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Macs, Movies, Games, Books, etc. The Rants of a Mad Man.

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The top 5 reasons I’m asked for directions

September 10th, 2008 by Raj

It seems that regardless of city, in fact regardless of country, I am seemingly one of the most geographically aware persons on the planet. Just this Sunday on a quick run to the Eaton Centre to buy a pair of jeans, not more than ten minutes walk to and from my home, I was approached for directions not once, not twice, but trois times. I’m not particularly bothered by it these days, in fact I’m kind of used to it. Nine times out of ten I have no idea where the street/landmark/car park/train station/monument they’re after is but if they’re particularly nice about it I can use my iPhone to look it up for them.

After this Sunday’s particularly high direction-asking-count I started to think why it is that I’m approached. It’s not like I have “local tour guide” tattooed across my forehead in UV ink (well not that I’m aware of; hang on a minute I’m going to check…. …. … nope, I don’t), so why is it that I, instead of the hundreds of people around me is asked. Behold; “The top 5 reasons I’m asked for directions (in foreign countries)”

1. I walk like I know where I’m going
I’m not a dawdler. When I’m walking somewhere (regardless of if I know where “where” is) I walk with purpose; with “vigor” if you will. While some people may like to soak up the atmosphere of unfamiliar territory I prefer to do that off to the side, stopped, and out of the way of other pedestrians. This is probably because it annoys the hell out of me when tourists do it in my home town.

2. My racially independent aesthetics
Taking a look at me it would be difficult for most people to pick exactly what my origins are. Black hair, half olive skin, the lines of physical racial stereotypes become kind of blurred. People generally look at me like I’m retarded when an Aussie accent emerges and I tell them I have no idea where or what they’re talking about. A perfect example would be my time in Paris where at first I’d be polite and throw a “Pardon, je ne comprends pas” at them, but it was much more fun to watch their jaws drop with a “nah mate” reply.

3. I’m the least intimidating individual in the vicinity
I wouldn’t think downtown Toronto or Seattle are places that would be particularly scary during the day but as with all cities there are some unsavory folk about. In my opinion they are in the minority in comparison to your average ham sandwich beating the pavement going about their daily grind. Perhaps its because I’m not wearing a tie, maybe they’re the scary ones and all the guys with empty Starbuck cups rattling for change are the normal peeps?

4. 90% of the time I’m wearing headphones
Now this one confuses me a little. I would have thought the fact that you’re wearing “environmental-sensory-depravation-tools” (AKA headphones) would actual detract people from approaching you. For me I listen to music wherever I am in the world. Occasionally I’ll tune into the soul of a new city, getting a feel for it’s subtle overtures until people start looking at me funny and wonder why I’m conducting what is to them an invisible symphony atop a sewer grate of a major intersection. Maybe it looks like I’m listening to an audio tour of my current locale? If I had a Lonely Planet book in my hands maybe.

5. I’m just a nice, helpful, smiley guy and people can sense that
Now anyone that knows me will have either ruptured their bladder because they’re in public and wetting themselves would not be appropriate, although now you should get to a hospital pretty quick, ruptured bladder and all; or you’ve now noticed that the warm feeling of pee down your inside leg is starting to cool and you need to change. I know what I look like walking, trust me people have told me. I’m a petulant bastard that wants to get where he’s going and that about sums it all up. If I’m the happiest looking person on the street than we’re living in a very sad world and I’ll need to take up a religion and find out who or what to pray to for our souls. Who’s that alien dude the scientists guys worship? I think I’ll go watch Battlefield Earth now and find out.

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The End of Holiday Interview

October 19th, 2007 by Raj

I’ve been back in the land of Oz with the Tinman & friends for about a week now and with every re-encounter comes the usual questions… How was your holiday, What was the highlight, Why do birds suddenly appear… every time… you are near? So rather than relay the same old stories to every man and their pet poodle Beatsie why not join me in what I like to call a little-bit-of-psychotic-behaviour where I interview myself about my holiday.

To keep things a little less confusing the part of the Interviewer will be denoted as “Interviewer” rather than “Me”. Get it?

