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From members’ Diary

 

From Raghesh’s diary from Munich, Germany:April 2004

From Ambika’s diary covering her USA trip:

    Snow covered Kansas City, Jan 20 to Feb 13

    Glamorous Las Vegas February 15th to February 20th

    Magnificent Grand Canyon, February 21 -22

    Back to the city of lights “Vegas”, February 23 to 26

    Back to Los Angles, February 28th and 29

    Sea side in Santa-Barbara, March1 to 12

    The Madigra festival in New Orleans, March 15 to 27

    Disney: The Magic Kingdom, March 28th

    Meeting family

    Back in New York, April 5th

 

 

From Raghesh’s diary from Munich, Germany:April 2004

 

After a very busy week before our mid term reviews, we had a good review in Brussels.

After the review, we went down to a Old Castle converted to a hotel in a small village in Netherlands called Holethm..near Masstrik..(My spellings may be wrong )

Here we had team integration and did lot of fun activities..

1. We hiked in the wilderness with a compass following instructions..

2. Crossed a river on rope bridge..(Two ropes parallel to each other..we had to hold on to them and cross over..was great fun !!)

3. Did some Archery

4. Went Mountain Biking...this was good as long as it was flat terrain..I had a good work out when it came to the mountains..:)

5. There are lot of caves in this area made by mining for sandstone..we had a good experience of following a small black wire laid out in the cave using just 3 candles for 15 of us..It took us through rope ladders, small bridges, little holes in walls etc before we got out...lot of fun..

We got back to Munich on Sunday and are back to work from yesterday.

 

Following is reply to my query; Why GE is making them do the circus

 

The circus of crossing the river on rope bridge was really fun..coz when we saw it the first time we all said impossible...expected somebody would definitely fall..

But the fact is that we have more survival skills than we can imagine..None of the >100 auditors and our managers fell..

Everybody made it across..some laughing and some tensed and shivering..it was the best part of the outdoor events.

I will try to send some photographs when I manage to get some copies..unluckily, i did not have my camera..so have to wait till my friends send them out.

 

From Ambika’s diary covering her USA trip:

 

Snow covered Kansas City, Jan 20 to Feb 13

 

I reached Kansas City (USA) after a long and tiring flight from Bangalore-Bombay-London-Chicago-Kansas non-stop. The first impressions of USA were of a snow-covered city. It is very cold out side (Sub Zero Temperatures) and a first time experience for me. 

 

The time spent waiting for amrita to arrive was spent looking around Kansas City and playing with sanjana .We (Alaka, Sanjana, Guru, amma & me) had a really nice time window shopping malls, post office etc

 

Amritha arrived on 30th of January filling the house with joy. She looks very cute with lots of hair.

 

During my stay there we had some heavy snowfalls and really enjoyed the experience. We went out and made 2 snow-mans. We also decorated the snowmen with carrots, and cherry fruits. Specialty of our snowman was that he was doubled faced. Other excursions included going to the Imax cinema.  

 

Another adventure for me was ice-skating. I had a real problem standing and walking with the skating boots on but surprisingly I did not have any problem skating. I did it without having an accident.

 

I left from Kansas and reached Los Angles at 10.30 local time LA. Sharad received me at the airport.

 

Glamorous Las Vegas, February 15th to February 20th 

 

We drove down from LA to Las Vegas. The drive through Arizona desert was like driving through barren land. We found some weird exit signs such as “XXXYYYZZZZ”. The road was long and we could see miles and miles ahead. We checked into a hotel “Westin Causurina”. This would be our home for the next two weeks.

 

We went around Las Vegas in the evenings. I checked out all the hotels with casinos and Sharad went to work! People in Las Vegas are really lazy. Escalators for climbing (with stairs) that lead to bridges to cross the road all over town. 

 

Hotels had themes such as “Paris, Alladdin (Desert Passage), Ceaser Palace (Rome), Venetia (Venice), Luxor (Ancient Egypt). These have casinos, restaurants and all kinds of shops. Each one has a specialty of its own like Paris has a Eiffel tower which half the height of original one and there is a lift which takes to the top. Dessert passage has rain and thunder shower show, and Ceasers Palace has a light and sound show with life size statues and fountains, Mirage which has a live volcano which erupts every 15 minuets after dark.

