Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Now the argument forwarded by the death penalty opponents are that it does not bring back the victim and it has been disproportionately applied towards the minorities (especially in America) or a wrong person can be put to death. For the second argument I have already mentioned in my previous post but for the first one is there anything called Justice in all of this. It should not be called revenge but it is Justice that if the victim does not deserve to die in the first place than the person committing the crime should not be given any mercy and must be given death penalty. Whether it is justice (to the victim's families) or Revenge (to some of the opponents) is best left to the hereafter. Other thing is that does not the victim family gets any right in this matter if they want somebody put to death (after the accuser or perpetrator has confessed to the crime) or spare him. It just seems like if you are putting somebody to death there is some sort of closure to victim's families whereas if he is in jail you are still traumatized by him/her being in jail enjoying life (in whatever form). Furthermore what would the opponents do in case of Hitler or the Norwegian massacre guy or the Columbine people or the Madrid bombings or Osama Bin Laden (OBL) what kind of punishment does Amnesty international (AI) or other human right groups recommend in these cases? How would they feel if their loved ones get killed in these massacres, how does the punishment be applied. Does not the punishment fit the crime be applied here and what about the victims, they did not asked to be killed so what is their crime. Why are human rights only for the perpetrators and why not for the victim?
This is a very contentious issue so much so that I believe that European Union first demand from aspirant member countries is to abolish the death penalty as they think that it is cruel and inhumane punishment. Same thing goes with Amnesty International in London who clamor to get the remaining countries of the world where it is widely practiced to abolish it. Here in America it is used disproportionately more by some southern states than northern states. Amnesty keeps on reminding the world that the U.S. is one of the few industrialized countries where it is an acceptable form of punishment and despite massive efforts by the Amnesty, they have not been able to stop this practice. Even human right groups clamor to stop this punishment once and for all and replace it by some form of life punishment. Now here is where I differ with Amnesty International and European Union and all the death penalty opponents. Is it ever appropriate to apply death penalty in any case. I can understand that sometimes wrong person is put to death and that is a tragedy and it should never happen. We should make sure beyond doubt that the person being convicted of Death penalty deserves it after all evidence points to him/her. But what if all evidence leads to the person that did the crime, does he not deserve to die. That is again the same hotly debated question which is being going on for years and will be for many years to come.
Monday, November 26, 2012
That is the question; people should ask themselves while being supposed environmentally sound. For example for all the hoopla over being environmentally conscious, people don’t hesitate to jump on a plane, one of the most environmentally unsafe places to be. The fuel that it uses takes a big chunk out of the environment but we never think about banning it. Even there is no talk of a hybrid plane which can be fly on fuel and electric. Even the hybrid and electric cars are not enjoying that kind of popularity that the politicians and environmentalists had hoped for. We keep on charging our gadgets at home but I believe never unplug the plugs from the sockets since it is too much of a hassle. Now more than ever, we are using so many gadgets and other paraphernalia that environment is being neglected to the side lines since these gadgets spend to much energy which is again created by fossil fuel and other forms of unclean energy. The most precious but the most wasted natural resource is the water that is being used by billions of people and even in some places this precious resource is being polluted by toxic waste and human waste. We can preach all we want but when it comes to take a shower, we will spent countless minutes just to get a good shower even though we could have a shorter shower in the process. Although I acknowledge that some people are really trying to be conscious and sensitive about the environment by trying to do as much environmentally safe stuff as they can but they are just a minuscule part of the whole picture and their effort is lost in all this unconscious assault on the environment.
