21 December 2005

Stop poking my blog!

I knew there had to be a good reason why Axe is still single.

Aditi has been quite unwell for nearly 3 weeks now, and last week was so bad we were in and out of hospital. She is much better now. One of the key indicators being the fact that she has learned to climb to the top of the kitchen counter, pulling out the drawers and using them as steps.

So we are taking time off and heading to India for 3 weeks. We leave on Saturday. Mysore, here I come!

And Axe, don't poke my blog again. It's not nice. Go stand in the corner!

20 November 2005

Let's go fly a kite

.....Up to the highest height!
Let's go fly a kite and send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear

Oh, let's go fly a kite!

So we took Mary Poppins' words ot heart and took ourselves out to the East Coast Park, and bought ourselves a kite.

That, however, was the easy part. What was not easy was actually getting it to go over 10 feet up in the air. It didn't help much that our little energetic bundle of joy thought it was funny to get entangled in all that thread.

So Arun has decided that he can't let a pretty piece of paper get the better of him, and is determined to get it up and soaring tomorrow. And I plan to keep the video camera all ready to roll!

The kite we bought today was really pretty, and quite jazzed up. Arun and I were comparing it to the kites we flew, made with newspapers, sticks from brooms, waste thread for the 'tail' and begging for a length of sturdy thread to actually fly the airworthy(?) contraption. More often than not, it was held together with cooked rice rather than glue. And somehow it felt so wrong not being able to get this new engineered kite to take to the skies! If newspapers and 'parke-kaddi' could fly, why not this?

Maybe it's because we're older and wiser. Back then sheer confidence in our artwork gave us all the impetus we needed to coax scrap papers to fly, and fly really well.

So will this shiny swanky shop-bought marvel fly? We can only wait and see. A is determined that a kite won't get the better of him.

Here's to long forgotten skills. Go Arun!

17 November 2005

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

So how could I not watch this one on the day of it's release?

To start with, it was not too bad. In all honesty, I might have enjoyed the movie a lot better if I hadn't read the book yesterday. The book is really too big for the director to stay true to it, so there was a lot of editing! And very liberal doses of creative license...

For starters the Dursleys, the stay at the Burrow and (some of) the Weasley brothers were totally left out! At the Quidditch World cup, Harry and the Weasleys take the nosebleed seats instead of sitting in the main box. And there's no mention whatsoever of house-evles! Poor poor Dobby! And the Quidditch World Cup is totally left out. All we get to see is a starting line up of the two finalists. No Veelas!!!!! Ludo Bagman was a bit of a funny character in the book. Ludo Bagman who? That's right. He's been edited out. Rita Skeeter, the nosy journalist, is less than a pale shadow of her acidic, vicious self! For all the build-up and screen time she got, she might have been left out too! And did I mention that Barty Crouch Jr is brought in right at the beginning? There's never any explanation of how he's at Hogwarts when he's supposed to be in Azkaban!

The challenges in the Triwizard Tournament were well picturised. The maze challenge though, was a bit of a let down with hedges that rearranged themselves instead of assorted challenges thrown at the champions on the way to the trophy.

The Yule ball scene was good fun, so was the transformation of Hermione...

The finale at the graveyard was spectacular. And continuing in the spirit of cribbing, I must add that I didn't see Wormtail's new hand in the scene where the wands connect and Voldemort's wand spits out shadows of earlier spells. Ralph Fiennes was cool was Voldemort!

Hysteric Histrionics! My main crib (you mean there's more?) about this movie has to Michael Gambon who plays Albus Dumbledore. Dumbledore is supposed to be calm and collected always and a class act all the way. You'll know what I mean if you've watched the first three movies, with Richard Harris (RiP) in the role. This Dumbledore raves and rants and at seems to be on the verge of hysteria. I was so irritated by the character!

Overall, I'd give it a 3.5 on 5!

21 October 2005

Art Appreciation 101

This, little one, shall serve as your introduction to the fine world of fine art. Lets start you off at one of the best places in the world to see some fine works. Lets go to the Metropolitan Museum of art in Midtown Manhattan.

