Monday, December 26, 2011

Gatorland and Ferrari of Central Florida

Gatorland and Ferrari of Central Florida
South Orange Blossom Trail and I-4
Orlando, Florida
Monday, Dec 26, 2011

In the morning we woke up and had some coffee at the hotel but that was not very good. So we drove couple of blocks from South Orange Blossom Trail to South Orange Road to a Dunkin Donuts and had breakfast.

Since we were planning to leave today itself for home we checked out of the hotel (it was NOT good anyway) and headed to Gatorland. Since we were Florida residents and the Gatorland offered a good deal until Dec 31, 2011, we bought tickets that were 1/3 price of the regular tickets.

Even though the day was cloudy and in the seventies (Fahrenheit scale)  the gators were not interested in performing for Gator Jumaproo! So went ahead and looked at the leucistic gators (not albino gators) that have white skins with splotches of regular color but blue eyes. We saw several gators and some crocodiles, flamingos, South American parrots, cockatoos, Chester the big Gator, storks, pea cocks, pea hens and other farm animals. Then we participated in the Close Encounters show and returned back to Gator Jumparoo! This time the gators were biting.

Next we walked over to cages of other crocodilian species like Cuban crocodile, Nile crocodile, Spectacled caiman, and salt water crocodiles and occasionally witnessing the Gatorland Zip-line folks flying above us screaming. 

We then took the train ride and looked the turtles. On the way out we got VTS and TSs caricatures drawn by the artist Ron. 

Then we crawled in traffic for 20 minutes and reached the Ferrari and Maserati of Central Florida dealership at Interstate Park complex at Lake Destiny Drive. The sales person was very polite and extra nice and allowed us take some pictures and showed around their car collections. VTS was very happy to see all his favorite cars in one place.

Then by 4:30 PM we headed out for coffee and on our way home. We arrive home by 9:15 PM and went to bed.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Casselberry Hindu Temple

Casselberry Hindu Temple
Hindu Society of Central Florida
Casselberry, Florida
Christmas Day, Dec 25, 2011

We left around 10:30 AM from our home and started driving in I-10 East and after about 90 miles we stopped for the rest stop and soon joined the I-75 South and drove via Gainesville and Ocala. We decided to skip the Orlando Turnpike and instead drove through Leesberg and Apopka to reach Orange Blossom Drive in Orlando.

On the way stopped just past Leesburg for lunch. Since we were traveling during Christmas day most of the restaurants were closed and only very few fast-food places were open. One among them was Burger King chain. Vivek had some lunch and we ate what we brought from home.

Then around 3:45 PM we arrived at the Hindu Society of Central Florida temple in Lake Drive in Casselberry, Florida. There was very little crowd which was good. We offered a simple pooja and offered donations to the temple. We spent about an hour at the temple and went to the temple canteen. Since they were closing at 5 PM they had only vadai and coffeee. We took some pictures of the temple and left for Orlando.

While driving on I-4 West on our way to the hotel, VTS spotted the Ferrari and Maserati of Central Florida dealership. We got out of I-4 West at Exit 88 on Lees Road. With a help of a nearby homeowner we were to locate the dealership. Since it was Christmas Day it was closed. We looked around the parking and headed to our hotel. 

We checked into the Hotel by 6:30 PM and had dinner by 7:20 PM. We watched some TV and went to bed by 9:00 PM

Friday, August 5, 2011

Visit IISc Bangalore

Visit IISc Bangalore
Friday, August 05, 2011

Today morning I woke up at 2:30AM and had coffee. By 4 am we left for Bangalore via SH 58 via Valajapet and Kanchipuram (1 hr). After Kanchipuram we joined NH 46 and went through Vellore (1:45 hrs). We paid tolls: 40, 90, 90, 75, etc in the Walajabet-Krishnagiri Tollways. Driver Kanniyappan and Jayakumar came with me.

We arrived at Electronic City Toll ways around 9:15 AM (after leaving Zuzuvadi, Tamil Nadu and entering Athibele, Karnataka (border cities)). We took the long route of Outer-Ring Road and went via HBR layout, toward Hebbal. Finally we reached Hebbal and took a left turn and arrived at Mekri Circle (the only place that was remotely familiar to me). From there we took a right turn and reached the second gate and entered at the Biochemistry department of IISc entrance.

