father. After seeing the falls, the kid exclaimed: “Wow!!.... Those were the best 5 minutes of my life!" It was really astonishing to hear something like this from a small cute kid. But his father's reply was even nicer. He said: "Son, you are yet to live your life. Enjoy whatever you get." :)

All in all, it was a great weekend. Hope there are lots more in near future.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


OK... Someone control me!!!!

I have seen 30 episodes of Seinfeld in past 2 days.... that simply means 15 hours of Seinfeld. I hope I don’t start talking like Jerry, behaving like Elaine, entering y apartment like Kramer....

Its been on my list to see Seinfeld since past 2 years.... got time this Sunday... ever since I've got up on Monday, have been glued to laptop for Seinfeld and at nite to TV for India- Pakistan... I am going crazy :D.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Boy, here it comes....

Do you believe in getting pleasant surprises??... Got one a week back.

Frankly speaking, I myself don't know what's coming up next in life. I try to live life the way it comes. Afterall, life is all about unexpected twists and turns... and I have learnt to enjoy it that way...( this is my orkut introduction, copy-pasted it..... why to write same thing in different words each time, when I essentially am a same individual?)

Anyways, so I went to Cleveland for PhD interviews at Case Western Reserve University [CWRU]... it was indeed a very pleasing and satisfying experience. Now CWRU is ranked 5th in Biomedical Engineering... is that really means something. I liked the research environment there and somehow was very comfortable with the entire setup right form the start. One thing that I liked most was that all senior students were really enjoying being there, and doing what they are doing. Talked a lot about general research atmosphere and life in general at Cleveland with a lot of seniors.

I liked Cleveland, its a mid-size city on the shores of Lake Erie.... has its own culture... Had a chance to roam around in a downtown a bit, traveled a lot thru the metro rail... Had fun at Jillian’s. ...

Anyways, next day had a few interviews... I thought I did well in that... but getting an admit from CWRU was always difficult.

Then went to Pittsburgh... (Will put up a blog about it later)... and finally came back to Clemson.

As I entered home... there was a FedEx package lying for me. Opened it... it was the admit letter from CWRU. And they had also awarded me a fellowship of 23000 per year.

Man.. That was awesome!!!!.... Wish I could yell or cry or dance or... after all this was sort of dream come true moment. I'd strived for it since October. And finally got what I wanted to do in life.... But to be frank, I didn’t expect the decision so soon.

So… I didn’t do anything like that. Called up a few close people and then called home to talk to parents.... (Well first thing they did was to locate Cleveland on USA map.... and next question was "does it snow a lot there?"... That was kinda funny as I'd just experienced a severe snow storm at Cleveland before coming back.)

Well, that’s it.... am waiting to hear from few researchers, and will take a final decision soon. For the moment, life is good.