Interviewer: Thanks for joining me Raj, it’s a pleasure to catch up with you so recently after you return.

No problems Raj, pleasure’s all mine. Hey you’re a pretty snappy dresser my man, I’m down with “da threads” dog.

Interviewer: Why thank you. You’re not sack of potatoes either.


Interviewer: So, six weeks…

Actually no, this was a big misconception most likely perpetuated by my own bragging but the trip itself was five weeks exactly.

Sorry, five weeks. That’s a long time, has it been difficult to go back to work?

Work not so much, I mean it’s not my ideal situation but hey gotta pay the bills hey! The worst thing is jet lag. I’m still fucked with it, waking up at 4am every day or not getting to sleep until 3 and then waking up at 7am. Got a “Still-Knox” on ya?

Interviewer: No sorry. Moving on, how was it? The trip that is.

Me: Wow, there’s an original question, so to the point and not open at all.

Interviewer: Ta.

Me: Sarcasm moron, but anyway… the trip was great.

Interviewer: Care to elaborate?

Me: Care to ask a question a tad more insightful?

Interviewer: OK *cough* arsehole *cough*, you had a friend die whilst you were away, how did that affect your time?

Me: It wasn’t the best news I got. Darren was a great guy and someone that I really admired growing up. News of his tragic passing was pretty detrimental on my will to actually get out and “have a good time” as you will. The last week and a bit in London I spent trying to get home early to make his funeral but it wasn’t to be. I wouldn’t say that I sat around pining the entire time after hearing the news but I certainly wasn’t focused on getting out and looking around London too much. It was OK though, I’d been there before and my gracious host, Michael, was happy to have me sit at his house and watch Sex in the City re-runs.

Interviewer: I guess you’d have to say that was the low point of your trip, what if we talk about the high points?

Me: Good save dickhead. Ahh, yeah, high points. Well unlike most people I’m the anti-tourist. I didn’t go to Niagara Falls when I was in Toronto just like I never made it to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fran or the Statue of Liberty in New York. For the most when I’m travelling I do it to experience the city I’m in and not join a queue for nine hours to get a birds eye view of some buildings. My behaviour, although keep in mind I do keep a camera in my hand at most times, may explain why so many people think I’d be a good source of directional information. I gave up counting how many times I was asked for directions after the 10th time in my first week away.

Interviewer: So were there any high points at all? Perhaps a favourite destination?

Me: Oh for sure. New York City (NYC) was an amazing city, I fell in love with that place when I wanted a bagel at 3am and only had to walk out my front door to find one within five minutes. It truly is the city that never sleeps.

Interviewer: I know you said you don’t do the tourist thing, but surely you saw something in NYC, Central Park? Empire Sate?

Me: Well I hadn’t actually finished my highlights but now that you mention it I did do Central Park. That place is amazing! I probably only saw a tenth of its expansive size and the weather I had in NYC just made my day wandering aimlessly through its acres even more pleasant. I think without Central Park NYC would just be another American city with dirty streets and non-airconditioned subway trains, I would say it’s the jewel in the city’s crown.

Interviewer: So beyond NYC what are the other highlights?

Me: Toronto, Canada. Amazing, loved it.

Interviewer: I’m scared to ask you to elaborate, but I have to.

Me: [laughs] I’m just fucking with you. Toronto the city isn’t anything special really, it’s another city in another English speaking country. I found it to be very, very similar to Melbourne where I live at the moment. Perhaps that’s why I enjoyed it so much because subconsciously it reminded me of home? What really made me love it though was the people. Everyone is so amazingly friendly and helpful there that it’s almost sickening to a point. I know Canadians have a reputation as being a nice version of Americans but I never thought it was literally true. I met a lot of people there that were just genuinely good hearted folk, helping me out with tickets to ice hockey, cafes & bars to check out, movies, and hidden gems in the city your general tourist wouldn’t know about. It was fantastic.

Interviewer: Any of these new “friends” you mention happen to be ladies? Hey? Wink, wink, nudge, nudge…

Me: Don’t impersonate Monty Python mate, you’re no Eric Idle.

