Believe it or not, it is an addiction to me. I might be very busy with my work and studies, and might not be able to spare any time for any hobby. But still, when it starts, it continues and it becomes uncontrollable. It is the craving to take pictures and see the results. That is what has happened last month. I wanted to completely stop taking pictures for sometime. At least until I finish my graduate program. But when we went to see all the waterfalls’ along Columbia River gorge in Oregon, I could not stop and I took some pictures. My addiction to photography is so strong that I still do it in the traditional way. I use a manual focus camera, film and tripod. I get the film developed, scan the slides myself and post them on the web. I know that it is an addiction, but I think it is a good addiction!
July 21, 2007
October 8, 2006
Boardman,OH to Seattle,WA
5 Days and 2652 Miles
The world is vast, wide and wonderful. Limiting ourselves to Boardman for over three years of our lifetime didn’t seem right. There is a lot more world to see and explore and there are many things we can do, than what we did in Boardman. To do more, we need to learn more. So, I decided to go back to school (college/university).
And then, we started our longest drive ever. I left for Seattle with Indira, Kittaya and our faithful 1997 Camry on the morning of Wednesday, the 6th September 2006. We had a detailed and clear plan for our travel. We knew how long we were going to travel each day and where we were going to stop for the night. We had made all our reservations for the hotels and verified with the hotels before we started the journey. We were excited and also a little nervous about our move. I was totally comfortable about the plan we made for the trip, because I knew how the drive was going to be and how I would cover it. My only concern was Kittaya, because this was his first long drive.
We headed out on the Wednesday morning from Boardman in our car and with Annamayya Keerthanalu sung by M.S.Subbulakshmi playing in the car stereo. Whenever we go on a long drive, we start with these keerthanalu. These spiritual songs with extraordinary voice of M S and the melodious music always gave us a great start. The car was fully loaded, but we had sufficient space for Kittaya and his carrier. We had planned to reach Madison, WI by the end of day. Journey was very smooth until we reached the city limits of Chicago. If you have ever traveled to the city you would know how the traffic would be. We spent about two hours just to cross the city, and even with this delay were able to reach our hotel in Madison before sunset. We were traveling west and hence we were gaining time. That was an advantage.
When we reached Madison, one thing was obvious. We had packed too much stuff in our car. So, we went to an Office Depot near the hotel and took few things out of the car, put them in a big box and shipped them to our new address in Seattle. Most of those items we shipped were large comforters, pillows, etc. After clearing these items, we felt more comfortable in the car and Kittaya had more space to move around. We had our lease application approved and had already paid a holding deposit for an apartment in Seattle and hence we were able to ship the box to the new address.
We stayed in hotels at Sioux Falls in South Dakota, Sheridan in Wyoming, Missoula in Montana and on the last day in Bellevue, Washington. When we reached our destination at the end of fifth day, trip meter in the car read 2652 and the odometer reading was 112539 miles.
On the morning of the sixth day, which was September 11, 2006, we went to the apartments’ office and had a tour of the unit and the building. We liked the location and the unit, and signed a lease agreement. There we were, in our new home in Seattle.
Kittaya was the first to get settled in the new place. I think he knew instinctively that we had reached our destination. For us it took about two weeks to unpack, arrange and settle comfortably.
The landscape was spectacular and the drive was nice. The never ending corn fields in Wisconsin, open planes in South Dakota, wild west scenery in Wyoming, the mountains and creeks in Montana - all are just spectacular. During our travel we had told ourselves at least a hundred times, “we have to come back and explore all these places leisurely”. During our trip we crossed mighty Mississippi and Columbia rivers. We also visited Mt.Rushmore and enjoyed the short drive off of the highway.
View from Our New Apartment
I must say that the drive was an experience we will remember for ever.
Few things we followed during our trip:
1. Food - Limited to healthy selections, like salads, fruits and Subway (a fast food restaurant chain in USA) veggie sandwiches without cheese, etc. Particularly for breakfast and lunch, didn’t eat oily or greasy food items. Took a couple of bread slices or an English muffin with little butter, coffee and a fruit for breakfast.
2. Driving Speed - Kept at the posted speed limit or few miles below the limit. I maintained a constant speed of 65 mph almost all of the time. At this speed I got the best mileage possible (32 mpg - overall) and most importantly there was less strain on us and on the car.
3. Kittaya, the Cat - I took our Kittaya for a drive every day, for about ten days before the journey. I took him in the car and drove him around for about 15 to 20 minutes. By doing this, he got used to the car well and he was not surprised to stay in the car.
4. Start Early - We started early in the morning, around 7 O’ clock each day. We were getting up early, eating breakfast and hitting the road. By doing this, we were able to reach our destinations before sunset comfortably. Start early and reach safely!
April 2, 2006
Swami Vivekananda Vidyalaya, Nandyala.
Education and health are the most required facilities for any society to prosper. Our villages, towns and cities have these facilities. But are not adequate or of very poor quality. In our higher education system we have some of the best institutions in the world. When it comes to primary and high school education, our villages and towns don’t have many good schools. There are good schools, but most of them are not accessible to children who are born into low to mid range income families. Children shouldn’t be deprived of good education because of their parents’ economical potential. The children did not create their parents’ financial conditions or they did not choose their parents. The children who are not able to get good education because of their parents’ financial conditions are unjustly put in this condition. Majority of children in our country fall in to this category. All children must get good education and medical services. This must be the primary responsibility of our governments and societies. If we are talented and strong we can create all the other things ourselves. That is why we need good education and good medical facilities. These were my thoughts always.
One of my brothers, Kiran, who also shares similar ideas put a proposal before me about four and half years ago. That was, “How about developing an educational institution?” There was no second thought in my mind. I accepted his proposal immediately and we started the project which we called ‘Mabadi’. (’mabadi’ means ‘our school’.) We have put a lot of effort and most of our resources into this. Constructed building for the school with all the required furniture, teaching materials, books and toys. We started the classes in June 2003. Started with Nursery and kindergarten classes. Now there are classes up to 3rd class. The school will be successfully completing three academic years by 15 April 2006. Children studying in the school are getting the best education and facilities. Total expenses, including tuition fee, books and two pairs of school uniform is Rs.2,200 (kindergarten) and Rs.2,900 (for 1st, 2nd and 3rd classes).
The people who made this project a reality are my brother Kiran, my father and the teachers who are working for the school. There was also great support from Indira and there will always be. This is just a beginning and we have to go a long way.
School building in June 2003, before beginning regular classes.
March 30, 2006
Do they really have to do this? Is this what we wanted to hear on Ugadi?
Today Andhra Pradesh government announced that they are going to sell off the land owned by several temples. Our so called secular governments already have an unacceptable control over the properties and revenues of only Hindu temples.
The department of endowments and the government of Andhra Pradesh should be the care takers and protectors of the temples and temples’ properties. This is not a job our government is expected to do for free. A majority of our people are generating so much revenue to the government through temples. Government is already diverting these funds from temples to other activities.
And now, the government wants to sell off the temple lands. This is totally unacceptable. Speak up, speak out, spread the word and STOP THIS.