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Weekend Wonder-La

14 Oct

Went to Wonderla last weekend. Actually was dragged there by the two teenagers – My Son and Nephew. I went there braced for boredom but was pleasantly surprised. Its an extremely well landscaped place with enough lung space and some fantastic rides. Its extremely well maintained. Being a holiday the place was full but you never got the impression that it was crowded. We never waited more than 15 minutes for a ride.

Good things:

1. Nice and spacious
2. Great Rides for all age groups
3. Clean
4. Ample Parking

Not So Good

1. Food is so so (but then they need to feed a lot of people)
2. Staff can be a little bit friendlier (not easy considering the number of people they have to put up with)

Some pictures below:

Good Landscaping



Nephew and Son. They are happiest after being fed

The Rides are pretty cool as well


Now for my RANT !!!!

Continue reading

Cooku for a Weeku

18 Aug

Every other summer my uncles would visit us from the USA with their families. Invariably our house in Bangalore was the first stop and a staging area while they visited Mysore and other places.

Suddenly the house would be teeming with relatives either staying with us or visiting my uncles. Relatives would come out of the woodworks to visit… and hoping for the odd T-Shirt or perfume bottle. Considering that our house in Jayanagar had 2 small bedrooms, I wonder now how we squeezed so many people in.

It was during one of these visits that mom threw her hands up and said she needed a cook for the 3 weeks that the visitors were around. After all cooking for 20 odd demanding people while you have a full time job as an Economics prof was difficult. She had just lost a cook who was with us for 3 odd years (that nightmarish story later).

After some debate it was decided that a cook had to be hired.. this happened to be a guy who had worked in a Udipi restaurant and was in between jobs.

We kids were excited (my cousins from the US could not care less… they were missing their barrgurrs).. but for us it was a great thing to have a “real” cook at home. Moms cooking was too healthy and not exciting enough.

Day 1- He started off well enough… with some great Idlies and Vada… and typical hotal sambar… great rasam for lunch.. and dinner…there were praises all around.. snide remarks about mom’s cooking… why can’t she get some tips from this guy etc etc… amma has a frown on her face.. “What a cook” we chorus.. “can we keep him?”

Day 2 – Same dishes, same food…. still tasty enough…Some gas building up inside the grownups… one of the relatives swear that baking soda has been used.. still the cook gets the benefit of doubt…maybe its mom’s fault she didnt give him variety in the ingredients.. everything was the same.. same dishes, same taste…

Day 3 – Dishes dont change.. rasam tastes the same.. gas build up increases.. mom’s expression changes to a smirk

Day 4 – The Soda has everyone bilious… elders hatch a conspiracy to get rid of the cook… mom is grinning broadly.. she has been happily hands off from the kitchen… dad broaches the subject of firing the cook.. only to be met with a cold stare…uncles start grumbling “We came all the way here to eat hotal food aaaa?”

Day 5 – Murder plots are being hatched. Bathroom is occupied ALL the time. Food is being supplied from a neighbours house because peeepal do not want to taste the same rasam, sambar and soda filled rice again… mom is now laughing….

Day 6 – Cook is asked to go by Mom.. she cant bear to see the family suffering. The cook cannot understand why his popularity has gone from Rock Star to Porn Star in 5 days. He leaves gladly… Mom is resigned to cook for the suffering lot.. neighbours and relatives offer supporting help.

Moms cooking is bestest…. no one complains

We want to Parteeeeey

12 Aug

Bombs go off.. we rant for a day… promise ourselves to be extra vigilant and life goes on.. but no tension.. Bangalore rebounds.

Bad Infrastructure.. grumble grumble grumble… but then life goes on.. what can we do?

Bars close early… WHAT????? WHAT THE HELL???? Lets protest… we need the right to party late into the night… whats the world coming to? Lets go protest…. Goddamn political leaders !!!

My personal opinion… places should be allowed to remain open late… but a Dharna for this??? Come on…. Get real.. Get a Life… Party on…

Priorities… Priorities…
In the meantime, political leaders say NO !!!! They dont want this to interefere with their partying 😉

They Say:

Even dancing in discotheques is heavily restricted, because the government fears that allowing dancing may lead to dance bars springing up.

