Saturday, April 22, 2006

Good Days, Bad Days: Part Three: Bad Day

Well, as there are very good days, there are very bad days as well.

Last Wednesday was a terrible, terrible day for me:

1: My laptop suddenly stopped functioning. It died all of a sudden. The tech-support at Case told me that the motherboard needs to be replaced. My laptop is past guarantee period.

2: I was totally upset with that news, and at the same time, I was trying to set up a new protocol for my new set of experiments. It turned out to be way more complicated than I thought. It took my almost half a day.

3: I wanted to send the protocol to my supervisor, so I was composing an email. I got bored, so thought of saving the mail. My first draft is always very messy, it has many short-forms, has tons of spelling and grammatical mistakes. Anyone reading it would find it very disgusting.

Well, instead of clicking the "Save" button, I clicked the "Send" button !!. It was a "mistake" !!. Dam*It !

4: So there was a need of face-saving act. I completed the e-mail, spell-checked it, corrected all formatting issues, wrote a short note explaining the circumstances of previous crap. I thought I should CC that mail to myself (I have this habit of CCing important mails to myself. Dont ask me why. Gmail has unlimited space, so who cares)

Well, instead of sending it to myself, I sent it to the other Vivek (W). I had to send couple of more emails to my supervisor and to Vivek explaining the circumstances. My reputation was seriously at stake.

5: If all this mess was not enough for the day, I broke my MP3 player in the evening.

I was working out on the rowing machine in the gym, something happened, and the next thing I saw was that my MP3 player was lying 3 feet away from me, wide open and dismantled.. Now, I have to hold it up using a band-aid !!!


I just didn't imagine that a day could be so bad. My laptop was very dear to me. The circumstances under which I bought it, the kind of pain (Literally. It weighed almost 9 Lbs with accessories. It almost broke my shoulder one day. But I had this sense of belonging to my laptop, and I would enjoy that pain. Because it was MY laptop) I went thru, some of the unforgettable moments I had with my laptop, and all those Seinfeld memories made it much more valuable than its mere monetary value. I dont think I am going to put a new motherboard in it, as the hardware + equipment cost would be more than its present value.

I am not much worried about money factor (My policy: Money comes, and goes. One should not care too much about the things that are not in our control). Its just that I am feeling a huge void in my life since Wednesday.

I was so used to having a laptop at my disposal all the time. First thing I would do after waking up was switching on the laptop and check news / mail. And same before sleeping. Now every morning and nite seems very strange. I just wake up, take bath, and drive to work.

And same happens at work as well. I used to take my laptop to work everyday, and everyone just assumed that I would use it for daily work. Now, I dont have a computer for me, and have to depend on others' to do simple things like check mails or print a document.

It just feels different. I guess I will get used to it, and will start spending more time with my image-analysis Linux box. Some of my personal things are very dear to me, and my laptop was one of them.


May be its a good thing to happen to me. With qualifiers coming up in a month's time, I guess it would do me a world of good to stay away from Email-Gmail as much as I can.

Its said that whatever happens, happens for good: I dont know if that's always true, but I guess it helps a lot if we think about it in that spirit. Things become easier to digest. What say?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Good Days, Bad Days: Part Two: Cleveland

Warning: I strongly urge all the readers NOT to form any false opinion and NOT to have any suspicion about the intelligence of the students representing either Drexel University or Case Western Reserve University. I also strongly advise the readers to completely understand and bear in mind that even PhD students as well as highly educated and 'corporate' individuals could have a child hidden in them; and they could go crazy sometimes. Socially avoiding the below-mentioned individuals or recommending a mental-healing treatment is left to the discretion of the reader.

If you are not an Indian, I request you to kindly discard rest of the blog.


Well, if meeting old Clemson friends was fun; meeting my very old pals from Bombay the following weekend was a total epitome of stupidity, absurdity and lunacy.

As I was returning from Novi, I got a call from Shubham saying that he's planning to be in Cleveland next weekend with his gang. He also told me that 6 of them (Rohan, Hemang, Ruchita, Shubham, Surendra, Sameer) were planning a road trip over the weekend and the plan was to explore Cleveland. I was hoping to have a sunny and warm weekend, so that we could go to the Headlands beach in Mentor. Its supposed to be a very good lake-side beach, and I was looking forward to visit the place.

But come Friday, and it was fairly clear that the weekend was going to be a cold and rainy one; the beach outing was totally ruled out. So we had no option but to explore Cleveland downtown and surrounding places. Since I am still relatively new to Cleveland, I was kind of excited as well as skeptical about next two days.

Well... they reached Cleveland late on Friday nite, and it was a total riot thereafter for next day and half. We started the next day with a healthy brunch at IHOP, then explored the Coventry area for a bit, then went to lakeside Edgewater Park. After spending some time on the shore of Lake Erie, we moved on to explore the Great Lakes Science Center, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Tower City- Public Square. After spending lot of time in Cleveland downtown, we moved on to Parma and visited Cleveland temple, had dinner at Jaipur Junction. We spent most of the nite at Youngstown Lanes enjoying bowling and sipping some beer. And just before returning home, we stopped by the nearby Baskin Robins for a 3-scoop Sundae. And after returning home, we saw a Govinda- Raveena movie: Dulhe Raja, which is a completely laughing riot.