Interviewer: Sorry.

Me: That said, go see Spamalot I saw it on Broadway, funniest shit ever; as far as musicals go. Anyway, ladies. No remarkably-handsome-looking-interviewer-that-I-strangely-detest, well there were some women there but there was none of your wink, wink, crap. Everything was very above board.

Interviewer: How come?

Me: What am I? Your personal porn channel?

Interviewer: Well you’re a single young guy, travelling solo around the world, these things happen you know?

Me: Not really, why don’t you tell me how these things “happen”.

Interviewer: [coughs] Right, well you loved Toronto, have you thought of relocating there at some stage?

Me: I always go away with the thought in my head that I plan to move to one of the cities I’m visiting at some point in my life. Getting closer and closer to 30 doing that is going to get a lot more difficult. I know I say that “I’m thinking of moving to X” at some point next year and if that ever was a reality the X would probably equal Toronto at this stage, yes. How likely this is to happen? Well if we’re being honest with myself it’s probably not going to happen. Moving overseas with diabetes for a time period under two years isn’t the easiest because you can’t get on to your new country’s health system, that the excuse I use when people ask anyway. Truth be told I’d probably miss my family too much.

Interviewer: Awww, that’s sweet.

Me: Fuck off.

Interviewer: What about San Fran or Paris, you’ve barely mentioned them.

Me: Probably because there wasn’t anything too interesting to say about them. Paris was OK, MacWorld sucked arse, it rained and I didn’t have a great time. San Fran, well that was my first stop and first stop’s are usually the most exciting but something just didn’t click there. I think it would’ve been a fantastic city had I known someone there to show me some more but the reality of the situation is that the best thing in San Fran was buying an iPhone to play with. Nerdy I know.

Interviewer: So highlight would have to be Toronto, best purchase the iPhone, trip all up was a good one. Is there anything else you’d like to add Raj?

Me: Yeah… kids, listen to me now. Don’t drink and drive.

Interviewer: Wow, that’s… umm…. insightful?

Me: Did I ask for your opinion?

Interview ended.

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Cold London = TV Awards

October 5th, 2007 by Raj

Things have been a little slow going the past week. Between trying to organize a flight to get home to Australia early and the miserable drizzle that is London I haven’t been doing a great deal that’s worthy of writing about. As I’m sure you all gathered I haven’t gotten home early, my numerous wait-listed flights didn’t come through so I’ll be returning at my previously decided time, next Wednesday.

So with all the lack of activity what I have I been doing? Well other than a dinner party and generally stuffing my face with gorgeous bacon and eggs most mornings there hasn’t been much else besides the wonderful world that is television. This got me thinking a bit, instead of giving you a play by play of my remote usage and couch occupancy I invite you all to indulge in the inaugural “Raj-makes-up-categories TV Awards”.

Best Newcomer Dirty, Sexy, Money & Californication
I’ve got two down for this one because technically Californication has been around the last month or so but is still one of the major highlights on TV at the moment. It’s a gritty, in your face, no bars hold look at the puke that is Hollywood and the dying art of the word. Granted it also has one of the highest BPM (boob’s per minute) showings on free to air TV in Australia, which may deter some female viewers but that aside its dialogue and premise is brilliant.

Dirty, Sexy, Money is an unusual one. Take “The Royal Tenenbaums” and cross it with “LA Law” and you get the story of a lawyer who’s sole purpose is to keep this one family (The Darlings) out of trouble whilst at the same time trying to find out who hijacked his Dad’s plane and got him killed. I’m really enjoying this one, get on to it.

Flogging a Dead Horse – Desperate Housewives, Season 4
Sorry ladies of Wysteria Lane but having another dead body in the basement, or pregnant mum covering for her idiotic daughter is getting plain boring. You’ve done your dash, hang up the frocks and take your millions and move on. The majority of you are already type-casted don’t make it any worse.

Most Consistent – Weeds, Season 3
Whilst it may now be in it’s third season Weeds has never let me down. You may find the premise of the show a little beyond belief (A middle class widow supporting her family through drug dealing) but if you’ve been watching this one from the beginning you can certainly understand just how realistic this plot could be. Excellent written and full of black humour Weeds is worth going back and watching from season one, episode one if you’ve not heard of the show before.

