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    Rabble Rousing Random Ramblings by S Jagadish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

    August 13, 2003
     

    Travel


    This blog is being posted from a place with temperatures of around 28-32 deg. C, it is on the coast, a movie superstar is entering politics. You could be forgiven for thinking I was talking about dear old Madras (calling it Chennai REALLY is pathetic). But no folks, I am writing this from Sunnyvale, California. After a long 6 month wait (well not really an eagerly expected kind of wait though), I finally landed up here on Sunday afternoon after nearly a day's journey from Bangalore via Frankfurt.

    The flight journeys were fairly uneventful. However the security procedures and queues were quite irritating. At Frankfurt, there was a special security check for all passengers bound to the US. As my hand luggage passed through the checking machine, I was asked if I had a nailcutter. I replied in the affirmative. I was told that I could not take it with me because it also had a knife in it and that I had the option of leaving it behind in Frankfurt and collecting it within 6 weeks. I was about to show him my toe nails to make him see reason on why I really desperately needed the nailcutter and that the nailcutter's knife was so blunt it could never possibly drill a hole into his peabrain, but I thought it would possibly trigger off some stench alarm if I removed my socks which I'd been wearing for 12 hours or so. I agreed to his proposition to leave the nailcutter behind and nearly signed the form, when I thought I heard him say I could collect it after paying 7 Euros. A quick mental calculation with my lightning fast brain told me that leaving the nailcutter with the airport folks would cost me around 350 Rs. and that it would make a lot more sense if I bought something in the US rather than pay this kind of amount. I just walked away thanking him. I'm sure he's thanking his lucky stars. I wonder how many nailcutters the security chap has stored away at home. Or is he starting a departmental store in the near future with all his prize catches? Oh, and I nearly forgot, the movies on both flights were terribly hopeless. I couldn't stand more than 10 minutes of each. In fact I've even forgotten what their names were.

    I landed up at San Francisco around noon local time and then was led to the serpentine queue where visitors to the promised land (the modern one) were lined up. Amazingly enough, the queue for US citizens and Permanent Residents was equally long. Hmmm ... no discrimination. Yet why do we keep getting complaints on how the immigration queues in Indian airports take nearly forever? I was in the queue for nearly 2 hours and I got the passport/visa stamped without too many questions, collected my suitcase and even evaded the customs folks after walking through the green channel in spite of the various podis, chips, biscuits, chocolates etc. I had brought along. I was never planning on sharing my beloved 'Brita' biscuits with them anyway.

    My manager had come to the airport to receive me and he dropped me off in the apartment. On the way, we passed by the Oracle campus and he also mentioned that a place beyond our field of normal vision was Stanford University. I called him up after I'd settled into the apartment and had a quick bath and we went out to buy a calling card and had dinner at a Mexican restuarant. This was my first experience with Mexican cuisine. I hope I did have veg stuff, but it certainly tasted so. Baked beans, rice and some crackers which were so similar to the 'Thattai' you get at home except there was no taste in it. I returned home, called up Madras and a cousin in San Francisco and promptly crashed at 9 pm.

    I woke up at 7 am yesterday and tried to figure out how to get the coffee maker to work and I couldn't. So I skipped coffee (a very rare occurence in my life) and took the cute little local VTA light rail train to the office. It entailed around a 15 min walk from the flat to the station. The train takes around 15 minutes to reach the station where I get down. There's another 10 min walk to the Yahoo! office. I got my access cards etc. sorted out, sat in on a meeting, met a lot of the folks I'd only ever known over Y! messenger, went to a group lunch, checked my mail, did some work etc.

    Thats when the ridiculous happened. I'd noticed on Sunday evening that Mr. Sun was still out even though the time was nearly 8 pm. So while I was busily working and chatting yesterday evening, I was blissfully unaware of the fact that the time was 7 pm and not 4 pm as I had presumed. I'm no Luddite so I am not going to give any excuses for me trying to figure out the time from the sun rather than from the watch I was wearing. (Besides which Luddite would use e-mail and instant messenger, anyway?!). Having realised my folly, I raced out of the office, caught the train, stopped by for dinner (paratha) and got back to the flat.

    Today I got the laptop working and so am completely and officially at work now. More later ...

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