Sunday, October 02, 2005

Dil mange more...

When the going gets tough, the tough takes a break! That’s exactly what I did when I traveled to west Coast for a second time. If the first visit had been to San Diego and Los Angeles, this time it was the famed Bay Area and Las Vegas. I set out on a cold Saturday morning to San Jose loaded with mighty expectations of the next three days.

After a three - hour flight over the desert of Arizona, I reached the land of Google, Yahoo and Stanford. San Jose seemed so very different from the hot and humid Texas, what with a fog engulfing the entire city in the morning. My first stop was the home of Deepti, one of my friends from TAPMI. She too works with Infy and is based out of San Jose. Sounds cliché, but inside most of the apartment communities in San Jose, one feels that you are in just another Bangalore apartment complex because almost everyone you meet would be Indians.

After having a cup of tea, we set out for the city of San Francisco without much delay. One of the disappointments of the trip was that I could not visit the Stanford campus because time was not in my favour. It would have been great to visit the institution that you have heard so much of :( Our first destination in SFO (as San Francisco is popularly known) was the one and only Golden Gate Bridge across strait that connects the Bay with Pacific Ocean. The topography of SFO is quite different in that the roads have steep ups and downs. After getting lost in the city for about an hour, we finally reached GG Bridge. It’s a truly amazing experiencing to drive through one of the most beautiful architectural marvels that man has ever created. And the view of the Bay from Vista Point is quite splendid to say the least.

A visit to SFO is incomplete without walking through the streets leading up to the Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39. There are regular boat rides to the Bay and the famed Alcatraz prison where the infamous gang leader Al Capone was put behind bars. San Francisco is a one of the most cosmopolitan cities of the world, not to mention its name as the ‘Gay capital of the world’, and one gets to see ample instances of these while walking on the roads. Our last stop at SFO was the Ghirardelli, the outlet of the chocolate manufacturer by the same name. It was founded more than 150 years ago, and is undoubtedly the best chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. I didn’t miss getting some for my family back in India:)

Now, let me come to part that I’m so thrilled to even write about. The foremost motive of this trip was to watch the rock concert of my all-time favourite hard rock bands Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. I’ve been a huge fan of Iron Maiden since my college days and it had been my ‘dream’ to watch them LIVE! Iron Maiden was touring the US as part of Ozzfest, the rock festival named after Ozzy Ozzborne, the legendary lead singer of Black Sabbath, the pioneers of the so called heavy metal genre. So, here I was, among a 50000 strong crowd at the Shoreline Amphitheater at San Jose, watching the Gods of metal play some of the greatest rock numbers!!! Boy, this certainly was one of the nights of my life, for sure! The atmosphere was just electric, and so much of stuff happening, including some that I cannot even venture to pen here:)

The next afternoon, I found myself flying to that little strip of wonderland named Las Vegas. I checked into a hotel and couldn’t wait for the dark to fall, because night is when life begins at Vegas. Las Vegas, is literally a desert which has been transformed into this magnificent piece of land on earth where people can offload all their worries in the world and enjoy life to its fullest, if only for a few days. The Casinos are simply spellbinding and the bright lights indeed elevate you to an altogether different level of euphoria. I walked up and down the ‘strip’ and ventured into most of the Casinos. My favourites were Paris, Caesar’s Palace, New York New York and of course the most popular of them all, the MGM Grand. The million streetlights at the Vegas downtown is also unique and not to be missed.
For me,this was one trip of a lifetime, for reasons more than one. Until next time, so long…