Tuesday, September 25, 2007

How to Login to Two Yahoo! Accounts at Once

  • Close all IE windows.
  • Launch Windows Explorer.
  • Go to Tools -> Folder Options -> View tab and check the box labeled "Launch folder windows in a separate process".

    This affects IE as well.

    This change may decrease the performance a bit because of the added memory demands but you will be able to open two windows and access two different Yahoo! accounts at the same time.
  • Village Wine & Cheese, A Gourmet Market

    I got a chance to eat at this place a few months ago in May. We just ended up at this place by chance as we were walking on Broadway on a late rainy afternoon in this tiny college town of Columbia. It was great to find a restaurant that was open around 3:30 PM in the afternoon. Usually, they're closed for a couple of hours right after lunch time and before dinner time.

    This one is quite a large place, one part of the restaurant is a huge bar with lots of wine choices. You can almost call it a wine-lovers' paradise. They have rows and rows of racks filled with wine bottles. And the other part is main restaurant. The ambiance was good and gives the place sort of a romantic yet casual atmosphere. The waiters were very polite and helped answer quite a few of our questions.

    They have an extensive menu of sandwiches that you can choose from and more than seven different types of veg sandwiches you can pick from. The ones I got to eat and taste were the following:

    The Village Garden sandwich has assorted roasted vegetables, fresh tomatoes and Swiss cheese baked on foccacia bread; finished with herb aioli, scallion cream cheese and alfalfa sprouts.

    Their Mary Ellen’s Mozzarella Madness has roasted eggplant, tomato, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella & balsamic vinaigrette served hot on a French baguette.

    These have been the best Italian sandwiches that I've ever eaten. The portion was quite large and very filling. I didn't get to try any desserts as the sandwich was heavy.

    While we were leaving, we bought some wine for our alcohol drinking friends and asked whether they had another restaurant in California. Unfortunately, they are family owned and this is their only location in the US. I would love to visit this place again at any time!

    Dinner is not served daily at this place. Please visit their site for more info.

    My rating for Village Wine & Cheese is 4.5/5.

    Name: Village Wine & Cheese, A Gourmet Market
    Type: Sandwich, Steak, Seafood
    Average Price: $10/person (Lunch), $15/person (Dinner)
    Address: 929 East Broadway, Columbia, Missouri 65201
    Phone: (573) 442-1010
    Fax: (573) 815-9703
    Email: info@villagewineandcheese.com
    Website: http://www.villagewineandcheese.com/

    From the outside

    The Village Garden sandwich

    Mary Ellen’s Mozzarella Madness sandwich

    Sakura Sushi

    I have visited this place at least three times for lunch. They're located right in Sunnyvale downtown.

    Their Veggie Lovers Bento Box is served with miso soup, salad & rice. All the dishes come with the gari (pickled ginger) and the wasabi sauce. Both of which make all the food quite delicious!

    As a veg, we have a choice of asparagus rolls, vegetable tempura, agedashi tofu, wakame (seaweed salad), vegetable rolls, inari (kind of a stuffed and fried roll), and kanpyo maki (pickled-gourd rolls).

    For lunch, you can choose up to two items from the above list and for dinner you can choose up to three items as part of your bento box.

    My most favorite is the wakame and vegetable rolls. Their wakame has nice amount of sesame seeds which give it a real good taste and the rolls are also quite delicious. Their miso soup is also nice.

    Their menu says they serve jalapeño poppers as part of all the bento boxes but I've never seen any. Hmm... I should ask that next time I am there.

    The place is small but usually isn't too crowded for lunch time. Staff is courteous and polite.

    My rating for Sakura is 3/5.

    Name: Sakura Sushi
    Type: Japanese
    Average Price: $10/person (Lunch), $15/person (Dinner)
    Address: 173 South Murphy Ave, Sunnyvale, CA 94086
    Phone: (408) 481-9474
    Website: None.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Navratri Garba 2007 - SF Bay Area Schedule/Dates & Info

    To all garba fans of the bay area, here are the Navratri garba dates for the year 2007.