Biggest Let Down – Heroes, Season 2
I expected big things here, was Sylar still alive, who’s the bogey man that Molly keeps having nightmares about? Instead I get a sci-fi version of “Three Men and a Baby” as Mohinder and Parkman shack up looking after Molly and being a bunch of tossers. Oh and don’t even get me started on Hiro. Fuck, that little moron is the biggest dweeb and the whole story line he’s stuck in is pathetic. I really, really hope things start getting better soon, you’ve got four episodes to get me back.

Piece of Crap – Bionic Woman, Season 1
I’m seriously trying to like this show but each episode looks more tacky and a bigger cliche than the one before it. Hopefully time will prove me wrong but from what I saw in the US NBC are banking on this one big time. So far I’m unimpressed.

Hurry Up Already!!!
This award goes to shows that have taken too long to get around to starting again. These are….
Nip/Tuck, Season 5
Battlestar Galactica, Season 4

Thank god you’ve started again
Again a list, I couldn’t be bothered making up any more fake categories.
House, Season 4
Friday Night Lights, Season 2

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My Apple Expo (Macworld) Article

October 5th, 2007 by Raj

MacTalk is running my article on the Paris Apple Expo.

Check it out here.

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Rainy Paris + Jet Lag = Crappy Times

September 26th, 2007 by Raj

Just to prove to myself that travelling through three different time zones over the last few weeks is actually hard going on your body it decided to teach me a lesson by sleeping for fourteen hours straight today. Granted I was woken twice by having housekeeping walk into my room thinking no one was there with both times a painstakingly reality check as each one was at least ninety three years of age and not wearing your typical dream state “French Maid” outfits.

I’m not particularly fussed about sleeping throughout today, I’ve been in a shitty mood since I arrived in Paris to be honest, even the Apple Expo yesterday wasn’t an overly exciting experience. The piece I wrote for MacTalk was a rather scathing attack on the lack of anything exciting being on the show floor and the Internet killing any surprises for anyone these days. I’m such a bitter little man, damn you Jobs!

The biggest problem with me sleeping all day is that I’ve actually slept through the daylight hours of my Mum’s birthday. It was about 11pm when I’d woken Australian time which is far beyond her bed time. So Mum I’m sorry, I didn’t forget you, I’m just a lazy son and I’ll call you before you start work in the morning. I hope you had a good day!


I did actually make an attempt to get out an about today. After getting out of bed at around 2pm I made my way out to have a wander around my old stomping grounds of Forum Les Halles. The hotel that I’m staying in is on the opposite side of the square from where I stayed last time I was in Paris so that familiarity was a nice change after the randomness of each city I’d stayed in over the prior weeks.

Unfortunately after barley getting downstairs to get my baguette and “Coke Light” for a late lunch it started pouring with rain (again). It would seem that my constant run of sunshine and beautiful weather has come to a rather abrupt halt in Europe. That said I continued to perserve and went for my walk in the rain. I’m not really sure where I went or what I saw, I was more moving my legs and trying to keep my eyes open rather than take in anything that was around me. I may have just had a shit load of sleep but I felt like a zombie and after an hour I just wanted to get back to my room and go to sleep again.

Needles to say I’m back in the hotel room now, I’m tired, I’m grumpy and it looks like I’m going to have to pay Macca’s a visit for an artery hit to somewhat lift my spirits. Royale with Cheese si’l vous plait.

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Au Revoir Americas

September 23rd, 2007 by Raj

Today marks my final day in the lands of Northern America. It’s been an interesting experience to say the least and one that I’ve quite enjoyed for the majority. How do you spend your last few hours here? By sitting in a Laundromat doing washing, hung over as fuck looking like a tool using their laptop whilst wearing sunglasses indoors surrounded by middle aged women doing load upon load of washing and a crazy little Chinese man that’s looking after the place sweeping around everyone’s feet whilst whistling Elvis tunes.


