All in all, it was a fun Saturday...
Sunday, December 9, 2007
All in all, it was a fun Saturday...
Thursday, December 6, 2007
I come to office and call up home and have a long chat with them that brings me to tears, i miss them so much....
Later in the day Kim takes me out for lunch to a Chinese restaurant and I have some king-sized prawns and chicken... enjoyed the lunch!
I wanted to get back home quickly and i did not have a ride back so i decide to walk home, its far but i feel that a walk would do me good after the heavy lunch and then starts the most tiring and scary and memorable 75 minutes of my life!! I probably took all the wrong turns and ended up walking almost 4 miles mostly in the dark and in the cold! Man, that was scary like hell... there were times when i thought i should stop and probably try and look for a phone but then there wasnt any around!! and frankly even if there were, i dont think i would have called anybody (Stupid me, worried about what they would say when they found out i was lost trying to get smart!) but then when i finally did reach home I had a gift waiting for me - my phone set!
I was really tired but glad to be home so i went ahead and cut my cake and had my pudding and also distributed it to the two families who have been so great to me!
Whew! that was some birthday!!!
27th November : just went by with office and preparing for my written test!
28th November : I was all ready for my driving written test and after my one-hour class I went in to the DMV at Clairemont, mentally prepared to spend a loooong time waiting! I did have to wait but not as much and my number was called almost to the hour after i had reached there. The lady took like forever going through the formalities and I was asked for my passport and Indian license and then after getting my rather sleepy-eyed picture taken I was off to give the test... and the test took me less than 5 minutes to complete!! I was out in a jiffy and I had scored a perfect 100%.. Yipee! :D The BIG achievement of the month!!
29th November : With the written test out of the way, the focus now was on getting an internet connection. I was researching it for some days and finally decided on getting the landline connection as that way it was working out cheaper for the internet thingie. I completed my booking hoping that before the next weekend i should have the internet connection setup.
30th November : As I was preparing breakfast, I heard some water splashing somewhere and as i looked out of my window I could not believe what i was seeing! It was pouring outside!! I was wondering that the day before it was so sunny and hot, it being end November and all and today it is raining!! Man, the weather here is crazy... I thought that the rain will soon stop and so I didnt bother picking up my umbrella while leaving for office and I was punished for being lazy! The rain did not stop and I was drenched by the time I reached office :( It actually continued raining the whole day.... at night after dinner I just stepped outside for a while and it was still drizzling and I thought to myself ' So this is what 'November Rain' is all about!' :)
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
But the last few days have been eventful! So lets begin - -
21st November : I received my SSN, exactly 2 weeks after applying for it, guess I was lucky to have not faced any delays or trouble in getting the SSN.
This was also the day before the long Thanksgiving weekend began and the day when I was to shift from 199 to 207! That evening was probably the most tiring in my entire life... picking all those heavy items and transferring them to the new apartment, with no one to help, almost took the life out of me!
22nd November : For the first time in my life, I prepared lunch!! Rice, Dal and Bhendi fry... the bhendi fry was nice and oily :) It took me the whole morning and a bit of the afternoon too to get my lunch ready!! Have to work up on my speed at chopping and frying, i guess!
I also assembled the drawers finally... got some pictures while doing it too! It was a lot of fun, making your own furniture! All the boards are chopped to the right size, screws of every shape and size provided, all one has to do is deduce which screw goes where and then twist :D Did that for the rest of the afternoon after lunch and then finally had it ready by evening... stuffed it with all my stuff and admired my work-of-art for some time after that....
23rd November : Did nothing special really this day... actually got quite bored in the morning. In the evening though, i went to Target with Sarika and did some shopping... picked up a cute cuddly brown dog as my birthday gift and named him 'Chantu' (pronounced 'Shantu' like in French ;)
24th November : This was a fruitful day... I visited the nearest public library, again with Sarika, and got my membership done! Now i wouldnt have to bother about getting bored... i will have all the books i can handle to read :) The library is free and not too bad either... will keep me happy for a long time! Later in the evening, I visited Vons and picked up a cake for my birthday... not a cake but just a slice of it. It felt odd buying a cake for my own birthday and there was also not going to be a big party with many people so got a small one.... I really miss my family :(
25th November : A day before my birthday and i am all alone in my 2-bedroom apartment with no telephone, no internet! It probably cannot get worse than this :( I try to keep busy by making some chocolate pudding (which by the way turned out real good) and trying my hand at some more cooking, but this time i try something less time-consuming - an omlette.
So this was how I spent my Thanksgiving weekend, all in all, eventful four days!
Monday, November 19, 2007
- Leo Buscaglia
Not one shred of evidence supports the notion that life is serious.
We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.
- Kurt Vonnagut
Never allow someone to be your priority while allowing yourself to be their option
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Yesterday evening was a fun-filled evening with tow major events: shopping and dining
The evening began with a visit to Costco(a BIG warehouse) where everything is sold wholesale(read, cheap but only in bulk) where we bought tissues and milk. Nothing jazzy about the shop and nothing small about it too! Everything comes in XXL sizes, right from chips packets to double container oil jars to huge packs of tissues! Did not like that shop too much but its good for essentials shopping for a family.
Next stop was North Park Produce, its a place where we get grocery and masala and the kind. Not too big and quite boring actually... just a fancy 'Santosh ki dukaan' :) This is where I had my first experience of buying groceries!
Later we went to the US Bank and finished off the deposit work... much to my relief, because my room-mate was bugging me off with her constant reminders!
Last stop for the day was Walmart where I did most of the shopping, right from trash cans to a microwave! Ran up quite a huge bill to but then most of the things are not perishable and a necessity too!
Shopping done, returned home, stored all the stuff in the hall and ran off to the dinner party...