    Sept 15 - CLiPS Bayarea - Holy Spirit Church, 37588 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA

    Sept 22 - CLiPS Bayarea - Holy Spirit Church, 37588 Fremont Blvd, Fremont, CA

    Sept 29 - DHOOM Dandia - Sunnyvale Temple
    Sept 29 - Bombaiya Dandia - Avalon Club

    Oct 06 - Raas Garba Challenge 2007 - Bay Area Vaishnav Parivar

    Oct 11 - India Community Center (Milpitas) [Thursday 7 PM to 8 PM]

    Oct 13
    - India Cultural Association of the Bay Area (Sunnyvale) (more info)

    Oct 18 - India Community Center (Milpitas) [Thursday 7 PM to 8 PM]

    Oct 19
    - GCA Bay Area - CSU East Bay Gym (Hayward)
    Oct 19 - Vibha (4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto)

    Oct 20
    - GCA Bay Area - CSU East Bay Gym (Hayward)
    Oct 20 - Sankara Eye Foundation Dandia (San Jose Convention Center)
    Oct 20 - Vibha (E San Fernando St AND 9th Street, San Jose)
    Oct 20 - India Cultural Association of the Bay Area (Sunnyvale) (more info)

    Oct 26 - GCA Bay Area - CSU East Bay Gym (Hayward)

    Oct 27 - GCA Bay Area - CSU East Bay Gym (Hayward)
    Oct 27 - Sankara Eye Foundation Dandia (Santa Clara Convention Center)
    Oct 27 - Vibha (E San Fernando St AND 9th Street, San Jose)
    Oct 27 - India Cultural Association of the Bay Area (Sunnyvale) (more info)

    Nov 02 - GCA Bay Area - CSU East Bay Gym (Hayward)

    Nov 03 - GCA BayArea - CSU East Bay Gym (Hayward)
    Nov 03 - SSF Diwali Dandia Nite - Centerville Junior High School (Fremont)

    More info:
    GCA Bay Area - Phone number: Saurin Patel (510)-668-0451

    You can save money by becoming a GCA member. Their site is: http://www.gcabayarea.com/membership.htm
    The membership form is here: http://www.gcabayarea.com/doc_pdf/Mem07-08.pdf
    You can fill it out and send it to Lattaben Patel (before September deadline it's ~$10 less than in October), and pick up the membership card first day of garba.

    If you know of any other place that has organized garba that I might have missed, please do share. Thanks!

    Disclaimer: The above information comes from various sources, and has not been checked for validity. Please contact the organization for more info.

    Last updated: October 12, 2007

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    Peach-picking in Brentwood, CA

    By the time we decided to go cherry-picking in East Bay (that's the eastern side of land of the San Francisco bay) this year, it was aleady too late for cherry-picking but we were fortunate enough to find a few farms that allowed us to pick fruits like peaches, plums, and nectarines that have longer season than cherries. Cherry-picking is the most famous activity in summer in Brentwood, CA. People travel from far away to come and pick the fruits while eating them as they browse through the farms on a hot summer day.

    Driving from hwy 580 onto North Vasco road, the hills are literally covered with windmills.

    Some of the fruit is still raw waiting for the heat to ripen it as the season progresses.

    A peach I picked and ate. It was very sweet. :)

    This farm has rows and rows of trees like these.

    Some peaces were too ripe and fell off on the ground from the tree. Too bad they never make it to a basket and in someone's tummy.

    The stall where you pay for the fruits you picked. You don't pay for the ones you already ate, those are free. :D

    For more photos of peach-picking in Brentwood, click here.

    To find other farms that grow the fruits you like and allow fruit-picking in and around Brentwood, click here.

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Story of a Tiny Frog

    Once upon a time there was a bunch of tiny frogs who arranged a running competition. The goal was to reach the top of a very high tower.

    A big crowd had gathered around the tower to see the race and cheer on the contestants.

    The race began...

    Honestly: No one in crowd really believed that the tiny frogs would reach the top of the tower.

    You heard statements such as:

    'Oh, WAY too difficult!!'

    'They will NEVER make it to the top.'

    'Not a chance that they will succeed. The tower is too high!'

    The tiny frogs began collapsing. One by one...

    Except for those, who in a fresh tempo, were climbing higher and higher...

    The crowd continued to yell, 'It is too difficult!!! No one will make it!'

    More tiny frogs got tired and gave up...

    But ONE continued higher and higher and higher...

    This one wouldn't give up!

    At the end everyone else had given up climbing the tower.

    Except for the one tiny frog that, after a big effort, was the only one who reached the top! THEN all of the other tiny frogs naturally wanted to know how this one frog managed to do it?

    A contestant asked the tiny frog how he had found the strength to succeed and reach the goal.

    It turned out...

    That the winner was DEAF!!!!

    The moral of this story is: Never listen to other people's tendencies to be negative or pessimistic. 'cause they take your most wonderful dreams and wishes away from you. The ones you have in your heart!

    Always think of the power words have. Because everything you hear and read will affect your actions!

    Therefore: ALWAYS be POSITIVE!

    And above all: Be DEAF when people tell YOU that YOU can not fulfill YOUR dreams!

    Always think: I can do this!

