Fall 2012 – In Review

With a lot of ‘reviews’ of the year gone by doing the rounds, I’m adding my two bits about the past semester. A combination of work and laziness has conspired to get something on this blog only now! Plus the fact that once the semester starts, one has to wait longer for interesting things that are worthy of a blog post!

As part of the project I’m working on, I went to SUNY, Stony Brook along with a couple of other students in my lab for the half-yearly Principal Investigator (PI) meeting. Though we’re not the PIs, students got to go because they were the ones doing all the work. As the newest member of this team, I was basically a freeloader and did not have to present anything. The University campus looks pretty rundown, except for the building that was the venue for the meeting; and only because it seemed a relatively recent construction. The one thing most people go to such meetings for – the food – wasn’t that great. At least I did not appreciate it because lunch on both days was arranged at an Indian restaurant and compared to non-Indians, we tend to judge Indian food very harshly. A consequence of this trip was that I had to have a haircut – after more than six months!

On our way back, we realized how fortunate we were to have three airports in the vicinity of College Park. Bad weather over Baltimore and the plane running out of fuel meant that our flight was diverted to IAD. It was announced that the plane would be refueled and would take off to Baltimore once the weather cleared. However, some of us said that we would prefer disembarking at IAD, which the airline allowed since we did not have checked baggage.

One of the highlights of the semester was the extended weekend that we got due to Hurricane Sandy. The storm was expected to hit us hard, and as a precautionary measure, the University declared a holiday for two days. Buses and trains also did not function on those days. It rained continuously for more than two days, but other than that nothing untoward happened here. The full impact of the storm was felt up north in New York and New Jersey, where there was massive flooding and people were without power for days. At home, we spent an evening making (delicious) onion pakoras! We also noticed that a lot of spices at home were nearing their expiry dates, which forced us to make sambar one evening for dinner – after almost six months!

Onion Pakoras

Onion Pakoras

Last month, the ECE Graduate Students’ Association organized a hike to Great Falls at Potomac. The Potomac river serves as the boundary between Maryland and Virginia. We set up a barbecue and grilled burgers and hot dogs, and walked along a trail for close to two hours. The cold and the wind then got the better of us, making us return earlier than we wished.

Great Falls Park, Potomac, MD

Great Falls Park, Potomac, MD

Diwali was celebrated here with a little fanfare. The time difference meant that we celebrated the occasion on a Monday evening. Diyas were lit along the mall in front of the library – though a constant wind kept a lot of people busy in repeatedly lighting them. Dinner was also provided. The next day, we made Shankarpali at home, which came out really well. A couple of temple trips were also organized, but we passed.

Diwali Celebrations at UMD

Diwali Celebrations at UMD

 

Diwali at Home - Shankarpali

Diwali at Home – Shankarpali

The Thanksgiving weekend, in true tradition, was reserved for catching up on work and sleep. In a departure from last year, when we stayed at home on all four days, this time around fifteen of us got together for a potluck dinner. Since we were the only ones who were from Seven Springs, we were in-charge of supplying liquids and the ceremonial chicken. Turkey was not an option because it would have taken around five hours for it to cook and we did not have that much time. Other items at the dinner included chicken, prawns, pulao, tomato rice, cheesecake and carrot halwa. It was real good fun, and being the festive season, the neighbors decided to be good too and did not complain about the noise we were making.

Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner

Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner

Thanksgiving and immediately after was hectic with submissions and finals, before it was time to start the countdown to the India trip!

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