Saturday, July 16, 2011

All together in Long Island

Soma and I, Rishaan and Rohan, Soma's parents, and my parents - everyone was at the same place at the same time for a brief 24 hours, thanks to overlapped travel schedules

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dinner with Shamik-Indrani-Diya

Farewell party for the Ghosh family. It was a pleasure knowing you for the brief time that we did, and hope our paths cross again soon (at least when we visit Kolkata next) :)
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Sunday, May 09, 2010

Weekend project: Showcase


The showcase setup took longer than I thought. The little Ikea under-cabinet lights are far more expensive than I thought, and they come in many variations, so that took a few months to finalize. Assembling the Ikea showcase was easy with the 2 of us. What took the longest was snaking all the wires along the wood frames so they are hidden from view, at the same time sticking all the individual control switches along the top back panel so they are within reach if we want to switch off individual lights.

The Christmas tree - the first occupant of the top - got replaced with a Homedics fountain when seasons turned, primarily because genuine Chinese fountains were too elaborate, too heavy and too expensive.

The digital frame is the newest addition - apparently these can now double as little monitors, using the same LCD panels as netbooks, but I'd rather let this be.

Under cabinet lights make a huge difference. Of course, everyone already knows this, but it is definitely more satisfying when I know the number of hours that have gone into setting this up.
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Saturday, May 08, 2010

Our old house at Willow Avenue


Another discovery from the boxes in storage - my first rental in the US after graduation from Rutgers and being kicked out of campus housing. Yashodhan, Satish, Chaitanya, Sripad and I had a fun 3 years at this place.
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Blast from the past: Cars



Found these set of photos in boxes that have been carried around for 10 years now. The Civic was the first car I owned, and giventhe amount of driving we did in the summer of 2000 on this $2000 car, it hit a value/price ratio that's hard to beat. The Audi was a guest for a short 12 months, 4 speeding tickets, and more horsepower than I've seen since.
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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

NY Botanical Gardens - Spring 09

The NY Botanical Garden was our "Staycation" version of watching Spring bloom. Right next to the Bronx Zoo, this is a relaxed but huge area - with, as you can guess, plants in and out of bloom. We missed the Tulip show - due to start in another 15 days - and went with a general tour of the place. The tropical rainforest and the desert vegetation were impressive and interesting. Presentation is, as with most things in the US, absolutely great.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Saratoga Springs

Skip the reading and head for the pictures

We woke up early Friday morning with a sharp urge to get out somewhere for the weekend. The economy has pretty much grounded us for months, and our trips to South America seem to be stuck in the planning and language learning stage for years - the IRS just took away the money we were saving for a trip to Peru or Argentina, so we are back to square one.

I did what I do every morning - haul myself off the bed and sit down at the computer. A few clicks, and Lake George comes up as a possibility. A few more clicks, and I found the Hilton at Saratoga Springs going for as low as $69 a day. Quick reference across my favorite Priceline info - Bidding for Travel - and we ended up with a reservation at Holiday Inn for $49, a 2-day reservation costing about as much as a standard daily rate.

The rest of the day went fast, as it always does in anticipation of a trip - be it to somewhere near or far away. I had a holiday for Good Friday, Soma had work - but managed to come back a little early, and we took off by 5.

Reached Saratoga Springs around 8:30, and within minutes had to trash our restaurant research from Citysearch. The top rated Chinese place seemed a strip mall joint with 2 customers - while the Friendly's next door had 10. Citysearch is really bad with anything outside the metros. We ended up at Limoncello's right opposite the Holiday Inn - for some bland, non-descriptive Italian. As we would discover tomorrow, pretty much anything in downtown (just a half mile away) would have been a better choice.

Holiday Inn gave us a really nice room, and the just-right mattresses helped us get the long rest we needed. Breakfast followed - with my usual 'holiday' choice of bacon, eggs and rye bread. Soma had a filling Denver omelet. Rested and fed, we asked for things to do.

Apparently the 2 major attractions of Saratoga Springs are the Spa State Park, and the battleground (Historic State Park). The battleground got us warnings for muddy trails. We skipped the spa as well, and headed out to Lake George - 30 minutes away.

This being mid April, Lake George was - well - dead. Pretty much like the US side of Niagara during December. We thought of driving up to Prospect Mountain - but the road was closed. Kept hitting roads towards the mountain hoping to find a trailhead, and after some local help, ended up at the intersection of Montcalm and Cooper for a foot trail. Good enough - a handful of other (more fit) hikers were also heading up.

Once on the hike, I remembered having done the exact same hike with Snigdha and Bikram back in '01, was the first long ride on my S4. Pity I didn't remember anything else about the hike - and had to read up on the blackberry as we were going along.

