Bowling for Columbine

This is the country that seems to never learn from its mistakes, whether it has to do with funding future "terrorists" or the mindless gun culture. Columbine didn't wake them to the harsh reality. It is not guns that kill, it's people with guns that do and this is a country where many states give you the right to carry guns. Now, it is Virginia Tech. The NRA does not care a bit, the pro-gun supporters don't give a damn. Columbine has become a proper word in English. It has become just another trivial word.

A few days after Virginia Tech happened, the t.v. is showing Moore's "Bowling for Columbine". In the documentary, Moore walks into a bank, opens an account and walks out with a rifle. That's all it takes to procure a gun and the bullets - he got them at a barber's. Yes, that's the kind of gun-complacence this country shows. Even after many such incidents, many citizens defend their need and their right to stock hand-guns in their homes. They don't just defend it. Most of them are proud of their gun culture. Watch the documentary and you will realise that some people just don't learn.

Anyone can get angry about something. Any kid can get a gun and shoot up people. Anyone can walk into the streets with a weapon, even if it's concealed. That's the kind of country this is. The place I am in now, Minneapolis, passed laws in 2003 that allowed people to carry concealed weapons. As I walk down the street, I realise that some of the people that walk by could have a gun on him/her. I realise that one of them could very well pull out an automatic weapon and spray the place with bullets. Life is a flimsy thing, I agree, but it is doesn't help to know that you live in a place where the government works towards worsening your odds. It doesn't take a minute for a human to lose his temper. It wouldn't take a minute for a gun to take a life.

There are a million such things wrong with the land of dreams and opportunity. There are a million things wrong with India too but at least in India only the goondas carry guns. In India, I have less chances of being looked down upon. In India, kids don't go shooting up their classmates. No, I am not a patriot but I feel safer back there than in this modernised world. Like Moore says, "Watch the news every night and America is still a very scary place".

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Eating Out @ Mpls - Part 1

I have nothing better to do in the evenings so every evening I open up and read through the list of restaurants in Downtown Minneapolis and visit them one a day. Let me list down the restaurants I have been to and what I thought of them.. I hope to update the list as the days go along. :)

1. Ping's Szechuan Bar and Grill

No. of visits: 2

Quaint little place. The menu is vast. I had a difficult time deciding on what to eat. Food is good, not great. The portions are a bit too large for me and they "make it only one size". The waiters are friendly and chatted with me every now and then. Some of them anyway. The entrees are served with steam rice. I tried the Szechuan Chicken, which the waiter modified a bit to make it tastier ;), and the Tiger Pork. The rice though is a little too lumpy for my taste. Overall a nice place.

2. McCormick and Schmick's

No. of visits: 1

Sea food place. A good rounded menu. The menu also features almost 20-30 fish on the fresh list. The place was busy on a weeknight so I guess it's a popular restaurant. I tried the Oyster sampler. Can't comment on the oysters cos I am no expert. I liked them :). The Swordfish preparation I tried was very good. Properly firm and a delicious tomato based sauce. I finished off with a Chocolate truffle cake. Yummy! I was too full to walk by the time I was done. The waiter was very helpful and cheerful.

3. Skywater Cuisine and Lounge

No. of visits: 1

The in-hotel restaurant at the Hilton Minneapolis. Serves American cuisine with a local mid-west touch to it. I had the Grilled Salmon from the Hilton Eat-right menu. Delicious though I keep forgetting that I don't like Salmon that much :). The sauteed mushrooms that I ordered on the side were out-of-the world. The side contained a few varieties of mushroom. The waiter was pleasant. The dining experience was good.

4. Palomino

No. of visits: 1

Serves Mediterranean cuisine. A very spacious dining room with large windows gives it a great ambience. The staff are very friendly and pleasant. The decor blends in with the room and looks nice. The food was great. I started with the Portabella Mushroom Soup. The soup was thick, tasty and quite filling. For the main course, I ordered the "Seared arctic char with Creamy Herb Sauce". (Yes, fish again. As I write I realise that I have been eating a lot of fish) The sauce was excellent and the fish very well done. I rounded it off with a Tiramisu. The tiramisu is not the best I've tasted. The coffee flavour was very subdued and quite unlike a Tiramisu. Will definitely visit the place again. The waiter was overworked being a Sunday evening and so I spent quite a bit of time waiting for the food, etc. That's a good thing if you are having a relaxed dinner with friends but when eating alone it's a bit irritating.

