Saturday, January 31, 2009

Three Buses and Three Flights final

Okay, I want this part to come to an end already. The flight was a really short one. And there was no food service. There was just a drinks service. There were no television screens. I couldn't wait to get out of it when I reached Chicago.

Chicago was my first footstep in USA. Immediately, I started noticing how people were talking diffrently. I was getting really hungry by now. Walked around the terminal and saw the food court. A nice Jazz themed place. Jazz and Chicago have a history. You can refer to wikipedia for it.
Another thing Chicago is famous for, is their pizzas. I decided to have a pizza from "Reggio's". First time I was spending money in US dollars, in America. Cost me $9.57 with the drink and now I had $10 less to spend on my trip to SF. I knew I wouldn't be able to ake the most of my stay there without more money. But I could always borrow some from Aayush.

After eating, I went around the terminal, taking photos. That you can see in my flickr gallery. Next flight was to Las vegas, Nevada. The city of lights, casinos, Gambling and money. I SO totally wanted to go out to the 'strip' and check things out first hand. I did have a whole night to spend there as the next flight was in the morning. But I talked to Manish bhaiya and he suggested me not to go out there. I thought that was a good decision as I didn't have too much money on me anyways. So I just wandered around the airport like a ghost.

I barely caught a few hours of sleep and was on my way to SFO. Another really short flight. San Francisco airport is connected very well to the rest of the city. I had to take an air train from the terminal to where the BART station is. And from the BART station to downtown where Aayush was supposed to pick me up.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Three buses and three flights part 2

I couldn't figure out which bus I needed to take for the airport. So I thought I'd give a call to Doni. He generally knows about such stuff. Last time I was here, on Boxing day, he was the one who had figured out the whole thing. (We didn't end up taking the GO bus that day.) But just as I dialed his number, I asked someone which bus I needed to take. He was taking the same bus, and he said, 'Just run with me.' And I was on the phone, teling Doni "The bus is just about to leave." while running as fast as I could with the suitcase in my hand and backpack on my back. Doni replies back, "what are you doing talking then? Run!"

Once I was finally in the bus, I hung up. The ride was pretty short and I got to the airport earlier than I expected. I picked up my ticket from a kiosk. It was really nifty. I wish I could have taken a video of it. I just scan my passport in it, (since I was asked to submit my passport number when I booked my ticket) and the machine asked a series of questions, and printed my ticket. I just took that to the attendant for checking in my bag and getting my boarding pass. "15 dollars for checking in a bag." I was like, WTF! I hardly have any cash, I maxed out my credit card when I booked the ticket, And they didn't take any debit card. So I had to use up all my canadian money. And I still had to get some American money. So I went to a currency exchange place and got a bare minimum of 50 USD.

All this while, I was tweeting out. I tweeted what if I said "I have a bomb" on twitter right now? would someone reading that call up the airport security and get me arrested? Hah.. that didn't happen. What did happen, was that I got selected for 'Random extra screening' Now anyone who's ever seen enough movies involving airport security checks, knows this is the most dreaded thing ever! Not only for the people who are actually hiding something but also for the innocent people. The security guy's name was Basim. He took my boarding pass with him. After going through the metal detector, He called me aside and put on his gloves. He asked if I had any sore or sensitive areas on my body. I shrugged.

I was really scared for one thing. I didn't want to be cavity checked. That would have been the most embarassing and painful thing ever! But it didn't go there. He just patted my arms and body to check for any items I might be hiding in my clothing. They then went through my bag. I had to tell him to be careful when removing the towel from my bag because it had my other lens wrapped in it. Next was my camera bag. they rubbed a piece of cloth on the camera and then scanned it in a machine for chemicals.

As expected, nothing showed up, and I was free to go. This was going to be the 6th plane I step into. I think I really want to keep a count. And in the next few days, the count is going to go up really high, really fast. I will land in Chicago and take another plane to San Francisco.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Three buses and three flights

