Category Archives: Travelogue

Delayed Flight to LA

Hey fellas. Hope you all are having a terrific Sunday. I think I have told this before, I don’t like traveling on weekend. But here I am on a 6 hours flight to LA again on a Sunday. Can’t do much when the meeting is on Monday morning.

The weather was fine until I boarded the plane. We were taxing to take off when the storm appeared from nowhere. We are now stranded on the tarmac for over an hour and a half. The pilot has been kind enough to call every 15 minutes, but he didn’t have much to offer. The rain has stopped a while back but I guess the backlog is long enough.

So what did I do? Watching a movie and writing on WP. The Post is the movie I am watching. If you haven’t, you must. It is a political drama starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. A stellar performance and a great story. Let me take a still capture for you.

I am going to watch one more movie after this. You enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Until next time 👋🌸

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Lost in the ​Atlantic Ocean

We all at some point in our life must have experienced the term “being lost”. Some on roads, few in life and others may be in their beloved eyes. But how many of you can claim to have lost in the ocean. If that sounds interesting let me borrow your undivided attention for the next 5 minutes.

I am always fascinated by yachts. The monohull, the deep single fin cutting like a keel, the shiny wood, the speed motor, the sail, everything about a yacht excites me. I always wanted to get a boat license. I actually passed the RTLM(Radio telephony inland maritime) exam, but couldn’t renew it. My next target is to buy a small boat. Let me save my fascination with the boat for a different post.

Coming back to my story, not too long ago one of my friends bought a boat. He was super excited about his boat and never missed any occasion not to talk about his boat experiences. Through him, I learned a lot about boats. Like how to dock a boat, the special boat fuel, the ropes, the beautiful stern, and the cozy cabin. He was ecstatic and proud of his possession and displayed his boat learnings in abundance.

One summer weekend he invited me to join him. The plan was to drive the boat in the bay, go to a waterside restaurant, enjoy good food and music, and sleep in the boat for the night. I was skeptical about his boat driving capabilities and he rested my anxiety when he mentioned his friend was joining us, who owned a boat for the over 20 years.

After hearing so much about his boat I was now looking forward to a great fun weekend. The day arrived. At first, we were three of us. My friend(the boat owner), his girlfriend (claimed to be riding boat since her childhood) and the least experience Me. 😊

Our veteran boat driver house was on the waters, close by from where the boat was docked. My friend has taken his boat enough to his house. The plan was for my friend to take the boat to our designated boat driver house and from there he would take control.

Everything happened as per the plan. We were soon joined by my friend’s boat driver friend and his wife. Crisscrossing the 2-5 mile wide bay we reached the restaurant within 30 minutes. The food was amazing and the music🎼 was awesome.  We had a really good time. At around 1:00 AM we decided to head back.

As we were walking to our boat, our designated driver phone📲 rang. Apparently, his 18-year-old son met with an episode and he left along with his wife in a whiff. We were stranded in the middle of nowhere with the boat and a few questions. I played safe and decided to rest in the boat cabin until the morning. My point was simple, let the morning arrive before we decide what to do with the boat. My friend’s girlfriend had a different plan. She claimed her entire life was spent on waters💦 and she knew enough about the place to navigate us safely back.  I was doubtful but my midnight thrill coupled with the renewed assurance given by the lady cultivated enough courage allowing me to take the plunge.

So around 1:30 AM in the night, the four of us,  my friend, the lady, me and the boat🚣‍♀️ started the adventure. It didn’t take us long to understand we were lost. It was pitch dark, not even a soul was visible. The lone boat light💡 was fighting hard to show us the way but was failing miserably. The confident lady looked lost the most. I learned two things that day

  • The boat GPS is not like the one we see on our smartphones. It is like a radar. No one amongst us knew how to read
  • The boat does not have breaks😱. We drove slowly to ensure we don’t hit anyone in the dark.

I wasn’t tensed but was sure worried😧, however, that thought diminished abruptly. For I saw a long strip of light, and when we looked with squinted eyes, we realized it was a ship!! Yes, you guessed it right, we had somehow left the bay and were approaching the ocean. For sometime none of us spoke and when reality hit us hard we panicked. I declared we were cast away. Then a thought came to my mind, what if I use my phone GPS. I opened the phone in haste. Fortunately, it was still catching signals. Sure, GPS didn’t show water paths but then we noticed about several miles away there were roads that the GPS could recognize. The lady finally was jubilant. Being a local she recognized the roads. Taking the phone GPS as a guiding light we reached our docking area by morning 5 AM.

