Friday, October 22, 2010

Chicago at my feet - “SkyDeck - Willis Towers”

"WoW"... , "Ohhh mmmmy goddd"...

I was screaming on the Sky deck; not just me, almost everyone there!!. It was exciting, freaking, mind blowing, bloodcurdling… (What else?:)

Willis Tower, formerly named Sears Tower, is a 110-story, 1451-foot (442 m) skyscraper in Chicago. It was the tallest building in the world until 2000; and still remains the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.

After a splendid architectural tour on the Chicago Waters, we arrived at the Willis Towers. It was around 9.30PM. Glad that we had purchased the fast past ticket, so went straight to the elevator lobby, without any queue.

The elevator ride itself was something to write about. A screen was showing off the floor#, how high off the ground we were, compared to other larger buildings in the world, and about history of the Sky deck.

Of course, there were some butterflies in stomach and some dizziness over the ride. Yep, It is one of the fastest moving elevators in the world!...Within a minute, we heard “DING!” and the doors opened up at Story 103.

Terrific views of the city and its amazing architecture just grabbed our eyes. We jumped all around the floor, pointing out the beauty of other buildings/places to each other that we just really want the other to see. It was Fantastic!

Wow.. Finally, we were at the SkyDeck!!!. ALL GLASS - nothing but a plate of glass between me and a leap to death.

We walked into the boxes(SkyDecks) and looked straight down to the ground. Over 1400 feet above ground, watching night birds flying beneath me… Oh man!! It’s an experience of life time!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Adler Planetarium

After we left the Field Museum, we headed down the street and entered Adler Planetarium. - America’s first planetarium.

The Planetarium has tons of rockets and spacecrafts. Wide varieties of telescopes were displayed on Static and in theatrical shows. Great Moon mission is completely put on view. I was pleasantly surprised to see various displays incorporating meteorites and moon rocks.

Our City Pass included 2 shows so we watched “Night Sky Live” and “Great observatories -3D Show”. “Night Sky Live” in the Sky Theater was spectacular and remarkable. It was a virtual tour into the space through Stars, Planets and Galaxies.

But, the Planetarium was not that impressive to me; feel like somewhat old one.They really need to upgrade upto current advancements. I think the outside of the planetarium – bay area of Lake Michigan is a nicer tourist attraction and place to hang out than the actual planetarium.

The view outside on the Planetarium lawn and stairs of the lakefront was awesome.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Field Museum - A great look into Natural History

I can't believe we spent about 4.5 hours here! The museum is so huge, and brilliant. If you are interested in Evolution of Nature, learning the history of different cultures…. even 2 full days won’t be sufficient to cover-up the museum.

Some Favorites:

Undeniably, Sue is the number 1. Sue, the T-Rex, is the "largest, most complete, most well preserved," 67-million-year-old Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the world. 42 feet (12.8 m) long and 12 feet (3.66 m) high,… we’re thrilled to stand near the remarkable sample of the History

All of the animals look incredibly lifelike (Then I did some google and found that they use taxidermy which makes the animal exhibits more effective and informative). I feel, the new Mammoths and Mastodons are incredible examples of this.

“Underground Adventure” : - a virtual tour into the underground’s soil, insects, plants, …. But, it was not that great for us, but maybe for younger kids.

The Ancient Egypt exhibits are quite interesting. We walked through corridors made from the actual original walls of an Egyptian tomb. There are probably about a dozen real mummies, and countless artifacts and documents.

Overall, the experience of witnessing the natural history was incredible. I would say, the Field Museum is one of the great treasures of Chicago.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

This time it’s “Chicago”

Sep-6 was Labor Day here. Wow… One more long weekend in the US!!!. This time we decided to GO .. CHICAGO. We pledged to spend the whole three days at Chicago and enjoy each and every part of it.

Our first destination was the Millennium Park.

Millennium Park is located in the heart of downtown Chicago. It is an award-winning center for art, music, architecture and landscape design. The whole park is filled with art and architecture miracles.

"Cloud Gate" sculpture (by British artist - Anish Kapoor) near entry to park: Chicagoans affectionately call the sculpture as "the Bean". The bean reflects our image and we could see ourselves in the middle of all amazing buildings of Chicago.

....... (Our reflections in the Bean) .......

The Crown Fountain :It's a public fountain in the Park.The fountain has two 50-foot glass block towers with video of human faces, at each end of a shallow reflecting pool.They are definitely a great hit with the kids.