I don't really care for modern art, but these are some of Picasso's early works. Quite nice, aren't they?

I think he was much better before he discovered 'cubism'.. shudder

Let's move on to early 19th century European works. Impressionists are a good place to start!

Yes, that's a very nice picture. Autumn haystacks by Millet. Good taste, kiddo. I realise that you're quite at liberty to interpret art anyway you wish, but "Baa Baa Black Sheep" wasn't quite what M'sieu Millet had in mind while painting that.

These are horses too, but they aren't the kind you sit on. Degas would be appalled if you did so! And no, poor Axe uncle isn't a horse.

Yes, that IS a cat my little one! But all cats aren't 'miyya Tom' don't need 'Jerry mouse' around! And no, I don't think you father is quite ready to buy you one... not the painting, not the actual feline...

But since you enjoyed your visit to this museum at least, let's get your dad to take you to another sometime.

10 October 2005

How're y'all doin'?

What is with the southern accent anyway? That drawl is really something else... It's charming, it's warm, it's funny or it's outright annoying. How is it that the same type of conversation with 3 different people speaking in the exact same idiom and drawl elicits three diverse reactions?

All three are people who have answered the phone when I called for a cab. The first was a lady who sounded so incredibly warm, charming and friendly. I still can't say 'y'all' or tag on 'honey' to each sentence the way she did. The guy who answered one time sounded plain funny... not warm or charming.. plain funny. The younger woman who took my call one time sounded plain hickish....

So what's the southern drawl/accent all about? Is it about being warm or is it a 'hick' thing? Does it depend on the person who's speaking?

So speak up , and y'all don't be a stranger.

The cutest part.. the way Aditi says 'Thank you so much'.. she drawls out that you.....

09 October 2005

'Twas a thrilling, absolutely chilling Running ......

........ of the 'Keeneland's' op'ning race.

Spend all this time in horse country and not go to the races?? How could one even think such sacrilegious thoughts! Today we headed to Keeneland to watch the races. It was a lovely day. Cloudy and a biting chill in the air. Not too chill. Just the perfect weather to watch the races under the open sky!
As we entered there we people who were dressed to the nines, and people who were dressed.... er... like us. Which means we sat with junta that raucously cheered the horses on instead of those that watched with stiff upper lips!

Denims are not allowed in the grandstands and pavilions. So we were all in redneck central!

Gowra and pa pored over the racing forms and placed bets. And Pa actually picked 3 winners out of 4!

This guy tooted and started each race. What is with that outfit anyway!
Someone else decided that the whole thing was a yawn and zzzzzzzzz.................

For some odd reason I decided that I didn't like the name 'Admiralty Island' and didn't bet, as none of the other names got my fancy!

But that hoss wouldn't be nice about it won by 4 lengths! And those who won were quite smug about it!

By this time, someone was wide awake and decided to take an active interest in the procedings!

And we thought 'Paper Man' would keep us in diapers for a few weeks. But that &#^)(#$* hoss came first alright... from the wrong end! and we decided to put on a brave face about it!

What's racing anyway without hats!

This is one of those that was within zooming distance!

And from the fence, we could see all the way up into the pavilions, club windows and grandstands.

And there were the people watching the proceedings with carefully schooled expressions.

And I felt like Eliza Doolittle who lustily encouraged Dover to move his blooming arse....

And now I keep singing...

What a smashing, positively dashing
Spectacle: the Ascot op'ning day.
At the gate are all the horses
Waiting for the cue to fly away.
What a gripping, absolutely ripping
Moment at the Ascot op'ning day.
Pulses rushing! Faces flushing!
Heartbeats speed up! I have never been so keyed up!

07 October 2005

Kentucky Horse Park

So we finally got around to doing the right thing here.. we went to the Kentucky Horse Park, to see... HORSES!!!!

Jokes apart, the one person who was thrilled to bits by the entire thing was Aditi. She had her first pony ride on a gentle little fella called Copper. After the first circuit of the paddock, she didn't even want me to hold on to her. And she sang about the horse in Old McDonald's farm all along! She was so tickled by the entire thing she laughed all the time. Now she doesn't want her appa to get her a 'Miyya Tom'.. she'd rather have 'Baby hoss'..

