Jetlag Is ..

  • being 180 degrees out of phase with your skin.
  • that perpetual dryness at the back of your throat.
  • seeing your ashtrail plume over half a hemisphere
  • your guts waking you at 3am.
  • having to find your way to Dwaraka all over again.
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- December 5, 2009 4:48 PM // Travel

Some Portland Pix

We had a whole bunch of pictures languishing in Flickr when we were reminded, yes, there are viewers out there. This picture from Shari was shortlisted by Schmap for inclusion in their Portland Guide:

Japanese Garden

Emboldened by this, I am including some more.

Sk8er Boi Street Sign

Pioneer Courthouse Square Sign

Bonus Virj picture. This was taken on the steps of the Rose Garden amphitheater:

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- October 13, 2009 9:46 AM // Travel

Amusing Airport Codes II

Recall I recently wrote about some of the funnier airport codes? One of them, Sioux City, aka SUX, has now decided to embrace its status wholeheartedly:

Now, though, Sioux City is trying to get in on the joke. Bernstein is making T-shirts - and a lot of other stuff - emblazoned with "Fly SUX." (Remember, that's pronounced "S-U-X," not "sucks.")

It all begin as a lark last fall, when Bernstein, who sits on the airport's Board of Trustees, had about a dozen of the T-shirts printed for some local travel agents at an appreciation dinner. Soon he was deluged with requests for them, including one from the president and CEO of Northwest Airlines, Douglas Steenland.

Since then, the line of Fly SUX merchandise has grown to include caps, coffee mugs, luggage tags, and bumper stickers.

"Let's exploit it rather than let it bother us," said Luanne Lindblade, the owner of Sioux City Gifts, the company marketing the Fly SUX merchandise. "We have always believed, 'Why fight it? Why not have fun with it?' "


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- August 11, 2008 9:31 PM // General , Travel

Amusing Airport Codes

From Orbitz's list of US Airport codes, we have:

Colorado Springs, CO (COS). Only if you like your trig.
Dickinson, ND (DIK). Sophomoric, I know but can't resist.
Eek, AK (EEK). Mighty Mouse's home base? Mouse phobes?
Fargo, ND (FAR): A long long way to go ..
Fresno, CA (FAT): This place must be rolling in it.
Goodnews Bay, AK (GNU): Only amusing if you're a geek and the Free Software Foundation means somthing to you.
Hot Springs, AR (HOT): I am sure the locals still chuckle over this one.
Huron, SD (HON): Sexist? Maybe. Warm? Certainly.
Los Angeles, CA (LAX): Describes the schedules, quality and service at this place to a T.
Lansing, MI (LAN): Wonder if this place has free wifi. Har har.
Mobile, AL (MOB): An airport we cannot refuse?
Nulato, AK (NUL) - Nothing here, move along.
Pueblo, CO (PUB) - Watering hole.
Rutland, VT (RUT) - They're stuck.
Sioux City, IA (SUX) - At least they don't try to hide it.
Topeka, KS (FOE) - You know where you stand right away.
Watertown, NY (ART) - Or exploitation? You decide.
Wenatchee, WA (EAT) - The Jewish mother of airports?
Yakutat, AK (YAK) - Must be a chatty place.
Yuma, AZ (YUM) - Let's end on dessert.

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- July 9, 2008 3:22 PM // General , Travel

Back From LA LA Land

Just returned from a four day stay in LA. Some desi related flotsam and jetsam:

Jamie Masada (of Laugh Factory) and Jon Lovitz Yuk It Up At OnHollywood 2008

This was a session on the current state of online comedy. I was surprised to hear numerous references to desi-Canuck comedian Russell Peters. Apparently, his shows sell out regularly everywhere and it's all because of The Internets!

Holy Cow Restaurant

Near to West Hollywood where we were staying. Love the name and the logo. Food was just OK though.

Tattoo Stand Picture - Venice Beach Boardwalk

"Om" has many meanings, one of which is "Welcome to the Gods." Can the location of this particular one be taken to mean "Welcome to My Mammaries?"