Whenever we meet we laugh about this experience, scary for sure but we will treasure this for a lifetime.

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Life Lessons and Experiences​

Day 1 – 15-Jul-18

An almost aborted trip, a missed connection aborted in the last minute, a 29-year-old Lyft driver who claimed to have semi-retired, a canceled meeting and a ride on a police van. The only thing my recent trip didn’t offer was the dearth of excitement.

If you have read my previous post you must have learned how I had almost canceled the trip to Louisville, but then the good Soul Linda from United Airlines saved my day. If you have not you can read it here

If you are thinking my share of thrill has ended with that nearly missed flight, you are wrong. Still interested, please read on. 😊

I reached Louisville without any more incidence close to midnight. My connection from Chicago was on time and everything worked out just as expected. The rideshare driver I hailed was an interesting person. While speaking to him I learned he was visiting his sister helping her with her newborn baby. He was young lad so the curiosity got the best out of me and I asked him whether he had taken time off to be close to his sis. His response surprised me.

He was 29 and almost retired. He was from Hawaii, the big island and had two Air BnB properties, the reason for his early rertirement. After he left School he worked for 10 years as a bartender and then as a bar manager. He saved enough to buy his first property in Hawaii. Once that worked out, he bought a second one and now he doesn’t have to work anymore. He was driving rideshare to kill time.😊  A job that you don’t work for money is the best job ever. He taught me two important lessons

Lesson 1 – The clarity in what he wanted from life. At a tender age of 18, he had a plan and he made it happen.

Lesson 2-  Define how much is enough. I may be earning much more than him but I am far from retirement 😛

Our conversation then naturally progressed to the volcanic eruptions on the Big Island. As most of you may know, there is an active volcano in Hawaii erupting lava on a continuous basis. I learned two things from him, the Big Island, to begin with, was small, it grew bigger as the lava from volcanos took over the areas from Ocean. Second, his favorite clear water snorkeling in Big Island would be a piece of land after the eruptions stop. It sure was a big hit on his rental income as because of the high concentration of sulfur-dioxide in the air, there is a mandatory evacuation.

Day 2 – 16-Jul-18

My meeting went really well and with a blithe mood, I headed to the airport. This time I was flying to Miami connecting via Atlanta. I am United patronage but since it was not home turf I had to travel Delta Airlines. I do not have any status with Delta and I was a little skeptical about the experience, but it turned out to be ok. The flight boarded on time but was delayed due to weather and we waited on the tarmac for long.  Enough to make me miss my connecting flight 😩

But the pilot did some maneuvering and we deplaned by 7:07 PM. My connecting flight was at 7:33. I hurriedly looked at the display board, it was a D gate. Atlanta is a humungous airport. From where I was, I had to dash for 1/2 mile first to catch the in-terminal transit train and then another 100 meters to reach the gate. I somehow made it to the gate, only to find they changed it to E terminal. That was another quarter mile dash to the train and few hundred meters to the gate. As luck would have it to my deep frustration they changed the gate again to E8 from E28. I dashed for another 200M to finally reach my gate. I was the last person to enter. I was happy with my run, for I ran with two bags without losing breath 💪 Yay!!

The moment I landed in Miami, I was welcomed with a text message – the meeting for which I traveled was canceled. Apparently, the person I was meeting had some emergency,🚨 nothing I could question about.🤐 I did all the running for nothing. I had two option enjoy Miami or take the next flight back home. I did the latter.

Today, 17-Jul-18

It was an early morning flight. Sleep deprived😴 I reached home and found my car tire had no juice. I thought of getting some Air for the tires, finish a phone meeting and sleep early. Only I could wish. As I was filling the air, my car keys 🔑 fell out of my pocket into the nearby water drainage 💦 😱

The drain must be 8 feet deep. I could see my keys but no way I could move the iron grill. I called the local police.👮‍♀️ After 45 minutes of waiting the police officer showed up but couldn’t do much. He tried calling the Fire Dept, the water dept. but everyone refused to help. Then it started raining ☔️ So, he offered me a ride to my home to get my duplicate key. It was really kind of him to offer that, thank you office Sullivan.

Fellas, this is how it ended. I rode in a police car, 🚘 in the back seat, where usually criminal sit. It was an odd feeling, but you got to do what you got to do.

I had my share of excitement for the day. How did your day go?

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Linda N from United Airlines, You Rock

I travel for work, to explore new places and to learn. While traveling may sound daunting, the experiences we garner are often priceless.