Hot Topic – Pocket Money

6 Aug

So finally the demand/request has come. Nikhil today asked me for regular pocket money. I asked him how much and he said Rs. 100 per week month but he could need some extras…

“Some kids in my class get Rs. 1000 per week” he said… hoping that I would see how “lucky” I was.

How much pocket money should a 14 year old get? I am amazed that some parents actually give their kids a 1000 rupees a week.

So is there a number here? What is too little and what is too much?. We are due to discuss this topic today evening 🙂

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Not so favorite dishes

31 Jul

Certain foods I DO NOT LIKE.

Son has similar tastes and I am accused of influencing them. I think its a hereditary thing. However the missus thinks its not. Its just me influencing him.

I must say Nikhil and I have more foods in common than he does with his mom. Thats more because of the quality of food I eat.. Pizzas, Chaats, and other healthy stuff…

Heres some of the stuff that I dont care for. Apologies (and sympathies) to those who do.

1. Sakkare Pongal – Rice was not meant to make sweet dishes.Pleeeease

2. Shame Gadde (dont know the English name) – It looks like a potato when its cooked… until you eat it..gets all gooey in side

3. Raw Bananas – Except chips all else should be banned

4. Banana Flowers and Stem – No no no… who thought about this?

5. Broccolli, Sweet Potato – @#$%#$

Whats your least favorite dish?

Will They Wont They???

8 Jul

… the episodes are more “gripping” than a Hindi Soap. There are more characters here… the Karats, Yechuris, Rajas, Bardhans and several other comedians…

Theres Manmohan the Hero in Distress being bolstered by his Heroine Soniaji…. plus old villanous uncles like Mulayam/Amar Singh and Deve Gowda (with his 2.5 seats) now are coming back into the family and want to sing songs with Manny the Man.

In all this the hero is currently in Japan waiting to sing a song with Bush against the backdrop of Mount Fuji.

Meanwhile the former friends keep threatening… “We’ll withdraw today.. tomorrow”… “We’ll withdraw if Manny goes to the G8 Summit”… “We’ll withdraw if he wears a red underwear”… etc etc…

But till now.. countless politburo meetings later… they are still threatening…getting off the gravy train will not be easy. Where else can they have power without any responsibility…

Latest news is our own “Sin of the Soil” wants to tango…. way to go !!!!

Last One Pays the Bill

3 Jul

Few years ago (during the heady days before the dot com bubble), the company I worked for had its partners meeting in Hong Kong. This was an annual exercise mainly intended to give our folks in the USA a glimpse of Asia (in other words total time pass). It was usually sponsored in part by the local partner.. how we managed to get them to sponsor will be the subject of another post. These meets usually happened at the most expensive hotel that one could find. Usually these were attended by all our partners from across Asia and invitees from Europe. It was also an opportunity for us to “thank” our customers.

So anyhow a group of us (including the Sr. VP – AN) are sitting down and having dinner. Most of our Silicon Valley friends were the high maintainence types. Lots of food and more importantly red wine… bottles of it.. as times goes on more and more people join the table.. some invited… some uninvited. Suddenly the table grows to about 20 people.

Finally our sales person from Australia Pam joins the table with two of her Aussie counterparts. They had just returned from having dinner outside and were hailed by the group as they walked by. By now dinner is done and people are having after dinner liquer. One by one the people at the table start disappearing. Each one assuming that the other one is going to pay..finally the only people at the table were Pam and her small group and she got handed the bill… much to her surprise… and nearly faints after looking at the bill… about $4000 USD… anyway she signs it hoping that it will be paid with her expenses.

A week later we are having a conference call.. when AN clears her throat and says “Ahem..Ahem guys.. we need to really look at expenses.. Pam.. my dear.. I am looking at this item thats says ‘entertainment’ and its $4000. You really need to control costs. No way we can pay that”.. Pam’s trying to speak but keeps getting cut off… “No no Pam.. we cannot afford such entertainment… you need to really control it”… (most of us on the call know what that expense is…poor Pam)

Finally Pam sputters “But.. but…this was not my expense… this was YOUR dinner in Hong Kong.. I just happened to be the last person at the table”…


Finally AN breaks her silence.. “Hmm.. ahem… well ok.. didn’t realize that”…. More Silence “I’ll approve that right away… but guys we really need to watch our expenses…”


27 Jun

Sometime ago, Aditya had blogged about Vinay.. a friend of his who had AML ((Acute Myeloid Leukemia).