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- June 14, 2008 4:47 PM // Food , Technology , Travel


"Going to New Orleans, eh?", asked our cabbie.
"Yes," I replied.
"You must be crazy, man!" was his response. "It's still flooded down there."
My wife and I looked at each other.
"Not that I know of."
"Tell you what," the cabbie said, "give me a call when you return. I wanna hear this."

Well, in the spirit of pictures saving thousands of words of writing, here are a couple of snaps from our trip.

BeignetsBeignets from the Cafe Du Monde are of course a NOLA staple.

French QuarterThis is not tourist season in NOLA - a big reason is the weather which can get hot and muggy. This French Quarter street corner, though, is at its best in broad daylight, sunstroke be damned.

Ferry BuildingLooking for some shade? This is inside the Ferry Building - the ferry runs to Algiers and it's free!

Katrina DevastationDespite two years having elapsed since Katrina, NOLA is still one major hurricane away from a repeat. A big reason is due to the fundmantal flaws in the construction of the levees themselves. Repair is ongoing but those only address the ones that broke.

Bob French and BandMusic still flows in NOLA. This is Bob French and Band at dba's. Paraphrasing him: "The federal government gave us nothing, the people did. The state government gave us nothing, the people did."

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- August 24, 2007 1:01 PM // Travel


We recently returned from a trip from Banff, Calgary. The scenery is gorgeous and amply illustrated elsewhere. What I wanted to document for posterity was the fabulous chocolate fondue we had at the Fairmont Lake Louise. Sliced bananas, strawberries, whipped cream, apples, pineapples and fresh cubed banana bread together with rich molten chocolate. Heaven indeed!

Chocolate Fondue

This way to sunshine. If only it were that easy :-)

This way to sunshine

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- May 25, 2007 7:28 PM // Food , Travel

Desis In Odd Places Part III

Well color me brown and sit me down, I would have never guessed about a Shaivite Hindu temple smack dab in Kauai, Hawaii, so I guess this qualifies. This is the Iraivan temple and this being the Communications Age, it comes with its own web site, documentary, podcast, and an inspirational tale of how it came to be:

Gurudeva said: "It was in 1959 that my path led me to the Hawaiian Islands for the first time. In 1968 I returned to the islands on a vision quest, seeking and finding a place to move our international headquarters, there to live a contemplative life in harmony with the ultimate attainment of the Self within man. One early morning, before dawn, a three-fold vision of Lord Siva came to me. First I beheld Lord Siva walking in a valley, then I saw His face peering into mine, then He was seated on a large stone, His reddish golden hair flowing down His back. That was February 15, 1975.

"This was the fulfillment of the quest for a vision of what the future might hold, which led me and my followers to the lovely Garden Island of Kauai, held the most sacred of all by the Hawaiian peoples long, long ago. It is alongside the sacred Wailua River, leading to the top of Mt. Waialeale, that this place of pilgrimage is being built, a temple of kaivalya, granting freedom from the past and a vision for the future. The temple's 700-pound 50-million-years-in-the-making crystal icon is a kalpaka (spiritual wish-fulfilling) ever-giving Sivalingam. So many blessings await each pilgrim. None are ever neglected.

Though the current version of the temple is still under construction, it still attracts a steady flow of visitors and I would only expect the number to grow over time. A must visit for our next Hawaii trip (if and when...)

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- March 24, 2007 7:21 PM // Travel

One World


Mike Novak, of Mike's World Tour fame, is finally winding down his travels. On a post entitled, Personal Ramblings, he has some thoughts about his experiences:

"One World" - In the mid-1980s, after participating in various exchange programs (Kenya, Thailand, and Poland) I was enamored with the concept of "One World". "One World" centers on the belief that people are basically the same throughout the world - they want to be happy, live in peace, raise families, and lead productive lives. What make them different are generally not innate but learned differences - learned through their own culture, traditions and religion beliefs. Overtime these learned differences between countries and their cultures tend to shrink and merge – facilitated by such things as cheap travel costs, information technology, the internet, TV and movies, cultural awareness and education . The result is a single culture or "One World".