    Ni Mo Japanese Cuisine & Sushi Bar

    A vegetarian person has good number of choices here. Located right in San Mateo downtown. Ni Mo offers good service and has friendly staff. I've been to the place more than twice just for this reason that they have more veg options.

    The server starts you off with some fresh boiled whole soybeans to munch on with green tea until the meal is served.

    Their vegetarian bento box has all different kinds of Japanese foods one can eat including veg tempura, veg rolls, veg aged tofu, seaweed salad served with salad, miso soup and steamed rice.

    In addition to that, they have more than nine different kinds of veg rolls like sour plum, wild carrot, mushroom, fermented soy bean, deep fried yam, pickled radish, cucumber, avocado, and asparagus.

    My rating for Ni Mo is 4/5.

    Name: Ni Mo Japanese Cuisine
    Type: Japanese
    Average Price: $8-14/person (Lunch), $11-16/person (Dinner)
    Address: 73 East 3rd Ave, San Mateo, CA 94401
    Phone: (650) 342-0288
    Website: None.

    Sunday, September 16, 2007


    This is my first one! Ami has tagged me. Not sure whether my interpretation is right but I think she wants me to answer these questions best to my knowledge. ;)

    Nineteen questions!! Oh boy! even my board exams were simpler.. just kidding! :D

  • Pick out a scar you have, and explain how you got it.

    Too many to pick from but this one is the most recent one so here goes. It's on my right knee. Sunday, August 19, 2007. In the evening I went to the beach with my sister to watch the sunset. While climbing down to the sandy area from a steep rock, I put my foot on this man-made step on the rock and before I realize that it's too small for my 11-inch foot, I was in this extra-large puddle of seawater with my entire left side of body under water. I realized after a moment which was actually quite long because everyone who saw me fall had stepped in the water by then to pick me up. I realized that parts of my body had hit a huge log in the water that people had put there to avoid stepping in the water. Both of my knees, other parts of legs, my left arm and my camera got hurt. My knees got the most cuts/bruises with right one being the worst. The purple, green, magenta colored bruises took about 3 weeks to heal and the cuts left a scar behind.

  • What does your phone look like? List your reasons to buy it?

    It's a Motorola V400. Bought it because it had the GSM technology and camera and looks like this:

  • What is on the walls of your bedroom?

    A whole bunch of family members' photos, some photos with friends, art posters by sis, a noisy clock, a hand-made poster with 12 pages of an old calendar with cute friendship quotes, another hand-made poster of four photos of national parks, a whole bunch of cuttings from another old baby-animals calendar and large pictures of baal Krishna and Lord Shiva. There are also more than three dozens glow-in-the-dark stars stuck all over the place including on the ceiling. Wow I'm surprised I still have space left on the walls!

  • What is your current desktop picture?

    A photo of Asrani when he was young! lol no just kidding. It's Shahid Kapoor's poster! ;)

  • Do you believe in gay marriage?

    Sure, why not. Whatever works.

  • What do you want more than anything right now?

    Another weekend, or anything but Monday. :P

  • What time were you born?

    A time long long ago... :|

  • Are your parents still together?

    (goes to double check, and back) They said yes. :D

  • Last person who made you cry?

    The lady who was cutting too many onions while preparing for the meal at the function. :P No, I think it was my sis and no she wasn't cutting any onions.

  • What is your favorite perfume / cologne?

    Too suffocating for me, but if I had to pick one I'd pick Longing. Inner Realm is also nice.

  • What kind of hair/eye color do you like in the opposite sex?

    How about fluorescent pink! ;)
    Nooo, on the other hand, black/dark brown would be just fine. Thank you.

  • What are you listening to? Why?

    Mohd. Rafi's taareef karofy songs
    - ehsaan tera hoga mujhpar
    - taareef karoon kya uss ki
    - bahot shukriya badi meherbaani
    - yoon to humne laakh haseen dekhe hai
    - chaudhvin ka chaand ho
    - aye gulbadan phoolon ki mahek
    - yeh reshmi zulfen
    - teri bindiya re
    and then some Gujarati songs like
    - jeevan anjali thaajo
    - jeevan panth ujaaL
    - ho raaj mane laagyo
    - hu ne chandu
    - naiyaa jhukaavi me to
    - janani ni jod sakhi
    These are looping on the winamp right now.
    Mohd Rafi because I adore his voice and Gujarati because of this new blog.

  • Do you get scared of the dark?

    Sometimes, yes if I am alone.

  • Do you like painkillers?


  • Are you too shy to ask someone out?

    Yes, now. Used to be otherwise before.

  • If you could eat anything right now, what would it be?

    Laadu made of left-over rotalis, ghee and jaggery/brown sugar/goL like my great grandma used to make and feed us.