5. Basil's

No. of visits: 1

Upscale restaurant in the IDS center. The seat outside look down into the beautiful Crystal Court atrium and a very nice place to sit and eat. The waiters, like any upscale restaurant, weren't overtly friendly but they were very polite and helpful. The dip served with the breads was extremely yummy. The amuse bouche - a salmon with a mustard sauce - was very well made. I ordered the venison loin (well-done). The venison was very juicy and quite tasty. The sweet potato mash added the twist. For dessert I had the Apricot Layer Cake. Out of the world and very very well presented. A very good dining experience. The presentation was impeccable especially of the dessert and the food was great. A must visit place.

6. Zelo

No. of visits: 1

This restaurant serves Italian food. It is a very popular place and hence a little loud and chattery. The outdoor seating is filled to the brim when the sun is out. The menu is quite exhaustive and the fresh list menu is quite good too. Yes, I ordered the fish again. For the appetiser I ordered the Mediterranean mussels. The tomato based sauce was yummy but made the eating very messy. For the main course, I order a sea bass from the fresh list. Very fulfilling. The fish was very tasty. The wasabi mashed potatoes a little too much in quantity. The waiters seemed a trifle overworked and I had to remind my waiter to get my drink. That can be pardoned because he was otherwise quite good and helpful.

7. Bombay Bistro

No. of visits: 1

Serves Indian cuisine. A very subdued but good ambience. I ordered the madras chicken curry with white rice. My friend ordered a bhindi (okra) dish. The portions are very large and both of us could not finish our respective orders. Food is the usual Indian restaurant fare. Quite tasty. The waiters are never around. They just take the order and bring the food over. Service was fast.

8. Vincent a Restaurant

No. of visits: 1

An upscale restaurant serving French cuisine. The ambience justifies French sophistication but that doesn't stop the waiters from being warm and friendly. The serving sizes just right. I was able to go through the full 3-course meal.
I went French especially to get a taste of the escargots or snails. I was not disappointed. Escargots are a bit chewy and taste pretty good too. The escargots were served without the shell and so eating them was not a messy, tongy affair too. :) They were boiling hot though and I almost burnt my tongue. Yeah, I was warned but still. :D For the main course I ordered the Roasted duck breast. The broccoli sauce/paste in the dish was a genius idea. Added that extra flavour to the food. The duck itself was well done. For dessert, the waiter recommended the chocolate cake. Hmmmm. Yummy doesn't even begin to describe it. It was frozen and a tad difficult to cut into initially but the varied texture was well worth the effort. Presented on a frosted glass plate with poached pear slices on the side, it was a sight to behold. I am still smiling about the cake.. Ahhhhh!! I will be back at Vincent's soon, if not for anything at least for the heavenly cake.

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Minneapolis FIR

I'm in Minneapolis, Minnesota for a short business visit. Landed here on Saturday. The plane ride was tiring. Almost 30 hours on the move is pretty irritating. Jet lag hasn't been a big deal. I do feel like napping off now and then, but even the very next day after landing I was out looking at the town :)

I'm staying in the downtown area. Skyscrapers are the norm. Roads are wiiiiiiiiide and straight. Pedestrian walks exist and are wide enough :) They have this cool skyway/skywalk system in Mpls Downtown. Most buildings are connected to each other through these skyways - essential a covered bridge on the second level of the buildings. The skyways are public-accessible so you don't even have to step out into the cold to get to some place. That's a real cool thing if you ask me. I prefer not being frozen to death, you see. My hotel is connected so all I have to do is to walk through these heated pathways to get to my office. Brilliant. Especially when it is snowing like crazy outside.

Yep, it's snowing like crazy today. Yep, my first snowfall. Took a walk in the snowfall. Feels like rainfall but you don't get wet as much. Almost like how dust swirls around back home, the snowflakes swirl around like hyperactive kids. It's a pretty sight but after a while the gloomy, dull weather gets on your nerves.

VJ lives here. So this last weekend wasn't boring. This past Sunday he took me to the Mall of America, supposedly the biggest mall in America. It's got an amusement park bang in the middle. Unfortunately, it being Easter, most places were closed down.

Some phone cam pix here:

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