Saturday, December 29, 2007

Life and Times of an Eggless Cake


We are born in Aden [through no fault of our own :-) ]
We live, we die, we bake cakes,
and someone blogs about it.

When you bake a cake you have a recipe, you have ingredients and you have good intentions. You put them all in a container and you mix them up, but this does not make a cake. This just makes a gooey glob of glutinous gastronomy. You then put the concoction into an oven, savour obscurity for an ephemeral moment, and apply energy to transform it into a cake, which looks nothing like the original ingredients. In a sense that is what baking is all about. Amen. But then again this world cannot survive on 'Amens' alone, especially when you are trying to make an eggless cake for the first time.

"AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH", unable to decipher if it was a prayer or an expletive, I turned my attention to the Woman, who seemed to be going through a mid life crisis. It was 1900 hours to be precise, and like clockwork chocolate, accompanied with that confident whiff of her hair, she decided to test if the cake was baked in the center by using a baking needle. What unfolded before us will go down in the annals of baking history as the sinking of 'Le Gateau au chocolat'. In other words, 'Haava hi nikal gayi'. We then put it back into the oven and were hoping for a miracle, waiting for that resurrection. However it refused to rise again. We then made plans about how to cut it so that the crator doesn't show. But to add to proceedings the extra heating left remnants of soot at the sides... yes it got burnt. The final nail on the coffin was when we tasted it; it didn't taste of chocolate, it tasted more of maida. A postmortem analysis of the subject, and we couldn't say it was too chicken to come out well, cause it didn't even contain eggs!!

Anyways, so we attempted another one the next morning. This time the baking powder was put at the end. Not sure if that made the difference, but we put more milk this time around. And it didn't sink and it smelt chocolaty. And the People Rejoiced!!

"Should we taste it", I queried. "NO", came the premeditated reply, "We don't have time for a third attempt. It smells ok but if I taste it and errrrr", there was a pause, followed by a shiver (for dramatic effect and since I have the poetic license to claim so) and finally more words, "errrr and if it doesn't meet the cut then I wouldn't want anyone to eat it". "Seriously". So we decided that we would just take feedback from the end consumers since its about the thought anyway.

Well what can I say....
We live, we bake, we're just getting started.
And someone always blogs about it.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Every Photograph makes a promise


Every photograph makes a promise.
But the promise is never kept ...
And that's what makes the photo great.

-- some photographer

Monday, December 24, 2007

The Pick-Up Story


Its not just a pick up line. Its a pick up story. The stuff fairytales are made of.

This friend had been to Hongkong recently where he came across this girl named Fiona in office. He is always generally happy, cracking jokes, doing weird funny things and is forever up to something. So in order not to waste his God gifted talent whenever he would pass that girl's place he would sing/tease her, "Princess Fiona... wanna go for coffee..." etc etc. The girl would take it in the right spirit and go along. After a couple of days of singing,"Princess Fiona", our very own Shrek found out that Princess Fiona had not yet seen the movie.

So yeah its not just a pick up line. Its a pick up story. The stuff fairytales are made of !!!!!

PS: He attributes the debacle to his missing sidekick... 'Donkey' !!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Is this your Core Value and Mission ?


"To ensure the growth of the organization, at any cost, by dedicated effort, commitment to goals, distinguished performance at all times, whilst being resourceful at work, innovative in methods and flexible in approach."

- Is this your Core Value and Mission?
{else don't talk too much}

The statement in quotes was part of the 'Objective' of the resume of a 'fresher' which we had received in Impulsesoft three years back. We had the above printed on a paper and posted on our team's notice board; laughter and sarcasm spilling over for anyone to consume. Maybe we put that up to remind ourselves of our choice of words and actions as a means to an end.


Monday, December 17, 2007

Paper Monster


Paper Monsters, inside your head,
As darkness lurks, beneath the bed,

Decisions to make, beliefs to probe,
A guarded response, the monsters adobe,

The Folded Paper, the creases they tell,
Of a soul in doubt, a license to sell,

Same is the cross, different the nails,
A runaway train, on imaginary rails,

From resonant whispers, from silence et al,
Resilience beckons; legends, they fall,

Wounded soldier, a deceptive heart,
Begin at the beginning, stand up apart,

Paper Monsters, to burn or tear,
A return to innocence, an attempt to bare,

A blank canvas, that gaping void,
Those dreamy strokes, retracing Freud,

The yellow brick road; a vision; depart,
In search of courage, some wisdom, some heart,

The recurring bout, that clairvoyant call,
Apocalypse now, let sixth sense befall.

------ Alistair D'souza Dec 17th 2007

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Promise


Every photograph makes a promise.
But the promise is never kept ...
And that's what makes the photo great.

-- anonymous

Monday, December 10, 2007

Before Sunrise Before Sunset

The sun sets and the sun rises again;
a mirthful reversal in forward motion.

You look at Chembra peak in the distance as it towers over the clouds; flickering in vaporous winds its greyness takes shape; tiny by perception its enormity grapples a subconscious. Dawn subsides the remnants of intentions which voiced themselves together as a plan of action sometime in the foreseeable past; when intentions were charged so as to eclipse reality in itself. "We might not be allowed to camp up there", adding a faint possibility to what was a definite no; interpreting the obvious to satiate a nerve. The backup plan was not sumptuous dinner and so swayed by whim, fancies took flight; voicing tones to finally decend; fluidity taking form; plans; and ones to back them up, like reinforcements that are not required.

Overnight the tribe increased and we brokeaway from social responsibilities the next morning to partake of the mountain. Its angles and inclinations grew more intriguing as we were transported to the alpha of our climb. The 11 person alpine attack on the peak comprised a 7 year old girl who was pretty enthusiastic about climbing a mountain. 10 minutes and the incline takes its toll, perspiration and exhaustion pulling you down. A brief halt and we were on our way again. After an hour and a half, two inclines and a plateau we pit-stopped to refuel our engines; where we heard hearts beat; the mountain in sync with ours; a heart shaped water body that hinted that the mountain was indeed alive, breathing life into all of us.

Vagrancy of spirit was a disposition that overwhelmed us and another four steep climbs, three ephemeral plateaus, and three hours later we reached the top to breathe in the panorama. A couple of meters below the peak on the other side we spotted an ideal camping ground. After a brief reconnaissance mission in the forested vicinity to decipher animal marking and their intentions, time paused. Neurosis and the unknown that lay in the bushes was a demeanor that was unanimously overthrown and the spot was deemed camp able.

Before Sunset, the elements set us in forward motion; the cold winds, the painted horizon displaying its artistic persona, the silhouettes that ticked to the warmth of the last rays that waned like clockwork orange; as our temporary abode took shape. The performance continued as one act led to the next; star gazing; as we floated in a reverie with a blanket of grass below us and a blanket of stars above. The winds of change let loose and we took refuge in our tents wondering when we would be carried away. We held tight to whatever we could. Two hours of sleep and an eerie calm befell nostalgia; like a storm negotiating a truce. Embattled and brave, in a state or heightened concentration, we caught on to sporadic winks and vagrant thoughts; remembering the sunrise that was on its way, enticing and piercing in all its imaginative glory.

Before Sunrise, the elements set us in reverse motion; the calm winds, the first brushes of the refracted light over the horizon as orange mingled with purple on a blue canvas, the silhouettes that refuelled and scurried around reverse engineering the camp; as that fiery ball of physics prepared for its grand entry, like the coronation of an emperor laying siege to his throne. Packed with all my worldly belongings I am the first to set out to the peak above, and stand there mesmerised with the scene of grandeur; a pearly blanket of clouds covered the living that slept below it, illuminated by the brilliance of the golden rays that emanated from alpha; Midas' golden touch, turning everything to gold that wished to bathe in its synonyms. Others come up and move ahead until you are left behind, with your thoughts and insights, a nostalgic sojourn. Inspite of all those muscle pulls in various parts of your anatomy, that rough going against nature's afflictions, all that remains is the sunrise and the sunset, that walk in the clouds; and then you set out on your journey.