The dinner party, hosted by the kind soul who drops and picks me up from office every day, was just getting started and after some light discussion we got on to playing dumb-charades... after a long time, I had so much fun, laughing and screaming, I almost lost my voice for the evening :) The dinner was also too good... luchi ghugni and paneer bhuji and jeera rice... yummy! I really feel now that it only is a matter of some initiative and there is no reason why i cannot cook like that and have some good food! Chatted for quite some time after dinner about getting a new car, the insurance, the furniture etc etc and I felt overwhelmed with all the work! But then i had a ferrero rocher and i was feeling good again :)
So this is how my Saturday ended and today, Sunday, I plan to sort out all my financial details and also get some office work done....
Saturday, November 17, 2007
There are few more things that i should be careful about:
1. quick acceleration at signals, especially when getting onto the freeway (got honked at one more time here while getting on to the freeway!)
2. left/right indicators only 1-1/2 houses before the turn... NOT before that!
3. while taking a right turn, get onto the bike lane only 100 feet or less before the turn.
4. while turning or changing lanes, slow down, look in the mirror, indicator, look over your shoulder and then turn/change lanes
So its decided now that I got to take another lesson and then go on for the driving test but before that there are a couple of things i have to check out:
1. receipts for the driving lessons
2. drop and pick-up for the written test
3. written test possible without SSN?
Ok so thats that then... good start to the weekend but have some office work to complete as well :( its beginning to get hectic now! Will be going grocery shopping today and also have to buy some essentials before moving into the new apartment... and also have a dinner to attend in the evening!
Friday, November 16, 2007
Not such a big deal in India but I was shocked to see someone jumping the red signal here... here where people stop at a 'STOP' sign painted on the road on an empty road with no one in sight door-door tak! Was suprised indeed and may i add, it also made me feel that people here too are falliable and not automatons driving :)
PS: the Friday dinner invite that was expected did not come :( but another one on Saturday came up! And I am not complaining :D
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Was very relieved to get the money in my Bofa account because that meant that i could pay of all the outstanding bills and also withdraw money without paying any additional surcharge...
Today also went to the local grocery store(mall, actually... and this is a first too!) VONS is the name of the store and its a grocery chain... really liked the place. I am beginning to feel that given some time I will actually start enjoying my stay here :) Withdrawing cash from the ATM here was another first today...
Have also signed up for the driving class this Saturday so that is something to look forward to this weekend. And yes, the dinner invite.... had said 'no' the last friday so wondering if i will be re-invited this weekend, keeping my fingers crossed... really want to meet Kim's wife and also have the gift to give!
Sunday, November 11, 2007
1. bus travel is not intimidating if you know where to get up and down :)
2. My 'माल' (not hindi, but english!) room-mate can be a big pain in the a**, though pretty much stuck with her for the next two months will try and move out of her company asap!
3. when somebody is giving you a lot of gyan and generally bitching, the best way is to ask 'do u want me to do something?' else pretty soon the guns are going to be drawn on you!
4. Shopping in malls here is pretty confusing and boring especially if you dont have good company, there are just too many things and none of your choice and budget.
Ok enough of the lessons now... i visited a lot of high-profile brand stores today like Gucci, Carolina Herrera, Gap, Guess, Bloomingdale, Saks Fifth Avenue and the regulars like Macys, JCPenny and Ann Taylor but nothing really caught my eye and finally ended up buying from a shop named 'Express'!
All in all, it wasnt a bad day at all... i just miss the enjoyment and fun, actually its being a long time since i had a good laugh with friends :(
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Week 1(10/29-11/04): Johnny Gaddar, Jab We Met
Week 2(11/05-11/11): Laga Chunari me Daag, Dhol, Chak de India, Honeymoon Travels Pvt Ltd
Week 3(11/12-11/18): The Bee Movie, American Gangster, Om Shanti Om, Sawariya
Week 4(11/19-11/25): 15th Park Avenue
Week 5(11/26-12/02): Love Actually
Week 6(12/03-12/09): Matrix Reloaded, Matrix Revolutions, Dhan dhan dhan GOAL, Ella Enchanted, Aaja Nachle(Madhuri's comeback movie and i totally liked it!)
Week 7(12/10-12/16): Khoya Khoya Chand (boring!), Dus Kahaniyaan (not bad at all)
To help you take the driver's seat in the buying experience, first learn to play the game, and you might even end up doing some smooth talking of your own.
Ready, Set, Go!
1. "I'm ready to buy now."
This is an admission of weakness and an invitation for the dealer to throw out a price that's slightly below the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) to see if you'll take the bait. It shows that you're too eager and willing to consider an offer, and it also gives salespeople the advantage by allowing them to talk you up as opposed to you talking them down. But by adding some very precise parameters, you'll sound confident and strong from the start.
"Don't let them know that you're ready to buy without being very particular. If you're ready, say that you'll buy, but only under these particular conditions," says Gentile.
There are two schools on negotiating. Going into the process, Gentile reminds consumers to be wary of the dealer cost. Consumer Reports has something called wholesale price, which is the normal dealer invoice price minus all relevant rebates and incentives. Similarly, most longstanding price-information services advise buyers to research the dealer invoice, along with any relevant incentives, then make a lowball offer that's maybe just a few hundred dollars above invoice. The dealer will follow your figure with a counteroffer that then allows you to go back and forth until there is a compromise.
Conversely, a second school believes that making the first offer puts the buyer in a weak position. "When you make an offer on a car, you're digging yourself into a hole," says James "Spike" Bragg, a consumer advocate and founder of Fighting Chance, an information service for new-car buyers. "That offer will be as good as it gets. There's so much today in 'under the radar' sales incentives to dealers, you don't want to limit yourself."