The trail was, well, really steep. Just 1.5 miles or so, but a 2000 ft ascent in that. The first half was along a rocky gully (quoting from Bob Goodwin's summary). As Bob noted, this was not the best of hikes - you were pretty much going up a water channel with rocks. It was wet, muddy, and slippery in places. An hour later (we are slow hikers), we crossed the Prospect Mountain Highway, and the trail changed from a gully to mostly dry exposed boulders - somewhat steeper, but at least we were not jumping around to stay dry. Took us another hour of following the little red marker dots on trees to get to a Summit direction marker, and about half hour from there to reach the summit.

Being mid-day, and an overcast sky, the view was not exactly spectacular - but after having put so much effort into it, we made sure to get what we could. We headed down soon after - a debate on whether to take the closed highway or the steep path we came up on was settled when the GPS said the road was 5.2 miles to base. Going down the same foot trail was much easier, but keeping a good grip on out steps was not. Took us an hour and a half to get back to our car - 60% of the time we needed to go up.

By this time we were really hungry and exhausted. We headed back to Saratoga Springs, and had some delicious cakes, canolis and cappuccinos at Mrs London's. A place we would love to go again. We are happy when fed, and walked around to explore more of the little downtown. We compared 3 dinner-and-music venues - One Caroline, Gaffney's, and Bailey's - all within a single block between Broadway, Caroline and Phila streets. Gaffney's had the best food, making our decision easy.

Headed back to the hotel, showered, relaxed, and uploaded some snaps (appreciating the SD card slot on our Lenovo netbook). Headed out for dinner around 9 - as the band was scheduled to start around 10, and we would fall asleep if we had to wait after dinner.

Dinner at Gaffney's was - well - super awesome. Their Tapas platter had a variety of cheeses, dips, flatbreads, smoked trout, and some tasty little dishes we couldn't figure out. Their Jambalaya was really spicy and delicious, and the mixed grill offered an excellent combination of steak, pork chops and chicken cutlet - and had a sweet and spicy mango chutney to boot.

"Rick Bolton, The Dwyer Sisters and Arlin Greene" came up on stage - played some Dylans and similar numbers. It seemed like everyone knew everyone - people from the bar went up and sang or played with the band, and the band members were calling out to members of the audience by name. Live music is always leagues more interesting than anything on a CD or iPod, and we thoroughly enjoyed the next few hours. The best part was walking over to our hotel - nothing kills a night out like having to stay sober for the drive back.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Meeting up with Rituparna - Arnab

Soma met up with her friend from her undergrand and grad days in Kolkata - Rituparna, and Arnab and I accompanied. Thanks to Orkut and the online photo culture, it seemed like they were long time friends! We picked them up from Arnab's apartment in Columbia, drove over to Sripraphai Thai in Queens, and had a nice, slow lunch. Could have been slower if the parking meter didn't force us off.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Caleb Smith State Park

Long Island has an abundant number of state parks - for this morning, we decided to check out the Caleb Smith Sate Park in Smithtown. Should have been a mere 20 minute ride from our apartment, but it took more than an hour, mostly because we took a wrong turn right at the start and went into Huntington (heading west) instead of Smithtown (heading east). That happens.

As a park, and a Sunday stroll, it was awesome. Nice, quiet trails, clearly and frequently marked, and the no pet policy meant - unlike Connetquot - we didn't have to yield to horses or walk through the dung smells.

If anyone wants to know, we took the yellow trail, then on to the blue, and back to the yellow - 2.5 miles in all, and took us an hour at a snail's pace (with many stops for pictures). The weather was perfect, bugs were minimal, and it was very calming to see steam rising from the grass.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Soma graduates!

Soma formally graduated today in the Fall 2007 Graduation Ceremony at Stony Brook - here with the university president right after the ceremony.
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Friday, September 21, 2007

Soma joins Arcadis

Soma joined her first 'real job' in the US on the 4th of the month, and we got to go to a 'job treat' as soon as her first paycheck arrived! At the Curry Club restaurant, Stony Brook, NY
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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

JPMC Corp Challenge 2007

It was that time of the year again - when I do the annual run for 3.5 miles through oceans of people and the lush greenery of Central Park, to win the prize of 2 T'shirts. You can be sure that if I do end up in a position of power and become corrupt, I will be easily bribed. We had the Irish Terence running this time (Leander Murphy), who completed in a healthy 30 minutes, while I had to carry along the good food I've been eating at home for the past few months, and managed to finish the torture in just under 40.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A R Rahman in Concert

Yashodhan, Chhordibhai, Ma, Baba, Soma and I went to see A R Rahman and his entourage (Sadhna Sargam for one) at the Nassau Coliseum. I had been to a similar show a few years back, but didn't remember the experience - had fallen asleep at some point. After a re-visit, I remembered why I fell asleep in the first place. The show was an expensive college fest, of sorts. The songs were unorganized. The MC was positively irritating. A sense of randomness in the air. Our recent concert visits - Usha Uthup, Bhoomi, Pink Floyd - all exhibited a remarkable sense of organization and professionalism that was missing here.

That said, it was an evening / night well spent - I particularly liked the drummer, Sivamani, who was the keystone of the party.