One such incident happened today. I was flying to Louisville, Kentucky today in the evening. I was enjoying the soccer World Cup final( little sad as Croatia was losing) when my an alert popped up on my phone stating my flight was canceled. Sure, there were thunderstorms in the morning but it looked bright and dandy now. It was bizarre they canceled the flight. I am sure United had its reason. I was booked automatically for a next day flight getting me in Louisville, not until 2:00 PM. My meeting tomorrow is at 2:00 so I decided to call United to explore some options. After some permutations and combinations, the best option offered to me was to fly into Cincinnati, Ohio. Louisville was about 100 miles from there, a couple of hours of late evening drive. Given the number of flight cancelations, it was not a bad option. My flight was at 3:30 so I hurriedly called a ride and off I went to the airport.

I must be 5 minutes en route when I got another notification indicating my flight to Cincinnati also got canceled.

I called United again. There was literally no option. We explored all the nearby airports, tried connections but nothing was working out. The agent genuinely tried hard to get me to Louisville or somewhere nearby, but because of cancellations and the cascading effect, it appeared I was hitting a wall.

She finally found me a confirmed seat from Chicago to Louisville for 9:00 PM tonight, but the flights to Chicago from Newark area were either canceled or delayed making me impossible to catch my connection.

I gave up. I decided to inform my client about the flight situations. I was flying to Miami from Louisville tomorrow and thought of focusing on getting my future itinerary fixed. I thanked the lady for her service. Before dropping the line she confirmed my phone number and promised to call me back if she finds me an option. I took that as a courtesy remark and asked my rideshare to take me back home.

I was in a call with my travel desk to get my Miami itinerary corrected when my phone rang with an unknown 1-800 number. Curiously I picked the phone and guess what, it was the same lady from United airlines who was trying to help me before. She got me into a flight to Chicago so that I can catch my connection to reach Louisville tonight. I was now flying from Laguardia airport from NY. I rerouted my rideshare again and I am writing this as I am trying to reach the airport beating the N.Y. traffic.

I thanked her and told her how her services had given me one more reason to fly United. It is people like her who make the real difference. Upon my insistence, she gave me her name. So, Linda N this is for you. Thank you for all your help. Regardless of what is in fold tonight you certainly gave me something to cheer about. So, thank you.

PS: the picture is the N.Y. skyline taken from the cab I am on

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

A Memory From the Past

Today when I opened Facebook, I was greeted with the below picture. I took this photo two years back when I was visiting my hometown Jorhat in Assam, India.

For my international audience a little titbit about my beautiful state. Assam is a gorgeous state in northeastern part of India. The land of tea and the only place in the world where you can find single horn rhinoceros. And if that is not all the largest river island Majuli is about 7 miles away from my home. A land of untouched beauty, which looks still the same as it was 20 years back when I was a growing up.

The picture intrigued me, for during that time of the year Assam was badly hit by the flood. About half of the state was under water. A curse that keeps revisiting Assam every other year, if not less. I was driving down home when I saw this family making the makeshift boat to possibly travel across the village.

Life never stops despite all natural calamities. A beautiful reminder and a great lesson I learned that day.

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Life Lessons

I am traveling today for another day trip to LA. On my way to the airport I met this interesting man Richard. Rich, as he liked him to be addressed, drives Lyft ride share as a part-time hobby. Upon my chit-chat with him, I learned a few interesting things. The writer in me thought it might very well qualify for a travelogue 😄

He was in his late sixties. His charming personality made those wrinkles on his face appear insignificant. He loved to talk and was very friendly. Upon my enquiring, I found his main business was real estate. He had 3 properties by the shorelines, which he rent out to vacation seekers through the year. Some of the best beaches I have seen are by the jersey shorelines( a post for a later time 🏖😊). if you love the weather channel ⛈🌊 or were in the northeastern US in 2012, you will sure remember Sandy. It was a category 3 storm with wind speed of 115 mph and costed US about 68.7 billion dollars, fourth largest in the US history.

I was in NJ during that time, and it wasn’t pretty. Though I was about 50 miles inland, the surging wind roar was something I would never forget. I was lucky enough not to lose power and hosted my friends who were a little unfortunate.

