August 26, 2007

Sleepless in SFO

The vacuum cleaners are whirring in the background somewhere as I write this though I can't see them. Maintenance man pass by every few minutes. I am right now in partially deserted San Francisco airport. Dearest Continental Airlines has refused to check me in till 4:30 in the morning (which means I am stuck with all the luggage so can't sleep whole night) though not before the sweet Counter lady (she isn't called hostess..what are they called..flight people? Airline people?) showed my ticket and passport to all her colleague.

"Hey, she doesn't have a last name".

"Did you know NLN stands for No Last Name?" (Thanks to the ticket agent, my tickets are issued to Richa NLN and as I posted earlier, my Visa is issued to a Ms. FNU Richa where FNU stands for First Name Unknown).

And hence my passport, my ticket and my state id was passed to 5 different person (probably because I was only customer at the time) till she finally saw the departure time of 8:30AM and told me to come back in the morning. Yet another counter person told me that I should have come in the morning. Yeah I know. But I just arrived from Seattle and don't have enough time to go back home and come back on time for the flight! I am not a total idiot, you know. Obviously I didn't say it that rudely but I wanted to. I am already sleep deprived and hence becoming crankier by the minute and to top that they started with my name YET AGAIN. And then told me that I don't have an ounce of common sense in me. Or may be I am just cranky at the moment and looking for excuses to vent.

Anyway, yet another embarrassing moment of my life. I attended wedding of my friend today, which btw was beautiful. I saw the bride (my ex-room-mate) after an year or so. She lost a lot of weight but that wasn't the shock. She has always been a tom-boy. I have seen her in skirt twice or thrice in 2 years we have been room-mate and never in a dress or makeup. So when I saw her today I was just shocked and as luck will have it, she spotted me at once and came to say hello to me. I was still in state of shock when I stupidly uttered (contradicting my earlier statement...I can be very very stupid at times) "You look STRANGE". I knew it the moment I uttered those stupid words. She laughed and said, "Thats a statement". Well she is a very sweet person and as I said earlier very tomboyish. I did apologize 3 times though and still can't believe I said that! To tell a girl on her wedding day that she looks strange! Stupid me!! I did explain that I have never seen her in makeup or dress and hence it was a shock even though I have been trying to prepare myself for that. Oh God, why do I open my mouth ever!

Anyway wedding was really nice. It was a very small party. There were approximately 40 people so we got to interact with her a lot which was really nice. I never attended a wedding when I got so much personal attention from the bride. It was very cozy and informal just like the potluck parties we arranged when we were together except that she was wearing makeup and a gown.

Obviously I took a lot of pictures. The one I like best is the one below(I like this shot better in B&W but then you won't be able see her beautiful wedding dress). She was running out on the deck towards her "Husband" (The guy seen between her left shoulder and head) for a photo shoot. Sun had finally decided to show up for few moments, a perfect photo opportunity so the photographer (guy on the right) was waiting...

August 23, 2007

Jason Bourne and packing

I am a very bad reader. Once I pick up a book, its very hard for me to keep it down and work. Unfortunately, I bought the Bourne series by Robert Ludlum for the long, boring flights (Did I mention I am traveling most of the next week, finally reaching India on 28th Aug?). Well that wasn't unfortunate thing to happen, unfortunate thing was that I couldn't resist to start the first book, The Bourne Identity. Just before the flights, when all the packing has to be done. You can imagine the mess. Two big suitcases, half packed, clothes, gifts, shopping bags everywhere and I can't keep the book down. How can you when the main character of the book could be killed at any moment!

Result: I am again sleep deprived (last time it happened when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released: 22 hours non-stop reading) and I have a crazy schedule for next week. I have to catch a 6Am flight tomorrow morning means I have to start from my home at 3:30 AM. Reach Seattle, attend a wedding on Saturday, start back immediately after the function, catch the 7: 42PM flight to San Fransisco. The flight reach at 11 PM. I have asked a friend to get my big bags for India to airport then spend the night at SFO airport. Catch the flight to India at 8:30 AM next morning, stop over at New York airport for 2 hours from 5PM to 9PM and then direct flight to reach Delhi approximately 12 hours later. Clear the customs, get a cab and finally reach Roorkee (my hometown) in approximately 5 hours.

