Blog Interview Meme

This is a chain interviewing game for blogs. Here are its rules:

  1. Leave me a comment saying “interview me.” The first five commenters will be the participants.
  2. I will respond by asking you five questions.
  3. You will update your blog/site with the answers to the questions.
  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions. (Write your own questions or borrow some.)

Wayfarer has asked me the following questions.

1. How does it feel to be a dad?

It feels great. It is amazing. Very different from how I imagined it. I am not a baby/kid person. My ideal number of children have always hovered between zero and one. So my reaction to Michelle was a surprise. I would say I started feeling love for her around the time we saw her heartbeat on the ultrasound. I am very protective of her and extremely defensive about anyone disparaging my role as a dad. Say anything about boys being better or girls having it difficult in life or girls being closer to their moms and I come out swinging.

2. What do you like and dislike about Atlanta?

Dislike is easy. I hate Atlanta summers. They are hot and humid. Not the kind of weather I like. I also don’t like the somewhat suburban feel of the city of Atlanta. My feelings about the laid back attitude of people here vary. At times, I get frustrated with it and want Atlanta to become a more fast-paced city like New York, but at other times I like the slow pace of life here.

Another thing about Atlanta is the lack of things like museums, theater, etc. as compared to New York, Chicago or San Francisco.

Among likes, there is the fact that one can drive to the mountains (even if they are not exactly tall peaks) in the North whenever one wants to. There are lots of hiking, backpacking and camping opportunities there. There are also lakes and rivers for a weekend of paddling fun in the summer (but please don’t go into the Chattahoochee river in the metro Atlanta area, it is extremely polluted.)

3. Do you ever miss Pakistan? If so, what about it?

I could take the easy way out and say that I miss my parents and siblings. However, I would focus on the place, rather than people. Having moved a few times in my life, I don’t have any sentimental attachments to any place. Whenever we are moving, I am excited and looking forward to a new place while Amber is starting to miss the old one.

4. How did you and Amber meet?

During our high school and college years, we used to live in the same town. Amber was a classmate of my sister. I knew about her when she started going to the same college in which I was studying. We took the same college bus and there were only about 5-6 girls from our town in our college (the female population among the students at the college was 5-10%.) We first met when Amber visited our home some time in spring of her freshman year. She was a bookworm and wanted to study even though the university was closed for a couple of months due to 3 students being murdered in a student “political” clash. So we talked about the university and freshman Math. It was definitely not love at first sight. But it grew over time.

5. Describe the perfect meal.

That is a difficult one. But here are some great meals I have had. Stuffed lamb roast the Baloch way is great. So was the rabbit stuffed with peach I ate in a restaurant in Blois, France. For breakfast, nothing could beat the patisseries in France. For a regular meal, I would say I like an Italian main course followed by a French dessert. That reminds me of the dessert sample platter I ordered in a Loire valley restaurant. It had more than a dozen varieties and full though I was, I couldn’t stop eating the dessert.

While generally the food at our university cafe wasn’t good, once a week they had lentils and roast chicken which was quite good. I think those tuesdays were the only time I used to eat there.

Now it is your turn. If you would like to be interviewed, please leave a comment asking for an interview.

Islamabad and Atlanta from Above

Asif brought Keyhole to my attention which lets you look at images of a lots of places in the world looking down from different elevations. The image resolutions vary, with the best resolution for Cambridge, MA (3 inches). A lot of countries do not have any real images at all. But it is still fascinating for the photos of countries other than the US and western European countries.

I tried looking at every place I have lived. Here is an image of Islamabad, Pakistan showing where I lived from 1994-97 as viewed from 18,000 feet.

Islamabad from above

The big empty space in the lower left is the Capital Park (now know as Fatima Jinnah Park, I believe). We lived just east of that. I think you can see Faisal mosque at the top middle.

And now where I live nowadays in Atlanta, GA.

Atlanta from Above via Keyhole

This view is from the same 18,000 feet viewpoint even though in this case Keyhole can do much better.

Airport Security and Ottawa First Impressions

At the Atlanta airport, we tried to checkin on the e-ticket kiosk, but it demanded to scan our passports since we were going out of country. Our passports are not machine-readable, so we had to go to the airline counter. Strangely, the agent did not even look at our passports. Now this might not be as bad as this sounds as our IDs were checked by security in Atlanta (more on that later) and passports at the gate when we boarded the plane in Detroit later.

Also, our daughter’s passport was never checked in the US. The only time it was checked was by the Canadian immigration/Customs. With all the hoopla in the US about one parent abducting the child from the other and leaving the country, this was a bit strange.

Another useless security requirement is that after you check in, you have to take your luggage to be scanned. But there is no point to it since you give your checked-in baggage to the TSA and leave. So why can’t the airlines do it themselves? All this useless effort on the part of the passenger reminds me of Pakistani airports where one has to get everything checked three times.

When we went through security, the security officer had trouble finding our boarding passes. She finally found one inside the airline flap jacket and so let us through. However, I got suspicious since we were supposed to have 4—6 boarding passes (1 each for the 2 legs of our journey and I wasn’t sure if Michelle needed a boarding pass or not). So we checked and we only had boarding passes for me. We doubled back to the airline counter and got boarding passes for Amber and Michelle. However, this shows the effort the security people are putting into their work.

When we landed in Ottawa and got out of the small plane (which had really cramped leg space), we realized we had to get out into the open and walk to the terminal gate which was close by. The weather was cold and we weren’t carrying Michelle’s jacket, so we covered her in her blanket and ran inside.

The immigration/Customs officer reminded me that all over the world immigration personnel have one major job requirement: they must not have a pleasant personality. If a smile escapes someone interviewing for such a position, he is immediately rejected. I haven’t had any real bad experiences with immigration anywhere, but the immigration officer is always very serious and too business-like.

Snow falling: View from hotel room

That was yesterday. Today, I am sititing in my hotel room looking at the snow falling outside. We are expecting 15—25 cm (6—10 in) of snow today. Since Michelle is still recovering from the travel yesterday and the weather is not good, I might stay in today. May be I’ll go for a swim in the heated indoor pool or go do my regular Tuesday run in the fitness center. On the other hand, a massage at the hotel spa sounds enticing. The hotel is “very very nice” as a local put it.