gasp! I need some air, and was searching for it at - of all places- on google, semi-geek that I am, when I came across this website. Not quite what I was looking for, but refreshing nevertheless.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Cirque du Soleil, and some food

The weekend, so far, has been hectic. Kanishka, Snigdha and I went to watch Allegria by the Cirque du Soleil group yesterday. They came over to my place around 6, with a bottle of 12-year Macallan (which I am *waiting* to try out), and some excellent Black Forest cake. It was pouring out, and we made a wet getaway to the 6 train. Came out of 125th street to find ourselves in front of the first Pathmark I have seen in the City to date. Met up with Hojo and the X80 bus, which took us to Randall's Island. The Cirque tent was reminiscent of the old traveling circuses, and so were their retro dresses and make up.

The show - in brief - was captivating. Somehow, it made me feel that all I had learnt in Physics was up for dispute. Men are not supposed to be able to stand and skip on their hands as they can with their feet. Fire is supposed to burn, specially when licked with one's tongue. Feet can not land up in front of my face, coming over and around my shoulders. When you let go of a little swing and jump, you do not fall to get a grip on the same swing. It takes a lot of effort to balance on a 4" wide plank, and it's not possible to jump from one such plank to another perpendicular to it, and not break a few bones. In short, there's no point describing Allegria - you have to see it to believe it. And no, it's not like the Gemini Circus in India, or the Barnum Brothers in Madison Square Garden. It's different. Very different. If it was any cheaper, I would go for as many shows as I can. And - IMHO - don't try to save the $20 to get the cheaper $75 seats, you see the backs of most people. On a similar note, unless you are very rich, avoid the $220 "tapis rouge" seats - you can see just as well from the ones behind that section. But then maybe you want to pay $100 to get the heat from the flame thrower's act!

Return was quick, considering the large crowd in the middle of nowhere. Subway to Bleeker, followed by a short walk to our most frequented intersection, McDougal and Bleeker. Brazil Grill is closed and gone, replaced by Nikita with it's standard American fare - which did not quite appeal to us. Consensus was reached in favor of Panchito's - which serves one of the 6 best Margaritas in NYC. Does that mean they are the 6th? Anyway - food was awesome, and serving sizes were just right - at least for the Chimichanga, Tamale, and Fajitas. The margarita definitely lived up to it's reputation. The salsa dip looked homemade, fresh, and among the bests I have tasted. With a pitcher of the 'rita, one appetizer and an entree for each, it came to about $30 a head for the 4 of us. Definitely worth the price. Should have taken my camera along, and written it up on the other blog. Then again, may just do it anyway, and fill in the pictures some other time.

A quick getaway to the apartment, and a fast apartment-to-sleep time followed. It was supposed to last nice and long, but for the infernal racket created by some construction works - the city was being made a better place to live in, right this morning, right from under my window. Incredible. One wonders what these guys were doing Monday to Friday, when people are away at work. Then again, they have completely disappeared right now - I went over to check - maybe they want to make sure I wake up early again tomorrow. Maybe they are hired by the church to get people up for the 9am service. But then I am not even Christian!

I digress. I was not talking about religion. I was talking mostly about circuses and food. Now that we were all up and awake, albeit sleepy, we decided to head to Chinatown and have some dim sums for brunch. Sweet and Tart to the rescue - at 20 Mott Street, right opposite the Chinese church. We had about 10 dishes, with a total of $30 for the 3 of us, along with some excellent fresh-made apple-carrot-celery-ginger juice. Then again, no point in writing about it here in detail, when I have the other blog dedicated to such purposes.

Snigdha had invited some people over to her place for dinner, and one of the major pre-requisites for the day was the possession of eggplant. Chinatown green grocers only sell the Chinese variety, which are not good for baigan bharta. So now you know. Took a cab towards the Whole Foods on 7th and 27th - but the cabbie somehow managed to get into the Holland Tunnel entrance. We made a high speed swerve mere feet from the tunnel itself (if you haven't taken the tunnel at rush hour, you have no idea what I am talking about), and managed to get back to 8th Avenue, whereupon we started discussing what were the curses that were shouted upon us back at the tunnel entrance.

Whole Foods happened. NJ Transit also happened, for Kanishka and Snigdha, and some walking happened for me, with some smoking to keep the pollution level high enough (in the City, and in my lungs). So far, sooooooo good.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Happy Birthday to Me!

Can't believe it - I have turned 28. The chances of becoming a millionaire by 30 are just about as faint as being struck and terminated by lightning. Unless of course I go and stand on top of the Half Dome or Mount Whitney, in which case lightning get way far ahead in the probability curve. How did I spend the day? Come to think of it - it was a very ordinary day. Shows that I'm growing old, I guess. Had a slice of cake in the office fridge- by the time I remembered, someone had taken good care if it. Of course, there were all the wonderful phone calls from all my friends wishing me well - that's the fun part. Those that forgot to wish me, I called as a reminder. Happens. But I don't get to receive the wishes for one full year, so might as well make the best of the opportunity.

