Thursday, September 28, 2006

"Special" Appearance

I always thought Abhishek Bachchan was one of the better and more sensible actors around. And since the Senior bachchan was always my favourite actor it was natural that I liked Abhishek too.

But not anymore! not after he is playing a die hard Chelsea (yes the russian robots who play in english premier league) fan in his next movie Jhoom! This article says John Terry and Frank Lampard are making an appearance and according to the Guardian the self titled "Special One" is making, what else, a special appearance too! Tch. Tch.

PS: If Shah Rukh Khan were to appear in a movie as a football fan who would he support?
West Ham United or Fulham or the scum from Tottenham?

A Decade of Wenger

It is 10 years to the day the professor took charge of Arsenal. There are lots of coaches who have transformed a team and brought trophies but there are few who can claim to have done that and transformed the club and the league for the better in the process. Thanks for everything Arsene.

PS: Go here for lots of articles on his achievements and tributes from stars, including a very generous tribute from Roy Keane.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

One Nil to the Arsenal.............

sweet f*$%in god, am I drunk or what?

away at Old trafford
not having beaten them in the premiership since we won the title at OT in 2002...
first 3 games of the season and we have just 2 points, from 2 draws and one loss
our worst start to the season in 10+ years...
manure coming in to the game having won all 4 games and leading the premiership pack
their best start to the season in a while...
lose and we are 13 points behind them with just 4 games down in the season...
we have lost henry and persie to injury midweek
and they have got rooney coming in after missing 3 premiership games...

and we win! we fuckin win 1-0. One nil to the Arsenal.........

it's unbelievable! it's what you watch all the football for. Right now, you don't care if you lose all your games from hereon. It's what makes life worth living, isn't it?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Pictureblog: Grand Teton & Yellowstone

Last weekend (the labour day weekend) I was in Idaho/Wyoming visiting the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National parks in the rockies. I flew from Atlanta to Salt Lake City, Utah. From there it was a three hour drive to Pocatello, Idaho where I joined three of my friends.

We left early in the morning on a three hour drive through scenic roads on our way to Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. We reached Jenny lake campgrounds at around 9:30 and started looking for campsites. We found one of the last few camping spots in the camp ground and started pitching our tents. Having having stayed out on a few treks/hikes in India, pitching tents in the wild or staying at Bhatr Mane's (the priest's house) I must this say was a very different experience. The camp in the 'wilderness' had neatly marked out campsites with a table, a fire grill and space to park one car! Not to mention the toilets which could be found every few campsites!

Once we were done pitching our tents we walked to Jenny Lake where a ferry would take us across the lake to the trailhead.

Jenny Lake and the ferries

Getting down from the ferry we began hiking up the trail. Again this was a US style neatly laid trail including signposts with directions and distances every now and then. The first few miles were crowded and felt a bit like walking up the mountains in a queue. Back in Atlanta, in my apartment complex, sometimes I spend days before I run into someone who lives in the same complex and talk to them. In contrast, this outing in the wild had dozens of people who were hiking with us and were quite willing to say hello and start a conversation. And this being a long weekend there were more people then there would have been usually.

Our destination was lake Solitude which was 7.2 miles away and an elevation gain of 2500 feet. You can see many small streams of water flowing down the mountains all along the hike. The most significant of this was Hidden Falls. Unfortunately this was barricaded and you couldn't take a dip in the water India style.

Hidden Falls, One of the better Water falls along the trail

The trail was quite steep until we reached Inspiration Point. Inspiration point was a mile into the hike and a major attraction in the area. Inspiration point overlooked Jenny lake and offered a breathtaking view. Thankfully many hikers came only to see Inspiration point and hence the trail become a little less congested beyond here. But still there were too many people for my liking and every few minutes you had to stop and move out of the way to let people pass.

