200!

I have been thinking about expressing my deep respect for Sachin Tendulkar for a long time. Just was not finding the “right mood” … But then, after yesterday, it will be a crime to not say a few words about this great cricketer.

A double-century in a One Day International! The first time ever …

Growing up, my idol was Mohammad Azharuddin. I loved to watch his stylish game and fantastic fielding. But then, we all know the turmoil in which his career ended. If the allegations are true, its a real pity that he decided to squander away his fame/career/goodwill in that manner. I will blog more about him later …

Back to Sachin.

My favorite memories about Sachin are:

(01) I vividly remember Sachin’s first foray into the role of an opener in ODI (One Day Internationals) in the ODI at Auckland on 27th March 1994. You might recall that Sidhu (the regular opener) was injured and as is understandable with the players from the subcontinent, no one volunteered to open. According to reports, Sachin did! And boy, that innings was a pure thrill to watch and resulted in Sachin moving from lower order to opener/top-order positions.

(02) Sachin massacaring Aussie bowling attack in back-to-back matches at Sharjah and winning the Coca Cola Cup in 1998. Those two innings (the first one to get India to the finals and the next one to win the championship) was pure brilliance.

(03) 1996 World Cup Semifinal at Calcutta, against Sri Lanka. Inexplicably, after winning the toss, captain Azharuddin asked Sri Lanka to bat first, ensuring that India had to chase (under the lights) in a high-pressure match. Calcutta crowd was pumped up, expecting India to thrash Sri Lanka. Jayasurya/Kaluwitharana (the firebrand openers who enabled Sri Lanka to win the World Cup that year) ensured that the target was a stiff one. While one after the other, batsmen from the “world’s best batting lineup”, came to the crease, played a few balls, got out and scooted back to the pavilion, Sachin stayed strong at one end. At 65, he got out (stumped) and the 3rd umpire was called in. I will never forget the pin-drop silence in the stadium (while the decision was being made) and the expression of immense disappointment on Sachin’s face, when he was given out. To me, it showed how much it meant to him though he was just a regular team-member.

(04) Almost single-handedly taking India to the 2003 World Cup finals (though we got thrashed in the finals). It was interesting to note that he, not the captain Sourav Ganguly, read the team statement after getting walloped in the 1st match by Australia and there was a lot of anger from the fans. Imagine reading such a statement and then flopping in the tournament. But he did not, did he?

Though he may not have been the most swashbuckling or fiery of captains, he was (and is) a perfect team-member. He always puts the team first, almost always says the right thing and is respectful to his peers and other greats.

Count me in as a true fan of this great player.

Rose Market, Mountain View …

My friend Sridhar had originally suggested the place several years back. We have visited the place quite often. I love to roam the aisles of Middle-Eastern Stores. The items are very tempting. This is a Persian store. It reminds me of the childhood years in Iran. Judging by the inevitable lines at the counter, the place is quite popular. The Yelp rating for the place is very good (4 Stars). All the items are moderately priced.

Prices = $  [$ – Cheap, $$ – Slightly pricy, $$$ – Wow! Bank Loan Time! 🙂 )

Service = Quite Okay

(01) Zereshk Polo:

Steamed white Basmati rice with barberries and Saffron. Very good. Especially, as a combination with the kabobs. 3.49$.

(02) Koubideh (Ground beef and lamb, mixed with onions and spices), Lahori Chicken Tikka (Boneless and skinless chicken marinated in Lahori spices)  and Chicken Kabobs:

2.49-5.99S

Very nice. They serve it along with Lavash bread and some green salad.

(03) Ganoosh:

Eggplant dish with onions and spices, topped with fresh mint.

3.99$

(04) Ghormeh Sabzi:

Fragrant combination of beef with parsley, leek, scallion, fenugreek and kidney beans.

4.99$

We had ordered take out and the long drive back home (with the food in the car) was torture … 🙂 I couldnt wait to reach home and wolf it down …. 😉 Considering the moderate prices, the food is definitely worth it.

How I chose Princess for our Spring-Break Cruise …

We have never been on a cruise. The idea has been in the back of my mind for a long long time. The circumstances till now did not allow for it. This Spring Break (April 3-10, 2010), we are going on our first cruise.

Cruise Line: Princess

Ship: Sapphire Princess

Duration: 7 days

Destination: Mexican Riviera (Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas)

Port: Los Angeles (We fly from San Jose)

My original dream was to cruise in Queen Mary II (Cunard), since it was the largest cruise ship in the world. Two problems: (a) Royal Carribean’s “Oasis of the Seas” recently beat it! (b) Cunard serves the Atlantic region, which does not meet the needs of us, who are on the west-coast.

As people who know me can attest, I love huge structures (buildings, ships, planes etc.). (I have visited World Trade Center, Sears Tower, Empire State Building, Petronas Towers, 2Ifc and several othes. In a few months, I would have visited Burj Khalifa.). The rate at which new cruise ships are being built, it is just a matter of time before Oasis of the Seas is no longer the largest cruise ship in the world 🙂 So, instead of focussing on that aspect, I decided to be practical.

My first plan was to do a South Amercan cruise, Mexico  via Peru, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. This was during Dec 2009 (that is when major cruise lines serve South America). After some research, inputs from travel agents and talking to people, I decided against it. There were just too many logistical difficulties. South America, dont worry! I will get there in future … 🙂

Once I decided on the timeframe (i.e. Spring Break 2010), it was a matter of selecting a cruise line, since almost all of them on the West Coast serve only Mexican Riviera. I researched Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess and Carnival. After reviewing the brochures and checking the customer reviews, I decided to go with Princess.

Note: I must say that it was quite a nuisance to be pestered by the sales people from the various cruise lines. Typically, they wont give out information unless you give your details. I.e. One cannot just call in and get “general information”. Caller-ID helped 🙂

We are looking forward to the vacation and hope it goes well … That is when I plan to put my “Travel Diaries Blog” into action …!

Chili Palace Restaurant (Hunan Cuisine), Milpitas, California …

After reading a very good review in a local newspaper, I have been wanting to go to this restaurant for some time. The opportunity presented itself recently and following is my experience …

Prices = $$ [$ – Cheap, $$ – Slightly pricy, $$$ – Wow! Bank Loan Time! 🙂 )

Service = Good

Since my previous experience with a Hunan Restaurant was awesome, I had very high expectations. Considering that, we had a good experience (even with our 2-year-old running amok in there).

We started off with Won Ton in Hot Sauce (6.95). The hot sauce was great, though the won tons were a bit ordinary.

For the main course, we went for:

Sliced Fish with Hot Chilli Sauce (12.95)

Spicy Curry Chicken (8.95)

Vegetable Fried Rice (6.95)

Special Pork with Chilli (10.95)

Chicken Chow Fun (7.95)

Our favorite was the Sliced Fish with Hot Chilli sauce. The ample quantity compensated for the price. Our least favorite was the Chicken Chow Fun, which we thought was quite ordinary. Overall, we liked the food enough to order some takeout also.