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Archive for May, 2009

At last I had my first international trip, and not only international but an international business trip. After a long wait when I almost left the hope to get a chance for a customer presentation abroad, the opportunity suddenly hit my way through a phone call from my ex-reporting manager. Can you do it, he asked. “Ofcourse yes”, was my answer. So a phone call finally settled the first experience I have been craving for.

Even though I said yes, I still had my own inhibitions in terms of why I am being sent for this inspite of other options available. I tried to juggle off the feeling convincing myself that I am the right choice. But there was some eerie feeling, some intuition which I was not able to comprehend. Nevertheless, the opportunity was mine and I need to do well. I carried on with this feeling and started working towards it only to realize that international travelling is not as rosy as it looks. Visa, passport, idiotic ticket choices, follow up, forex, laptops, etc etc..the list were endless. I was atleast happy of the fact that my colleague and close friend Ashwin was travelling with me, only to my dismay that at the last moment his Visa got screwed up.

I was obviously disappointed, and with no choices left I had to focus on completing the presentation and other activities single handedly. Days passed with endless reviews of presentation, editing the deck, series of dry-runs, follow up for my visa….puff..puff!!! Finally I was set to fly to Mumbai and from there to Riyadh. One of the best parts of this trip was the chance to meet my closest buddies in Mumbai almost after two years. We all met and had a good time together catching up with loads of things.

The flight to Bahrain from Mumbai was an experience I can never forget. I never thought the kind of crowd that travel to Middle East Countries. I witnessed the mass exodus of Indians to Middle East countries to become drivers, sweepers, and few even to work as labors. I was intrigued to know the reason for such mass exodus, which I finally got after speaking to few of them. It all boils down to money they make and save by working in Middle East countries. There was also some element of psychology of going abroad I found in their reasoning. If they would be doing the same job here, the money earned is not sufficient to support their family. Also, everyone in their social circle looks at them with the proud satisfaction “arey, yeh to videsh main kaam karta hai”!!

So much so, I mumbled to myself that everyone has their own reasons. I had a halt at Bahrain airport for an hour which I utilized in fine-tuning the presentation. On reaching Riyadh, I got the final taste of International trip. It took me more than 3 hours to clear the immigration, thanks to the lousy and indifferent immigration officers. They were stamping one passport in minimum 15 odd minutes and taking breaks every now and then to mock at the crowd standing in the queue. Finally after much ordeal, I managed to get my passport stamped only to figure out that there was no one to receive me at the exit. It was almost 4 hours since my flight landed and the person who would have come to pick me must have left. The next thing I had in my mind is to get the currency exchanged. After wandering here and there to find out the forex exchange counter, I finally spotted one. I went to the counter and handed out few hundred dollar bills. To my astonishment, the sheikh sitting at the counter refused to take the money and closed the counter. I dint understand the reason for his rudeness and looked helplessly at others. I heard someone speaking in hindi, and plunged at him for his help. He explained me the reason for this sudden closing of counter. It was 3:30 PM and was a prayer time in Saudi, and during the prayers everything gets closed. He was true as I saw every single shop at the airport was shut down. The prayer break was for half an hour.

So, there I was, stranded at Riyadh airport where no one was there to receive me and I have no currency to make a phone call as well (my mobile was not on international roaming) . Meanwhile I was waiting for the counter to get reopened; I saw a sheikh walking after 20-25 min and sat at the customer service desk. I went to him and requested him to make one call from his phone. To my relief, he agreed and then I got the chance to speak to the local person who was supposed to pick me. Luckily, he was still there at the airport and I told him my current location. The counter got opened and I exchanged crisp notes and finally met the pickup guy.

The hotel arrangement was fantastic. The room was booked in a good five-star hotel where I met my other colleagues who travelled from different places for this customer presentation.