 

Magnificent Grand Canyon, February 21 -22

 

We drove down to Grand Canyon from Las Vegas, which is situated in the State of Nevada. We passed through the famous Hoover dam on the way. The distance was 300 miles and we covered it in four and a half-hour. When we were few miles from the canyon medium to heavy snowfall started. It was going on and off and when it was not snowing we had very nice sunshine. Some time we had both sun and snow. It was fun driving in that whether.

 

We reached there by 2.00 P.M and after having our lunch we decided to do some sightseeing. There is the 'south rim' and 'North rim' to the canyon. North rim is closed in winters. We went to the south rim. There we have two routes to see the Grand Canyon. One is a short one and is near the city. It also has a walking path that can be used in summers. Other one is long route and it is on the freeway. People can go down the canyon trekking or on mules in summers. We drove through the long route the first day.

 

We could see all the viewpoints on the long route before the sunset but could not see the sunset as the mist was closing in. After 6.00 it became very cold with heavy breeze and we could not stand at any viewpoint. On the way to one of the viewpoints (Moran View) we had an unexpected visitor, a solitary 'fox' on the road. We came back from long drive and retired for the night.

 

The next day we decided to see the short route but the whether was not so good. We went out early in the hope of seeing the sunrise but mist had not cleared from the night and we could hardly see the sun. Then we visited few more viewpoints but as we could not see much we decided to go back. We started from there by afternoon and as whether cleared during the day we reached back before evening.

 

Back to the city of lights “Vegas”, February 23 to 26

 

First two days we stayed in a different hotel called Rio. It was a big gambling place it had lot of shows going on. They were celebrating Madigra. This festival is famous in New Orleans area. In this festival they make up floats and throw lot of colorful plastic beads for people to wear and look silly. The hotel was packed with visitors who wanted a taste of the carnival atmosphere.

 

Then we moved back to our old hotel ‘Westin’.  There were still many more hotels left like Venetian which was based on the City of Venice with river flowing inside the hotel and also boat rides!! Luxor which was based on ancient Egypt constructed like a pyramid and statues of pharos to guard the entrance, New York with tall buildings and also Statue of Liberty, Belligio which had long and wide beautiful dancing fountain that plays every hour to different theme songs and many many more. Of course we did gamble a little money, Sharad lost some but I won most of it back so we were no worse off

 

Back to Los Angles, February 28th and 29

 

LA is located in the Pacific Ocean coast so there are many beaches there. We went to a beach called Hermosa Beach. It was sunny but the water was cold so we could not stand in the water for long. There were many ships around, but people were all on the sand jogging, playing or just lying around. After seeing the beach we went around the Hollywood and Beverly Hills area, to look at the beautiful big houses. Did not see any stars though!

 

Next day we went to Universal studios. A bus in Unversal studious took us around the entire area showing old and new recording studies, Some legends such as Alfred Hitchcock's hut as well as special effect used to shows flash floods or the seas divided by Moses kept us entertained the whole day. We also took some visual effect rides like 'Honey I Shrunk the Audience', 'Shrek' (4d movie), 'Back to the future' and so on.

 

Sea side in Santa-Barbara, March1 to 12

 

The drive from LA to Santa-Barbara, about 70 miles, is along the coastline, and hence a pleasure. Santa Barbara is a small town, which looks like it has been built in the 18th century. It has one main street called 'State Street' where all major shops and museums are located on both sides of the road. We spent many a day walking up and down the street simply window-shopping.

 

A small tram runs on both the streets for maximum charges of 25 cents from starting point to ending point.

 

The other big street is the beach road. A path run right beside the beach where people can walk, jog or cycle. All hotels are located on this road facing the beach. We stayed in one of these hotels called the Santa Barbara Inn. I refreshed cycling skills by taking one on rent and driving along the beach. I could get roller-skates also but did not try my luck.

 

We saw a man making a beautiful sand sculpture of a mermaid. There were also some others like a dolphin, Great Wall of China etc. The sculptures were made by artists who lived on tips.

 

Here also the water was cold but it did not stop the people from surfing in water. There were many people sun bathing or just sitting and enjoying the sun.

 

The whether was fine except for 1 or 2 days when thick fog covered the sea. It cleared by late afternoon but it was so thick even when we were standing right in front of sea we could not see anything.

 

The Madigra festival in New Orleans, March 15 to 27

 

Shailu auntie had invited me to her house.  As Sharad was busy at his work I decided to go to "New Orleans". I left from LA on 15th morning and reached New Orleans by afternoon. Here again there was 3 hours of difference in time. My body clock by now, was thoroughly confused with the constant change in eating and sleeping time.