  • Who was the last person who made you mad?

    A very high maintenance person whom I know through friends. Really glad I am not friends with her.

  • List one habit you have that has the potential to annoy people?

    An ability to talk non-stop regardless of what time of the day/night it is. :D

  • Who was the last person who made you smile?

    Janki, when she complimented me about my dimples yesterday.

    The next people to be tagged are RJ, Bhavesh, Jigar and JD.
  • Friday, September 14, 2007

    संकष्टनाशन महा गणपति स्तोत्रम्

    Happy Ganesh Chaturthi to all!

    Ganapati Bappa Moriya

    संकष्टनाशन महा गणपति स्तोत्रम्

    ||श्री गणेशाय नामः ||

    नारद उवाच -

    प्रणम्य शिरसा देवं गौरीपुत्रम् विनायाकम् |
    भक्तावासम् स्मरेनित्यामायु: कामार्थासिध्धये ||

    प्रथमं वक्रतुन्ड़म् च एकदन्तम् द्वितियकम् |
    त्रुतियम् क्रिश्नापिन्गाक्षम् गजवक्त्रम् चतुर्थकम् ||

    लम्बोदरम् पंचमं च षश्ठम् विकटमेव च |
    सप्तमं विघ्नराजेंद्रम् धुम्रवर्णम् तथाष्टमं ||

    नवमं भाल्चंद्रम् च दशमं तू विनायकम् |
    एकादशम् गणपतिम् द्वादशम् तू गजाननं ||

    द्वादषैतानी नामानी त्रिसंध्यम य: पठेन्नर: |
    न च विघ्नभयम तस्य सर्वसिद्धिकरम् प्रभो ||

    विद्यार्थी लभते विद्या धनार्थी लभते धनं |
    पुत्रार्थी लभते पुत्रान मोक्षार्थी लभते गतिम् ||

    जपेत गणपतिस्तोत्रम् शभिर्मास: फलं लभेत |
    सम्वत्सरें सिद्धिम् च लभते नात्र संशय: ||

    अष्टभ्यो ब्राह्मणेभ्यष्च लिखित्वा य: समर्पयेत |
    तस्त्य विद्या भवेत्सर्वा गणेशस्य प्रसादत: ||

    इति श्री नारदपुराणे संकष्टनाशन नाम् श्री गणपतिस्तोत्रम् सम्पूर्णम् ||

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    General Motors Reply to Bill Gates

    Got this in a forwarded email. It was a fun read!

    At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated,

    "If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon."

    In response to Bill's comments, General Motors issued a press release stating:

    "If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics (and I just love this part, esp 7th point and 10th point):"

    1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
    2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
    3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.
    4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
    5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would ! run on only five percent of the roads.
    6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single "This Car Has Performed an Illegal Operation" warning light.
    7. The airbag system would ask "Are you sure?" before deploying.
    8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
    9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
    10. You'd have to press the "Start" button to turn the engine off.

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    List of Windows Keyboard Shortcuts

    I personally get very annoyed with the mouse sometimes while using the computer. Keyboard comes in the picture as a blessing at that time. Over the past few years, I have collected all different shortcuts that I came across. Thought of sharing these with fellow keyboard lovers. If you think I missed any or you know more, please do share. I'd appreciate it.

    Happy keyboarding!


  • Alt + Esc - Shuffles through the open windows
  • Alt + F4 - Close the working window
  • Alt + G - Google Toolbar (if you have it installed)
  • Alt + Print Screen - Copies just the active window/dialog box
  • Alt + Space + N - Minimize the selected window
  • Alt + Space + X - Maximize the selected window
  • Alt + Space - Upper left corner System menu displays (in any window)
  • Alt + Tab - Shuffle open windows on desktop
  • Alt + Enter - When done this on an icon, it displays the ShortCut tab of Properties window

  • Ctrl + A - Select all items on page
  • Ctrl + Alt + Del - Opens the Windows Security dialog box
  • Ctrl + C - Copy items to clipboard
  • Ctrl + End - Go to bottom end of file
  • Ctrl + Esc - Same as a click on Start button
  • Ctrl + F4 - Close the top most file in working window
  • Ctrl + Home - Go to top of file
  • Ctrl + Mouse wheel spin - Increases or decreases the zoom of the text
  • Ctrl + O - Opens the Open File dialog box
  • Ctrl + S - Saves page
  • Ctrl + Tab - Shuffle files open in the same window
  • Ctrl + V - Paste items from clipboard
  • Ctrl + W - Closes the active file in the current window
  • Ctrl + X - Cut and copy items to clipboard
  • Ctrl + Y - Redo last action
  • Ctrl + Z - Undo last action
  • Ctrl + Print Screen - Copies entire screen, then you can do Ctrl + V in Paint of MS Word to create a screen shot.