After this trip I still believe in the concept of "One World" (a.k.a. "globalization" in economic parlance), albeit, this trip made me realize that the reality of a single culture is a lot further away than I previously surmised - decades, even centuries away. There are a lot of uneducated, poor, immobile people in the world that still maintain their own culture, tradition and value systems.

It seems to me, the flip side of this observation is that much that is unique about various societies comes from the poor, deprived folks in their midst. This is, of course, not restricted to third world countries. Musically speaking for example, the ghettos in the US, the favelas in Brazil, tribals in India and rural enclaves in Morocco, all have been fecund sources of various sounds. All have been exploited accordingly and absorbed into the global "one culture" machine by cool-hunters, musical explorers, and media outlets looking for the next big thing. What's amazing to me is how some of these places continue to innovate various musical styles one after the other - it seems to be a curious balance of isolation from the greater culture at large and familiarity with it.

There are more musings here. Check it out.

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- December 15, 2005 11:22 AM // Music , Travel

Rick Steve's India

Rick Steve, everybody's favorite Euro-travel author, has his own favorite destination - India. He puts a different spin on my India-is-mindfunk line though. In an interview (Rick Steves: His top sites, pet peeves, best advice) with the San Jose Mercury News, he says:

India rearranges all your cultural furniture. I thought I knew what music was, I thought I knew what pain and love and faith were, but India changes everything. Everything is different. It was great travel, but it's very frustrating to talk about it. You can't explain India to people. I can explain Ireland, Norway, the Alps, but I can't explain India. It's like travel squared.

Nicely put. However, there are a couple of things I observed in my last trip. Double standards do exist. White tourists are the real sacred cows over there - most locals know this and accordingly will be amazingly hospitable. Unfortunately, they tend to view NRIs as cash cows. I don't exactly know where this comes from - it seems to be a mixture of resentment, annoyance and envy. Just consider the moneyed, boorish NRI stereotype that used to pop up in Bollywood films. Anyway, you have to be on your guard constantly as a consequence.

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- November 6, 2005 7:00 PM // India , Travel

Mike's World Tour

The best way I've heard India that it is "an assault on all the senses" - ubiquitous poverty, odors of the garbage heaps, noise of traffic, the crowded streets, random cows, the heat, etc. One the other hand, the food is amazing and the landscape beautiful. It's taken sometime but India is beginning to grow on me. It's a country of contradictions - it's rich and poor, spiritual and material, cruel and kind, angry but peaceful, ugly and beautiful, and smart but stupid.

So writes Mike Novak, a comrade from my grad school days, in his excellent photolog. Mike quit his job recently, sold his house in DC and, prior to focusing on his passion for filmmaking in NYC, is undertaking a world tour - Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Australia. Seems fairly comprehensive, doesn't it? The only thing that seems to be missing from the itinery is Shangri La and, given that getting there involves a plane crash, perhaps it's best avoided...

One thing though - Mike describes India as "an assault on all the senses." I don't know if I can claim credit for instilling that line in Mike, but I do have a pithier description now - "India is a mindfunk." 'nuff said and best of luck to Mike! I'm suitably envious.

Finally, let me share Mike's advice on the one essential thing to pack before you leave the USA for a trip of this type: at least 3 "I Love Canada" t-shirts!

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- July 5, 2005 5:23 PM // India , Travel

The INOX Factor

On our last trip to India, we checked out several of the new state of the art multiplexes (by INOX) in Kolkata. We were blown away, particularly by the City Center INOX in Salt Lake. The seats, the screen, the air conditioning and the sounds were all top notch, easily comparable to the better theaters in the Bay Area (AMC Van Ness comes to mind). As a matter of fact, I wish our local Bollywood multiplex, Naz8, would hurry up and actually go through with their long awaited remodeling. Their current digs are really rather threadbare - AC ducts are visible through holes in the ceiling, the carpets cling to the shoes, and the seats just don't provide the posterior support necessary for staying awake and alert for three hours. INOX, in our mind, had another big plus - in India movie theater seating is not first come first served. Tickets come with seat numbers printed on them and ushers guide you to your spot in the theater. This to me is much more preferable, particularly in INOX where you can see the theater seating plan on screen in the box office and pick out what you like.