Inspiration Point

Another view from Inspiration Point. You can see the water leading to Hidden Falls among the trees

From Inspiration Point, it took us almost about 3 hours to walk upto Lake Solitude. For large parts the trail was flat. But it was quite hot and due to the elevation we were feeling the sun a bit more. Along the route we had to pass/walk around several mountains (or peaks?) .

The view along the trail. You can also see some of my fellow hikers ahead

About 2.7 miles before Lake solitude there is a fork in the trail and the hike becomes quite steep. The trail also becomes a little more rugged (probably due to less use) and for all my 'this trail is too easy' bravado earlier, my totally unfit body started feeling the strain. From here I was stopping every 15-20 mins until we finally reached Lake solitude about 3 hours after we began the hike.

A view of the Grand Teton mountains around Lake Solitude

We finally reached Lake Solitude just around the time my legs were ready to fold up and all my Powerade supplies were nearly over! Compared to Jenny lake, Lake Solitude is quite small. It's importance probably arises due to the fact that it is a good turn back point for a day long hike and gives the hiker a sense of having reached somewhere. Nevertheless it is very serene and offers a nice view of the Grand Teton Mountains.

We were there for about 45 mins. Sandwiches for lunch and a power nap followed. One of my fellow hikers, mike, entertained us with his eerie snoring while lying down on the rocks under the hot sun! Though the Sun was hot the water was quite cold and even the idea of a dip froze me up. But there were several Americans around who dived into the frigid waters.

Finally around 3:30 we started back for the Trail head. The last ferry across the lake back to the campground was at 6:00 and if we missed it we faced an extra two miles of hiking.

Small but Serene, Lake Solitude

Even at the start of our return we knew it was a big ask to make the 7.2 mile walk back in 2.5 hours. My legs were already hurting from the climb up and the initial 2.7 mile hike down is quite strenous. I kept twisting my ankles while trying stop myself from running down too fast. By the time we reached the aforementioned fork, 2.7 miles down from Lake Solitude, We had less than 1.5 hours and walking back to the ferry by 6 appeared increasingly tough. But the prospect of having to hike an extra 2 miles motivated us. We walked pretty much non-stop and had to literally run for the last half mile and made the ferry at about 6:15 PM. Boy! were we glad to make the ferry!

After that it was back to the campsite. We cooked some good old maggie for dinner, warmed ourselves around the fire for a while and put our tired bodies to sleep in our tents at about 9PM. The temperatures dropped close to freezing in the night and I had to go out to the car to get warm reinforcements. All through the night you could hear people walking out of their tents and car doors opening, presumably for the same reason.

The next day we woke up quite early, folded our tents and started towards yellowstone. We had a nice breakfast at a scenic restaurant on the way. Our destination was The Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park. We stopped at a few places along the scenic Yellow stone river.

Yellow Stone River

Small water fall enroute to The Old Faithful

Our drive was further slowed down because the roads were crowded. Traffic slows up every now & then and people stream out of their cars to catch a glimpse of the wildlife on the sides. By wildlife I mean Moose, Bison and the occasional Elk/Deer. I even saw squirrels being counted as wild life on one of the park information boards!

While there were a lot of people in the Grand Tetons, it was surprising that we hardly encountered any Desis. Obviously the Tetons do not qualify as a Patel Point (Tch. Tch. I am afraid writing about the Tetons on my blog, with its millions of Indian readers, will make it one!). However, Yellowstone and The Old Faithful in particular, is quite the Patel Point. For those not familiar with the area, there are a lot hot natural springs in this park. The Old Faithful is one of the bigger, more regular (though not the biggest or the most regular) and most popular geyser among these. It shoots up about 17 times on an average day. You can watch a live webcam image updated every 30 seconds here and a recorded video of it here

The Old Faithful

From there we headed back to base in Pocatello, Idaho where my friend lives. I slept there for the night there before starting on my long and eventful journey (including one plane which refused to take off and a change of airline) back to ATL.