There is a large ultra clean lawn for Music concerts, picnicking,and relaxing.All in all, a great green space that is created in between a great view of the city and great view of the lake. This is something not to be missed in Chicago.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Boom..Boom.. Robo da! (Enthiran Experience)

Note: This is not a “review of Enthiran”. (Of course, thousands of people have already analyzed the movie from frame to frame). This is my “experience of watching Enthiran”, here in the US.

The moment when I saw the trailers, I vowed I should watch this movie in a theatre. (அப்படின்னா இதுவரை நீ திருட்டு விசிடிலதான் படம் பாத்தியான்னு? முனங்குறது எனக்கு கேட்குதுப்பா :-)

I got to drive to Indy, 3 hours from my home. Tickets are at all time High as 30-40 dollars. That too only night shows...Should I really watch the movie in theatre? ..things were urging me to consider a second thought.

But nothing was big in front of the fun of watching Thalivar’s movie with fans. We booked tickets at IMAX, Indianapolis. We’re present ½ hour prior to the show. (See... I’m very punctual ;-)

I never knew that, Indianapolis has that much of Indian/Tamil population; The 500 seater IMAX screen was running FULL. Still people were gushing for additional tickets.

Whistles, Claps, paper cuttings....The fun was no way lesser than watching at our Chennai theatres. From kids to grandpaas.. everyone were just jumping out of excitement.

They started boarding theatre at around 9.30PM. Unsurprisingly, the crowd entered into the theatre with complete energy & enthusiasm (Namma oor theatrela enter aagura athey feel :-). I bet, the US residents in the IMAX complex would have never seen such a celebration in their life.

They were running some advertisements for some time. Our people lost the patience and started whistling , and shouting “ஆப்பரேட்டர், படத்தப் போடுய்யா...” (ஆப்பரேட்டருக்குத் தமிழ் தெரியுமா? ;-)

The movie started at around 10PM. The whole theatre was vibrating on seeing the SUPERSTAR title on the screen. Then there was a huge applause for A.R Rahman, Sujatha and Shankar. (சன் டிவில காட்ற மாதிரி "கலாநிதிமாறன்"னு போடும்போதெல்லாம் மக்கள் சத்தம் போடல! ).

Chitti Robo was repeatedly getting claps throughout the first half. Kids were dancing and shouting for Chitti . Some people were still sounding and whistling thro’out the movie; But, the theatre was comparatively calm in the second half.

When coming out of the theatre, many people were filled with enjoyment; obviously, some folks were criticizing the movie, comparing with some Hollywood flicks.

According to me, whether the movie is great or bad, that doesn’t matter; it’s a good attempt indeed. The fun and feel of excitement it brought- in us (of course, in the entire 500+ crowd over there) was immense; that’s worth the money& time we spent.

One thing I’d say, If Enthiran didn’t have the mesmeric power of Super Star RAJINI, it would not be able to do as much as it is doing now.

Enthiran is not just a 3hr movie; it is an experience. DOT :-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I love My BBY Storm!

I’m not a gadget guy. But, still something called “Blackberry” has always tempted me. And ..,yeah,now I’m a proud owner of a Blackberry Storm – the first touch screen blackberry.

Just got my Blackberry Storm last night, Oh! just excited to hold the phone. The most amazing screen I have ever seen. The screen is awesome and plenty responsive.

The best e-mail management, Stereo Bluetooth capability, Removable battery, Expandable memory, Video recording...(and importantly:-) Copy & paste texting options,Multitasking.... and what not ?

Overall the phone is an amazing piece of work. It is very solidly built and has a nice finish to it.

I was always thinking that, BBY was just for super corporate guys who needed to be “connected” all the time .But, this Storm also has enough multimedia features so that it appeals to a normal mobile phone user like me:-)

I would love to own this piece of equipment "Storm" as my first smart phone.. My first Blackberry experience is living up to be a great one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beautiful 2 days at Niagara !!!

Woowoo!!, We finally made it to the amazing “Niagara Falls”.

We had an excellent weekend at Niagara. Of course, it’s bit lengthy drive from our town Huntington; but it was worth doing it for the beautiful Niagara. I would say, we enjoyed Niagara Falls in each and every angle of it.

We started our tour at the Niagara Falls State Park. The park overlooks the Niagara Gorge, Rainbow Bridge and allows access to the “Maid of the Mist”, “Cave of the Winds”, and other attractions of Niagara Falls.