I met Vasanthacharya and he took me to see BV Varma at MRC. We proceeded to SSCU and met KJRao, JG and all the office staff. I met Kannan, Jayaram, Thammaiah, Venkatesh, Kannan, and Saroja. Then Kannan, Vasant, two drivers, and I went to Faculty Club and had lunch. Then we went to Vasant’s residence and strolled around the campus. I met Arunan. We took pictures and left around 3 PM to SIL's place.

They were at GR Lavenya in L&T South City in Bannergatta Road in South West Bangalore. We located it and arrived there by 6 PM. The children came then so did BIL. We had dinner and slept. By next morning 3 AM we left for Chengalpattu.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Visit Pachaiyappa's College

Visit Pachaiyappa's College

Chennai 600 030
Wednesday, August 03, 2011

This morning I went to Shenoy Nagar and from there headed toward the Poompuhar Shop at Anna Salai. On the way I stopped at Pachaiyappa’s college took some video, photos of the college, Chemistry department and hostel. I spoke to couple of current MSc Chemistry students and other faculty.

Then we went and parked at Spencer plaza had lunch and went shopping at music world. Then we went to Poompuhar purchasing. We left city around 2 Pm and headed to Chengalpattu. The smoke and city congestion was very bad and I had severe cough. I arrived at TTR house by 4 apm. Had shower, took Rx and slept for an hour.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Thangassery Lighthouse & Kollam Back water Boating

Thangassery Lighthouse &
Kollam Backwater Boat Tour
Sunday, July 31, 2011
Kollam (Quillon), Kerala

Today morning Bhanu and Usha went to two temples in the neighborhood. Then all of us had breakfast. The plan for today was to go for boating in the morning and visit the beach in the evening.

Then I went to see the Thangassery Lighthouse located at Thangassery (near Mount Carmel School). Unfortunately, the visiting time was between 3 and 5 PM so I spent sometime in the Thangassery beach.

Then in the afternoon we all took an auto to the Kollam Bus Station Boat Jetty. Our plan originally was to take the transport boat and go around. But since it took too long for the transport boat to arrive at jetty, we changed our plans. Meanwhile, one of the Backwater Boat Operators approached us and offered take us (five) for one hour for Rs 550. This offer looked good and we all climbed aboard and after short problem with the motor we traveled through the Kollam back ward canals for about an hour 3:30 to 4:30 PM.

We enjoyed the ride. After the boat ride we went to the Supreme Bakery had coffee and cake and bought some knickknacks and went home for dinner.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Kollam Beach Trip

Kollam Beach Trip
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Kollam (Quillon), Kerala

Since we had traveled a lot yesterday, we took it light today. We all took naps. Then in the afternoon we went to Jos Alukkas and bought some cloths. Usha and I rode the TVS 50 while others took the auto both ways. We came home and had coffee.

Then we took one auto (5 people 50 Rs) and went to Kollam Beach. Today was Aaddi Ammavasya and therefore the tides were strong and no one went into the water. There were police warning people not to go into the water. We spent about an hour there then took another auto and came to Annapurna restaurant and had dinner (north Indian style; Rs380) and walked home. We spent another hour before we went to sleep at 9:30 PM

Friday, July 29, 2011

Visit Kanyakumari

Travel to Kanyakumari
Tamil Nadu, India
Friday, July 29, 2011

We arrived at Chennai airport in the morning. We all had breakfast and coffee. We took Kingfisher flight IT-2882 to Trivandrum with a flight time of about 2 hours (turbo prop ATR 72-500).

Usha and Karan had brought an SUV and we boarded it traveled toward Kanyakumari via National Highway 47 (NH47). On the way we stopped and bought some honey and had lunch near a roadside stop. Due to the delayed flight we arrived at Kanyakumari around 4 PM and proceeded to take the boat ride to Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar Statue. We met our friend who helped us proceed faster. We spent about 1 1/2 at these memorials and arrived shore.