Why it is hard to apologize? This is the question that needs a discussion, maybe it is because of an individual ego, wrongly held assertions regarding who is right, maybe it is because the guilty party thinks that it can do without one. Whatever the reason, nobody wants to take the initiative and be the bigger person (or whatever) and apologize and get on with their daily activities. There are many cases where you can say that apologies was the order so that we can go to bigger things but it has never been that easy. The U.S. attack on a check post near the Afghan-Pakistan border where the U.S. took a long time to apologize even though it could have done and saved a lot of money in the process (since the Pakistani Side closed the border to NATO supplies). The Japanese Atrocities in China and Korea during World War II which the Japanese are reluctant to acknowledge due to some strong nationalist pressure or maybe the Japanese think that it never happened and why should they apologize. The casualties in Armenia at the turn of the century (whoever was the culprit), the apologies of crimes by Pakistan to the Bangladesh in their war of Independence in 1971 and I can keep on going should have been apologized and done with and moved on. In personal life, it is hard to apologize for something you have done since it means you are the guilty party not the bigger person. These kinds of ego trips and "I or We are right" mentality hamper the growth of nations/people and it keeps on lingering for generations to come. So if I am wrong or even right (in some cases) I would rather apologize and move on then to keep that bad blood till I die. (Full Disclosure: Please note that the above references to historic events are all over the internet and I have just mentioned them as references, I was not born or witnessed any of them, my opinion is just based upon the logic behind not apologizing)
I was just about thinking what is the best for profit brand and you can name quiet a few but when it comes to the number one Non Profit Brand it must be the Breast cancer awareness Susan G. Komen for the cure® brand that seems to me the number one in the world (some may dispute this fact and I may agree to their assertion but for now I believe it is the number one non Profit brand). All year long, the people at Komen brand keeps on reminding people about the dangers of Breast cancer, but as October rolls in of every year, they go ballistic and go in overdrive sponsoring walks and inviting women who are survivors and others along with their men folk to join in for a cure of this deadly disease. One of my cousin did die of Breast cancer but she found out at the last stage and she use to say how painful the therapy is. But I salute the brilliance of this non Profit foundation that their advertise so mercilessly that it is hard to ignore their message and as I said before, it is not just October they are increasingly active but all year long they keep on emphasizing and raising funds and keep on assembling an impressive array of people who have survived this disease to speak on behalf of them and encourage women to have early scanning of their breasts. And it is not only the women but now men are also increasingly been diagnosed with this type of cancer. This is the kind of advertising that other non-profit and even for profit entities should follow and build a brand with their type of zeal and enthusiasm.
Sunday, November 25, 2012
As the title saying goes, it is indeed true when people say it. We can see people smiling or laughing but you don’t know half of what they have going on in their lives, Student loans, credit card debt, mortgages, tuition for their kids college, maybe daycare expenses, car installments, utility bills and the like are some of the things they have in mind and how to juggle and allocate their limited income to all of them so that their head is barely ahead of the bill collector. Then if you have kids you have to make sure, they are properly fed, entertained, schooled and to make sure they stay out of trouble. Helping them navigate through the rough part of their lives like their teenage years, the admission tests to colleges, their proms, every class tests are all part of your lives. Now you can also see if you lose your jobs, or in case of natural disasters, lose your house and belongings, sometimes you go through some tough medical problems which affects your finances which in turn affects your mental and physical health. The most stressful part of your life is when you lose your job and look for another one; it really makes it tough on you all over and your have to make sure you go through it without damaging your own health and your family in the process. I see it every day on the news how people survive against all odds, they may be limping on their life journey but they are trying but it is tough for us people to see who have everything necessary and we don’t realize how tough it is for some people to carry on with their lives. So when some people say that life is tough, you should believe them since it is indeed the truth.
Eating in a restaurant and then coming up with the right percentage of tip is a dilemma I am sure many people have faced. It is really frustrating to see that your bill comes out to for example $25.62 and then you scramble to figure out how much to pay for tip. Is it 10 percent, 15 percent or 20 percent we don’t know? Everybody has a standard criterion for how much to pay but it is pretty much a standard that you add on 15 percent to your bill total. But here again, without a calculator you are trying to mentally calculate how is that 15 percent comes out and then out of frustration you give a rough figure so that it comes out to be a nice round figure.. If you are paying by credit card, that is how it comes out but if you are paying by cash you just toss five dollars and that takes care of the tip. But lately I have been noticing an increasing trend towards getting your check with gratuity included so that you don’t have to calculate. It just eliminates a headache of how to calculate the tip that you are going to pay. Another way is that since some of the people pay 10 percent and some pay even less than that depending upon how the waiter has behaved with you, it just eliminates the choice that you will add a tip or not to your check. But still you can notice that apart from the mandatory gratuity of 15 percent, there is still a line with the tag TIP so that you are allowed to pay for the extra ordinary service, otherwise you can opt out not to add anything since the gratuity is already included. But I like this thing that if they are giving you a check with gratuity included, one less headache to deal with and you don’t get embarrass yourself by paying too little a tip on the table. I believe it is a win win situation for both the restaurants and the patrons.
Have you ever noticed that some items overtime goes from luxury or discretionary item to the must have or essential item that you cannot live without. This has been happening more and more as the relentless pursuit of technology have made it essential to have things which were discretionary in the past. Take for example cell phones. Before the cell phones, we use to have pay phones and it went very well for a long time. If you wanted to talk, you just put a coin and talk to anybody you want and there was no instant urge to call every five minutes or every time you needed to talk to someone. But now cell phones have become the very essential part that one cannot live without. Now we cannot even leave our homes without checking first that we have our cell phones with us. It is the instant part of getting in touch with your loved ones or anybody at any part of day from anywhere without having to look for coins to insert in the pay phone that makes it very essential. Same goes with computers, as every home have to have one and if we don’t have one then you look so ancient. Washing machines, dryers, cars, cameras, TVs and all sorts of appliances that was considered a luxury not too long ago have becomes so essential that a house without one of them is not considered complete and this raises the specter of all the power that we use during the day. So as the times change, the discretionary item becomes essential and it is rare that an essential item will ever revert to being a discretionary item.
