Frozen

As part of our anniversary celebrations, we decided to go see Niagara Falls “frozen”.

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Niagara Falls

The falls themselves never freeze over  a 100%. The rate at which the water flows does not permit that. The landscape around was white, while the falls were only partially frozen. Perhaps they might have been more frozen during that crazy polar vortex we experienced this winter, but it would have been quite foolhardy to attempt going there then.

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All Weather Friends

The highlight of the trip was the meeting the *bestie, who drove down from Canada to spend some quality time with us. (Love you loads. Muaawwhh.) It was her first solo road trip to the US, so lots of excitement on that front as well.

Wine Tasting

On our way back, we stopped over in the Finger Lakes region for breakfast. The cafe we stopped at was attached to a winery, so we decided to take our chances and sample some east coast wines. Now I am no oenophile, but I liked the whites. Not that the reds were bad, but the whites were better. The tasting experience itself was no better than the one I had on the West Coast. Glasses not rinsed out, not even between the reds and whites-wince. Lesson learnt, tip your wine waiter in advance. Please note, I am deliberately not using the word wine waiter(/bar tender) and not sommelier.

Taughannock Falls

We drove past Lake Cayuga and upto to the Taughannock Falls view point, for a spectacular winter scenery. While we were driving back, we noticed a little creamery to the side of the road. Who can resist the idea of ice creams on a cold frozen day? In the Husband’s words the texture of the ice cream was smooth as silk. Arguably, the best we’ve had till date.

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As we made are way back home, we drove through Ithaca. A quick message to the **B-I-L that we were driving through his town, got us all the insider tips on it.

We really made the most of this 2 day road trip. We covered everything planned,  made a few unscheduled stops and enjoyed every bit of it.

Cornell University, Ithaca

 

*Roliza Mascarenhas

** Ashok Roy

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Winter Fun

So what do you do when it snows? You could sit indoors and mope about the weather OR you could make the most of it. Learn to ski, go skiing, go on ski trips!!

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at Campgaw

We started off by signing up for a ski trip to Stratton with SUMASA. Since we have never really skiied before; we’ve tried our hand at it but had not really skiied at Gulmarg, we signed up for 2 days of lessons. As it happened, we got a chance to go skiing much before the trip. We went with friends to Campgaw, a local ski slope in New Jersey. The Husband picked it up quite easily. My first attempt on the other hand was a disaster. It depends on the way you look at it really. I started off well, and then picked up more speed than I could control. I  whizzed down the bunny slope, crashed/slid under two layers of preventive netting and ended up in gap between a tree and a rock. The good part is, as a consequence I don’t really have the fear of making a fool of myself anymore. Not on the slopes at least! The next time we went, I took a lesson. The lesson helped me with my technique and  helped me gain confidence.

Campgaw is a smaller mountain but was a great place for us to learn, as it is only an hour and a half drive away from Stamford.The instructor was not very helpful, but he did his job. They rent out helmets. We have since discovered that not all ski mountains rent out helmets. The cafe at the base of the mountain is terrible. I suggest driving down to one of the little towns around. We also found a lovely salad and smoothie bar in one.

We had heard a lot of good reviews about Stratton, and were looking forward to our trip. We reached the Black Bear Lodge late in the night.When we got to the slopes the next day, it took us a while to figure out where the rental store was and get ourselves fitted, so we missed the morning lesson. We headed out on the slopes to get some practice while we waited for the afternoon lesson. One of the instructors was nice enough to accompany us and give us a few pre-lesson pointers. By the end of the afternoon class, I had learnt some valuable  things – Stand up straight; Look ahead, not down at your feet; Complete your turns; Be confident. Can be applied off the slops as well. We also learnt how to use the chair lifts. We continued skiing after the lesson, till it started snowing. We experienced for the first time, why skiers make such a big deal of fresh snow. It feels like cotton!!

SUMA-sters

SUMA-sters

The food court in the ski area is a great place to get lunch. I really liked the noodle bowls; hot, steamy, in enormous quantity, with a hint of lemon grass. They are just perfect for a day in the snow. SUMASA had arranged for an apres-ski get together at the Grizzly Bear. (Lots of bears!!)The pub was packed to its gills. The only place they could accommodate our large group was outdoors. We huddled over our drinks, munched on soggy, cardboard-y nachos and relived our ski day. Some people had terrific runs, others made fun beginnings, yet others had sustained bad injuries.

The Husband and I turned in after dinner, but several others decided to go soak in the hot tub, some after a postprandial drinks. We were not carrying our bathing suits. Rookie mistake. Most ski resorts have hot tubs. It’s quite a necessity after a day on the slopes.

On day 2, since we had another lesson booked we used it to go learn snow boarding. Again, the Husband took to it far more easily than I did. It took me a good 15 mins to just be able to get both my feet on the board without help. At the end of the lesson, we were able to get up on the board or with the board on our feet, come down a slight slope, make turns and stop.  I’ve noticed people either ski or snow board. I don’t think anyone does both. I wonder why?