Morgan Stanley decided not to let my hopes soar for the coming year - by starting my birthday with a GPL. They finally made up their mind that I was not good enough. Pity - I had really liked this job profile and the group. Nicky and Dmitry were positively happy with me. Well, happens, too!

Spent most of the day installing all the cool stuff - mostly illegal by company policy - on my new desktop. It's sad how anticipation lasts forever, and boredom takes only a day to creep in. Takes the charm away from taking possession of things. Like the Mustang rental killed the charm I had over the years of a Mustang convertible. Plastic parts, for heavens sake! And that Ambassador look and feel. I digress. But then it's my birthday, I can talk about whatever, or nothing at all.

Orkut is getting addictive. I spent some time over the last few days trying to find long lost friends. Looks like it has not picked up pace in the general community yet - still confined, for most parts, to the university community. But then with the google stamp, I don't see how it can go wrong.

Used a nifty little vacuum - the Bissel Catch-All - to clean my floors, in preparation for my friends coming over tomorrow. Really nice - all $15 worth of it. It's really a powered sweeper, and the vacuum just removes the dust swept up. Definitely worth it, at the price of a Swiffer. That's when I had the idea - why don't they recycle the air? Instead of rejecting the output air, if we recycle it through the dust path, then can't we force the dust with a push as well as a pull, and suck things in faster? Then again, I'd rather come up with something that removes the dust issue completely. Dust should be directed to specific areas of the house, like the trash can, and not allowed to roam around with their friends and create little balls everywhere.

See - even this blog is getting boring. Clear signs that age is taking it's toll. Think it's time to put some sausages on the stove and sit down with a movie. Have been watching foreign movies for such a long time, feels like I have forgotten how to make sense of a movie without the subtitles.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Whoever thought you could publish by email!

Wow - this is really cool. All I need to do is send in an email, and automatically publishes by blog, in my own web space! Whoever thought that would be possible! Well, I'm sure at least one person did, otherwise we would not have this in the first place.

Now what I need is a spell checker and a sentence capitalizer. Or better yet - since all I am really doing is throw ideas into the air - blog publishing through the telephone.

Spoke to dad in Beijing. Apparently someone convinced him that he was being served snake eggs, since chicken eggs are not allowed in China because of some bird flu issues. My Chinese colleagues think otherwise, and I let him know of that.

The day at work was good. 2 new people joined today, making my position relatively more senior than ever before. Heck, it's already been nearly 4 years since I joined this company - maybe it's time I moved.

FYI - this weekend was awesome. My friends and I went over to sunny California, to hike up Mount Whitney, the highest point in the lower 48 states of the US. What's more surprising is, we actually did it. 'Hiked' is not really the right word - it's more like we 'dragged' our collective asses up and down the mountain. We took about 20 hours from start to finish, and that's not really what 'hikers' do. Then again, it's reaching the technical limits of extreme day hiking - 4 more hours, and we are out
of scope. For the trip report, look elsewhere.

Which brings me back to what I did at work - downloaded the snaps from my digital camera to the PC at work. Then downloaded Adobe Photoshop Album - Starter Edition, and got to work with the snaps. Hopefully, I'll have the trip report written up and published before my memory cells give way.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

of marriages and Kolkata

A brief summary of marriage halls and stuff in Kolkata

I am trying to schedule a marriage in Kolkata/ Calcutta in early January next year (2005), and am going through a lot of research and feedback from folks back home - about the various marriage halls available, their pro's and con's, what's available and what not. So I thought, why not put it up here, on my own blog, for easier access for myself (I tend to lose the post-its on which the data is right now) - and for a good starting point for others.

Reading keys:
This is a comparison statistic, such as size, or cost.
Positive feature
Negative feature

Fort William (our choice!)

Location: dead at city center (I think). Can't miss it.
Rs 1 lakh with decorations.
Much, much less for immediate relations of defense personnel.
Defense personnel only - for reservations.
Small marriage room - 25' square approx
Large balcony/ pavilion
Apparently, has the best decorator in Calcutta
Abundant car parking area
Huge, impressive, military maintained quality
Food is considered not worth the high price (Rs 250 per head) by some
Access driveway from the main road is about 1km, dark and scary at night.

Olpadwalla Hall

Rs. 1 lakh with decorations; Rs. 65,000 non-refundable
Close to Birla Planetarium
1 sufficiently large hall, rectangular
Stage on one short side of the hall
Religious rituals allowed
Large balcony on the other short side
Nice glass partition between balcony (rituals) and main hall (reception)
Parking space for 2 cars only
Visitor parking on Chowringhee road, private paid parking
Enclosed space; no greenery. Confined to one central hall.

CSIR Guest House

Available to Directors of CSIR organizations
near Rabindra Sarovar / Anderson Club
1 lawn, approx. 200' x 100'
1 triangular lawn, small, separated from the large lawn by buildings
Adjacent to CSIR Guest House
Adjacent to the lake. Nice greenery. Open space.
Abundant car parking space
"Open Source" - comes with nothing but a huge open area
You have to handle all the paraphernalia - caterers, decorators, etc.