Cleveland downtown is much more enjoyable than I thought it would be. It was total fun roaming around in the Science Center as well as the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame. And for a bunch of Indians, and especially for Bombayites, it was a very good outing. However, the above mentioned description was the most boring part of the day. The main and most interesting part was making of the movie: "Srimaan".

These guys from Philadelphia are heavily influenced by Hindi movies, Mithun Da, Govinda, and Rajni Kanth. They talk hindi movies, walk hindi movies, eat hindi movies... and if that's not enough, they make Hindi movies.

If you have some spare time, you have nothing else to do, and you are really suffering from extreme boredom, have a look at the snapshots of some of the movies they have tried to make:

Clip 1

Clip 2

Clip 3

Clip 4

And they even take interviews of the audience (this is too much). Check this out:

Clip 1

And these guys were in a process of making yet another movie, and they chose Cleveland as the backdrop. The shooting started in my apartment, it continued in my parking lot, it also took place in the downtown as well as in the temple and the bowling alleys. The most interesting part of the movie and what totally amazed me during the shooting was that they didnt have a story in mind. These guys work in opposite manner. They first shoot different scenes, record fight sequences, write dialogues, and then write a story that fits all these things!!... How amazing!!

Well, they shot emotional (!!!!!!) scenes in my apartment. The dashing entry of the hero (ShahRukh Khan style) was shot in my apartment entrance. The fight sequences as well as the hero-villain climax was shot on the slope of the Science Center. The romantic (!!!!) sequences and dance parts were captured in the backdrop of Lake Erie and The Hall of Fame Museum. These guys don't yet have a heroine for the movie. But that didn't deter them from proceeding.

Apparently, I am also acting in this movie. They told me that they shot me while I was sleeping. And then we enacted a "parting" scene, which was full of emotions and melodrama. I have absolutely no clue how these two clips are going to be incorporated in the movie. For that matter, I still have no clue about what and why they were shooting a few scenes.

If this is not enough, take this: This movie also has guns and all the ammo. We bought the guns from the dollar store. The hero actually shot a couple of bullets at the villain in downtown itself. There was so much violence!!... We also kidnapped our own driver (Rohan) and his navigator (Surendra) with the guns, demanded water bottle as ransom, we negotiated, and released the navigator only after we got one!!!


As people grow up, we see two types of people: some people become mature and act responsibly. Some others dont grow up and refuse to get mature. I'd never imagined that there were third type of individuals as well: people who grow up and yet act like kids !! (This dialogue is inspired by one in Rang De Basanti).

For a day and half, I guess we all were in the third category.

On Sunday morning, these guys left; and I returned to the first category. Wish I could stay longer in the third one.

Good Days, Bad Days: Part One: Novi

These days, I am having pretty good time, especially on weekends. I am totally enjoying myself, and feel rejuvenated.

It started 3 weekends back with a trip to Novi, MI. Some of my Clemson friends (Archie, Suketu, Vikram, Shruti) moved to Novi a few weeks back. I wanted to meet them, but was kind of lazy to be out of Cleveland on weekends. In first week of April, I realised that I hadn't been out of Cleveland since I returned from Grand Canyon trip in January. That thought instantly unsettled me; in next couple of days I was all flustered, demented and, and I was dying to drive out of Cleveland.

Novi is a nice little town close to Detroit. Its much like Ann Arbour or Farmington. Some places in Michigan have this "feel good" factor: very peaceful-n-quiet, beautiful, not too big-not too small. Just perfect. I like that. It gives a good break from hectic and routine city life. After spending good 22 years in hustle- bustle of Bombay; next 3 years in extremely peaceful, quiet, yet beautiful place like Clemson; and now almost 9 months in Cleveland; I have started to appreciate the occasional breaks from routine life. May be that's why I enjoy places like Ann Arbor, Novi, Dayton, etc. Anyways.

It was great to meet Archie, Suketu, Vikram, and Shruti after a long time. It really feels good to meet good old friends, and catch up after long long time. I haven't been in touch with too many Clemson people these days, and I was totally unaware of things happening there. We had nice time in catching up, and remembering some old stories and "hall-of-fame" incidences. In the evening, after having dinner at a Mongolian place called "Sizzling Sticks", we went for some bowling.

Believe it or not, I 'd never tried bowling before. I was under the impression that the bowling balls are made of very lite-weight polymer, and its the throwing speed that determines how many pins one knocks down. Well, I soon realised that I was terribly wrong with my concepts. In first couple of strikes, I tried to throw a very heavy (12 pound) ball at a super-fast speed. According to my concepts of physics, I should have been able to knock down all the pins. But that did not happen.