According to Bragg, many of the dealer incentives today are awarded on a dealer-by-dealer basis, often handed out for meeting sales targets. Because of this, you can't pin down these incentives on a particular vehicle, and you never know which dealership might be able to provide the better price at a given time.
Bragg's method involves faxing quote requests from several different dealerships and asking them for their best bottom-line price on a particular model. His clients sometimes manage to negotiate prices well below invoice, even considering all published incentives. In this day of increased under-the-radar incentives, this method doesn't limit you to a bottom line and certainly has its merits if you're willing to put in the effort.
On ForbesAutos.com you can pursue both options. On each of our Reviews pages there is a link to detailed MSRP and invoice pricing. Also, if you go to our "Buy a Car" section, you can select a model, configure it how you like and then request a free dealer price quote.
2. "I can afford this much per month."
"Don't tell the dealer what you're willing to pay per month. This is the biggest mistake a shopper can make. Often the dealer will focus on a monthly payment scheme, insisting you are receiving a great deal, but at the end of the day you won't really know what you paid, advises Gentile.
If the dealer can get a number out of you, a common trick is to ask if you can squeeze out a slightly higher monthly payment, then raise the bottom-line price accordingly by hundreds or even thousands. Avoid this by insisting that you focus only on the purchase price. Walk away if the salesperson only wants to talk in monthly payments. Trade-in
3. "Yes, I have a trade-in."
Don't tell salespeople you have a trade-in until a final transaction price is set. If you do and the deal hasn't been made yet, they may try to distract you with the "great" deal they're giving you on your trade-in as they skimp on the real deal. And if you catch that, they may try writing your trade-up for less.
"You'll see games being played — they'll play one off on the other," Gentile says. Once you've decided on a sale price, then you can see what they'll give you for your old car.
4. "I'm only buying the car with cash."
Car dealers make a significant chunk of added profit when they sell you financing. If you don't at least leave the dealer with the possibility that he or she might sell you financing, you simply won't be getting the best deal. Bragg recommends saying something like "I haven't really thought that through yet. Maybe we'll see what you have after we agree on a price."
But be truly noncommittal with financing, even though it's a good idea to line up tentative financing with your lender before you go car shopping.
5. "I'm not sure…which model do you think I need?"
If you're this undecided, you may end up driving away in a vehicle you neither wanted nor needed. Do the research in advance, and make your first shopping trip a short one. Use this opportunity to gather information and take your spec vehicle for a short test drive. If your uncertainty is apparent, you may end up buying the model with the most add-on equipment, the highest sticker price and, of course, the most profit for the dealer. Before you go shopping, narrow your choices down to three or four vehicles that fit your needs.
My Dream Car
6. "Oh, I've wanted one of these all my life."
As soon as you've lost yourself in the dreamy vision of that gleaming convertible, the salesperson has you hooked, and your chances of getting a great deal are over. "Don't get caught heavy breathing," says Bragg. "Certainly don't admit to your spouse — with the salesman listening in the backseat — that you're in love with the car." Here's where you need to have a communication plan. Try to sound objective and rational. Point out some pros and cons and be observant and calm. Just don't say that you have to have this car.
What Everyone Wants
7. "I'll take whatever the popular options are."
Don't ever ask for the "popular options" especially on a luxury model that already comes loaded. It's an open invitation for overpriced dealer add-ons such as interior protectant, window etching or undercoating. They're all things you can come back for later. Instead, go through the equipment list at home after your first visit to the dealership and then decide exactly what you need.
Lowest You Can Go
8. "What's the lowest price you can give me?"
Most likely, this question won't be taken seriously, and you will be met with a predictable performance. The salesperson will wince, maybe talk to the manager, fiddle with numbers and eventually come back with a price that probably isn't a very good deal for you. But there may be so much apparent effort in this performance that you'll be pressured into settling for that final number. Don't. To avoid this, make an informed and reasonable low offer, then wait for a counteroffer. Don't be afraid of silence. Conversely, don't be surprised if there's even a little drama.
Doing The Math
9. "Sure, I'll look at the numbers with you."
Perhaps quite early in your visit, the salesperson will most likely make an offer to "just go look at the numbers." Dealers do this when they sense you're undecided, but they want to be in the position of control. Getting you in the office makes it harder for you to back out. Wait until you can call the shots of what you want at what price.
The Haggle Factor
10. "I think you can do a lot better than that."
Never scold or accuse the salespeople. Be polite. Compliment them, and show respect. You'll never get the best price if you talk down to them. At least for the moment, you want them to be your friends. Let the scene play out, but leave when the deal's not good enough by quietly suggesting that the competition across town might be more willing to work with you.
Lets see now, what were the highlights last week??!! Nothing much really other than the fact that i finally submitted my application for the SSN (details to follow!) and also got all my cards-Ecount, BOFA and AMEX all in the same day! Was also invited by Kim for dinner on Friday but turned it down coz i didn't have anything to gift them.... will pick up something when i got out tomorrow, planning to go to Fashion Valley and do some shopping... And also booked a new apartment here at Bernardo Hills itself... its a 2BHK and will be just two of us... works out to be a little expensive but at least there will be some peace of mind and more importantly, some privacy! Will be moving out sometime during the Thanksgiving weekend!
The trip to the SSN office was one long bore! I guess, all the governmental agencies of the world follow the same set of rules... it was just like in any Indian govt office, long queues, bored officials taking their own sweet time moving around, frustrated people waiting for hours on end... including me! Had to wait for two long hours before my number was finally called out and the task was done in less than 5 minutes!! and here i was, thinking that in the US of A everything happens in a jiffy, i guess somethings never change!