We came back from this trip with more than just skiing and snow boarding experiences. We met some wonderful people and made some new friends. Stratton is a great ski mountain for skiers and snow boarders of all levels. The rental equipment is good and the instructors were very helpful. They rent out helmets. They were hopelessly short on the extra large size helmets though. It has a wonderful eating and drinking place, with something for everyone. At the base of the mountain is a market-village, with shops and restaurants. The shopping is expensive though, and I didn’t hear good reviews of the food there  either, so skip it and spend more time on the mountain.

*SUMASA-Columbia University Sustainability Management Student Association

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Another Old Friend – Another New City

Another Old Friend - Another New City

Learning her Beer!!

When we moved to Stamford, I did a quick check on my FB to see if anyone I knew was around. I didn’t really expect the search to yield any results, but it did. FB said Livea James lives in Stamford.
At first I wasn’t sure – should I message her? after all these years? We were good friends in school, but have not been in touch for more than a decade now. Would it be very awkward? The svelte woman striking supermodel-like poses in her FB albums was a far cry from the gawky schoolgirl I knew. She had turned into a successful professional, was well traveled, and an accomplished cook to boot. But I did message her, and I’m glad I did. While she is all of the above, she is also still the same person I knew all those years ago.
Back in school, we used to form a team with 2 others every year for the inter-school science project competitions. We won most of them. Livea was always most competitive one on our team. She would be eternally exasperated at our faffing around on project hours, while we would be constantly assuring her that we would get all the work done in time. Our first project was on terrace farming and drip irrigation. Our next project was on disposal of industrial waste. How guilty we felt, because we took the lab assistant’s help to weld together an incinerator! Our most challenging project was probably the one on using a gamma knife to cut out malignant tumors. If only I could remember half the research we had done for it! Our most popular project however, was on treating cancer… for the life of me, I cannot remember how! All I remember is it had something to do injecting a photosensitive pigment into the malignancy and then destroying it using light. This was a super-fun project to build. We even had live mice as a part our exhibit; a great draw for all the visiting students.
Livea has been a perfect dear. She has taken a lot of effort to help us settle into Stamford; right from aiding us in our house hunt by advising us about the localities and apartment complexes to guiding us on the best places to shop and eat locally. She and her husband, Nevil, are no doubt our best find in Stamford.
Just for the record, that sampler was shared by both our husbands, and not guzzled down by her.

Old Friend-New City

It’s always nice to meet old friends in new cities. We were in NYC, again. This time to drop off the in-laws at the airport. Anthea was visiting her husband in Jersey city. We were meeting after 10 years or more.

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Anthea and me are friends from school. We went to the same school for 12 years, but we were never really friends, hell we never even really interacted till we got to 9th grade or standard 9. That’s when she became Asst. Prefect for the Red house, and I became Asst. Prefect for Blue. The houses actually had some very fancy names  – Flowerettes and Marriottes.  Needless to say, we competed fiercess, leaving no stone unturned to outdo each other’s crazy ideas. We’ve fought over ridiculous things like, who gets to do pom-poms and who has to make do with hoops and sticks.

We both talked of becoming lawyers. She became one. She’s the kind of soul who is always driven to champion the cause of the meek and the down trodden, or who ever it is she feels injustice is being down to. Once Anthea’s on the war path , nothing can stop her. She once even poked our Principal, to get us on to a rally we wanted to attend only because the Principal said we couldn’t.  By poked, I mean physically poked her in the tummy.

We studied in a convent school. The nunnery, where the sisters lived was strictly out of bounds for students. The only time I’ve actually entered it was when Anthea decided she could not wait for a particular sister to come down and see us, and marched 6 of us off to see her in her room instead. Using the elevator, which was also strictly out of bounds for students.

It’s been more than 10 years, but nothing seems to have changed. She’s still the same mad person you don’t want to get on the wrong side off.

Travel and Friendship

This trip to NYC was extra special. I met on one of  my BFFs after almost 2 years.

Actually no, we brought in the new year together this year. We eat, drank, went terrace hopping and generally made merry. The food  at Golconda Bowl in Bandra (Mumbai) was sumptuous. Something I thoroughly recommend.

nycComing back to NYC, what made it so special was that we hadn’t really planned this trip to meet up. She had planned something with her friends. I had cousins visiting and had planned this trip for them. It just so happened that our trips coincided and we could meet. Even if it was just for an hour, or perhaps less. It’s as though we were meant to see each other.

dubai

Somethings are just meant to be.

I met my other BFF by pure chance in Dubai a few years ago. I was flying to San Diego for Akash’s 1st birthday. My flight got delayed and I had a whole day in Dubai with a transit visa all courtesy Emirates  (airlines). She lives in Dubai, so needless to say, we had a blast. We hung around in all the shiney, palace-like, OTT-ly opulent malls, shopped a little and window shopped a lot, wow-ed at the dancing fountains, had our picture taken with the Burj Khalifa and never bought it….tried hard to figure out how to use those automatic metro ticket vending machines and finally bought tickets from the ticket window. We even rode Gold Class, just for kicks.

Dubai has a fantastic metro rail system. It will pick you up from inside one mall and drop you off inside another one. Now this may not be true for all malls, but there are some malls like that. If you take the train at night, you can see the city lit up like an Arabian fairytale. A frightful waste of energy, but a marvelous sight.

I have been planning to go meet some other friends in other parts of the world, but that’s all yet to happen. Chance meeting like these, keep me convinced that they will.

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