Thursday, July 16, 2009

I was There… (II)

Read on…

So after missing out on a Sunday of my life, I finally reached my home on late morning of 25th May. And what awaited me was first & foremost meeting with my Parents, Didi, Jijaji, grandma(s), aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, nephews, wives, kids and most importantly the last two don’t exist! Second of all, it involved visiting a few temples, a garden & a casino. Third of all, it meant eating a lot of sweets/ice cream and exotic ‘once-in-a-month’ dishes at home or in one restaurant!

Now I’ll walk down my memory lanes and ramble on in  chronological order as far as possible:

  • Jetlag got over in 2 days with all the people around and the unending ‘conversations’!!!
  • After that, my parents (JK) wanted to have a little chat about me, my future and future plans! You pretty well know where all this is going, don’t you? First of all to lighten up the ambience , they asked me about what I’d done in the last two years and what will happen next and what will happen after that? I tried to answer these questions as honestly as possible and to keep our conversation light, I even inserted some anecdotes involving my advisor (which did not seem to work!). Then they got to the main point:

JK (in serious mode): <Before asking the Big Question, they spelled out their own immediate & future plans and some of the familial ‘stuff’ that I’m supposed to know & consider while forming my answer to…> When Are YOU Marrying?

me: <Before giving the Ultimate Answer, I respectfully agreed with whatever they’d told me and uttered…> not now!

JK (after what seemed like a menacingly lengthy silence): <After a long & threatening silence> OK.

me: <After analyzing & cross-checking signals from my auditory nerves> ok… <good night!>

  • Then for the next few days/weeks, there were breakfasts/lunches & visits scheduled to various family members & friends. Among all these, the most important was a grand lunch at a not-so-grand ‘restaurant’ thrown by one of my uncle (& aunt) on the occasion of their 25th wedding anniversary which was attended by 20 or so people. We also ‘celebrated’ two birthdays – my cousin’s (he can be found in the slideshow below if you are interested!) and my maternal uncle’s (Mamosa - this is a common noun, just in case for the gullible ones - is also in the slideshow!). Obviously, my return from America also deserved a celebration and indeed we had a great party i.e. lunch at home. And many other small ‘parties’ were attended and ordinary visits made during the course of my stay.
  • Shopping for my clothes and few other accessories was somehow included in the ever-busy shopping schedule of my sister’s and ever-busy schedule of my father’s. For the uninitiated ones, I don’t shop on my own where prices are variables (as opposed to constants) because solving equations of those variables is worse than a nightmare (or a death experience) for me!
  • Enough with the familial stuff, lets get to the places I visited:

Swayambhunath Stupa: Well not quite, there’s a new shrine built at its ‘base’ with 3 huge idols of Buddhas/Bodhisattvas. (I don’t remember all 3 names but I guess two of them are Amitabha & Avalokitesvara.) That was all we’d ‘time’ to visit on that day… so we did not climb the 100 or so (the short cut) stairs to get to the ‘real’ Stupa!

Pashupatinath Temple: Visiting this temple is almost a ritual followed at least twice during one’s stay – when one enters KTM and when one leaves KTM! And I also complied. During the first time, the main temple was too damn crowded and one had to push & shove to get a glimpse inside which I partially skipped by just glancing over others’ shoulders and backing off ‘safely’. Fortunately, the second time the visit was a breeze and one could not only get a glimpse but in fact stare for quite some time inside the temple!

Panchmukhi Balaji Temple: It is a temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman situated in Kavrepalanchok district about 7-8 Km from its headquarter city of Dhulikhel. It is more or less a standalone temple overlooking Arniko highway (named after Arniko) with a great scenic view around it as would be obvious from various ‘pictures’ that follow! Yes, this was indeed a picnic – as the collage below probably shows…

Panchmukhi Balaji Temple

Panchmukhi Balaji'09_collage

Kaiser Mahal/Garden of Dreams: Visited this place on the cousins’ (mentioned above; to-be-seen below) birthday. Entry fee is halved for groups of more than 9 people and including my youngest nephew (<2 yrs.) we were indeed 10! But the two guards did the counting and stopped at 9… both of them… twice!!! So we told them to count the ‘kid’ also! [:)] They ‘hesitated’ so my father said ‘then we will call in our driver also!’ And the rest, as they call it, was just pure ‘FUN’.

Casino @ Soaltee Crown Plaza: It was one of the not-so-good experiences of my trip to KTM and that also due to a petty skirmish over INR. 100 which my (elder) nephew gave to collect coins that were never handed out! Eventually, we did get it back but my sister was not satisfied with just getting it back! So we ordered three plates of Paneer snacks (free of course) and ‘left’ them after just taking one or two bites! (Well, not quite! Actually the oil used in preparing those snacks was as malodorous as (if not more) the strategic garbage lying around in the city!) So it was not that satisfactory after all or maybe it was for my sis but leaving Paneer just like that… its unheard-of in my presence… that’s what I call sacrilege and who was responsible for this sacrilegious act – the cook who made those… those… ohhhh… the humanity!!! Such wastage of Paneer… Why??? why??? [:((]

  • Now that, we’ve gotten ourselves depressed over food and also the fact that its nearing my dinner  time, I’ll talk about remakes/updates of my MATLAB programs (which were done at KTM but made available online after coming back…) in the last part of this trilogy of posts or in short, next post.
  • Finally, as every happy (or sad) story must come to an end, the dreaded (by my parents?) & much awaited (by me!) last day (23rd June) of my KTM Visit’09 finally arrived and I left once more for Stony Brook.

Places of Interest!

To be continued…

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