I recalled shorelines were hit the worst. The houses were uprooted, cars floated in abundance and it was mayhem all around. So, out of curiosity, I asked whether he faced any trouble during Sandy? It seemed one of his house was by the waters, and during the storm it completely washed away. But here is what I learned – despite having flood insurance the maximum anyone got paid was 250k. Not a penny was paid to those who didn’t have flood insurance. I never knew flood insurance had limits 🤔. His house was a condominium so he fortunately was covered. I had not taken flood insurance for my houses 😱. His advice was no matter where we are located, we should always take flood insurance. Something I need to do when I am back from this trip.

Then we spoke about our families. He grew up in Brooklyn. If NY fascinates you, you must have heard about this place. Brooklyn is one of the most populous boroughs of NY city. B-Boying dance form was invented here. Brooklyn was known for crime in the past and he shared his experience of growing up in the area. He had one daughter, who incidentally lived a few miles away from where I resided. He then mentioned a very interesting thought. In the search of the most perfect husband, his daughter was still a bachelorette. I understood it was the father’s version and his daughter may have a different perspective. However, his words hit me hard, for most of us let go of the moments, people and sometimes love in search of the perfect universe.

The drive was uneventful and I reached the airport on time. With an advice to act upon and a lesson to ponder I am ready to spend my next 6 hours of flight time

Thanks for reading.

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Night Out In Downtown San Antonio

I had traveled to San Antonio so many times but never got a chance to explore the city. San Antonio is an important south-central​ city of Texas and had the vibrant impression of a colonial presence. The city was an important commercial venue for Texas and was strategically positioned between Dallas, Austin, and Houston, the three major cities of the state.

For two days we were locked in a conference room engrossed in work. When we were finally done on the third day, we decided to explore the city, breaking the usual monotonous mold. Time was around 6:00 in the evening. We didn’t have any set plan. Riverwalk​ was the most famous tourist spot in the area, so we decided to give the place a visit.

Riverwalk was a crisscross​ of walkways across the banks of the San Antonio River. On both side of the mile-long​ river (it was more like a canal) were bars, restaurant​, ​and shops and the place was a major attraction for tourist. There were tourist boats traveling on the waters and the street was vibrant with people from all scores. The network of the pedestrian walk was majorly influenced by the neighboring state of Mexico, which​ was about 150 Miles away from the San Antonio city.

We stopped by a restaurant where a small musical ensemble laced with guitar and Sexton were playing the local Conjunto on the street. The food was delicious and ambiance sparkling. By the time we were done with our dinner the time was already 11 PM. A friend of mine wanted to explore the city more. My flight was at morning 5. The sane person in me wanted to go back to the hotel but the curious me detested the thought. It was anyways a long ago when I had spent the night with open eyes. So, I gave in to my vices and joined my friends. We were four of us. We climbed up and walked towards the downtown. There was a Marriott not too far away and we decided to stop by the bar at the Marriott lobby. I settled down with my glass of water and my friends with their Macallan.

At 1:00 AM we decided to leave. I almost called a cab to go back to the hotel when one of my friends​ was suddenly hungry. Upon enquiring the valet person at the hotel we found there was a place two blocks away, which serves food till the wee hours. We started walking but before we could reach the place we saw a bar a level down crowded with people. Unanimously we decided to explore the place. The pool table was the main attraction for me. Last I played pool was in Singapore 16 years back. Back then it was a regular ritual. We played two games. It took me some time to get back my hold on the stick. It wasn’t bad. We played till 2:00 AM till the bar was declared closed.

The moment we were out my friend hunger surprisingly visited again. We found the eatery, but decided to leave, for the line was way too long. 3 in the morning we reached the hotel. Spent another hour in the lobby before heading out to the airport with red eyes.

I reached home yesterday by noon but how could I sleep when both India-England T-20 and England-Columbia round of sixteen matches were on. Though I struggled, I refused to give up. I didn’t regret watching the match and then I slept, only to wake up at 9:00 PM.

The 4th of July fireworks in our county was planned for yesterday. Enjoyed the fireworks, came back and slept again until late in the morning.

Fireworks

Did a night out after a long time and I am glad I did, for I had treasured some memories for a lifetime.

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Smile

Hey guys. I am back again to share with all you lovely people yet another travel experience.

Yesterday I was on a plane from Newark to San Antonio. It was a short 3.5 hours flight. I hate to travel on the weekend particularly when a round of 16 was going on in the soccer world. I watched the match until the very end. What a match it was, a thriller indeed. I felt bad for Argentina and jumped on a rideshare cab to head to the airport.

Being a Saturday, things were quiet at the airport. I reached the gate before time and without any hullabaloo occupied my seat. Time was around 2 PM and I thought of taking a short siesta. I sleep badly on planes but for some strange reason, I managed to doze off this time.