Okay, I am going to cover a lot of ground in this post so it's bound to get super long. The oakville 24 bus got to south common mall just intime for me to catch the mississiga transit bus to square one. On the bus, I was sitting next to a woman who worked in a church. She was reading a document about the...umm.. deacon? And deaconesses? I am not sure of the term. But the point is that she saw me reading and started a conversation.
"you go to a church?"
"I am not a Christian," I said politely, "but I've been to churches with my friends on various occasions."
"what church do you go to?"
"I don't know.. My friend in Mumbai took me to a church for christmas. I had a church in our school premises where I've been on multiple occasions."
"And it doesn't matter what church you go to, its the same feeling, it's the same god." okay, maybe not exactly as quoted but I said something to that effect to prevent her from starting about catholic or protestant churches.. Because I am not very clear on how they are different.
"yes," she agreed, "but once you believe in Jesus, you shouldn't stop going."
(uh I don't really have all that time to go to churches. Last time I even went to a temple was.. Umm I drawing a blank here.)
But she gave me the card of her church, gave me her name and number and the head guy's number. She said "you should come. We have gym, basketball.. "
I just said ya, ya, for despite what I do or don't believe in, what I will or won't do, she seemed like a nice lady. I gave her a hug and ran to the side of the road where GO buses depart from.

-- Post From My iPhone

Sunday, January 25, 2009

My adventure has begun

Upon realizing that I'm going to have to leave much earlier than I expected, I packed all my stuff, last minute as always, and ran out of the house. I gave donnie a call to make sure I wasn't missing anything that I might need. And sure enough, while talking to him, I remembered that I forgot to keep the letter that I got from Sheridan college.

I was talking to andrew at the international center the other day and mentioned to him that I will be going over to USA. He said that I should take a letter from the college saying that I am a student and my classes will end in April just so they know I'll be coming back.
And from the visa interview, I learned to always expect the unexpected.

I started searching for that and quickly folded it and put it in my wallet when I found it. I was almost out the door when donnie called me back. He said I should also know the ticket number of my return ticket just in case. Luckily, I have all that information on my iPod touch. And so I waited at the bus stop outside my apartment; not giving any thought to how cold it was. Soon I would be away from this all.

-- Post From My iPhone

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

US visa interview Fiasco Part 1.

As proved in the previous post, that the 'P' Word will surely get me a blog comment, Let's get this ritual out of the way by saying Pranav can go fuck himself. :P I am not even worried about having to see his ugly little mug come summer because I got a US visa and I will be vacationing in America baby! (Oh, BTW, it was Obama's first day today. congrats and good luck to him.

So, this whole Visa Interview fiasco, let's go back when it all started. October this year. Well, let's call it part two of the US visa fiasco. Because I had given it a thought and tried getting an appointment when I was here in Canada before April 08. But this time, there was a little more motivation. Including, but not limited to my depression, need to get away, see something new, etc. Aayush Arya was also going to be in San Francisco in January 09 so I could get to meet him while experiencing sights and sounds of... a warmer place. After failing to get an appointment on my own, naniji offered some help, and most importantly, some much needed hope.

My mamaji, who's name I realized I shouldn't publish in something like this blog. He already has a wikipedia page and everything. The story is, secretary of a congressman tried contacting the US consulate in canada to try and book an appointment for me, but as it turns out, they wouldn't give someone an appointment on someone else's behalf. So a little disappointed, I tried again, and wht do you know! I did get an appointment. But that was on January 20th 2009. My grand plan was to get a visa by december so I could go there during my christmas holidays. Well, those I spent here, playing squash and developing a massive right arm. (no joke, my right forearm is visibly bigger than my left and also stronger)

Come January, I still have hopes of getting my visa and going to visit Aayush in SF before he leaves for no mans land again. I can afford to do that because I am absolutely, positively NOT interested in working on a portfolio. And no, Dipika didi, those messages you sent me don't help! So I go about my life, casually preparing a document checklist on Evernote (by the way, if you haven't checked out this awesome service, you should). I went to the college the other day, printed off the forms, (BUT STUPID FORGOT THE APPOINTMENT LETTER!) Emailed dad to send me some financial documents and I was done for the day.

Then, one day before the visa interview, I get those documents from dad, I print them out, which is, in itself, an event. I'll just say, you had to be there to see me sweating like I was on fire. I was also supposed to get a letter from naniji saying that they have offered to cover my expenses while I am there. But I didn't get it. So in the night, I called up naniji, and she said she'd email me a letter tomorrow. I said okay, if I feel that's important, and if I have the time, I'll print it off tomorrow.