  • F1 - Display Help file
  • Tab - Toggle forward through page items
  • Down Arrow - Scroll down
  • Up Arrow - Scroll up
  • Print Screen - Copies entire screen
  • Shift + Delete - Deletes a file/an object permanently without it appearing in the Recycle Bin
  • Shift + Tab - Reverse Tab

  • Win - Same as a click on Start button
  • Win + D - Show desktop (Minimize All/Undo Minimize All)
  • Win + E - Opens My Computer/Windows Explorer
  • Win + M - Minimizes all open windows
  • Win + Pause - Brings up the Systems Properties window
  • Win + R + Calc - Opens the Calculator
  • Win + R + cmd - Opens the MS-DOS prompt window
  • Win + R + Excel - Opens MS Excel application
  • Win + R + http://www .com - Typed URL Website in IE
  • Win + R + Mspaint - Opens the MS Paint application
  • Win + R + Notepad - Opens the notepad
  • Win + R + view-source:http://www .com - Typed URL source code in notepad
  • Win + R + WinWord - Opens MS Word application
  • Win + R + WordPad - Opens the WordPad application
  • Win + R + www. - Launches the IE window with www. in the address bar
  • Win + R - Opens the Run dialog box same as Start -> Run
  • Win + Tab - Shuffle through taskbar windows without opening them

    Internet Explorer & Mozilla Firefox, My Computer, Windows Explorer

  • Alt + D - Jumps to the address bar and selects the text
  • Alt + Home - Return to your homepage
  • Alt + Left Arrow - Move backward to a previous page
  • Alt + Right Arrow - Move forward to a previous page
  • Backspace - Back button on IE/FireFox, or View the folder one level up (used for My Computer and Windows Explorer)
  • Ctrl + F5 - Refresh from the server and bypass the local cache
  • Ctrl + F6 - Brings cursor to the Address Bar
  • Ctrl + B - Open and organize favorites list
  • Ctrl + D - Add current page to favorites list
  • Ctrl + F - performs a find on the current page
  • Ctrl + H - Opens the History
  • Ctrl + I - Shows the favorites
  • Ctrl + L - Brings cursor to the Address Bar or displays Open dialog box
  • Ctrl + N - Opens a new window
  • Ctrl + P - Opens the Print dialog box
  • Ctrl + R - Refresh a web page
  • Ctrl + T - Opens a new tab
  • Ctrl + Tab - Move forward between frames
  • F6 - Highlights the address bar
  • Shift + F10 - Displays the pop-up menu (Right click pop-up menu). The third button to the right from Space key between the Windows and ctrl button.
  • Shift + Left mouse click - Opens the link in new window
  • Shift + Mouse wheel spin - Forward and backward through the pages you have visited
  • Ctrl + Enter - Puts http://www. and .com around the word in address bar. If your OS and/or IE are another language other than English, then it will add the appropriate extension. E.g. for Japanese version it will add .co.jp at the end instead of .com.
  • Esc - Stop downloading/loading current page
  • F4 - Pull down the Address Bar site list
  • F5 - Refresh page

    Mozilla Firefox Only

  • Ctrl + Shift + Enter - Puts http://www. and .org around the word in address bar
  • Shift + Enter - Puts http://www. and .net around the word in address bar

    MS Word Only

  • Alt + F5 - Resizes the MS Word window(makes it smaller)
  • Shift + F3 - Toggles between Lower Case, Capitalize, Upper Case in MS Word and other selected applications

    KVM Switch Only

  • Scroll Lock + Scroll Lock + 2 - Switches to computer connected on port 2 of your switch. This is when you have one set of monitor, keyboard, mouse and multiple CPUs connected to it via a KVM switch. Here the third numeric value entered is the port number of the switch.
  • C'era Una Volta

    In Italian, "C'era Una Volta" means Once Upon A Time.

    If you really want to impress someone (e.g. take someone on a date, take your hiring manager for lunch ;), etc.), this is the place to go. Fine Italian dining is what I call it. The place is nice and cozy and the location is hidden from the main street so not visible if you drive past on the 1300 block from the Park street. Got a chance to dine there when a friend got surprise proposal party there. The restaurant parking is accessible from the parallel street named Park Avenue. Reservation is a must.

    The food was quite good and the staff is very friendly and polite. That's what you can expect when you are paying that kind of money to dine at such a fine place.

    They do have a selection of veg. dishes. I personally love mushroom so enjoy anything with mushroom in it.

