Monday, November 26, 2007

Vegetable Biryani - Oh the possibilities

The wonderful thing about this dish to me is that I can make it with whatever vegetables I have on hand.
Now, there is probably some official way to make it, but, I will tell you about my way..

Now, I often don't keep a lot of vegetables in the house. I don't end up cooking a lot and things tend to go bad, even if they are in the fridge ;-).. So, on a cold saturday afternoon, (the temperature was around 35 F), as I was looking for inspiration for lunch, I happened to come across some green and red bell peppers that were about to start growing furry things on them.. So, I decided to use them in my Veg Biryani.. As luck would have it, I also had a yellow onion and some green spring onions and carrots. I unfortunately didn't have any peas, potatoes, green chillies or cilantro, but, that didn't stop me. Here's the "Recipe" I used :

Ingredients:

1/2 medium yellow onion chopped
2 springs of green onion chopped
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
1/2 green bell pepper chopped
1/2 carrot chopped
1/2 cup rice
2 tsp oil
1 tsp butter
1 tsp biryani masala
1/4 tsp cummin seeds
1/4 tsp Asafoetida (Hing)
1/2 tsp grated ginger
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups of water
2 sprigs cilntro (for garnish)

1. Heat up the butter in the pot that you are going to use to make the rice.
2. When the butter starts to melt, add the cummin seeds
3. Wait for the cummin seeds to sputter slightly

4. Then add rice. Sauteé the rice for couple seconds till it turns translucent
5. Add water
6. Let it cook for about 15 - 20 minutes. I like to have the rice left "Al Dente" - slightly undercooked as it will cook when mixed with the veggies
7. In another pan, heat up the oil
8. Add Hing when the oil is sufficiently hot. The Hing should sizzle a little when added
9. Add the two types of onions and sauteé them for couple minutes

10. Add the peppers and carrorts and let them cook for a while.
11. Once the veggies are sligtly tender, add the biryani masala, ginger and salt to it and mix well and let the flavors marry.
12. Let this cook on medium heat for a few minutes (Approx. 5 minutes). Stir every mintue or so, to make sure that nothing stick to the bottom of the pan.
13. Once the veggies are tender, add the cooked rice to it and mix well.
14. Let this cook for another couple minutes or so.
15. At this point the biryani is cooked are ready to be served.
16. Garnish it with Cilantro (which I didn't have and wished that I did!)

I ate this with "chundo", a sweet gujarati mango pickle. But, I would have ideally liked to eat it with some form of raita. All in all, it came out pretty good. Now, if you didn't have these veggies, you could add anything you have at home. You can also add chicken to make it chicken biryani!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Boston Red Sox - 2007 World Series Champs!!!!!





OMG!! OMG!! OMG!!! They are the world series champs again.. And what an awesome game it was.. Its amazing that all 4 starting pitchers got the win in their games!


OK.. there is sooooooooo much to write, and I'm way too excited right now.. I think I'll write some more later in the week..

Can't wait to go to the parade.. Hope its on the weekend.......

Sunday, September 23, 2007

BBNFest Schedule

When - Thursday, Sept. 27th 2007
Where - BBN Cafeteria
Time - 5:00 pm


Monday, September 10, 2007

What has been going on in my world...

1. Too much work
2. Too many telecons
3. Talent Show practice
4. Roommates moving in
5. Thinking about a new car

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Batata Poha - An Easy Emergency Snack

This past saturday, Shivani, Dhrumil and little Viraj came over to my place. Initially I was thinking, that we would go out shopping for stuff for them and then just eat out. So, I hadn't planned on making anything at home. When I said this to my mom, she suggested that I make some Batata Poha just as a snack, so that there would be somethng for them to eat. At first, it seemed like too much work, so, in my mind, I tried to resist it. But, soon I realized that it would look quite bad on my part if I didn't feed them. I quickly went through my pantry and discovered to my relief that I had "Thick Poha", the kind required to make this dish. I however didn't have any potatoes or cilantro. That meant a quick trip to the neighborhood store, Evergood Grocery Store . After the shopping trip, I got home, called my mom and got the recipe for the dish. While my mom's recipe didn't include onions, I thought it would be a nice addition. And it actually turned out to be pretty nice. So, here is the recipe..