Thanksgiving weekend is round the corner but I have no plans as of now... looks like I will be here... planning to take some driving classes if they remain open and my SSN is done by then! Had many options like going to Chicago to Dada or to Pittsburgh to friends or even to New York to Pishi but none worked out coz for one its working out to be quite expensive and right now with so many expenses coming up, i really should not be splurging! and also the flight timings are such that i would end up spending almost a day and half in traveling to-and-fro... totally not worth it! So right now I am here waiting for something interesting to come up!
Monday, November 5, 2007
It was a good experience, saw a lot of south-indian women decked up in their best... it felt like Durga Puja and not just a kid's bday party!!
Met a Maharashtrian couple and chatted with the lady... also met my colleagues' pretty wives, almost felt like i was in 'Beauty and the Beast!' :D
Sunday was spent lazing around the house and watching a couple of movies... Johnny Gaddar and Jab We Met... the first movie was good and the second was bad... thats my review!
Probably next weekend I will go around a bit... need to shop for new clothes!
Friday, November 2, 2007
The first week at office is officialy over and now I have a weekend to look forward to and though nothing really special happened, here is the chronicle for posterity sake:
DAY 1 - Dada drops me off and while I wait for someone to come accompany me, VB drives in and drops me off at the gate where KA is waiting with a big smile on his face! I am introduced to everyone in the team and also to the managers like GR, YK, Ranga and also to S and Randy. By the time I am settled in, its time for lunch and VB asks me for lunch and we go off to an Indian restaurant 'Delhi (something)' accompanied by KA. Soon its time to pack up and I leave.
DAY 2 - Today is the day for 'application status report' meeting where in AS (the new acting-PM) presents the info abt all the applications while people responsible for each app gives the detailed updates. I see a lot of new faces and am shocked when AS asks me to give the updates on a particular application... After the meeting, I find out that AM, Matt, David (all app mangers) were the new faces and I gave my first report to them even without knowing it!!
DAY 3 - Got in touch with SR some other guys from GST and with their help got an idea about the various forms to be filled and submitted. Also went to the canteen with Santosh and chatted for quite some time and he told me about his LA trip on the coming weekend and whether I wanted to join in... i was all excited and ofcourse I said yes!
DAY 4 - Nothing much happened today other than that I faxed across all the documents and also opened up a BOFA account. the only thing pending is to get the SSN done...
DAY 5 - The week finally ends... got an invite to attend S's son's second bday on Saturday and also got my sony badge....
The evenings have been interesting with varied preparations of sambhar and the little ww that i have had to witness... I swear the food did not have half the spice that the war of words did! :D
Thursday, November 1, 2007
As the day dawned, I was ready to... get back to sleep again :) Felt could sleep for another two days atleast! But Dada forced me up and after having breakfast, we left for shopping (that actually was the only reason I agreed to get up in the first place!). We went to the malls in Escondido (Macy's, Sears, JCPenny) and while I was suprised by the sheer size of the malls, I really was enjoying it a lot! Almost bought a top from New York and Co but then decided to check out the other shops before making a purchase and landed up at Anna Taylor Loft.... the saleslady there was really nice and she did a great job at getting me to buy a pair of good fitting trousers and a blood red top! Later we went to a shoe store but then since nothing really caught my eye, we left soon enough. By then it was already 5 and it was time to visit the apartment which was to be my home, for now!
My first impression was well.... this looks like a refugee camp!! Firstly there were 5 girls already sharing the apartment which as far as i knew was home to only 2 other girls and on top of it all the girls were married and south-indian!! What luck! will these south-indians never leave me alone?!! Nyways seeing the condition of the house and the space crunch, Dada got into overdrive and we drove off to Target to pick up a lot of essential (as per Dada) household items! I had fun.. it seemed like the American lifestyle that i had always thought of having :) And then we dropped off the stuff at the apartment and got back to the hotel... Day 2 was coming to an end and I was getting mentally ready for joining office the next day....
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
To begin at the beginning, I set out from the Bombay airport on 27th Oct at 0235 hours and as i waved to Ma and Baba, I was so sad and yet excited about the new journey I am embarking upon! As i settled into my seat in the crowded economy class, I was thrilled to see a BA plane taxing away :) Life is never a bed of roses and my journey certainly wasnt... the first leg was made memorable by the extremely fat gentleman sitting beside me and the extreme cold inside the plane! That night felt interminable... but day did dawn and i had the first taste of American breakfast which certainly was not fun! Nyways i spent the day drifting in and out of sleep and didnt really get bored and soon it was time to get off and board the next flight (11:30 am IST but 7:30 am in Frankfurt)
The airport at Frankfurt certainly left a lot to be desired... It was neither too big nor too fancy and thankkfully I didnt have to spend too much time at the airport. Got over with the security check and was waited in the lobby, chatting up another Indian traveling to Phoenix before boarding flight LH430 to Chicago...
The O'Hare airport is lovely and huuuuuuge... it has its own rail system to travel from one terminal to another!! Though i wish there was a easier way to get the baggage of the carousal... whew! that was really tough... almost got dragged away by the bag as i clutched it, trying to get it off the carousal... thankfully was able to haul off both pieces of baggage the next time! and quickly walked off for the emmigration check as the flight was already an hour late leaving me with around 2 hours only... But the emmigration check was not too difficult but the security check was... the guards threw out my Nike deo because it was too big for the cabin luggage but I was able to salvage my face wash from disappearing into oblivion!
The flight was again delayed at Chicago because.... a truck had banged into the plane!! Wow, what next? Finally the flight did take off and I looked down over Chicago for the first time and as I looked down the thought whether this was the best decision crossed my mind but I quickly put it out of my head and got out my novel! Next watched the Harry Potter and Order of the Phoenix movie and when even then the flight didn't seem to get over, I started getting bored and impatient. After traveling half way across the world I really couldn't wait for the journey of a thousand miles to end!