We then headed to the Gandhi Memorial while the kids played at the park. Soon we wet our feet at the beach where three seas mingle: Bay of Bengal from the East, Indian Ocean from the South, and Arabian sea on the West. We also paid visit to the Kanya Kumari Amman Temple.

Then we headed back to Quillon (Kollam). On the way stopped at the Suchindram Temple ( தாணுமாலயன் திருக்கோவில்) where all three gods are present: Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Visit Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram) &
Madras Crocodile Bank Trust
Thursday, July 28, 2011

In the morning slightly after breakfast time we took our driver Jayakumar and headed east on Tamil Nadu State Highway 58 toward Mahabalipuram (via Thirukalukundrum). It took us about 45 minutes to arrive at the location of Pancha Ratha (Five Chariots). We spent sometime there and then headed to the Arjuna's Thapa (Arjuna's Penance) after looking around that area we headed to the Mahabalipuram beach and the Shore temple. We took some pictures and bought some souvenirs.

We had our lunch that we had brought with us. Soon we headed toward Chennai (Northward) on the East Coast Road and arrived at the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust within few 30 minutes. We spent about 1 1/2 looking around the place and donated money for the development and research of the bank.

Then late in the afternoon we headed back to Chengalpattu retracing the same path but without any stops.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Visit Vedaraniam

Visit Vedaraniam
(Velankanni Monday, July 25, 2011)
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
Tamil Nadu, India

Last evening after visiting Kumbakonam we stopped at the Velankanni Matha Koil (Shrine Basilica of Our Lady of Health Vailankanni) and prayed for everyone's well being.

I woke up in the morning and around at 7:00 AM and we rode in his Jeep to see the salt works. We spent about an hour in the salt works looking at live work and the machine. Then we headed home and had breakfast.

Then I quickly went to my house and checked out everything and went and met Govindasamy. Then around 11 AM we went to KGKG training school. There I spent about 2 hours for the program where I was one of the chief guests. I had lunch there and went and met aunts the second time. Then we came home. I spent some more time at my house and at 4 Pm went to the temple with vivek, it was closed .

Then we took our car and drove toward Katharripulam (on the way we stopped at mariamman temple). There we my aunt’s house. Then we went to Sambu’s house. There we met periayamma, Then I went to big brother's house and met him and his wife . Then around 8:30 PM went to bed in Vedaraniam.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Visit Tanjore Big Temple

Visit Brihadeeswarar Temple, Siva Ganga Garndens,
Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Sunday, July 24, 2011

We all woke up in the morning at Ambi's residence and spent sometime playing in and around the house. We had some breakfast. Athan from Kollam arrived and Vijaay athan went and picked him up. Soon Kollam athan had to leave for Trichy to meet his new tenant.

We all then got ready and traveled to Brihadeeswarar temple (Big temple, aka பெரிய கோயில், Peruvudayar Koil, ). . We parked our car outside the temple in the parking lot. We spent about 1 ½ hours. We saw the Lingam, the koil exhibition, the devi, and nandi. We learned about additions to the original structures by various rulers like Nayaks. We took some pictures.

The day was slightly cloudy but humid and bright. Then we went to Sivaganga Gardens. There we took joy train ride and kids went played in the play area. Then around 4 PM we left for home. All of us had shower since it was sweaty and hot.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In Chengal Pattu

Chengalpattu, JCK Nagar
July 21, 2011
Kanchipuram District
Tamil Nadu
I have been in Chengalpattu for the past couple of days. Today I went and helped mom and dad in the morning . Thiyagu took me to Kavitha Photo studios to get passport sized photos (six of them) Then we had lunch. I visited mom again and waited until she finished her lunch.

I went to the bank in the afternoon. Then I came home and replaced the CFL bulbs in the main hall and the kitchen. An electrician had already put a holder for the CFL in the main hall and fixed the choke on the fluorescent tube. 11/207 Kurinchi Street.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Travel to Chennai via Frankfurt

Monday, July 18 - Tuesday, July 19, 2011

We left home around 9:05 AM. Our flight US Airways flight from Tallahassee to Charlotte was delayed but the weather was very nice. Clear day both in Tallahassee and Charlotte. So we made-up sometime.

