Silly Point

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Zoom Zoom

I was chilling at home today, when I said to my dad, "Lets go shop for a car." Now this wasn't totally out of the blue. I had been waiting to buy a car since last year. I had set plans for May, but I never really got around to it. Today I felt like going car shopping so I asked my dad, and he said, "Lets go."

I had been thinking about a car for a long time. I wanted something that would excite me. I had driven a Chevy Lumina for such a long time. Its a pretty old car now. But it still runs great. I can feel the power when I drive it. That's why I first started out by looking at American muscle cars. I thought nothing less than 6 cylinders would do it for me. There is nothing more thrilling than driving fast and knowing that you still have more power waiting to unleash at your command. That is why I had been interested in the Dodge Charger. It has amazing amount of power. But a four-door sedan (in fact the charger is essentially a full-size car) was not what I had in mind. It seemed too big in the end, and seemed unfitting of the power it contains inside.

I also considered the Ford Mustang. I must say the new models do look very good, with the retro look making it look like a typical American muscle car from the golden days of Ford. But I was never really a Mustang fan. The 4 liter engine was also heavy on the gasoline budget. But the cheaper price of the car still kept it in the running. There were two other cars that I considered, the Nissan 350Z and the Infiniti G35 Coupe. They are both excellent cars but a little more on the expensive side.

Among all these cars, I liked a car that stood out. I told my dad to go to a Mazda dealer first. The car is an RX8 and its very easy to see why I love it by just looking at it. The car is quite low and fairly small. It has a sleek narrow design with the wheels jutting out, which gives it a unique look. The car is certainly one you would turn around and look just to see what it is. It only gets better from here. I suppose the most interesting thing about the RX8 is the doors. The car is a four-seater, but unlike other coupes, this one has a half-door on each side which opens the other way to make it more accessible to get inside. No more sliding the seat forward to let people in or out. Sans the center pillars, these doors are termed as "Freestyle" because of the way they open.

Sitting inside, the dashboard looked very good. The wheel is nice and small and the dials glow a nice cool white with a digital speedometer sitting inside the tachometer. Attached to the steering wheel on both sides are handles, very ergonomically fitted, which can be used to shift the gears up or down, even though this is an automatic transmission. The sleek method of shifting the gears gave it a true racing feel. There is a nice digital display which tells you what gear you are in. In fact, with the rear-wheel drive and the limited slip differential, this car is ready to drift.

The car is not just revolutionary on it exterior, taking a look under the hood, you will have a hard time searching for the engine. The RX8 no cylinders. Instead there is a twin rotary engine, which is unusually small. With only 1.3 liter displacement, the RX8 still spits out 232 fine Arabian stallions. I took it for a test drive and does not have a standard piston engine. There are discovered that I never knew how much pleasure I could get from a car. The pick up on the car is thrilling, I had reached 55 just barely after turning right from the dealership. The transmission was very smooth, and the acceleration surprised me with how much power, such small a thing could have. But better than the speed, was the handling of the car. It hugged the corners very very nicely and it was so much fun exploring those curves in the road. If I wasn't in love with the car before, now I knew for sure.

Coming back to the dealership, I decided on the right trim package. I settled for the Grand Touring with leather seat and seat warmers and all other nice little things. I ran into a conundrum trying to decide if she looked better with or without the spoiler but settled for having one in the end. We then discussed all the financial stuff and I put down a deposit. I will confirm all the final stuff on Monday and if all goes well, the car will arrive by Wednesday. I still have till Monday to decide which color I want, I had settled for the black with the black/red leather interior. But if you guys suggest a different look, I might still reconsider.

Now the only other thing I can't decide on, is a name for her ...

Friday, July 07, 2006


The day after I came back from California, I was driving the minivan to New York on I-80. The whole family was in the car, including my sister who was sitting in the front. It was about 2 PM and it was raining on and off. As we got past exit 56, it had stopped raining and the sun had come out. But the roads were still wet. I was driving in the left lane and on my right was an 18 wheeler going about the same speed as me. I looked ahead and I saw a car, two cars ahead of me, signal to change to the middle lane. As soon as it started moving, the car in the right lane also started moving to the same empty spot. The car in the left lane could not see it as it was coming from his blind spot. The left lane car had started to move but after seeing the other car reacted quickly and turned a sharp left to avoid a collision. This is when everything went into slow motion. The driver had over compensated in turning the wheel to the left. The wet roads also came into play. The car first swerved to the left, then the driver turned it back towards the right and finally again to the left to regain some control, but he had lost it all. The car turned all the way left and hit the barrier on the left. The car had turned 180 degrees by now. I was watching all this and was reacting accordingly, I had put on the brakes and moved to the left on to the shoulder and come to a stop while the car in front of me, the one immediately behind the skidding car, had miraculously managed to stop and move to the shoulder just ahead of me. The skidding car had bounced of the wall and was about to complete its full circle when it entered the middle lane, only this time, the truck which was on my right was coming towards it at full speed. The truck driver managed to swerve to the right and narrowly missed the the skidding car by the slightest of margins and continued on its course, leaving the action. The driver in the skidding car now had full control and was able to drive to the right shoulder without incident and stopped the car. All of this happened in about 4 seconds.

It had seemed like an eternity though. The amazing thing was that I was fully aware of what was going on and I was reacting accordingly, all of this subconsciously. I don't know what part of my brain took control of me, but it left my conscious self to look at what was happening with an open mouth and take in this surreal and almost elegant spinning of the car and all other cars reacting to it. It was only after the car had stopped and then we had seen the driver was ok and calling 911 from his own phone that we drove off again and it suddenly hit me. I began to see the depth of what had really happened back then and the miracle with which everyone had survived. Everyone was able to avoid the accident by the slimmest of margins and it is then that you see how important some little things are. What would have happened if I was driving my other car which has much slicker tires? What would have happened if I had slammed on the brakes thinking it was ABS like my other car and locked them? What would have happened if I had reduced the distance between me and the car in front of me by even a foot? What if the truck driver had reacted slower then he did? What if the skidding car had hit the barrier front on instead of side on and inflated the airbags, blocking his view and leaving him stranded in the middle of the road? So many variables, and yet they all fit in perfectly to make sure no car hit any other car.