So far for the entirety of this journey I have done my washing three times, nothing particular miraculous about that you’d say, which I too would have to agree with, but the odd linking factor between all three moments is my rather lack lustre condition whilst performing domestic duties. Why I feel the need to get completely wasted and then do laundry hung over is beyond me, perhaps it’s subconsciously a way of not wasting a day? I mean what else are you going to do hung over, lay around in bed all day? I can’t do that today anyway because I’ve checked out for my flight later this evening, so why not be somewhat productive and do something I normally wouldn’t be arsed to do whilst on holidays.

Beyond laundry and the numerous jager shots that have produced today’s physical state I thought I’d take this opportunity to offer a few travel tips for any Australian making their way over to this way…. so let’s get into it

They drive on the other side of the road
Now this might seem like a rather obvious one to most people but regardless of the fact that you know they drive on the other side of the road it’s another thing to deal with that fact. Haven’t spent the last 27 years looking “right, then left, then right again” before crossing the street is a hard habit to break! Making use of the lights just makes you look like a dweeb; I can’t think of one instance where people actually waited for them to change to the green man (actually he’s normally white here).

When the red man gets to zero you’d better not be on the road!
Further elaborating on traffic law a lot of the intersections in both Canada and the US have a countdown clock when the red man appears. The clock tells you how many seconds you’ve got left until the traffic is going to start running you over should you find yourself in the middle of the road still. Think of it as your own personal death clock, be prepared for a deafening roar of horns and shouts if you’re caught out.

Light switches are upside down
This one really pissed me off to no extent. First day when I arrived in San Francisco I was trying to turn on the lights to my rather dark hotel room and I was not having any success whatsoever. At first I thought perhaps it was one of those fancy rooms where you have to put your room keycard into a slot to make the power work or something. Turns out, after ten minutes of fumbling around in the darkness I just had to flick the stupid bloody light switch the other way! Who the fuck does that, I mean seriously up does NOT equal ON people!

Americans are loud, Canadians not so much
I mumble, well actually, no… I prefer to think of my speech as “softly spoken”. At almost every encounter where verbal communication was required in one form or another I had to repeat myself four or five times. It’s not that my accent was thick or incomprehensible it’s just that everyone speaks so loudly and in the process have inherently all become deaf as door knobs. It wasn’t quite as bad in Canada, I think their relationship to Australia through British heritage may have genetically helped all parities involved with the repeating factor reduced from four to maybe twice per sentence. One piece of advice when you’re walking down a street (in the US in particular) don’t freak out when you hear people shouting at each other, it’s more thank likely they’re just having a conversation about their golf score it just sounds like someone’s about to get a “cap popped in their ass!”

Tipping’s a bitch but Sales Tax is the devil’s scrotum
I get the tipping thing, both countries do it because people are paid peanuts, 10-15% depending on the situation, blah, blah. It’s actually easier to tipping in the US I found because it feels like you’re giving people more when you hand them a note rather than a coin even if they’re both only worth a dollar. The thing that got on my goat a hell of a lot more than tipping was sales tax, or any of the other four hundred taxes they have over this way. It changes from state to state for starters, could be 5% in California, then 14% for the same item in New York (I’m making these percentages up, can’t remember what they are). Now I could even deal with that one, IF they included the tax in the price of the item on the shelf!!!! I absolutely HATE walking up to the counter, correct change in hand and then beep, beep, beep oh it’s an extra $3.45! Fuck that shit! So now I look like a complete wanker fishing around trying to figure out what these coins are worth in my pocket and give up by just giving them a note leaving me with more stupid coins that are completely foreign and I’m too lazy to interpret into their correct denominations! Get your act together peoples.

And now for the all important final thoughts….

Land of the free, the great American dream… where coke comes in gallons instead of small, medium and large. I really liked America, San Francisco was pleasant, nice city and all but nothing in comparison to New York. I suppose if I was looking at it from a work opportunity point of view I’d have to choose San Fran with its whole centre hub for all things interweb and so on. That said the Internet exists to let you work from anywhere so why not live in New York and work for a company in India? Maybe not. The USA was a surprise to me as to how much I actually enjoyed exploring it, New York in particular. In both locations I could have done with more time but I think that merely adds the allure as there will always be an attraction for me to go back and visit the two cities again.

