13 June 2023

St. Pete trip

  1. Because six beach vacations in as many months is never enough! Jun 10, 2023

    After coming back from DC on Thursday evening, Sharmila and I were relaxing with Jay Jay at Truck and Tap in downtown Alpharetta over some wine and live music. We were discussing what a great time we had in Roatan island with Raj and Viji this week. And in Abaco island with DJ and PJ a couple of weeks earlier.

    “What are we doing tomorrow?”, she asked.
    “We are going to be in the lake during the day. We can go somewhere in the evening after that,” I said.
    “Ok. Also, I am not working on Monday and Tuesday. We can do something over the weekend.”

    I think she was hoping I will look up some wineries or a day trip to some North Georgia mountain or do some hiking.

    I thought for a few minutes. And then came back with what I thought was a killer idea.

    “I have an idea.”

    “What?” she asked.

    “Let’s go to the beach! I feel like I have not seen a beach in some time.” I deadpanned.


    I am a bit of a beach crazy person that way. Some sunshine, a beach, a beachside bar and the vast expanse of water to stare at – that is what cloud nine looks to me.

    So, some more wine and a little arm twisting later… here we are… headed to Florida!!!

    Hope to enjoy the waters and catch up with old friends I have there.

    On an aside, these non stop beach vacationing during retirement is really exhausting. You folks might have to intervene and get me a job just so that I get some rest!!!

  2. Does a flamingo walk or dance? Do you know? Jun 10, 2023

    A few days back, in Roatan. Raj brought out a pack of Taboo cards and the four of us settled down to have at it. Somehow, I have too many funny stories from the past about incidents that occur when people try to clue words while specifically asked not to use certain other words. There is one involving Rema and Sanjay from 1993 that started the whole series.

    In any case, there we were… settled down in the air conditioned room after a days worth of hot and humid adventures. We had finished dinner and some of us were lying on the sofas when the game of Taboo ensued.

    This is where Raj enters the stage. He pulled up a card and started clueing…

    “This is a very small bird,” he said.

    We pounced with as many small bird names as we could. First, of course, was the “hummingbird”. We had just seen one in the garden a couple of hours back. Then we kept going with guesses like sparrow, finch, dove, crow, swallow… None of them were it. We even went up to an owl.

    Now, before I go any further, let me tell you that the word Raj was trying to clue was “flamingo”. Don’t ask me why he got it in his head that a flamingo is a small bird. (Incidentally, he later tried to justify it by saying he was comparing with an ostrich).

    Since we could not come up with anything, he offered the next clue:

    “It also walks!”

    And were were even more bewildered. What do you mean “It walks?” When have you seen a bird that does not walk? Well, I guess we can look past the hummingbird for that.

    At this point, I was convinced that his clues were wrong. I offered to see the card and see if I could clue alternately to Sharmila and Viji. He would have nothing of it.

    “There is also an Italian dance by this name,” was his final clue.

    Now, I am not into dancing but I am fairly sure I will know dance names better than Raj. After a few more moments, I was able to put the whole thing together…

    “Dude, that is not even the name of the dance. And the Italians are going to be mighty peeved if you try to foist a Spanish dance on them”

    And that is how we cracked “flamingo” in spite of a clueless Raj.

    So, here you go Raj : We got down at Tampa airport yesterday and as we were walking out, we took a picture of this statue of a flamingo bird inside the airport in the hope that this might vaguely remind you in future whether a flamingo is a small bird or not!!!

  3. Always reminded of my good friends Mark and Jen Jun 10, 2023

    Every time I step into this near 100-year old hotel, I am immediately reminded of my good friends from Lexington – Mark and Jen. I think it was Mark who had first pointed me to this great property (Vinoy). They still have the hundred year old stone tiles on the floors and the original beams and joists. The entire decor inside will remind you of traditional classy hotels from India.

