Tuesday, May 30, 2006

A Priceless Re-Union Trip !

Flying to Phoenix – several 100 $
Ride to Canyon – several $
Hotel in Vegas – several 100$
Money spent/lost in Vegas – several $
Being with my old Bangalore gang – Priceless

What shall I say about the past 3 magical days, after which it is so difficult to be in the office!

In the first place, it was so astonishing to see how things fell in place and within a week’s time our trip was planned.

It all started with a call from Deepti asking me about the long weekend plan. I was still in the confused and undecided state. Then came the news that Venu may join with us, if we plan something. On other side, we came to know that Archana will be flying to Phoenix in the long weekend, where Supreeth stays. So taking these all jigsaw pieces & after some elaboration we fitted the jigsaw puzzle. After several Google searches and after one conference call, a plan was ready. Phoenix was our first destination.

Friday May 26, 2006

On Friday night I flew from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Deepti flew from San Jose and Venu from Chicago. Meanwhile Archana had flown from Denver in the afternoon itself and was enjoying the privilege of being the early bird by shopping things for the trip with Supreeth.

There we were at Phoenix airport, 5 of us, who were/is part of Lucent Messaging project in Bangalore. Especially for me, I was meeting all these friends nearly after 9 months. How excited and happy we were to see the old gang!

A good dinner at Supreeth’s place (special mention of Channa masala he prepared) was complimented with our peppy talks on LMD days. The next day was supposed to be very hectic. So we retired to bed, hoping to make an early start.

Saturday May 27, 2006

Next morning we started, not as planned at 6 but at 8 AM!

The agenda for the day - visit Sedona, Grand Canyon and finally reach Las Vegas.

Our first place of visit was Sedona rocks. Sedona has these red-colored rocks in different shapes .We had stops at the bell-shape rock & several other spots before we headed towards Grand Canyon.

The way to Grand Canyon was overly crowded & the traffic was extremely slow moving. We hoped atleast, once we are done with watching the 45 minutes movie on ’Grand Canyon’ at I-max theater, the traffic would ease. But it grew still slower. After limping on an annoyingly slow pace, we reached the South rim of Grand Canyon.

I still remember the awe which struck me when I first saw the Grand Canyon last year. I was totally mesmerized and I could see the same feeling on our folks faces. The best thing we did was taking the bus ride along the Canyon points. The Canyon shuttle carries visitors to several view points and the views at few of these points were breathtaking.

Simply put, Grand Canyon is magnanimous. It has to be God’s one of the best creations.

From there we started our journey towards Las Vegas.

If Grand Canyon is one of the best creations of God, then Las Vegas is one of the lavish materialistic creations created by man. As we drove closer to Vegas, the Vegas skyline was making presence with its brightly lit structures. Some land marks like Stratosphere were visible from the distance itself.

Around 2 am, we reached at the Gold Coast hotel, our stay in Vegas. It was a tricky situation. If we had gone out in Vegas at that time, we would have definitely not returned by morning and would have no energy & sleep for the next day. At the same time, it feels bad to sleep early in Vegas! Finally we decided to rest & start fresh the next day. That plan proved to be correct.

Sunday May 28, 2006

The plan for the day was shows, casinos, roaming & fun.

The day started on a bright note with Supreeth getting one heart-warming smiles from a black-lady-security guard at Hotel Bellagio. How our Supreeth used to blush when we mentioned that topic!

I had some fond-not-so-good memories of this Hotel. This was the same place where the touring group had left me deserted, when I visited Vegas last year with them. So all those moments of me finding that our tour bus had left me & I wandering around the hotel looking for my friends/bus was playing in mind.

But it was a feel good factor for me to be back in Vegas-Canyon on the same day as last year!

We roamed around on the ‘Strip’ checking few casinos and looking for goggles. The Las Vegas in the day light has a different look and it was looking like a gift box, waiting to be opened.

Evening session started with a bang with Venu & Archana winning teddy bears/doggies in the Circus Circus games. Probably if we had continued like that, I think we would have got enough stuffs to open a teddy bear shop. But unfortunately we had other things to do in Vegas!

There was nothing special about Circus show and I still didn’t understand why people were sitting there an hour before to see it!

As evening unfolded, Las Vegas was growing more attractive and looking more stunning. I wonder how much electricity would be required for this city which never sleeps. So much colors, so many lights, so many amazing structures & so many different people there for numerous reasons.

The first show we saw in the evening was ‘Sirens of TI’.A musical act with scarcely-clad ladies as Sirens and some hunks playing as pirates. It was visually very rich and entertaining. I liked especially the dance which the pirates did. If Treasure Island people are looking for a new face for that captain’s role, may be they can think of our Venu…

The Volcano show in Mirage was just ok. Before that it had a long delay which we used effectively for chatting all our non-sense talks! We were just about to erupt after waiting for more than an hour to see it, just then it started. But the delay of this show did trigger a series of just misses.

After a quick dinner (Burrito Bol) at Chippendales, we were in front of Bellagio again for the fountain show. The fountain show didn’t disappoint and it was as always amazing. Our luck with Laser show and Stratosphere rides was not that good.

It was around 2 in the morning when we reached Newyork Newyork hotel, where we stopped at a bar to listen to the band playing there. The band was belting some good numbers including ‘Hotel California’. The crowd there was enjoying in their own ways.