The sun rises and the sun sets again;
Before Sunrise Before Sunset;
a blithe validation in reverse motion.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Mechanics of Running a Marathon

Melody sent me a link to a marathon documentary shown a few weeks ago on Nova. Here's the link. It is interesting, especially the scientific analysis on how the body changes during training.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Evil Rogue Breakaway Plan

"Arre Dhruv, are you'll planning some trek or something". "Errrr". "I was in the elevator yesterday and I overheard ..... ".

Sometime before that in the elevator: "We know what you'll are planning!!!!". I was caught off guard with those words on my way out of office. "We know everything.... EVERYTHING!!!!", another voice hit me from the left and pinned me to the wall of the elevator. "Errrrrr", thats all I managed to say as a lot of unknown faces from other floors turned around catching the conversation that was in progress. Eyes and silence is not a very nice situation to be in. "Errrrr", I managed in a different tone wondering if they would make out the difference. "You said that only five to six ppl would be going.", the voice then shifted to the other end, "But then we got a heart attack when we saw the second item on your list. 'FIND MORE PEOPLE'". "Errrrr", I tried yet another monotone. "How many are going". "Errrrr.... maaaaaaaaax ten. But how do you'll know". "Well", they smiled, "we were searching for a conference room and saw that one was booked with the subject line 'Trek prep' and then we checked out the agenda. You'll are planning big aren't you'll".... "Nooooooo... we haven't told many ppl". And then Meera and Shodhna who are part of HR smiled and said bye as they left the elevator.

Sometime before that as I was preparing to leave office Dipti who I know for the past 11 years looked at me and said, "How could you not ask me!!! Why did you not tell me. How could you!!!!" "Errrrr", I managed and then decided to get off with a tad bit of quirkiness..... I looked left and then looked right and then looked back at Dipti lifting one eyebrow in slow motion; just staring for a few seconds to let it sink in; and then I nudged my head telling her to follow me to a place where we could talk in confidence. "Well blah blah blah, 6-7 degrees Celcius at night, blah blah blah, coooooold winds, blah blah blah, leeches, blah blah blah, dense forest, blah blah blah, climb with torches, blah blah blah... and let me know by tomorrow for sure. Yeah we have place for you and your hubby but don't tell anyone else about the plan. And I told you cause I know you and all". I mean I had to apprise her of the risks, I just had to :-)

Sometime before that, people who had exchanged secret handshakes, funny smirks and silent hmmmms thru the week found themselves discussing about the big plan in a conference room. Children were measured in kgs. Notes were made; Roby's kid is 14 kgs and Raja's is 20 kgs; as contraptions were planned if their legs got weary. Temperature, clothing, tents, sleeping bags, rucksacks, food rations, leech removing techniques, transport, a forest guide and nostalgia were discussed. ARs were assigned with hard deadlines. Excel sheets were populated and some items were ticked; a project plan was being executed like clockwork. Starting times were discussed and then someone said, "Maybe we can climb the mountain with torch light.. we would almost have a full moon too", and he beamed. Then we got into the gory details. "Kerosene ?"... "Nah I used to carry Whisky... Its a multipurpose thing... No need of brushing your teeth... Just gargle and swallow... and regd the fire, just throw some into it...". "And oh yeah ask a few more people. We can increase our tribe a little".

Sometime before that; on monday to be exact; an email sent by Roby found its way to our HR's inbox, with a hope that they would give into our evil rogue breakaway plan. 'Don't give them time to think', I thought and went and spoke to Shodhna to quash any doubts she had, "We are a small group. As of now just 3 of us have confirmed. The number will go maaaaax to about 5 or 6. We'll leave friday afternoon and join the group again on saturday afternoon. No one will even know we are gone."

Wayanad, thats where we will be heading this weekend for a company outing, from friday to sunday. Considering the sedentary nature of the other attractions, Roby enlightened a few of us about this peak named Chembra which towers over Wayanad at 7000 odd feet, and right about then, the 'evil rogue breakaway plan' found its tribe. It started with, "We can go up and come down by friday evening". Then I added, "Why not stay overnight on the top". "There is a dense forest we can explore just behind it. I used to do a lot of mountain/rock climbing in the area in the 90s". "Lets plan this out well".

"And oh yeah lets keep this small, if too many ppl want to come with us then HR might raise objections. All the best guys".

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Malluboy who climbed up a Hill and came down a Mountain

The first time I went to Roby's house I was amused with the unusual and beautiful architecture. My previous post on that visit is here. He is definitely a climber at heart. Below is an email he just sent me and in it is embedded an email he sent to an unknown trekker/climber who also happened to climb his favourite mountain.

========================================================
Guys,

The other day I spotted a blog about one of my favorite treks during Googling, @ http://usandeep.com/trekking/vellarimala.html

And I couldn’t help respond ……
What I describe happened on the slopes on the other side on Chembra over a span of 6years.

Enjoy.
- Roby -
=================

Sandeep,

I'ts around 2AM, and as it happens once every few months (it's getting more frequent these past couple of years) I've hovered over verdant forests and majestic acclivities, swooped into deep gorges and zoomed up over jagged ridges, twisted the lat-long grid 360degrees a few times till I get a headache, extracting every last information bit the current resolution GoogleEarth can offer on potential new routes up ....

Vellarimala

And in between soothing my aching joints and pacifying my aching heart I did the next thing I always do on such occasions - Google for "Chembra", "Anakkampoyil", and ....

"Vellarimala"

And I chanced upon you trip report, and I knew I must write to you. I was the life and soul of the Adventure Club in REC Calicut circa '89/'93. And I and my equally dim-witted and numb-skulled group of maniacs had spent our REC days, first discovering the little hamlet of Anakkampoyil with no telephone pole, no electric pole, no plastic, no plastic bottle, then the charming walk to Muthapanpuzha, then onto the jungles and then two frigging years discovering a route to Vavalmala.

Being good engineers and blossoming men, we refused to ask for directions, and we suffered mightily. We planned and plotted and dreamt of all possible lines of attack standing in the MB and from lecture halls, staring at the looming phantomhead of Vavalmala surging in the horizon. We dissected the planes the gorges and the shoulders looking for a route up. And we did summer trips, peak-monsoon treks, 2-man alpine attacks, 12-man British expeditions.

Many a times did we escape certain death and maiming on this noble endeavour fuelled by extra tankfuls of testosterone and adrenaline and not inconvenienced by mere common sense and any primal need for survival:

The first time almost stepping off into olichuchattam at midnight - we at the vanguard of mallu adventuredom, when adventure was a word that got you thrown out of decent mallu homes, kitted out in PVC soled shoes and boxy airbags filled with ironed creased polyester-blend trousers and shirts got stranded on the wrongside of the olichuchattam rockface at dusk. And there were 12 hopelessly inexperienced climbers - a few with spare left feet - plastered across 40 vertical feet of rock and ledges and slippery grass, with 4 weak torches showing the way at 10PM on a chill night, accompanied by furtive heavy movement of animals in the forest below - possibly famished life-forms awaiting an easy meal.

The second time when Subra actually stepped off a huge boulder in pitch-dark during our first epic emergency descent on a monsoon night, escaping a soggy, frozen, leech infested death after three unsuccessful hours trying to build a fire in a campsite between the jungle gloom and a precipice. And to think it had all started as a carefully planned monsoon attack on the summit!!

The third when Pmurthy and I almost took a basejump from vavalmala while we were crawling speedily along the long 3-feet high animal tunnels among the bamboo thickets, and piling into each other at the stunningly sudden appearance of grey nothingness almost under our nose.

The fourth time, which really would have been a fittingly heroic death to all concerned - from starvation, exhaustion and inebriation - during our wildly successful vaval summit attack. Another meticulously planned trip when the food ran out and 5 of us survived on a couple of banana and two large bottle of whiskey - we figured the latter can count as a malted beverage - for a day and half.

The fifth time when a football sized rock came shooting down the trail next to the cave, missed four of us and smashed into a sack full of banana, jam, bread and a filthy costly borrowed digital camera - which was discovered intact in a sackful of banana-pineapple jam-bread soup forming a concrete with powdered glass from jam bottles.

The sixth when Pmurthy and I had to crawl as much of our anatomy into our rucksacks to survive a dusk to dawn thundershower on the exposed summit ridge - the lighting was so bright we could see the colors of flowers a 100feet away.

