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If you haven’t read previous part, it’s right here –  US Diaries Part 1

US is a country of dreams. I could see it shining right through everyone’s eyes. I met one person in taxi who played piano and released his own music album. The other guy Chad writes pilots for TV series and is a good photographer. There was another guy who had done some coding. He knew what python and C++ is. He wanted to work at Amazon or Microsoft. Another guy was a lead manager in an MNC and drove Uber just for fun. They don’t care much about the social status. They do what they love to do.

A really nice country where people greet you and don’t expect anything in return. Everyone you meet is so much open to talk without holding any grudge. Believe me, I had some of the best conversations in just a span of 30 minutes or so.

Redmond = Microsoft

I had heard that Microsoft has humongous office in its headquarters, Redmond. Well, it was true. I was amazed by seeing the area in which it was spread. If I say Redmond is Microsoft, it won’t be wrong. 135 buildings.

Microsoft, US culture

Unlike India where people tend to stay late in offices, Redmond is just the opposite. People come early and leave early. You would hardly find anyone staring at work monitor after 6. People are punctual and highly efficient. Well, I could see where that efficiency comes from. They don’t talk much and confine their conversation to mainly professional stuffs. The hours they put in work are really productive. The culture is so well defined that if you stay late, you would have a feeling that you are working in a zombie village. I, personally liked this culture and I easily embraced it. I had free evenings where I could catch some friends over dinner in classy sounding restaurants.

The world is small

It really is a small world we live in. It is not very unusual that while dining or taking a walk in busy streets, I stumble upon someone who happens to know me. Well, it has happened many times in India. But when you face the same in US, you start thinking that the world is really small. I met an old friend while crossing a street in Redmond, stumbled upon another known face in Seattle while dining with a college friend and had a short chit chat with a guy on shuttle, I used to see in dance classes in Hyderabad.

Seattle diaries

One of the exciting thing about Seattle is incessant rains. Rainy season is something people either love or hate. You will hardly find anyone being neutral on it.

Space Needle

If you’re a Windows user, you must have noticed the tall tower with a big circular head on lock screen. What if I tell you, it is much more beautiful when you look it closely? Well, it is a marvelous piece of human architecture. Standing tall at a height of 184 meters, you can see the whole Seattle view from the top. I could manage to get some pics from my DSLR even though it was freezing cold. My finger nails had turned bluish.

The head of tower

The Seattle view point

Standing on the top of Space Needle and experiencing this view was a treat to eyes.

I always wanted to dine at Skycity Space Needle restaurant. Well, who won’t? After all, dining at such a height has a unique magical feeling. You are sitting and eating exquisite food while the restaurant rotates to show you every angle of the city. Sadly, I couldn’t get a booking. It had 2 weeks waiting time.

Chihuly garden and glass

You can’t miss Chihuly garden and glass if you love art while being in Seattle. This place is mainly famous for its exceptional glass arch, mostly attracted by photographers. I met many photographers there and got a chance to flaunt my skills. Visiting Chihuly wasn’t easy due to shortage of time. The place opens at 11 in the morning and I had return flight on the same day at 5. On the top of that, it was raining like crazy. Well then it’s Seattle. Rains are not supposed to crash the fun. Thanks to Hotel Marriott for making special arrangements.

This picture has its own story. Chihuly Garden and Glass attracts a lot of tourists due to its marvelous, eye popping glass arch. I had a chance to interact with many photographers there and it was fun discussing about various aspects of photography. I wanted to capture whole 25 feet long arch in one frame and for this, I had to wait 30 minutes to capture this due to the huge crowd. Funny to say, due to my corporate ID hanging out of my pocket, few of the tourists asked me if I worked there.

1/50s at f/5.6, 18mm, ISO 1000

North-Bend

Situated at a distance of 30 miles from Redmond, North-Bend is a bliss to eyes. No matter if you are a nature and mountains lover or love long driving on beautiful roads or a shopping spree, North-Bend has got a charm in its own. Built near mountains which are covered with snow in winter, there are many shops where you can enjoy buying stuffs.

The cheese mountain.
I clicked this amazing shot in North Bend, US. Seattle is a beautiful city. Incessant rains, chilly wind, snowy mountain and golden sunshine. A serene heaven for photographers.
It was a sudden plan. The moment I arrived there, the sun was about to set and its dusky golden rays falling on the snow over the top of mountain was giving a perception of molten golden cheese all around.