We arrived at Charlotte and at the main gate area we ate lunch. Papa John’s pizza and Burger King. Our flight US 704 to Frankfurt was delayed and arrived at 3:30 PM. Soon we boarded the plane and left for Frankfurt. The US Airways flight was not comfortable. There was very little leg space and the food was okay and we had to pay for our extra luggage and ear-phones (didn't buy it). The weather in Frankfurt was sunny and we arrived only 25 minutes late.

Early in the afternoon we left for Chennai. The LH flight was much more comfortable and had channa masala dinner and I watched a free movie Rio. We finally arrived in Chennai just before mid-night Tuesday. Thiyagu was waiting and there was light rain. By the time I arrived home it was almost 2 AM.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Visit the new Capitol of Florida

Visit new Capitol of Florida & Black Archives Building
Tallahassee, FL
Friday, July 08, 2011; 1:00 PM

Today VTS and I as part of "Getting to Know your Hometown" of "Tallahassee" visited the Black Archives Blue Union Bank Building and the new Capitol Building in the downtown area. The first Black Archives Building but it was closed.

Then we visited the new Capitol Building. We looked at the Medal of Honor Wall, Music Wall of Fame, the great Seal of Florida, offices of the Attorney General, Lt and Governor of Florida in the first floor. Then from the third floor we took pictures of the seal, Florida's animals, birds, etc. Then we looked at the Senate (South side) and House of Representative (North side) chambers in the fifth floor. Finally we took the elevator all the way to the 22nd floor to capture the panoramic view of the East, South, West, and the North.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Visit war memorials

Visit War Memorials
Sunday, July 03, 2011

Today as part of "Getting to Know your Hometown" of "Tallahassee" we visited several war memorials in the downtown area. The first was Korean War Memorial which was next to an area where there were construction work going on. We found profound meaning in the memorial.

Then we visited the World War II memorial in front of Florida History Museum and found all 67 counties have been represented. The Copper Wreath was very poignant.

Then we visited the Vietnam War Memorial in front of the Old and New Capitol Buildings. The huge American flag was still waving. There was a picture of solider and a small American flag at the base of the memorial.

We couldn't visit the Medal of Honor wall since the New Capitol was closed.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Visit Tallahassee's Old Capitol

Visit Tallahassee's Old Capitol
Florida Historic Capitol Museum
400 South Monroe Street • Tallahassee, FL 32399-1100
Sunday, June 26, 2011

VTS and I visited the Tallahassee's Old Capitol Building now called "Florida Historic Capitol Museum". It was part of VTS' class project called getting to know your "Hometown" Tallahassee. We spent about an hour visiting the building and reading about the renovation and checking out the Senate chamber (South side) and the House chamber (North side) in the second floor. We also saw Judicial chamber and the Governor's office in the first floor.

Once this building along with the portions removed during the building of the New capitol housed all three branches of the government of Florida.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Visit by Vasanth from Bangalore

Visit by Vasanth
Thu - Sun, Apr 21-24, 2011
Tallahassee, FL

My friend Vasanth from Bangalore visited our family for few days on his way to a conference in Florida. He arrived late on Thursday night from Charlotte. VTS was away at Houston at a conference. We discussed about his research work and updated him with my current research in Biophysics.

On Friday we had a very busy day visiting IMB, Biology, Chemistry. We also stopped by his collaborator's office twice to meet with him personally. Unfortunately his collaborator was not available during our both visits. We left our telephone number and went to the Mag Lab. Since my friends interest is in the magnetic and electrical properties materials.

On Saturday we went to TKD, Lake Ella and finally to Wakulla Springs State Park. We had a reasonably relaxing day on Saturday. Then early this moring he left for his conference via Greyhound Bus Service.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Visit Baltimore-03 | First Cathedral

Visit Baltimore-03 | First Cathedral
Tuesday, March 08, 2011; 9:00-9:30 AM
Baltimore, MD

This morning just before the session started I visited the first Cathedral (Catholic) in Baltimore, MD which was walking distance from the Conference site.

After my breakfast I walked to the National Cathedral in Baltimore, MD and spent about 1/2 hour inside and was shown around by a volunteer. After that I walked few blocks to see the Washington Monument and statue of Lafayette.

Then I took the Charmcity Circulator (Purple route) to the conference site.