Community garage sale, raking up the 'ker', baking the cakes and exercise!

On Saturday, we enjoyed our first Hamilton on hunter garage sale. It was well advertised and many of our neighbors participated. We didn't want to gather junk, but ended up spending about 100 dollars or so on stuff that may be very useful. Biggest item was a Pro-Form recumbent bike (CrossTrainer 970) for $75. Not bad, considering new one costs $299+ and I really wanted one for my basement gym. We do have an elliptical machine, but I enjoy the stationary bike more, and it’s always good to have an option:-) We also bought a wok (#3), and badminton set ($1) and workout mat ($2) and other miscellaneous items for the household. Overall, the shopping and meeting the neighbors was exciting.

The grass in the backyard was hidden completely under the fall foliage. The trees had shed more than half of their leaves and we wanted to make sure that the newly seeded grass gets breathing room before the next batch of rains come in. So we decided to rake up the yard and collect the foliage and throw it away. Boy, we asked for a lot of trouble. With a borrowed big plastic rake from our neighbor, we took THREE hours as a team (Manjiri and I) to pick up all the leaves. We were exhausted when it was all said and done. But it gave us a good workout and we achieved our purpose. We also had some moments of fun along the way. For example, we ended up making the angel in the pile of fall foliage, like they make a snow angel in the snow. We called it our Fall Angel:-)

The afternoon made us hungry and we baked (pre-packaged lasagna for early dinner while watching the Green Bay Packers versus Atlanta Falcons football game on TV. I love watching Brett Favre (pronounced as faa-r-v), I think he is one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history (as much as I know of it anyway). Someday I hope to see him in person. If you know his personal background, and how many adversities he has tackled in life and still eh manages to be on top his game, you will have the respect for him like I do. Click here is some information about him...

After dinner we baked more stuff. Appears our oven was warm and wanted to keep herself warm even longer. Manjiri did most of the work and I helped out as much as I can (which means staying out of the kitchen when I am a disturbance, by the way :-) ). First it was the pumpkin pies using the recipe on the can of pumpkin itself. And then it was the Banana Nut Bread for which Manjiri found a recipe online. Both were done almost at the same time and came out wonderfully. Someday when the web allows for smells and tastes to be uploaded like pictures, I will surely post it here:-) On Monday, both of us took some of each of our bakes to share with our colleagues at work and they enjoyed it as well.

As of Monday, I have also started working out. I have a strength training routine charted out. The plan was designed with the help of a personal trainer back in 2001 when I was single, and getting in shape for my wedding. It worked wonders back then. It calls for Mon-Tue-Thu-Fri workouts, alternating Upper and Lower body muscles groups. It involves weights and machines as well as free form exercises. The plan also calls for Cardio/Aerobic exercise to complement the strength training. I had enjoyed it back in 2001 and had gotten the results that I wanted (from chubby to lean; BMI went 27 to 23) but my body has changed quite a bit since then. So I have to start slowly and get to that level again. But I am extremely motivated right now and hope to continue on this path. Luckily, I have a buddy now (Andrew, one of my colleagues at work), a gym access (at work, with shower etc for free) and a company sponsored health survival training and monitoring program to support me in my efforts. I can't complain:-) If you want to see my workout details, I have it all stored in an excel spreadsheet, which I can send it by email; Just let me know.

Airshow, Halloween, Diwali and Pooja

Last weekend, we witnessed Blue Angels and many other fighter jets do acrobatic stunts right in front of us. We went to the Chattanooga Airshow at the airport. Since I work at the airport hangar, we had a close up view. Seeing these pilots do the stunts in the air just makes you go "Wow!". Amazing skill. the temperature that day was 50-60 (very nice to be outdoors in the sun). And we had a potluck! I made pulao and several others cooked delicious means. With a barbecue grill, meat was not problem for most colleagues. For veggies, I had cooked pulao and brought in Boca burgers. It was a great get together.

On Monday night, it was Halloween. We both dressed up for the occasion. Manjiri had pumpkin colors on and I was the Mod Squad Eric with afro hair. Lots of kids came to our home for trick-or-treat and we gave them candy. While I was waiting at my door for next set of kids to come, I was somehow reminded of dasara (dussehara) because on that day in Mumbai, we exchange leaves of the tree of aapaTaa (सोनं) as precious gifts, and seek blessings from everyone in the neighborhood and family. As trick-or-treaters came and said happy Halloween, i was happy to give them candy and blessings, just as my neighbors used to do when I went sona-exchange in my days as kid in Mumbai.

Speaking of Halloween, more celebration is on the horizon. Better go and clean the house:-) What a coincidence that Halloween, Diwali and Id-ul-Fitr all fall on consecutive days this year.

On Tuesday, we celebrated Diwali, the festival of lights. I was not sure if anybody would be interested in celebreating on a weekday and made a comment to Manjiri, " gee, I wish we had friends with whom we can celebrate diwali with 'pharaaL' and 'phaTaake'". And surely enough, Manjiri got on the phone and called everyone for a Tuesday night rendezvous. Many declined due to their own pooja at home or something else, but with a two or three families that did show up, we enjoyed spectacular fireworks and delicious food:-) Archana's kesari (similar to shira), Manjiri's dal and kheer, Shikah's baingan (bharalee waangee) and Shalmali's chicken kheemaa (I know some say no non-veg on diwali day, but it was really good:-) ) all these dishes were really good.

