Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chicago in Summer

Every summer we keep discovering more and more Chicago. This city sort of grows on you. Baring those severe winter days, Chicago has a great lot to offer.

Some studies suggest that Chicago is second most popular tourist destination after Orlando, Florida. Wonder why?

1] This remains one of my favorite snaps. It's taken from inside the Shed Aquarium in downtown. The Aquarium's pond camouflages with the Lake Michigan on the East.

2] People of different ages descend upon Lake Michigan in the summers each year just to enjoy a relaxing moment. And the lake does not disappoint any.

3] I find Chicago's downtown more diverse in look and feel than New York's Manhattan. Call it a prejudiced mind set but i think Chicago's downtown Rocks !!!

4] This is taken at Botanical Garden of Chicago. It's just 10 miles from our house. We discovered this only recently. And thank God we did.

5] Ah, the pleasures of a quiet moment.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Impressions [Unites States]

I have lived in a few cities in USA and have come to a point where i can form an informed Impression about this country. There are a whole lot of things i like and also a few things i dislike about USA.

I'll start with the peeves.

I actually dislike the public toilet system here [the Restrooms]. Specially the WCs; they are too *open* for my liking. The top 1/4th and the botttom 1/4th portion of the WC walls are open and i still don't know why? OK; may be to provide necessary air circulation but still, why should we be subjected to some third person's personal "aroma" if you know what i mean ! Even my office toilet has the same system. And that sucks! What more? You can see the shoes of the person sitting in the adjoining cubicle and pretty much figure out your neighbour from the work place. That ain't good, i am telling ya...

There's one other thing i dislike about USA. The style of greeting when you see a person. I mean whats "How are you doing?" each time you bump into someone. Why not plain simple "Hello" or "Hi". Why does it have to be a question?
In my initial years in USA i used to wait for the person to listen to my reply, like "I am doing pretty good" etc. But i realised that the person who initiated this How-are-u-doing-thing was not interested in my reply at all. I realised it's equivalence to "Hi" or "Hello" much later.

What else? Yes, I hate winters in USA. They are too freaking long. I mean the places i have stayed in, East and Mid-west, all freaking cold. The elongated spell of winters have impact on me and not in a very good way. I wish they were shorter. You like snow fall to a point. Not every few days. I have always fancied moving to the west coast or to the south where winter is milder. But it never worked out.

Coming to the good things now. The first and without doubt the best thing about this country - Respect for Labour. Dignity of labour. This should rank above any other thing. Be it the Cab driver, the Bus driver, the ticket checker on my suburban train, the dunkin donut sales guy, the mechanic etc etc etc. I just have to talk to him or her with respect. No two ways about it. When we deal with blue collared person we are ALWAYS dealing MAN to MAN. No class difference. And ironically this is a communism hater and a capitalist nation. [Mr. Prakash Karat, are you listening?]
I haven't visited China or any other famous socialist leaning nations for that matter. But i can tell that you won't have the same dignity of working class anywhere. Definitely not in India which makes tall claims of Socialism and where one state has been ruled for 30 years by a communist regime. That's irony for you.

The amazing road network of USA should rank second in my list. People who talk of man made wonders of the world should justify not calling this a Wonder. I can just take my car and go anywhere in the country and there's no way i can be lost. The reason, the absolute standardised system of "Exits", "Ramps", Express way, State highways etc.
What an amazing design. The sheer size of the entire road network boggles me. One can argue that countries in Europe too has a great road network. But what's the size of the country are we talking of? A size of the nation as big as USA requires a different level of system design. I feel like saluting the people behind this mammoth undertaking. Including the political class who ventured into this. In my opinion, road network of USA is the life line of US's economy.

The rule of Law: In spite of random news of "racism" against blacks etc, I think this is a very fair nation. And law always takes its course without considering race, color, religion etc. Cannot imagine a white zillionaire like Martha Stewart having to go to jail in any other nation. Law is respected. Law is implemented. Law is debated openly and Law IS taken seriously.

Freedom to rebel: I can go in front of White house and shout all i want against the President of the nation. And i will still be protected by the Law. The First amendment is a serious stuff and the people of this country are very aware of this right given by the constitution. The Freedom to speak. It's there in other nations too. But i doubt if i can go in front of Sonia Gandhi's house and shout at her. I will either be lynched by the crowd or put to jail and be called crazy.

Multiculturalism : In my current company, our CEO is an Iran born Canadian, my VP is a hard core American, my Director is a Chinese and my colleague is a Russian. This is as diverse as it gets. And yet when it comes to work we are all equally anxious about our next build and share the great pleasure of success post launch over a bottle of beer. It's a small company of only 750 people yet i cannot think of any other work place so diverse in terms of different nationalities.

I am not sure what turn life will take in coming years. I may not stay in the country for ever after all. India will always beacon. I would definitely like to stay in a few other countries, specially in Europe. But having stayed here, i can tell for sure that America will always be a benchmark to compare with for me. I would sub-consciously be looking at similarities and dis-similarities anywhere i go.