Yet, despite being very good engineers and blossoming strong silent types, we did achieve the summit a few times. Reaching the summit ridge and retreating to the cave in '91. Reaching the summit on an epic 4-day struggle in '92. I and Pmurthy, going back from Bangalore first time after graduation, successfully executing a strategic retreat from half-way up on day-1 to launch a strong counter-attack on day-2 and climb all the way, in '95. And last, when I tortured my newly attached first-wife-cum-unwitting-former-girlfriend, two supermen from Ozone whose rucksacks were bigger than my tent, and a couple of pals all the way to the summit ridge in '99.

Life was good, running the adventure club with large and active membership in Motorola, starting the Numbskulls club in Sasken etc. Then cruel misfortune befell my life. I got ambitious. I got prosperous. Busy. First wife. Second job. Third job. First kid. Fourth job. Shit, wife is still same. First house. Fifth job. Second car. Second kid ...what second kid? You must be crazy....

Now, on one of those contemplative evenings, when I'm massaging my poor tunneling carpals lovingly back to life, adjusting my much suffering rear end to a more comfortable and cooler position on the chair, under the nourishing glow of the laptop LCD panel, my gaze trying to penetrate the glass-curtain in the far end of a row of closely packed sensory-deprivation-chambers, the devil starts working on my mind.

That little voice whispering - of plodding those aana & kaatti (bison in local lingo) dung strewn tracks, of the spring in the knee joints when you reach level ground after a long had climb, of scoring ancient lichen off the short stout trees on the ridge to mark return trail, of the dew-wet grass and creepers razoring across forearms and face, and ...ahem... of a new life, in a size 38 jeans, with a new wife....

And on those evenings I go back to GoogleEarth. By now I have located every landmark on the route till almost to the ridge. Now I'm trying to work out the mother of all deep-jungle treks in Western Ghats, starting in Meppadi, getting over two peaks and landing up in Anakkampoyil - or if I'm ambitious, maybe even a third ridge and down to Pulloorampara!! Ah, this will be the stuff of legend.

It feels so so so very good to see that someone has done the trail and written about it. I tried to pass all my tribal knowledge before I left REC, but there were no serious trekkers left by then to pass the baton to. IMHO that 25 or so square miles contain some of the densest, wildest jungles left in India. After spending 6years on that mountain even the supposedly fabled Kodai route was pretty tame for me.

2008 has been declared - as were the previous two - as the year of my first big trek for the 21st Century. And the first big one will be Vavalmala. I will get in touch.

The best hiking season for the western slopes of the Western Ghats- barring any serious global warming disruption since '99 - is during the mid-summer showers in early May. Good water, no leeches, cloud cover, perfect lighting for photography.

I'm hungry. I must eat now. Prose after midnight (like bathroom singing) is a highly satisfying exercise in verbal (au(o)ral) diaorrhea. No wonder I got hungry.

Bye.
- Roby Paul Kurien -
ECE, Class of '93
====================

Once a Climber, Always a Climber.

Monday, November 26, 2007

I cannot go to school today

My dad decided to measure his blood pressure using an instrument that we have and the reading showed it as 400. He got totally psyched. My mom told me that he started acting like a kid and saying that his body is paining and he thinks his blood vessels are feeling like its gonna burst. And he kept on making all sorts of sounds whole night. She was worried and told him that she will take him to the doctors but he was like 'no I don't need the doctors'. Finally the next day she pulled him to the doctors and it turned out that he had taken an incorrect reading. Everything was fine with him. That evening he was back to his normal self and went frolicking around :-)

Etchen told me of this particular poem below.

SICK
===========
"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut--my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb.
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is. . .Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

---------- by Shel Silverstein

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Scary Movie 3: Ami Monjolika

I had watched 'Bhool Bhulaiya' with Bala and Swarna in the theatre. Bala had watched the movie before and when the scary stuff started, Swarna started, "Bala tell me whats gonna happen... please Bala tell me whats gonna happen". Needless to say I went on giggling :-)

A couple of days back I reviewed my mom about the movies 'Om Shanti Om', 'Saawariya', 'Bhool Bhulaiya', 'Jab We Met' and a couple of others. My mom is currently with my sis Sonali in Gurgaon since Sonali and Nikhil and moving to Mumbai and since Nikhil was already in Mumbai. Yesterday night she called me up and was like, "My goodness you didn't tell me the movie was scary. What happens in the end we didn't watch the full movie". And I started giggling again, saying that it was a comedy and then told her what had happened. My cousin Brian then called my mom up and hushed, "Ami Monjolika" :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

These forms make me lie

A couple of friends are applying to MBA schools. Part of the application process mandates a number of essays written on various topics like 'Achievements', 'Diversity', 'Goals' etc. The essays sometimes turn out to be an assuaged premeditated extempore bordering on self glorification. Some of those essays are passed through me cause of my so called literary skills :-) Anyways so this friend was sitting there pondering about what he had done and what he wanted to do and then he made a comment in passing, "These forms make me LIE".

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Just Got 'Leh'ed

Disclaimer: The article is written with my heart soaked in words, under the influence of Albert Camus' short story, 'The Adulterous woman'.

Just Got 'Leh'ed: diaries of a conscious mind
------------------------------------------------------

Breathless! The first few steps on its soil and it takes your breath away. Breath; the basic premise of an existance. Breath; with all its monosyllabic cohorts; that basic involuntary action that the brain has taken over since time immemorial and controls like clockwork; like its life depended on it. Breath; in all its pristine form, that age-old pastime, passed down from generation to generation, a religion in itself, a belief believed by all, unsullied by the other processes that govern the republic of our being. Sensation, temptation, rational, logic, perchance to dream, wants, desires, needs; in a swift bloodless coup d’etat the need to breathe takes over all sensations. A faint gasp is heard if not felt, emanating from within the dark hollows of a vast labyrinth; Motionless; all your sensations are focused to the task at hand, to plead your case and negotiate a truce. A truce of immaculate conceptions, a truce without a plan but only with intentions. The only intention to catch your breath, to catch it and never let it go again. Breathless! It takes your breath away and in an ephemeral moment gives it back to you. And at that moment you are acclimatized; a conscious decision.

The flight that transports you there is filled with foreigners waiting to explore this lonely planet as much as you endeavor. Excitement of the unknown wipes the synapses that form whatever off your face and replace them with a subtle mirthfulness. You are alone and have no idea of the kind of people and experiences you are about to encounter. But you are prepared and have packed appropriately; that open mind and that adventurous spirit; yes they always come in handy. You wonder if there are any other people on the flight enroute to their very first ‘Tour de Leh’. You look around and start to read faces as you search the sea of literature for Indian authors and find just a few from amongst the multitude. You wonder why such few Indians choose to explore their own land, which lies in the backyard of their minds. Just then you see another such wanderer trying to find her place amongst the trekkers. She is not dressed for trekking and she feels out of place. Her dark beady mascara brimmed eyes meet yours and she wonders whether to start a conversation or not, but decides otherwise. At the other end of the itinerary you exchanges inklings of a smile and wonder again if your immediate destination is the same, the ‘Tour de Leh’. You find your way to base camp from the airport and start to get acquainted with the proceedings of the day. Just then you bump into each other again and exchange names and a laugh without much resistance. A resistance to things provoked by rational over the years that you need make acquaintances with waders who have been and will be trudging the same path and thought routes, and you decide to let go of that rational for a while; you’ve done it before; a conscious decision.

“Rest. Sleep. Acclimatize”, those rules border on the edge of discordance, and in the end the spirit of the rule wins. Err well you decide to go and ‘rest’ on the top of some mountain. So you travel from an altitude of around 10500 feet to around 12000 feet and visit the Hemis monastery. The west wind unwinds through you a rejuvenation of thoughts long lost to the battles of daily routine. From there you trek to 13400 feet to visit a lone Lama in a cave. Its imaginative beauty lures you on and each step tries to keep you back. And just then, in the height of the moment, you realize that maybe you aren’t following the so called spirit of the rule. You are not ready, you are not acclimatized. Back at the Hemis monastery canteen oxygen is what you search for on the menu, but instead you find the next best thing. A boiling hot glass of lime water, something that you will crave for during the rest of the tour. If a restaurant doesn’t serve Getafix’s magic potion, then it is not worthy of your presence. After heading to Shey palace and Thikse monastery another one who decided to follow your so called spirit of the rule, decides to konk off. No, his engine does not give up its ghost but it does crank and give up all its inputs for the day. Your engine however seems to be working just fine as it pumps fluid at 52 times a minute. You shut your eyes, count your stars and drift between consciousness and never never land; a conscious decision.