We could also tour “The Niagara Gorge Discovery Center “, and the “Aquarium of Niagara”

I have seen a lot of photos and videos of Niagara for years. But the feel of standing in front of the magnificent falls was totally different; it is great. Upon first glance, I understood that no photograph of Niagara Falls could ever do the justice.

This really is something that has to be experienced and enjoyed.It’s amazing!.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Niagara: Maid of the Mist

Maid of the Mist is a boat tour, which took us to the base of Niagara Falls.

The boat started off at a calm part of the Niagara River, near the Rainbow Bridge, and took us thro the American and Bridal Veil Falls, then into the dense mist of spray inside the curve of the Horseshoe Falls.

We just cried as we experience the mist, thunder, wind and rush of the falls as the boat approaches the falls. It was a thrilling 30 minutes, which showed as the magnitude and magnificence of the Falls thundering down from 174feet.

I'm sure, I can't scribe the excitement in words. Checkout our video below.

Maid of the mist is probably the most incredible thing in Niagara Falls! The power and beauty of the falls just amazed us. Up close, in the middle of the thunder & turbulence!. Unforgettable!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Niagara: Legends of Adventure – Movie

We decided to step-in for the movie at IMAX Adventure Theater, as it would give us some rest after tiring walks and Maid of the Mist ride.

The movie is of 40 minutes duration and covers the entire history of Niagara fall. The movie travels through the span of 12000 years within 40 minutes and we feel enriched with knowledge about Niagara Falls when we come out of the movie.

The movie starts with the scenes of North America, about 12000 years before. The entire region was full of snow glaciers at that time. Slowly the snow started melting over the years and the big sea of water resulted. This water started flowing forming the legendary Niagara Falls.

The film also shows the two most daring adventures made by the persons in the past. One of them is Great Blondin, who completed the tight rope walk above the Niagara River.

The other incident covers adventure of an old school teacher, Anna Taylor, who was the first person to jump over the falls in the wooden barrel and surviving to tell about her story.

One of the striking facts about Niagara Falls is that the fall on American side was completely dehydrated in the year 1969 from June to November. Not a single drop of water was flowing through the falls during this time.

This was done as the rocks falling incidents were found increasing at a rapid rate on American side of the fall. We all were shocked to view the totally dry Niagara Falls. It's informative and thrilling!

The trip to Niagara Falls cannot be completed till you watch this movie, "Niagara: Legends of Adventure".

Monday, August 23, 2010

Niagara: Cave of the Winds

What an experience!. The closest we can get to climb the falls!. As we stand at the Hurricane Deck, we were mere 10-15 feet away from the blasting waters of Bridal Veil Falls.

The Cave of the Winds is a natural cave ; around 130 feet high, and 100 feet. An elevator is being used to bring us down the cave.

We were dressed in bright yellow poncho and wearing the special footwear provided.

Upon 140feet down the cave, we followed over a series of wooden walkways to the "Hurricane Deck". The Hurricane Deck is aptly named as the wind speeds can go extreme, and you will be standing under the thunderous waterfall.

As we went up the stairs on to the deck, water totally rushed down, making our breath hard. The rushing water stream above us completely soaked us, as the wind made it impossible for the poncho to stay in place.

Checkout the exhilarating moments!

Cave of the Winds is an amazing attraction, glad we did it. Go.. Reach Up and touch the Falls!. It’s awesome man!!.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Niagara: Aquarium of Niagara

The aquarium was well maintained and they have a great variety of fish for an aquarium of that size. I was very impressed with the shows they put on with Sea Lions.

Sea Lion Stadium was packed with crowd to enjoy the jinks of these lively Sealions. Sealion interact well with the crowd; it waves hands; kisses the crowd.. It performed many handstand tricks, balancing a ball on the nose, a flip in mid-air that everyone would applaud…..

On the flipside, the aquarium is so small and very dark; It took us about just 30 minutes to see everything there was to see. I was bit disappointed in how small the aquarium was especially for the price of admission:-(.

But the Sea Lions show compromised every pits of the aquarium. It was fun…

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Year without "Made in China"

The Author - Sara Bongiorni made an unusual New Year’s resolution. She and her family pledged to spend the year without buying anything from China.

Bongiorni tells often funny, occasionally humiliating stories centering around her difficulty procuring sneakers, sunglasses, DVD players and toys for two young children and a unconvinced husband.