With Vikram's help, I bought and lit up some special fireworks. paaus (fountain), naag (snake), chakra (spinners), rockets, colorful artilleries, all of these were not-so-noisy ones. We still have some more left, we will enjoy them later sometime.

Announcing the arrival of our new cat, Pooja. She will accompany Raja from now on. We adopted her recently from her previous parents who works with me. Pooja is a 6 month old "calico" kitten, meaning she shows three colors, all mixed up on her body. He mom was light brown, and dad was black, and she has some white interspersed. She is hyper active, just like any kitten and Raja has taken a liking to her. They seem to play all night (we are awakened several times by their noises) and have share everything (except food) graciously. Raaja and Pooja, what a pair. While both are friendly cats, Raaja usually stays away from you but Pooja is ever so curious and the word fear doesn't exist in her dictionary yet. She loves being played with and petted. Both of them play with their toys whenever we are home to play with them. I have already captured some of her heroics on tape, soon you will see them on America’s funniest videos:-)

Report on my Fall Colors Hike Oct 22-23, 2005

The Fall color Hike drive went very well...the temperature actually got down to 60s, but the colors were nice up on the mountain tops of Cherohala Skyway. I would highly recommend this drive to everyone. Let me know if you need any pointers on how to get there.

Actually, those of you that were thinking of going this coming weekend, you may be in luck. The colors were not completely peaked out there yet, so you may still see come colors, specially because of the big chill we are having right now.

Here's one picture on top of the Cherohala Skyway. For more pictures I took on Saturday, please visit my Yahoo Photos folder:
Folder Name "2005 OCT Cherohala Skyway Fall Colors"

or just click here to start viewing them..

Aditya Kalyanpur at home

Aditya Kalyanpur

We were fortunate to have this great artist visit us last weekend, thanks to Ajit Damle. He has played Tabla for many a renowned artists. He was trained by Ustad Allarakha and Ustad Zakir Hussain since his childhood. He lives in Boston from April-October and in Mumbai from November-March. He was visiting Nashville for a concert performance when he heard Ajit Damle was cominn to visit me. Aditya and Ajit have been talking on the phone about meeting, and our house was the lucku location!!

The weekend was full of musical discussions, raag-daarii, etc. Ajit played some santur, but Aditya wanted break from Tabla for a few days so he did not bring his tabla at all. But it was a scintillating conversation. We also did some sighseeing within and around Chattanooga. IMAX movie on Sharks, Tennessee Aquarium, Incline Rrailway of Lookout Mountain, Greek Restaurant (Acropolis) etc etc. Today Ajit and Aditya are still resting at home. Later Ajit will proceed to Gatlinburg and Smoky Moutains and Aditya will go back to Nashville to his hosts there and fly back to Boston tomorrow.

Fall Colors Hike Oct 22-23, 2005

Its that time of the year again - time to see the annual Fall colors. The changing colors of the leaves are just amazing and those of you who like to be outdoors during this time, I know your feet are itching to go out.

Manjiri and I are not very different, so we have decided to go hiking on Saturday Oct 22nd (subject to change) and the location I have picked this time around is the Cherohala Skyway which spans about 36 miles across the Tennessee-North Carolina border just south of Smoky Mountains (see map attached). Here's some information I found about it at

The Cherohala Skyway is 21 miles long on the Tennessee side. It follows the Tellico River (elevation about 900 feet) for a few miles before beginning its climb to the state line at over 4,000 feet.

The Cherohala Skyway is only 15 miles long in North Carolina but the road reaches its highest point at the Santeetlah Overlook. The elevation change is much more pronounced rising from 2,660 feet to 5,390 feet in just over 10 miles.

Most likely, it will be a drive-through, with a possibility of picnics and short hikes. We may go in the morning and come back that same evening, carry our own lunch, so that we don't get stuck in crowded restaurants. This is a very popular place and Fall colors are at their peak around that time.

For general information about fall colors, see the following:

Please let me know if you can join us, so we can decide on carpooling arrangements and arrange for food supplies for picnic etc.


I have become very introspective these days. I have become focussed on setting goals and setting projects to accomplish. The common goal among all projects is to achieve a level of excellence in my effort. I will do my best, no slack.

For example, home improvement. Last week, with guidance my friend Vikram, and of course with the help of Manjiri, I worked to better my lawn. After mowing it, I spread pelletized lime followed by a started fertilizer all over my yard. This is to balance the pH and help the soil become rich in nutrients. Thsi was done on Thursday and Friday evenings. Then on Sudnay morning I sprayed the weed killer all over the lawsn in an effort to get rid of the crab grass that's takign the resources away from the beautiful lawn we already have. This all took a lot of effort, in an area that I am NOT really interested in. But I was repeatedly assured by Vikram, from his pesonal experience, that the results will be spectacular. Specially once we aerate the lawn in mid-October, next spring the lawns will look "sexy" he says:-) We will see. as for me, I am giving it a try to make my house look better. I am NO expert in lawns, but I will do some basic gardening.

