A few days back, I was talking to my room mate in US.
He asked me, "You dont eat chicken?"
I said "No".
"How are you surviving in this country, man?", he was surprised.
He felt pity for me, an almost extinct species relying on vegetables, and he was proud of his 'chicken-eating' abilities.
I asked him, "Do you eat beef and pork?"
"No way", was his strong reply. I could clearly see his respect for the sacred cow and the aversion towards the ugly pig. I could not help but smile, as I remembered the comments of one of my colleagues, "Its very difficult to survive in this country without eating beef and pork".
I dont say that vegetarianism is great, just because I dont eat meat. But, all I wish is that people should respect others' preferences, even when others are different from them.
Just got a funny thought on this. The word "non-veg" does not give the proper picture of what people eat. So, how about having different words like - chickenetarian, meatetarian, beefetarian, porketarian etc. Well, should cannibals be called humanitarians? ;)
Just a couple of days left, to go back to India, I still have to do some shopping - at least one thing I cannot afford to miss - chocolates!
When I was in LKG, my grandfather used to take me to school in his bicycle. He used to get me a chalk piece or a chocolate everyday. I still cherish those moments and probably they were my very first memories of chocolate. Even my dad likes chocolates very much and he used to spoil us by getting them (that too in those "chocolates-cause-toothache-preaching" era) He still keeps a few chocolates in his pocket all the time. The cheapest chocolate available when I was a kid was Kadlekaayi Peppermint (made from groundnut), which costed 5 paisa for 3 chocolates! It was at that time when Cadburys Eclairs was considered a great luxury! I still see kids loving Gems or Poppins, and the reason might be, it gives them satisfaction of eating more number of chocolates! Jujubes or "joojips" as we used to call it(its soft with sugar coating), was a personal favourite (That too the Nilgiris brand!) How could I forget 'Naturo'? It was 3-layered with mango flavour and we used to eat that very slowly, thereby increasing the duration of happiness.(I am not sure if we get them still) Long long ago, me and my brother had a huge collection of different chocolate covers stored in my mom's almirah locker (as if someone as stupid as us would steal it!) And now, whenever I go to my grandma's home, my little cousins greet me with "Vasuki aNNa, chocolate?" and we eat chocolates almost every week. So, chocolates have thereby become part of our family tradition.
Some weird things - though I like coffee, I somehow dont like any coffee-flavoured chocolates. The other one I dont like is Five Star (its too sticky!) And strangely, even though I like chocolates, I dont like chocolate ice creams and milkshakes!
I personally feel the chocolates we get from US are not as good as our very own dairy milk or milky bar, but I cant help wonder why people are obsessed with "American chocolates" (while the fact is that most of them will be 'Made in China'!) So, I will give the American chocolates to all my family members and get myself our very own "Milky Bar" this weekend.
I feel like having too much cocoa on my fingers, I will stop. Thank God, we dont get calories by writing or thinking about chocolates. Or else, I would have become Adnan Sami!
When was the last time you did something for the first time?
Yesterday was a rare saturday, not just because I woke up as early as 7.00 AM (For me, this is too early for any day), but I was going to ski for the first time! By 8.00 AM, I was at the 6600 S bus stop along with my colleagues Aravind and Pramod. The Wasatch mountains looked beautiful from there - as fresh as a girl who just had a shower, water droplets dripping from her hair!
We boarded bus number 92 and to my surprise, all the seats were filled. I had to stand in the bus and I did not miss Bangalore buses at all. There were people of all ages, with their skiing accessories. Many of them had the ski membership cards, and I felt as if we may be the only beginners. Within half an hour, we were in the snowy mountains. The snow gave a 'black-n-white' look to the surroundings - all the colors seemed as if they are different shades of grey. Only a few people got down at the Solitude ski resort. I felt as if we made a good decision in opting for Brighton.
Within a few minutes, we were at the Brighton ski resort. Lot of snow had fallen on those long trees. The lazy trees seemed to be waiting for the wind to blow the snow deposited, away from them. To my surprise, the place was not as cold as I expected. It was much warmer compared to the valleys, due to some geographical reason unknown to me. We entered into the office and bought the tickets for skiing, along with rental equipment and skiing classes.
