Friday, June 18, 2010

Whitewater Rafting and Crazy Mohan

Continuing with the trend of writing nonsense posts about nothing (a la Seinfeld) here's another one for your reading pleasure. Nothing new really to report on the home front. We finally bit the bullet and booked the West Virginia whitewater rafting trip. We are rafting on the Lower New River which is supposed to be more adventurous than the Upper New River. And while we are at it, we are also doing a zip line canopy tour. And because we spent too much time thinking if we should do the trip, all the cabins were sold out by the time we booked and we are going to be camping. Joy! Despite my love for adventure trips, I have never been enthusiastic about camping. I mean, I need a nice soft bed to lie on at night with no possibility of bugs and also set the temperature to what I want, precise to the degree. Is that too much to ask for? And thus, I have been avoiding camping successfully for the three years that I have been in the United States. I guess all good things must come to an end and S put his foot down at staying in a motel one hour away and driving in for all the activities. If I survive to tell the tale, you can be assured that I will put up a post with pics like I did for our Vegas trip.

Plans are underway to buy a PS3 Slim. But I am wondering if I should hold out till the Move comes out. Any thoughts here? Also I am pretty sure we will be buying an XBox after the Kinect releases, so Microsoft fanboys don't need to send me any brickbats. :-) Considering all I have played till now are Mario variants, some game suggestions would be nice. I am really interested in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 - does anyone know if I can just pick it up and start playing, having never played any game in the Call of Duty franchise? Sometimes I have a feeling that even if I own every possible gaming console available, I would still end of playing Super Mario Galaxy! :-)

Talking about recent purchases, I have placed an order for "Marriage Made in Saloon" DVD at Kalakendra. I am a crazy fan of Crazy Mohan (notice my clever word pun here!) and I own all his available DVDs. But unfortunately, I have never even once seen his drama live on stage. All my family members, who are not fans, leave alone fanatics of Crazy Mohan, have gone his plays multiple times. In fact, H who openly claims that she likes S. Ve Shekar better and my cousins have had Crazy Mohan and Maadhu Balaji come upto them and talk while they were waiting for the car after the show! When I spent 3.5 years of my life in the desert that is Pilani, Crazy and his troupe put up a show there in the 6 months that I was doing a "project" in Bangalore. When I went to India last November, I was determined to watch one of his plays. But in perfect timing, they had just one show the day I arrived and another the day after I leave with nothing in between. You have no idea how incredibly jealous I am of this guy. He casually mentions that he is Crazy Mohan's relative. He then goes on to say that he asked Maadhu Balaji to introduce him to "Saloon Muthu". I would have been deliriously happy to have someone introduce me to Crazy Mohan and Maadhu Balaji just so that I can take a picture with them and show it off to everyone I know. Life is very unfair sometimes! But "Saloon Muthu" is one of my favorite characters too. The way he says "Rrramsamiiiii" is just plain awesome. But my favorite character in the one who plays "Munnusamy" in this play. He has a distinct voice and modulates it really well. "Mythili purushanama ni? Ipo ellam purinjurthu, Janaki oda amma saar oda mootha samsaram." Just thinking about it makes me laugh.

Since this post is pretty disjointed anyway, let me talk about the movie we saw yesterday "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo". I have been heaping a lot of praise about this book, so much that even S picked it up and managed to finish it. So when I saw that the movie was playing in Sundance Theater, we both wanted to watch that. It was everything that you would expect from a book made into a movie. It was well made and mostly faithful to the book. The movie matched the dark tones of the book. But why did they have to pick awful looking people to star in it? Blomkvist was supposed to be a handsome man in his forties (with a boyish charm if I remember right) Nyquist (who plays Blomkvist) looked alright (in parts) but definitely not boyishly handsome. And Salander was alright, but she somehow didn't look lean or young enough. And while she did a good job in most parts, I never saw her do the "lopsided smile" described in the book. Worst of the lot was Erica Berger - the classy, distinguished Erica was reducing to being a 50 year old bimbo wannabe with unfortunate blond hair. Why why why? But all said and done, it was a good movie and I am glad we watched it.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Vegas, Baby!

Here is the promised Vegas post just one week late.

So I am back from Vegas with the accompanying buzz. To say the trip was amazing is an understatement. For one thing, this is the first trip that we are taking after getting married, where we both travelled together. Usually, we get to the destination alone and meet up there. And of course Vegas is a fabulous destination, which ensured that the trip itself was fabulous. But lastly, we stayed at Bellagio. Best decision ever! While booking the hotel rooms, I was leaning towards some cheaper options, but S had insisted that we stay at a really nice place and for once I am glad that I had listened to him.

We were overwhelmed right from the time we walked into the hotel. I think Bellagio has some sort of deal with a glass company, because the whole place seemed to be done in glass. It is a big deal to me, because I always love works of art with glass. While in Hyderabad, I took a glass painting class and the painting I did still hangs at home. During my last vacation in Door County, I made it a point to go to an art gallery that dealt primarily with glass. I promptly fell in love with the whole place and bought this for the end table at my apartment.