Ingredients:
1 medium red onion - chopped
1 medium potato - cubed
1 cup Thick Poha
Cilantro - chopped
2 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Oil
1/4 tsp Turmeric
Lemon juice
1 tsp Ginger Chilli paste
Sugar (optional)


1. Heat the Oil in a deep pan on high heat
2. Reduce the heat to medium Suteé the choppped onion in the oil till translucent
3. Add the cubed potatoes to the pan and mix well
4. Add turmeric, 1/2 of salt, 1/2 of ginger chilli paste to this and mix well.
5. Cook this potato mixture covered on medium heat till the potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes)
6. While the potatoes are cooking, rinse the Poha couple times under running water in a colander. While you are rinsing the Poha, it will absorb some water and plump up. Let it sit for couple minutes to let the excess water drain out.
7. Fluff the poha with a fork and add the remaining salt, ginger chilli paste and lemon juice and sugar to it.
8. Mix this well and let it hang out in the colander.
9. Once the potatoes are cooked, add the poha to it and mix
10. Cook it for couple more minutes to let all the flavors mix with each other
11. Garnish this with cilantro and serve hot.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Basbousa

Last saturday, I had this craving for dessert and I wasn't sure what I wanted.. I knew that I didn't want ice cream. First we decided to go to L.A.Burdicks, but, it was closed. So, we ended up going to Algiers Cafe in Harvard Square. There I had this wonderful sweet semolina cake called Basbousa.. Oh it was just heavenly, with the honey and syrup. Very very sweet, but, amazing. I think I have found my new sweet cravings place in the square. Prithwish and Will had coffee and I think they both liked it..

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

AL wins the MLB All Star Game

After the nerve racking 9th inning the American League won the 2007 MLB All Star Game yesterday (5-4). This is the 10th year in row that AL has won the game. This is definitely good news for the RedSox if they do make it to the world series, cos they get the homefield advantage.

And Ichiro with his inside the park home run rightfully deserved the MVP award. This was the first All Star Game with an inside the park home run.

Six Red Sox All-Stars -- David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Mike Lowell, Josh Beckett, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon -- helped the American League defeat the National League, 5-4, Tuesday in San Francisco.
(Getty Images Photo)


Boston Red Sox had 6 players this year (David Ortiz - 1B, Manny Ramirez - LF, Mike Lowell - 3B, Josh Beckett - Pitcher, Jonathan Papelbon - Pitcher, Hideki Okajima - Pitcher). Everyone except Okajima got a chance to play.

Key Moments for me in the game..

1. Manny ofcourse had a moment of "Manny being Manny", when started fanning Ichiro who was trying to catch his breath after his homerum.

2. Out 9 starters in the AL team, 6 were of the Latin Origin (Yeah, I'm not going to get int whether they were Hispanic or Latin Americans or Latinos), 1 (Derek Jeter) was half African American, 1 (Ichiro Suzuki) was Asian, and 1 was what I call "White Boy". So, who is the minority here? I'm not trying to start up a debate or anything. This is just sports and its just an observation from my end..

3. David Ortiz getting to first because of the error

4. Beckett and 2 scoreless innings and then being the winning pitcher due to Ichiro's home run.

5. The shot of all the players leaning against the fence (is that the right term?) in the dugout watching the game. It makes them look like kids having fun.