The highlight of our trip was the parade of the horses, with riders in period costumes. Quite a show. The first picture in this grid is of Aditi watching the horses with rapt attention.

The other highlight of the trip was that Pa got to see 'Secretariat'... Time magazine's 'Horse of the Century'.. not the actual equine.. a bronze statue!

Pa was totally tickled at seeing lots of Secretariat memorabilia in the thoroughbred museum.

As I blog, there's this little bundle of energy running around at hop speed making 'clip-clop' noises and snorting like her friend Copper.....

This one's cuter :)

03 October 2005

Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill

Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill is the largest restored Shaker community, with 2900 acres of farmland and 34 restored 19th-century buildings. It is a living history museum where the tangible reminders of an extraordinary life are preserved.

We took a lovely hour long ride in a restored paddle boat, the "Dixie Belle" along the picturesque Kentucky River. We passed some scenic spots and charming riverside homes. There was hardly any current along the river, and it's apparently because the river bed is all rock, beepest part being some 35 feet. I didn't get the funda, but... (fanfare, please) .. there's your utterly useless fact of the day!

Started in the early 18th century, the Shakers were an offshoot of the Quakers that originated in England. The Shakers were strict believers in celibacy, and maintained their numbers through conversion and adoption. Once boasting six hundred thousand adherents, today there are only four Shakers. They live somewhere in the mountains of Maine. I found this nice write up in Wikipedia.

These pics were taken in and around the Shaker Village. Volunteers dress up in traditional Shaker costumes.

The highlight of our visit was the Apple harvest. We bought a large paper bag, and were let loose in the apple orchards to fill the bag and our tummies too. We had a blast picking apples. Aditi joined in the fun and decided to have her lunch right off the tree!

Natural Bridge Park and Chimney Rock@Red River Gorge

We all had a really enjoyable drive down to natural bridge park, 2 hours southeast of Lexington. We passed horsefarms (big surprise) and duckponds on our way there.

Natural Bridge park has a natural rock bridge in it... hehehe... how lame!

The rock bridge is sandstone. But apparently this stands on a limestone layer. The park ranger wasn't able to explain the funda of that phenomena. I guess I'll ask Adeeti!

We went up to the top of the ridge in a chairlift. Aditi loved the ride! Once there we had to trek for a bit. First we trekked over the bridge and under it. Then we trekked to a viewpoint on the other side of the ridge from where we had a panoramic view of the Natural Rock bridge.

The collage above? From top right: that's the ridge across from the natural bridge from where I have taken the other pics of the Natural Rock Bridge.

The collage below.. the top two pictures are pics of the underbelly of the bridge, taken from beneath the bridge. The picture in the bottom right is of the chairlift. The bottom left pic is one of my favourites. We had to walk through this really narrow gap to get to the underside of the bridge. And as we were debating whether our ..(ahem) selves... could get through that crack in the rock, Aditi stood there as if calling to us to just come and get in there!

After that we drove down to the Red River Gorge. All these, by the way, are a part of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Since there was more hiking involved, and the stroller wasn't really an option in the woods, we decided to skip the actual gorge and take a trip to the Chimney Rock.

By the time we got there, Aditi was fast asleep, and Pa offered to stay in the car with her. So Ma, Gowra and I walked the short distance to he lookout point. In the college below, the middle pic in the first row is of Chimney Rock. The rest are just scenic pics shot there.

I saw pretty dasies growing in the rock. Not that you can make out anything in the first pic (top row left). Then there's us mopping up after a hike. And there's my little one looking so cute on her first ever hike!

More DC pics

After queuing for over an hour, we got into the capitol, but didn't get to see the galleries because the senate was in session.

View from the very top (of the Washington monument). Clockwise from top left: 1. the Jefferson Memorial, 2. Lincoln memorial, the reflecting pool and the WWII Memorial, 3. The White House and 4. The Mall all the way to the Capitol

The LincolMemorial, WWII memorial and the Washington Monument.