I did not have the slightest clue about skiing and what shocked me the most were the skiing shoes! The shoes were as heavy as a child's school bag and I had to struggle a lot just to wear them. Then, I started taking "baby steps" with the heaviest pair of shoes I have ever worn. I dont remember the time when I used to walk when I was as a kid, but my balance would have been much better then! Then, we placed our belongings in the locker, got the ski boards and poles and baby-stepped towards the skiing classes.
As we were talking near the ski classes, a person in a red jacket came to us.
"Hi, I'm Steve, I'm your instructor. How you doing?" He was a typical instructor, full of energy and enthusiasm, keeping his students in good spirits.
"Hai, I'm Vasuki"
"Sorry guys, excuse me if I dont get your names right. Where are you from?"
"We are from India"
"Wow, we have got people from India, Denmark, America. We got people from all over the world man, cool!"
Our classes started with Steve teaching us how to fix the shoes inside the board. He asked us to walk with that to get some balance. After that, he started with the basics.
"These are your boards. The bottom is flat and the front, a little protruded to allow snow to slide under smoothly. Turn your legs, so that you form a V shape with the boards - you basically form a 'pizza' with the boards...The sides have a metal to help you cut down the speed...stretch your legs, exagerrate the stretch, if you need to stop..."
Every one in our group were asked to ski down a small slope, and I was the only person to fall down.
"You know why you fell down, you were leaning back, man. Bend forward, you'll get it. Dont worry, you'll be fine. The snow is soft, it wont hurt you..."
The second slope was more steep and to add to that there was lot of traffic. This time, I was able to travel some distance, but I could not slow down, so I fell on my sides to stop (just like a first timer learning a bicycle, leaving the handle, when not able to control the balance or speed!) and this time, I was glad that I was not the only person who fell! Then, Steve clamped our boards together and he took away our ski poles. I was a bit scared first, but he was right, I got a better balance this time.
We were near the lift, which would carry us to the top of the mountain. There were a number of chairs which keep travelling via a rope, up and down the mountain. We needed to stand behind a yellow line and as soon as a chair comes behind us, we had to sit on that. The chairs dont stop and we had to get off them as soon as we reach the top of the mountain.
From here, we had to ski down the mountain, on the way I fell down 3-4 times. I was now an expert(at falling) knowing the right angles to stop, at the same time not getting hurt. Steve had to come to me a couple of times to lift me up. As expected, I was the one of the last persons to reach the base.
Mark, one of our co-skiiers was a bit upset and he was talking to Steve.
"Hey, sorry if I sound obnoxious. But, just because these guys are slow, we are getting late, man"
"Cant help man, this is a group activity", said Steve, trying to sound polite.
I did not feel too offended because I get a similar feeling as Mark, with people who use the computer very slowly!
After he was gone, the other people in the group apologized to us (I am surprised as to why others had to apologize, for something they were not even remotely responsible for!)
"Dont worry bud, he's a jerk. Dont give no f*** to what anybody says. Never ever give up. All that matters is you should have a great time...", said Steve and finished the classes.
We were terribly hungry and we baby-stepped our way to the cafetaria. I had one of the most horrible burgers and the worst french fries I have ever eaten. I did not get my favourite Sprite and had to settle for Mountain Dew.
After lunch, Aravind and myself went again to the top of the mountain and started skiing downwards. I was better this time, getting the 'pizza' alright. But, I was too tired and started getting cramps. After a few intermediate falls, we reached the place where Pramod was waiting with his camera. We took a few snaps of the mountains and some 'Patel-shots' of us.(Just in case you dont know, 'Patel-shot' means taking pictures in front of any foreign location, for showing it to people back home ;)) After returning the skiing accessories, I put on my shoes. I had never felt so good wearing my shoes. We went to the bus stop and got into 92.
If I have to brag about my skiing, I would say I was pathetic at best. But, I enjoyed it as much as any man in that mountain had. As Steve said, all that mattered was that I had a great time. I was planning to change my spelling to 'Vauski', but decided against it for numerological reasons ;)
I have almost done whatever I had wished to do here. I am a happy man!