Friday, September 23, 2005

Twilight and Evening Bell....

The most interesting thing happened last night. I was at Vons doing groceries, when a friend (who had just walked out of Vons too) called up and asked me to step outside and look towards the sky. I rushed out and an amazing twilight show met my eyes. At first it seemed to be a falling missile but on closer look it seemed the trail had been created by a plane or rocket of some kind. I stood there baffled.

Things became clearer today morning when my office mate told me ( he is interested in astronomy ) that a satellite was launched from some base in California. What caused this beautiful phenomenon probably was unburnt fuel particles and water drops in the rocket's contrail that sometimes feeze in the less dense upper atmosphere and get reflected by sunlight at high altitudes, easy to observe because the launch took place shortly after sunset.

Here is a picture of what I saw as captured by a colleague at work in his camera.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Flowers of Kauai

While in Kauai, we chanced upon a number of beautiful flowers. A small trek and one was sure to chance upon some orchid or hibiscus of some kind. The local people as well as the tourists could be commonly seen wearing plumerias in their hair. I remember our monk guide at the monastery telling us that in Kauai it rains so much that all they needed to do to maintain the grounds was pot the plant and then just pray that it grow. And the technique never failed :-)

I thought I will share some of the pictures in this post. Some of them are not in good focus, I guess I couldn't get quite right the technique of focussing on something up close. But there I was trying to capture some of them in my camera as soon as it rained (BTW there was no dearth of rain, you just had to wish it and it would come down)

Hydrangea on the Pihea Trail
It had just rained and we were on the Pihea Trail when we spotted bunches of Hydrangea. They looked really fresh with the raindrops on them.

Red Ginger on way to the Fern Grotto

This picture and the next one too were taken on way to the Fern Grotto, a natural cave with ferns growing from the walls. Apparently Red Ginger is used to make shampoo... Interesting

And I don't know the name of this one :-(

Plumerias - they were in plenty everywhere

This particular flower, Plumeria, almost seemed to be the state flower. It was omnipresent, on trees, in people's hair, printed on T-Shirts and on Sarongs. This particular picture was taken in our hotel.

Hibiscus - Found growing wild on the Island

I am pretty sure I have seen Hibiscus in India too, but I think there I generally saw red ones. This yellow one caught my eye

Water Lily at a pond in the Kauai Hindu Monastery

And this last one is of a water lily growing in the Kauai Monastery. The monks have done a really good job of maintaining the grounds and the lawns were home to many rare plants. Damn ! I didn't get the focus right on this one.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ann Arbor Campus and Architecture

On my third day of stay at Ann Arbor, I decided to visit the University and its campus.

A striking thing about the Campus was the architecture itself. Some of the buildings were old and Gothic in style while others were more modern.

The Law School Legal Research Building (
East Triforium)

I especially liked the Law School or the Law Quadrangle as it is more popularly known. This beautiful Quadrangle was a gift to the university from William W. Cook who was an alumnus of the same school. Rumor has it ( Tip 1: Courtesy Sunit) that Cook wanted the building design to be inspired by the Law School at Oxford. But although he was involved with many aspects of its construction, he never came to Ann Arbor to see the magnificent facility either during construction or upon completion for the fear of it not living upto his dream.They say construction of the Quadrangle took more than a decade and rightly so, for I think it has resulted in one of the most beautiful student campuses I have ever seen. The Quadrangle houses the teaching facilities as well as the student dormitories. The Law School itself is one of the best in the world. ( Tip 2: Courtesy Sunit again) Around Michigan, people refer to Harvard as the "Michigan of the East". Just walking through those prestigious and beautiful grounds was a pleasure.

The Law Quadrangle

Our next trip was to the Diag or the main area where students gather. We could spot students walking around, some sitting under a tree and relaxing and others just merrily chatting with their friends. The Diag was a huge enclosure of buildings surrounding a central open area. On one side was the Michigan Library, another magnificent building. In the centre of the Diag was a concrete area with the letter "M" inlaid in bronze, "M" being the insignia of University of Michigan. The popular myth among the students is (Tip 3: Courtesy Sunit... My, My ! He was all excited while showing off his new school) that if a student steps onto this "M" in his first year, he/she will fail the first exam he/she sits for in the first semester. I caught many people trying to avoid stepping onto this area. I think Sunit even told me how to avoid failing if one accidentally steps onto it. But lets not go there.

The Diag with the Library is the background

On the South State Street, was this other huge building. It had some wonderful words engraved on the top. And they read as: "Religion, Morality and Knowledge, Being Necessary to Good Government and the Happiness of Mankind, Schools and the Means of Education Shall Forever Be Encouraged". Apparently Angell Hall houses the Department of Literature, Arts and Sciences.The tall pillars reminded me of a Greek or Roman temple.

Angell Hall

The trip to Ann Arbor was a pleasant one, to say the least. And very relaxing. Home away from home is GREAT. There was neither the bother of laundry, cleaning or grocery shopping that one has when at home, nor the bother of "Oh! we have to go see that place and this place" when one is on vacation. I realized for the first time that I could actually sleep for 12 hours a day. I would go to sleep according to EST and get up as per PST.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

A Walk In The Park And A Chance Encounter

Last weekend I travelled to Ann Arbor, Michigan. It was my first visit since Sunit had joined MBA school. After a lot of lazing about, we decided to take a walk in the Fuller and Gallop Park. I name both because I am not sure which one we ended up in - Both were next to each other on River Huron and we couldn't figure out when one ended and the other started :-)

The Parks had a river flowing right through the center and serene wilderness stretches around. There were some people canoeing in the river, some cycling about on some of the paved paths and some like us were just walking around enjoying the surroundings.

There was this one particular stretch of boardwalk that ended in a rugged path along the river. We decided to walk it. We had just taken a turn back and I was just catching a breath when Sunit whispered - "Pooja !!! Look !". I turned around and lo behold, about 30 feet away was a family of deer. This was the first time I had seen one at such close quarters. I stood still, hoping to watch them more while Sunit went click-click with the camera. We watched them, dazed in their presence till they ran away in the opposite direction leaving good humored smiles on our faces - It had been a most fortunate chance encounter.