I just hope I don't fall asleep on airport and miss any of these flights! And now I should really get back to my packing. And oh, the point of the post: I am not sure how much internet access will I have for next few days, so I might be out of reach for few days...See you once I am at home!

Artist's Conundrum

It is something Jason (our Prof for photography class) discussed in the last class and it is something I have been experiencing for past few days too. Its the sense of seeing the present as a past.

You see, more time you spend behind the camera more you get this feeling. Everything around you is being evaluated as a shot. Every scene is visualized with in the frame, even if you don't have the camera with you. How will this look, what will be a better angle to capture this moment..the mind is constantly working. Seeing the present and anticipating how will it look like when seen in the future as a 2D image. Its as if you are seeing the present as a past of the future.

And I think this isn't just photography. I remember when I learned oil painting as a teenager, I would see the colors around me and will think how can I get the exact same shade using my color palette. Adding Chrome Yellow with a tiny bit Scarlet might give me that orangish shade and White with Crimson will give me that pink cloud. Each and every thing around was evaluated in terms of color palette then as if I was visualizing, again, the scenes around me as a painting. The frame was set too, though unconsciously, for this imaginary painting. The present seen on the canvas of future.

And do you ever feel the same with day to day events? Events that are worth blogging, incidents that aren't. Your mind constantly at work, choosing, discarding words, sentences to describe the events on your blog even when its happening. And again the present as seen as past of the future.

Or may be I am just blabbing. But as they say all artists are loony. If thats true, then I have very high potential!

August 20, 2007

Wedding gift

This Saturday I am attending my ex-roomie wedding in Seattle and until now I was excited to attend the wedding and to be able to visit Seattle till I started browsing the internet for the wedding gift. And honestly I will happily get married to get at least few of these gifts. Okay, I want this, this, this and this. Though this, this and this won't hurt either. Any takers?

August 17, 2007


Embarrassing things happen and somehow its always me on the receiving end. Why?

Two days ago, I got a mail from our research group about dinner on Thursday evening (last night). As we had our final portfolio submission today morning so I sent back an RSVP of being not sure about attending it. And as I wasn't sure about going, I didn't read the mail properly. I thought that dinner was at 8:00. And as luck will have it, I finished everything by 6:30 in the evening. I came back, got ready and reached the destination at 8:00. In fact, I wore a new dress and was very excited about showing it off at the dinner. I was inside the restaurant at 8:15. Shouldn't at least the host be there? People here are usually at time, especially if its a official group dinner (even if its a casual dinner). So where is everyone? Am I in the wrong restaurant? So I took out my cell phone to call someone from the group and there were three voice messages. Well, I thought, may be someone called up when I was in Dark room. I can hear to that later on. Let me call up first. I am standing at the door of the restaurant. My friend picked up on the first ring and greeted me with, "Where were you?".
Were? Well English is her second language and she does make a lot of mistakes, I thought. So I continued, "Hey, where are you guys? I am at the restaurant."
" The dinner was at 5:30. Where were you? I tried to call you", the answer came.
"5:30? But the mail said 8 :00", I said.
"No, the address was 800 Emerson street. The time was 5:30. I tried to call you too", She said.
OMG. I looked around. People from nearby table were staring at me, half smiling. Great. Why? Why me? After a whole day, hell, whole month of hard work this was my first break. Anyway, at least I had something to blog about. The silver lining.

P.S.: BTW, if you were wondering about those three voice messages, they were for the dinner. Only if I had heard them before calling, I could have walked out of the restaurant quietly and made up an excuse to my friends later on. No one would have known. But alas!

August 15, 2007

Life is good...

...when you start for your home and sun is still out. The last of traffic rush is still on the road. You browse through different channels at leisure knowing you can sleep late next day. Today my life is good.

August 9, 2007

Shy and Bold

Although I am going to put this set on my new photoblog Aperture, I couldn't resist the temptation to put these photos here as well. The two shots were taken approximately 2 years apart but still they seem to make perfect sense with each other. BTW, the second shot titled "Bold" is from my own Kitchen garden.



August 4, 2007

Purple Belt

Today I got my purple belt. Well I didn't get it but earned it, but whatever. Here is a photo showing my journey so far in the realm of Kenpo Karate in past few months.


