Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Cool Vaikunta Ekadesi

The Tamil month of margazhi (December - January) is of great spiritual significance and noted for its numerous music concerts. One of the important festival occurred in this month is Vaikunta Ekadasi which is a festival dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The ‘Vaikunta Dwaram’ or ‘the gate to the heaven’ is opened on this day. This is the passage encircling the innermost sanctum of the Lord. Scores of devotees queue up to pass through the Gate of Vaikunta in the temples. I remember those days where I get up early in the morning, take a head bath and went to the temple to get the darshan of the Lord. This time being in US, I completely forgot this day. I realized how much I missed on this auspicious day, only after my boss reminds me about the day. When he asked me to join him for a visit to Sri Ranganathar Temple at Pomona, New York, what went on my mind was 'Eventhough, I forgot the day, God gave me a chance to visit him'.

I, my boss, his family and his friend were started in the morning to the temple. The day was not very cold. After an hour of travel, we suddenly felt like we were traveling in a heaven! Yes, the whole way was covered by snow. It seems like it snowed a day before. By the time we reached New York, It started snowing lightly. We had a pleasant drive on a snowy day with pleasing carnatic music. Everybody was talking about various carnatic singers, I never listened carnatic music in the past and had no idea about what they were talking, but quietly listened the music and got impressed on it. We finally reached the temple by 11 A.M and got a good darshan of the Lord. A Group of people recited the hymns sung by Azhvars called 'Nalayira Dhivyaprabandham'. Listening to those hymns after long time was pleasing to my mind and ears. After our darshan we had a prasadam which was delicious, of course temple prasadam would always be delicious and then started returning back.

During our return journey, we saw a park which was entirely covered by snow. We stopped there to spend some time enjoying in the ice. It was a nice experience for me to walk on the ice for the first time that too with an ordinary shoe. On seeing that place, my mind took me to the childhood days. Even, I liked to run and play in the ice like a child, but ended up with taking a snap of me lying down on the ice. We enjoyed walking on the ice, driving on the ice and took a lot of snaps with different postures. My Boss' two year old daughter really enjoyed more than us by playing in the ice, though she hadn't worn a gloves. She was very impressed and never wants to come out of the ice. After having a great time in the park, we finally started to return home. My boss' kid who sat next to me in the car had a lot of fun by playing with my cellphone, asking me to read her 'A B C D ....' book and keep on talking with me. Though I couldn't understand much of her speech, I ended up with saying 'Yes, Is it, oh, ...' to cheer her.

Our religious trip started with pleasant carnatic music, finally ends with lots of fun, enjoyment and rap songs. I would never forget the day especially the moments with my boss' kid who was continually talking and playing with me throughout the journey without disturbing her parents.


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Be Fit, Be Careful

Everybody would like to have a fit body with good muscles so as to attract many people. Those who want to keep their body fit will usually do exercise daily. Fitness is not something that we can achieve in a single day. We have to work out on a regular basis every day as well as have to consume healthy food daily, but there are some people who want to improve their body in a short period of time. These people will work out more vigorously from day one itself, but would stop it after some days or weeks due to time constraints or some other reasons. Whenever I think about fitness, one incident came to my mind.

A guy who I know very well, having more enthusiasm in building a fit body decided to start doing exercise by utilizing the fitness center in the basement of his apartment. Because of his more enthusiasm, he worked out heavily on day one. There was no one in the fitness center except him. He got fainted in the middle of the workout and was not able to walk steadily. Somehow he managed to come out of the fitness center and reached the elevator. He was very tired and was not able to wait for the elevator to come. After getting inside the elevator, he lost his conscious while pressing the button. The elevator got closed and started. Due to his unconscious, he fell down inside the elevator. Unfortunately while falling down, his hand touched the stop button and the elevator got stopped in the middle. He got up after a minute and realizing the elevator was stopped, he thought he has reached his floor. Since the elevator door didn’t open for a long time then only he realized the elevator got stuck in the middle. He called the operator and managed to come out of the elevator after staying inside the elevator for 30 minutes. He took a complete rest and wasn’t able to do any work for the rest of the day. After this incident, that guy stopped going to the fitness center.

