It is amazing what attitudes can do to life! Now I just wish I can change my attitude on a certain issue that is making my life rather miserable.

I need my cheering squad as I get ready to make some decisions...

Fingers n toes crossed

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They say it happens, I said it will not. How can something so heart-wrenching become matter-of-fact. In fact, I vowed that I will not let it happen.

It happened yesterday. The usual lump in the throat, the tears swimming in the eyes were absent. I was calm and composed as I spoke about losing my grandpa and the pain I felt after that.

I hate myself for it. How can I do it? How can I talk about losing my grandpa in such a matter-of-factly way?

I hate myself.
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Drums, fire and Friday

One of my favorite things about Houston is the Miller outdoor theatre. Free shows in a open air auditorium.
We out at Miller enjoying the fall weather, picnic dinner and the Taiko Japanese drum and fire dances.
Perfect way to unwind on a Friday evening!

The picture is really bad but that is the best my cell phone can capture.

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Friday questions

Why is it that some people always pick out the non-existent and not appreciate what has been done perfectly?

And why is it that I put up with such people and torture myself?

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Chapatis, Oil and Memories

I stayed in a hostel for 4 years during my under grad days. Like most I have good and bad memories of those days. It was fun and dreadful at the same time. One of the things which I hated was obviously the messed up food served at the mess. I survived 4 years on chocolate bars, frequent visits home, bulging food parcels from home and a random visit to the mess.

Our mess served chapatis dipped in oil for lunch and occasionally dinner. Oil adds a distinct heaviness to the air and the smell of oil in a dimly lit room, with 300+ girls noisily chattering is probably not any one's favorite. Why do I tell you all this ?

Yesterday, lunch time I stepped out into what is Fall like weather in Houston from a freezing office. In the typical flimi style, I opened the glass door separating me from the outdoor warmth, lifted my face to the sun, and took a gulp of fresh air.

Then I smelled it - I am not sure if the smell was a part of my over reactive brain and hungry tummy but I could clearly smell mess chapatis and the oil. It took me back to those days.... Long lines, laughter, stupid jokes, tense moments before the tests, the complaints over inedible food, the crushes and heartbreaks and more.

Laugh at me if you want to (I did at myself), but for a crazy moment I missed college mess food and the memories that cling to oil dipped chapatis..

Nostalgia and memories are bitter-sweet and I seem to be reliving and drawing energy from the past a lot these days...

Do you have any things you hated when you were younger and miss them today?

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The post below will probably not make sense to you. So do skip it. I just needed to get it out.
I am plain baffled by how human nature and concepts about loyalty, and expectations vary. I just cannot believe I totally misunderstood/misjudged someone. My intuition I trust so much let me down. I admit I had apprehensions but I squashed them because I did not want to have a closed mind. Over a period of time, I even convinced myself that my intuition told me something else. I refused to accept the truth in front of me for ages, I gave excuses for me and others involved. I finally got the required guts to admit it was in vain and I just kept fooling myself to save heartache. I was leaping over broken bridges hoping they could be mended. But it was an illusion. I have quit making excuses. I am ready for closure. Closure means raking up the past, experience the bitter-sweet feeling of nostalgia seep through me, say goodbye and then think of the next move. There is definitely a next move because I can run but not hide. And it is time I learned some lessons out of this incident. As humans, we are flawed but then is it reasonable to point fingers to justify one's actions I wonder.
It hurts coz I lose a lot. I hate to make my happy memories bitter-sweet. I hate to close the door but I do need to do it for my peace of mind. I know I cannot get peace for the longed time coz it is bound to go around.
I am baffled by human nature and more so by my actions and reactions.
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Idling is devil's workshop on earth

So do you drive to the supermarket with your friend, your significant other or anyone else for that matter just to pick up that one last thing you forgot during your grocery run last week. Do you stop your car or let it idle?

Idling is now a ticket-able offense in many places in the US. Idling consumes way too much precious fuel so turn off your engines folks.

More info here

Rant ahead! Read at your own risk

There are times I wish I was still the carefree person I was. Times like yesterday and today when the old me would have walked out... The new me, grins rather sheepishly and whines behind the back.
I wish I were strong and brave enough.... I wish I will have someone giving me the much needed push...
Fingers crossed!

