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Stopover at Seattle [May 18th – May 23rd]

After one packed month of daily meetings, vocational visits, evening outings and early mornings to catch-up with Kalingasoft –– I was eager to do nothing, meet no one, and just shut down and chill and with family, friends, and myself [without any suggestion of the order].

And I did just that - apart from a few hours in the morning with the customary Kalingasoft hooking in though mails/skype during the 3 weekdays – (out of the 5 days) at Seattle. Despite my best intentions to do some meaningful reading and writing, I did not touch any written matter to read, nor did I churn out any words to write. It was just downtime –which was fun. Downtime because I decided I will do nothing at all-perhaps I will at best have [others] get things done by me.

To start off with, it was a chance to let my hair down and catch up with Avj, one of my long lasted [almost quarter century!] friends, and dig into the tasty Sambar/Perugu/Idli/Chutney/Dosa et al (South Indian delicacies) which Mausi [Avj’s mom] loaded us [nah, me] with. It was fun savouring the same. As it so happened, Seattle turned out to be special for more than just the chill factor.

I also had an opportunity to spend a couple of fabulous evenings with Sahana, Manisha and Babloo (future brother-in-law and his family). Sahana is a great communicator for a 4-year-old, and has a fantastic positive energy about her. It was great fun hearing her stories in school, playing with her toys, and answering her questions [which were apparently innocuous – but I found myself stumped more often than not]. She is a marvelous kid and growing up really well. I had a very comfortable time with the threesome. Friday evening I had the opportunity to enjoy some amazing Seattle special sea-food. It was sweet of Avj join us for breakfast on Saturday – an elaborate fare set-up by Manisha/Babloo, who had to cut short their weekend nap. Though Babloo may protest, I would say that I thoroughly gorged myself. [Babloo: Almost all of my 2 kgs of weight gained during the USA trip can be attributed to the delicious food I had at Seattle / Bellvue ;)]

Thanks to Avj’s enterprise and adventurous spirit, we planned a road trip to Portland soon after breakfast at the Mishras’ [I had to sleep during the way or at home – was all the same for me ;)]. On our way, we stopped by for a life-time experience. We chanced to hop into a helicopter tour of Mt Helena, which had a massive volcanic eruption in the 1980’s. Going all up the way to the snow capped craters, surveying the vast area of destroyed vegetation, the changed topography/river movements of the place, the exemplary efforts by the USA government to restore vegetation by planting millions of trees in still arable parts of the mountains, clicking 100s of pictures during the 45 minute ride, making crazy small talk/bantering at that altitude was an experience worth treasuring.

The high point of Portland was the thrilling Multnomah falls and the trail. The falls are more than 600 ft high. These were by far the tallest falls I had ever seen, even dwarfing the Soshone Falls at Twin Falls in height. The sight was breathtaking – crystal clear water falling down the miles! of height is a sight to be seen. Equally enjoyable was the walk all the way up to the source of the water – almost a 2-3 mile trek. We also enjoyed the majestic view of the gorge of the Columbia river- both from up the heights of the fall and from the riverbed. The sight reminded me of the scenic beauty of Satakosia [14 miles – Sata/Seven, Kosa/2 miles] of Tikarpara where Mahandi rivers ambles through between two flanking mountain ranges. Columbia river is far wider than Mahanadi and carries lot more water – the mountains flanking the Columbia river are also far bigger/taller than the Eastern Ghats. In short – the spectacle was stupendous. Exhilarating is probably a better word.

Satisfied, we started our return journey by noon as we decided to skip rose garden and couple of other spots. We reached Seattle early enough to enjoy a couple of hours hanging out with Avj’s Odia friends – with signature Odia style ‘pakudi’ [essentially diced vegetables dipped in a ground chickpea batter and then deep- fried or rather, made to swim in boiling oil] and ‘khatti’[chit-chatting on each and every topic under the sun, with a humorous tinge that leads to impromptu guffaws every other minute]. We also sifted through the few hundred pics taken by Avj using his high-end Nikon SLR – that had enough ammunition to keep the khatti going.

My Seattle blog will be incomplete without mentioning Avj’s quizzing and his quiz mates. The true quizzer that he is, he has maintained his quizzing prowess in USA. He has always found a group to lock his wits with wherever he stayed. Now at Seattle we busies himself with quizzing every alternate Wednesday. I happened to join in one of those sessions, which was kind of a déjà vu for me – witnessing such enthusiastic quizzing after more than 20 years. An experience which tickled me a bit – I guess something worth rekindling, with the quality/tone of quizzing changing lot over the years, it can get really fun.

Thanks all for making Seattle stay really worthwhile.

June 6, 2011


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