The day dawns on you as you prepare for the acclimatization walk to Leh palace situated in the heart of the city. The covert operation of the previous day; the acclimatization trek; warrants a tougher route to the top and so some rock climbing is unanimously agreed upon. After leading somewhere; all routes lead somewhere; you come down and follow the winding route to the top, you engulf the city below and the horizon beyond it. And like the rulers of the past you let your hearts lay siege to the winds that whisper their way through the fascinating labyrinth of winding streets and quaint bazaars below. As the others decide to call it a walk, you decide that your boots are mean’t for climbing and you head to Shanti Stupa. The flat platform on the top sparks a kind of inclination to the theatrical masks within. As each actor plays the role their heart desires you decide to let go and let the camera within you search for their beauty. In a three dimensional space you move around as you occupy those infinite angles, knowing that everything is beautiful given the space and time to discover that beauty. You flirt with them all; the meditating woman, the TV anchor, the man with the beard, the Tai Chi in motion, the sunset child, the Polaroid model, the brown window, the flowing water on the road, each character outperform themselves, a performance worthy of its surroundings. You are enamored by them all; a conscious decision.

Another day, another calling. It beckons the Lance Armstrong in each of you to test your endurance and geared cycling ability over a 15 km route. As you go downhill you zoom past the airport and visit a monastery only to question the nature enthusiasts within you, as you decide to clean the hillside of the garbage that others have littered. The route back seems tough as gravity pulls you down to remind you of your place on earth and of the soldiers that protect our land as you catch your breath at the war museum, only to be re-energised by their heroic climbs dodging bullets to reclaim what is ours, as you climb your way back to basecamp. Tired and excited you head towards the city grounds to treat yourselves and your slightly aching muscles to a polo match and then to lose yourselves in the quaint bazaars and find yourselves again. The night calls for a group meeting with the camp leader as he lets you through the pitfalls of taking risks as he narrates an incident where someone from a previous group zoomed down a slope and at a turn tried to avoid a car and went into the valley, resulting in some temporary reconstruction surgery of the lower jaw at the army base. You chose your captain, ironically nicknamed ‘captain’ as you decide to stick together as a team the coming days; a conscious decision.

Finally thinking that you are acclimatized you awake in yet another predawn and prepare for the start of the ‘Tour de Leh’. The plan is to complete the route in 6 days doing an average of 40 kms a day. Flaged off and spirits intact you set onwards to a place called Basgo. The vastness of the barren land offers you a treat like no other. The silence of the wind, as it whispers in your face, carries the sound of your every movement, every heartbeat, every sensation; as the beads of perspiration find their way to the earth to acknowledge its hospitality. A lunch break at Guru Granth Sahib Gurdwara and you set off to Basgo. A kilometer from camp and you realize that you’ve been screwed, or unscrewed for that matter as you notice your pedal screw has decided to abandon its task. Without a spare at camp you have two choices; panic as you may be left behind the next day or take your camera and capture the abstract as you walk down the road you came along, knowing that you’ll find that pin in the haystack. You choose the latter and shoot abstractness as you bounce along the road alone. You don’t intend it to be abstract, you intend to capture reality but in some cases it just turns out that reality itself is abstract. You decide to counter panicky thoughts by flirting with the abstract, until you find the part in question. You were so close to getting screwed, but not just yet; a conscious decision.

The next day you realize that you need to reposition your baggage on the cycle to reduce the strain, and to rub it in your seat is too narrow and your derriere is numb. Lunch along the river Indus and you finally reach Nurla. The camp is along the river and a bridge lies there to be crossed. You head into the mountains and trek along narrow paths. One cyclist decides to test his cycling skills on a path one foot wide, as you capture his exploits. After passing one village you trek ahead to the next village higher up in the mountains. There you are welcomed to a home to break bread with its inhabitants. The old lady offers you whatever she has, including her smiles. After trekking 12 odd kms you trek back to camp and relax under the open roof sprinkled with stars as you reminisce your chance meeting with the lady of the mountains; her simplicity, her openness to accept, her humbleness of heart, her wisdom of humanity; technology changes, humans don’t; a conscious decision.

The next day you head towards Lamayuru which hosts the oldest monastery in Ladakh built in the 10th century. You lunch along the river and allow the cold water to brush your feet and cleanse your soles as you reach the final steep ascent to your camp. A few decide to go the distance by bicycle while the others close the gap on foot and then hitchhike. At camp you find the happiest person you have seen in years. The little boy is adorned with a pink woolen cap and eats rice out of a blue cup. You can't walk away and so you sit down as he willingly poses for you to capture his every move. You don’t exchange words but in a way you have the most wonderful conversation. All children should be like him but some aren’t. You climb the highest point of the monastery to glimpse a panorama of a past present continuous era, that eternal quest to find some purpose to your existence. You decide to visit the monastery early next morning to join the monks in prayer. That night you think of the genuine laughter that emanated from that little kid as he subtly hints that you all need mirrors to remind yourselves of who you are. You look in the mirror hoping to see his reflection; but you don't. And you remind yourself that you all need mirrors to remind yourselves of who you are. To be or not to be, that is the decision; a conscious decision.

Your way back to base camp at Leh is by foot, a bit of hitchhiking down the steep decent, atop a truck to Nurla and finally by bus to Leh. From there you visit Kardung-la which is the highest motorable road in the world at 18380 feet. La means pass in the local language and the road is maintained by the army. The route goes upto Siachen Glacier. In the evening the culmination of your ‘Tour de Leh’ coincides with the close of the Ladakh festival. Tradition echoes in the costumes, in the dances, in the skits and in the atmosphere. At the end all the performers come on stage and start dancing and you are asked to join them and partake of their culture. You haven't danced for a long time; something that turns you on and frees your spirit. You let yourself be seduced, you let go; a conscious decision.

The beliefs of the land; the rules of Buddhism is that there are no rules, there are only guidelines. As someone put it so simply, “It’s about the journey of the mind, to see what’s in there, discard what’s unnecessary and see what it takes to find true happiness.” On the ‘Tour de Leh’, at one instance in space and time, you slip to the rear as you give into temptation. Motionless! You find yourself stop in your tracks, smitten by the winds of the land as they whisper their open secrets. The best gift that you can give anyone is the gift of freedom to be themselves; that’s what Leh has offered you. That ’resonant whisper’ in one of its reincarnations has taken your breath away. Breathless! It takes your breath away, and in a swift bloodless coup d’etat the need to breathe takes over all sensations. A faint gasp is heard if not felt, emanating from within the dark hollows of a vast labyrinth. You have been offered the freedom to be whosoever you want and that thought overwhelms you, cause your soul is on the line; you’ll have no excuses. Motionless; all your sensations are focused on the task at hand, to plead your case and negotiate a truce. A truce of immaculate conceptions, a truce without a plan but only with intentions. The only intention to catch your breath, to catch it and never let it go again. Breathless! It takes your breath away and in an ephemeral moment gives it back to you. “Is everything OK?”, asks someone. You smile, you are flushed. And at that moment you have been acclimatized, you’ve just got ‘Leh’ed; a conscious decision.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scary Movie 2

It was Halloween at the other side of the globe and so we decided to watch a scary movie after dark since the next day was a holiday. As the sun set over yet another drizzly day, we found our way to Addie's place. We chose Addie's place cause otherwise he wouldn't turn up after hearing that we planned to watch a scary movie. He gets damn scared, and right enough when he heard about the movie he tried hard to come up with excuses about why he couldn't watch the movie. We had to pin him down and block the exit to the room. Then he closed his eyes and announced that we couldn't stop him from sleeping. In the end Richa, Bala and myself ended up watching the movie.