You must be thinking that everything from now would have gone better without any hiccups. But me being me, problems never leaves me. What happened while my stay is a different story, but I can say I had a good learning experience in the entire trip. The three day stay at Riyadh was a good exposure – the customer presentation (which went on a different direction though), my sudden participation in a conference at the last moment when I was about to take to taxi to the airport, my one day extended stay, etc. Tough but I feel may be thats how it was supposed to be.

On my way back I had a six hour halt at Bahrain Airport thanks to the organization’s policy to issue the cheapest ticket possible :). And if I say the world is small, you gotta believe this coz I met my friend at Bahrain Airport (He works in Bahrain and was going home and his flight got delayed). We spent good time chatting and buying stuffs from the duty free shop. One of my prized buy was two bottles of Jack Daniels.

After all this, I desperately wanted to be back to my place. Indeed India is our home and feels great to be back home. What a trip it was!! A life-time experience indeed!!

Few funny notes:

(a)    The person sitting next to me in the flight was a complete copy-cat. When I asked for the headphone, he did the same. When I changed the direction of AC blower, he did the same. When I opened the magazine, he just followed it. And this was not enough as when I asked the air-hostess to drop few cubes of ice in my juice, he did the same but dint ask the air-hostess but asked me to ask her to put ice-cubes in his drink 🙂

(b)   The above was from Mumbai to Bahrain. The person sitting next to me from Bahrain to Riyadh was another disaster. We were given the Immigration form and need to fill it up. This guy ate my head and finally blew me off when he asked “kya  yeh sab bharna LAAZMI hai kya?”. I was like what is LAAZMI…..i dint have the courage to ask him. But I had to fill his form though!

(c)    Dint get a chance to see a single female face in Riyadh as all of them were covered 😦

(d)   Heated argument with a Pakistani taxi driver over the strained relationship of India & Pakistan

(e)   While returning back, two fellow passengers lying at the aisle, sleeping indifferently

And many more……but I will keep aside few only for me !!

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So finally it rained yesterday! There was indeed a big respite from the hot blistering Chennai’s summer. We were on a team outing at GRT Temple Bay in Mahabalipuram. While returning to Chennai, it started pouring heavily. The downpour was such that we were not able to see the road clearly. Subsequently we had to take a halt on the roadside.

And then my so called “devil-mind” ignited some mischievous thoughts. What the hell we were doing sitting inside the car. I told everyone that let just jump out and witness the torrential downpour. Everybody got excited and there we were – dancing and rejoicing under the rain in the middle of the road.

 I always enjoy getting drenched under the summer’s rain. It gives an extraordinary sense of freedom and happiness, a feeling which is inexplicable. For some moment, you tend to shed off any poignant feeling you have or had. The showers hitting your face, the goose-bumps from sudden chill, and the water dripping down- I mean everything is so ordinary yet so amazing.

Then we headed slowly to one of the chai-wallah shop. One of the best things after getting drenched in rain is the deadly combination of a chai and soo-tta ! This is something which is a must do activity post the rain shower. Ah!! Some great moments I have been looking forward to in Chennai, and was duly achieved. After a long-long time, Chennai was cool and yes ofcourse, me being cooler 🙂 !

I had to say, I revisited my best days in Delhi. Summer rains in Delhi were always powerful, thunderous and a continuous downpour. We were always joined by our neighbourhood Bhaiya & Bhabhi with hand-smacking hot pakoras and chai at our disposal :). The bonus being the pretty females rejoicing at their terrace bang opposite our apartment, and throwing loads of signs at each other! This line-maa-ro-ing gave us enough incentive to keep standing under the rain, until their mother also join them only to figure out the real mischief and whisking them back inside the house 😦

Thats what summer rain brings to me – it makes me happy!!  Any partners in this crime..eh?!

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Call it my nature or my destiny, why do I always find myself caught at the wrong place?! Even if things come as an opportunity, the odds are always high against me. I completely understand and more than experienced to realize that the taste of success is much better when the odds are high. But not everytime..man!!!