Toronto rocked. A week ago I was all set to pack my bags and illegally work for cash in NYC but now I’m all set to ride the Queen’s coat tails and get my working visa for the Maple Leaf. Toronto was very similar to Melbourne, get atmosphere, great people and great night life. I made new friends at the drop of a hat and can’t get over just how amazing the people are here. Winter is the only red flag against this place or anywhere north of the mid US really but having a white Christmas and experiencing a Winter season where there’s real snow on the street instead of four hours away up a mountain is something I think I should live through… once.

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O Canada

September 21st, 2007 by Raj


This place is pretty good ay! I’ve been wondering the streets of Toronto for three and half days now and it has definitely put on the charms to woo me across the Pacific before I’m 30. That said the weather has probably influenced my opinion somewhat with gorgeous mid twenties every day with nothing but bright blue skies. The people here have been fantastic too, friendly, happy, and always happy to have a chat. In fact they could actually be bordering too polite, take crossing the road for example, despite what my driver from the airport said about Toronto being rather full on when it comes to driving (yes I said Driver, I got a town car, yeah… eat that fools!), these Canadians are so damn pleasant that they give way to pedestrians! I mean seriously guys it’s OK your car weighs just a tad more than me, I’m happy to not cross the road for another thirty seconds and back up traffic. Seriously… go!

In that respect I’m a bit like a fish out of water here. I’m not exactly the most social person on the planet and as soon as someone gets a whiff of that Aussie accent they’re all over you with questions and conversation. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, I got a couple of beers from a bunch of guys (no I wasn’t in a gay bar Paul) the other night who filled me in on the local hot spots and helped me out in getting a ticket to the Hockey the other night. Speaking of accents, I sound like such an Occa bastard here, it’s as thick as vegemite! In the US I didn’t really think about it much, linguistically there it was like I was walking around in a movie, but here in Canada their own accents are a lighter American with a touch of English, it almost borders an Australian one in some respects, which is why my own stands out so much to me I think. Some have mistaken it for English, must be the South Australian in me there, but 99% get it right, saying “no worries” at the end of a sentence is a bit of give away too, they love it.

Drake Hotel

So exactly what have I been doing here… Not a lot really, which probably sounds odd considering I haven’t been doing any writing on here but the reality is I’ve just been enjoying time here. It’s such a step down from the pace of New York and quite honestly I think you could mistake this place for Melbourne, well if you forget that everyone says “ay” after anything they say. There’s plenty of Australian reminders like Crumpler and Molly Blooms to ensure you don’t forget home. I haven’t even been sight seeing (not that there are many here), I’m skipping Niagara Falls and my Driver told me not to bother going up to the top of CN Tower as it was a bit of waste of time and money. For the first couple of days I’ve just walked around and soaked up the sun, hell I think I might even have a slight tan if that’s possible. My skin’s slowly been losing any remnants of Indian heritage and pigment form the countless hours indoors I think, Michael Jackson style without the plastic!

Downtown Toronto is quite beautiful, lots of parks and lawn areas. I spent my first afternoon in a book store reading the new Douglas Coupland novel and watching people two stories below through the large glass windows of the building. It was really nice, my mind was completely relaxed and for the first time in many, many months I was content. You really can’t ask for more than that so I’ve modelled the rest of my time doing the same type of things, relaxing, enjoying the atmosphere and pondering just how bad a -30 degrees winter would be here?!

Ice Hockey

Beyond exploring on foot (I think I’ve worn my soles out) I went to an NHL preseason game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Phoenix Coyotes. I was really glad the guys from the other night told me there were some preseason games on because seeing an Ice Hockey game has been something I’ve wanted to do since I was a kid. Similar to the baseball game in the US they’re crazed fans up here for their hockey and even though it was a preseason game the place was packed with screaming Canadians for their rather lack lustre team that hasn’t won a championship since 1976 (I think it said). Unfortunately it wasn’t their night in this particular game either as they lost 3-2 but it was just awesome to watch! Hard rock music, fast paced game, three fights! Yeah it was pretty damn cool and I much more enjoyed that over seeing a waterfall, sorry Niagara you just don’t cut the mustard this time around.