Ramirez looks over the shoulders of Michael Young of the Texas Rangers, and Torii Hunter of the Minnesota Twins, during Tuesday's All-Star game.
(AP Photo)

6. The fly ball out which ended the game.

7. Seeing people in canoes and kayaks outside the stadium waiting for a ball to fly out the stadium

And now, its back to the regular season.. Here is to hoping and praying that the RedSox keep winning.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Sev Batata Puri (SBP) - A reason to go to the gym

There are some foods, whose mere thought makes my mouth water. Sev Batata Puri (SBP)
is one of those things. Even now, as, I write this blog, I'm thinking of the awesome taste of this dish. Yesterday evening as I was thinking about what to have for dinner, I remembered that a couple weeks ago, I had bought some puris from New Apna Bazar, an indian store in Waltham,MA. So, I decided that I was going use them for dinner. So, now, all I could think about was dinner. While making a mental checklist of things I had in the house for the dish, I realized that I didn't have any chutneys or sev, which meant another trip to the grocery store.. As I was driving to the grocery store, I realized that SBP has almost no nutritional value and could be considered almost as junk food. Once I started thinking of SBP as junk food, I felt guilty about not going going to the gym for the longest time. So, I made yet another detour to the gym before I could savor the taste of SBP. After a nice work out, I drove to a bangladeshi store hoping to find the chutneys and sev. Alas, they only had the coriander chutney, but no sev, and no date chutney. At this point I was starting to lose hope, but, I finally found another indian grocery store *sorta* close to my home which had the date chutney and sev. I finally got home, boiled the potatoes, chopped the onions and cilantro and made my SBP.. And, it was YUMMY!!!! Definitely worth the trip to the gym and 2 grocery stores. Following is the recipe..

Ingredients (All of these should be available at most Indian Grocery Stores)

Puris for Bhel
Thin Sev
Red Onion
Potato
Corriander Chutney
Date and Tamarind Chutney
Lime and Cilantro
Salt to taste

1. Boil the potato till it is soft and you can peel it easily with your fingers. Once the potato is done, chop it into small cubes.

2. While the potato is boiling, chop the onion into very small cubes. Also coarsely chop the cilantro.

3. Now, make sure that the consitency of your chutneys is a little runnier than Ketchup.

4. Arrange about 8 or so puris in dish

5. Layer the chopped onion and potato on top of the puris

6. Sprinkle some salt on it for taste

7. Next layer it with the corriander and date chutneys

8. Top it off with some Sev

9. Garnish it with Cilantro and lime juice

10. Sit back, relax and enjoy this awesome dish



Steps 1 - 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 7

Step 8

Step 9

Monday, July 2, 2007

Stay Tuned

I know I haven't blogged for a while now.. I need to write about my Puerto Rico trip and my CA trip.. Both of which were lots and lots of fun. I'm just waiting to collect all the pictures so, I can post a nice visual blog. Please stay tuned.

Meanwhile, the Red-Sox need to start winning again. Ortiz and Manny need to start getting their bats clicking.

What is up with this weather? Its 65 degrees in July!!!! I need it to be around 80, so, I can enjoy a day at the beach.

I'm starting to think about getting a new car. So, what kind of car should I get? I've heard that Mazdas are good. How about Subarus? I definitely want something with a *nice* engine. What about SUVs? Decisions .. Decisions .. Decisions ..

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Panki (Rice Flour Pancake)

Yesterday evening, as I wrapping up work and thinking about what to have for dinner, I had this sudden craving for Panki. Panki as my mom makes it is this savory rice flour pancake with lots of pepper. So, I promptly called my mom and got the recipe, got home and tried making it. It was actually pretty yummy!! Here is the recipe..

Ingredients:
1 Cup Rice Flour
1 Cup Yogurt
2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper
2 Tsp Ground Cummin
1/4 Tsp Turmeric
1/4 Cup Water
3 Tsp Oil



Method:

1. Mix all the Ingredients well till you form a batter slightly thicker than regular pancake batter

2. Heat a non stick pan over medium high heat. I usually add 1/4 tsp of oil to this just to make sure that the pancake doesn't stick to the pan

3. Spoon about 1/4 of the mixture onto the pan and spread it evenly

4. Place a lid on the pan and cook covered over medium high heat for around 3-5 minutes till the bottom is golden brown

5. Flip it over, cover it and cook it for another 1-2 minutes

6. Voila, its done!! Plate it on the side that was cooked first, serve hot.

You can serve this with Cilantro chutney. I like to eat it plain.















