Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An Amaravian's South Pole Mission

Nothing makes me proud except for being an Amaravian! Not only me, but every Amaravian will agree to this statement and today we have another reason to be more proud of. Lt Commander KS Balaji - Sainik School Amaravathi Nagar 1989 batchSchool V Captain - Pallava House is the deputy leader of the INDIAN Navy's expedition to the South Pole. Here is the excerpts from his email to the Alumini Group Mail

Mail Starts .......

I am glad to say that I am the deputy leader of the INDIAN Navy's expedition to the South Pole. We are already set to Antarctica and presently we are at Santiago (Chile) undertaking all requisite formalities and approvals to enter the remote continent. Hand in hand, we are preparing hard on our fitness and acclimatising ourselves to face the challenges the weather and terrain are due to pose us.

I was also part of the Indian Navy Mountaineering Team that climbed Mt Everest from the dreaded North face in May 2004. After this stupendous success, we are now ready to take on another extreme challenge as the next major adventure sport activity - Ski traverse to the South Pole during Nov 06 - Jan 07(termed Mission Dakshin Dhruv 2006). It would indeed be a daunting expedition and may well achieve records heralding India ,the Indian Navy and Sainik School Amaravathi Nagar into the forefronts of the adventure world and personally, I will also end up reaching two poles of the three in the world (North Pole, South Pole and Mt Everest which is considered the Third Pole).

It is a landmark venture for the country, the Navy and our school. Representing a microcosm of India the expedition will carry the hopes and aspirations of our countrymen and reflect the qualities of team spiritand indomitable will that our fine Service embodies.This expedition would unfurl the flags of India, the Navy and our school at the final frontier of adventure activity that challenges the human spirit of courageand survival. We have launched a website http://www.nausenaadventu which has a fair amount of details and snaps of this venture which will be updated regularly even whilst onour expedition. Although no publicity campaign or media coverage have been provided for this expedition exposing the great feat attempted by the Naval stalwarts to the Indian as well as the world community, we have put up a post card page for your views and good wishes to boost the morale of these brave men and encourage them to achieve success intheir attempt.

It becomes our responsibility as proud citizens of India and Amaravians, to recognize such daring missions and project India favourably in the World of Sports and Adventure. Please pass on this messageacross the board and allow it to reach the masses -far, farther and beyond. I am sure you would be earnest to join hands and promote the mission throughall available means and make all Indians feel proud of this team. May I request you to kindly give your good wishes and blessings to the team on this mail id. Your goodwishes and message would mean a lot to the team!

...... Mail Ends

I take this opportunity to wish the team a great success in their mission and request the visitors to shower their wishes and blessings to the team. I am amazed about the tone of patriotism and sincerity in his mail - equally ashamed of being in an industry where people have forgotten the significance of August 15.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

An evening in Chicago

It has been exactly 2 months since I landed in US. All these days have been too hectic that, I have not been able to visit any place other than Walmart, which is just a furlong from my apartment and a couple of other joints like Apple Bees, Buffalo Wings and of course the Palatine library that houses a huge collection of books.

Though, the Thanks Giving long weekend would give enough window for going around, Thursday was spent in aloneness. However, Thurday night kept me in telecon with the off-shore folks till 3:00 AM Friday. At 4:00 AM went along with a friend to grab a few items in the Black Friday sale. I was amused to see a long queue waiting for the shops to open. Most of the shops open at 5:00AM and the Early Bird price is applicable till 11:00 AM. We visited Circuit City, Best Buy and ULTA. Thanks to my friend - got some good deals in every shop - I have saved a couple of hundred dollars. Exhausted at 11:30 AM, we went to India House, Bufallo Grove for a hearty Indian buffet. Friday ended with a sound sleep till evening and telecon in the night followed by a disturbed sleep.

Saturday started with guilt for having chased a flock of birds and scaring a kid watching the birds, while attempting to shoot the birds with the camera after collecting it from my friend's car. After browsing through a site on Chicago to motivate myself to go around, I started with Madhan, a room mate to Chicago. We boarded the train at the Arlington Park station which is located with in the Arligton Race Course. The train went via Arlington Heights, Des Plaines, Park Ridge, Jefferson Park and reached Chicago Ogilvie station in an hour. With neither a plan in mind or a map in hand, we were not sure where to head. Just started walking on the street that appeared to be a more than a street, grabbed a tall cup of hot brewed coffee from Starbucks and after a mile we reached what looked like a park.

Ultimately, it turned out to be the Millenium Park of Chicago with its unprecedented combination of architecture, monumental sculpture and landscape design, the 24.5 acre is adorned by morden masterpieces like Cloud Gate, Crown Fountain, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, BP Bridge and a Ice Ring. Architecture and landscaping was at its peak. The park was bustling with people of all types, kids, grandies, joggers, lovers, spectators, and most people from suburban areas have come to spend their evening at the Millenium Park.

A strode on the BP Bridge took us to the Chicago Yatch Club and then to the road that runs parallel to Lake Michigan. The panoramic view of the city from the lake assured that it is apt to call it the city of sky scrapers, though I didn't get a chance during this trip to see the Sears Tower. My be I will make it in my next trip to the downtown.

We went along the lake and crossed a bridge to reach the Navy Pier which houses a children's museum, theaters, gardens, an assortment of shops, the Joe's Be-Bop Jazz bar, restaurants and a variety of entertainment for kids. This is the best place to be with your kids.

In the Navy Pier shopping area, there were two painters painting of two kids and mother. The medium was cardboard paper and water colur. They were specilised in caricature. It was so lively and funny that, I got interested and I decided that I should have on such painting of myself and wanted to know how funny Andy, the painter would draw out of me. We walked back to the station and took the train back to Arlington Park at 8:30 PM and the day turned out to be a memorable one.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chopping Wood; Fetching Water

I love haikus, especially when remembered in my aloneness.

Sitting Alone

- Room mates vacationing the Thanks Giving long weekend

- Declined the offers to join them

- Declined couple of invitation from friends and relatives to visit their place

- Unusually favourable weather - replica of the summer of Kodiakanal

- Neither interested nor motivated even to take a walk

- Wondering on my reluctance to go around, in spite of being the most out-going person at home!

- Attempting to unwillingly finish the tasks willingly unfinished and ignored at work

- Peeping into Kamzpuff and Kavimusings when work becomes work

- Wading through a few pages of Passions of the Mind whenever laptop turns disgusting

- Van Gogh or Michaelangelo or Freud, Stone is amazing!

- Imbued in the divine creation of Ilayaraja when Freud is not at his best

- Occassional cooking of the aromatic sambar, learnt from my room mate Satish

- A double Jack Daniell's or Black Label on the rocks, when everything around sucks

- Finally, remembered the haiku .........

Chopping Wood; Fetching Water;

Before enlightenment.

Chopping Wood; Fetching Water;

After enlightenment.