 

Sneha was in town and we went site seeing. We saw the zoo, aquarium and also an IMAX movie. Ugadi was celebrated with Shailu auntie, Madwaraj mama and Sneha.

 

I wanted to sit in big, dangerous rides, so we went to "Six Flags" and for first time I sat in all big roller coasters. There were many different types of rides. My favorite ride was "Jester" which had 3 loops and the train went backwards!  We spent an entire day in Six flags.

 

On a Saturday we went to 'French Quarters'. This is old market place where we can see building of different architecture. It is the most happening place in New Orleans. It is right by the side of the river Mississippi. The place was very colorful with masks, plastic beads and other things as Mardigra celebration was still going on there.

 

We also saw an "Italian American procession" where just like Mardigras. they make floats on cars and trucks and through beads, oranges, vegetables, stuffed dolls, and other things.

 

I came back to Los Angeles on 27th night waiting to go to Disney land next day.

 

Disney: The Magic Kingdom, March 28th

 

Disney has two different parks in California. One is 'Disney Land' and other one is 'California Adventure'. As we had only one day we choose to go to Disney land. The park is divided into many sections like Adventure land, Tomorrow Land, Fantasyland, Mickey toon town and so on. Each one has its own attraction and has rides. There are lots of rides for children and some for all ages. We enjoyed climbing up the 'Tarzan's Tree House' and we liked the dolls show 'The small world' very much. We also sat in Mickey's roller coaster and 'Mountain River' ride. We also liked going in the boat for 'Pirates of Caribbean ride'.

 

The other attraction was The Disney parade in which all the characters of Disney go in a procession.

 

We spent the whole day there and in the night there was a beautiful Laser show, dancing fountain, with a fire works show, which was all put together with a story, told by Mickey. Faces came to life from laser. It was breathtaking. I had seen laser shows which had only geometrical figures and not complicated images like evil queen who comes in Snow white or Mickey mouse and other people. It had beautiful sound effect and fountains went up and down in between and there were boats with pirates and other things. That was a grand finale for our Disney trip and also Los Angles trip as we were leaving from there in 2 days.

 

Meeting family

 

Sharad finished his work on March 30. The next day we left LA to go to New York. It was direct flight, which took 5 hours, and because of the time difference we reached there by 5.30 in the evening. We stayed at Sharad's sister's house, which is on the 52nd floor and overlooks the Hudson river. The view of New York from there is beautiful.

 

Next day we took a Amtrak train to go to Schenectady which is,  3 hours from New York city. We started from Penn station which was close by. The station was crowded and there were many people who were selling things like soft drinks and other things. Noise level was also very high and it was total confusion. The place almost resembled our own railway stations.

 

We traveled along the Hudson river upstream till Schenectady   Priya and Ananth had come there to receive us. The whether played spoilsport as it was raining and it was cold. We enjoyed staying at home and talking with them and Amma. After lunch we went by the riverside. It had a small falls and we learnt about the way boats were taken down from top of the falls to the bottom. We went to another park with a natural soda fountain. As it started raining again we went back home after eating huge pastries which we had bought. We left the next day and went back to New York.

 

From New York we flew to Kentucky to meet Sharad's brother. Kentucky is a beautiful place with lot of greenery and lot of horses. A horse race was going on the day we reached there. We spent two days sitting at home and enjoying each other's company.

 

Back in New York, April 5th

 

We took bus tour of downtown New York to see all tall buildings. It was a hop on and off bus tour. Among other things we saw the Empire state building and the Statue of Liberty.

 

The next day we took a tour of the United Nations building. We got full information about the place and working of the UN. They showed all conference halls, where the fate of the world is negotiated, and gifts from member countries. In the afternoon went around 5th Avenue, a shoppers paradise. We met Jadish for dinner at a nice Indian restaurant. 

 

The last day we went and visited the "Metropolitan Museum of Art". It is the biggest gallery of history and art. Usually it would take at least a day to see the full museum but we covered it in 4 hours.

 

All of a sudden it was time to go home. Both me & Sharad had a fantastic time in the US but we were ready to go back home and spend time just putting our feet up for a change. Needless to say, we took a huge number of pictures to keep the memory of our holiday fresh in our minds. I will send a link for photos also.