Sunday, August 22, 2010

In Colorado!

36 hours of travel, boring transit airport hours (Dubai, Paris & Minneapolis) brought me to Colorado Springs. I felt good to be back! I have lived here more than a year before and so once I got on to my rented Chevy HHR, I realized how well I know this place. But of course driving to Hotel did not feel like before but by the time I was there, I had got over the uncomfortable feeling about interstate speeds and driving on the wrong side of road. :-)
Rented Retro styled Chevy HHR

Hyatt Summerfield is where I stay and it is a very nice place and my room overlooks a railway track and a hill beyond it. And just coming out of the hotel, is this beautiful view of the mighty Pikes Peak.

Being back after 3 long years makes me love the US all over again and I begin to notice how beautifully this country is built to make everything so comfortable for living. You have wide roads, Interstates, rules that all follow; directions to almost anywhere, easy access to anything; so much of thought has gone into everything here.

Being back in Colorado Springs is like visiting Himachal or Sikkim again and again. I can never get bored of the mountains and the beautiful weather. Meeting friends I know here is a treat.
On Friday, after two days of busy meetings, I got a break and an Indian friend S and I went out for dinner at the Noodles & company where one gets great noodles and pastas from around the world. After which we drove to my favorite night drive spot - Garden of the Gods. There is a place in the park where two rocks divide the road. I have always driven there during night and climbed up a small rock to get a beautiful view of the city. We sat there for a while discussing about life, India, the US and generally everything.

Saturday, I drove to Manitou Springs where the Pikes Peak Ascent was on. My manager’s wife was participating in the event for the 5th year. It is a comptetion to run up the Pikes Peak mountain on Barr trail which is 13 miles long (21kms). I have hiked up the mountain in 2005 and it was an eventful experience. So to watch these enthusiasts was fun. After the marathon began, my manager and I drove up the mountain (14115 ft high). We had to park midway and several vans took people up to summit from there.
There was a crowd to encourage the runners and the winner completed the race by 2 Hours and 9 Minutes. It was amazing up there. People from UK, Germany, Australia and Mexico had particpated. This is what i love about the US, any hobby that you have has a lot of encouragement and platform to showcase them on.

Later on Saturday I met a good friend J at Pikes perk coffee/tea shop by Vickers- Academy. She was a professor at a college teaching World mythology but has now quit the job to join something called an art community, where she will be provided kind of a cottage in which the artist can live for however long to complete their work. Wow! That is really cool. I wish I had lived in one of those. J is planning to write poetry and she would live in Fort Collins and can choose to write in the cottage or a studio in downtown or anywhere around the place. It is amazing!

We spoke close to three hours about literature, art forms, family and life styles around the world. It is always great to meet likeminded people. The coffee shop we were in had two guitar players singing folk/country music and I had Indian chai which surprisingly did not taste bad at all. Of course it was little watery and more sweet but something that I needed badly at that moment.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Kuppalli & Kundadri Hills

My office team is a very interesting group. There could be two reasons for this, one - A bunch of likeminded people have been carefully picked in this team or maybe we all have influenced one another so much. Most of us have joined during the same time and are of almost the same age, so we get along well and our team is great when it comes to hobbies – Photography, sports, writing, trekking, creative art, paintings and many more. So it’s always fun to have team outings with this group. This time we choose – Kuppalli.

Subbu and I had been here in February this year and we decided that this place would be a good destination during the rains for our official team-outing.

We left Bangalore at around 8:00 PM on Aug5th. The bus journey was fun, with us ragging the new joiners for fun eventually making them feel comfortable with our group.

At around 5:30 AM we reached Kuppalli and checked into the rooms available at the centenary hall. Three cottages and a dormitory were booked and these are very less expensive and very well maintained. We walked to the Kavishaila and sat there for a while looking at the mesmerizing view. On my journal, I noted down few thoughts.

After breakfast, we went to the poet’s house and then to Kundadri hills (30Km from Theerthahalli). Cars and small vehicles can drive up to the top but our bus had to stop around 3.5 kms before summit. The trek was very nice with light drizzles. Once at the summit, we relaxed watching the awesome view. Clouds covered the view below, but with one blow of wind the clouds, like a curtain in a drama, uncovered and then covered back the view.

This One Almost Bit Me!

After relaxing there for a while, we returned back to the Bus, had lunch at theerthhalli and then drove back to the lodge. Rest of the evening, we relaxed chatting and laughing at things such as stories from US trips, old funny office events which we have repeated thousands of times, but still makes us laugh at it in a same way like we did at the first time. A good dinner summarized the day.

Next morning, we woke up to a very bad news. One of our colleagues lost his brother in a fatal accident. I accompanied him back to Bangalore while the others sadly moved ahead to Jog falls before they would return to Bangalore. I left to Bangalore with my friend at 8:00 Am and reached by 2:00 PM. It was a trip filled with waves of emotions – nostalgia dominated all of them. By end of this trip, like all others, there was a good internal change.

Thanks to my friends for the lovely pictures!