Monday, August 07, 2006

Of This and That

Every so often I have to leave the country to stay in the country. Basically I need to leave the US to submit my credentials to a consulate outside the US that I have some business staying here since I am a citizen of India and am here on a work permit. Now, I cannot wait till my later trip in India because the law says I need to have a valid passport/visa/work permit .Anyways to spare the torture I needed to go to a Canadian Consulate to get a visitor visa so that I can go to Canada and get my US visa stamp refreshed. This gave me an opportunity to leave the country for a couple of days.

I chose Vancouver, British Columbia for this purpose.You see the airport is nestled between coastal mountain ranges on one side and water on three sides. It was a spectacular sunset landing. I have always liked cities with a distinct character. If Jane Jacobs saw this city I was sure that she would have included a study in her book. Everytime I enter Canada, I can sense the european cultural values that these people kind of carry. At Midnight, I was hungry and found a falafel place that served warm samosas, falafel and a shawarma. It was run by a lebanese woman who told me that she reserves the worst for some folks in the world.

The next day as usual, the folks at the consulate were rude and kind of inorganic in the whole setting. Apart from that minor episode, I roamed about to see what else was in the offing. First off, I found this beautifully architected building which happened to be a public library where I devoured what I could find for the rest of the day stepping out only for food. Later in the evening I found another nice post office building sandwiched between theaters. Added a couple of stamps to my collection after a gap of 14 years. Theaters were sadly empty as no shows were scheduled.

I took the cheapest accomodation in the downtown which was kind of dingy and reminded me of Wilde's quote

"Either that wallpaper goes, or I do."

I checked out the history and not surprisingly it was erected in 1910. While it had history behind it my mind was reeling under a movie I watched earlier called "Far Side of the Moon". The story was so tragico-comic that I had to wake up every hour or so before my appointment. So much for a smooth segue into sleep at a different place.

The next morning I checked out a local bookshop and I tell you if you are in Vancouver next time and you like reading its an absolute must that you visit this book store called "MacLeods" which is at the interesection of Richards and W Pender St. These guys practically have first editions of every famous books plus some archaic collections of works on a subject of your choice.

One easy way to size up a book store is to ask how many books they carry under the category of "Mathematical Fiction" (you know the ones like FlatLand and AFAIK the total number of books in the category is around 24) . To my surprise the host took the keys and showed me a way to another branch which is by appointment only (for serious researchers and the kind) and Bingo! I have added a new book called "The Thread" to my existing collection. It was so much fun to be at that place scented with the aroma that uniquely belongs to old books under humid conditions. Later in the evening I walked by the old gastown and tried to decipher the workings of the world's first steam powered clock(Obviously I failed).

There's a bunch of places I could have been but its terribly lonely to tour on those tour buses or simply do the touristy thing unless you have someone to talk to and enjoy with. So that might be one reason why I avoided the parks, suspension bridges and the likes. I regretted advancing my reservation to one day earlier without staying for the weekend. Oh Well!

Back Home, the pleasant thing was to be surprised when a customer sends you a thank you gift. Despite the accolades one might earn internally, an unplanned surprise move by someone shows something else. I remember when I was at grad school helping out a middle aged woman in the lab and the next day she made an apple pie and got it to the lab as a token of appreciation. I tell you these interesting gestures have a very positive reinforcement in me :)


OrthoDoc said...

Off topic.

You have been tagged at:

Paddy said...

Thanks for letting me know. I shall get back to that shortly :)


Anonymous said...

well it was nice to read the stuff...and also an explanation of where in the world u wanished for sometime.

I was also roaming across HyderaBAD for some reason.
It was raining heavily...
added to that were some crazy ass autodrivers who constantly kept my anger at the egde of obscene behaviour.Those loggerheads drove the puny autorickshaws as if they were trained on a F1 track...phew...
Sadly there were no taxis plying in HYD.Insane experince man.


Anonymous said...

Every mofo thinks they can write nowadays... it's actually funny as heck.