I really wanted to walk down all the way down the reflecting pool from the Lincoln memorial to the Washington Monument, but the seniormost and the juniormost in our group started to show signs of fatigue. I had brought along bread for the ducks there!

Wait a minute!!!! No one showed me Watergate!!! I want my money back!!

Aditi in lots of poses!

Washington DC

So after a lot of deliberation we finally got our collective butts to the capital, Washington DC. After a fairly uneventful flight, and a quick checkin, I got everybody packed and bundled off the Smithsonian museum of Natural History.

We gave ourselves a good half day to look around and take in the sights. I don't think we missed a single exhibit! Aditi loved the elephant in the rotunda... right after she made her wish list for her birthday, New Year, deepavali and any other occasion....

All she wants are the "Hope Diamond" (left) and Marie Antoinette (below) diamond ear-rings.

I don't really want to say "high hopes.. " but....

The Jurassic display was amazing!

The highlight of my visit to the National Air and Space Museum was seeing the 'Spirit of St Louis'. Aditi loved exploring the aircrafts there and telling her grandfather all about "baby's plane".

We took a 2 day 'Grand Tour' of DC covering all the "Patel" points. On our tour we met with the Reurs, a sweet couple from Arizona, who were celebrating their 55th Anniversary. Elvera Rauer, who was born in Eastern Europe is an author. She told us about her escape from the Nazi armies and how her mother and her siblings landed in New York in '49 to start a new life. She showed me pictures of her nine grandchildren and her two great-granddaughters.

We went to the Ford theater, and saw the box where Lincoln (who was, by the way, born in Kentucky) was shot.
These dolls are the craze at all tourist-traps. Talking dolls of presidents and other assorted politicians.

The Jefferson Memorial (left) and Korean War Memorial (below)

We also visited Mt Vernon, the home of the first president, George Washington. I can't find the pics that (I think) I took there. Then we drove around the old town of Alexandria where our tour guide pointed out places of interest, George Washington's home, another ofGeorge Washington's homes, George Washington's some relation's home, George Washington's school, George Washington's church ad nauseum! My dad finally got fed up and asked me if there was anything else to do with George Washington in the next day's tour! He was relieved when the next landmark was something to do with Confederate General Robert E Lee. I think had had his fill of good old George! We also drove past the Arlington Cemetary.

27 September 2005

Miscellaneous pictures

Other places around Lexington

Visit to Berea, the Arts and Craft capital of Kentucky

Berea is a charming town an hour's drive from Lexington. We passed lots of (what else) horse farms on our way there. I'm kind of hitting a saturation point with horses here. But I did see cows in one pasture. I have this doubt whether they are brought out on Derby day to make some of the non-performing horses look good!

Berea was full of handicraft and antique stores. Candle-making, quilting, stained glass, fused glass, glass jewelry, weaving and quilting studios dominate the little town. There's even an art college where attempts are on to revitalise fading arts and crafts. Did I forget to mention that Berea's a shopper's paradise too? Quaint little shops with the most amazing collection of knick-knacks and antiques! My credit card wanted to swipe for the most amazing quilt made with over 8,000 patches of fabric, but I had to put my foot down. My poor suitcase insisted that it possibly couldn't carry all that! I loved some awesome stained glass sun-catchers. But for the pain of transporting it!

Even Pa found something to his taste in Berea. See these thingies, they are made of recycled inner tubes. They are (supposedly) arty type of pins. It's not the Arty part of it that appealed to him anyway... hehehe...

Visit to Woodford Reserve Distillery at Glenn's creek

The distillery

sour mash under fermentation

copper vats

How could I be in Kentucky, and not see where and how Bourbon is made? Gowri drove us to Glenn's Creek, where Woodford Reserve is distilled. A charming distillery that blends into the surroundings beautifully in a picturesque vale. We had a nice tour of the old fashioned distillery where the mash is still distilled through three copper kettles. We saw the entire process starting from grain measures and cooking of the mash to bottling. But since we visited on a Sunday, when the law says that Kentucky stays dry, all we could do was sniff. No samples. How tragic... Ate lots of the bourbon candy samples and picked up a few as gifts.