Friday, February 18, 2011

Off To San Francisco: A Foggy City By The Bay

Today, San Francisco is a popular international tourist destination, renowned for its chilly summer fog, steep rolling hills, eclectic mix of Victorian and modern architecture and its famous landmarks, including the Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, and Chinatown. The city is also a principal banking and finance center, and the home to more than 30 international financial institutions, helping to make San Francisco eighteenth place in the world's top producing cities, ninth in the United States, and fifteenth place in the top twenty Global Financial Centers.

San Francisco is famous for its hills. There are more than 50 hills within city limits. Some neighborhoods are named after the hill on which they are situated, including Nob Hill, Pacific Heights, and Russian Hill. San Francisco is considered the second hilliest city in the world, next to La Paz, Bolivia.
Tourism is the backbone of the San Francisco economy. Its frequent portrayal in music, film, and popular culture has made the city and its landmarks recognizable worldwide. It is the city where Tony Bennett "left his heart."
Many tourists are fooled by the claim that it is always pleasant in San Francisco, for when they come here they realize it is very cold, and immediately fall into the trap of the jacket/ sweater/ coat shops that mainly thrive on such tourist's ignorance. So it always makes sense to travel with a good jacket with a hood/ light sweater or coat.
Looking for the best hotel deals in the Internet would give you some very good hotels in the most central area from where you can just walk to many places of interest or use the public transportation for the city is small and all tourists sites are close together. Like I have said before it helps to plan your trip at least 3 months in advance so that you can really get good affordable deals especially when you are travelling by yourself and not through some conducted tours. Believe me, by planning your own trip, you not only save a lot of money, but also end up seeing a lot more, when you are on your own, and at your own pace.

 Like many other cities, San Francisco is best visited on foot for this is the only way you'll truly get to appreciate its beautiful architecture.  It is an amazing place to walk around, we walked everywhere! No two streets are the same and that is the beauty.  We never felt uncomfortable or unsafe walking around. This way you also get an idea where you can find good food to eat. The weather too was really good, we were there in September last year.

Please avoid eating in any of the seedy restaurants at the Fisherman's Wharf. Also to get the true feel of the iconic landmark the Golden Bridge, stroll the sidewalk, even if you only go out a little way, and also make it a point to see it during  the night too.

Ferry Building Marketplace is a people's marketplace serving residents and travelers alike.

Located within the historic Ferry Building at the foot of the Market Street, shops large and small celebrate food in all its forms, offering everything from artisan cheeses to the freshest of local fish.
Restaurants and cafes serve cuisine representing the quality and cultural diversity of San Francisco's best chefs.

The Ferry Building Marketplace is located along the Embarcadero at the foot of the Market Street. It is the center of a transit hub that connects all of SF's neighborhoods and the surrounding bay communities. The market place is accessible by MUNI, BART, and Ferry Boat.
Inside the cable car
Off we go to see the Golden Gate Bridge     
One of the best ways to see San Francisco is from the waters of San Francisco Bay. There are many companies offering harbor tours of varying durations and prices they and all provide marvelous views of the bay, the bridges, the island of Alcatraz and the city.  A typical harbor tour will circle the island at a slow crawl, giving you plenty of opportunity to photograph the now-inactive prison from the water.
The view is simply superb

The Golden Gate Bridge: When the Golden Gate Bridge was first built in 1937 it was the longest suspension bridge ever built in the world. It is currently the second longest suspension bridge in the United States and the ninth longest in the world. Even though it’s not the longest anymore, it’s still the most beautiful!
The bridge was built because it was necessary to create a transportation link between the North Bay and the city. At the time, the only way to get between the two areas was by ferry. Although it’s still possible to ferry between the areas today, most people find it more practical to travel across the bridge. Before the bridge was built, San Francisco’s national growth rate was smaller than average because it was just too inconvenient to get in and out of the city. The bridge succeeded in helping to grow the city. It also became a symbol that defines the city.
The Golden Gate Bridge design echoes an Art Deco Theme. Wide, vertical ribbing on the horizontal tower bracing accents the sun's light on the bridge.
Irving Morrow- an architect hired by Strauss to design a architectural treatment for the bridge- chose the 'international orange' paint color to blend with the setting while still being visible to ships.
At the completion of his mighty bridge, Joseph Strauss, penned an impressive ode which he entitled " The Mighty Task Is Done";  it epitomizes his personal travail in building the bridge.
These lines gives evidence of the dedication of the man who brought the bridge from his brain, heart as well as his drawing board:

At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun;
The Bridge looms mountain high

On its broad decks in rightful pride,
The world in swift parade shall ride
Throughout all time to be.

Launched midst a thousand hopes and fears,
Damned by a thousand hostile sneers.
Yet ne'er its course was stayed.
But ask of those who met the foe,
Who stood alone when faith was low,
Ask them the price they paid.
High overhead its light shall gleam,
Far, far below life's restless stream,
Unceasingly shall flow.....

As the bridge was ready to open, his hands trembling, Strauss spoke in a low voice: "This bridge needs neither praise, eulogy nor encomium. It speaks for itself. We who have labored long are grateful. What Nature rent asunder long ago, man has joined today . . . ."
When you are travelling towards the the Bridge it is too windy, and very cold but once you return back it becomes absolutely still and more pleasant. Even on a sunny day the bay can be chilly, so be sure to bring a sweater as well as sun screen and also Sun glass.
One cannot help taking pictures of the beautiful scenery. 

Passing below the Golden Gate Bridge

Foggy SF

Alcatraz : it was not conceived as a facility for rehabilitation. It was a place for total punishment and minimum privilege. And those who survived it often did so at the cost of their sanity.... and some believe their souls.
There is lot more to see like the Golden Gate Bridge during the night, the China Town, the Union Square and many more, which I would definitely share with everyone in my next blog. 
Tell me was the trip interesting enough?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day

I love you
Blah, blah, blah,
Hearts and flowers
Yadda yadda yadda
cupid, etc.

For us it is just like any other day. I get to see some good romantic movies on the TV, and see some young people walking holding hands, as if this is their last chance to declare their love for each other.
Everywhere you are forced to see advertisements urging people to buy diamonds, for their loved ones.

There was a very funny ad. where a young man was worried as to what he should buy for his beloved for the Valentine's day, saying should he buy her a phool (flower) for which his friend says in which era is he-- in Mugulai-azam's era or what, for he would be a fool to present a phool (flower) in the present era. He should buy her diamond ring which is available on sale....

For us this funny quote is more apt:

We sleep in separate rooms, we have dinner apart, we take separate vacations. We're doing everything we can to keep our marriage together. Rodney Dangerfield.
What do you say?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Mere Mehboob Tujhe......

Mere Mehboob is a 1963 Indian film directed by Harnam Singh Rawail and starring Rajendra KumarSadhanaAshok KumarNimmiPran,Johnny Walker and Ameeta. The film became a "blockbuster" and took the number one position at the box office in 1963.[1] The movie drew a background from Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh and traditional Lucknow. The famous song "Mere Mehboob Tujhe Mere" was shot in the University Hall and in a couple of places one gets to see the university. The opening scene of the movie shows the famous residential hall and the associated clock tower 'Victoria Gate'.

I love this song, and I love the location, for I studied for sometime at Aligarh Muslim University. Both the actors had acted so well in this movie, They were the best romantic pair at that time. Though the movie was released in 1963, I got to see it only somewhere around 1977/ 78 in Calcutta. The song literally drips with love. And Sadhana, the heroine looked so beautiful, her eyes so expressive.
After its success many movies were made with similar background, but nothing could stand up to this movie.


After bumping into a college girl one day, a young man suddenly finds himself falling hopelessly in love with her. The only problem is that, clad as she is in a traditional burkha, he as only seen her hands. The remaining part explains how he finds her. Over-discreet questioning and misunderstandings lead to a series of mistaken identities and misdirected romances.