Sometimes I really wonder how many gadgets an individual person needs. I mean really , I have literally seen people on the New York Subway, talking on their cell phone and then they take out their IPAD® and play their games on it, or they may be listening with one gadget while playing with another. And I can just imagine how many they may have at home to satisfy their hunger for gadgets. I am also guilty like other people having one phone and one computer to play around. But is there any time where we don’t need one more gadget. I am read that some people have literally as many Apple® gadgets as they can get their hands on and still they clamor for more like it becomes a high or some bragging right that they are technophile amassing as many gadgets as their pockets will support it. And then there are those people, who religiously update their gadgets every year as new one comes and replaces the older one. We have become hostage to chasing all the latest and newest gadgets that come out of the factories and we have only so much time to give attention to each, and then we try to cram all these gadgets by multitasking. These gadgets have become toys for the big boys. You can see people playing them all out in the streets. It just is kind of a high to have the latest ones even if the old one you have can be fine for your needs. I guess there can be no limit to how many gadgets you can have and I thought I just try to figure it out but no avail.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012
I know the younger and not so younger generation does not know anything about life before all the electronics that we have now and enjoy. Maybe it was a time of peace and quiet and pace of life was slow than now. People were not in a hurry to go somewhere and they did not wanted to be in a rush to get the latest news. Life was slow and maybe happy as the old-timers say, with less money making them happier and carefree but was it really that great to live in that era. I don’t know but it would have been hard enough for people of a younger generation. Telephone, television, washing machines, internet, radio, videos, cars, GPS and all the other electronics that we enjoy today would have made the life of people in earlier times harder or would it? I mean people did survive before the introduction of electronics, although I admit that the times were harder with too much power in few hands and less ability to be flexible in their lives and too much wastage of time. But it was a simpler time, where there were more face to face interaction among people and neighbors and more family time. Life was harsh but people were satisfied with what they had and were content with their lives. Now even with all the facilities and electronics at their disposal, there is kind of some restlessness that people have in their lives that they are trying to resolve through drugs and other means. So every era has its advantages and disadvantages and at no point in time, a human being will ever be satisfied with what they have.
Here we go again with the small scale war in the Middle East. As I wrote in my previous post some time ago, there would never be any peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis because there is too much hatred and no side wants to budge an inch on what they think is right for their side. Having said that, there is news coming out that Egypt has brokered a truce between the two factions so that some kind of uneasy peace can take hold. Although Israel seems to mulling a ground invasion of Gaza Strip to fix this problem but we have already seen this episode before and it will be again futile that this invasion will make Israel much safer or closer to permanent peace. Now the U.S. has been trying to stop the fighting but the efforts will only result in a truce or a ceasefire of hostilities and not a permanent peace. Is there any hope to end this frequent flare ups. Nope since as I said before both sides are stubborn and the world is now getting very tired of this constant bickering that takes away all the attention of other ghastly acts being committed elsewhere. There seems to be no interest on the part of any mediators to force both sides to come to a table and I have been watching this since I was born and this conflict will keep on going till I leave this earth.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Now I come to the best part of the relationship, the marriage. I am always intrigued by single people trying to find a person with whom they will get married some day, this despite the fact that in the U.S. almost 50 percent of the marriages end up in divorce. But this does not stop, people (especially) the overwhelming majority of females looking for their big day despite the odds of ending up in divorce. Nobody wants to get married just to end up in divorce but this is happening but this has not dented the popularity of marriage. There are shows on television where brides to be come into the bridal shops with the families to try out different wedding dresses and there is also a show where you see the nasty side of a bride before their big day. These brides go to extreme lengths to make sure that their wedding day is as perfect as possible (maybe more) with the function, dresses, bridesmaid clothes, timing and what not. Both the families involved make sure not to cross paths with these perfect brides. And even if unfortunately people end up in divorce, they still want to go a second or a third time to be a bride or bridegroom again. There is just so much glamour and hopefulness in getting married that even the biggest skeptics of marriage are sucked into it and try it out ultimately. And I don’t think that this marriage popularity will ever diminish since it is such a big part of our society no matter how much we deviate from our values and traditions, marriage is here to stay.
