Touch base in Pune

I am back now in Pune. The journey was a 40hr torture from the time I left the hotel to when I reached back in Pune. The saving grace was that I was travelling by Singapore Airlines. I saw the following pics there :
* Shark Tale
* Rrrrrr -> This was a french movie which is about a couple of tribes from the prehistoric era . Total timepass.
* Kal Ho Na Ho -> was shortened to 120mins. No kantaben scenes :(
* Catwoman
* Autin Powers - the Spy who Shagged me -> Yeah Baby !

Reached Seol after 17hrs 25 mins of journey, where there was a 1 hr stopover.

Reached Singapore after 6rs flight from Seol. Called up shashvat as the local calls from the airport was free and chatted for an hour atleast. Roamed around the airport and bought a few chocolates and MAD magazine.

38hrs of travel and I was in Mumbai. There was someone from KK travels supposed to come and pick me up , but he did not turn up. In frustration I took a cab to Pune - who got me into pune in 1.5 hrs !!! That chappie was driving quite fast on the expressway.

NeverWinter nights

I had this game - but lost the CD. so, this time , I bought it again - with its 2 expansion packs. Last time I played it safe and played as a Paladin. This time I am a sroceror ... killing vermin and demented zombies throughout the fantasy land. My avtar on the group website is ... what else , the penguin with the eye of neverwinter :-D

Back from the USA - yeah!

Well, time flies and I am almost on the way back to India - aah! Home sweet Home.

Spent close to 3 months in this country - and it is a nice place, but somehow... it leaves me yearning for india. Yeah, India has all its problems, but somehow - it has a warmth that is missing in the US.

I have been to Yosemite National Park, Los Angles, Las Vegas, Santa Cruz, San Francisco ... more of pilgrimages than real visits.

A day each at these places does not justify a visit. Yosemite was a big let down. That place is not a jungle - its only a big park . Really nice roads - winding through the country side. Camping grounds - with around 100 camps stuffed into a small area - and a BIG tourist center where you get everything. Come on folks - where is the wilderness ? Oh! its been landscaped for the publics convenience. Helloo !! Whats the point of wilderness if there is tamed ? Give me the untamed, unkempt jungles of India anytime.

And did i tell you everything is BIG ? Food you get in BIG helping ... And that makes people really BIG in size. BIG cars which guzzle BIG amounts of fuel. BIG roads to take these cars from point A to B. Man, these people think BIG. Take the case of Las Vegas. Its a desert city - but they decided to make it a hub for gambling. So, they create big casinos - nothing small for them . And instead of just making big buildings, the create HUGE worlds there. Luxor - a replica of the Great Pyramid of Ghiza. Venice - the water city inside a building in the middle of the desert.

And the Malls - they are so Bloody huge. You get tired walking from one end to another. If you are an electronics freak - don't even think of going to FRY's. This shop (is something so big still called a shop ? ) is so BIG, that you can buy any electronics from battery to huge plasma displays. There is no way you can come out of this place without buying something. I always end up pikcing up some computer game or other :(

If there is one thing I have learnt from this country is to think BIG ! I feel , most indians are so worried about losing, that they don't even try.

But there is someting missing here. There is no warmth. Yes, people are really polite - but that is all make believe. Yes people here have the great concept of Girl friend/ boy friend , and do you know why ? Well, what I have seen here - thats the only warmth people get . If you dont have a gf/bf, you are all alone. And even with gf/bf, you only have one more person.

If there are 2 guys together - they are thought to be gay. There is no friendly putting your arm on anothers shoulder ... don't you know - Bay Area : Gay Area !

India should learn a lot of things from the US. The road system is great - we need great roadways in India. We need to think BIG. But, we should not lose our touch with the past. People are so enamoured by the west that they forget how great India is.

USA does not have a history of its own. Whatever it had - it has killed off. I don't want India to follow that path. There is no cultural heritage that USA has - while India is rich in it. The family ties are nothing here - old parents are put into old age homes , and youngsters are let out of the house early on in life. I hope this does not happen in India.

Its good to learn from the west - India has to. Its an upcoming country. But I hope we dont end up aping the west. Just to copy blindly - which a lot of people seem to be doing - would be our own undoing.

Coming back to india for now. I know its going to be a dirty over poppulated place - but I hope, in the coming years, I will be able to make some difference to better my country of birth.