The start wasn't that scary more so cause we experimented with different players/decoders and different instruments to play the movie. The problem was cause we watched the original movie 'Dark Water', which was made in Japanese. The subtitles came with a delay. And the delay got bigger over time; it started out with less than a second delay an towards the end it was about 5+ mins. After sometime we had to remember what had happened as we tried to match the subtitles with what had happened. The movie was open to interpretation till the subtitles finally came to unravel the mystery. But we got along fine.

The moie was more spooky than scary and it did have its moments when we tried hard to wake up Addie to watch th movie. I was one of the many ppl trying to frighten him. But then I showed my true colours. It was towards the end of the movie that Bala's phone rang and I jumped up :-)

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Delhi Half Marathon

Was attempting a sub 2 hour run. Managed it in 2 hours 10 mins :-) Yippie...
My mom, sister, brother in law, aunt and cousin were at the finishing line :-)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Plane and simple truth

We went to the terrace of our office building which overlooks quite a bit of bangalore. From there w could see the airport runway where planes were landing and taking off. a friend then narrated a story which took place in 1985.

His uncle was coming to Bhopal from Raipur, so he had gone with his dad to the airport to pick his uncle up. Sometime around the arrival time they saw the plane hovering above the airport. They waited for an hour and the place was still hovering above. The airport authorities did not tell them what the issue was. After some time the plane disappeared. When they again inquired from the authorities they were told that the plane is going back to Raipur.

Later in the day they managed to get through to the uncle. He the narrated the sequence of events. It turned out that the wheels of the plane were stuck. So they were trying to unlock the chamber. However by the time they reached Raipur they managed to open the wheel chamber and landed safetly.

"But why did you'll go back to Raipur", asked my friend's dad. "Well", said his brother,"The airport in Bhopal did not have a firefighter engine".

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Original Macintosh


Anecdotes about the development of Apple's original Macintosh computer, and the people who created it. Check it out here.


Monday, October 22, 2007

Beauty and the Abstract

"Einstein didn't try to make relativity strange. He tried to make it true, and the truth turned out to be strange". Thats what the article titled 'Taste For Makers' says.

This friend was telling about this clay figurine she made a couple of years back. And that her mother likes it cause its a bit abstract. She described the posture of the figurine and subtly implied why it took that pose, which made me wonder. She was just trying to make the figurine as close to reality as possible; it wasn't abstract; its just that reality turned out to be a bit abstract.

I plan to capture/shoot the figurine in all its abstract reality; that is if she allows me to :-)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Glass Window

I was at home in Nagpur a couple of weeks back. Our home computer was pretty ancient and so we decided to upgrade it to the latest fancy stuff for mumzee and pops. I specified the specs and when it came to the CPU cover I chose this one which was transparent on one side baring its soul for all the world to see. The shop owner got the setup assembled and then sent one of his boys to our home to setup the system. I tried the setup before I left for bangalore to double check that everything was working as desired.

When I later inquired from mom as to whether she was using the system, she said that she is not gonna turn it on till the computer guy sends one of his boys to turn it on for her. When I asked why, she said that she had peeped into the transparent window on the side of the computer and saw that that some sockets at the end of the wires were not connected to anything. I told her that its ok since those sockets were not being used but she said she would only switch it on when the computer guy would come and check the mystery of the dangling wires.

I shouldn't have gone for the transparent cover :-)

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Scary Movie

I saw this scary movie over the weekend called '1408'. I watched it at home. Was alone with the lights off... and it was raining outside... so it got a bit chilly.

1408 is the room number of a hotel... the room is supposed to be haunted and this ghost story writer (who doesn't believe in ghosts) keeps going around visiting haunted rooms and sleeps in them for a night... the first half was a bit spooky before they started showing anything... just the music and small sudden starts... felt a bit cold (cause of the rain outside) and then watched some other stuff in between before continuing with the movie. :-)

the second part wasn't as spooky as the start... After the movie I decided to call people up and also watched another movie called 'The lives of others' to shake the spookyness off me. :-)

Its mostly the sudden starts and those subtle things that can get to me.... once in a theatre I was watching a horror film with a confident look (to show friends that I wasn’t scared :-) and then suddenly something happened and my leg jerked and I kicked the seat in front of me really hard... I actually jumped in my seat and made some sound too :-)

Then ppl from the row in front turned and looked and me and said, "Bhai... movie tere liye nahi hai... Ghar Ja" :-) was damn embarrassed...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Interview

"I am willing to do anything it takes to make the company successful whilst maintaining the highest standards of excellence required from the job", objectively stated the resume in all its shakespearean glory. "Whilst", Sridhar laughed to drive the point to us sarcastically, as he read out loud the resume he had just received. At that moment in space Sridhar was the software architect of a startup we worked in. His laughter peaked as he stressed, 'He is willing to do anything for a company, ANYTHING ???'. The resume was of a fresher who seemed to have put a lot of adjectives and declarations into it, not knowing what it really mean't. So Sridhar decided to replicate the young guy's words and put it up on a notice board in our room for all to see, and he laughed again; sarcasm spilling over for anyone to consume. That was three years back.

A couple of days back I took some interviews along with a colleague to fill a requirement for our company. We couldn't decide who to choose from amongst two candidates. They were similar on most counts. We went through the various criteria again and again and each time we came out with the same decision; we just couldn't boil down to one of them. Then my colleague suggested that he would discuss with one of the managers to see if we missed any criteria that could be the deciding factor. "See who is cheaper for the company", which we found out and then the two of sat down to decide again. "So Alistair you decide, what do you say", the words took form as uneasiness set over his decision as it had already done to mine. We discussed a bit and decided that it was better to be fair to the candidates and so we to called them for a couple more rounds of interviews.

Monday, October 08, 2007

The Bicycle Thief

"Bhaiya", his voice cracked through the delirious monotones that overwhelmed his thoughts. "Mera cycle kissi ne le liya, aapke gate ke bahar hi rakha tha", he continued, trying to regain composure, trying to recap the routine sequence of events that he had followed day in and day out; cycling from his home to the homes of the various ppl he worked for; cooking their food, cleaning their houses; learning to live with his position in the hierarchy of social interaction and financial status. "Ab main kaam kaise karoonga, main kya kaaronga", the question drifted away from his humble frame, drifted away for anyone to answer. His economical means of transport was whisked away from under his seat; without warning, without remorse; We decided to give him some part of the money to buy a new bicycle, his finances unable to handle this disruptive event.

As the hands of the clock followed their monotonous paths, ticking their tocks over the next few weeks, he started to get a bit more lax in his work. The frequency of leaves and undone chores increased. We spoke to him about it but found that it had little effect, as he always seemed to be battling with time. He continued to cook good food but fell behind in other departments. We tried to find a mutually beneficial barter between us, but it was elusive; as elusive as the bicycle thief who had given him the itch, and he had begun to scratch. The itch had metamorphosed and was mainfesting itself in his uneasiness to live with his position in the hierarchy of social interaction and financial status. The Bicycle Thief had struck again.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ai Bang Mai Ni

It was the year of the hidden tiger and the crouching dragon, and as the Japanese saying goes, 'Ai Bang Mai Ni'. Yes, yes... it was a Japanese haiku moment; pure poetry, in 3 lines, with its 12 phonetic units and that huge leap after the second line, where the mind must catch up, creating a sensation of space. And then that zen-like realization of the ultimate truth!!!!!! that Aha moment!!! that moment's experience with God!!!! A Zen master has said that if you write 5 haiku in your life you are a haiku writer, and if you write 10 you are a master. My first humble attempt is below.

Hao Yu Dry Wing
Ai Bang Mai Ni
Dum Gai

It was both our faults, for which I took the brunt of the impact. He turned suddenly without giving an indication as a bit of speed and a wet road made my impulses try to avoid him, turn sideways and skid. My knee was swollen, with a purple haze; and so I got a bit worried as my mountain biking expedition is approaching. I visited the orthopedic the next day as he poked and pulled for 3.1415926535897932384 minutes; charged me a humongous amount and then broke the news to me in haiku form

It Wa King Fine
No Pah Blem
Yu Go Nao

Yippieee, I jumped with glee as they poked me with a tetanus injection.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The House that Roby and Bindu built

Roby is a techie, with a lot of mountain climbing and trekking under his belt. Bindu, his wife, is an architect. They took 2 and a 1/2 years to build their home, Bindu spending 12 hours a day and Roby putting in 4 hours on weekdays and full time on weekends.