So you can imagine my delight when I looked up from the registration desk and saw the ceiling.

After collecting the room keys, we walked down towards the room and saw a freaking glass flower garden.

Despite the fact that we had just landed after a 7 hour journey and lugging 2 bags, we stopped right then and spent some time looking at them in awe.

We went up to the room and were in for another surprise. We hadn’t asked for a room with a view at the registration since the hotel was really full. But we still got a room that overlooked the dancing fountains.

I know that this looks like a commercial for Bellagio and I swear I have not been paid to say all this, but this is the best place to stay in Vegas. The only negative thing that I can think of is that, all the restaurants inside were super expensive. We dined there about 2.5 times during the stay and two of them were breakfasts. The half meal was ingested on the night we landed when we were too hungry to venture out. We found this place and had a savory crepe that tasted just like masala dosa. It was just what we needed after a long journey.

We found cheaper dining options in the other hotels like the Ventian. Being vegetarians, I had figured we would have trouble finding good places to eat, but surprisingly every place we went to had vegetarian options or were happy to substitute.

We spent most of our time in Vegas gambling. And predictably we lost all the money we had budgeted for gambling and then some. We gambled the cash we had kept aside for cabs and lost those too. Initially I had planned to play the slot machines and only that. But then S had downloaded this blackjack game on my iPhone and I had spent the whole of April and May playing that and started thinking of myself as a blackjack pro. So we won some, lost some, won some and lost everything. Like S. Ve. Sekar says in Kaatle Mazhai, "Uttada pidikaren nu pidichidayum uttiye ba". Finally when we had just a couple of dollar bills left, I put them in some slot machines and won $15. Losing all that money gave me a really nasty feeling at the bottom of stomach and I was bad company to S for awhile.

After losing all our money, we discovered that there are other things to do in Vegas and went to a night club and danced our worries away. We also took the NY Roller Coaster ride at the NY NY Hotel and I think it's one of the best roller coasters I've ever been on.

We also went to the Stratosphere Hotel and waited in line for more than an hour to go on the ride called Insanity. We were so irritated that we didn't even think to take a picture of the ride.

Oh yes and how could we forget the show, considering that leaving Vegas without catching a show amounts to sacrilege. We did some research about a lot of shows. I wanted to watch The Lion King, but S vetoed it right away. We considered the Blue Man Group, but people told us it was very low brow and more of a family thing than a couples’ show. We zeroed in on Cirque du Soleil just because it was a very Vegas thing to do and got tickets for Zumanity at the NY Hotel. It started out alright and we were ready for some classy and sensual fun. But it turned to be very burlesque and not at all what we imagined. If all we wanted to see were topless women, we would have gone to some of the other infamous shows. The banter was very unfunny and middle school. I thanked my stars that we had just Balcony seats so that we wouldn’t have been pulled into the inane audience participation skits. To be fair, we enjoyed some parts of it. But S and I are not the type of people who enjoy watching people twist themselves into impossible postures. I remember last year when we accompanied our friends and their son to a Ringling Bros Circus show and I was bored out of my mind and couldn’t wait to leave. So the next time I think we will skip all this and catch a comedy show instead.

When Monday dawned, we were in no mood to come back home. In fact S called the airlines and tried to get us onto a later flight, but of no avail. We came back home tired and partied out and I can't wait to go back there again.

PS - All photos are courtesy of S. If you like what you see in this post, do visit his flickr page

Friday, June 04, 2010

Filler post

I have nice post written about my Vegas trip - complete with pictures and all. So till I get that one ready, here is a filler post for my faithful reader(s).

* Friday afternoons are the longest of all afternoons!

* The reason that this afternoon seems really long is because I was up half the night reading "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" It's one the best books I've ever read. Stieg Larrson knows how to tell a tale. I encourage all my readers to pick up the first book in the series "The Girl with the Dragan Tattoo" Even S is reading it, which is saying something! :-)

* I had a very private confession typed out here, but then I realized I don't want y'all to judge me. :-) Maybe another post another time

* I am trying to plan out my trip to West Virginia. The flight tickets are so insanely expensive. Ironic that I never had the urge to go WV while in Raleigh, 'coz that was so close. Now it's too far to drive, too expensive to fly.

* When I was young and in school, I was really into public speaking. I used to sign up for every debate and such. Something happened since then and that girl seems to be missing. I had to give a demo to some customers today and when I learned of that in the meeting room, I froze for a minute. In the end, I think I did well, but it was not something I enjoyed. In a similar vein, I used to be an introvert right from the time I was kid, but I seem to have gotten worse now. To the point that I have stopped going to team lunches and parties because I am so incredibly bored. Don't get me wrong here, the people at work are really nice, but I feel I have very little in common with them, since I am much younger and at a different stage in life. I have been in Madison for more than a year and I don't have a single friend. I would like to remedy this, but I am at a loss about how to go about this process. I have started going out with the people at work for lunches and parties - so that's a start. Any suggestions would be welcome

Don't have the enthusiasm for writing more today. But check back again folks, the Vegas post will be up soon