The soundtrack for the movie was composed  by Naushad and lyrics penned by Shakeel Badayuni. The soundtrack consists of 9 songs, featuring vocals by Mohammed RafiLata Mangeshkar andAsha Bhonsle. The song Mere Mehboob Tujhe became very much popular upon release. The song was composed on raga Jhinjhoti.

( Source from Wikepedia)

Enjoy this lovely song.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ann Arbor Michigan

From New York we left for Detroit, and from there to the University town Ann Arbor. This is where our son has been living for the last 3 years, having completed his MS in Automobile Engineering, working and pursuing his PhD.
We were there for about 2 days, and we all left together for San Francisco, from where our journey was to begin in a rented car.
Ann Arbor is a quiet place, there is nothing much to write about it . You would find a lot of young people everywhere, for it is a University town. It is quite pretty with beautiful landscaping, lakes and malls, restaurants and theaters, Indian shops, hospital etc, 

The University of Michigan boasts one of the best college towns in the country: Ann Arbor, only 45 minutes from the city of Detroit. Freshmen are guaranteed housing but are not required to live on campus.
Our son lives in an apartment sharing it with one of his class mate. These buildings are mostly occupied by foreign students mostly from India, China and  Korea. All these apartment buildings face a beautiful lake and the landscaping around is very beautiful. 
Ann Arbor has a lot of parks, where one can find students jogging, running, cycling or just doing nothing.

Some facts about University of Michigan as found in the Internet:
Michigan’s graduate programs include the highly ranked Stephen M. Ross School of Business,School of EducationCollege of EngineeringLaw SchoolMedical SchoolGerald R. Ford School of Public PolicySchool of Public Health, and School of Nursing in addition to the well-regarded School of Dentistry and Taubman College for Architecture and Urban Planning. The University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers is ranked among the top hospitals in the country. Former U.S. President Gerald Ford, actress Lucy Liu of the Charlie’s Angels and Kill Bill film series, and NFL quarterback Tom Brady all graduated from Michigan.
Picture of Janardhan  during a presentation.

The mission of the University of Michigan is to serve the people of Michigan and the world through pre-eminence in creating, communicating, preserving and applying knowledge, art, and academic values, and in developing leaders and citizens who will challenge the present and enrich the future. Students have the opportunity to work with world-renown faculty. There are literally hundreds of clubs, groups, and organizations covering a variety of social, cultural, and  academic interests. The University abuts the city of Ann Arbor, which has its own thriving social and cultural identity. There is literally something for everyone here.

Since Michigan students are generally considered well rounded academically and socially, many companies are eager to hire Michigan graduates. It is not too big, its not too small. Its a perfect fit size wise.   Once you're a Michigan student, You'll always be a Michigan student. There's an intangible element of Pride that becomes part of you and can never be removed. The place kind of grows on you, and you become so comfortable, that living somewhere else becomes too difficult.
Our son likes this place very much, he has free access to do a lot of research in his chosen field, and is confident he would get a good job. He had worked hard to get into this University, for it is supposed to be the best for Automobile Engineering. From a very young age he was only interested in automobiles, and his intention of joining this University, finally got fulfilled.
He has decided that he would be settled there only forever. The opportunities that are there for him to pursue in his field cannot be found in India. Maybe if the situation in this field in India changes, he would definitely come here. I wish he had chosen some other field to pursue, that way he could always think of coming back to India at the right time.
So, although he might be satisfied with the right kind of job, I feel sad that he has chosen to live there, for after sometime he would want to come back to India, and like many others he would never be able to come. I know how lonely life can become after sometime, for no country can be as vibrant and so full of life, ever changing like India.
But  I guess to get some thing you have to give up something. As long as one is happy doing what one likes there should be no problem.
There is the Henry Ford Museum to see, and they organize a lot of automobile exhibitions, and there a few  other interesting places to see if one has the time. Every place in Ann Arbor can be reached in just 10 mins, it is a nice peaceful town.
May be during our next visit we would be able to explore a little more.