Tomorrow I’m going to meet some of my Dad’s family for the first time. Cousins, Uncles & Aunties that no one in my family has ever had the chance of meeting (well other than my Dad 30 years ago). It’ll be good to see them and if one day I do ever move over here it’ll be nice to know there’s already a support network built in for me, which is something I haven’t really had before when moving around Australia. After that I fly out to Paris for MacWorld before finishing off my trip in London…. oh how time flies!

Toronto pictures here

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Is there a Doctor in the house?

September 19th, 2007 by Raj
Dr Pepper

Dr. Pepper, or more to the point, Diet Dr Pepper is the shizzle. I’m addicted to this shit in a big way and I’m trying to figure out the best way possible to smuggle a case of the stuff back home rather than pay $4 a can from the lolly shop in Melbourne Central. I’m already over on my luggage weight allowance so a pack of 24 cans is probably going to cost me far more than it’s worth.

For those of you that haven’t tried it I’d probably recommend you didn’t because frankly it tastes like dark cherry cough medicine your mother used to force you to have as a kid and I know for most people that’s probably the most disgusting flavour you could imagine, yet for some strange reason I LOVE IT!!!!!

Go the Pepper!

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Take me out to the Ball Game

September 18th, 2007 by Raj

Img 0209

I’m not feeling the greatest today. My body is completely exhausted, New York has sucked the life from me and given me a sore throat and runny nose in return. Thanks Guiliani! This past weekend was been pretty full on indeed as I left the harrowing heights of Manhattan and made my way across the Hudson to Jersey. I stayed with friends in Jersey City and spent Saturday checking out the sights and relaxing after spending Friday night in a bar doing free shots of some Vanilla Whiskey they were peddling called “The Knot”. Small tip, although it may be free the aftermath of said beverage is not worth the indulgence; this was one Vanilla flavoured gift horse you would look in the mouth!

The main event of the weekend was a ball game on Sunday afternoon. We took the train from one side of New York to the other to a suburb called “Flushing” where the New York Mets have their home ground, Shea Stadium. This thing was absolutely huge! It was like stretching out Telstra Dome and adding on a few hundred extra rows, I couldn’t believe it, let alone believe how many people were there! The game itself was OK, it got a little boring after the fifth inning though, when some guy for the Philadelphia Phillies hit a home run with the bases loaded and set them up for an easy win over the Mets. Avoiding the crowds we left at the end of the eighth and headed in to SoHo to check out the San Gennaro festival.

Little Italy

The festival was packed, Mulberry Street was completely taken over with stalls, food and a million people trying to fit down a two metre wide avenue all moving in the opposite direction to one another. Lucky for me hidden behind the aroma of Italian sausage, pretzels and beer was a little place I’d like to call “home”. Say hello to a little pub called “8 Mile Creek“.

This hidden gem was most definitely the diamond amongst the rough when greeting me at the bar was that familiar circular green label adorning the cool glistening glass body of a Cooper Pale Ale. Ahhhh, sweet, sweet Coopers, US$6 + tip a bottle, but well worth it! Well as you can imagine, I had a couple, just to remember the home country and all and enjoyed watching the Wallabies give those Welshmen a hiding in the Rugby before returning to the train and heading back to Jersey only to wake up all crappy today. Oh well, was worth it for the Paleys if not anything else! Hehe

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The Health Inspector, The Omelette & The Coffee

September 15th, 2007 by Raj

Today was a bit of a nothing day, I was in between accommodation locations and required to check out of my Hotel in Manhattan in the morning before making the journey to Jersey later that day. I didn’t wake up in the best of moods, having to be up by a certain time regardless of what that time may be always makes me petulant. Check out wasn’t until 11am so naturally I took it upon myself to sleep until 10:50, pack like a mad man and shower to get downstairs after only two phone calls from housekeeping to see if I’d left the room already. I really don’t know why they were in such a rush to get in there, the quality of the room and hotel wasn’t exactly superb and I swear all they did each day to make up my room was put a fresh towel in there, hrmph. As you can see my mood was by no means improving.