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Post-Ike Photography

R has post Ike photos on his blog

Take a look

This was something I typed out a few days back but never got around completing or posting.. before it is too late and before Ike becomes old news here were go,

I have been out of home since 6.30am and I have no idea if we have power back at home. If CenterPoint's plan of action is to be taken seriously, we will not have power till later next week (beyond Monday, Sept 22). Definitely not a welcoming prospect. We have spent so far 6 nights without power, the saving grace is we have running water.

As positively as I would like to take this experience, at the prospect of spending atleast another 4-5 days without power is tough. We also have electric cooking range and other appliances so there is no cooking being done at home also. The laundry is piled mountain high. There are friends who have power restored and might be we need to take refuge at one of their places. But somehow, I feel so uncomfortable with the idea. Nothing against friends bu I just want to be at home, might be safeguard the home from being blown away? I do not know where I got this feeling from. It is new. I always feel happy and proud of my home but never felt that I cannot stay away from it. But that is my feeling right now.

I am not sure if the crews who were around last night are still there. The crews did mention there was substantial damage but said it could be fixed in a day or two. But after seeing the map of action, I am losing faith. I am not even sure when and if we'll get power.

One of my friends on Twitter, asked me what are the advantages and disadvantages of being without power. I thought about it. The timing was wrong. If he had asked me on Saturday (the first day) the balance would have been different. But here we go,

Advantages of not having power

  • Early nights (not much can be done in candle light)
  • Late mornings (again not much can be done till the sun rises
  • No cooking
  • No worrying about chores - laundry, ironing, vacuuming and the list is endless
  • The easiest excuse for not replying back to emails, phone calls - cannot charge phone
  • Time to talk and dream - me and R have been having long conversations about every topic under the sun without our attention being robbed by the laptop/internet
  • No I-am-bored-let-us-hit-the-stores kind of trips
  • Other Observation skills
  • More cyclists on the road
  • More people taking a leisurely walk (us included)
  • Lesser traffic
  • Everyday is a candlelight dinner day
Disadvantages of not having power
  • Life without internet (I had 500+ unread posts on my reader in just 2 days)
  • Uncharged cellphones and laptops - a terrifying thought without being connected to the world
  • Not much chance to read
  • No cooking - yes there are times I start missing the routine chore and hot food. That also means no caffeine boost in the mornings to jolt awake
  • Mad rush at any store open
  • Scarcity of open gas stations to fuel up
  • The scalding hot water that I take for granted
  • The crumpled shirts and unwashed clothes the pile up
  • The absolutely empty fridge - it feels odd to have an empty fridge. High time I stocked it up
  • Chaotic traffic with traffic signals not functioning

Bribery works

Sighted around town.
Centre point - our electricity company

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Powered up

After 7 long nights we finally have electricity
I am oh so happy

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Since Ike, my learning curve has shot up drastically. I see and hear new things around me. Like this van I saw offering catastrophe services. What does it mean? I of course know that unlike the ice cream truck this truck does not dish out catastrophes under normal conditions. So what services does Crawford catastrophe services offer? I know not. But will find out soon!

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When the temperature falls

Can festivities be far off? I grumble about the lack of power, the absence of humidity and less than 80s temperature and drag myself to work without even my usual morning chai and I see this monster inflatable.

I am not an inflatable's fan but this smiling pumpkin reminds me festive season is here - navrathri, the poojas, halloween, deepavali, thanksgiving, karthikai, christmas.... Time to smile and move on.

I do hope we get power soon. Just like I have been hoping for the past 7 days.

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Blogging is fun but it does has its own drawbacks. What you think is for a private audience sometimes is world news. Read about the Ike survival story of a Baytown teacher creating waves


On another note, I realized the photos from last night at Udipi are not the best. And we are still without power.

Eating Out during Ike

thanks Udipi for bringing me the street food experience in Houston. Dosai on disposable plates served hot off the outdoor griddle. The tables face the usually crowded Hillcroft partly in darkness. Yum!

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High up

Tree chopper - a life saver

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No power yet but ....