Anyway, an opportunity is an opportunity. There is only one way out – take it, exploit it and do the best one can. And that what I will achieve to do.

Meanwhile, I realized how difficult it is to keep quite (read less talking)! I am down with sore throat and my voice box decided to shutdown. Result – Amrit is suffering. I am unable to speak much .and trust me its very very difficult to keep quite or speak less. Aaaarrgghhh!!!

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Picked this from Skashi’s blogspace. Really liked it and it triggered the thought that there are so many things to do in life! I have to bold whatever I have done out of these…So here I go!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink

02. Swam with dolphins

03. Climbed a mountain

04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive

05. Been inside the Great Pyramid

06. Held a tarantula

07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone

08. Said “I love you” and meant it  (When I say it..I mean it!!)

09. Hugged a tree

10. Bungee jumped

11. Visited Paris

12. Watched a lightning storm at sea

13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise

14. Seen the Northern Lights

15. Gone to a huge sports game  (for me I consider my local village cricket match as a huge sports game…trust me its kewl!!!)

16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa

17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables

18. Touched an iceberg

19. Slept under the stars (well..quite sometime..when there were no current 🙂 ) 

20. Changed a baby’s diaper (dint get an opportunity…and m glad !!! 🙂 )

21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon

22. Watched a meteor shower

23. Gotten Drunk on champagne

24. Given more than you can afford to charity

25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope

26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment

27. Had a food fight

 28. Bet on a winning horse

29. Asked out a stranger (what a terrifying incident it was…huff..puff!!! )   

30. Had a snowball fight

31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can

32. Held a lamb

33. Seen a total eclipse

34. Ridden a roller coaster (ooohhh….how much I love it)

35. Hit a home run (On a video game )

36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking (thats what I always do 🙂 )

37. Adopted an accent for an entire day (not for  one day…but alomost for a month when I was working with Wipro)

38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment

39. Had two hard drives for your computer

40. Visited all 50 states

41. Taken care of someone who was drunk

42. Had amazing friends (very very amazing friends…you need them in life!!)

43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country

44. Watched whales

45. Stolen a sign (gawd..did it so many times in school days 🙂 )

46. Backpacked in Europe

47. Taken a road-trip

48. Gone rock climbing

49. Taken a midnight walk on the beach

50. Gone sky diving

51. Visited Ireland

52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love (and god knows when it wil get over 😦 )

53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them

  54. Visited Japan

55. Milked a cow (tried it once…was not very successful though)

56. Alphabetized your CDs

57. Pretended to be a superhero (gosh…when I was kid…before the shower..I always use to become superman..with my towel tied like superman….hey..but no wearing undies over my trousers!!! 🙂  )

58. Sung karaoke

59. Lounged around in bed all day

60. Played touch football

61. Gone scuba diving

62. Kissed in the rain

63. Played in the mud

64. Played in the rain

65. Gone to a drive-in theatre

66. Visited the Great Wall of China

67. Started a business

68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken

69. Toured ancient sites

70. Taken a martial arts class

71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight (I am a movie freak folks…done this number of times)

72. Gotten married

73. Been in a movie

74. Crashed a party

75. Gotten divorced

76. Gone without food for 5 days

77. Made cookies from scratch

78. Won first prize in a costume contest

79. Ridden a gondola in Venice

80. Gotten a tattoo (Temporary one)but I want to get a real one!!!

81. Rafted the Snake River

82. Been on a television news program as an “expert”

83. Gotten flowers for no reason (Many times)

84. Performed on stage (Many times again)…..use to do in childhood days…but it has gone away completely when I was lil grown up )

85. Been to Las Vegas

86. Recorded music

87. Eaten shark

88. Kissed on the first date (this..I always wanted to do…but alas…my hard luck 🙂 )

 89. Gone to Thailand

90. Bought a house

91. Been in a combat zone

92. Buried one/both of your parents

93. Been on a cruise ship

94. Spoken more than one language fluently

95. Performed in Rocky Horror

96. Raised children

97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour

98. Passed out cold

99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country

100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over

101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge

102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking with the windows open