    Starting with salads they have two we can pick from. Insalata Dell’Orto is mixed greens topped with seasonal vegetables and olives and Insalata di Spinaci has baby Spinach with walnuts and zesty onion dressed in a warm balsamic vinaigrette and topped with goat cheese.

    Cannelloni di Spinaci is rolls of traditional pasta fresca filled with fresh Ricotta and delicate Spinach.

    Gnocchi is potato dumpling pasta served with your choice of pesto, gorgonzola or meat sauce. This one you have to request the vegetarian version. It is very creamy and rich so quite filling dish.

    And I got to try the Ravioli di Porcini that has porcini mushroom ravioli with mushroom cream sauce. It was quite delicious if I say so myself and not too filling.

    Ravioli di Spinaci has ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta. This was quite good as well.

    The Melanzane alla Parmigiana has delicate slices of Eggplant layered with Italian Cheeses and a light Pomodoro Sauce. Quite large portion even for dinner.

    The place is closed on Mondays and their menu changes with seasons so not all of these items might be available throughout the year. They also host a (paid) monthly meeting of regional culture, food and wine.

    My rating: 4.5/5

    Name: C'era Una Volta, Caffé Enoteca Ristorante
    Type: Italian
    Average Price: $15-20/person (Dinner)
    Address: 1332 Park Street, Alameda, CA 94501
    Phone: (510) 769-4828
    Website: http://www.ceraunavolta.us/

    Here I'd like to share an interesting piece of information. Here in the US generally speaking it is a norm that when you go to an Italian restaurant, you are served bread and butter/sauce before you get your main course. They usually don't charge the guests for this bread and you can request for more, if you want more. This is true for certain Mediterranean, German and American restaurants as well. But what I found out recently was that in Italy, the guests actually pay for the bread also, along with their meals.

    Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Mammoth Lakes

    Mammoth Lakes, CA is located off of Hwy 395 in the South East direction from Yosemite National Park.

    From Yosemite National Park, continuing on Hwy 120 East, we stopped at Olmsted Point to catch this view.
    Half Dome from Olmsted Point

    After 120 East, to go towards Mammoth Lakes we take Hwy 395 South. Lake Mono is on the Eastern side of this highway.
    Lake Mono and Hwy 395

    Lake Mary at Mammoth Lakes

    Lake George and other surrounding lakes as seen from the end of Crystal Lake trail

    Devil's Postpile - 60-ft formation is made of basalt lava, some 100,000 yrs old.

    Crystal Lake is after hiking up and down for almost 2 miles at the end of Crystal Lake Trail.

    The only mammoth I saw at Mammoth Lakes! :-)

    Visited: July 2003

    Click here for more photos of Mammoth Lakes.

    Funnie :D

    Interviewer: How does an electric motor run?
    Udurawana: Dhhuuuurrrrrrrrrr...
    Interviewer shouts: STOP IT!
    Udurawana: Dhhuurrrr dhup dhup dhup...

    Friday, September 07, 2007

    Black Angus Steakhouse

    If you're a vegetarian, might as well stay away from this place. This was my first time there, but I know I won't go there again as they don't have any interesting veg. dishes. The service is good, but the ambiance is okay. They were nice enough to say they will replace any meat ingredients in items with vegetables but I ended up choosing an appetizer item that was vegetarian along with a garden salad. Their Crispy Garlic-Pepper Zucchini has freshly cut zucchini, dipped in garlic-pepper batter and breadcrumbs then gently fried to a crispy golden brown, served with cool cucumber dip (this looks and tastes like cucumber raita). This was good but would go as an appetizer only. The garden salad was good also.

    Now directly to the dessert. Sky-High Mud Pie is mocha almond ice cream with swirls of fudge layered on a chocolate cookie-crumb crust, topped with rich fudge, almond slices, and chocolate shavings. Quite delicious if I say so. If you are a chocolate/coffee lover, this is a must have! The Crème Brulée is a rich, creamy custard topped with a crisp coating of caramelized sugar. It's also good and quite creamy like they say. Other desserts also looked good but I didn't get to try them.

    Over all, as a vegetarian, I give this place a rating of 1.5/5.

    Name: Black Angus Steakhouse
    Type: American
    Average Price: $12-$15/person (Lunch)
    Address: 740 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087
    Phone: (408) 245-4501
    Website: http://www.blackangus.com/

    An Article "Indian Culture: Not for Sale"

    I read this article - Indian Culture: Not for Sale by SUCHI RUDRA VASQUEZ, Jun 13, 2007 - a couple of months back and have been thinking about it since then. There are a lot of things in the article that make me go "oh yes", "that's right", "I agree" at many instances because I have also experienced what it's like to be away from homeland. To feel the loneliness and miss all that is *Indian*.