Live in Action. No power yet but at least I hear the chain saw. The fallen tree - one of the many in our neighborhood affecting our power lines.

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This sign is making me happy

They are making no promises but it is progress

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Does this mean?

Fingers crossed
Am heading off to work will update tonight. I do hope I have news to share
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5 and counting

Our fifth night without power. The camping out feeling is slowly losing its charm. According to Center Point Energy which is supposed to fix our lines, we are a 7000 odd people sharing the line that has some trees on it and they will be getting to it soon.

Many restaurants are up and running. Lines in gas stations continue, a midnight to 6am curfew exists and 2.1 million homes are still in darkness.

R is back to routine work and I might be heading tomorrow depending on over night developments. More as things progress.

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The other side of the hurricane

Sometimes or rather many times I feel I walk with my eyes closed when life is normal. Rushing from A to B with millions of thoughts racing through my mind. I always say I'll slow down and enjoy the smaller things in life but never. This hurricane was a speed bump. Forcing me to slow down, appreciate smaller things and dump the schedule.

I have lived here, in this home for nearly 20 months. I hardly know my neighbors. A courtesy nod of the head or a wave has been my standard method of communication. Emails occasionally to discuss payments to the gardener. But without power for 3 days and counting, we are forced to the streets, we get to know each other, laugh, complain and say a prayer together that we were spared. We talk walks around the block stopping and talking with others in their yards because their TV is also out. We swap stories of fear, good ole days and nagging bosses. We help in the cleanup and as I step back into my home sans electricity, I feel richer and happier than ever before.

This is the other side of the hurricane I think

The picture taken from the bedroom window captures the beauty and resilience of nature - sunrise over medical center.

R is off to work today, my office is still without electricity and the house is still in darkness but for some lovely candles flickering away.

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Dessert time

Who said you cannot have dessert when the power is out for 3 days and the stuff in you fridge is going bad and your cooking range is powered by electricity!

Now how I wish we had some good ole vanilla icecream to go with this.... More photos from our dinner tonight when the power comes back...

Hopefully soon
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The worst part of the hurricane recovery

is not
- the power cuts
- the lack of water
- the debris on roads
- the freezer full of rotting food
- the piling laundry
- the scarcity of ice and bottled water
- the spotty cell phone services
- the flooded garages
- the long lines at grocery stores

It is the availabilty of fuel in limited gas stations and cars flocking those gas stations. I counted 5 cops helping manage the crowd at one just one gas station. The lines near any gas station with supplies is crazy. It is crazy around here - believe me

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Office parking lot

I am not sure if the photo is clear but I am so very glad that I did not park my car here when the hurricane ripped through town.

My office building is out of power so we are not working for God knows how long.
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The temperature falls

And we are predicted to have temperatures in the lower 60s and low humidity - a rarity in Houston summer. The breeze is amazingly cool, perfect night to open the windows and sit in the patio and relax. No power and no lights means no interference of computers, laptops, cooking, laundry and I can go on and on. So we sit and talk as darkness falls. We talk of dreams, hopes and morrow. Life as they say is good.

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Walk around the neighborhood

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Mall pictures

More pictures around the food court
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Galleria post Ike

We were a part of this crazy crowds at the mall
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Cooling dowm

The best place to beat the heat seems to be the Galleria mall. Most stores are closed, but AC is on and tons of place to hang around, charge those phones and just get out of the depressing sights around home.

Looks like most of Houston is here. In fact, this place is more crowded than during the after Thanksgiving sales. A few stores are open and the food court is partly open and doing very brisk sales.

Photos coming soon. We are spending some time here before heading home for the day.

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After Ike

Just what we needed - a front moving in and bringing rain this morning. .More than a couple of inches to an already water-logged Houston.

But it has cleared out to a rather sunny afternoon. We feasted on chapathi and paneer so we are not starving...

Cell phone services especially Tmobile services are very bad. So blog updates, phone calls are on hold.

More later
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Aftermath of Ike

A block from home, till Friday it was a busy gas station
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Sunday moring update

As of last night we are without power. We spent the night at my dance studio with my dance teacher's family. The studio has power and running water. So we made good use of it.