I had a class at 8 on tuesday which I had planned to skip because I wanted to leave early for toronto. But mom calls me up EARLY in the morning and I am all sleepy and grouchy so I hang up and lying on my bed in disgust, I fall asleep again. I wake up a little too late according to the plan. Not just that, I realize as I'm going through my checklist that I hadn't printed out my appointment letter. Fuck! So instead of going to the GO station, I must head to sheridan and print it out. So I run to the Learning commons, looking like I've just been raped in the butt. After successfully printing off my appointment letter, and the DS 158 form, (just in case) and the letter from naniji, I put them together, and headed to the college bus stop.

I took the #20 bus going to the GO station and got there about 45 minutes before the next train to Toronto. I hadn't eaten anything since morning. But right then, I couldn't think of eating anything. I paced back and forth on the platform, hoping that by some miracle the train would come early than the regular 11:30 time. Me and my wretched luck! Train arrived at the designated time. Which is bad if you consider that it takes 45 minutes to get to TO and I had to get from the Union station to 360 University Avenue. Also on the books was a quick trip to staples, which according to Natansh 'is right in front of the consulate' to buy a express mail envelope.

On the opposite side of the street from the Consulate, there were some brown people holding canadian and American flags. I read "tamil-Canadian community congratulates Obama.." as I awalked back and forth in front of them, trying to figure out where the entrance to the consulate was. Some photographers and Videographers were there. And after a while the bulb clicked. The building across the street was the consulate and not the building on the side of the road they were standing. And I walked right up to the front entrance where a security guard told me I need to use the back entrance for the visa apointment etc.

And sure enough, there were people lined up out in the cold. As I approached, a security guard told me I will have to wait in the line. I told him I have a 1 pm appointment. He said "all that means is that you have an afternoon appointment. You still need to get here, line up and you will get in eventually." This is a fucked up system! It's below fucking zero today, and they just want us to freeze to death outside. Also, they wanted us to leave our electronic devices outside. And I decided to trust another lady who came there with her friend with my nokia E60 and ipod touch. (I also wrote down her name and phone number.) We decided to meet at a nearby Tim Hortons after we're done.

After the routine security check, before we were led into the waiting room, a lady was going through everyone's documents and taking them with the self-addressed envelop inside. two people were sent back for having filled out the form by hand instead of typing it online on the computer. First queue in the waiting room was just to get people to sign some part of the form and for the officials to verify that the person on the photo was indeed us. etc. We could then take a seat and wait for our name to be called out. I assume this was done so that they could queue up people for the interview, according to the order in which they came in.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Blogpress- another iPod touch app

You guys are probably wondering why I am so obsessed with trying out new blogging applications for my iPod touch. Well, I wrote a blog post last night on the iPod touch using the shitty application LifeCast. And it didn't publish that and I lost everything.

That didn't happen in the good old days of blogging from my nokia E60.

-- Post From My iPhone

Testing out BlogWriter lite

If this aplication works better than the stupid lifeCast, I think I am in good hands. What I don't think I can do in the lite version tho is post pictures from my iPod touch. If only the full app was on discount for like $.99 I would have bought it.

One thing I like is that I can definitely see more paragraphs/lines of text on here than the other application. But I believe they could have increased the real estate more by removing the subject line once you start typing the bbody.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday, 5 pm we started playing squash

Just before I left my place, I had signed up for the Sheridan college squash ladder/league. I thought I was ready to take part in a tournament. And my suspicion was proved right when I won 8 games against three opponents today. Well, Bhupi had never really played squash so I don't feel too proud for having defeated him. Although watching him play against Sachin, I thought he would be a force to be reckoned with. So winning all the games I played was a huge confidence booster. But it wasn't a lot of fun.

Before I decided to shut down this blog, I was going to post a blog entry titled "It's more fun when Doni wins." Actually it's more fun when I loose. Lets look at what goes on in the court: As I start loosing, Doni or Sachin will start teasing me. I retaliate and give them the finger, yell or tell them to shut the fuck up. Which they all know to take lightly. As I miss a shot or goof up, I yell, exclaim! Throw the racket around, kick the air, punch an invisible Pranav(it's about time I brought him up!)

When I'm winning and the opponent is miserably loosing, the situation is much more intense. I am very calm and composed. I have to be a modest winner. I give the opponent calls for a 'let' etc. I tried trash talk, but it's just not my thing. All I would say is "that was a good rally" for a rally that lasted really long or where some interesting shots were made. So sometimes I switch to playing with my left hand when I am winning.