    But I do have to say that there are quite a few points that I disagree with the author. First and foremost, she does not realize the importance of knowing a language regardless of how many people in the world speak it. I would be wrong if I find a fault with her. But I think the responsibility here is on the parents who raise their children without teaching them their mother-tongue/father-tongue. Within last few decades, there have been so many inter-cultural marriages that the individuals involved in these don't realize what they are missing out. Of course there's gain and loss of any such relationship but I have noticed that when an Indian gets married into a non-Indian family, and they choose to let go of their cultural values, they are the ones at loss.

    The author asks: "If I asked these questions in Bangla now, would the answers given to me be any different?" Well, the answer is "Of course! yes they would be different." People feel much more comfortable talking to you when they know you speak the same language that they do. Many people don't realize that knowing another language or having your mother-tongue different than English can make a person more knowledgeable at the same time give a child an ability to learn another language in the future.

    "How could I possibly ever learn Bangla beyond these few questions? If I spoke only in questions, would they think I knew Bangla?"

    "I had already escaped once from where I was born, a place where my parents were not even born but had also escaped to, and still I wasn’t where they began."

    How can a person possibly consider it an "escape" to go away from homeland? That's what I didn't understand. I just feel sorry for the people who think so and their children, if at all they have any. Just so sad their parents never realized the value of passing on their valuable culture and language to their children. Then they complain when others point this out. It's quite sad actually to see people not caring for where they come from and to see them trying to become that they aren't.

    She asks: "What was I doing here, struggling to learn the local Czech language, which was only useful if I stayed here? It was not like learning English or Spanish or even German, which could come in handy in many places."

    After reading that phrase, I realized it is the thinking of people that makes them who they are and when their parents/teachers have failed to teach them about how important it is to know your mother-tongue, there is little an outsider can do. She harps about how she spent an ENTIRE year in Mumbai trying to adjust to the new life and the struggles she had to go through.

    Some quotes of the author:

    "And so, if I tried to commit to these Bangla "lessons," how would this also be useful to me?"

    "But we are always doing something which is useful, practical somehow, isn’t it? Some work that will make us some money, some purchases that will be needed in the future, some planning that will keep us ahead in life. Trying to learn Bangla did not fit into these categories."

    "I did not know until later that Haveli refers to a private royal residence..."

    I think such thinking makes the author mighty ignorant about where her parents' come from and their mother-tongue. Here I think the author fails to realize that may be her thinking like this was the reason Rehman, the restaurant employee, thought "What does she know about Indian culture? Come on, she doesn’t know anything, yaar."

    I just wish people realized how they would raise their children before getting into inter-cultural marriages. Sometimes it's not even this, I have noticed many parents living away from their country, never care to teach their kids their language thinking it's useless to teach the kid or it would be difficult for the child to learn English, if they learned another language before English. This all just does not make any sense to me. I only have one thing to say to such people you are losing your culture, your values, and your children by doing so.

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Taverna Bistro

    This place has been my favorite place since past few months. They have quite a collection of vegetarian dishes and most of them taste very delicious.

    Since I have been there multiple times and got a chance to try out many veg. items, I am going to list them all here. First and most important, the bread in this place is to die for!!! It is awesome. The kind they serve for lunch is different than the one you get for dinner. Both of them are very good but the lunch one wins hands down. They serve it with oil and balsamic vinaigrette right before the meals.

    Tomato Mozzarella (slices of fresh tomato and Buffalo Mozzarella cheese served with extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette) is an appetizer item and very delicious.

    Eggplant Salad is flame grilled eggplant mixed with freshly pureed garlic, herbs and parsley. This is going to be the item I eat when I am there next time.

    Baba Ghanouj (flamed grilled eggplant lightly mixed with fresh lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, salt and white pepper) is perfect for lunch with the bread that they serve. Little smaller portion because it’s a starter item but very delicious.

    Greek Veggie Salad cauliflower, broccoli, cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, olives and feta cheese served with homemade Italian dressing (Olives with seeds).

    Avocado Orange Salad (seasonal) is toasted sesame seeds mixed with field greens topped with peeled orange and avocado slices tossed with walnuts and homemade Italian dressing. I am yet to try this one but it sounds quite good.

    Their Veggie Combo (eggplant salad, hummus, sarma and Greek salad) is delicious and tops on my list of favorites at Taverna.

    Falafel Plate is also quite good with freshly made falafel balls served with hummus, eggplant salad, Taverna salad, rice and yogurt sauce.

    Veggie Mousakka (baked layers of grilled potatoes, eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini, green peppers baked to perfection in béchamel tomato sauce, served with rice) is little larger portion for a lunch but good nevertheless.