Finally the journey did end and I walked out straight towards the baggage claim area only to see Dada already waiting there for me... that brought a smile on my tired face :) We then collected the baggage or rather Dada collected the baggage while I chatted to Ma and Baba telling them about my allergy, my blocked ears and my cold :D
Dada rented a Hertz car and we reached the Holiday Inn hotel at around 9:30 after getting lost a couple of times and as I wasn't hungry at all, we decided to call it a day. As I tucked in for the night I wondered momentarily that was I really in America? Was the journey finally over or is another announcement over the PA going to wake me from my dream?
Thursday, October 18, 2007
- Got the offer letter... salary not what was promised (but thats not too suprising, is it?)
- Raised the TR after getting the go-ahead... the powers-that-are took forever doing it and now while my PM enjoys his holidays I get the taste of leadership and management first-hand!
- My tickets are booked... flying Lufthansa, Bombay to San Diego via Frankfurt,Chicago... will be leaving on the 27th Oct 0235 and will reach SD at 1735 the same day...
- Submitted the docs and obtained my calling card and transit insurance and also my tickets
- Sent the mail for FOREX release and will be getting it on the 24th
- Opened a new Citi account (not because i wanted to but because it is a must for some unknown reason!)
- Got the stamp and sign on the loan docs.... finally! Can you believe it that a company as big as I** does not have a official seal on its premises!!
Friday, October 12, 2007
1. ' A manager is the one who sees to it that the trees in the forest are being cut right; a leader climbs up the tree and sees to it that the right trees are being cut!' - Unknown
2. 'Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.' - Dwight Eisenhower
3. 'Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men -- the other 999 follow women.' - Groucho Marx (one of my favs :)
4. 'Delegating work works, provided the one delegating works, too.' - Robert Half
5. A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way - John C. Maxwell
Monday, October 8, 2007
Visited a number of places in the two days and what follows is a description as seen through my eyes :)
1. Tryambakeshwar temple - This is the biggest and the most famous attraction of Nashik. had heard a lot about the temple and its unusual 'shivlinga' and we reached the temple in good time... not too long a queue and the crowds quickly dispersed. The unique shivlinga had 3 holes instead of the usual ling structure which is said to signify Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara. Also the darshan was by viewing the ling in a mirror because the actual ling is set deep down!
After the darshan, I stepped out to take some photographs of the temple but I was prevented from doing so by the guards... but that wasnt to stop me, was it? ;) I stepped behind a tree and clicked a snap nonetheless!! With that the visit to the temple came to an end and we returned to the cool interiors of the waiting Scorpio....
2. Godavari dam- Next stop was the dam across the Godavari river... though not originally in the plan, we made a stop nyways. Not much to look at but the lake was huge and the cool breeze rippling over the surface was refreshing! Spent quite some time by the lake, dipping my feet in the water, posing for a few pics :)
3. Panchavati We then moved on to our next stop, Panchavati, the place which was witness to the cause of many a great events.... The ghat and the Rama (kalaram/goraram) mandirs were on the agenda and they were duly visited... What wasnt on the agenda and turned out to be the highlight was the 'Sitaguha'... It was a temple with a difference, it was a guha but again, with a difference.... there was a low, extremely low entrance through which we could pass only by sitting down and moving on our butts and then were steep stairs down... and so thats how we went, one step at a time on our butts :D Right outside the sitaguha was the site of the famed 'panch vat' from which the place takes its name!
By the time we were done with our sight-seeing, the sun was in its dying stages and it was time for us to bid adieu to Panchavati....
4. Phalke Smarak - There is a museum and smarak dedicated to the great Dadasaheb Phalke who hailed from Nashik and I was enthused to go visit it, hence we decided to take a slight detour and go inspite of it being late in the day.... but alas, it was not meant to be! Due to some unscheduled load-shedding, the musuem and the entire premises had already closed for the day and we had to return dejected!
5. Adhikari dinner - By now, I was completely tired and all ready for a good night's sleep but there was still one item on the agenda - a dinner invite at Baba' colleague Mr. Adhikari's residence! Though the dinner was nothing to write home about, I did meet two extremely smart and talented young girls - Pratyusha and Priyanka. Daughters of Mr. Adhikari, they had many awards and credits to their name and I even got to listen to a marathi elocution from Pratyusha!
Dinner done we finally returned to the hotel room and I tucked in for the night!
1. Gargoti mineral museum - First stop for the day and I was spellbound!! The unimaginable beauty of stones/minerals.... who could imagine that within the inocuous looking stones are sparkling amethysts, radiant rubies and the like!! It simply was unbelievable... spent quite some time in the museum and took a lot of photographs and even bought a beautiful blood-red pendant!
2. Shirdi - Well, the trip would have been incomplete without a visit to the Saibaba temple at Shirdi... so there we were, racing against time to make it for the 12 o'clock aarti but we missed it by just a few minutes! This was the first time I was visiting Shirdi and I was pretty amazed at the sheer number of people I saw... hundreds of devotees waiting patiently in queues stretching over a kilometre to pay their respects to Saibaba! I also asked for his blessings for the new innings in my life and after spending some time in the environs of the temple, we had our lunch at a nearby restaurant and were soon on our way...
3. Shani Shingnapur - We were now in the last leg of our trip and wanted to make the most of it... our driver suggested visiting Shani Shingnapur temple since we had come so far and shouldnt leave without seeing that as well.... There is also a famous saying that goes with the place - no doors, no windows to the houses in this area, anyone daring to steal turns lame!! Well, a place with so much novelty had to be visited! But nothing had prepared me for the sight that awaited me!! Only men were allowed to offer puja and that too only wearing a saffron cloth tied around their waists... also a purifying bath was a must and so there were I was in a sea of half-naked, fully drenched men waiting for the darshan!! The Shani god (not an idol but a piece of rock!) was being bathed with oil and all the women had to watch from a distancewhile the men made the offerings.... Strange sight, indeed!!