Monday, June 4, 2007

Weekend Update

This was the first weekend in a long time that I didn't even have to THINK about work..

Friday - Watched a tamil movie Nayakan.. Was good, people say its the Indian equivalent of Godfather, Kamal Hassan's acting is amazing as usual. A recent movie that you could compare it to is Sanjay Datt's Vaastav

Saturday - Went to the mall looking for inspiration to buy something, but, everything out is all brown and I'm tired of owning brown clothes..

Sunday - Went on a bike ride with Arun and Martina
down the Minutemen Bike path. A 23 mile round-trip path.. Was fun, but made me realize that I'm horribly out of shape.. Came back, had some grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches with desi chai. Spent the rest of the day lazing on the couch and doing MDCs (Mundane Domestic Chores), eg. grocery shopping, laundry..

All in all, a nice relaxing weekend

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tolerance

Today as I was walking to Harvard Square from home, listening to my i-pod (the one that raja gave me as my graduation gift last year), I realized that I was singing along quite loudly. Now, everyone knows that I can't carry a tune. So, when I realized that I was being loud, I looked around quite embarrased, hoping that no one had seen me, thankfully I didn't recognize anyone in my vicinity .. whew ..

But, see, I felt like I should not have had to look around and should have been OK singing as loudly as I wanted, and so what if it sounded horrible.. Atleast I was having fun.

I feel like these days we're paying too much attention to how other people feel about us. I know I am to blame a little bit about this too.. I'm at time quite intolerant to people around me. We expect people to behave in a particular manner when they are out in public. Who made all these rules? I don't think I was disturbing the peace of the neighborhood with my singing. Yeah, I might have disturbed a few individuals, but, Isn't that OK?

I think I'm going to change myself and be more tolerant of people. So what if we have people that talk to themselves. Maybe they don't have anyone else to talk to. Hmm.. Thats yet another blogging topic.

For now, my new motto for the week is going to be "Tolerance"

Monday, May 14, 2007

Motivation

What motivates people? Is it the promise of the joy felt when you succeed at something? Is it doing something new? Are people motivated by a deadline / goal?

The reason I ask this, is that I've been feeling pretty unmotivated these days.. And, I've been feeling like this for the past month or so.. So much so, that I haven't even calculated the expenses from my VT trip about a month ago, and I'm usually the one to do this the day after a trip.. I mostly attribute this unmotivation to not having a lot to do at work.

Is life just passing me by? Do we always have to be doing something, or can we at times just stand still and let the time pass?

Do we regret not taking full advantage of the time?

I know, I'm all questions today.. Its just that I don't have answers to these questions..

Monday, April 23, 2007

What did I do all weekend?

Red Sox 7, Yankees 6
A Red Sox fan held up a sign reading "sweep" in Japanese and English.
(Reuters Photo)
















Friday - Watched the Red Sox beat the Yankees. It was a nice come from behind victory for the Sox. This would be considered a good day for the Sox fans

Saturday - I was supposed to go shopping for cleaning supplies.. But, it was too good a day to be wasted inside a store, so I decided to go to Harvard Square for lunch at Filipés, bought a book from a homeless guy and spent the day in the square reading the book. Then I watched the second Red Sox-Yankees game, where the R-Sox won again. :-).. This was like an icing on the cake for the Sox fans..

Sunday - Had brunch at La Creperie and then went shopping for indian groceries at the new Patel Bros. in Waltham. Couple people were raving about the place, so, I decided to check it out.. I must say, I am not all that impressed by it.. Yeah, the place is bigger, but, the prices are still the same, the produce isn't really any fresher.. I think I'm going to stick to either Shalimar Food and Spices in Cambridge or New Apna Bazaar in Waltham. Then I finally got my cleaning supplies from Target and got the regular groceries from Shaws.. Later in the evening, I watched the final game of the 3 game Sox-Yankees series.. It was wonderful to see the Sox sweep the Yanks..

Is this the begining of an awesome season for the Sox? Lets hope so..