 103. Had plastic surgery

104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived

105. Wrote articles for a large publication

106. Lost over 100 pounds

107. Held someone while they were having a flashback (sometimes feel …why the hell we do it…it hurts you bak :O )

108. Piloted an airplane

109. Touched a stingray

110. Broken someone’s heart  (but believe me…its hurts back..and thats a plain truth)

111. Helped an animal give birth

112. Won money on a TV game show

113. Broken a bone

114. Gone on an African photo safari

115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears

116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol

117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild

118. Ridden a horse

119. Had major surgery

120. Had a snake as a pet

121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon

122. Slept for 30 hours in a 48 hour period

123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. States

124. Visited all 7 continents

125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days

126. Eaten kangaroo meat

127. Eaten sushi

128. Had your picture in the newspaper (one of the best moments of my life..i still cherish it 🙂 )

129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about

130. Gone back to school

131. Parasailed

132. Touched a cockroach (Unknowingly)

133. Eaten fried green tomatoes

134. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey

135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read

136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating

137. Skipped all your school reunions (how unlucky I am!!! )

138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language (do it almost everyday)

139. Been elected to public office

140. Written your own computer language (but it never worked 🙂 )

141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream (It’s an awesome feeling)

142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care

143. Built your own PC from parts

144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you

145. Had a booth at a street fair

146. Dyed your hair (not dyed…but I would say colored my hair…)

147. Been a DJ (At a party at friend’s place)

148. Shaved your head

149. Caused a car accident (A very minor one)

150. Saved someone’s life

God..so many things yet to do…but really enjoyed it. Definitely, I am definitely tagging Ashwin. And in addition ZackDavis & Ria

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Its been quite sometime now. My patience is running off!! Why I am not getting the opportunity I am looking for?! Why is it not crossing my way! How long I have to patient?! Everyday this thought lingers in my mind. I see others sprinting away. And no matter how much I try, I am still behind.

**Excerpts (from the conversation going on between me and me)

” Hey Amrit!! Don’t loose heart..keep running!!”

Yeah…yeah!! What else,  I have no option anyway! I cant wait for some VJ to play a song, the clock to tick, the tide to turn, the sun to rise….and you say I am IMPATIENT!!

Now thats what you were losing. Where is your “never say die attitude”! You can do it man!

Yes..yes. I can do it. I have always done it. I can still do it.

Now thats the real Amrit! So what you gonna do??

I will…I will….errr…ummm….I will fight!

Havent you tried this before? Whats the outcome? You were pushed back even more!

Then what should I do..Yes. I will survive. I have recently developed this new skill. Should use it considerably.

But you have been doing this for quite sometime now. Till how long you want to survive and survive.

I cant fight..I cant even survive! Then what should I do??

Be patient Amrit. Your time will also come.

Yeah..keep on saying that. Thats how I learnt the survival skills. Now what I will learn from this?!

…………………………

(For complete conversation, log on to Amrit’s mind…but at your own risk!!)

**Courtesy: Amrit reckless mind !

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I was in Rameswaram last weekend to pay homage to one of our heavenly God – the Rama!! It was a novel experience, something which I never experienced before: floating stone, a waveless (calm) sea, taking holy bath across 22 holy wells!!

Keeping these experiences aside, what will always remain green in my memory is the sight-seeing experience. If you simply ask me – I don’t think there would be any place as such when it comes to sight-seeing!! You must be wondering whats there to see in Rameswaram except archaic temples..and you are absolutely true in that context! What I am talking about is the novelty of sightseeing mode & one of the sight-seeing points.