Motorcycle jackets

Bought a couple of motorcycle jackets.

This one is a mesh jacket to let the air flow through.

This one is a touring jacket with enough pockets to keep my happy while on my long tours (my trip logs are on my website - check it out!)

Viva Las Vegas

Well, you must have guessed by now from the title that I have been to LV (Las VegaS). But that was not the only place I had been to over the weekend. The weekend was a long weekend thanks to Thanksgiving. 4 days off from work , and so me and Harshit (he's my college classmate) decided to go on a road trip with one more friend Vipul, who stays in LA ( Los Angles).

We reached LA after a nights ride amid the heavy thanksgiving traffic - which had brought the expressways to a virtual standstill. Reached around 1AM after starting around 4PM from San Jose.

I have been to LA before - and that time we could not do much as it was raining. We had coasted through Beverly Hills and been to the Walk of Stars and othe attractions of LA. Just did not get the time to go to any of the rides of either Disney or Universal Studio. This time we did something better. We went to Six Flags Magic Mountain.

What is 6FMM you say ? Well, its a roller coaster park. With more rides that you can do in 1 day. We were there from 10:30 AM (park opens at 10) till 8:30 ( we were kicked out at 8 when the park closes). And man - we had pure adrenaline rush ! The top 3 rides we did were :

X - What can I say . This was the best - and not one for weak hearted people. You cant stop screaming on this one !
DejaVu - First you go one way - facing forward. then you retrace the same going backwards. And all this with a few loops and upside downs thrown in at some crazy angles.
Superman - First you rush upwards vertically at 100mph. Then there is a free fall for 6.5 secs. We were holding nickels up there which we let go and they seemed to float away from us, untill we realized we were having a free fall !

Not many pics we could take there - as it would be bad for the cameras to take them inside. Got this pic though after we finished the rides :)

Next day we set out to LV after roaming around in the Boulevard in LA and having lunch at a Greek joint ( Veg Falafels were great !). This chap was balancing cups on his head after throwing them from his feet !

The traffic was again really bad - and by the time we searched for a hotel it was already 9PM. We could only see one show - at the Freemont Boulevard. It was a light show on the ceiling which covered the entire boulevard. It would be too much to upload the video i took so here is a still from there.

Next we headed to the LA strip - where all the casinos are.

We started with Stratosphere - but the wait line to go up to the top floor was 1 hr - so we quit that and moved to Treasure Island. That's when I got to know that TI does not stand for Texas Instruments ;) . I wont go into detail of everything but the ones that I liked were :


The replica of the Eiffel tower is here. And ... when you enter the casino - you see the rafters for the support of the tower inside of the casino ! Great concept.


What else can you call a casino which has a waterway with Gondolas and the ceiling painted like the sky !


It is housed in a Pyramid ! The top of the pyramid emits a beam into space - which we saw miles before we were near LV. Its that powerful.

We also went to Treasure Island and Bellagio... but did not hve time for others.

Next morning we went to Bellagio to see the synchronised musical fountains - but they were shut down and some maintainence work was being done there. I could not see most of the shows this time - but I am thinking that next time if I get to go to LV, I should stay at one of the hotels/casino - that would be great :-D

Disappointed at the show being cancelled - we set off for Hoover Dam - at a crawl. Long weekends should be avoided I think ... all the people are all over the country ! We got parking quite a long way away from the dam, so after a few pics we just set out on our journey.

Our journey today was to be on Route66 - a historic route as it was the first route to be across the US running from Chicago to LA. The fun part of this route was that there was hardly any traffic through it. We stopped at Kingman for tea and there was this old locomotive engine on display there.

We were there in the Route till late at night - when we finally hit the highways to LA and reached Vipul's home - where we watched "The Magnificent Seven" :-D

Next day was back to San Jose via Route1 - which runs parallel to the pacific ocean.

We stopped for lunch at a quaint Danish village called SolVang for lunch - it was just awesome ! The village gives you the feeling that you are in Holland and not in the Us. Also - on the way to the village there is an Ostritch farm with ostritches and emus. Africa and Holland in 1 day :-D

Sunset was beautiful. By the time we stopped the car though - the sun was already setting :(

Reached back San Jose late at night. Enjoyed every day of the vacation !