I played with my left hand and my forearm is still sore. Even the other day in the gym, I realized that I don't have as much strength in my left arm as my right arm. My right forearm is visibly bigger than my left. I find that hilarious. Reminds me of the episode of the simpsons where homer is working out only one of his arms and it gets super huge and powerful.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Ethical issues behind casting kids from the slum

A hollywood movie gaining widespread acclaim world over, has two kids in the (sort of) lead role who are from below poverty line background. The child actor Azharuddin Mohammed Ismail who plays smallest Salim in the movie Slumdog Millionaire and the girl Rabina (or Rubiana Ali) who plays youngest Latika are from the slums of Mumbai.

In an interview on BBC, Danny Boyle was asked the question that I had on my mind when I first heard about the kids. "Were there ethical issues with casting kids from such poor background and putting them in a hollywood movie and earning so much money at such a young age?"

Well, Danny Boyle (or someone else on their team) figured out a very unique and good way to help guide these kid's life on he right track. They've put the kids into a school and there's a trust fund set up that will activate when they finish their high school at age 16. I sure hope they stay in there and get the education and the money they deserve.

Go read this article and tell me it doesn't bring tears to your eyes.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Goobimama's soggy blog

Oh well, I was just reading this blog post by Milind, a friend from Goa and laughed out loud. Sachin was sitting next to me, and asked why I was laughing.

"There's this crazy friend who's been writing on his blog about a friend of his and the affair his girlfriend has been having with someone. And now, he's actually gone ahead and posted a interview with those people! hah!" And we both laughed together this time. I just felt it's so Ironic. First he tells this tale, painting an image of all the characters, and then goes and interviews the real people, who have apparently been reading all that. Add to that, his personified pet cat. He even has a twitter account for his cat!

I realized that if this little act of 'goofiness' made me laugh, maybe my eccentricity would someday make someone go, oh god he's so pathetic ROFLMAO! (Thanks Rajat for introducing me to the word 'eccentric' not the geometry term, but meaning '(Person or behaviour) unconventional and slightly strange')

Thus, my blog lives on. Still, I don't know if I would want to talk about some of the more heartfelt bullshit. I think I'll just keep it to angry rants and imposing my view of the world upon thee.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Shutting down this blog.

Hello everyone who bothered to show up here before I shut it down. This is a notice to let you guys know that since I don't feel there's a very good reason to continue writing this 'diary' that everyone has access to and can read without me knowing. A lot of things that are on my mind right now, I need to get out, but I don't think making them public is the best move.

I just don't see who's to gain anything out of wasting their time reading what I have to write here. So go, get a life of your own. (I sound like such a hypocrite saying this) But seriously, do you have any idea how many brain cells you killed just reading these two paragraphs?

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Musical Alphabet

Well, my first post in the new year. I'm definitely not going to let this be another post about me whining about how depressed I am. This post has a pretty strong point to make.

It all started when I was talking with Abhishek Pohankar on google talk after my squash game yesterday. He has recently started playing Sitar. Although not Ravi shankar or Anoushka Shankar level, I still wanted to hear him play. (Because I'm a good friend and because I admire the things other people do which I can't) But I was in the college and didn't have skype. So we were talking about how it is important for someone learning a musical instrument to know to read music notations.

Now I am a big advocate of 'if you want to do something, do it right, do it from the basics, don't leave anything out.' But Abhishek believes one doesn't need to be able to read music notations to play an instrument. His ideology is, if he keeps messing around with the instrument enough, he will be able to successfully imitate a sound, chord, or music. Okay, that's a start.. but where are you gonna get with that?

The way to explain it would be to think about learning a language.. let's say French. Unless one knows the alphabet, he cannot spell words or write sentences. Neither can he read anything written in French. Imagine someone who doesn't know the French alphabet, and has only been imitating words he has heard spoken by other people. The words are like little sounds a musical instrument makes.. and the sentences, a series of these sounds put together in a way so as to sound pleasant/meaningful.

Unless someone has been properly taught the language, his pronunciation could be a little off. The way he's putting a sentence together, might not make perfect grammatical sense. Sure he could repeat something he has heard spoken by someone else, but he can't express his own feelings. When others are confused about what he actually said, he can't even write it down for anyone to read and understand what he's trying to speak. That is not a very pleasant situation to be in.

Hence, I rest my case. If I were to start learning a musical instrument, EVER, I would want to start with the basics. Like I want to do with everything. There! First sensible, post of 2009. completed 5 days after it actually took place. phew!