Friday, January 30, 2004


Me a strong proponet of vegetarianism. Not just in food, but also in lifestyle, I prefer leading a life as non-intrusive as possible towards animals.

Just happened to notice a list of famous vegetarians. Reminded me 2 ppl who I just cannot respect for been non-vegetarians - Vajpayee and Dalai Lama. I have not heard of any excuse from the Vajpayee camp for his liking to non-vegetarian food. I have seen ppl who are brought up in a non-vegetarian environment become vegetarian - and in the process enduring huge amounts of social embarassment. And, for a person born in an vegetarian family to turn himself into a meat-eater is - for me - simply unacceptable.

But I have seen Dalai Lama providing excuses for his non-vegetarianism. I just cannot accept that someone who says he is the spiritual guru of Buddhists to provide such excuses. Does he think that if The Buddha himself were to be in his place, he would have went the same path? For a person who calls himself the living Buddha, the incarnation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, been a non-vegetarian is a disgrace.

Expansion is life, contraction is death. Love is life, and hatred is death. We commenced to die the day we began to hate other races; and nothing can prevent our death unless we come back to expansion, which is life.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Dravid uvaacha

An interesting interview with Dravid, courtesy cricinfo. A must read for all lovers of the game, and all those who appreciate the intensity of Dravid's batting. This man is a real gem, some one who you can associate with.....hard-working and successful not just by sheer natural talent, but by tireless effort.

Although I'm a big fan of Tendulkar, I was alwayz a big admirer of Dravid too for the sheer intensity he puts into his efforts. He was somebody I cud associate myself and my own principle towards life too. However, at one point I too argued that he did not deserve a place in the one-day team (and I'm sure Dravid himself wud have agreed to this objectively!). Itz sheer joy to see him overcome his mental blocks and asses his game in such a mature way that he could overcome the weaknesses. The innings he played in the tri-series last yr against NZ (50 off 22) was a pleasure to watch......for me it epitomised all the progress that Dravid has made as a cricketer. It was an almost perfect innings, witt very few freaky shots, and still a real quick-fire half-century at slog.

I take great pleasure in his success and hope he continues the same way for a long long time. Amen!

Seven Deadly Sins:
Politics without Principle.
Wealth without work.
Commerce without morality.
Pleasure without Conscience.
Education without Character.
Science without Humanity.
Worship without Sacrifice.
- Mahatma Gandhi

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Howard Dean as President, anyone???

While John Kerry's win did surprise many, for me a bigger surprise - or to put it better, more shocking - was Howard Dean's reaction. It was such an immaturish, hot-blooded reaction to loosing so pathetically at the Iowa caucus, I wonder what wud happen if this bugger gets the most powerful seat in the world. While I do agree with a lot of Dean's policies, I still feel that if this guy gets the nomination, then that itself will assure win to Bush! Mr.Dean has already become easy pickings for late nite comedy show hosts, and here he can probably give a tuff fight to Bush!!!

Talking of caucuses, I wonder why they r continuing this silly process....ballot is such a staright-forward way. Yesterday on CNN a lot of ppl were asked this question, and nobody cud give a convincing reply in defence of caucuses.....everybody talked of the "rich-tradition" of the Iowa caucus. Watching the caucus live on TV just showed what a silly show it had become.

It's a lot more fun to blame things than to fix them.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Maternity leave for High Schoolers???

New York has decided to grant maternity leave to pregnant hi-school students! Itz estimated that abt 20k students in New York City wud be "benefitted" by this decision, 8k of them are under 17 yrs. Without going into the merits/demerits of this decision, what should make ppl start thinking is the very fact hi-schoolers need maternity leave. If in India there is one kind of fight against pregnancy among minors, in America itz a different struggle.

If you really want to judge the character of a man, look not at his great performances. Every fool may become a hero at one time or another. Watch a man do his most common actions; those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man.
--Swami Vivekananda

Cold getting colder

The temp is dropping further in the north-eastern parts of US. The numbers I'm hearing in news is Mt. Washington in New Hampshire state, the temperature dipped to -42 celsius and with the wind chill the temperature index was -72c!!! Any lower, I guess it wud be like absolute zero! Itz amazing how ppl survive in such conditions! And it is also amazing that till now there has been no news of any deaths because of the cold. There are established centers for the homeless and for those who cannot afford warmer clothing. Contrast this to the hundreds of deaths in India because temperature hovered around freezing. Hats off to the American spirit that keeps thingz going against such adversity.