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Birthday Weekend

I spent my birthday in Waterbury, VT with two of my friends Prithwish and Arun. Click Here to check out the pictures from the trip.

Day 1, Fri Apr. 13th - The weekend started on Friday evening. We finally got out of Boston around 7ish and started driving north towards Vermont. Fortunately there was no traffic. Once we were in NH, Prithwish took over driving. This is the first time that Prithwish drove my car on the highway.. I was a little apprehensive at first, but, then started to relax when he was doing just fine.. After about an hour or so of driving, we were hungry and took the first food exit off the highway.. The road was quite dark, and we were sure if we were going to find any restaurants. After about 2 miles, we saw a *bar type* restaurant called La Dolce Vita in a strip mall.. Since, we were so commited to having food, we decided to check it out. The first thing that Arun and Prithwish noticed when we entered the restaurant was that the bathroom doors were open and that everyone who left the restaurant used the bathroom before exiting. Hmm.. More suspicions about the quality of the food.. Finally, we sat down to eat and ordered our food.. I got Rissotto, Arun got stuffed trout and Prithwish got Steak Pizziola.. The food was very good and we didn't need to use the bathroom after we were done eating.. We started driving again and reached our B&B Grunberg Haus around midnight. Jeff Connor the owner of the B&B showed us around the place and most importantly told us that we could help ourselves to a night cap amaretto. People who know Arun, know how happy he was when he heard that.. So, after keeping our bags in our room, we went down to the living room to toast my birthday and enjoy the night cap..


That was about all the excitement that we could handle for the day, and decided to call it a night..

Day 2, Sat Apr 14th (My Birthday) - Woke up around 8ish and got ready.. By the time, I was done, Arun was also awake.. We didn't have that hard a time waking Prithwish up, who, is a night person, so doesn't like to wake up early. We all got ready and headed down to breakfast. We met Jeff's wife Linda Connor who had cooked us some nice hearty breakfast. We had coffee, orange juice, pumpkin bread, poached pear with cream and ricotta stuffed french toast.. Needless to say, we were stuffed.. To burn off all these calories we had just ingested, we decided to go snow shoeing. Jeff and Linda owned about 50 acres of land behind the B&B and had made trails there for outdoor activities. We headed out and spent a few hours just walking around in the snow.. We were warned by Linda that we needed to stay on their land and not wander off to the neighbor's for the fear of getting shot.. We initially tried out the easy trail.. After having conquered it, we were ready for the harder trails.. One of the harder trails was called *Vermonster*.. We walked and walked and walked.. And didn't find the trail.. Oh well.. I also made a snow angel in the snow.. Looked more like a snow ghost.. Of course, I was a little distracted by Prithwish throwing snow balls at me.. After we got back from snow shoeing, we had some hot cider and headed out to lunch.. We had some burgers and beer and a local pub, Arvads. Then we headed out for some local sight seeing.. We tried different kinds of cheddar cheese at the Cabot Factory Annex. Arun bought some chocolates at the Lake Champlain Chocolate Factory, tasted some cider, donuts and dessert wines at the Cold Hollow Cider Mill.. If you haven't noticed the trend yet, we had been eating all day.. It was around 5ish now, and even though we knew we had to figure out what we wanted for dinner, none of us could even think about food. So, we decided to go back to our room and chill out for a few hours. The part of going back to our room during the evening is what I call my American Vacation. We actually, relaxed.. I read my book, Prithwish finished his work and Arun napped.. After a few hours of this relaxation we were ready head out again.. We drove to Burlington, VT for dinner.. It was a surprisingly "happening" town.. We couldn't find a parking spot and had to park in a parking garage.. We had dinner at American Flatbreads. The pizza was huge, but, we mangaged to finish it all.. We got home around midnight and discovered that Arun had arranged for two Birthday cakes, one for me and one for Prithwish.. He had also bought a bottle of Champagne..
So, we blew out the candles, cut the cake and opened the bottle of champagne.. The cake was yummy and so was the champagne.. But, we were beat from all the excitement of the day, and decided to retire for the night..