This one really gets under my skin, how you would know that if she or he is the right one for you unless you lived with them your whole life and go through ups and down through the entire journey of your life. People always keep on saying that I am looking for the right one but what is the right one? There is no set criterion for it, everybody has different ideas about it and maybe looking for it but you can't be absolutely sure you can have hit the jackpot with the right one. Even when you think you are with the right one, something happens and you end up separating or worse yet divorcing that person and then you realize that maybe that person was not the right one. But after how many years you realize that? Nowadays there are so many websites out there that promises you to match you up with the right person by going through a personality check with all the scientific mumbo jumbo thrown in and you feel mesmerized about that opportunity to meet that "ONE" but it is just an illusion. According to me there is no right or wrong one, since you will be compromising all your life once you meet your dream person, because you are on your best behavior when you are courting or dating another person but life actually starts after you live together. So don’t get into the hype of the finding the right one, only the one you will compromise the less in the future.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
Then there is the Gays, Lesbian, Bisexual websites catering to that particular market. The internet has really expanded the horizon of dating. Then there is the websites for the cheaters and casual encounters and this whole new market has expanded beyond anything before us. In all this explosion of dating, one things remain the same, you have to meet the person physically go out with him/her and like a new car, test drive to make sure you are so called compatible and then you chose your mate. But as in the car, there is no guarantee that who you have chosen will be the same after Marriage or will last forever as in "death do us apart". But also the internet has made dangers lurking everywhere. Since there is so much anonymity on the net, you can present your best or hide your identity before you absolutely make sure it is safe to meet the person physically. But apart from the latest invention of the internet, people still go out to clubs, bars and meet someone in the office or meet through third party mutual acquaintances. I don’t know the success rate of both the online dating and the physical one (one and the same I guess since you have to meet physically) but it all depends upon each ones likes or dislikes and how much they can tolerate each other's habit in the long run. But there is always one thing to remember that people present their best side while dating and you would only know the true person when you are fully committed and married and are there for each other through thick or thin.
Despite all the troubles people get into with relationships, still the dating market is a huge one. Before internet, it was all about going to bars, night clubs, social gatherings and you get to know the person and then you date. But now there are so many options to date thanks to the internet. Huge dating sites have popped up, some free and some paid which promise you the heaven that they have the magic criteria to match you with your true soul mate. I have not tried it to find out if their algorithms or whatever you call it can make sure that you find the so called right one (more on it in the next post). But there are so many sites dedicated to finding your soul mate and everyone makes so outrageous claims that you really y have to try a few of them to find out if they are what they claim to be. Without going into details of what the dating sites are actually doing. These sites are not only confined to the U.S. but have spread around the world. A new variation is that you find your soul mate but then you have to meet their parents and other relatives and there is no dating involved except that it is faster to find them on the internet. This kind of variation is mostly found in Muslim societies (conservative or otherwise) where there is no mingling of sexes. Although it might seem awkward to the western audience but many have found their soul mates through this combination of dating/arranged marriage sites.
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
While on the topic of Hurricane, when peoples' lives in the hard hit north east were rudely disrupted, it had to happen at the time of the Presidential election. There was quite a bit of uncertainty if the elections can be held properly in the communities that were destroyed but lo and behold, the elections happened on time and the President won it decisively. Although at one point, the challenger was ahead in the Electoral College vote but as the night went by, he lost the lead by a decisive margin. Now some people say that the challenger's thunder was disrupted due to the hurricane since there was wall to wall coverage of the destruction and ravages of the storm but now it is just sour grapes. Although the Republicans were pretty sure that they would win the election but some of the more conservative colleagues were deliberately trying to lose by saying statements hurtful or insensitive to women. I have no idea what has happened to the Republican party of Ronald Reagan, but it seems like they are drifting way apart from the mainstream America and are just trying to cater to their extremist portion of their party (FULL DISCLOSURE: I AM NOT A REPUBLICAN, DEMOCRAT, INDEPENDENT OR ANY OF THOSE LABELS, I AM JUST VOICING MY OPINION ABOUT THE ELECTIONS). The Republicans it seems like holding on to their super conservative White base of their party who are still living in the fifties. The world has moved on and we are no longer a creditor nation by a debtor one. While we can still project our military power but we cannot impose our western views or force other people to do as what we like them to do. Ours is becoming a Minority Majority and though most of the people are still conservative but they are not extremist in their values. All the money that was given to Republican candidates came out to naught making it seems like the voters care more about the policies and are not (yet) influenced by all the negative ads. It is time for the Republican Party to face the face and have a healthy debate of what they want to for the next election and how to reach voters of all races and moderate their views genuinely otherwise they will keep on losing elections since the demographics are changing faster than their policies.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the most pressing problem for most people was how to get gas. In the early days, it was really ugly with lines of cars stretching out for miles in New Jersey on one side and lines of people holding the red canister to fill it for whatever purpose on the other side. The gas shortage may have been created by a combination of loss of power to loss of gas at several stations or just people panicking to get gas at whatever cost in terms of time. Since I was home on vacation so I did not need the gas right away but just for trying to get gas to fill my half filled car I tried to go to some stations and just turned back because it was sickening to see long lines of cars with Police trying to regulate the traffic in an organized way. Although this mess was relieved after several days by implementing odd-even days of filling up the gas with odds number plate cars to get gas on odd days and even number plate cars on even days. But it is really shocking to see that there was not much planning as a back in case such a scenario ever happens. And New Jersey have refineries to boot. But it was just chaos for several days because of the so called gas shortage and countless hours (including some waiting for three hours or more ) to get just a few gallons of gas. We have taken life and its facilities so much for granted that even a few days (for some, not all) people feel very uncomfortable. There should be better planning in the states government throughout the U.S. in case of emergencies and not wait for an emergency to happen to starting taking steps. But this searching for gas was just too much for me since I am so use to it getting whatever time I wanted it. Makes you feel appreciative of little things in life.
