Dated : 3rd December 2000
Its been a long while from now sharing with all u guys. Don't say it as a "Payana Katturai", if u are, then it means its boring than me!
(If so, directly goto album : http://mukundaraj.tripod.com/photo_sc.html )
Its all happened because of Thanksgiving holiday's (Nov.23-Nov.26). First let me thank for the Thanksgiving itself. If u want to know more about this, visit : http://www.thanksgiving.org/
Shan (hereafter Apps) asked me to come to Taylors, South Carolina. I want to use this loooong weekend to arrange a get-to-g(e/a)ther. But sadly all others had either fixed their own schedule or more concerned about their spending. So i decided to go alone and asked the travel agent about the cost for a flight ticket. 'Cos of the holiday weekend few tickets were available and that too cost $800. That is too much for me and i joined with my roommate Ram who want to go to Washington D.C., which is on the way. Then apps friend Dinakar want to join with us to Taylors. Ram did a good job by getting a good deal on the rental car by browsing the net and searching thru the yellow pages.
I told my colleague Rob Clark that we are going to South Carolina. His first expresion is "Hey man, r u crazy (implicitly mad), u want to drive 4000km for 4 days". And he started giving tips "1. stay away from alcohol, bars and drunken americans, 2. If u got into trouble, call 911 and specifically ask for the state police to help not the local police, they may be the cousin/friend of the guy who is giving you the trouble. 3. Avoid taking food exits, park ur car in the crowded service area which has enough lights. etc.".
I asked apps about the weather in Taylors. He said "Oh! its beautiful, its like bangalore". I was so glad to get rid out of Boston weather for few days. I turned on the TV and the weather channel report says "expect 3 to 5 inches of snow". Apps, have you ever seen snow in B'lore???
Amid confusion about the route, traffic, starting time, whether to go thru George Washington bridge and calculations on the expense, we gathered in my place (woburn) on Nov.23(Wed) 8pm. After a good dinner (what else, chinese chicken fried rice) we started at 10:30pm. Starting from Massachussets traveled thru Connecticut, New York state, New York city, New Jersey, Delaware, Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and dropped ram in Maryland. And then headed towards South Carolina thru Virginia and North Carolina. Dinakar is so crazy and he's driving in 190km/hr on a 105km speed limit highway and telling me that he's driving from 7th standard ( yove, nee 7th-la irunthu drive panna ennakenna, athukaaga en uyira panayam vaika mudiyuma?? ), immediately i called apps from the cell and told him "we may reach sooner than expected either to ur place or to the hell ( naama ellam vera enga poga mudiyum!!! sorgam ellam chance-a illa!). We reached safely by next day at 6pm.
Starring at apps, now he became smart(y), reduced his age by 10 years ( no, no, don't be too surprised. now he is looking like 30 yrs OLD man, rather than 40 as he was!! but still dreaming about a 20 as he was in chennai). We were tired and looking to cool ourselves with Heineken (!). There comes a couple ( Krishna & Preethi, Tiruchoor) and Chander (B'lore). I'm surprised by their tamil, its far more better than our TV 'Thogupaalinis' (compearers). The food they cooked is really delicious, i called the nearest(!) and cried over the phone "after 7 months i had a good (south) indian food with hot and spicy like Fish, Chicken, Mushroom etc. Heineken went bottle by bottle ....
In the morning we thought of doing some useful trip in and around the taylors. We picked Atlanta which is 240km from there. "Atlanta, capital of Georgia, U.S., and seat (1853) of Fulton county (but also partly in De Kalb county). It lies in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, just south of the Chattahoochee River. Atlanta is Georgia's largest city and the principal trade and transportation centre of the southeastern United States. The spirit of the city tends to be liberal within the framework of Southern conservatism, though its customs have been influenced by the Protestant church traditions of the Bible Belt. Martin Luther King, Jr., is buried in the Ebenezer Baptist Churchyard. In 1973 Atlanta became the first major city in the South to elect a black mayor. "
We're bored of the museums and historical places ('cos US is not having a history more than 300 years?), so we decided to goto Coca-Cola, CNN and Cenetenial Olympic park in Atlanta. Really it was a nice experience to know the funda of the things going there.
"The World of Coca-Cola Pavilion is a $15 million, 45,000-square-foot shrine to what Coca-Cola humbly calls "the most successful product in the history of commerce." It's an exhibit hall/fun house that bombards you with superlatives until your brain is numb: 7,000 bottles consumed every second, 450 million consumed every day, 66 million Americans drinking the stuff every 24 hours.
Once inside, happy, smiling hosts in affable Coca-Cola red cardigans offer us a cheery greeting and point us in the direction of the giant glass elevators, which whisk you heavenward to where the exhibits begin. We saw Dr. John Pemberton's original handwritten formula book (not open to the secret part) along with the prototype six-and-a-half-ounce "hobbleskirt" Coke bottle, one of only two in existence. An enlarged quote from Raymond Loewy (who later went on to design Coke machines) praises it as "the most perfectly designed package in the world."