Anywayz, here in Naperville itz much warmer :) Itz abt -10c and I guess I shud start feeling blessed to be staying here ;-)

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
-William Arthur Ward

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Ramakrishna Hegde

News of Hegde's death was shocking. I had missed out on the news that he was not keeping well in the recent past, although I did know that he had taken political sanyas in the last couple of yrs. Of course, in reality it was a forced sanyas, with he been backstabbed shamelessly by Deve Gowda. I wud guess Hegde was not the only looser because of opportunist politics.....the country was also lost out the services of a well-intentioned and truly visionary man.

May his soul rest in peace.

When one bases his life on principle, 99 percent of his decisions are already made.
- Anonymous

Monday, January 12, 2004

Friction with foreigners

Slowly but surely, the momentum is gaining in US against outsouricng as well as foreigners on work permits. Of course this is hugely because this is an election yr! Lou Dobbs, in his program Lou Dobbs Tonite on CNN, is running a virtual crusade against both outsourcing as well as allowing "aliens" on work permit. Of course, his main attack is against "illegal aliens".

Of course there are lot of arguments that favor outsourcing as well as allowing foreigners to work legally. But in the midst of growing job losses and an almost stagnant economy, itz a tuff job convincing ppl. And I guess to a great extent, the concerns of Americans on the matter of job losses r valid......I guess as part of globablization the poorer countries will grow at some cost to the richer countries. This may not be a politically correct statement to make, and u will never find some one making this statement!

But what set me thinkng was this news report in IndianExpress. It mentions abt the locals in Goa fighting against some foreigners who have established restaurants there. With foreign influence on the Indian job market and economy still negligible if this is the kind of tolerance we have, what right do we have to question Americans?

Each soul is potentially divine. The goal is to manifest the divinity within, by controlling the nature - external and internal. Be it through work, worship, psychic control or knowledge, one or more or all of these.
-Swami Vivekananda

Friday, January 09, 2004

Whatz brewing in Australia???

Something seems to have gone seriously wrong in the relationship b/w the Indian team and Steve Bucknor in Aus. A news report in Indian Express tells abt Ganguly rating Bucknor "very poor"!!! Not that Ganguly is too looked as if after the redoubtable Asoka DeSilva, Bucknor had also turned out to be India's nemesis. But a detailed read of the report makes me feel that there'z more brewing than visible from outside. It will be interesting how Bucknor and the Indian team go along in future.

Minds are like parachutes. They only function when they are open.
-Sir James Dewar.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Indo-Pak friendship???

Indo-Pak peace talk is the flavor of the month. A new impetus has been given to the peace talks with Vajpayee's travel to Pak for the SAARC meeting. But this is not the first time that the feeling of progress in talks is felt. The same "high" was felt during Vajpayee's Lahore bus tour too. And although ppl say that both sides have their own "compulsions" now and hence itz different this time, there are lot of indications that ground realities in Pak has hardly changed. Consistently, reports in Indian media say that Pak reporters are as hawkish as before......esp the Urdu media. This news report says as much.

While I do agree that ppl-to-ppl interaction is the best way of fostering relationship, I do not think that the attitude of the ppl on the other side has really changed. I had alwayz believed that peace with Pak (and for that matter even with Bangladesh) is impossible......the only soln is Pak ceasing to exist. And although I hope that time will prove me wrong, I wud be very surprised if thatz the case.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Marriage in LasVegas

Well, Ms.Spears marriage may last just a couple of dayz, but this reminded me that LasVegas is the most sought-after place by Americans for marriage. I remember reading that in 2002, abt 120k marriages were solemnised in LasVegas. Every hotel-casino on the strip had a wedding chapel, and of course there were the independent ones. I understand weddings cost anything from a couple of dollars to thousands of dollars, depending on how fancy u want it to be. Even drive-thru wedding facilities r avlbl at this place!!!

Can the institution of marriage get any more trivialized? :-( The Britney Spears saga is just a sign of changing times. I guess it will be be an interesting statistic if somebody researches the avg length of the marriages performed in Vegas!

First "winter" day of the season

Well, winter is here....for good, or for bad! Today was the first day in this yr I felt like winter has arrived...when I went outside today morning, it was -31c with the wind chill!!!! Although it snowed abt 9 inches over the weekend, it was not this cold then. In fact on the new yr nite it was a very warm 10c. Suddenly, a cold wave has engulfed the mid-west area :-(
In the Ohio state, it rained over the weekend, and flooded the streets at a lot of places. And now ppl fear that the flood water may freeze because of the sharp temperature drop!