Singhi Park

Located at Gariahat crossing
approx. Rs 1 lakh
2 halls in series - approx 1500 and 2000 sq Ft areas
Approx. dimensions: 60' x 30', 40' x 30'
Fast, easy access location
Huge balcony all along the long edge of the rectangle - 100' x 30'
Balcony has partial awning - approx 15'
About 4 cars allowed inside
Very difficult to find visitor parking

Tolly Club

Members only - for reservation purposes
Awesome location. Greenery and open space.
No religious rituals allowed

Apeejay House

Park Street, behind Park Hotel
1 large hall, approx 75' x 75'
Approx. 1 lakh
Good car parking facilities - at Park Hotel basement car park
Fabulous location - at Park Street
Absolutely no greenery or open space - but that's the Downtown of Calcutta.

*Update: December 26, 2007*

Soma and I got married at Fort William, on November 30, 2004 - and loved the experience. We were a little too tired to enjoy it all, but all our invitees who attended keep mentioning how great the evening was, and how wonderful the venue was. Extras we opted for included a 'phoochkawalla' - pani puri vendor - and the marching band from Fort William. Unfortunately, everyone else heard the band and ate all the phoochkas before the two of us could make it to the lawn.

For photos from our wedding - including a few that show the venue - click here:


I am no longer in the market for wedding halls in Calcutta - but a number of people seem to have used this information here as a starting point. If you are doing some more research, and can send your data my way, I can keep this entry updated with recent costs, more halls, new modifications that change pros/cons, etc. If possible, please also include some contact information for the venue(s) that you are sending in - reservations, inquiry, etc.

Thanks in advance!

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Have you met Mr Dingbat Foo?

Hello. I'm bored out of my wits. Here at work close to 12 hours today, doing practically nothing, up until it was time to go home. Then my managers thought it was the right time to ask me to check some code and make sure the deployment was all right. Just my 2 cents worth to make sure our traders can take their million dollar salaries to their billion dollar homes.

On the positive side, came across a software - "Active Ports" - that does a nice little thing. It gives me a list of all the ports on Windows that are currently being used, and give details on who is using them. It leaves a glowing feel of satisfaction when you end up killing all the processes that were taking too much of your processor, or network bandwidth, and doing nothing of any use, or misuse, to anyone.

Still preparing for the hike to Mt Whitney. Like the last page of "Destination Moon" - what will become of us?? That reminds me - I still remember the lines from the Unicorn - "It is from light that light will dawn, and there shines forth the eagle's cross". Or do I? Don't really know if I messed that up again. Haven't been to the gym this week - but then, what's the point, am going to get screwed anyway. Spent a lot of the morning thinking about boots - should I take the hiking sneakers? Or the ankle boots? Or the regular waterproof boots that I wear to work? I don't really wear boots to work - I hide them under my desk, and walk in with sneakers, until my boss calls for me, or something else comes up where someone might check my shoes.

Have you tried searching for "google" on, and hitting "I'm feeling lucky"? Well, when you are bored, you run out of ideas. No surprises here - you come back to the same page, but with the search string cleared out. A very nerdy way of reset-ing the form, me thinks.

Well then. Bringing my GUI up for the millionth time today. Don't think it works. Maybe there are some bugs. Big ones. That render several hundred thousand lines of code to sweet junk.

On an exciting note, bought myself a pair of waterproof breathable ultralight gloves, and a ski cap, to take care of my sorry head and hands in the whitney trip. Maybe they'll keep me warm. Maybe I'll find them too heavy and not be able to finish the hike - all because of a pair of ultralight gloves.

I'm off.

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Movie review: Fight Club

Some days start normal, and end up going crazy. Today was not so - till I got done with work, then with the gym, and walked into my apartment to find the movie Fight Club waiting for me.

I knew nothing about this movie, except that it was recommended to me by Netflix, based on my ratings. So here I am, with some egg-milk-flour crepes for dinner, sitting with this movie on my usual evening show. I have an interview scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, so I thought I'll watch a bit, and push off to bed.

Then the movie starts. I'm surprised to see Ed Norton. He's one of my favorites. Minutes go by, and I am surprised again to see Brad Pitt, another favorite of mine. Then I read the summary of the movie on the Netflix cover, and continue. Things get even more interesting in the movie, and I switch to noise sealing headphones in order to get the best that I can out of my Mac.

This movie is really, really awesome. It's made in a way to make your blood boil, and concentrate most of it in your head, and give you more energy than a crate full of Red Bulls and Bottled Rockets and whatnots. On a scale of 1 to 5, I rate this movie 15, maybe 20. Out of this world. Life as I can't dream of. It's got everything that I thought would make up my wildest dreams. I can't get into more specifics without killing the movie for you in case you have not seen it, so I won't. Just that this movie is pure adrenaline. Energy in matter, sown together with the power of life. F'in A! Language drops to cliches in order to describe it, so it's best to remain silent. Not in prayer, though. Just silent. And soak some more in the aftermath of the movie.

And go to bed. Got to wake up early tomorrow.