I am into the second weekend after starting the new project. Silicon Valley can be very exciting. As I started the project, it was very evident that I would be working with dudes on averages twenty years younger to me. It is one thing to interact with people outside of work and another thing to interact at work. You need to be good at both. You have to be culturally up-to-speed and then technically up-to-speed as well. I would wonder what am I doing here when people much younger to me are leading challenges here. If you go that route, then you could better throw in the towel and find a new job. As I looked around, I could find that my experience would be very useful in bringing structure and reliability to the solutions here.
The first week went by with me interviewing a few folks stakeholders getting to understand the challenges and processes. We had a challenge on our end as well as we working still working to get the statement of work signed. Until that happened, my access to information was limited. So we made the best use of it.
The first weekend was an eventful one. After I headed back home, we were to take a fall tour down to Virginia’s skyline drive. First time in the US, we were driving in a group of four vehicles. The morning started bright, but the temperature was to hit 70 that day. I got up a bit early and prepared what is called ‘sajjige’ – it is sweet dish made of cream of rice (ground), sugar, nuts and flavors. The previous night I had roasted the ‘rave’ as it is called so it started emitting a pleasant aroma and had turned slightly brown. Roasting the powder is important as this will prevent the grains from becoming lumps. The morning, I had to add water, honey and sugar. I used 2 cups of rave, 5 cups of water, 2 cups of sugar, nuts (broken into small pieces) and some honey. Add to this, saffron and some cardamom and bring the mix to a boil. This makes for a great breakfast dish. Eaten either alone or with Upma (a south Indian dish made with rave, spices) these are great energizers for the day. The combination is called chow-chow-bath in Bangalore and Karnataka.
We left just about 15 minutes later than planned. The East-West Turnpike or Rt. 76 was pretty occupied. We drove the 100 miles to Rt. 81 S but couldn’t find a rest area to stop for a late breakfast. One was closed on Rt. 81S. We stopped at a Walmart for a break and lunch around 11:00 AM. Food was great with home made upma and curd-rice. AFter about an hour, we started towards Luray. The first stop on the skyline drive is the Dickey Ridge Visitor Center in VA. By then we had crossed Maryland and West Virginia. Touching four states in half a day was interesting! 81S was very busy and the Waze app helped us in looking out for police and other slow-downs. We spent and hour at the visitor center catching some fresh air high on the drive. There were a lot of folks going on a Fall drive that weekend morning. However, the colors weren’t there, but we knew this going in.
The drive to Luray from the visitor center is about 45 minutes. The road winds as you can imagine in the mountains. There are numerous vista points and we took our time catching some photos. It was all very exciting. We were on the same drive about 12 years back and this was our third time. It was nice to recall the past when our son was about 10 years old. His face and the yellow T-shirt he wore on the drive is still a strong memory.
We reached Luray around 3:30. We finished lunch near the caverns entrance. The caverns would close at 6:00 p.m. which sounded like a relief. Luray was one of the main attractions for the tour. The caverns themselves are truly amazing. For someone who hasn’t been below the surface of the earth, nature’s work takes one’s breath away. Stalagmites and Stalactites grow from the ground up and down from the ceiling. These pointy limestone rich formations date back millions of years. One mesmerizing part of the caverns was the mirror. The water was so still that one couldn’t tell any difference from a true stalagmite. The caverns are lighted just about adequately for good sightings. Some parts had ceilings over 50 foot high and many formations such as the elephant, reverse-Titanic were just amazing. This all ended the mile plus walk in the organ area where the guide would tap one of the formations and it would produce clear musical notes. The vintage car museum by the caverns is another must-see place. It has some of the oldest cars ever made including a Rolls-Royce, a Bentley, a Ford T-model and many others. Some of these car companies don’t exist today. The flaunting of luxury in the olden days had no barriers. It is very surprising to know that cars in the ’20s had baby seats, leather seating, 30″ wheels, pneumatic tires that needed to be hand-pumped, 24k gold plated exterior and many more. There is one car on display that had a top speed of 110 mph and another with 120 horse power.
We headed to our the hotel in New Market, a relatively small town by the highway. Many of the shops were closed on the Saturday evening. After checking in, it was 8:30 pm and too late for many local restaurants. We had to drive about 20 miles to an Indian restaurant as it was the only one open till about 10 pm.