People who want to improve their fitness have to be very careful and can learn from the above incident, the consequences of over enthusiasm shown in improving their fitness. They can show enthusiasm, but too much of enthusiasm will leads to the vulnerable situations like the one that happened to the guy mentioned above. I believe people whoever reads this blog would understand this and would take extra care while improving their fitness.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

My First Trip to NewYork City

I would like to share the experience of my first visit to New York City. Since it was my first trip and I didn’t have much idea about the place, I asked my friend who had been working there to come to the New York Penn station to pick me up. The station was very large and a lot of trains were passing through it and I was watching them till my friend came and we both started to roam around the city. The day was very cold and even wearing two jackets was not sufficient for me to protect myself from the cold.

My friend first showed me the place where the world trade center stood and then we went to see the statue of liberty. There was a huge queue of people waiting to take a ride on the ferry to go near the statue. Due to time constraints and also having to visit more places we skipped taking this ride and instead took a ride to the Ferry Island. It was a nice experience to see the Statue of Liberty on the way to the island although it wasn’t very close. I was surprised to hear that the ride was free of cost! When I asked my friend, he told that this ship was being operated mainly for the passengers who wanted to travel to the ferry and due to some calamity that happened in the past, they had made it free of cost. We reached the Ferry Island and returned back immediately in the next ferry. Lot of people utilizes this in the same way like us, just for viewing the statue and the beautiful scenery. After the excellent ferry ride, we went to an Indian restaurant, had a nice lunch and then again continued our journey.

We then went to see one of the oldest suspension bridges (Brooklyn Bridge) in the United States which stretches 5,989 feet (1825 m) over the East River connecting the New York City boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. We had seen a nice view of the city from the center of the bridge. We took some snaps and then started to visit the next place in our list. It was the Empire state building. We took a metro train to reach the 34th street and I was really confused with the metro train system which has been operating huge number of trains through out the city. Even my friend who has been living there for six months got confused couple of times.

By the time we reached the Empire State building, there was a long queue waiting outside to enter the building and the board outside displays that the waiting time will be two hours. My friend who had already visited the place twice didn’t have patience to spend that much time to visit the place again, but I forced him to visit it again. After standing in the queue for nearly one and half hours, we went through the security checking’s, got the tickets and finally reached the top of the building. It was a pleasant cold evening at the 86th floor of the building with a glittering view of the city. We were surprised to meet some of his friends who were come to the city for a two day trip from Hartford. We all enjoyed together the aerial view of the city with full of lights and took some snaps of the beautiful view of the city. We had spent an hour there and then started together to visit the next place Madame Tussauds museum near Times Square.

We all went together to the wax museum to enjoy seeing the wax figures of our favorite celebrities, politicians, record breaking athletes and legends. We were really amazed that it didn’t looks like a statue but like a real figure. Since all the wax models looks like a real humans, we weren’t able to differentiate the real persons from the wax models. One guy from our group while watching the wax models came across a woman, thinking she was a wax model, he stopped for a moment, turned back and stared at her. It was very funny to watch him so embarrassed. We took a lot of snaps with our favorite celebrities Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage, Jennifer Aniston and lot more, and with a great leader Mahatma Gandhi and other political and world leaders. We felt like we were in a Hollywood. I was surprised to see my old project mate who came along with his team. The time was gone like anything and only after seeing our watch we realized that we had spent one and hours in the museum. After spending a nice time at the museum, I and my friend started to roam the streets around Times Square while his friends started returning back to their city. We saw the major buildings around the time square which looked very beautiful with full of lights. We then went to the Rockefeller center to see the ice rink.

We were delighted to see the lightning of a huge Christmas tree and lots of people who enjoyed skating in the ice rink. We were also liked to enjoy along with them, since we both don’t know skating and hadn’t done it before, we just watched them. It was very funny to watch some people who fell down many times and skated by holding the others. We enjoyed watching the ice skating for half an hour and then had our dinner at an Italian pizza restaurant. After a nice dinner, we started towards the train station. Since I didn’t have facility to stay there for a night, I started retuning to the Jersey City to stay at one of my friend’s house and my friend returned back to his home.

I wondered how the day went very quickly and we were unable to cover more places in a single day. I hope I will get one more opportunity to visit the city to cover the places I missed this time. I believe everyone would enjoy reading my experience of New York City trip.