The world, how it works, surroundings, myself, etc.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Sin City

I visited Sin City, Las Vegas, last weekend. The last words of the pilot while greeting our arrival at the Mc Carren Intl airport were: "Take a final look at your money" as the people cheered.

Las Vegas presents tens of thousands of ways to lose money. The main street, Las Vegas Blvd, is aptly named "The Strip" -- so easily can the road strip you off your money and clothes alike. The four elements of joy considered taboo in a "decent" society -- drinking, smoking, gambling and flesh are abundant as air. It's a festival every day. Blazing lights, music, (free) shows, crowd -- the sin city has it all.

Several casinos host periodic free shows. Famous casinos include: Bellagio, Caesars Palace, The Mirage, Treasure Island, Newyork Newyork, Paris, Excalibur, Monte Carlo, MGM. Bellagio hosts a dancing fountain show which is spectacular. The Mirage has a volcano-on-water show. Treasure Island featured a 20-min long carribben pirate show with real boats moving and canons blowing, while girls danced (of course).

Caesars Palace is my favorite and it's absolutely out-of-the-world. Rich Caesar-theme abounds from the walls to the ceilings, which have royal statues and artwork. Expensive shops are located in a setting with sky-ceiling and lighting that makes u feel you are in the open. Lavishness is the word. Money flows. And you can see it. All casinos are always filled with people who are ever ready to gamble even though they know they're most likely to lose all money -- people earn hard and spend thriftily in Vegas.

Insane is it? Well, is the "real" world sane? At least the Sin City is truthful. Clothes are a redundancy anyway.

Oh, and there's a quote:
What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas.

Friday, August 17, 2007

India's I-day at the Googleplex

A social ceremony was held at Charlie's Cafe in the Googleplex to celebrate India's 60th Independence day. Friends and family were invited and it looked like they had a good time away from home.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Crookedest Street

My favorite place in San Francisco is Lombard Street. Touted as the crookedest street in the world, a patch in Lombard street takes 8 sharp turns on a downward slope of 40 degrees. The street has beautiful flowers on either side and it's fun driving with a speed limit of 5 mph.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

17 Mile Drive + Big Sur

I went on 17 mile drive and to Big Sur last Saturday. The place is a one-and-half hour drive from Moutain View. Both of them are scenic drives along the Pacific ocean, with beautiful cliffs, rocks, beaches, vegetation and such. Awesome weekend getaways and a sight for sore eyes.

Of particular interest is the way such scenic spots are publicized and streamlined for visitors. All along the way you'd find directions, illustrations and teasers about what to expect. It gets a lot easier for visitors and earns natural income to the county managing it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Two Days at Dubai / Sharjah

I spent two days last weekend at Dubai and Sharjah. I was en route to San Francisco and had taken a stopover at Dubai. Luckily, a colleague's relatives stay in Dubai, so I didn't have to worry about accommodation and food.

The most apt word for Dubai is "lavish". Not only do the Sheikhs have an enormous amount of money, they don't hesitate to show it off. Beautiful mosques with golden domes, neat roads with posh latest cars and heavy concrete density abounds this oil-rich mafia-ridden port city. In case you didn't know, you don't have to pay any income tax in Dubai. Yep, you heard it, no tax at all. Yet the ruler (a filthy-rich Sheikh) provides all civic amenities at his own cost. Of course he runs the biggest corporation himself (heard of emaar group? they own hyderabad's hitex, if you will) and this promotes Dubai as a business hub. Another big one -- if you are a citizen, you can legally keep 5 wives. Of course you'll have to be super-rich to afford and maintain 5 wives (and that still leaves out 2 days of the week), but just think about it.

Burj-al-arab, a seven-star hotel meant only for the super rich, is a tourist attraction. This is the hotel where David Beckham lives when he comes to Dubai and where Agassi and Federer played tennis on the heli-pad. This is the same hotel, by the way, where Rakhi Sawant stayed when she went to do it in Dubai. The tallest tower in the world, Burj Tower, is still under construction and its expected final height is yet unknown -- they want it to be the tallest for a long time. I also passed by Hyatt Regency, the hotel where Dawood Ibrahim's daughter got married and the cops from the world over kept vigil but couldn't track him down even though he's known to have come at the occasion. They don't even know for sure how he looks!

United Arab Emirates comprises of 7 emirates, of which Dubai and Sharjah are two. Apart from the oil business which accounts for most of the wealth, construction is a major industry. Dubai has the highest concentration of cranes world-wide, which was quite evident by the sight that almost all the buildings had cranes stemming out. Speed of construction is mind-boggling. Soil is almost as costly as gold. People gift soil and plants to each other during festivals.

The Arabs are very proud people. They do not resign their culture at any cost. They are highly motivated as well. Who can think of skiing in such a desert? Yep, they have a skiing center, artificially created. It's an entirely different world out there.