Thursday, May 27, 2004

Trip to St.Louis

The weekend of May-15th, we (Me, my roomie Amit, and my colleague Sripriya) went on a visit to St. Louis. Had heard a lot about the great arch at St. Louis, and seen it too a lot of times on TV, but inspite of staying near Chicago, hadnt got a chance to visit the place till then.

St. Louis arch signifies Anerica's discovery of the area west of Mississippi. The intial settlement in America was mostly on the east coast and had spread till Mississipppi. It was the California gold rush during the late 1840s that made America look further west. At this time, St. Louis, situated on the intersection of the rivers Missourie and Mississippi, became the gateway to the west, and developed a very busy harbor. The arrival of railways strengthened St. Louis as a base for movement of goods, esp b/w the west and the east.

The construction of the steel arch started in 1963. The arch spanning north-south signifies the gateway that St. Louis was to the west. The construction was completed in 1965, with the last final section to top the arch placed on Oct 28, 1965, an event watched by abt 30k ppl!

The arch is a symbol of American creativity and marketing ingenuity! It was constructed at a cost $23 million, and I guess in a yr abt 300k ppl visit the arch in an yr, paying $10 for the visit. That means, in a couple of yrs, the investment is returned, and the city is left with a booming tourist market. All this out of nothing!

We started abt 7am and reached St. Louis downtown at abt 2pm, with last one hr spent on the exit from I-55 to downtown because of traffic jam :-( Downtown St. Louis has almost every road marked one-way alternately. We got to know of an Indian restaurant in Olive Street in downtown. We parked the car nearby and went to the restaurant, only to find it closed! Then we got the shock of our lives as we saw one after another restaurant in downtown closed.....all restaurants open only on weekdays!!!! By this time Amit was in a hurry to relieve, and we entered the tall office area - the Millenium Tower - searching for a restroom, only to be told that the tower is closed during weekends! By now, Amit was getting desperate, and finally we did find one restaurant that was open. Amit got a shock when we entered the restaurant and were greeted by a big board that said "No public restroom"!!! It took some time for us to figure out that it meant no restrrom for non-customers.

Although the food in the restaurant was nothing great, Amit was one statisfied person after using the restroom :) And roaming thru the streets of downtown gave us an idea why St. Louis is not the safest of the areas. With a huge black population, the downtown areas did not look safe even during day time.

After luch, we parked our car on the river-side and visited the marvellous arch. There is a trip every half-hr in a tram kind of thing that takes u to the top of the arch. From the top of the arch you get a pretty nice view of both the downtown areas on the west as well as the river-side on the east.

We toook the last trip down the arch, and the spent some time relaxing in the lawns at the base of the arch. We intended to take a dinner cruise along the Mississippi, but by the time we arrived at the river-side the cruise was completely booked. Sripriya was one dejected person on missing the cruise ;-) Later we visited the Union Station shopping mall. This place was a railway station, till air transport took over America, and travel by train became less popular. This place was deemed too big for a train station(!!!) and the tran station was moved to another bulding and this area was made a shopping mall. It is pretty nice place, and we spent a couple of hrs there.

Later in the nite we visited the Presidential casino on the river-side. We decided to return back home the same nite. However, on our way we decided to stay back one more day to visit Meramec caves, abt 60 miles south-west of St. Louis. We stayed at a inn owned by a desi at Troy, IL.

The next day we visited Meramec was a pretty nice place - like the Lookout mountain caves we had visited in Chattanooga. With millions yr old rock formations, stalcamites and stalgamites, Meramec caves had some nice scenic formations. There was a caoneing facility also near the caves, but we did not do canoeing because we had to be back that evening. The drive b/w Meramec and St. Louis is pretty scenic along the rolling hills. And that evening we were back home.

Once bitten, twice shy.

NYT's self-indictment

Today NewYorkTimes came up with a very damning self-indictment of itz own reporting of the pre-war coverage. It was one of the most damning self-indictments I have ever seen! It went out of itz way to systematically tear down itz own reporting! Is there anything more than meets the eye???

Duty is your only right, not itz fruit.
- BhagavadGita

Indian politics

What a time the last 2 weeks has been in India! While Vajpayee govt's fall was unexpected, the drama that unfolded after that was all the more tuff to believe. Finally, Sonia Gandhi decided not to become PM.....and in turn received comparisions with the Mahatma! How pathetic newspapers like TOI, Hindu can get.

I had alwayz felt that for a person to be a effective PM he needs to have a strong public base. Haradanahalli Dodde Gowda Deve Gowda did not have it, neither did IKGujral. And no surprise their govt fell in no time. I see no reaon why Manmohan Singh's govt will not suffer the same fate. However, the optimist that I'm, I wud definitely hope for Sigh's govt to do well, inspite of the likes of Laloo, Paswan, Surjeet, etc. The biggest advantage for India is the return of the dream team of Singh and Chidambaram.

Here'z wishing the new govt, India's new PM and India good luck!

As you sow, so you reap.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Accountability of sports administrators

The maverick KPSGill continues to hold Indian hockey to ransom. And the rascal is putting in jeopardy Indian hokey's Olympic dreams :-( My blood boils when ppl like him get away with dropping senior players and also make statements that they cannot play continuosly for 70 min. As Baljit Singh Saini stated in his rejoinder, there is no basis on which Gill can make such conclusions.

The most irritating part in this is that these officials have aboslutely no accountability. If with this "experimental' side, if India fares poorly in Olympics, will Mr.Gill be held accountable and asked to step down??? As Harsha Bhogle said in an article in IE, accountability by cricket administrators is really needed now, esp with big bucks coming into games like cricket and hockey.

What India hockey needs today is a rebellion of the kind Prakash Padukone did in 1997 for Indian badminton. Dhanraj Pillay - with all the publicity he has - is the right person, although I'm not sure how much support he wud recieve from the other players. Hope thingz will turn for better for Indian hockey.

Let knwoledge come from all directions.
- BhagavadGita

Time to Pay it forward!!!

A couple of weeks back, I had a very heartening, satisfying, grateful, experience. On my b'day we had a party at an Italian restaurant in Naperville called Giordano's. One of my friend's - Channa - had been to a Circuit City in Chicago downtown and had purchased a camcorder and other electronic items. He came with these and was transfering these items from one car to another in the parking lot of Giordano's. Apparently the bag that contained a camcorder and some expensive watches somehow got leftout at the parking lot. Channa became aware of this only after he reached Milwaukee the next day. He called me to check if he the bag was lost somewhere in my car or at my house. He later also called Giordano's to check if the bag was found somewhere in the restaurant.

Apparently the bag was found by a person - his first name was Tim, I unfortunately do not remember his last name - in the parking lot who picked it up. He called Giordano's and enquired about any lost items. The idiot Channa had forgot to leave a contact number when he had called them before. Now, Giordano's had no number to contact about Tim's find! They took the pains to call my credit card co and get my fone no. (I wonder how long they were put on hold by the visa guyz!) They later called me and gave me Tim's no.

I met Tim a couple of dayz later to get the items. He was a devout Catholic, and was trying to convince me that our meeting was "no coincidence" but "a will of God"! Along with the items, he also handed me a copy of New Testament (which I promptly passed over to Channa!).

In the Hindi movie Yes Boss there is a dialog that alwayz good thingz happen to good ppl. Channa is a nice person, and itz nice to see that thingz went right for him. Here'z also wishing Tim the best luck for whatever he'z doing in was really refreshing to meet a person like him. And for me and Channa, itz now time to pay it forward!.

Look at the sun, and you will not see the shadows.

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