The trip to Shani Shingnapur officially concluded our Nashik trip and we all bundled into the waiting Scorpio and left for home, sweet home!!
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
L: So you work for IBM?
Me: yep! (yep? yep??!! did i just say yep??? wasnt i instructed to say yes, ma'm!! oh well...)
L: Have you travelled before?
Me: no (better answer this time!)
L: Your passport will be couriered to your company. Thank you!
Me: Thank you, Ma'm!
..... and I am out of the cubicle, the room and soon at the parking where my mom is getting ready for a looong wait! hee hee...
Not much of a story there but the amount of preparation and efforts that went into the making of these two minutes is worth telling.... It began with my preparation of the questions that could be asked and collection of the documents that need to be carried for the interview... The final set of documents that I did carry
1. appointment letter
2. visa receipt
5. original degree certificate and marksheets
6. form-16 and income-tax filing form
7. company offer letter and last 3 months payslips
(Note: The first 4 are an absolute must and the remaining can be carried but as my experience shows that they are not always required.)
After the documents came the questions... thought of all possible questions and all possible answers to all those questions and it didnt seem so difficult after that....
Next came the hotel and the cab booking... easier said than done but was through with all the bookings and the confirmations the night before travel....
(Note: The travel was the most time-consuming and tiring part as traveling over 300 kms to-and-fro for a 30-min exercise really was not worth it but I didnt really have a choice, did I?
After spending the night at a nearby (well, not quite) IBM guest-house, reached the consulate at around 8:10 and the day unfolded:
1. Stood in the queue for around 10 mins before being ushered inside the consulate
2. Went through the regular security check (another 5 mins)
3. Went inside the main room and collected the VFS document and submitted it alongwith my passport at counter 1 and got a pink token (# 165)... probably another 5 mins)
4. Took a seat right at near the counters and got a first look at the ladies behind the bullet-proof glass and relaxed... was getting ready for a long wait!
5. Kept my ears peeled to the voice announcing the tokens as there wasnt any particular order being followed and with 13 operational counters things were progressing quite fast
6. After around 15 mins wait, I heard 165 being called out to counter #8. Took my position behind a fat(really fat!) lady and her kid and awaited my turn. The lady was through in quicktime and I was in...
What happened next has already been discussed and I was out and in the car and on my way back to home, sweet home! (and very soon, on my way to San Diego!)
Saturday, August 25, 2007
All this began after i spoke to a Ms B from ClearAdmit... she made it pretty clear to me that for someone like me, who isnt sure abt my long-term goals and has nothing to show, applying would be.... (she left it hanging, so one can only guess what she meant!) She even went so far as to suggest that probably i had no idea abt the seriousness of the whole process and should take care!!
Just when I was beginning to see the truth in her observations, I heard about a friend's friend - Ms. A - who had gotten into Krannert with 2-yrs exp and a GMAT score of 650!!! Now how on earth did that happen??!! That made me rethink... am i just too scared of applying? do i fear failing (again!) so much?? well, to be absolutely honest, yes, I do.... I dont think I can take anymore of that!
And to add to this, came the news of my impending visa interview... scheduled for the 29th of August... was getting ready for the interview, collecting documents etc when my manager, a Mr. C, let it out that if all goes well I would have to travel to San Diego in the second week of October itself!!!!
Oh! my brain would almost burst due to overload.... I havent done so much thinking and pondering in a lifetime!! But the decision is now made.... I will apply only next year after I have been able to garner some valuable international experience... The primary points in favor are:
1. additional experience, international, would be advantageous
2. if i make the right moves, i would be able to add up a lot to my right-now-pretty-common resume
3. the income in dollars would come in handy
4. would be give me time to research and select the schools and programs more thoroughly and the applications next year would be more planned
5. could probably gather some better recommendations!
6. a prior exposure to US culture and place would stand in good stead when i do join school
There are many 'probably's and 'maybe's but since I am aware of my final aim everything that I will do will be directed towards that goal...
The only point against is:
1. the further delay.... with marriage looming large, every year spent before an MBA seems like a crime to Ma!!
But I have come to a decision and I can only hope that all works out well... I just have to maintain focus and I am sure that this decision will not prove to be wrong!
Sunday, August 12, 2007
And another link here for the analysis on the essays of the top schools....
This link on admission tips on clear admit provides important pointers on the entire process...
Have been going through the website to find the uniques features of Yale and the mandatory international study and the integrated coursework approach is really unique... am really beginning to like the Yale program.... shot of a mail to one of the ambassadors, waiting to see what she has to say! Till then, back to some more research on the program and (probably) a rough draft as well...
Friday, August 10, 2007
I have been reading about the essays and all that but dont know where to begin!!! Guess I should get in touch with some seniors in the colleges I intend to apply to... and also some other fellow applicants... if not for help then atleast I would be keeping up the pace.... plan to visit IMS this weekend and check them out... and atleast go through all the essays of the schools
Monday, August 6, 2007
Finally after one-and-half months of preparation, many tests and 3.5 hours of clicking the answers(right ones, I hope) it was judgment time... But first there was THE question of whether I wanted to report or cancel the score... I did not have an alternative but to report the scores but it was interesting situation, nonetheless! Spent 2 of the alloted 10 mins to decide in staring at the screen and then clicked 'Next'... the next few moments while the software calculated my score and I stared at a blank blue screen were interminable.... and then the score pops up...
Yippeeee!!! I had done it! The score, though not the most important in the process, was a critical part of my application if I had to have a fighting chance at the top colleges... and I had DONE it :)
Pumped my fist and felt like doing a victory dance but considering my fellow candidates who were still fighting their battles, I got up and left the room in silence but my interiors were screaming....