Next in our path is the terrifying Spectacular Soda Fountain. This place is all black and spooky and ultra-hi-tech; neon flashes everywhere; synthesized thunder booms; giant glass tanks filled with unidentifiable soda bubble ominously. As we nervously step up to the fountain, an infrared sensor automatically triggers overhead spotlights. You and your cup are illuminated in the darkness. The glass tubing and neon in your particular area of the soda fountain begins to pulsate. Bubbling liquid rushes into the holding tank and gradually changes to the color of our chosen soft drink. Then blammo! Ejaculation! Soda arches twenty feet from some hidden high-pressure nozzle and makes a bulls-eye into your cup! "
As like any other deshi's our eyes are searching for the tri-colour flag from a row of flags across the world, finally we found a "Hindi flag" which has written 'Coca-Cola' in Hindi. Eventhough it is too much i looked out for a flag written in Tamil. Oh la, they forgot that! But there'll be time when they SHOULD be in Tamil ( Konjam over thaan, but not impossible).
The "Every Day of Your Life" Theater experience is our next stop. Over its entrance, an electronic display chronicles the dizzying pace of consumption of Coca-Cola around the world (it had reached 3,710,083,500,000 bottles when we visited, might be an approximate one, maths-la naan konjam weak!). They showed the commercials used by Coke around the world (Imperial Palace of Thailand to the St. Marks Cathedral in Venice to some godforsaken (but not Cokeforsaken) steppe in Africa -- Ellam ok, 'Aiyshum, Ameer khan'-um enga??).
Next comes the CNN (will they cover news or they make news as in a 007 movie??).CNN Center has two 14 floor office towers which house Turner's corporate offices and all the divisions needed to operate the company. The CNN Studio Tour begins with all metal-detector test, escalator which brought us to the 10th floor from the ground (i heard that is the longest/tallest escalator in US), a guide and 2 security guards accompanied us to an overview of the main CNN newsroom, the global headquarters of the Cable News Network. CNN broadcasts 90 percent of its news reports from Atlanta in Studio A. This is where the news, sports, and weather anchors deliver the news and conduct interviews in front of robotic and manned cameras. ( My eyes were searched for Lary King, Bernard Shaw & Mary, no one was there, it was already 8pm).
Another stop along the CNN Studio Tour is the Special Effects Studio and Weather news (Special EFX Studio is the Blue Chroma-key System). Here Dina acted as an anchor ( very perfectly! ), we came to know the trick behind the scenes, how the anchors use the map on a weather forecast. Its that simple. When you watch the weather on CNN or any TV, you see the forecaster standing in front of a map, but in the studio, they are actually standing in front of a blank blue wall. The camera is programmed so that wherever it sees the color royal blue, the system inserts a graphic into the broadcast ( Gayathri in sun 8pm news, she moves here and there, its no that much difficult -- is Gayu still their in sun).
CNNfn (New York) is the only CNN News network based outside CNN's Atlanta headquarters. Others are CNN Hedline News, CNN Airport Network, CNN Interactive, CNN Espanol (spanish), CNN International, CNN Radio, TBS, Cartoon Network, TNT etc. We never had a chance to vist CNN Interactive(cnn.com), which is still a dream to me (to visit & work).
We came out of CNN and it was heavily raining. We stopped for a 'dum', the african-americans(Kallus) started to selling something(hey maaan, do u need a ticket?) and even frightened us by their behaviours. Not to remind, the atlanta downtown is filled with kallus and Martin Luther King was burried their after his assasination. Not in a good mood we went to Centennial Olympic Park, which is next to CNN.
Centennial Olympic Park established its reputation during the 1996 Olympic Games as the world's gathering place. We stopped there for a coffee and came out of that place 'cos of all the reasons which i mentioned earlier.
Saturday (Nov 24) was a louzy day to start with, we thought of going to a 'Bachelors Drama' called 'Dockside Dolls' and we did!!! I don't want to tell the story of the drama ( i can tell the story if anyone asks me personally!!). Atlast we started back on sunday 11am from Taylors. When i'm thinking of SC,NC & GA, there are 3 things which is notable.
1. The cost of living is much cheaper ( i bought 5 cartoons of Marlboro).
2. The females are good looking when compare to all other 15 states, i visited so far in 6 months. ( Actually i thought, Linda from the Marketing dept. is the ..., but everyone here is like her or more...! ).
3. Good and very soft people (even their accent is very much different from New England).
We reached Boston on Monday morning 8am and to the office on tuesday. My colleagues gave a look at me, which asks " R U still alive?". If i haven't gone to the office on tuesday, they might arranged a mourning day for me!?
Thanks for ur patience guys.
Check the album at : http://mukundaraj.tripod.com/photo_sc.html
A trip to South Carolina - Album Niagara - a cultural shock Mukundaraj Kavithaigal Mail me© Mukundaraj Munisamy 2000. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. For reprint rights, contact email address (!!).