I am quite fond of keeping a collection of perfumes. When I saw Perfumania shop at the North-Bend, I got a chance to try out all the perfumes I had been researching for years. At the end, I got one of my favorites, one what everyone in US uses, and one which was the choice of the woman who sold me all this.

Heroes of my wardrobe  Recently I have got an urge to keep a collection of perfumes.

From left to right:
Caroline, Armani Gio, Invictus, Playboy, Calvin Klein

Chocolates

A trip to US is not complete until you get chocolates for your loved ones.

To be continued…

In the next part, I would be writing about my trip to Los Angeles and San Diego. Please stay tuned.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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वाक़िफ़ हम भी ना थे उनसे,
फिर भी हमने हाँ कह दिया,
उनकी अदा हि कुछ ऐसी थी,
ना चाहते हुए भी दिल फिसल गया।

Waqif hum bhi na the unse,
Phir bhi humne haan keh diya,
Unki ada hi kuch aisi thi,
Na chahte hue bhi dil fisal gaya.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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ये सूरज कि किरणें तेरी रेशमी ज़ुल्फ़ों को चूमते हुए,
ये बर्फीली वादियों कि सफेदी तेरी नूरानी अँखियाँ को चमकाते हुए,
ये हवा कि ख़ामोशी के बीच तेरे हंसने कि आवाज़,
कैसे भुलूंगा मैं,

ये तेरे यौवन कि खुशबू चांदनी को पिघलाती हुई,
ये तेरे चेहरे कि रौशनी तारों को शर्माती हुई,
ये रात कि ख़ामोशी में तेरे गाने कि आवाज़,
कैसे भुलूंगा मैं,

ये तेरे आँखों कि नटखटी मस्तियाँ,
ये तेरे गुलाबी होठों कि मुस्कुराहटें,
ये लोगों के कदमो तले तेरी आहट का एहसास,
कैसे भुलूंगा मैं,
कैसे भुलूंगा मैं।

Yeh suraj ki kiranein teri reshmi zulfon ko chumte huye,
Yeh barfili wadiyaon ki safedi teri nurani ankhiyan ko chamkate huye,
Yeh hawa ki khamoshi ke bich tere hansne ki aawaz,
Kaise bhulunga main,

Yeh tere yauvan ki khushboo chandni ko pighlati hui,
Yeh tere chehre ki roshni taaron ko sharmati hui,
Yeh raat ki khamoshi mein tere gaane ki aawaz,
Kaise bhulunga main,

Yeh tere aankhon ki natkhati mastiyan,
Yeh tere gulabi hothon ki muskuratein,
Yeh logon ke kadmo tale teri aahat ka ehsas,
Kaise bhulunga main,
Kaise bhulunga main.

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Meri diary ke kore pannon se,
Tum meri chahat ko mat aaqna,
Yeh ishq hi aisa hai ghalib,
Kambakht lafz kam pad jate hain.

मेरी डायरी के कोरे पन्नो से,
तुम मेरी चाहत को मत ऑकना,
ये इश्क हि ऐसा है ग़ालिब,
कम्बखत लफ्ज़ कम पड़ जाते हैं।

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Har roz diary khol kar,
Bas yahi socha karta hun,
Kya likhun unke baare mein,
Khud se pucha karta hun,
Likhte unke baare mein hain,
Jinhe hum bakhubi jante hain,
Yahan toh barso beet gaye,
Phir bhi hum anjaan hain.

हर रोज़ डायरी खोल कर,
बस यही सोचा करता हूँ,
क्या लिखूं उनके बारे में,
खुद से पूछा करता हूँ,
लिखते उनके बारे में हैं,
जिन्हे हम बखूबी जानते हैं,
यहाँ तो बरसो बीत गए,
फिर भी हम अनजान हैं।

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Unse milne ka maza hi kuch alag hai,
Hum yun hi apna hosh na kho baithe the,
Unki sharbati aankhein aur reshmi julfein,
Kambakht dil unka gulam ho baitha tha,
Bas yun kahein ki nasha unki aankhon mein tha,
Aur madhosh hum hue ja rahe the.