musafir.jpgAnyway, the very first film we went to see at an INOX theater after getting into Kolkata was Musafir. Supposedly a loose copy of U-Turn, the film was an excellent advertisement of Bollywood's technical proficiency. It really put the theater through its paces - techno music pulsed in the background while explosions and gunshots rattled the main speakers. On screen, we had fast-forwards, splitscreen shots, rewinds, jumpcuts, hooded bad guys striding in slo-mo through dark, rain drenched streets and forty-something heroes accessorized in the latest Italian leather and the latest young-enough-to-be-their-daughter starlets. The combined assault was as good a cure for jetlag as any and let us know emphatically that the days of getting bitten by mosquitoes while sitting on hard wooden seats was over. Alas, the hi-fidelity nature of our experience also revealed some inherent visual flaws in the source material - as one of the starlets (Sameera Reddy) leaned over suggestively, it was possible to see the stretch marks on her back. Similarly, in a slow motion shot of Anil Kapoor whirling around after getting punched, we could discern the laws of inertia - his fat was moving in one direction while he rolled in another.

When emerging from the theater, I finally understood Bollywood's cunning plan for holding on to its audience. First part of the plan consisted of filling the pictures with as much ear and eye candy as possible. The second part was to actually find some worthwhile content - but only if the first part didn't work. After all, who wants to pay writers? Judging by the pictures we saw, they have the first part down pat. And is it working? Well, purely from anecdotal evidence, we found it was much tougher to get tickets to the Bollywood films as opposed to the English flicks on offer. Speaking to the box office clerks confirmed this observation. In addition, the Hollywood films were priced cheaper than most of the Bollywood films. Tickets to Veer Zaara, the then blockbuster, cost close to 200 rupees! I guess most Bollywood films will remain content-free for a while longer then.

So, the theaters were excellent. How about the patrons? In his Reelthoughts for May 2005, internet movie critic James Berardinelli writes about the pain of going to a multiplex in the USA:

The Living Room Factor

There are plenty of things to complain about regarding movie theaters: poor audio & video quality, out-of-frame pictures, sticky floors, indifferent employees, uncomfortable seats, an endless stream of ads before the start of the feature, and so on... But the biggest complaint concerns other patrons, especially those who aren't yet old enough to drink alcohol. They walk in late, don't turn their cell phones off, munch loudly on popcorn and slurp their sodas, and chatter incessantly. (My apologies to those of you in this age group who are not guilty - and I know you're out there. Tarring you with the same brush is unfair. Unfortunately, you are the exception.)

Yesterday, I got a first-hand look at another example of movie-theater rudeness. It happened while I was watching an afternoon showing of Unleashed. Shortly before the commercials were about to start, a couple walked in and seated themselves across the aisle from me. They were both around 18 or 19. The guy settled into his seat and dug into his popcorn. The girl removed her shoes and propped up her bare feet on the back of the seat in front of her. I momentarily gawked, scarcely believing what I was seeing. Appropriate behavior for a living room? Yes. Appropriate behavior for a movie theater? Not in my opinion.

One thing became glaringly apparent when we were in the INOX theaters: the prevalence of cell phones in modern Indian life and their potential for irritation. During the course of a film, it wasn't uncommon for folks, particularly the teens and twenty-somethings, to hold up their camera phones to record what's occuring onscreen. Additionally, many simply never turned their cellphones off. I could hear people holding conversations during the movie. If the film in question was of the masala variety, there's enough continual background noise to drown out the neighbors' yakking on the phone, but if it's a more thought provoking effort, then it was a tougher ask. Still, a small price to pay for such gorgeous visual and aural splendor. At least that's what I'll tell myself the next time someone tucks into their bag of chips in the next aisle. Or starts a conversation with their long lost aunty.

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- June 1, 2005 12:10 AM // Bollywood , Film , India , Select , Travel