And now, I have started getting the thots again that I used to get when I got dropped from the cozy weather of B'lore into Chocago last yr in the peak of winter - why do ppl want to stay here???!!! Why dont ppl just migrate to the west, or down south, and leave more comfortably thru'out the yr???!!! I know the thots r more a reaction to the cold wave here, but still I've not got a convincng answer for these ;-)

For the current weather at Naperville, checkout here.

Friday, January 02, 2004

Las Vegas, Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon

I consider Las Vegas as symbolic of everything that America is today.....a symbol of the great American vision, a symbol of American hard work and tireless effort, a symbol of American philosophy of enjoying life to the max, a symbol of American tendency to spend and splurge, a symbol of decreasing moral values in American society......Not without reason is Las Vegas called the "Sin City"!

LasVegas first came into news in early 1900's when it was identified as an ideal stopover facility for trains travelling from California to the east. The presence of an oasis fed by the Colorado river which is about 30 miles east of it made it an ideal location in what was otherwise a harsh desert. In 1930's, the construction of Hoover Dam began (more abt it later), and this insulated LasVegas from the Great Depression. The creation of thousands jobs for the construction of HooverDam coincided with gambling been legalized, and construction workers, who were relatively well-paid for those times, created a booming economy even in those hard times.

Today LasVegas has transformed into much more than just a hub for is the entertainment center of the world. "The Strip", as the stretch of LasVegas Boulevard where the casinos r located is called, is home to some of the best and also budding artists from across the world.

My flight to LasVegas was delayed by an hr because of snow flurries in Chicago. I landed there at abt 12:30am PST on Dec 24th. The first thing u notice once u r out of the plane is slot machines in the airport. I rememberd my Manager telling me that the only place in LasVegas where u will not find a slot machine r the restrooms! Almost every building in Vegas houses a casino! I stayed in Riviera, one of the oldest hotel-casinos in the strip. Riviera was opened in 1955 with 300 rooms, and is today 1000+ rooms big. The accomodations r dirt cheap for a class hotel.....I was paying just $38/nite at Riviera. The hotel makes money out of ppl playing in the casino, and to some extent from the entertainment shows they have.

I took a walk along the strip, and was quite disappointed from the lack of crowd at abt 2am in the nite....probably because it is winter and weather was hovering around feezing. From what I had seen, Miami was much more vibrant during nite, with ppl crowding the streets even at 4am!!!

The next day, I started from the Northern-end of the strip....with the Stratosphere. At 1149-ft, Stratosphere is one of the tallest structures in the world. And, they have amusement rides at the top of the building! There is a roller coaster at 1000+ ft high, then there is the BigShot which propells u up a tower at high acceleration, and the drops u down to a free fall.....all at more than 1000ft altitude. The best ride was the X-Scream. It has a hanging cantilever beam at the top of this building, and the train takes u right to the edge of the beam, and then it drops u down by a couple of degrees.....u will feel as if u r gettin dropped from a hanging beam! That was a kool ride!

Then I visited The Ceasar's Palace.....another hotel-casino south of the blvd. I took a stimulated 3D IMax ride there called Saving the Atlantis. Ceasar's palace had a free show on Atlantis....nothing great abt the show, except that all the characters in the show was played by human-shaped machines. I was amazed by the almost human-like movement of these machines....Ceasar's palace also has a kool corridor with sky-painted domes, that gives u a feeling as if u r in an outdoor market place on a cloudy evening. Although I saw this sky-colored roofing at a couple of other casinos too, nobody cud emulate the open-sky feeling like Ceasar's had.

In the evening, I watched another road-side show called Pirates at the Treasure Island. That nite Amit joined me, and we had our first go at the casinos.....played in the 25cent slot machines, the slowly "graduated" to $1 machines.....did win some money, but finally ended up loosing whatever we won. We had decided that we will not spend more than a certain amount gambling, and stuck to it. Otherwise, the casinos can be really addictive, and thatz how they make money.......more than 40% of the state of Nevada's revenues come from the casinos!

The casinos create a great environ....with glittering slot machines, free unlimited complimentary drinks, music playing all around, and of cousre luring ppl with 5 cent, 25 cent machines.......where u feel u dont loose much, and by the time you've realised, u wud've lost a significent sum!