I guess something is either wrong with my concepts, or I am applying some wrong principles to this. These Newton, Einstein, Galileo guys make things very complicated. No wonder some people prefer to take up sports as a profession than trying to apply the Newton's second law of motion to analyze the projectile of a home run !

My fingers started hurting terribly after that adventure. And it affected my performance thereafter. Obviously, soon it was a comedy show for rest of the audience. My attempts of making a "perfect" strike included throwing the ball backwards (behind me), almost slipping on the on the alley, and consistently rolling the ball in the gutter, and what not. Well, it was not as bad as it sounds. I did have a few good strikes, spares and some good shots. Even though I could not cross the 100-barrier (my highest was 96), had a lot of fun.

It was a very refreshing weekend. Hopefully I can meet my freinds again sometime in summer. I am planning a camping trip in Upper Peninsula of Michigan sometime in summer. It should be fun.

Monday, April 10, 2006

One more of those unforgettable moments!!

Last week, I experienced one more of those unforgettable moments. It was totally unexpected and unplanned. But I will remember that nite for long time. I'd never felt so excited, so invigorating, so spirited in months...

Here goes the sequence of events:

Background: I am in a process of upgrading my room (and myself as well;) ), and recently bought a queen size bed. I wanted to buy the bed sheet, fitting sheet, etc. for my new bed. Since I am hopelessly bad at shopping such things, I asked my friend J if she could help me out. J obliged.

9.00 PM: I was just coming out of gym, and J called to ask if that was a good time to go for shopping. Since I had nothing else to do that nite, I agreed.

9.45 PM: We enter K-mart. As per my standards, this thingy should have been over in precisely 4 minutes. Make it 10, including all unforeseen circumstances. It was just a matter of choosing the right size, color and fabric.

11.15 PM
: We came out of K-mart. It took an hour and half to buy one set of bedsheets !!. Man, shopping with a girl is *pain*. I try my best to avoid this calamity, but this was an unavoidable case.

11.30 PM: I was yet to have my dinner, and was very hungry; so we went to a nearby IHOP for dinner.

Till this point, the weather was fairly normal: not too breezy, clear skies, temperature in high 30s. The day itself was fairly warm. I didn't even bother to carry my winter jacket.

12.15 AM: We came out of I-HOP. It was very chilly and extremely breezy outside. So we were kinda hurrying up to my car. Just then it started raining heavily. We'd never anticipated this change in climate so fast (45 minutes), and were completely taken by surprise. By the time we settled in the car, it was raining cats and dogs, and we could sense the strong wind as well; as it was pouring from all directions.

12.45 AM
: I was driving towards home. Meanwhile,the mercury went down further, and now there was a heavy snow-storm instead of rain. The snow was coming down heavily, and the wind had actually picked up. It was bit difficult to drive at that time, but we continued.

Any sensible person would have preferred to go home, and relax. But out of nowhere, J said: "you know, the lake would be really beautiful at this time". Hmmm.... heavy snow, very strong wind, and lake..... Somehow I thought it would be really cool. So instead of going home, we were now en-route to the Edgewater Park.

The Cliff Drive near Cleveland's Lakefront State park is one of my most favorite spots in Cleveland. Its a one way road, with Lake Erie one one side, and very high-class bungalows on the other. It probably gives one of the best views and feel of the lake, as well as the city. I was driving on the Cliff Drive, enjoying the snow, wind and the lake. I could actually see huge waves in the lake. Not very often one does get to see that.

1.00 AM: We stopped at one spot; it gave the best view of the lake. I dont know why, but felt like opening my window. I just wanted to "feel" the outside atmosphere. I did it for a moment. I could smell the salty lake. I could hear the roars of the waves. It was almost as if I was on sea-shore; except that it was snowing heavily, and it was horribly windy.

I closed the window. Didn't want to spoil my car. It was indeed a cool experience, I thanked J for the idea, and started driving. But somewhere within I was not satisfied. I wanted more of that "feel". I wanted more of that experience. I wanted to face that wind, wanted to feel the snow, and wanted to smell the lake. I was not ready to leave the place. But wasn't sure of getting out of the car. Any sensible person wouldn't have thought of doing that.

1.10 AM: I did it!. I returned to Cliff Drive, parked my car and stepped out with just a thin pullover. Now I was directly facing the snow and the typhoon. And I could sense the zephyr directly coming off the lake. I stood motionless for a few minutes, until I could not sense my nose, fingers and ears any more.

Boy !!... I don't know why but those moments were one of the most nostalgic ones I've experienced in a while. So many thoughts just deluged my mind in those moments: my past, my present, my future, my hobbies, my passion, my parents, my religion, my friends, my close ones, my loved ones... responsibilities, promises, hopes, failures, dreams... it was a total cascade of thoughts; and it completely swamped me at that moment. I probably cant describe everything in words, but I hope you have an idea of a state of mind one can have while standing in a snowstorm on a lakefront at midnight.

1.20 AM: I returned in my car. I guess my face showed the contentment and everything I felt while standing outside. J thought I was going crazy.

May be I was...