The plane was crawling on the runway waiting for its turn to take off. Soon I heard the jet’s sudden thrust preparing to defy the gravity and soar high somewhere up in the sky. I kept my eyes closed, half asleep half aware of the proceedings. Suddenly a loud cheer woke me up from my slumber. Before I could comprehend what struck me, I saw people cheering and whistling, celebrating as if they made their maiden flight. The noise was too much and the decibel way too high for me to go back to sleep again. I pulled out my half-finished book, Devil in the white city, to kill time. But the constant hustle made it hard for me to concentrate. People were taking across aisles, shouting, teasing and making fun of each other.

I looked around and found there were about 10 couples traveling together. They were in their late fifties and early sixties. Some had walking sticks, many had hearing aids and few were wearing thick glasses. Regardless of their age or physical conditions they were happy.

Few passengers took offense, frowning every time they screamed. But that didn’t deter their enthusiasm. The lady seating behind my seat was loud. One hour into the flight, I knew everything about the group. It seems they were traveling back home after a week-long vacation in NY. In the beginning, I was upset, for my sleep was disturbed. However, as time progressed my viewpoint changed. They may be suffering from ailments, entwined in the grime of old age but never deprived of the joys of life.

The loud cheering continued until we landed and I joined their laughter with my gleeful smile.

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Caught Off Guard

And for Humor…

I was traveling to India last May when the air hostess got me a glass of water with no ice as a courtesy drink before the take off. I noticed she was asking everyone about their choice, but when it came to my turn she simply offered me the drink without querying about my preference. It sure was what I would have asked for, still I couldn’t comprehend the fact she didn’t extend the civility to me as she did to my fellow passengers. I couldn’t hold my inquisitiveness for long and enquired how she knew what my choice of drink was. She smiled and said, “I have seen you enough on this route.”

It was a mixed bag of emotions. Though the customer experience was beyond par, I felt a little discomforted knowing people taking note of my presence when I assumed traveling could put me in oblivion.

And then I smiled, for you know you are traveling more than the usual when the flight attendant greets you by saying, “welcome back”.

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Long Beach – The Mary Queen

A day trip to LA from the east coast was tiring, to say the least. Particularly when it was not for pleasure. I landed yesterday mid-morning and since then I was in meetings up until 4:00 PM today. Even the dinner and lunchtime was occupied with business meetings.

The 3 hour time difference, woke me up around 4 in the morning. I tossed and turned for a while and eventually ditched the bed for good. I worked out for an hour training weights and then did a high cardio run for about 20 minutes. I felt refreshed and the day went pass like a charm.

My first ever trip to the USA, before I moved here for good, was to LA. Every time I came for a business trip to this place, I never took time out to venture the place. It was always airport, hotel, office and back to the airport. I never explored LA again to rekindle the yesteryear’s fond memories.

My last meeting today was on the 15th floor. The conference room was facing the famous Long Beach harbor. Apparently, the Long Beach harbor is one of the longest sea ports in the US. The gentleman who was hosting us announced that the 3-4 miles of distance between the office and the harbor were all reclaimed land. About 20 years back it was all ocean. As I was marveling the human ingenuity I saw a long old ship at the faraway horizon. I was gazing at the gigantic structure for long when my host announced that it was the famous Queen Mary ship. Once taming the ocean now a piece of historical significance.

The Queen Mary from the 15th floor

My meeting ended at 4:00 PM and my flight back home was not until 8:40 PM. This time I decided to break the routine LA business trip monotony, and paid a visit to witness the famous ship from close proximity.

The Mary Queen was a marquee ocean liner of British company Cunard Ship Line. The Cunard particularly drew my interest, for I just finished a book called Dead Wake, written by Erik Larson. It was a real story about a ship called Lusitania, which tragically got torpedoed by a German U boat during the First World War. If you have not read, I highly recommend reading it.

Me by the the Queen Mary

The Mary Queen graced the Atlantic Ocean ferrying passengers between London and New York between the years 1936 and 1946. The ship now lies insentient and was a major tourist attraction. It was converted to a docked hotel and a dine in famous restaurant.

A genial smile crossed my lips thinking how humans had successfully transformed a junk ship into a revenue generating opportune. I took a cab back to the airport and used my flight wait time to write this blog.

Thank you for reading

Copyright © Shantanu Baruah

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Shantanu Baruah and ckonfab.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.