What I feel,
Though she justifies her thoughts with statistics on job loss and trade deficits, I wouldn’t completely agree her to the point of singling out China, when cheap low quality products-are produced (or demanded) from other countries too.

With little insight into global economics, I feel, It is fair to pass judgment on a country’s manufacturing practices as so bad and cheap.

Though there’re major downbeats like China-specific complaints and anti-globalization aside, the story is a fun read for a weekend afternoon.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Twitter / Facebook... do we really need ?

With the advent of social networking sites and their raid in our lives, it doesn't make sense to keep fiddling with your phone on either twitter/facebook in the company of friends and family?

Is it a big deal to multi-task, as in engage in conversations with people around you and at the same time keep updating your facebook status message to those same ppl?

Anyway, saw an awesome advertisement on Twitter;thought of sharing with you all. Creativity rocks!!!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Pokagon State Park

This past weekend we went to Pokagon State Park / Beach. Pokagon State Park is sited next to Angola, IN - 46703.

The park is bordered by Lake James, and there are plenty of recreational stuff including fishing and ice fishing, swimming, boating, camping, horseback riding, cross country skiing, hiking, and much more.

As usual we’re late per our schedule ;-) we reached the state park at around 1PM in the after-noon. The soon as we reach the park, we drove towards the beach. This time, we’re all set for swimming and just jumped into the water.

The water in the lake seems very clean. I’ve swimmed in lakes where I came out smelling like fish ;-). Not so here, the water was very refreshing. Swimming, Playing and the fun extended till the evening.

After an entertaining swim session, we just mingled with a local team and experienced the fun of Beach Volley ball. Though we lost to them in both games we played, it was fun and really amusing.

Lengthy drive, Swimming, Water gaming, Volley ball…..yeah… This time, we really got tired of fun. And it was time to get back to home:-(.

We very much enjoyed the time in the park. Beautiful country!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

En Iniya Iyanthira

Though I’m a heartfelt fan of Writer Sujatha, I never took a chance to read his work ” En Iniya Iyanthira”. Now, the hype over Rajinikanth’s “Endhiran” pushed me to read the Sci-fi flick. It is believed that Endhiran is based on Sujatha's novels En Iniya Iyanthira and Meendum Jeeno.

The plot opens in the year 2021. India is ruled by a dictator-Jeeva. Under Jeeva’s dictatorship, India shines as a developed country, population is kept under control, everywhere and anywhere lay Robots, people are identified only with their social security numbers, and everything is computerized.

Other main characters of the story -Nila,Sibi, and Ravi are planning a coup against Jeeva with a pet robot dog “Jeeno”. Jeano plays an important role throughout the story. As the story proceeds, it behaves and starts to think on its own like a human and commands Nila, a human being to follow his instructions.

I still can’t believe that he wrote this Sci-fiction thriller in early 80’s. What an imagination, Creativity and screenplay!. The first 10pages of the story completely took me to a different world in 2021; Sujatha’s mesmerized me once again!

All Sci-fi lovers,… take a chance to read “En Iniya Iyanthira”. I’m sure you’ll be excited.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It is "Blue Lake"

“What’s the plan for this weekend?” was the question for last few days, from every one of us.... Indiana dunes ? Dayton? Indy again ? And finally the answer is "Blue Lake", in Churbusco, IN 46723.

The beautiful deep-blue lake is situated about 20 minutes north of Fort Wayne; It’s one of the largest lakes (240 acres), I have ever seen in the US. Several of the campsites are located directly on the lake. A boat ramp is located close to the campground.

Many people enjoyed with Swimming, Water bikes, fishing, and skiing. We got the opportunity to get-in and enjoy the water by renting a paddle boat.

This time, we missed a lot of fun as we didn’t carry our swim trunks. We’d come here again with ourselves completely ready for the water blast and fun.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Hanging Rock - Salamonie Reservoir

This week it’s obvious that the warmer weather made us to avoid any long trips and we decided to look around our own town- Huntington 46750. Throwing a dart at the map, we decided our target as upper Wabash region.

Our first spot was “Hanging Rock”.

It is an undercut limestone rocks that heights nearly 90 feet above the Wabash River. What makes the rock so unusual is the fact that it seems wholly out of place in the flat and agriculture-infested landscape of the area.

We climbed to the top of the rock on a worn path. (Though it’s not that tall ) Once on top, with no handholds or guardrails, the feeling was enough to induce a small fear within us.

The view from top was expansive. A few snaps on the top of the rock; we climbed down and got ready for the next target Salamonie Dam.