There was a ray of hope when he managed to find a donor. But that was not to be, as he succumbed to the disease on the 25th of June. Though I did not know him, I came to appreciate the grit shown by him and his ability to bring people together for a common cause – in this case, establishing a bone marrow registry for South Asians in the USA.

RIP Vinay… You are an inspiration.

Dateline Jakarta

23 Jun

Places bring back old memories some good some bad. Events that make you appreciate the things you have. I Walked into the Singapore Airlines lounge at Singapore last week and the couch in the corner took me back to a tumultous two days a decade ago. Before anyone gets any ideas… read on…
It was a long business trip way back in May 1998. My first stop was Singapore, followed by Hong Kong (heard the news there about the Pokhran blasts and the US embargo on India), and then Indonesia. In all this I was accompanied by a German Colleague Dr. CB. We were together in Singapore and HK and I left for Indonesia on an earlier flight. Those days CB was one of the few people who carried mobile phones with International roaming.. multiple ones at that. He was (and still is) a well known figure in the Mobile Industry and operators used to actually GIVE him phones.

So as I left he gives me a mobile and says to me “Keep this phone. It might be useful. I’ll take it back when I see you in Jakarta”. International roaming for my India mobile phone was still not active.

So anyhow, I get to Jakarta without any problem. Check into a very nice hotel (owned by one of Suharto’s sons).

Indonesia was in turmoil. Suharto was getting unpopular and there was a popular uprising against him. Daily processions were commonplace. The army was having a hard time controlling the crowds. Suharto was also out of the country at that time. The place was boiling and about to explode.

First day passes by without any problem. On day two, at around 11 AM, our local partner (and CEO of the company) SBK suddenly rushes into the meeting room. “Pack your bags. Theres trouble”. CB who was in another meeting is already in the car. The streets were eeriely quiet. I could see smoke on the horizon.

The protests against Suharto had turned to violence against the ethnic Chinese.They were being targeted and their houses burnt. Our partner SBK was of Chinese origin (7th Generation) and was in grave personal danger. Yet he took the trouble of taking responsibility for CB and me. SBK was an extremely successful and powerful businessman. It was people like him that were being lynched.

Going back to the hotel was impossible as there was trouble on the streets. SBK took us to his house. Inside his wife and children were all packed ready to leave their house at a moments notice. It was there that we spent several hours waiting for the violence to abate. All the while SBK’s house was being guarded by his men and he’d get reports from the police control room. We could also hear mobs in the distance. Smoke from burning buildings was getting closer.

Sometime around 9 PM SBK told us that his driver would take us back to the hotel. “Pack up and be ready to leave any time. I will get you to the airport. Thats the safest place. You people will HAVE to leave Indonesia. No sleep he told me. Be awake”. CB and I go back to the hotel and wait. On the way we see entire shopping malls charred. From our rooms, we could see buildings catching fire one by one. CB suggested that we “take” the Mini-bar with us so we emptied both rooms (would be a lifesaver later on) including the little booze bottles.

At around 3AM, SBK calls and says “Go down. The driver is waiting for you”. He disconnected the phone before I could ask him how he and his family were. The driver was waiting at the lobby. We checked out of the hotel… paid for the mini-bar as well. We then started going through the side streets of Jakarta trying to find a safe passage to the airport. By now burning buildings were a common sight as were armymen checking each and every vehicle. I dont know what strings SBK had pulled but our car was waved through every checkpoint and soon we were on the highway heading towards the airport. We had to  get there and then find a way out of the country.

When we got to the airport an hour later.. it was chaos… it was going to be a looooong day.

To be continued

Any Homework?

9 Jun

Sunday Evening

Me (To Nikhil): Any Homework?
N: No..
Me: Any Notes to be completed? Any sums to be done?… anything?
N: No. No. No
Me: Sure?
N: Dont worry dad.. I am all up to date.

Monday Morning

N (Whispers urgently): Dad.. come here please !!!
Me: What?
N: I need the prose version of this poem.. please help me
N: Shhhh.. don’t want mom to hear…
N: Please..please…please… jumping and turning like a dog following its tail..
Me: No Way !!! Go back to studying…
N: ok.. (but just in case leaves a paper and pencil in front of me).

I write it…the wife keeps saying hes getting spoilt because of me…

Is he? Please do tell.