I was also surprised at myself, asking why I didn't panic. What was it that kept me so calm and objective throughout the whole incident? Why no one other driver panicked either? It was certainly by the grace of God that no one got hurt that day. And it left me thinking, how easy it is to die sometimes and what is it that keeps us alive?

"At least, I didn't get another ticket"

Aisha, this blog is just for you, because no one else cared enough to ask me to write another blog.

Frankly, I didn't have much to write about. I almost tried writing a few times but for some reason or another I didn't get the chance. I was going to write the "California II: The Return" blog (Which I thought was such a wonderful title) but the moment passed. I almost wrote a blog when Brazil lost to France but it was too disheartening to write about at the time. Then I thought about writing one on Independence Day, but never got the chance. But don't worry this entry won’t be a "blogapology" (term coined by Max to describe some of my blogs).

I know I haven't posted any pics from California, I'll add them with this blog. I went out one day and went to the beach, it was almost dusk and most people were going home. One thing that's different is that there are a lot more surfers in California. I even saw people in swim-wear, dripping wet, boarding busses with their board under their arms, which was a curious sight to me. The weather in LA is surprisingly milder, I didn't see the sun much, there are always clouds in the sky, (perhaps smog), and the temperature is around a pleasant 70 degrees. It was much hotter when I came back home. The city is full of highways, most of them 6 or even 7 lanes wide in each direction. But still, they are always filled with traffic. The city is full of cars, sometimes going 55 miles per hour in bumper to bumper traffic. The driving there is certainly much better than over here.

I spent 2 days in Torrance, California. The high school there is famous for being used as the high school in "Beverly Hills 90210". Torrance also has what they claim, "The World's Biggest Engagement Ring store" I was urged by many back home to go to the store and get something for them. But I thought that an engagement ring is something special, I should only buy one. Sorry Karolina, I didn't get you one.

The other thing I noticed about California is that most people speak Spanish, even the white folks. There are also only 2 choices when it comes to food, Mexican and Non-Mexican. There were a million different taco places. This effect was certainly good for the world cup. The hotels played them in their big screens and we had a huge family (in numbers, not in size) from Argentina at the hotel and it was a great atmosphere watching the game. I was surprised by how many people were knowledgeable about soccer, one passer by, a middle-aged white woman, after just a glimpse of the team colors exclaimed, "Oh its Argentina playing!" I was overjoyed.

The World Cup, I suppose, gives every fan a taste of what's it like to be bi-polar (no offense Irsa). After experiencing such joy, it was a really hard fall when Brazil lost. Everything went wrong that day. I woke up an hour later than I was supposed to. I needed to wake up early and mow the lawn and finish by 11 am so that I could watch the England - Portugal game. I started at 10 and toiled away really hard at the steep slopes of my front lawn. I couldn't finish by the time the match started. I had to miss some of the match because of that. However, I did not miss Wayne Rooney stopping one Portuguese’s whole lineage with a single step. The match went into extra time and that meant I was late in leaving the house to meet Max and Nenad to watch the Brazil match in a bar in Newark with a big screen. We picked Nenad up from Hoboken but the match had already started. Had to resort to Spanish radio to figure out what was going on, and the tone of the commentator's voice was very picturesque. It didn’t matter none of us understood a single word of Spanish. When we arrived in Newark, we found out the place was closed. We quickly decided to go back to Nenad's place and watch the rest of the game. We only arrived to see Henry score and Brazil lose. Then we decided to go see Superman. The first theater we went to (yes there was more than one), we had to wait half an hour for the movie to start. Once seated, we had to wait another 15 minutes to see anything on the screen. There was no "illest" movie trivia either! When the movie did start, the sound was choppy, and the projector had blown a lamp, we could barely see anything. A riot started in the theater and we marched to the manager's office. We were promptly refunded. This was at Secaucus Loews Cinema 8, which I strongly urge everyone to boycott from now on. We then proceeded to the familiar and respected, AMC at Clifton Commons and bought tickets. The delay in time meant we could not go to platters that evening; we had to resort to mediocre forms of sustenance. The movie was decent, but the day had been ruined. The effects of which could easily be seen in my pool game.

I went to the city on Monday for some work. While on my way I walked through Central Park. That place is such a contrast to the rest of the city. I enjoyed my journey through the park a lot, especially the sunny patch where many sunbathers were soaking up the sun. The sight was good enough to merit a long detour on my return journey through the same place.

While in LA, I went to Hollywood Boulevard one evening. While taking pictures, outside the Chinese Theater, the door opened and many people rushed out. There was some premiere going on inside. Among the crowd I spotted Jessica Alba, and took this picture of hers. She spotted me and yelled out "Monis!" She then wrote down her phone number on a napkin and gave it to me. I called her and she invited me to her house in Beverly Hills. I told her I was sorry I couldn't come over; I had to catch the flight back home early the next morning. She said she would charter a flight for me, she was begging me to stay. I didn't want to disappoint her but I had no choice but to be frank to her. I told her, had she been Anna Kournikova, I would have stayed. I could hear her sobbing but then I heard this other sound. I thought it was call waiting and hoped it would be Anna calling me. I tried to switch lines but it wouldn't work. Suddenly I realized, it wasn't the call waiting beep that I was hearing, rather my alarm had gone off.