Unfortunately, we had to submit our Assignment to the TA this time. I didn't scan them before submitting it so I have to wait till next week to do so and then finally post the inventory here. Till then enjoy these landscapes. They are from same location with slightly different view. I like the depth in this picture. Its amazing how you can create a sense of 3D in 2dimensional piece of paper..

August 3, 2007

I got my name back!

I failed my behind-the-wheel test again today and I love California DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle: responsible for issuing the driver's license and vehicle registration etc.). A sort of oxymoron, isn't it? But its true. This was my third behind-the-wheel test and so I have to take the written test again in order to keep my temporary license. The lady behind the counter saw my Passport and Visa and the previous temporary license that I had.
She said, "We have to remove your first name. Are you ok with that?".
I went, huh?
So she indicated to my Visa and said, "Your first name here is indicated as 'FNU'. Do you know what it means?"
Me (with a sigh): "Yes. First name unknown."

This is one of the reason I hate being in US. I have one name "Richa". People always had problem with that but I learned to deal with it, even though it is still annoying when people go asking rudely why don't you have a last name? and even more rudely what's your caste?(one of the reason I refrained from adding the surname). Hey my name, my choice, got it? But US was whole new story. Every human being, according to US immigration laws, have to have a second name. Its okay if you don't have a first name though (you think that is funny? Not for people like me who get their names distorted by this stupid law). So when I applied for US visa, they made my name as 'FNU Richa', where FNU stands for, they explained, for First Name Unknown. It was very irritating. I think this is a violation of my personal rights but since I am not a citizen here, I don't have any choice but accept. At least Indian constitution gives me a choice of having the name I choose. And don't ask me why it couldn't have been 'Richa LNU' for last name unknown?

Anyway, coming back to today's story, though you would have guessed what happened. The DMV personnel explained that they HAVE TO change my name to only one name "Richa" and if that's okay with me. Ha! As if I would say no to THAT! Finally I have my name back! I am Richa again!!

Let me explain the importance of the driver's license in US. Oh yes, its a license to drive the vehicle but its not the only use of Driver's license here. Its used as a state photo id (somewhat equivalent to our voter id cards). And as an immigrant here, it will allow me to not to carry my passport when I am traveling within US. This ID is extremely important in US. Its used to verify your credit cards, used when you buy something expensive or sensitive as cell phone or even to get a membership in a video library like Blockbuster. In the nutshell, its very difficult to survive in US without one, unless you are living in place like Bay area with good public transport system and could show a Stanford id, which people here accept as much as the Driver's license (well being in Stanford is good for something at least).

P.S.: Don't worry about the driver's test. I am a good driver, honestly. I just get very nervous when someone is judging me and making notes sitting in the passenger's seat and hence I crossed the tiny red light. (Hey I rode my scooty in Chennai for 2.5 years where stopping at red light meant getting hit by a bus or a car from behind!)

CNN and style

And neither of them has anything to do with this blog, me thinks. But somehow I had a referral visit from it so investigated further to find my blog address listed on this page. Towards the bottom of page in the section titled "From the Blogs: Controversy, commentary and debate", my blog is first one to be listed. And the post it is pointing to is actually a sketch. No controversy, debate or even commentary. I just can't make a connection between the article and this post. I guess I need to invent a new mathematical algorithm to reach there. Any ideas?

August 1, 2007

Yin and Yang

Another photograph from my inventory but again, I wanted to post this one separately too. I like this one as it gives a feeling of unity of opposite and hence the title, Yin and Yang. The main subject of the photograph are these two guys engrossed in reading/working on computer. One is standing, the other is sitting. Both are doing same task. Then the two border of the photograph emphasize that opposite. The tree on the right is darker in tone while the pillar on the left is lighter tone. similarly the tree above and the hedge below. And to think I actually walked past this one. This particular day, I was exhausted and just wanted to go back home. No more pictures. And then I walked past them, realizing the potential of the picture but still chanting no more pictures in my mind. I went up 10 steps and then gave in the temptation of taking this picture. How often can you get such a perfect composition? Thankfully, none of them moved in that time span. Another thing that I like about the picture, though it was not my intention and it came up as an accident, is the way the branches of tree are parallel to the curvature of back of the sitting while the standing person back is the parallel to the frame boundary in the left (the pillar). I really like the way this picture has come up...