    Mark, my friend, you might remember the glass of wine we had at the Verandah long time back. Sharmila and I had one last evening too!

  4. She is trying to inject culture into me … one step at a time Jun 10, 2023

    This was not part of the plan. At least she had never warned me about it.

    We landed up visiting just about every gallery in downtown St. Pete so that she could check out this area as an art market. Then, in the evening, we landed up doing the St. Pete Art Walk. Which is basically visiting about 30 galleries – each within a spitting distance of at least three breweries each – a mile off downtown St. Pete.

    Over 15,000 steps later, I have to admit that there were a few pieces I would have liked to buy. I am really really getting afraid that this culture thing is getting to me. I better get back on my motorbike moment I get back home.

    [This picture is from Five Deuces Gallery]

  5. Hitting all the St. Pete spots that I have visited before Jun 10, 2023

    This time with Sharmila. First drink of the evening at the packed Rooftop Bar of Birchwood Canopy. Great views of the Tampa Bay right next to us!

  6. St. Pete certainly made us feel very welcome! Jun 10, 2023

  7. At Vinoy Park… Jun 11, 2023

    … as my Bengali friends would no doubt say… “বিনয়ের অবতার”

  8. The philosopher Jun 11, 2023

  9. St. Pete airport Jun 11, 2023

    What I really want to do is to see if I can get a boat and get a closer view of the small airplanes landing there..

    For the frequent fliers… this is SPG … not PIE.

  10. Have you ever seen this in an elevator? Jun 11, 2023

  11. Trying out a local transport Jun 11, 2023

    Buggy cart in the pier…

  12. Manatee sighting Jun 11, 2023

    And there was I… quietly taking in the beauty of the water… appreciating the rocks in the water when Her Highness rudely interrupted my peace …

    “Did you see these?”

    “The rocks?” I asked

    “These are not rocks. These are manatees!”

    And that is how I came up close and personal with rocks that apparently move… and are called manatees!!

    Jokes apart, there were three of them. We had no food to give them. But they hung round and were sweet.

    One unfortunate part of those creatures in their natural habitats co-existing with us human beings… you can see the propellor marks o one of them… somehow it got too close to a motor of a boat.

    Reminder to all boat riders… be on the lookout… especially in shallow waters… keep as close to idling as you can before you are in deeper waters.

  13. She made me go to the Dali museum! Jun 11, 2023

    I am not into art. I am not into fine art! I am not into anything “fine” in life.

    But she dragged me (almost literally) to the Dali museum.

    While I did not come out any wiser for the wear, I did learn some crazy facts…

    1. Dali Salvatore was a rebel (well, at least now we are talking)

    2. He split his time between America and Spain (this I had no idea about)

    On that last point, I had no idea about the Abraham Lincoln painting he did. My picture does not do any justice. In reality, if you stand in front of the huge painting, the whole thing is a blur… you will only see the surrealist painter’s painting of the nude woman from the back surrounded by random colored blocks. One of those blocks has, what appears like, a pixellated picture of Abraham Lincoln.

    And here is the crazy thing… if you see the picture from a distance… it suggests twenty meters on the writeup … or you can simply try to look at the picture from your iPhone camera… all those individual blocks meld together to produce a smooth picture of Lincoln … and the nude woman is just not visible… The telescopic effect is unbelievable.

    I know I do not get art… but I do get visual effects. That was too cool !! To do that without computer effects… totally unreal….

  14. The Dali Museum… Jun 11, 2023

    … once you get out of the rooms with all his incredible creations…

  15. Riding around in the Looper Jun 11, 2023

    A great way to get around downtown St. Pete… all for free!

  16. Bhaskar!! Jun 11, 2023

    Last time I met Bhaskar must have been around 2004 in some Infineon customer meeting. I left the company (i2) the next year and subsequently moved away from Dallas. He went off to India. Ever since he came back to the US, I had been threatening to meet him. Today, I made good on that threat! Great time catching up on his transition to India and then transition back to the USA.