Sight seeing mode – Auto Rickshaw

Sight Seeing Point – Our former President Dr. A.P.J Kalam elder brother’s house

Now, I have never witnessed any place where the auto-rickshaws take you for the sightseeing tour. Funny it may sound, but this is the mere truth. You approach an auto-driver and ask for the sightseeing tour. Immediately he will take out a travel card kinda stuff with a list of sights to visit in Rameswaram. In total there were 8 sightseeing points and you also have an option!! Whoa!! If you chose the complete tour it will cost 250 (ekdum fixed rate!! No bargaining: is there mantra!!),and if you omit one point then its 150 bucks!! Kewl..!

So, I had the first time ever opportunity to go for a sightseeing in an auto-rickshaw. Well, this comes with a bonus – a free guidenwith the auto..as the driver himself was the guide 🙂

 Rameshwar                            Kalam brother

Now this one was really cool..and indeed very very funny..atleast to me. Out of the 8 sightseeing points, one was the house of our former President Dr. A.P.J Kalam elder brother. There is absolutely no harm if the elder brother climbed upto a level to find a place in the sightseeing list leveraging on the brother’s national popularity. But what caught my attention is the complete different connotation derived from this popularity. You can find him sitting at the porch of the house and showering blessings. The not-so educated lots of tourists considered him as a saint man who had attained spirituality and dropping at his feet to seek blessings. Well, I don’t blame them entirely, coz the way this old man was sitting at the porch with one hand raised like a saint man…anyone would get confused whether we are here to witness our President’s elder brother or a selfless saint man like Buddha!!! And I thought this is the end…but hola..wait!! Someone shouted to offer gifts (in plain terms – money, baby!) to him..and to my amazement, people offered money at his feet and again went down lying at his feet and seeking blessings. Well, there he is…he kept his hand on their head and muttered something. So, he had climbed another level – a tourist proclaimed holy saint!!

The sight bemused me a lot. What a terrific sightseeing point!!

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Its one of those sleepless nights again where sleep just refused to accept me, and in turn ignited my thinking cells. It is dark everywhere and I am staring at the ceiling. And then some weird story started forming in my mind. It started with good thoughts and somewhere in the middle went into negative (read – sad!).

 Now, once this sad part came I could not figure out anything happy in the story. There has to be a happy ending, even if the ending is not happy! I instructed my reckless brain. The laptop was on and I decided to write. I will figure out the happy ending while penning down the weird story originating from my mind, I said to myself.

 So here it goes. (I know how weirdo it is…but a thought is a thought!!!).

 

He woke up in silence. Was it a bad dream, he wondered! He was sweating profusely and whispered a silent prayer. His thoughts were not consolidated and conclusive. He rummaged his brain to bring out the clarity. And gradually he could figure out what was happening. It was definitely not a dream.

 He desperately started looking for something. He could see the half burnt car with black soot of smoke still emanating from it. And then it struck him. It was an accident. He was driving and she was sitting next to him. Where is she!! She must be here only. He remembered everything now. There was a brake-failure and by the time he figured out, it was too late. He looked at her and thought how much he loved her. “I have to save her”. But he dint know how!! And the next moment everything went black!

 There she was, lying next to the car. He ran to her. She was breathing and making a feeble attempt to get up. He tried helping her. But to his utter shock, he was not able to hold her. He tried holding her hand, but he couldn’t even touch her. He shouted but she is dint even look at him. He couldn’t understand whats wrong with her. Why is she not looking at him? She finally stood up and painfully walked to the other side of the car.

 She screamed and broke down into tears. He followed her, and saw himself lying in the pool of blood. He was confounded. Who is that person who looks exactly like him!

And then he realized. He was the one lying there. He now understood why he was not able to touch her, why she was not looking at him. He was no more!!

He walked to her and looked into her eyes. The pain of losing him was clearly visible. Tears rolled down from his eyes. He wanted to comfort her, hold her hand. But there is nothing he can do.

 He stared at her. She is so beautiful. And then he smiled. She is alive. And its not a dream.

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