Back in the car, we drove south for two miles into the thick Salamonie State Forest; heading towards the Reservoir of the same name.

The state forest road to the reservoir was so thrilling with enough bends and spills. We could see many people camping in that thick forest out-skirts. There are some recreational stuff like horse riding, fishing, and a Children park around the dam.

After enjoying the scenic beauty of the waters and forest for an hour; we drove back through the gorgeous forest over the delighting late evening sunlight.

A wonderful day!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Date Night (2010)

Last night, we watched “Date Night” by Shawn Levy, Staring: Steve Carell, Tina Fey...

The couple- Phil and Claire Foster (Carell and Fey) are a sensible, loving couple with two kids. They’re still in love but they secretly afraid the other will file for divorce at any moment due to their dreary lifestyle.

Determined to break out of their funk, Phil and Claire go for a date night in the city. As they hopelessly wait for a table at a completely booked restaurant, Phil decides they should take the table of an absent party, the Tripplehorns.

Unfortunately, the Tripplehorns are mixed up in some bad business and a case of mistaken identity forces Phil and Claire to run for their lives and get off the hook before they get exhausted by the criminal gang and cops.

The script is not that great; but the real laugh comes from the actors delivering the dialog with personality and wit. Not laugh out loud the whole time, but consistent laughs throughout.We just enjoyed the complete 1.5hours of fun.

I would recommend to watch @ 7/10.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Happy Birthday to me !

I was not the one who really gets excited about his birthday and I was not into the habit of celebrating birthdays. But this year is so special, and I felt that I have every reason to celebrate.

This is my first birthday after our wedding. I have my lovely girl with me – to make me smile, to make me cheer, to make me contented...I am totally flattered with all her love and surprises on my day.

07th July - Wednesday – Before the Birthday
I almost forgot that the next day is my B’day; and was unusually late from office. It was near 7.30PM when I reached home.

To my surprise, She greeted me with full of smile and sweets. She had prepared Carrot kheer and my favorite Mushroom Bhaji-Chutney. After some 10 -12 calls to her mom during the entire while, somehow she’d managed to prepare the dishes to perfect. I never know that, she could become such a great cook;-).

07th July – Wednesday Night
After the dinner, I was talking to our parents, brothers and getting all their wishes, - walking on the corridors. When I came in to the house, there again was a surprise for me!!!

Our couch was filled with Birthday Balloons; and a beautiful Coco-Choco Cake & Candles in front. Wow!.. I am completely amazed!.

She gifted me a new shirt. Within seconds, I became so smart with new dress and got ready for the Cake cutting. She sang the birthday song for me; and we shared the cake.

She’s presented all the gifts - she bought specially for me from India. It was wonderful romantic birthday night, where only we TWO were there.

08th July – Birthday
I wish today is a holiday. But I had to go to office :-(

In the evening, again she surprised with some more of my favorites Milk Payasam, Banana Pudding,Onion Bhaji,and Jamuns!!!

For Dinner, We with our Indian friends went for a lovely Dinner at a Mexican Restaurant. I took care of the complete Non-Veg part and so sad she could take only tortillas and some leaves:-).

Overall, It was a very beautiful day in my life.

Thank you, Sweet Heart.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Indy - Motor Speedway - Hall of Fame Museum

This is Independence day long weekend; We hardly wanted to go out for a short trip outside Huntington. Since it is a short drive to Indianapolis, we decided Indy as our tour spot for the outing.

We first headed towards the Indianapolis Motor Speedway – The Racing Capital of the World., home to the Indy 500,the Brickyard 400 and the Indy Moto GP!

This was the first time that I have ever been to a racing track, or a racing museum. The museum is located in the centre of the track, so upon entering we drive right under the track itself.

As a racetrack, the Speedway is very different to all the other ovals. Firstly, it is longer, 2.5 miles long. Secondly, it has two long straights (5/8 mile each), 4 corners and 2 short chutes connecting Turns 1 and 2 as well as 3 and 4. So it is more like a rounded off rectangle. It seats nearly 400,000 on a 500 Raceday.

We toured the Hall of Fame Museum, which was really cool! They had about 70 cars on display from 1887 to 2007! It was glorious to see how race cars looked like a century ago and to learn the history of the Speedway.

I’m not sure when I’ll get back there. I would love to make it back for the next year-2011 -Indy 500 live thrill. Life has a way of getting in the way sometimes, but I wish that I will return !.