Day 3, Sun Apr 15th (Prithwish's Birthday) - Woke up again around 8ish and got ready, Arun followed suit.. Prithwish however, wanted to sleep in some more.. Seeing as it was his birtday, I wasn't going to let that happen.. So, after a bunch of pestering from me, he finally did rise and shine and we headed down to breakfast. Menu for today, was coffee, mimosas (made from the previous night's champagne), glazed bananas (Linda was kind enough to give me the recipe) and apple spice pancakes with maple syrup.. After the delicious breakfast, we packed our bags loaded them in car and headed out for the a factory tour of Ben and Jerry's. Unfortunately the tour route was undergoing renovations, so, we only got to see the video of the factory. We did get a free scoop of banana rum ice-cream, which the tour guide described as "not too banani". So, ever since we decided to go to Vermont, I knew I wanted to go to a Sugaring place.. Its just one of those hyped up things that I felt like I *needed* to do.. Hence, we (I) decided to go to Morse Farm. This place was recommended by Linda and Jeff. The owner of the farm, Harry (Burr) Morse Jr, was in the sugar shack boiling down the sap. He explained the maple syrup making process to us.. The farm was very picturesque with a barn, pine trees and snow in the background.
At the farm store we participated in a Vermont tradition of "Sugar on Snow" where you pour a small amount of maple syrup over ice, causing the maple syrup to freeze into a taffy like consistency, which is then scraped with a fork and eaten. This gives an instant sugar high, which is cut down a bit by biting on a pickle. Once we were done with our sugar high, we started driving back home. The road conditions weren't all that good due to all the snow and we saw couple cars that had broken down.. We made it back safe and sound to Boston in around 4 hours.. To end the trip, we celebrated Prithwish's birthday at a Thai restaurant Spice and Rice in Cambridge.

While we were in Vermont, we had spotty cell phone reception, so, I wasn't able to talk to my parents for long.. But, they also celebrated my birthday by offering the *shayan bhog* at our local temple in Bombay and then invited the family over for dinner..

All in all it was a wonderful weekend.. Never before in my life have my birthday festivities gone on for an entire weekend..

Thanks Arun and Prithwish for making my birthday a very special one!!!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Off to Vermont

This will be my first *don't have anything planned to do* vacation trip to a destination that I have already been to.. Its been snowing in Vermont, so, we might get to go skiiing..

Can't wait..

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Taxes

All done filing the returns!! Yea!! I used TaxActOnline for the federal taxes and then filled out the MA tax forms. They can be downloaded from MaTaxForms

Looking forward to spending the return money!!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Who teaches you faith and religion?

I was having a discussion with my friend Arun who believes that faith and religion is something that the society teaches you. I kinda disagree with it. I believe that though the society has an influence over your life, faith and religion is something that your parents teach you. I feel like the faith that has been instilled in me about God, is something that my mom is responsible for. Oh, those countless temple trips that we had to make as kids. I never knew that those would be what makes me feel at peace in a temple now.

Wonder if I would feel the same had my family not been that religious?

Do the kids that grow up here feel a little indifferent towards temples and what they signify? Is it a place of worship, feeling One with God or is it just a place to go on a weekend being dragged by parents? I don't know how the kids in India feel either..

Is it a good thing to drag your kids to the temple? Do parents feel like its their job to do so? I don't know what I will do when I have kids..

Speaking of kids, Deepa and Premal are expecting a little one in July!! Yea!! She is the first one of *the girls* to have a baby.. Wonder how this is going to change her? Of course she might not have time for those crazy parties that she is used to ;-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Where to go for my birthday weekend?

I am thinking someplace nice and warm...

Options are..

1. Corpus Christi, TX -- Why TX you ask?, Its one of the states I've never visited
2. Myrtle Beach, SC -- SC , also another state I haven't been to.. Maybe you see a pattern here.
3. Puerto Rico -- Only because, Non US Citizens don't need a visa to visit
4. NYC -- See a Broadway Play..