उनसे मिलने का मज़ा हि कुछ अलग है,
हम यूँ हि अपना होश ना खो बैठे थे,
उनकी शरबती आँखें और रेशमी जुल्फें,
कम्बख्त दिल उनका गुलाम हो बैठा था,
बस यूँ कहें कि नशा उनकी आँखों में था,
और मदहोश हम हुए जा रहे थे।

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Ittefaq bhi badi azeeb cheez hai,
Jinse milne ko hum mahino taras rahe the,
Unka deedar yun chalte chalte ho gaya,
Waise toh hum thehre shabdon se khelne wale,
Unhe dekh lafzon ka karwan ruk gaya,
Hoth sile ke sile reh gaye,
Aur aankhon hi aankhon mein ishara ho gaya,
Unki aankhon ka nasha yun chadha til til,
Yeh pagal dil phir se unka deewana ho gaya.

इत्तेफ़ाक़ भी बड़ी अजीब चीज़ है,
जिनसे मिलने को हम महीनो तरस रहे थे,
उनका दीदार यूँ चलते चलते हो गया,
वैसे तो हम ठहरे शब्दों से खेलने वाले,
उन्हें देख लफ़्ज़ों का कारवां रुक गया,
होठ सिले के सिले रह गए,
और आँखों हि आँखों में इशारा हो गया,
उनकी आँखों का नशा यूँ चढ़ा तिल तिल,
ये पागल दिल फिर से उनका दीवाना हो गया।

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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Kal shaam anayas unse mulaqat ho gai,
Phir se wahi purane lamhe yaad dila gai,
Jakhm waise hi bhare na the dil ke,
Us par ek aur gehra waar kar gai,

Mast befikar tha apni zindagi mein,
Inn khushiyon mein darar kar gai,
Bhul gaya tha lafzon mein byaan karna,
Ek baar phir mujhe shayar bana gai.

कल शाम अनायास उनसे मुलाक़ात हो गई,
फिर से वही पुराने लम्हे याद दिला गई,
जख्म वैसे हि भरे ना थे दिल के,
उस पर एक और गहरा वार कर गई,

मस्त बेफिक्र था अपनी ज़िन्दगी में,
इन खुशियों में दरार कर गई,
भूल गया था लफ़्ज़ों में ब्यान करना,
एक बार फिर मुझे शायर बना गई।

Copyright © 2017, Aashish Barnwal,  All rights reserved.
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I am a CSE Graduate from KIIT University. I joined Microsoft straight out of college. Usually, Microsoft doesn’t visit there, but that year I got lucky.

2 written tests + 3 F2F technical interviews + 1 Skype technical interview

 

Written test 1 (Objective), 30 minutes

First written test was conducted by some third party company. It consisted of 15 objective questions from C, Sorting, Data Structures, Big O, compiler and state machine. We were given 30 minutes. Cut off was 12 out of 15 questions. 77 out of 400 students made it.

Written test 2 (Coding), 60 minutes

Three problems to be solved in 60 minutes with no use of compiler. One problem on Linked List, second on heap and third on array. I coded all problems from scratch including main method. I also wrote flexible methods that could work on any kind of inputs (instead of deleting nodes from 4 to 6, it would delete nodes between ‘M’ and ‘N’ ) and handle all corner cases. The result was announced after 20 days. 30 out of 77 made it.

F2F Interview #1, 60 minutes

We were interviewed in groups of 6. Each one of us in a group was given same problem to solve. I couldn’t code the perfect solution in an hour. All I had discussed 6 different ways to solve the problem. I was afraid that I might be rejected in first round. The interview lasted for 60 minutes.

14 out of 30 were selected.

Continue reading My interview experience at Microsoft

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Being a travel photographer, lush green nature and hills have always attracted me. I find peace in the lap of nature, walking across flower blooms while enjoying the gigantic fresh smell filling my nostrils giving me a sensation of another world. A 3 days trip to Kodaikanal was a much needed getaway to take a break from work and relax.

Kodaikanal is a city of hills located at a distance of 462 kms (8 hours bus distance) from Bangalore, India. It is called as the Queens of Hills.

This trip was all about witnessing the cool weather, seeing nature through a different perspective and clicking photographs.

March 30 – April 1, 2017

Stay

We booked a hut through Airbnb in Misty Mountains. The location and the hut were eye popping and situated at the highest altitude in the city.

Day 1, March 30

We arrived Kodaikanal at 6 in the morning and booked a taxi to our stay. It was 2.5 kms away from bus station, Naidupuram. The view was so amazing and refreshing that I kept wondering why did I not visit this place before.

Our stay in Kodaikanal:

We planned to cover Kodaikanal lake, Bryat park and Coaker’s walk on first day as they were 3 kms away from Misty Mountains.

Continue reading A getaway to the Queen of Hills – Kodaikanal

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