Since Hurricane Sandy has wrecked havoc in the north east and I am still on the top, I just saw how important Subway is to New York. For a few days people could not go to work since the subways were out of order. I have noticed that people in New York don’t tend to have cars since they catch the cheap subways to anywhere in the city, so the closure of subways was devastating to them. These subways which gets blame for countless delays and almost every year fare increase came to a screeching halt in the aftermath of the Hurricane, suddenly everybody was stunned (even the critics ) and they did not know how to reach their destination without the much derided and maligned and under appreciative subway system. If you have ever been to New York or live in the city, you would know that Subways are like the economic, social and community life line of all people. Since I don’t live in New York but my trains from New Jersey were not running, so indirectly (or I should say directly) I was affected but to come to work after vacation, it was the fast recovery of the subways that made it possible to me and countless other riders from other states who work in the city to reach their work. I know it is not the best system in the world and it has it flaws but people should appreciate the fact that when it is not there, how sorely you miss them and long for them to start running so that you can get on with your lives. That is right, it is life for many New Yorkers without which they would not be able to earn a living or reaching their workplace to earn one.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
Town after town on the Jersey shore has been destroyed. Even the famous Atlantic City boardwalk was destroyed. Towns near the Hudson River like Hoboken, Jersey City and even downtown Manhattan was inhabitable for a few days (Hoboken is a different story since it will take a long time to recuperate). Transportation system was disrupted (more on that in my other post) and people were unable to go to work or get heat for quite a number of days. Although utility crews from other stays have come to help the East Coast and the Federal government has aggressively stepped in to provide relief, aid and loans to the affected people and businesses but after all is said and done, what about the future strategy in regard to these kinds of disasters. I fear that nothing will be done, judging by the statements the politicians have been saying. They are vowing to build the towns as they were before but at what cost? I can understand the sentimentality of the towns but what would happen the next time the disaster strikes. We can build again but to have it away from the beach which seems impossible since the people love their beaches and oceans. I love it too but as they say once bitten, twice shy, why take the risk. As for the towns which can be rebuilt faster, there seems to an urgent need to protect it from the rivers that may breach their banks by erecting huge levees. I know it will cost money but if not done the next it will cost twice as much to recover from the loss. But as another saying goes, time is the biggest healer and memories will fade till the next time the nature strikes again.
As I was saying in my previous post that I was in Nassau, The Bahamas when Hurricane Sandy hit us with Category 2 winds speed after we reached New York, we got hit by Sandy again with Category 1 winds. Fortunately since I was on vacation I did not have to go the office for a whole week so I was at home all the time and I was extremely lucky enough that I was in the part of town where the lights never went out. Although half of the town had power off for four days and a few houses down the block had power off for two days. But the devastation that I have been seeing and continue to monitor is really heart wrenching. Some of the people who have lost their houses have also lost tons of memory associated with it. It is really hard to imagine how it feels like to lose a home to natural disasters until you are in their shoes. In addition to the destruction, the part of rebuilding is going to be a huge one. The famed Jersey shore has been completely devastated (as you have already watched on Television). Even if the money is available there and the will to build it, would it be the same as before and would people see the shore the same way as they did before. Although this time around, there was ample warning that the Hurricane would bring tidal waves, not seen before in the history of New York or New Jersey and most of the people heeded the call to evacuate.