We are keeping our fingers crossed hoping we get power soon. But then we are the lucky, ike really did not do anything much to us so we'll be fine.

Yesterday, as the first light came in around 7am with the winds still howling, we walked inside the house checked for leaks and indications of damage. Nothing. We peeped outside our windows, a few trees limbs down and we were fine. Later we walked and drove around and it depressed and scared us. We are not flooded in but there are huge trees uprooted, roofs blown off, sign boards twisted, traffic lights hanging in queer angles, power lines down. The damage in the 5-mile radius around home is bad. Which makes us more grateful for the fact that our house stood Ike without troubles.

Gulf Coast will need time and money to recover and I am not sure when things will vaguely resemble normal. We have pictures and once the power is back, they will be up.

Thanks and stay safe

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All is fine - 6pm

We are at our friend's place enjoying BBQ.... All is well, cellphone is dying down, so this will probably be my last update till we charge up.
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Activity level increases

As the day lightens up, I have started seeing activity around. Perched on the bed, near the window, I see cars, SUVs make their way exploring town. People stepping out of homes and talking, the birds flying around signalling the return of normalcy, the wails from sirens as ambulances and fire engines make their ways.

We are safe and lazy. Reading books and enjoying a rather slow Saturday by the window!
We hear news of flooding and devastation around Houston. We are lucky to have escaped everything. So far so good.

Thanks again for all the phone calls and emails and scraps. We are touched and indeed blessed.

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Network issues

I seem to be having connectivity issues and may not be able to continue blogging. Hopefully the recovery period is fast and everything works out fine. Till the next time!

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Update at 8.30 am Sat

There is still hurricane force winds and rains. No flooding, no damage in our area and home so far. Power is still out, earliest we can expect is probably this evening. Not sure though.

Harris County where we live is under all kinds of weather related watches, tornado, flash flood and flood. It sounds omnious but we are really fine.

The books I stocked up are our source of entertainment currently. We are blissfully cocooned in our world and we watch the winds blow, and rain fall as we read books and share trivia and dreams with each other.

Thanks for everyone's wishes, prayers and concern. Will keep updating as long as my phone is charged!

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6am Sat

Ike is still battering Houston rather mercilessly. I has been hours and hours of forceful winds and rain slamming against our house.

No power still. We are not following any newscasts and we hope this things moves fast and the clean-up crews are able to hit the roads soon.

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Eye of the hurricane 2.30am Sat

The hurricane is passing through just as I type this out. The winds are so strong and howling. The rain intensity does not seem to be too bad as of now.

A peek outside the window and the world looks like a bhoot bunglow - all dark, howling winds, splattering rain. Ram Gopal Varma sure will love.
The Medical Center - the largest in the world has also lost power. Without the comforting glow of lights at the yonder it does seem odd. I see silvers of light here and there but not more.

The next 4 hrs or so, Ike is bound to show its wrath on us and then leave. So far so good. We are riding the hurricane!

Hope the destruction has not been too bad.

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A few hrs before Ike

The winds are getting stronger, rain pelting down, an eerie silence but for the sound of rain and wind, neighborhood in darkness..

Update at almost midnight!

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Almost midnight!

Almost 11pm 6riday night and we are enjoying a candle light feast of jim jam biscuits in bed as we hear howling winds.

The winds have picked up but not much rain. Many neighbors still have power but no complaints as of now

More later!
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Candle light bed time

The rains have started... Winds are stong, power is still off and neighbors still have power.
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Just lost power

It is 9.30 pm on friday and we just lost power. It seems very localized. Our neighbors still have power still.
Will keep the blog updated as long as possible.

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The beautiful clouds - 7.30pm update

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As per the current update, the hurricane will most probably pass through the Houston ship channel and through I-45 ripping through downtown Houston. That puts us to the west of the eye. For the hurricane illiterate, the east side is considered the dirty side - the side with more damage. So far so good.

The clouds are so beautiful right now with sunlight streaming through them. Beautiful!

Update at 6.45pm

The winds are getting stronger and faster. The news cast says it is around 30 miles an hour gusts and we finally closed our patio door.

Got a call from family back in India worrying... nothing seems to reassure them. We are safely glued to our computers at home.