Collected my un-official score-card and my belongings and left the room.... I was suprised to not find my parents waiting for me... checked the watch and realised that I had finished my exam quite early, by 4:45!! Couldn't wait to tell them the news and was patrolling the lobby restlessly when finally I saw them come in.... Suprised though they were coz I had told them I wouldnt be out before 5:30, they were also pleased with my score....
But as past experiences have taught me and also them, that just a good score is not enough, the celebrations were a bit muted.... And even I know better now than to celebrate prematurely like after my XL interview when I had felt that I totally cracked it and ended up with a wl-89 :(
Anyways, thats past now.... the first hurdle was successfully crossed and though there still lies a long way ahead, I am raring to go....
The test-saga ends... Stay tuned for the upcoming recos-saga, essays-saga and the season finale of applications-saga! :)
Ahh... the refreshing whiff of cold air was like a balm on my frayed nerves.... The room was chilly and most importantly, quiet... after all the rushing around of the morning, it felt good to be there... submitted my photograph, signed on a digital pad, gave my fingerprint sample and got myself photographed... feeling like I was being admitted to a high-security prison! :D Didnt have too much time to relax though... was asked to enter the test-room almost immediately!!
Was alloted the desk #2 and then sat down to read the instructions... put in the 5 schools names and selected next to begin....
The analysis of argument question was on the Waymarsh students and why they are absolutely concerned and serious about their education.... did a pretty good job in defending those poor souls, after all they are the ones who would help me get a 6 in AWA :) finished it well within time and moved on to the analysis of issue question where I was asked to pass my judgment on the the quality of life today!! Faced some difficulties in articulating the points and ended up focusing too much on the personal aspect... at the end, the idea of wars and general threats to society came up in my mind and did put in a line or two but was not too satisfied with the result... But time was up and I got up for my 10-min optional break....
The essays had rattled me a bit and I felt the uncontrollable urge to leave the room... just walked around a bit and splashed some water on my face to relax myself... and I was ready to enter the war zone again....
The maths section began promisingly with not too difficult questions... I had a distinct sense of deja-vu... as it almost felt like the last GMATPrep I had given at home... none of the questions too difficult and none too familiar but all the same I was putting in a lot of thought before every 'confirm'! Did feel that I would run out of time at certain stages, like when I had 34 mins left on the clock and had yet more 18 questions to go through... but apart from the sudden panic attack, the section was progressing smoothly and soon I was at the 41st question with 2 mins to spare...
Decided to take the break again and calmly walked out, sat on the chair outside for exactly 4 mins and was back again....
It was the last section and I was raring to go... started the section and did not face too many difficult SCs or CRs before my first RC and it was not too difficult either! :) couldnt believe that the RCs were so short and for a change they were not too abstract either! Finished the section with almost 9 mins to spare... did spend a couple of minutes at the end just to let the clock tick but then the waiting got too much for me and I decided to end the exam...
Woke up, had my breakfast, spoke to Dada and switched on the computer.... well, that is today, relaxed and leisurely.... so different from yesterday, the 6th of August!!
Let me rewind a bit and begin from 5th evening.... I received a call from Dada, the primary reason being to wish me luck, but then we ended up talking for more than 2 hours, discussing and short-listing the 5 schools that i would send my scores to... I very happily(and quite pompously, i believe, selected 5 schools from the top-10 B-schools in US!! But Dada would have none of it... he wanted me to spread out the selection a bit more... covering the top 50!! I was scandalized... I am not going to attend such a low-ranked school but then it makes sense to apply... whether to enroll is a decision that could me made later... and if heaven-forbid, I get rejects from all the higher-ranked schools I would know where I stand.... Well, I couldn't fight against this reasoning, could I? After a long chat and an even longer session of thinking and staring at the paper-board (where I had noted down all the schools and their deadlines) I finally decided on Y/J/K/ISB/UIUC... UIUC being the least ranked and least known of the B-schools!! It was already 12 by the time I had zeroed in on these schools and I had no time or will left to take a look at the essays (as I had planned earlier) Just tucked myself in for the night.....
Heard the alarm go off too early and thought that it probably had a bug in it... but soon after came along Ma to get me out of bed... Was it already 5 then??!! I trudged out of the bed and got ready in record-time then waited while Ma and Baba got ready with Ma quibbling over how much time Baba took for getting ready... (this is normally how it is whenever we got some place in the mornings... with the trend completely reversed in the evenings! ;) Finally we were at the railway station at around 6:15, in time for the Sinhagad Express... the overcast sky increased my misgivings regarding traveling by train but then the journey was uneventful and we were at Dadar by 10:15! (Did watch a group of office-goers enjoy their daily dose of cards during the travel, helped me take my mind off the exam) The next step was to get a train to Andheri... collected the tickets after a looooong wait and then we were off to Andheri in a local... From Andheri, we were lost coz then we did not know the way to the exact location... Hired a rickshaw to Solitaire Corporate Park and after some amount of hunting around, finally located the place and reached building 9! The heat and noise of Mumbai had gotten to me by then and I was having a splitting headache... gulped down a Disprin and went up the building to wait for the doors to open.... After what seemed like an infinitely long time (but was actually just 10 mins) the doors opened and we were ushered in....
Saturday, August 4, 2007
The last two attempts at GMAT have really boosted my confidence but I am trying not to read too much into the numbers... One bad day is all it would take but then feels nice to finally cross the 750-mark :-)
It been raining continuously here for the last two days and Mumbai, with its penchant for flooding at a slight drizzle. must already be drowning!! I hope the travel on Monday is uneventful and I make it on time.... Was wondering if leaving on Sunday night would be a good idea but Baba is pretty confident of making it on time... so, Monday it is.