The backyard wall has stones jutting out for climbing practice. Even inside the house they have a removable hatch in their kids room with a pulley and the rope drops down into the drawing room, with a rugged surface to rappel down. They also have an open air bath so that they can see the stars at night and the sun shining on their face in the morning. They designed the grills and the curtain hanger covers. The full house is filled with littles things here and there to increase the inflow of sunlight; slabs of glass in the walls, overturned glasses cemented into the ceiling in certain places. It has a very warm earthen look.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Return of the 'Tooth Fairy'

Part Deux: The sequel to its prequel.
A short time ago, in a mouth close close by....

Wisdom was skewed, in congruence with the way some of his plans were going. So to get it fixed he set out on a journey along the black tar road, to solicit an audience with the lady with the pliers. The needle was pierced and the small tongue dropped dead. A gag, a yank and a crunch later, it glistened in all its bloody glory, like a naughty tooth brandishing its enamel. "So did the tooth fairy give you any money the last time", she queried. "Nope", he answered, wondering if he would have to part with some of the booty if he had managed to get any, "Maybe I'll have better luck this time". She shook her head to acknowledge his loss of wisdom and wondered what would happen when he lost all of it.

The next day he met Michael; a carpenter in transit; an old man who had shown him his work a couple of times before. "Can I see it", his eyes queried, glistening with curiosity. "Well I've not worked on it for a long time", said the old man. "Why", he questioned himself, rhetoric taking the sidelines, as he knew what he was about to hear. "Nobody would appreciate what I make, besides I don't have the energy as I'm overwhelmed with other things.", said the old man in pensive overtones. "But you really wanted to complete it. You wanted to do it for yourself. No one else but yourself.", he tried to reassure those overtones, trying to convince himself and the old man. "I'll try", they both said and smiled. That night the tooth fairy returned to find another tooth under the pillow as she tried to decipher the dreams of old men.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Art of Letting Go

I met this lady over the weekend, a stranger who emanated nostalgic vibes cached in a friendly persona. "I'm an atheist", she stressed in a previous phone conversation, to which I shrugged; our beliefs are our religion and I knew atheists with a religion I admired. When I finally met her she seemed her friendly self but drifted into another world every now and then. She told me she had lost her eighteen year old son last year in an accident. "He was the pillion rider. The rider had a couple of bruises", she tried to battle with the sequence of events. "Thats him in the picture on my 50th b'day. Thats the last b'day I will celebrate", and then she smiled. I did not know what to say. I stood there as a silent observer and exchanged a smile, as time and space shrank simultaneously from a three dimensional world to a one dimensional sphere.

There are some things which we can never let go of, and its no use even trying. Cause its not about letting go of someone or something but letting go of a part of you, and thats not worth letting go of. Sometimes you are told that you can't do much, but as Jack Kerouac notes down as some of the essentials of Spontaneous Prose below; can you actually let go.

  1. Accept loss forever
  2. Be submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language & knowledge
  4. Something that you feel will find its own form
  5. Telling the true story of the world in interior monologue
  6. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  7. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  8. Be in love with your life

Monday, August 20, 2007

Breaking News!!! One small step for man, one giant leap for some


I have been dilly dallying for a couple of years now.... my mother and sisters have been telling me for a long time, "You know so many girls. What’s wrong, don't you like anyone"... well nothing is wrong I keep assuring them. Then my mother would tell me that she is gonna lookout and then she would pause, and would say, "You can easily do it on your own. Now go out there and get your act together". After a couple of failed pep talks and finally convinced of my abilities she started looking and then I let her in on my intricate thought process (with a by-product of world peace and all that) of how its better for me to search on my own.

However seeing my starting problems some friends have been talking to me about process... "Don't tell a girl you write poetry." But I am who I am I retorted, there is nothing wrong in that. Then his wife pointed out how he told her about his hobby of photography and when she asked him to show her some, he showed her a picture of a monkey and she burst out laughing. We were digressing from the grave issue at hand he reminded all of us, and then he turned on some more lights and started to point out the advantages, "When you get married see how the hair on your head grows." I can't fight gravity I shrugged. "Well gravity or no gravity; before marriage my chest was bare. Now look!!!!!!". After we warned him never to do that again, he calmed down and started giving more ideas.

On another front, this friend who is also currently playing Clint Eastwood in the wild wild west, and with who I am pretty generous with theoritical advice in this regard, told me that he has an aunt (a family friend) in bangalore who will inject me into the mainstream; lead the horse to the water; list my stocks on Dalal Street for crying out loud. Stocks that seem to be fast depreciating in value I am told. The real market value is what I call it. "ok", I said, and called her up. She asked me about what kind of a girl I was looking for and then I think I gave some very vague, unsure, cryptic, undecipherable answer. "Profession ?". "Skin colour ?". "Religion ?". "Looks ?", she tried again. To which I replied in a candid monotonic altruistic rhetoric,"There are a lot of other things to consider". "Well it seems like you should meet me in person and then we can discuss", she said.

That was more than a month back. Finally I managed to synchronize a time with her and decided to meet her at her place this sunday, ‘to discuss’ things. I arrived and she turned out to be this very sweet lady. Then her husband came up to me with a laptop and gave it to me and said, "That’s her picture". Huh I looked up wondering what he was saying. "She lives close by, we can go and meet the family". 'Meet the family!! Now!!', I thought and wondered what I was going to do, and went into hyper mode. And then I gobbled whatever came in my path, my homeland security being recommissioned to different fronts. I never expected to be meeting anyone besides them today. I mean I have never really gone and 'met a family' before so to speak. I have spoken to a few but this was totally out of chronological order, like distinguishable 'chronological epochs' if you know what I mean. Besides I was totally unaware of protocol, if there was any.

"Well lets go", he said. And so I went with them looking at the slippers that partially covered my dirty feet, my shirt dangling out shabbily, my hair all messy and unkempt. So there I was sitting amongst people who I was meeting for the first time in my life. Nobody knew me and I didn't know them. The clock ticked its tocks like clockwork, as I felt a lot of eyes on me. Feeling conscious and wondering where to look, my eyes started to wander. "So talk to her. Ask her what you want". Well frankly speaking I didn't know what to ask, I had never thought about what to ask before. Perspiration forced itself out to have a glimpse of my situation. And then everyone except the girl went to the kitchen. There was a bit of silence but then we spoke a bit. And then everyone came back and trying not to make her conscious I looked elsewhere and noticed she was doing the same :-) "So you want to ask her something more before you decide". 'Decide', those syllables in a state of thought motion were gulped down with air, chronological epochs and a couple of other compounds. On the way out I apprised my friend's aunt of my lengthy process and the phenomenon of the 'click', to which she smiled a comforting smile.

"The journey of a thousand miles, starts with a single step", laughed a confusing Confucius, in all his posthumous realization. After a few years of dilly dallying I officially welcomed myself to the world of pre-marriage processes with all its 'huh' moments.

PS: Please pray for the people that experience my being in all its weirdness. They need it!

--- Author Unknown (in fear of being burnt at the stake).


Friday, August 17, 2007

The chicken and the egg

[a friend forwarded me this]

So this Chicken and this Egg are going at it pretty fast and furious in bed and suddenly the chicken groans, rolls over and lights up a ciggy, looking very content.

The egg rolls to the other side, looking disgruntled and says "Well, that answers that question".

cluck cluck!!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Tooth Fairy

A long time ago, in a mouth far far away.....

Wisdom was growing at a slant, demanding an audience from the lady with the pliers. Gone were the days of doors tied to strings, or heavy stones tied to strings and thrown down wells (not sure if anyone really does that). A flash and a look later a date was set. The brave knight arrived on his blue bird and parked his derriere in the hot seat. A piece of cake he thought; oblivious to the fact that this cake had a totally different recipe. He was thinking about happy thoughts and was babbling away and then the needle was shown; to which he gasped, 'Yikes. I forgot about that' and then he went silent. The lady with the pliers reveled at that contrast. A couple of tools, some hardcore pulling and some bone crunching sounds later it was separated from its skeleton. In all his amusement, amongst the gurgling of blood, he yelped, "Can I have it. I want to put it under my pillow".