Speaking of gardening, the summer proliferation of tomatoes and jalapenos was fabulous in our little vegetable garden. Tomatoes were plentiful rightaway in June-July-August but the plant has now started waning. The Jalapeno plants took a while to spring up, but since July-august, they have been producing the most delicious mirchi. ITs still going, and we love it.

Last Saturday we also worked on our deck in the back yard. The "color" or "stain" on it was just painfully dark and the wood seems to be chipping due to moisture that may have seeped inside the wood over the years. I think the previous owners never waterproofed the deck. So we decided to take up the project. First we put down a chemical "stain-stripper" which was very slippery and quite caustic, I may say. After 45 minutes of its 'action', we started washing it off with a pressure washer, which we bought recently. The process was slow, and the stain/color was too deep, but after a good 4-5 hours (which went into the night hours), we seem to have stripepd a good layer of it. we can now see the grain on the udnerlying wood which looks much better. We will have to do a second round "striping" to get the wood back to natural color and then apply a colorless stain to waterproof it. That's a project for next weekend.

Much more to write on excellence. But I will wait here and continue later.

Contests Week

These days I am involved in several areas of life where there's a need to compete.

I participated in my Toastmasters Club Humorous Speech and Evaluation Contest. I spoke about "Indians in America" trying to poke fun at myself. Out accents, unique use of language, culture and Indianness. People liked it, but there were two other speeches that were much funnier than mine. But I did win the Evaluation contest by default because no one else participated. I gave a critical feedback to a guest speaker and qualified to represent my club in the area level contest on Saturday Sept 24th. That should be fun.

More info:

I have been playing table tennis consistently for last 6-8 months. Joined Chattanooga Table Tennis Club and we practice twice a week. To get better, I participated in tournaments where people from other clubs and all walks of life come togehter to show off their TT talent. In June, it was in Chattanooga and I got my first USATT ranking of 1274 then. That's about average, but i knew I can do better. last weekend, Sept 17-18, I went to Murfreesboro, TN (a suburb of Nashville) to play in an international tournament. That was some experience. I didn't win many games, but I witnessed some of the world's best players take part in the championship. Learnt a lot of tricks and tips. I still continue to play and improve.

More info:
USA Table Tennis
Chattanooga Table Tennis Club:

I have also started playing cricket (tennis ball) with friends here, not very consistently. There was a chance to play in a tournament in Atlanta, but I am already tied up with so many things, that I have to skip the tournament for now.

But this competition spirit is very good. It brings out the best in me and also keeps me fit, mentally as well as physically:-)

Ganesh Chaturti was fun. more on that later.
Check out my recent photos

Going to BMM marathi convention

We are going to attned the BMM Convention in Atlanta for the 3 day weekend coming up (2-3-4 July 2005)

wedding in latur

on the night on 31st, Amar (my cousin in law) and myself boarded the Latur express train from Mumbai to latur via jalna. We travelled in the a/c sleeper coach, and this is one of the most comfortable ways to travel in india. I always wanted to travel by train this trip, and this was my opportunity. We met my Kaka (mom's sister's husband) at Jalna, and we had a good time all the way to Latur. we were met my relatives at the train station, and i felt very important!! My three brother in laws came to visit get me!! That was an honor.

We arrived at the home at about 300pm and food was waiting for us. we were instructed to sit and have lunch with everyone and then we had a good time catching up on old issues times. I met my niece for the first time who was getting married!! We talked a lot of time talking. her sister's are married, and have one daughter each. They were calling me Aji whcih means grandmother, since technically that is what i am to them.! it was great to see everyone aftr such a long time.

the day we arrived, they had the mehendi ceremony, where the bride gets her hand designed with temporary tattoos. Another niece also got out a cone of mehendi and decorated our hands with beautiful designs. wow, mine was really red and delicate looking. We took lots of pictures of the bride and her family and other members of he family and relatives. we got things ready for dinner and had a great feast with a variety of things made for the wedding party and guests of the wedding family. We all slept on the terrace under the open sky, with stars as far as you could see.
The nextday, we all got up early and got things ready for the wedding in the afternoon. More time with family and fun and songs with children. We left for the wedding hall that afternoon, and had the first set of pujas that happen the day before. The groom's family and friends arrieved in a bus, and we got to meet them all at the wedding hall. They both made a cute couple.

The day of the wedding was beautiful and hectic and fantastic. the bride was beautiful in her sari and the groom was handsome in his shervani. the vedic retuals for the wedding took place in the morning and the marriage occured at 12:30 pm with fan fare and enthusiasm. The food was delicious and the wedding party very merry with all the going ons. The kanyadan was sad and tearful, but joyous. We arrived home at 6:00pm, had some time to spend with family and left for mumbai by sleeper bus at 9:30pm. I had a great time visiting family, getting to know my nieces and nephews and learning more about my family traditions and customs.

Karle - Photole

Follow this link - India Trip 2005 Photos to see about 252 of 1600+ photos we have taken so far....