    Veggie Guvec (casserole, mix of eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, mushroom, bell peppers, onions, garlic and parsley cooked to perfection, served with rice.) is my second favorite item at Taverna.

    Imam Bayildi means swooning imam (baked eggplant stuffed with sautéed vegetables, served with rice and plain yoghurt). This was quite good but very filling. I personally found the yoghurt little too sour as I am not used to eat it but my colleagues said it was quite traditional Mediterranean yoghurt and really enjoyed eating it plain.

    Veggie Dolmathes (baked bell peppers stuffed with a mix of rice tomatoes, onions, garlic, herbs and spice, served with Taverna salad and plain yoghurt). I am yet to try this so no clue what it tastes like.

    The Falafel Wrap (falafel balls with fresh lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and hummus) under the Wrap section is also vegetarian.

    And their Baklawas are very delicious (although I admit they were smaller sized). :P

    The staff is friendly, and they have outside (front and back patio seating), which is a lot of fun if the weather is good. And the place does get crowded a bit at peak times so reservation is recommended if you're party of more than two. The place is considered fine Mediterranean cuisine so prices are also quite fine.

    Note: Always double check before ordering an item to ensure it contains no meat, no fish, no chicken broth.

    Taverna gets a rating of 4/5.

    Name: Taverna Bistro
    Type: Mediterranean
    Average Price: $10-$12/person (Lunch), $15-$18/person (Dinner)
    Address: 133 South Murphy Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086
    Phone: (408) 735-9971
    Website: http://www.tavernabistro.com/

    Intro to Restaurants' Reviews

    I had always wanted to share my views about the restaurants where I have eaten before, but never really cared I saw Neha's Bangalore Restaurants Reviewed blog. So then I said to myself, better late then never and so here I begin.

    I am a lacto-ovo vegetarian so once in a while I have had a hard time finding edible items at certain restaurants. But here in San Francisco bay area, it's almost never the case that you end up in a restaurant that serves no vegetarian items. That's because the population here originally comes from all over the world and has brought with them their culture and their ethnic foods with them. In fact, finding vegetarian or vegan food in SF bay area is probably the easiest in the entire country as there are many restaurants that serve only vegan/vegetarian foods.

    I remember once when I was in Houston, TX for an interview and the hiring manager took me out for lunch. Unfortunately, the person taking the order at the restaurant didn't even know what vegetarian food was. I made an attempt to explain to him and gave up eventually when he called his manager to help explain what I was talking about. So we were forced to leave from first two restaurants we had stepped into and finally ended up eating at Pizza Hut because that was the only place in the area where I knew would be able to eat a cheese pizza. Of course, not the entire city of Houston is such and there are some really good restaurants that serve vegetarian food but here in the bay area, you will almost never end up in that kind of situation where there is no vegetarian food on the menu in a restaurant.

    I've been to many good restaurants in the SF bay area as well as outside so I'm not limiting them to this geographical area only. Most of the dishes I'd recommend would be vegetarian only (unless once in a while when I find out what dishes my non-veg colleagues liked). Here I go...

    Bon apetite!

    Tuesday, September 04, 2007

    Shri Krishna Janmashtami

    Today, on shraavaN vad aaTham as we celebrate Shri Krishna janma - Janmashtami, I was thinking of all of the stories that I have heard/read about Shri Krishna bhagwan.

    Then I remembered a story that I read in Shri Radhavatar a few years ago. Once Shri Radhaji goes to a mela (funfair) with her friends. That is also the same place where she first meets Rukmani and other wives of Shri Krishna. It happens so that Rukmani and the other queens had heard of Radha and her love for Shri Krishna and got jealous of her before they met her. On meeting, during one incident, Radha mistakenly drinks extremely hot milk and her mouth gets burned by it. A few days later when the queens of Shri Krishna return back home and meet Him, they see that His feet have burned because of coming in contact with something very hot. And they find out that when Radhaji drank the hot milk, it passed by and burned her heart along with the holy feet of Shri Krishna that reside there as well. All the queens regretted for being jealous when they realized how divine Radha's love was for Shri Krishna.

    I got tears in my eyes when I read this story. It is such a beautiful story!

    Jai Shri Radhe-Krishna.

    Jai Shri Krishna.

    Monday, September 03, 2007

    Westernized Namak Ishq Kaa... (a must watch!)

    Omkara's Bipasha becomes Happy Feet... LOL This video is awesome!

    Saturday, September 01, 2007

    Child Bear - A Pet Shop? Yeah Right!

    I am guessing this is somewhere in India. After looking at the picture, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

    It is a "sarkaari thanDi beer ki dukaan". That explains it.