Another attraction of LasVegas r the entertainment shows there.....shows for all ages, and at different prices.....from free shows to shows that cost upto $100! When I had been there, MGM Grand was hosting a magic show by David Copperfield that was abt $100.....although I wud guess it wud still be worth it! There are lot of free shows in different casinos, and most of them are quite good. Aladdin has a free show every half-hr, Tropicana has a free Air Play show where artists do stunning acrobatics and also an Exotic Bird show (the one featured in Dumb and Dumber, I guess), Treasure Island has the Pirates, MGM had one silly band playing sillier music. We went to a hypnosis show in Riviera, and were throughly disappointed with was nothing more than "nautanki", as Amit called it. On Sunday, we went to a magic show by Steve Wyrick at Aladdin.....that was pretty good. Most of the tricks were the same as what u wud find in PCSorcar's shows, except that it was perfomed in a hi-tech format. For eg, the regular trick of cutting a human body was done with hi-performance aluminium blades and propellers. It was a pretty kool show though.

And then came Splash! That was the last show we attended on Sunday evening, just before we had to board the flight, and it was definitely the best....a very good show, having everything that u can expect from it. With salsa dances, and a tribute to Madonna's Vogue, and Michael Jackson's History, and performances by international ice skating stars Mikhail Panin (from Russia) and Margarita Barber, Los Latin Cowboys comedy, the Mexican Richard Brothers' jugglery with all three brothers juggling multiple items in hilarious situations and to top it all the “Bela Tabaka’s Riders of the Thunderdome.” These four daredevil Guinness World Record holding motorcyclists race at breakneck speeds within a 14-ft diameter globe of metal mesh. This is the first time I've seen 4 bikers in a globe, and it was really awesome. The lights will be switched off and the darkness creates a breathtaking stream of red-white-and blue light in the globe. Splash is a not-to-miss show in Vegas!

We left for GrandCanyon on Dec 26th. On way was Hoover Dam. This dam is considered one of the civil engineering wonders. Built during the yrs of the Great Depression, Hoover dam was the tallest dam in the world at that time. Concieved in the early 1920's, the construction work began in 1931 and was completed in 1935, with the first unit of power generated in 1936. Built on the Black Canyon, abt 30 miles from LasVegas, the dam was contructed across the Colorado river, which also flows thru the Grand Canyon and can be called the lifeline of western US. This river originates from the Rocky mountains, and like the Ganga in India, is perennial. The lake formed on the upstream of the dam is called Lake Mead and extends upto 110 miles. About 96 ppl died during the construction of the dam, and ppl even today commemorate their effort and sacrifice. The dam is named after Herbert Hoover who was the President of US during the construction of the dam.

26th evening we proceeeded towards GarndCanyon. It was a pleasurable drive, although we were slowed down later because of snow flurries. I could easily reach speed upto 85mph, and as we were driving thru the desert, for miles together there was no sign of life. At one point, for 56 miles there were no gas station or any other kind of service along the hiway!

That nite we stayed at Flagstaff, abt 70 miles from the Grand Canyon National Park. The next day we took the scenic US-180 hiway to GrandCanyon. On the way we stopped at a coffee place where there were a couple of White Buffalos. This place had no electricity, no telephone line (they had a cell fone though!), and quite far from the nearest town. The lady migrated from southern Illinois abt 2 yrs ago, purchased a hut-like structure, and transformed it into a coffee bar on this hiway. To add to the attraction, she brought a white buffalo from Texas and now the family of buffalos is seven strong. I was amazed when she said that these buffaloes change colors thru'out the yr......from brown to fall colors to white during winter!

We reached GrandCanyon around noon. It was very cold day, with temp at abt -5c, and it had snowed the previous day too. Not a good day for hiking, and I will definitely be going to GrandCanyon a better time for hiking. GrandCanyon is a magnificent creation of nature, and is truly grand! With lotsa hollocks studded along the Colorado river, it provides an amazing view from the rim. We visited the south rim of the Canyon and travelled towards the east rim. Each of the elevated points along the canyon is given a name.....the ones I remember r Vishnu temple, Brahma temple, Zoraster temple, Shiva temple, Buddha temple, etc. I dont know how these names came into being, that too with such an Oriental influence. The most impressive was the Vishnu temple, which rises like a Sphinx in the middle of the canyon. There r lot of view points along the rim of the Canyon, and from each viewpoint, the canyon looks all the more grand. As Theodore Roosevelt said, itz something every American should see and preserve!

That evening, we started back to Vegas and reached Vegas at nite. A couple of shows that nite and the next day, and we were all set to fly back to Chicago.....poor by some dollars, but at the same time awe-stuck by the grandeur of LasVegas and the magnificence of the GrandCanyon.

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