PS: Watched the movie 'Gone with the Wind' finally.... Its luvvvvvvvly!! Clark Gable is perfect as the man's man and Vivien Leigh looks absolutely stunning (was she upset over a 20" waist or did I imagine that ;) It really has some classic moments and its so Bollywood in all its 'oh Rhett..oh...'-scenes... But truly a thoroughly enjoyable movie, an exception in the case of book-adaptations....
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Though I can catch quite a few tricks but the silly mistakes I make, especially in DS, is worrying :(
Scored a pathetic 690 in GMATPrep2... really did a lot of damage to my self-confidence! Have been going through the 1000DS questions but they are quite simple... and the CRs and RCs are just too much too handle at times.... My god!! I seem to be losing the script here......
And then at times I wonder if I am ready for an international MBA.... can I really match up to these exceptional students from world over and will be I be able to handle the tough standards of the world-class schools??!! This self-doubt is killing but atleast I am determined to go through with GMAT and get a great score, come what may!!
Office life is just as usual though the ODC work is picking up quite well.... will soon have a lot more volunteers and lot more planning and executing to do.... will be fun!
Sunday, July 15, 2007
And finally after 5-1/2 hours its done!!!
And why did it take so long? Well, first there was some problem with the formatting... as a result of which the Windows XP had to installed-uninstalled-reinstalled 3 times... and then when everything was going smoothly and it was time for me to copy back the data onto the HD, certain files in the folder-jungle created by Baba wouldnt copy due to some @#*%#@ reason!! Had to isolate those files and copy the rest and believe me, that was THE test of patience for me... But even that was finally done and we were all set to roll.... BUT then I remembered about the long-forgotten 8GB HD that I had before and I tried to get it working which took up another half hour... it would have been worth it if it had worked but unfortunately, years of neglect had taken its toll and my ex-HD decided to stand up on me ;(
Nyways now its all done and I am going to shut down my TP and get back on my beloved and newly OS'd desktop... :D
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
'Blind and the Blues' is the name of the project which we are working on wherein we will be working with a group of visually-impaired people and imparting technical and soft-skill training to them... Interacting with the blind seems a little daunting to me and hence I have opted to work in the background, atleast in the beginning.... as a result, I am the SPOC(Single-Point-Of-Contact) for this project in IBM Pune :)
We will initially be interacting with the students to make a judgement regarding their abilities and then grouping them accordingly.... also communication with the principal and the instructors will be followed up to design a course for the students.... This intiative will also get its first taste of recognition when an article related to the project will be put up in the monthly IBM India newsletter....
The idea of working in a team, in an organised fashion for a good cause is just great!! i hope to learn a lot from this experience....
Sunday, July 8, 2007
ये आरजू केसे झुके....
मंज़ील मुश्कील तो क्या... धुंधला साहील तो क्या.... तन्हा ये दील तो क्या....
Well this is what I keep saying to myself as I see the long road ahead.... less than a month (28 days, to be precise) to go for the G-day on the 6th August and I am not doing too well....
A miserable 580 (Q41,V29) in Kaplan-3 really shook me up.... Working on the SCs, CRs and RCs for now.... Have to give a better performance in the next CAT to boost my confidence!!
Have been going through the college sites as well as the MBA forums... looks like a score of 740, no less, is expected from Indians!!!! but being a girl gives me a slight advantage just to beat the demographics :D
Back to office tomorrow.... will have to find a way to utilise my time in office for doing some information-gathering.... well, preparing for GMAT is atleast making me good at delegating tasks.... have to do a bit more of it.... after all, I am the senior-most member of the module!! :D
PS: Nadal lost the Wimbledon final to Federer.... again! :( But atleast he went down fighting.... 7-6,4-6,7-6,2-6,6-2 scoreline is testimony to the fact that Nadal is no longer a stranger on grass.... It really was luck in the end that helped Federer sail through.... And I am so proud of Nadal's performance!! Stick to the fight till the very end....
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Gave my first GMATPrep today and scored a decent 710 (Q49,V37) though was expecting to do better.... actually made quite a few mistakes at the end of the verbal section, probably due to lack of concentration.... this 2-1/2 hour duration is killing!! :(
School research also going on fine... today's targets were Haas and Sloan! Great schools, great faculty, great infrastructure.... one tough decision! :)
'Goodfellas' was the movie of the day.... Robert DeNiro is simply awesome and the cool ganster thing he does in the movie was just prefect!!
Now its back to office for the next week... its gonna be a busy Monday but hopefully the rest of the week should be easy....
Saturday, June 30, 2007
1. the first GMATPrep test (must get a good score!)
2. research two schools.... (which ones??? now thats a million-dollar question!)
and once I am done with the above tasks maybe I would reward myself with...
3. watch a movie (I need to unwind, dont I? :)
I started prep about two weeks back with the hunting on the net for prep material and also looking around for advice (believe me, there is more free advice out there than you could take in a lifetime ;) Nyways, two weeks and 5 CAT tests later, I decided the prep strategy needs to be pumped a lil bit... The test today was a wakeup call... a measly 32 in Verbal (which I believe to be my strength..) was a shocker :( Gotta work harder on those dry, abstruse paragraphs and concentrate more.... Been doing well in Maths though made a couple of silly mistakes early on that cost me!!
Didnt do too much of analysis but instead spent the evening making chocolate fudge (:D) and watching 'For a few dollars more' starring Clint Eastwood.... a wannabe 'The Good, the Bad and the Ugly' but not even getting close... just finished watching it and thought now is a good time as any to begin the 'Chronicles of my GMAT journey....' which hopefully end with an admit for Fall '08!!
Will try and post daily as to the progress regarding my prep and also the major part of selecting colleges... that currently is a major source of worry... but thats a story for another day....