We moved across to MGM hotel, just in front of Newyork Newyork hotel. After that Venu & me ventured into some other place, while Archana, Deepti & Suppi were busy in Casino. Finally when we all met & started from the ‘Strip’, back to hotel, it was 6 in the morning!!

We had spent an astonishing 19 hours non-stop in the Las Vegas Strip!!

Monday May 29, 2006

Back in hotel, we hit the bed as soon we reached it. But there was no luxury of sound sleep as we were scheduled to leave for Hoover dam. So after a quick power nap for 2 hours, we were ready for Hoover dam.

As we left Vegas, I was thinking of what all things Vegas offers. It has got everything for everybody’s demands/needs. One thing I again learnt was every time you go to Vegas, you feel that there is still something which you didn’t know/experience about the Sin city!

This awesome line I saw it on a t-shirt summarizes the Vegas experience.
Las Vegas – Successfully separating decent people from their pay checks since 1911”.

From the Sin city, we moved towards Hoover dam which is almost an hour away .The dam was built on river Colorado to prevent flooding along its way, to use the water for agriculture in California, Arizona & Nevada and for hydroelectricity generation. It is located on the borders of the states of Nevada & Arizona and is named after US President Herbert Hover.

The view from the top of dam was magnificent and the dam has unbelievably steep curved dam walls. An awesome engineering creation!

The winged figures at the entrance of dam were interesting. It seems rubbing the feet of these statues bring some good fortune. So all of us were there, rubbing the feet of that winged figures statues!

With Deepti’s flight at 8 and Archana’s at 8:30, it was time to rush back to Phoenix. It seems it would usually take 5-6 hours to reach Phoenix. But when you have Supreeth who can easily give competition to BMTC drivers back in Bangalore for overtaking, that distance proved too short.Supported by the excellent company for the journey and with some awesome songs playing, the journey just zoomed by. The journey back was blasting with singing & some back seat dancing! We reached Phoenix in little more than 4 hours.

It was time for good byes.

First Deepti, then Archana, finally Venu & Me took our respective flights. I Know Suppi would have felt totally alone at that moment, after being with us for all these 3 days.

The very moment I put my foot in the plane, I started missing the gang and all the fun we had. It was funny to be sitting in the business class among those serious looking folks. All around, folks were busy either digging their laptops or reading some books.

I just closed my eyes and all the wonderful moments of the trip were passing by like a slide show. As each image of the trip passed by, there was a smile sailing through my face.

My iPod was playing the song

Har Pal Yahan
Jee Bhar Jiyo Jo Hai Sama
Kal Ho Na Ho

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Popcorn & Holy Grail !

Scene 1: Feverish frenziness in office, everybody booking tickets online expecting a huge turn over.

Scene 2: Outside movie theater, several groups sitting with boards ‘Blasphemy’.

Scene 3: Pretty long queues for ticket, many of them not getting tickets.

Scene 4: Movie is going on. The black guy next to me slips into sleep, only to be wakened up by his girl friend often.

Scene 5: Guy sitting in next row, shouts ‘Oh Jesus! What are they saying?’

Scene 6: Coming out of theatre, many young men-women discussing about Bible, about Jesus & about Christianity

This summarizes the movie experience of ‘The Da Vinci Code’, the most anticipated & most controversial movie.

Having read the book ‘Da Vinci Code’ twice, the first thing I wanted to do was to see the novel on the screen. Keeping aside the arguments-counter arguments about the authenticity of the contents of the book, the book was simply flabbergasting. Nobody other than Dan Brown could have mixed fiction and fact in such deadly combination.

With story being well-known & almost everything in the story familiar, all I was interested was to see how it is brought to celluloid. Print media and Celluloid media have their own advantages and disadvantages. Often things bridged from print to celluloid will loose some charm in the transition. Da Vinci Code is no exception.

Director Ron Howard looks like did a decent job of being loyal to the novel barring few minor changes here and there. The movie is fast paced and many threads in the story run parallely as in the novel. It makes a perfect broth for an entertainer with murders, secret codes, car chases, cryptography and Christianity. Don’t forget the locations it is picturised.

Casting is usually good. Tom Hanks effortlessly slips into the symbolgist Robert Langdon’s character. Audrey as Sophia sparkles once in a while with her nice smile.Unlike in novel, somehow Collet looks like challenging Fache. Silas is as chilling as described in the novel. But the scenes involving Ian McKellan as Tiebing take the top spot.

Few scenes in the movie where theatre was involved..
Silas whipping himself..Tiebing dramatically saying Mary Magadelane was married to Jesus..Langdon breaking the Draculian Devil clue...

But my fav one is when Langdon asks Sophie at the end "Does it matter if Jesus was married? Does somebody stop inspiring others just because they are human or God "

I was interested to know how few of my friends who had not read the novel felt about the movie. Though they got an outlook, they obviously missed some references.

I need to add that here is not much scope for Tom for his skills..

Over all, if you are a great fan of Da Vinci Code and want to see the movie, only suggestion is don’t expect a holy grail. All you can expect is faithful story & fast narration with occasional tweaking in the plot. A picture speaks more than 100 words doesn’t hold good. Somehow in this case, ‘those 1000 words’ are more thrilling.

Consider it a pop-corn entertainer, but at the end of day it does pops up some questions.

PS: This I heard in the parking lot from a friend about crucification. According to that person, Jesus was never crucified instead Peter was crucified. Jesus passed away peacefully somewhere in Kashmir!!

Dan, are you listening?!!