Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Travelling Madman

That's what Terren called me, and I couldn't have put it in better words. In the last one-and-a-half-month or so, I went to a 15-day vacation to India and then came back to the US.

Just when I think I got over my jet lag, I went to IEEE Globecom 2005 in St. Louis, Missouri. (I will get to St. Louis in a paragraph) It was highly informative. I was able to gauge what's up-and-coming in the Telecom industry. And apparently IMS, TISPAN & FMC are the buzzwords in the operator circles. RFID & WiMax are the buzzing words in the consumer industry. I had been to quite a number of conferences. NTT Japan demonstrated a RFID solution where they were able to track the temperature of a container of apples as it was transported from the ware house to the retail stores. And, btw, this is currently being used in Japan. Goes to show how far ahead Japan is w.r.t US in wireless communications.

Now, on to St. Louis. I understand (from the 100 times I was told by people there) that the city is in the center of america, literally -- Look at the logo of the conference, here. The main attraction of the city is the "Gateway Arch". The main attraction of the city is the "Gateway Arch". It's not a typo -- I repeated twice, because that's all pretty much there is in St. Louis. It's a typical midwest town where the people are very friendly and things seem little gloomy for a person who lives in the fast paced east coast. "Did you go to the top of the arch?" is what everyone asks you if you ask them what's there to see in the city. I did go to the top and there's nothing much to see from there. What was amazing was the ride to the top - which is an engineering marvel built by the use of elevators and pulleys built in 1950s. I visited the City Museum, a couple of Indian settlements. And then there are Lewis and Clark. They apparently went on an expedition (which they call, world's longest expedition, which I am not sure if it is) to explore the west of the Mississippi. And they started from St. Louis. Hence the name - Gateway to the West.

What I wanted to see in St. Louis was a St. Louis Rams Football game, which I dint get to see as my return flight was scheduled before the game started. But I did get to see the stadium and it is huge. The conference was an overall success as I did get to meet a lot of interesting people, both from the academia and from the industry. Got to see the 'Gateway Arch'. (OK, I'll stop saying that now :)).

Moving on, I came back from St. Louis to a flurry of activity at my work. Owing to the recent downsizing, I went on a lot of farewell lunches/dinners with folks -- lot of nostalgic moments. More on the work front later in a separate post. Then comes my next travel -- this is purely for pleasure. The destination is Miami, Florida which according to Yahoo has 5 of World's Top 10 Beaches. But, thanks to Hurricane Wilma, the beaches are in a bad shape as the wind gusts have pushed the sea weeds and other sea animals ashore. But it was still a nice 4 days. I had gone with my current & ex roommates and we had a lot of fun throughout the trip. We stayed in the South Beach area and it was full of activity. The two highlights of the trip are the weather (75F ++) and the crowd. South beach area was full of "interesting" girls in a party atmosphere. Don't need to say more than that ;)...

We also went (more like drove through) to the Florida Keys. The drive is an interesting one as these keys are very narrow and there's basically one highway going through it. Connecting these keys are all long over seas bridges. The Longest one is called the '7 Mile Bridge'. We then went to the southern most point in the US in Key West, FL. We got a surprise when we reached Key West as it was full of people. Apparently Fantasy Fest 2005 was on when we were there. As there's not going to a full Mardi Gras in New Orleans this year, FantasyFest took over that role and it was party time in full swing. It was wild to say the least. Needless to say that I scored a lot of beads :).

We also went to the Everglades which was only partially open again thanks to Hurricane Wilma. We still got to peek a bunch of alligators up close and personal. Rest of the trip was spent on idling on the beach, "people watching" and such things....

So, all-in-all, I have logged about 15,000 miles of flying time in the last 50 days and I think I've had enough for this year.

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