I've been to Miami and San Diego, and don't want to go there again..

Suggestions are welcome..

Hong Kong and Beijing

Last year (March '06) my brother, Jay (or Raja as we call him..) was taking a class at Stanford that involved a trip to HongKong.. Not wanting to be left behind, I tagged along as well.. Here is what I thought of the trip..

Hong Kong feels like a nice "asian - british" city.. Feels very much like Bombay only way more advanced and clean.. Its very "Hi-Tech".. Their subway system is amazingly well organized. They have 5 lines and each line interchanges with one other line in atleast two places to avoid a single point of failure. Also, when you get off at a station to change to another line, you don't have to walk up or down the stairs to get to the other line. Its just across the platform. The trains are also coordinated such that you don't have to wait for more than a minute to get the other train. Most place have escalators. We also rode on the worlds longest escalator.

The first thing you see when you land in Hong Kong is stacks upon stacks of tall sky scrapers.. All about 30 storeys high. The city never seems to sleep. Most of the shopping places and restaurants are open till midnight. The other great thing about Hong Kong is their "parks". So, in the middle of the neighborhood with all these tall buildings and busy life of people, there are these small (about 900 sq ft) parks, where people come and hang out and can enjoy a few moments of peace. These parks have nice trees, benches and are quiet and peaceful.

They also have this stored value cash card called the "octopus card". The card with RFId. The card can be used on the subway, bus, vending machines, 7-11 type stores..


The people are also nice and most of them speak english. Infact, I was told that English is the official language of Hong Kong. Hmm.. I wouldn't mind living in Hong Kong..


China was nice too.. We visited Beijing. The city sprawls like LA. Its is built around 5 ring roads. We had a bit of a language problem there as no-one speaks (rather, wishes to speak) english. Fortunately, we had one person in our group who spoke a little Mandarin so, we could get by.

In Beijing, we saw the Tianemen Square, the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heavenly Peace, the Lama Temple and Mao's monument, where they have kept Mao's preserved body. Seeing the body was a bit eerie, because they had a small light bulb over his head whcih made his face "glow".

We also took a day trip to the Great Wall of china at the Mutianyu section of the great wall. Its about 50 miles from the city of Beijing and hardly has any tourists. It was very exhilarating to be there and see the wall. In the picture, To my left is my brother.. The rest are his friends from Stanford..

Food was nice. I am mostly vegetarian, so, it we had to look for a place that would have a nice vegetarian meal. It was mainly noodles, either in soup or stir fried with vegetables to be eaten with chop sticks. We also had Dim Sum a bunch of times.

The wierd thing in Hong Kong and Beijing was that people drank "hot" water with their meals, so, we had to order bottled water to get some "cold" water. The desserts were also, not very sweet and were often made with red beans. Or they would serve fresh fruit for dessert.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Business Trips



What is the optimal duration for a business trip? I think 1 day is too short and 1 month is too long..

I just got back from a month and half long, way too hectic, work 20 hours a day, trip.. We were working at the Keyport, WA division of NUWC.

The area was very picturesque.. I had a nice beach view out of my hotel room. I ate out every day on an expense account, and missed the snow storm here. I also made some new friends... We even got together to play some ping pong at the hotel. And, one day when we didn't have much work, we drove up to Hurricane Ridge, near Port Angeles.

On the other hand, The staff at the hotel had started to recogize me by name. The wait staff at the hotel restaurant knew exactly how I took my coffee and what I liked for breakfast. I had almost forgotten what my bed at home feels like..

And, I missed my friends back at the office.. When I did get back to the office today, I felt like things/people had moved on without me.. My friends were glad to see me come back, but, it was like I was out of the loop on a lot of things (People that know me, know how much I hate being out of the loop ;-)).. Like, these days, they play foosball every day after lunch.. All of a sudden, I felt like an outsider.

Is this how people returning home from War feel? -- I think this topic deserves a separate blog..

Oh yeah, I also missed Sital's birthday party.. Sorry girl.. We'll just have to get together soon and celebrate it again..