On the lighter side-Movies-Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (2012) - Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Ludgren
An aging Cyborg tries to revive the Universal Soldier program in this unnecessary sequel to the Jean-Claude Van Damme hit of the yesteryears. Van Damme looks quiet aged in this movie and it is a failed attempt to keep his career going on for a few years. Not Recommended
A simple guy in the suburbs organizes a neighborhood watch group after one of his friends got murdered and find aliens in their town planning to invade Earth. Silly idea saved somewhat by raunchy and sometimes funny language. Not worth your time. Not Recommended either.
Horror comedy from Spain about a writer who is invited to his native village only to find out that he is the offspring of a cursed soul and have to be sacrificed in order to get rid of the village of the curse of the werewolves. Very funny at times but bloody. Not for everyone. Recommended
British Horror comedy about a group of kids trying to save the retirement home of their grandfather by robbing a bank discover that London has been overrun with bloodthirsty (and slow moving ) Zombies. Bloody gory, and funny at times with lots of violence (not gratuitous), a worth looking into. Recommended with reservations.
Funny movie about a shoo-in incumbent who because of one gaffe had to face an opponent who has no clue what is going on. The dirty political campaign that both run is hilarious and eye opener for all. Recommended (but not for kids)
Based on the 1970s British Police series about the activities of the flying squad (which deals with commercial armed robberies) of the Scotland Yard. You really have to listen hard in order to understand the British Accent but you can still enjoy plentiful of violence, emotions, drama. Recommended at your own risk since I enjoyed it despite the accent.
Friday, November 9, 2012
That night we were supposed to go to Bimini Road restaurant in the Marina but since all outside activities were closed, we decided to eat inside but since the wait for long decided to go to The Dig, a place where there are different kinds of fish and other aquatic animals. It is a semi-dark place to walk through, small though but a thing to be seen. One thing to note that even some things seem far to walk, you don’t have to venture outside to see the theater or aquarium or restaurant. There is a huge passageway that takes you from one tower hotel to another lined with world class luxury boutique shops (with eye popping prices). After dinner, since we had nothing else to do we braved ourselves and went to the west wing of the Royal Tower where you have to go through a passageway with an gusty air vacuum in between so that you have to brave through that. So this was our last night indoors and in the Bahamas. Since the checkout time was 11.00 we woke up and started to pack our stuff. The main pain was to drag the luggage through the basement (since the passageway was closed due to high winds). After reaching the checkout counter, we waited for our shuttle to take us back to the airport, which was closed at that time. Long lines of people were waiting for the airport to open and the counters to check in for the flight and finally at 3.15, they opened the airport, after the check in, comes the security and immigration official of the US was kind and asked simple question like how long you stayed, where etc. After that we got some expensive snacks at the airport and boarded our plane at 5.45 P.M. So there you have it our annual vacation. We liked it so much in Bahamas that we are planning to come back here sometime in the future. Just for your information, U.S. is widely accepted and it seems is the de facto second currency of the Country (in addition of the official currency the Bahamian Dollar) and just make sure to have ample money on hand to pay for all the trip since it becomes pretty expensive fast. Apart from that no complains whatsoever. (FULL DISCLOSURE: ALL THE NAMES MENTIONED IN MY POSTS TRAVEL-PARADISE ISLAND, THE BAHAMAS ARE THOSE OF THEIR COPYRIGHT OWNERS AND I HAVE NOT RECEIVED ANY COMPENSATION WHATSOEVER FROM THEM WHILE MENTIONING THEM HERE. THIS IS JUST THE INFORMATION I FEEL I EXPERIENCED WHILE VACATIONING THERE)
Since we were unable to venture to our favorable place, the rapids and the pools were closed as was all outside activity since we could see the Atlantic ocean waves splashing against the sands and the palm trees ferociously waving back and forth, we forcibly decided to take advantage of what the inside of the hotel is like. The winds were shaking with the high windows (because of Category 2 winds), my wife dropped the kids (since the parents were not allowed) to a video game parlor which had more activities than just video games. After that we went to another place where the kids could join the parents in pursuing activities all on the computers and video games. And since in order to connect to the internet at your room cost about 20 dollars for a 24 hour period, I used the computer at the place for free (actually you can say that we spent 20 dollars each) to avail the facility of computers and games. Not much time was spent there, then we headed to buying some souvenirs at a local shop during which time, the traditional Bahamas dance started to come with their colorful costumes. Just to mention on the side that the hotel also have a casino which was strangely not crowded and have super high end shops. I wonder who buys stuff from there since most of the shops were just open with the cashier in attendance but tourists may have bought something in the past that those shops exists. There is a movie theater in one of the towers where you can watch the latest movies for free (if you don’t feel like watching on small screen on your room TV or spend too much money on one movie).