His diction resembled 'The Godfather' and so lacking some wisdom he called his GodSon and mumbled,"Never take sides with anyone against the family again....Ever". To which he got a reply,"Booooo Weeeeee Wuuuuu", which were replicated at his end and were followed by giggles. People on the road wondered if he was talking in tongues and they reveled. Realizing his plight he rode away, with tooth in pocket, into the sunlight sky.

And so it was put under the pillow as its outcome was mid-life-crisisly pushed into the back burner of the labyrinth of that vast Sargasso sea. In an epoch of a parallel dimension its outcome was queried, with a realization of its fate; it was gone, vamooshed into thin air. Or maybe it was the tooth fairy! There was no hard cash under the pillow but then again that was not the intent. As his head slowly sank into the pillow, voices were heard by that little thinghy that spits out, "Put your lights on". The lights are still off though.

Maybe when another chunk of wisdom is yanked, the tooth fairy will return. Either that or the royal domestic help. But he put his money on the tooth fairy, cause we all remember fairy tales in our own way. Don't we.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Locked out

I had this roomie for two months. Well he is a nice chap, he does have some nice things about him. But he has his shortcomings too, like all of us. During his stay with Dhruv and me he somehow never found the will to get a duplicate key. One week passed, then two weeks but still he never got a key. He would sometimes have to wait outside for us to return and at other times would be frantically calling us to co-ordinate our arrival for the grand 'door opening'. The third week I got a bit bugged, I mean it did start to get a bit irritating. So I had a nice long talk with him, about what he wants out of life and all that. During those cliched questions I slipped in a couple about the key and asked him what his plan was or if he had a plan in the first place. I won't mention what he told me cause it was a personal conversation but then I told him that his reasoning was causing issues to others which was not a nice thing. I told him that I could very well get the key done for him but I wouldn't do it as he had to do it for himself. After 3-4 weeks he got finally got a key. But it didn't work and then till the end of his two months stay he never got another key. He would wait for us and call us frantically to try and co-ordinate the grand 'door opening'.

This is another incident with this cop at a traffic signal. It happened a couple of months back. Bangalore has a lot of rash drivers. Our side of the traffic had been given the green signal and then suddenly from the other side two guys on a bike zoomed past breaking the signal and in th bargain a lady who was on she vehicle lost balance an fell off he vehicle. As usual all people came around to see what was happening. The guys knew that they had cause the female to fall but then just zoomed off. I told the cop to hop on and we would chase the guys who broke the signal. But the cop gave me this senile look as if it was not his job and he just walked by me. They have been times before this where I have chased autowallahs, and cool biker dudes on snazzy bikes who cause an accident and decide to zoom off. And when I catch them I ask them,"Don't you even care if that person is dead or alive". In a shaky voice they reply that there were afraid and fear made them run.

When will I take responsibility for my actions and their side effects.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Happiness takes the cake

Reema's article in DNA with the same title. It says, "Happiness lies in indulging in random acts of beauty and senseless acts of kindness." One of those clich├ęs, she remarked. Little did she know. Well little did I know. Little did we all know.

the 4 mindless minstrels involved in the article above... Goli, Reema, Mad Angel and moi.

Some poetry about the wandering minstrels...

The pic above is a caricature of Reema that came in the newspaper with the article... Reema and Mad Angel are journalists...

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Break the Mould

An article by Reema about breaking the mould. Contains some pics I've taken out.

Monday, August 06, 2007

'Phone'y Toons


I called up a friend a couple of days back. He just had a baby and was naturally pretty excited about it. I was talking to him about the baby and then we started talking about a project for AID and some code that had to be written for it... suddenly I abruptly cut the flow and said, "What about the name?". And then I think I heard him say 'Minnette' or 'Minute' at the other end... I'm not sure how the name 'Nilay' was perceived as 'Minute'... well lets just blame the rain... it was raining and I was outside the the front door :-) yes thats it... so I wondered how to react and thought he had mentioned the project's name and so I went, "[Ha Ha Ha] not the name of the project". And he went,"I was talking about the baby's name". Then in those milliseconds that followed, I went into collateral embarrassed mode and immediately unplugged some synapses at random places and hoped things stopped functioning...


come to think of it I had got a missed call on the 26th of July, which happened to be my b'day... and then I looked at the name on the phone and somehow felt it was from my cousin's aunt in kolkata... I talk to my cousin in pune every week... so I return the missed call and start talking to this aunt about things and the weather in kolkata... and when my cousin will be going there for a visit... and how she is doing in her studies; always mentioning my cousin in the third person... and then I said something and a voice from the other end said,"Alistair!!! you're joking right. Are you alright. This in Janelle.. From Pune"... and I wondered what to say and went "Yeah I'm joking..."

this was when I was back at home studying hard for some exams and my sense of night and day had gone for a toss... I was sleeping and then the phone rings... I jump out of bed to realize that blood is not flowing properly in one leg and I fall down and then with the other leg I get up and hop to the phone... They tell me they are from MSEB and are checking the phone connection. Then they ask me if the voice quality is ok and tell me to blow into the phone...
I go "phuuuuuuu"
"Blow Louder"...
and I go "PHUUUUUUUUU".
"Louder"
and I go "PHUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU"
then I hear some giggles at the other end and I decide to hit the bed again, realizing that MSEB is the State Electricity Board !!! I guess blood had not reached my brain either :-)


Friday, August 03, 2007

Volver (Return)

VOLVER (RETURN)
Music by Carlos Gardel
Lyrics by Alfredo Le Pera
Translation by Coby Lubliner
Title song of the Movie Volver
Click here to see the video


I can almost see the flicker
Of the lights that in the distance
Mark the way of my returning…
They’re the very ones that lit up,
Their reflections pale and misted,
Many hours of deep pain.
Though it was not what I wanted,
First love makes one always come back again.
The quiet [age-old] street where once the echo told me:
Her life is yours, her love is yours to earn,
Under the stars that mockingly look on me,
And now in their indifference see me return.

Return… with my forehead all wrinkled,
My temples turned silver by time’s falling snow…
To feel… that one’s life is a twinkle,
Twenty years hardly reckon,
And two fevered eyes beckon,
In shadows forestall you
And seek you and call you.
To live… with the soul firmly clinging
To one sweet remembrance
That makes me weep so.

I am frightened of the meeting
With the past that is returning
To confront my life all over.
I am frightened of the nighttimes
When my dreams are linked and fleeting
And old mem’ries come to stay.
And yet the trav’ler who’s fleeing
Sooner or later must stop on the way…
And though oblivion, which destroys all being,
Has killed my old hopes, ripping them apart,
Yet I keep hidden a humble hopeful glimmer
That is the only fortune there is in my heart.


Sunday, July 29, 2007

Half Baked Recipes

It was that time of the year and so I decided to bake some chocolate cake. I have tried my mom's recipe and then her version 2.0. But there are more to recipes than what just meets the eye. Her recipes don't mention the part where she is sometimes hounded by kids wanting to dip their finger into the batter or lick a little bit of icing; claiming that they are the master tasters...

Well here is version 3.0
-------------------------------
Ingredients:
- Same stuff from the previous version.
- Kids... Lots of them.