  17. Met my namesake after three decades Jun 11, 2023

    31 years to be precise. Rajiv (we spell our names slightly differently) and I went to MBA school together and then joined the same company – COSL. More importantly, we lived in the same apartment in Bombay (Mumbai).

    Obviously, we had some great times then. We were all bachelors and there were too many drinking sessions over the weekends with singing and dancing. Believe it or not, I was the designated driver those days. Well, I did not exactly drive so much as made sure things were kept at a level that would not bother the folks upstairs or downstairs. (All the three apartments in that floor of Dharm Palace residential complex housed employees from COSL) But sure as heck, I had not touched a single drop of alcohol till thenn. Actually, it would be so for another few years after those days.

    Then Rajiv married Rekha and moved off to Japan. My last meeting with him was when he had come back from Japan for a short visit that year. He sat me down and encouraged me to move over to the Operations side of business instead of just Technology. (I loved software). This was 1992. I eventually took his advice – but much later.

    From Japan, Rajiv, Rekha and their three daughters moved back to India. Midori and Hana came to the USA for studies. And then a few years back, the other three moved over to the USA too.

    Sharmila and I got to meet Rajiv and Rekha for dinner today!! As you can imagine, there was a lot of catching up we had to do. We also got to meet Naomi.

    The highlight of the evening must have been the story of the bathroom toilet with a Wifi router. I will let him expound on that!!

  18. Today’s adventure starts with a trip to Madeira Beach Jun 12, 2023

    I had come here two and a half years back after receiving my first Covid vaccination. That time I was visiting the area with Avi. This time with Sharmila.

  19. The cute town of Dunedin Jun 12, 2023

    I had never heard of this town north of Clearwater. Sandra had texted us to visit this place. The cute downtown lived up to the expectations she had set. Very pretty. The best find was this waterside restaurant called Bon Appetit. The food was incredibly good. I will have to come back here again.

  20. One more unique experience Jun 12, 2023

    So far, all our boating experience has been in Lake Lanier. Today we broke that monotony and took a boat out in Tampa Bay and spent a few hours exploring the Bay. Got some great views of downtown St. Pete and did some maneuvering around sand bars. Also took the boat into one of the inland channels and checked out the houses of the rich and famous!

  21. One of our first friends from Atlanta Jun 12, 2023

    May of 2007. We still were living in Dallas. The last vacation we took from Dallas was to the Smoky Mountains. The girls were really young (9 and 3). Our live in nanny Nancy was traveling with us too.

    On our way back home, we stayed overnight in a hotel in Atlanta. Next morning, Sandra met us in the hotel and introduced herself as the real estate agent assigned to us to help in our relocation to Atlanta. That morning was spent getting to know each other and trying to scope out what kind of house we would be looking to buy.

    That started our friendship of two decades. The last time I saw her was probably when we had called the previous owners of the house and her over to have lunch with us in our house. After that, it was mostly phone calls – sending references, birthday calls and so on.

    She then moved to New York and subsequently to St. Pete.

    It was so great to see Sandra after such a long time. Like that first meeting, this time too she gave us a good lay of the land in terms of real estate in St. Pete. Also some more places to visit in and around St. Pete. We will hit those areas tomorrow before we head back home!!

  22. Pass-A-Grille historic district Jun 13, 2023

    Upon Sandra’s advise, we hit the historic district of Pass-A-Grille after getting up in the morning. And walked up to St. Pete beach. The water looked beautiful and the beach was filled with shells.

  23. Vacation, personified Jun 13, 2023

  24. Another picture that screams “Vacation” Jun 13, 2023

  25. Have not seen these in a long long time… Jun 13, 2023

    In fact, I cannot even remember the last time I have seen one of these. It is the classic analog clock-style indicator of which floor the elevator is in. This is in the Vinoy hotel.

    Where and when have you last seen one of these?