Next day was the same routine except we had made arrangement to have a shallow interaction at a Dolphin Cay in the same resort. We were schedule to go at 2.30, after our time came up, we were asked to wear black bathing suits and told to watch a small video about Dolphins. After that our interaction with the Dolphins began. Our batch of people were divided into groups assigned to each trainer and then we touched the dolphins from back to front and also were asked to kiss the female dolphin on the face which was kind of weird. After about an hour of interaction and photo session, we changed back into our original bathing suits and went to the nearby shop to buy some souvenirs and pictures that were taken by the staff of the dolphin area. That night we went to Marina and ate at Johnny Rockets, a classic small scale restaurant where we ate Tuna and chips. There were other stores to look at but we just did window shopping. Then we went to eat Ice cream nearby at Ben & Jerry's. It had started to rain a little bit and so we decided to head back to our hotel tower. Hurricane Sandy was now in Cuba (after making a pit stop at Jamaica) and the winds had started to increase significantly. After going to sleep the next morning, we heard that due to strong winds and approaching Hurricane Sandy, the whole Hotel went under a lockdown, the airport closed from 7 A.M to 3.00 P.M the next day.
The third day of our trip started the same way as we ordered breakfast in the room but then we went to a new ride where you are splashed down a tube and it slows inside where you are surrounded by a glass cage full of sharks and then come down to a soaking end. It was fun but in this case you have to carry your own inflatable tube up three flights (exhausting). After that my favorite haunt was again the rapids but other family members wanted to see all the pools in the hotel so we went to other pools to try them out (nothing new there just water). At the end of the pool time at 7.00 P.M. we decided to take a rest and then we went to a new place just few blocks away called the marina with high end shops and restaurants. We took the shuttle bus there at night. There was a ice cream shop but we were first interested in eating so we went to restaurant called Bimini Road and ordered sea food like shrimp and grouper sandwich and they were so delicious. Since we ate a lot and did not have space for ice cream afterwards, we decided to walk back to our hotel tower (bad choice) it was dark but a long walk since we were in a new country but people were friendly enough to guide us to our hotel. Next time we decided we will not take that risk and just take the shuttle bus back and forth.
Thursday, November 8, 2012
Next day, we ordered breakfast in room since we woke up late but it was nice for a change, since we came to Bahamas and not to rush into things. After eating breakfast and putting up our swim costume. In order to be in the pool we had to have wrist bands every day and the towels were also provided by them. As you know by now, at least my first destination was the Rapids which was really good fun (not to deep for a non-swimmer like me). People have been tossed upside down in the rapids in some areas where the waves are really fast, but the trick is to sit your back and hold on to the inflatable tube tightly so that you don’t toss over or fall down in the water. Life guards were everywhere on the rapids and on the pools sides which is a welcome addition and security since the families are there with small kids too. Lunch was done nearby the pool and the fun and easy part was that, when you check in the key to your room serves as your credit card throughout your trip and it can use on all the hotel towers and restaurants and shops that comprise Atlantis. This makes it easy to have one bill and to calculate if you have been billed incorrectly. Most of our staples were pizza and fish and chips with some vegetables thrown in but snacks came in handy too. After lunch, another round of playing in the pools and then dinner at one of the indoor restaurants.
We went to the pool and there was one which was called rapids. Essentially it was a lazy river type of thing where you sit your back on huge inflatable balloons and the flow of the waters takes you around and around. To make it fun and exciting, it has several places where it makes you seem like you are in a real river where the water flows slow and sometimes fast with waves to carry you through. This became my favorite place for the rest of the vacation. Since I don’t know how to swim but still go into the pool, the rapid was kind of my type of pool. Anyway after enjoying the pool the first day, we came back and then ponder over where to get our dinner. Since we had not had our lunch and breakfast was not too much, we wanted to get a hearty meal. We tried to eat at a buffet place but decided against it since it was way too expensive. We decided to take a less costly way to eat at another restaurant which was inside the hotel near a huge Aquarium. After eating dinner, we needed some snacks and went to a store in the hotel (again) called sundry with way outrageous prices (which is an understatement of sorts). But we had to get something in order not to starve and then went to our room to sleep about 10.00.