Method:
- Visit a lot of kids. It turns out that they are practicing some dance sequences for a performance in the evening. Amuse yourself by admiring their timing in spite of being pretty small. The other kids who are sitting down mimic the actions of the ones who are performing and giggle and laugh at their friends. Some of them who are pretty small decide to have a conversation with you; They shake their heads to the beat and you do the same, while looking at each other, exchanging smiles.
- Visit some more kids. 5 of them.
- One of them hides your keys. She is the smallest from the lot (about 2 years old) but takes pleasure in worrying a boy who is elder to her. She doesn't really want certain toys but takes it in her hand and waves it around and says its hers; cause she knows it belongs to the little boy.
- Take them for a walk to pick up the ingredients mentioned in the previous versions. They promise that they will help you carry stuff. However as soon as you start one of them says she can't walk and wants to be carried and she uses this sad innocent look on her face to get her point across. In the shop they run around and try not to drop things down but manage to drop a little bit here and there. Then one of them claims that he can't carry stuff and just wanted to come for a walk.
- Back at the base you start following the method from the previous versions.
- Then 5 of them want to know whats happening and when you are not looking put their fingers into the batter to taste, while my cousin (mother to 2 of them, aunt to the other 3) tries to yell at them and restore some discipline. They listen... well at least for a couple of minutes, and then they try their luck again.
- You make the icing too but decide to hide it someplace cause otherwise it might not last till the cake gets baked.
- Finally its done and you put it into the oven, and decide to take a nap while they run around, fight, make up, put a pillow on your back and decide to take a nap on you, put your hair and tell you to wake up and give them some cake.
- Chocolate icing is put and the master tasters give their expert opinions. Some of them want to taste a bit more before they can part with their thoughts.


Sunday, July 22, 2007

The Abstract

Often the abstract is done by the undisciplined, sold by the unprincipled and shown to the utterly bewildered --- Albert Camus


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Schrodinger's Happy Feet

A friend asked me why I like watching depressing movies. Depressing? He was referring to some of the foreign films that I watch. Well I watch them cause they are realistic (I watch comedies too). We had seen this movie called 'Central Station', which he felt had a lot of depressing things in it. On the other hand I felt it was overall a very warm movie. He then mentioned that he likes to make people happy and thats why he likes watching happy movies. Which I feel is fine and yes thats the way it should be. This friend is a nice chap and I like hanging out with him. But then again if you really want to make people happy then you need to understand their unhappiness, however depressing it may seem. You can't have one without the other..

Which leads me to my variant of 'Schrodinger's Cat'. Confused, here is an explanation for a sixth grader. A sixth grader ???? Ah well someone even wrote a poem about it :-)

So here it is, the "Schrodinger's Happy Feet" paradox:
--------------------------------------------------------------
Take a pair of Happy Feet and put them into a glass shell (chamber), along with a device containing a vial of life-changing quantum events. In that chamber are also a few radioactive atoms. If even a single atom decays, a relay mechanism will be triggered which will in turn trip a hammer which will break the vial and the quantum events will be realized, resulting in the metamorphosis of the 'Happy Feet' to 'Sad Feet'. Before an observer looks into the glass chamber, no one knows the state of the feet, cause we cannot know whether the atom has decayed, the vial broken and the quantum events occured. From the outside the feet appear happy. So at that point the feet are in a kind of nether state; because of a superposition of possibilities; simultaneously happy and sad. According to the "many worlds" interpretation, Schrodinger's experiment splits the universe around those feet into two parallel worlds; one happy the other sad. Each subsequent quantum event resulting in those imaginary lands; darklands, never never lands, wonderlands and real lands. Its only when an observer opens the chamber and looks deeper into it would they realize if the feet are happy or sad.

The observer's paradox lies in the fact that the feet are happy or sad if and only if an observation is made in the first place. The observation affects an outcome. If the observation is not made, you will never know if the feet are happy or sad.



In between darkness and light, sadness and happiness.



White support






Overshadowed





Said the old feet to the young feet








Happy feet, sad feet... seen it all.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Alma mater... one of them

I studied in St Francis De Sales (SFS) in Nagpur. I've heard that our school has its first female principal starting this year. The principal before this, Fr Ivan Lobo, spent nearly 30+ years in SFS starting from his schooling. I was the principal's right hand boy and blue eyed boy :-) He is a good person. I still keep in touch with him and visit him even now. He has moved to mumbai. During my first interactions with him in my school days he once told me, "I am disappointed, I expect a lot more from you. These ranks and merit lists don't matter much and with time you will realize that too. There is a lot to learn and its not just studies."

Talking about female principals, we did have a female principal for the primary section. I was kinda her blue eyed boy too :-) Then there was teacher LaxmiNarayan, who smiled and made the world smile with her. She was the blue house (to which I belonged) head mistress. Our school motto is "Dare to be wise".

Got this forward from a school friend. Posted it as is.

The Fountain near the cycle stand...



This the area where we played Basketball


This is the entrance of the School.... Where the samosa wala used to sell those heavenly SAMOSAS



Grotto of Mother Mary



Classes near our School Park...


Corridors...


More of them...


The Chapel of our School...


This is the view of our Cycle stand where we use to keep our cycles Locked like it was our PORCHE... and yes it was much more precious at that time....


View from the main entrance, where its written "Dare to be Wise".



Our School Playground and the place where the assembly was held every Saturday... I used to be up in the shade cause I was in the school choir.



The school bell that we heard over the years.


The fourth playfield at an elevation from the other two


Just Check the 1978 Staff some of them we don't know but look at the Retro look of our School Teachers...



Our School Staff in the Year 1985....



School Staff members in the year 2001....




School Staff members in the year 2006....





"DARE TO BE WISE"



Thursday, June 21, 2007

To Treat or Not To Treat

"The treating game is always complicated", I once told a friend who had just made that mighty shift from a student to a working professional. She complained (maybe secretly bragged) about how she felt a bit guilty and how it hurt her big ego, when her working friends were always openly willing to treat her. And now that she had started earning she was ever ready to treat friends. I added, "About treats, I have this thing with some friends wherein if I visit their city then its their treat and vice versa. With others its a whole new set of unstated stuff. But the basic rule to follow is, to 'treat' ppl well. And you can 'treat' ppl well irrespective of whether you are working or not. And maybe in a way ppl were 'treating' you back too."

But then again the treating game is always complicated when it comes to 'treating' people well. Some do it cause they are happy and just want to share the joy. But then there are those who do it to be a part of society, some who do it as an obligation just because it is 'their turn', still others who do it cause they want something in return, some who do it cause they are trying to 'woo' you, others who are forced to do it cause they are related to you, and some who do it cause they have to live their lives with you.

The treating game is indeed always complicated when there are those who decide to treat others based on how that person would treat some unknown person; irrespective of who that unknown person may seem to be. Would I treat you based on such observations ? Would I ? Would you ?

To keep things simple, the basic rule to follow is to 'treat' people well.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Price of Art

"Do you have any music I can buy ?", I asked. "Ah. Yes. I have some. Come.", he gestured, trying to communicate in the language I chose as a medium, and I followed. "How much is it", I queried. "Err... I don't know. Err... the price is... well the CD costs about 10-15 pounds... so its about 1000 Rs... err or 800 Rs is ok..". I have never bought music for that much but I looked at how much I had and decided to pick up the CD.

I had gone for this free concert of Regis Gizavo. He is a musician from Madagascar who plays the accordion and sings some amazingly soulful music. He couldn't talk in English too well so he spoke in French about each song before he began and someone translated what he wanted to convey. The concert turned out to be pretty amazing and so I decided to buy his CD.

My friend heard the music at home and loved what he heard. So when I told this friend that I had paid 800 bucks for 11 songs he looked at me and said, "I never pay for songs. I get all my music from the net. I like listening to music but I have never paid for music in my life". I looked at him as he continued," You know I can get his songs from the net for free. There are so many places I can download it". And he smiled, feeling proud of the fact that he doesn't pay anything for music. Music that he agreed, calms his nerves and clears his mind when he has the need for it. So I reminded him that this was their only source of livelihood. And to choose music as a profession takes a lots of guts, where you are not sure if you will be able to sustain yourself with the amount that you make. A cousin, Adrian D'souza, decided music was his profession at a very young age. He is doing pretty well but I have always wondered about the thoughts that went through his head before he decided that music was it. You can hear some of his music out here. He used to be compared with Sivamani before he decided that he wanted to explore Jazz and went in that direction.

Well I have downloaded, shared mp3 with friends but when I hear musicians playing live and I enjoy their music, I usually end up buying their CDs. Maybe its just a way of making sure that I hear them again cause they too need to survive. Art needs to be given support from society otherwise young people will not even think of exploring those avenues, even if they have the talent.

Regis Gizavo's albums.
Listen To Samy Olombelo
Listen To Stories
Listen To Mikea