Ike-6.15pm Fri

No big change yet... Quite nice outside. We still have our patio door open...calm before the storm

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Houston's Ike Preparation Photos

Are here

The wind is picking up - 5.35pm - Fri

The winds are picking up and rains are starting

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This is how it looks - 5.15pm Friday

Ike and its effects

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Hurricane Ike and Us

It is like 5pm and we are waiting for Ike to hit. We did head out this afternoon to meet a friend and click out a few photos. R should be posting him in his blog soon. But this evening, we received yet another call from a concerned friend watching CNN far away from Houston. CNN's dire predictions are scaring everyone.

Right now, we have not yet seen anything crazy in Houston other than some winds and darkening skies. So me and R sit and suddenly I hear the swishing sound - a howling wind sound. I say, hurricane winds are here, listen. We both listen in utter silence and then hear the AC compressor unit kick in!

A silly humor while we wait for Ike. So far so good!

Fingers crossed

Ike Weekend

On a different note, I plan to spend this weekend trying to move Poohsden, R's Lightpixels and our travel log - Scary-On to our own server. So hopefully we can get going without hitches.

Thoughts on my mind before Ike

The city of Houston has asked non-essential employees not to go to work today and that includes me and R. We are at home today - a Friday and waiting for Ike. The latest news updates about the hurricane predict a direct hit at Galveston - just 45 miles away from home.

This morning, we sat down at our patio to enjoy a cuppa before bringing all patio furniture in. The day outside is so beautiful - a slight breeze, warm, blue skies, puffy white clouds, peek-a-boo sun, chirping birds - in short perfect.

The roads are quiet strange on a Friday morning, there is an eerie silence and it makes me want to pack a picnic - crusty bread, heirloom tomatoes, potato salad and ice tea and hit our favorite picnic spot near the lake. Or do an impulsive drive down to the coast and enjoy the spray of the sea and the gritty sand on my bare toes....Feel the breeze tousling my hair, enjoy the sunshine on my face. That is what I want to do.

But bringing be back to reality is the continues newscast on local channel 11 we are following. Warnings get scarier by the minute. I try to ignore them and rationalize. I do not live in the mandatory evacuation zone, there will be winds and rains but nothing more I reassure myself. But images from Katrina are burned in my mind.

I worry, a lot. About people who did not evacuate, people who need help, the friend who had a baby day before and riding the storm out, the pets, and above all about our home. This is the first hurricane we face as home-owners. In spite of the insurances we hold, the rational it is just bricks and stone (or rather wood and more wood) it is home. It is not an apartment. It is a testament of our times together as a couple. Our dream home, our joy, our haven and our own corner.

I went out last night, checking out what the rest of the city is doing. Partly because I was jobless and worrying about unwanted stuff and partly because I wanted to know what everyone else was feeling. We went around, clicking random pictures, reading hurricane closures and checking out the crowds at the pubs and bars. Most of the non-evacuating people, like us were taking their minds off Ike by hitting the neighborhood watering hole on a weekday. It is then I realized just like me there are millions who worry. Each one of them has family and friends living far-off, who are probably watching CNN and fretting and worrying. Just like our family and friends who have been calling us all day.

I say a small prayer to everyone along Ike's path coz that is all I can do for now. As of now there is still uncertainty over where Ike will hit early tomorrow. Stay safe, stay sheltered and ride it out.

I'll watch the winds blow, the rain fall, the streets flood and hopefully nothing beyond that. I'll keep updated through this blog if I still have power and internet connectivity.

Nature - so powerful, so beautiful, so unpredictable....

I am so thankful - I have friends and family who call up in the middle of busy Thursday to ask what our plans are, open their houses and worry about our safety.

As mentioned earlier, we are staying at home and meeting Ike! Will keep you updated!

Thanks again!

Sending a small prayer for all the Gulf Coast residents

Hurricane Preparedness

Living in the US Gulf Coast, every year we prepare for hurricanes and it is a process. The city sends out a preparedness kit and tracking kit and other stuff. Obviously the closer to the coast you get the more precautions you need to take.