This year we decided to take a plunge to the Caribbean island nation of Bahamas. After all the packing and reaching at the airport on time, once we were in the plane, the plane was delayed for an hour but the pilot was gracious and humorous enough to keep us updated about when the flight will leave. After about an hour on the tarmac, the plane decided to depart and we reached Bahamas after two and a half hours of flying time. After a smooth immigration and checkout, we were blasted with a hot wind of the Caribbean. Our Hotel bus came in time and we boarded the bus. We went through small roads and saw Atlantic Ocean only a few feet away from us with clear blue water. There were luxury stores along with local stores. Our guide told us that it will talk at least half an hour to reach our hotel. Our guide showed us an under construction luxury hotel to be completed in 2014 at a cost of more than a billion dollars, since I believe tourism is the biggest industry of Bahamas. The entrance to the hotel was grand as the ceilings were very high and it was a huge one. The hotel named after the mythical country of Atlantis was grand on every scale. It is situated on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. The Hotel has several towers and ours was called Royal Towers with two wings, the East and the West wing, Our room was on the West Wing After the usual check in, we went to our room. The room was nice sized room with windows towards the rapids and the Atlantic ocean and the bathroom was good size with a disadvantage that the flush was adjacent to the rest of the bathroom (hate that) but no complains since we got the room at lower price because we went during off season. We started to change in order to go to the pool since we reached the hotel at 3.00 and the pools were supposed to close at 7.00 so we did not wanted to waste that time sitting in our rooms.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Sometimes it is nice to watch foreign movies since they don’t have strict censorship codes and just to see what is going on in other countries cinema. This is one of them (already a remake is reportedly in progress in Hollywood). It is about a top recruiter who in order to maintain his lifestyle steals high end art at night. One day his wife introduces him to a person who has supposedly in possession of him a very rare painting and in order to retrieve it, our hero gets in a lot more trouble than he has hoped for. Gory and Violent at times but excellently made and interesting story. Recommended
Those loveable zoo animals are back in this European Adventure movie trying to return to New York and encountering a fanatic animal rescuer bent on killing the animals before they reach New York. Great Animation movie and very funny. Highly Recommended for all ages
French Silent Movie directed in style and in B & W about a top silent era Actor who refuses to make talkie movies and ends up doing it anyway after being on the edge of this life. Excellent acting and superb Hollywood atmosphere of the late 1920s. Winner of the Best Oscar ® award for best picture. Highly Recommended
Extremely Brutal and violent cannibalistic French movie (subtitled) about a group of thieves running from Police take refuge in an Inn unknowing to them run by a murderous clan of Neo Nazis. If you are easily squeamish, stay away from this one, other one Recommended for horror fans everywhere.
Those prehistoric animals are back in their newest adventure facing the changing world around them and fighting pirates. Great Animation and highly enjoyable. Highly recommended for everybody. A must see
A person desperate to get out of debt to mobsters hires a hit man to kill his mother for her insurance but things go wrong for him. I don’t know why it was rated NC-17 but violence is minimal as compared to horror movies of lesser rating. A curious movie to watch just for the rating and all the fuss it created. Otherwise Not Recommended
On the lighter side-Movies-Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)-Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson Jessica Alba
Fantastic action movie about a team of super heroes who fight to save the Earth from invading Aliens. Great Special effects and action sequences makes this one a must see. Highly Recommended
A new twist on the vampire theme movies as Abraham Lincoln, Our Civil War President becomes a Vampire Hunter killing Vampires while pursuing his political Career. Good special effects and a different kind of horror movie. Recommended
Sequel to the fourth installment of the cannibalistic clan of killers in this direct to DVD released with bloody special effect but adding little to the story line. Just an excuse to present gratuitous violence since this is the unrated version I am talking about. Avoid it. Not Recommended
Funny Martial arts mayhem from Hong Kong at its best about a small time crook who is taught by a master to mends his ways and in the process you see martial arts stunts involving daily use items. Recommended and Dubbed in English
Supposedly based on fact about a relatively unknown congressman who single handedly turn the events of the war in Afghanistan and drove the soviets out by providing weapons to the Mujahedeen (holy warriors). Tom Hanks is as usually fascinating and fun to watch and good story keeps you interested all the way to the end. Recommended
Action about two ex-black ops members who are tasked to protect two mysterious prisoners in a soon to be closed prison and run into terrorists’ hell bent on taking the prisoners away from them. Routine action sequences with Seagal showing visible sign of aging. Recommended only for fans, all others don’t waste your time on this one.
Comedy about two CIA spies who vie for the attention of a girl and in process almost destroy their friendship. Good chemistry among the characters. Recommended
Brutally violent French horror movie about a grieving Pregnant mother whose unborn child a mysterious woman wants and will do anything to get it. Very violent and sometimes repulsive but horror fans would like it. Recommended only for Horror movies, all other easily squeamish should stay away.
Cute movie about an executive who when learns that she is being deported to Canada after her visa expires forces her assistant to marry her for the green card and in turn they come closer and fall in love. With Betty White as the assistant grandma in a funny role. Must see movie. Highly Recommended