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Weekend @ Houston

March 16, 2010

Almost for 6 months, all my weekends have been just movies and shopping. Putting together a quick plan to get away from Dallas and spend a weekend sounds better and easier than coding Java. With most of the folks here new to Dallas, everyone were anxious to go on a trip. So Parthi and family, Mugunth, Kishore, Senthil readily accepted the invitation to join the trip. Most of them being first timers to long trips, made the group more bubbling with excitement. Mugunth and myself made the initial arrangements, renting a car, booking the tickets to the attractions at Houston (nothing but just NASA), and most important of all buying the snacks from the Indian store. Even though we planned to leave Dallas by 4AM on Saturday, as usual we started late by more than an hour. With some devotional songs filling the air, Mugunth finally drove us out of Dallas.  03132010032

As the CDs kept changing, “hasile fisile en raasamani” continued by interesting-totally-waste-of-time discussions on movies, heroes and all the comedies. Almost an hour passed by, it was about sunrise after 6AM, and our veteran was in full form with his goggles on… Soon, Senthil, the youngest of all (Kutti – we call him), raised his interest to drive on the highway for the first time. We agreed to let him drive if he would stop his dry poor jokes. After coffee @ Starbucks, continued by breakfast @ BK, Kishore and then Parthi drove, and by the time we reached Houston it was half past 11AM, but Kutti never drove, as he never stopped his PJs in the entire trip.

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Meenakshi Amman Temple, one of the biggest temples in US, I would say, is one of the most peaceful too. After praying to Goddess Meenakshi, Lord Sundareswara and Lord Vishnu for “World Peace” and our own prosperity, we went around the temple more than once to find if any “unda katti” is being served. With a camera in everyone’s hand, there was no one to pose for pictures, :)  finally a casual shot from Ramya…who was very happy clicking the Sony cam in whichever angle she could, after I abandoned it since my E72. I did not even care if she was taking a photo, being busy with my phone processing all the photos I took proudly with…Kutti was as usual in his own feelings, no one knows what it is…Parthi and wife were the only ones who seemed to be giving a pose…and no comments on what Mugunth and Kishore were trying to do :)   As the noon sun was bright up on the sky, we started moving towards Pongal and Puliyodharai. With a nominal priced canteen at the temple, we ordered each and everything on the menu and decided to share. Eventually we went for second serving on most of the items. DSC05030

Our next destination was the Space Center, NASA. It was 10 miles away from the temple, and we reached there in about 15 minutes. As soon as we entered the space center, cameras started taking shots of anything and everything that met the eyes. After watching a short movie followed by a run through the exhibits of a space station, highly impressed, Ramya and I decided to buy a plane for ourselves instead of our favorite yellow Corvette… ;)

More than the short movie, the space center had quite a number of exhibits and simulation games, which was worth learning and watching. I was expecting a EPCOT kind of space simulation ride, but that is way too much of an expectation for the ten bucks ticket cost. Only after the trip, talking to my uncle I came to know that NASA has exhibited the famous quotes of  “ஔவையார்”  (Auvaiyar)

“கற்றது கை மண் அளவு, கல்லாதது உலகளவு”

“What you have learnt is a mere handful, What you haven’t is like the world in its size”

which I never came across in this space center.

Next was the tram tour to the “Rocket Park” and “Mission Control Center”. The Mission Control Center, the way it looks, is more like my old Unix lab at college, ignoring what is being done at both places…then the Rocket park, reminded me of my visit to RCI, Hyderabad…watching a real Saturn V, was worth missing two return trams to the space center. It was time to try out the panorama mode on my phone camera, and I guess its not too bad for a mobile cam.

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So that was all at Space Center, it was almost sunset, and Galveston Beach was 45 minutes away from NASA. Though it would be dark when we reach there, we still drove all the way. With nothing to see at the beach, we returned immediately. With several options for dinner…seeing Olive Garden crowded to the streets, we finally ended up grabbing several of those “5$ foot longs” from Subway, and headed our way back to Dallas.

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