After checking out and having my bags put in storage to collect later on that afternoon I decided I’d beat the grumps by having a cup of coffee. Oddly enough I haven’t had a single cup since I’ve been away! I’m not sure if that’s because I’m substituting it with Coke four hundred times a day or if it’s really because I’m scared of how bad American coffee is. Regardless, I thought today might be a good day to “roll the dice” and see if I could find myself a good cup of joe. Surprisingly it didn’t take me too long to find a nice little cafe not far from the hotel that actually had a coffee machine in it rather than a couple of percolated coffee pots boiling away to nothing on a hot plate, so I went in, sat down, order myself a nice omelette for a late breakfast and a latte.

There were about three people in this place, it was a small little diner and quite kitsch really, there were two guys working the floor and a cook out the back yet between the three of them it took about twenty minutes to crack open some eggs and get my omelette anywhere near me. Have to cut them some slack though because while I was sitting there, watching the cable guy try and plug in a new high def box for them, they had a little visit from a rather stubby woman all dressed up in police-like duds complete with gun belt and digital camera.

At first I wasn’t sure what the woman was doing, she just kind of hovered out the front of the cafe until one of the guys decided that it might be a good idea to head out and see what she wants. They had a little conversation, I couldn’t hear them but the more she spoke the more the waiter’s smile turned into a frown. Eventually they’d finished chatting and he showed her in and through to the back of the place and I started to see camera flashes going off! What’d they have a dead body back there or something?! Oh hang on… fat woman, uniform, citation pad, digital camera… ahhhh health inspector!

It was around about this point that my omelette arrived being served by the second waiter. The omelette I’m afraid, was rather disappointing; somehow they’d managed to suck every bit of flavour from the tomato, egg, bacon, basil and onion that were supposedly inside and replaced all of their flavour with the taste of water. Strangest tasting omelette I’ve ever had in my life, only took half a salt shaker for me to get through it! What can I say, I was hungry, I had to eat.

As I swallowed the final mouthful of H2O omelette the uniformed woman returned from the kitchen’s depths having finished her inspection. This time when she spoke her words were distinctively clear as if it were God’s plan to now reveal her secrets to me.

“You’ve got 24 hours to fix these 5 infringements.” she said.

Oh goodie gum drops, I’ve just eaten the worst omelette in the world from the dirtiest kitchen in New York! Perhaps the flavour got scared and ran away at the site of the place? I didn’t dare

Being in the position of having no real option as what to do, having already eaten and all, I did what any normal person would. I complained I hadn’t yet received my coffee and politely asked could they hurry it up a little. Apologetic in a way that only American service can give you when searching for a tip he ran off and came back with my Latte. Now please, remember this clearly I’m saying the word “L-a-t-t-e”, Latte! Arriving a few moments later, placed beside me all warm and steamy was my freshly prepared Latte… oh yes, there it was, my latte… served in a white ceramic mug the size of someone’s head, a beautiful inch thick cappuccino froth, and topping it off; a dusted coating of chocolate powder. So there was my Mug-o-cino that I ordered from the health violating kitchen of the most wonderful cafe in all of New York, clearly. Again, me being tolerant and putting all anger, petulance, and impatience aside (yes apparently I am capable of that) went ahead and just drank the coffee. Well… actually, let’s say “began” to drink the coffee.

After breaking through the mortar layer of chocolate and froth, finally allowing some coffee to make its way through to my mouth I practically regurgitated it just as quickly back into its mug as I was not greeted with the wonderful taste of coffee, no, not at all, I mean that would make sense now! No instead I received cinnamon; yes that’s right, surprising my taste buds who were, and let’s be fair here, completely unprepared having not been used once when eating the omelette! That was it, last straw… tolerance has left the building, cash down, no tip, see you later.

What’s the point to this story? None really, I had a bad day and frankly i thought you could all share it with me, because no one no matter what they’ve done in life deserves cinnamon tainted coffee!

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