Overall, I needed the break and the mountains were definitely rejuvenating....only my legs were complaining, even two days after I was back!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Perfect Vacations

I am just back from my 5 day break in the rockies. The mountains were rejuvenating. It was good. All vacations are good. But some are just perfect. and it's been a while since I have had one of them.

The last one was more than a year ago back. I remember the best ones - Goa, Karwar, Pondicherry, then Chennai-Pondicherry, Goa again, then Karwar again. And of course that eventful one to Dandeli where we had the most horrible yet the luckiest accident ever. But that story is for another day.

No rules. Big Ideas but little planning. All we did was drive, eat, drink, make fun of each other, argue, stay awake the whole night, sleep through the morning in seedy hotels, drink, discuss the world's problems and then come up with solutions for them, dream about vacations with women we liked instead of each other, drive more, drink again - you get the idea. At the end you think you didn't do anything worthwhile. But looking back now they were totally worth it. Those were the best vacations of my life.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Go Snakes!

I finally managed to catch Snakes On a Plane last sunday. Though I wanted to write about the movie right then the pressure of wrapping up my work before my 5 day break kept me from doing it till now.

**Spoiler Warning**

And here is the verdict, It's not just so bad it's good, its so bad its awesome! It has some real cult moments - the snake dropping down on the naked woman in the loo and taking a bite out of her boob (priceless), another opting for man's you know what when he is taking a leak (I guess this snake was female unlike the first one), yet another dipping it fangs into a fat dudes ass and a few more. And they even have a solid logical reason for the snakes behaviour, they are sprayed with pheromones which makes them sexually aggressive! Classic!

The cast and characters are along expected lines for a movie like this but with some interesting additions like the rapper dude and his flunkies. Despite being probably the most hyped movie in recent times, SOAP totally delivers on its promise. It has its audience heckling, whistling, clapping and totally rooting for the snakes! The theatre was in raptures (the theatre had all of 20-25 people in it which meant only connoisseurs like me were watching) by the time Samuel Jackson delivers his cult line towards the end.

I can't wait for this to be remade in Hindi. Cast Sunny deol in Samuel Jackson's role, Mallika sherawat as the sexy airhostess, throw in a couple of songs, a couple of fights between frustrated passengers and call it Zehreela Udaan or, true to the original, Hawai Jahaz mein Saanph (or whatever the plural of saanph is) and you have a classic on your hands!

Update: R tells me that it should be Zehreeli Udaan not Zehreela and it's Saanp not Saanph. Points noted. Typical south indian inability to comprehend hindi and its rather complex gender asssignments. However even R didn't know the plural of saanp. What about all the other millions who read my blog? Do any of you know? or is it one of those words that don't have a plural?

D-Day Drama

I was traveling pretty much the entire day yesterday on my way to Utah and hence caught up with the action only after it had all ended. and thankfully I feel much better now than I was feeling day before

Gallas is truly world class and Baptista is an interesting buy, particularly because he can play both as an attacking midfielder and a striker. If he can recreate his Seville form of 2004-05 he will be a priceless addition. We also bought Denilson from Brazil who is their U19 captain and a defensive midfielder. Reyes and Cashley Cole out along with the disaster that was pascal cygan. Some day it must have been for DD and AW.Read an indepth analysis of the transfers here.

Interesting to note the impact on Chelsea of Gallas leaving on the last day. With Huth also gone they have no suitable alternative if one of terry or carvalho get injured. They have boulahrouz but I am sure Mourinho would have preferred gallas as cover anyday. They let in a lot of goals last season even with Gallas so it is interesting to see what this does to them. Also while there is no doubt that Cole is class he thrived at Arsenal because he, pires and henry almost had a telepathic understanding. I doubt if he will click so well with the other Cole at Chelsea.

Coming back to Arsenal, the signings will ensure that we have some top class alternatives on the bench in most matches, something that we lacked all through last season. Central defence, again a problem last season, looks top class. Hopefully the signings will lift the whole team.

PS: Moral of the story? Arsene knows.