We live quite inland and so far we have not been ordered to get out and we do not want to add another car to the already clogged Houston roads. Our offices are closed tomorrow and we are as ready as we can be for Ike.

The typical disaster preparedness kit required for tiding over a hurricane listed by the city include

  • Stocking up water approximately 1 gallon per person for 3-7 days
  • Food supply - non-perishables
  • Medicines, first aid kits
  • Torch and candles
  • Radio - battery-operated
  • Gas in the car tanks
  • Toiletries
and such.

In addition, to all those we added BOOKS! With a minimum of 3 days off work and no reason to get out off
Publish Post
home, I hit the library this evening and checked-out books I wanted to read, books that I need to read, books that sounded interesting, books that were recommended and the list continues.

Am getting on to a reading marathon the next three days as I watch Ike bring in rain and destruction. Fingers crossed and prayers!

The parking lot syndrome

During hurricane evacuations, normal roads turn to parking lots. And this is not a freeway and this area is not under evacuation order (yet). Guess all the folks are heading home to prepare and stay safe. That brings up this question, what am I doing at work?

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Burnt nails?

Is it only me or does everyone burn their finger nails once in a while? Accidentally of course! At regular frequencies, I seem to burn the tips of my nails.
Weird huh?

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Hurricane Time!

Galveston West End, Freeport calls for mandatory evacuation.. many voluntary evacuations around the area. Ike is growing stronger, and closer... Exciting, scary and of course hopes for a holiday on Friday...
Stay safe

Phew! Finally done

Finally I got around updating our travel blog ... Take a look

Part 1 of our trip to Dubai

Wine Country Texas

Desert Safari in Dubai Vs. Hawaiian Luau

First effects of Hurricane Ike.... gas prices jump 10 cents overnight!

I am maha-glad I decided to fill my tank last night and not wait till this morning! Phew! it is just Tuesday and the hurricane is supposed to make landfall only on Saturday... soon there will be shortage of bottled water, dry foods, canned goods, bread, fruits and literally everything... I better hit the stores this evening before it is too late...

Brings back memories of Hurricane Rita and the 7 hrs evacuation to College Station which on a normal day takes only 1.5 hrs...

Ike in the works

Hurricane Ike is the talk of the day. It is scheduled to enter the Gulf early tomorrow and the computer models predict it will hit the Gulf coast anywhere between Galveston and New Orleans. Well, time will tell what happens. But, for some reason, my intuition/gut tells me that it is our turn this time. And my gut feeling has been quite trustworthy... We are topping up our gas tanks, and stocking our pantry with dry goods and water just incase.

Meanwhile, I have friends from Baton Rouge cleaning up after Gustav, which ended up not as bad as feared but still toppling some big trees and leaving a trail of destruction. I hate to think what Ike will do if it hits the same area again. Might be, just might be, it is not really worth pumping money to rehabilitate NOLA... I am not sure... as a student who has worked quite a bit on flooding in the Gulf coast, I know how devastating each storm could be and believe me, FEMA's flood maps are really not the guiding post.

Coming again to NOLA... it has always been my to visit New Orleans after all we live a measly 6 hr drive from there. We first planned a trip and booked the hotel and stuff, Hurricane Katrina struck... and devastated the coast for more than a year. All our friends warned us against taking a trip till recently when NOLA was gaining back some of its lost glory. So this year, we were planning a trip during Thanksgiving and now Hurricane Gustav and more devastation...

I just think I should stop planning trips to NOLA...everytime I plan it is another hurricane... am I jinxed?

and if you live in the Gulf Coast please stock up and get ready for Ike... it never hurts to be prepared...and if you are not in the Gulf Coast pray for those who live there...


We were at Chennai Egmore heading towards Trichy and my dad pointed out to this board and asked us to read what was written in Tamil. Go ahead try reading it if you know Tamil.
We could really not make head or tail out of it and then he pointed to the English version.

Phew! Reading a so easy English sentence in Tamil is quite strange. I strongly recommend Coffee Day to have a tamil tag line instead of writing "A lot can happen over coffee" in Tamil. On the same note, Parfait 3 whose tag line goes "Bistro more than a cafe" sounds really strange when you read it in Tamil.

The writings are clearer when you click on the photos