Monday, February 25, 2008

Madness, Fireflies and Chocolate Mint Liqueur

Being called a veteran means a lot. It means that you are supposed to know the route to the Fireflies which you have been religiously attending for the past 3 years. It means that ppl hold you responsible for their derrieres; covering and cushioning it over the twelve longs hours that you have to sit on hard rock. So sporting a hairstyle (or the lack of one) that you don't get at any salon I picked up Swarna from IIM and headed to Ayush's place, where they were packing for a three day trek. We packed the essentials (read cushioning and a PSP!) and set sail. During the long drive Ayush tried hard not to tell us about his exploits in Vegas cause his wife Pallavi was sitting next to him. And then finally the time of reckoning; which beckoned me the way directions are beckoned from me... err yes people had their doubts as that first pearl of sweat found its way across my forehead and down into oblivion. My senses were put on high alert and finally I shouted, "There!!!! Take that right!!!!". Well till now we were headed on a straight road and this was just the beginning. What lay ahead of me was a labyrinth of teeny weeny criss crossing roads. They say wisdom comes with age, but in my came age just showed up all of a sudden as I uttered those words to everyone's relief, "Follow that car!!!!". Phew!

Well this year there were a lot of new performers; Jazz by Glen Rogers from Australia, Kaman and group on acoustic portuguese guitars, Esperanto, a lot of alternative music, blues... a group from Pondicherry and then to the usual Oikyotaan, Qawali and other stuff. This time the place was packed to capacity.

When time came to stretch my legs I went backstage and shot a lot of ppl in action.







And oh yeah the chocolate liqueur was provided by Bala the next day who just returned from Israel, who was actually secretly shooting for Ralph Lauren's swimwear line. Send him an email and ask him to show you the pic in the dead sea.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

My cousin Irene

It was Ash Wednesday and I went to my relation's place after church. Ash was on my forehead, which marked the beginning of the period of repentance/abstinence forty days before Holy Easter. The basic idea is to try and humble yourself. My cousin Irene asked me if I was gonna fast and I said no. She told me that she also was not gonna fast and decided that she could do other things instead. Then she lit up and told me that she was taking her school children to Disney's Magic show the next day, the first day first show in Bangalore, which would extend over two weeks.

She used to work in Microsoft but then decided to leave and teach at a school for poor children. The tickets for the show were priced at 500, 750 and 1000 Rs and so she decided to call up the organizers and see if she could do something to get some of the children, whose parents can't afford those pricey tickets, to watch the magic show. She ended up talking to various people in the organizing company over the next week or more. She also tried to talk to people in Microsoft to get something done. First the organizers told her that they could give them the tickets for half the price but she said that too was way too much for people who can't afford a good meal. She kept on calling daily and they used to tell her something or the other and then tell her that they would think about it but the people above have to decide. So she would get the numbers of the higher ups and start all over again.

She then went for one of our cousin's wedding in Nagpur and when she returned she called the organizers again asking them what they had decided. Finally they told her that they had some good news as they had decided to keep aside 1500 free tickets on the first day for under privileged children. This included her school which has 250 children and other organizations that teach street children.

It brought a big smile on my face to say the least :-)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

That Eternal Lightness of Being

Kumara Parvatha
Supposedly the toughest trek in Karnataka.
With its strenuous paths and scenic panoramas.
Being one with nature.
Trekking in the wilderness.
A walk in the clouds.
A touch of heaven.
That Eternal Lightness of Being.
Yes
That's what its all about.
That Eternal Lightness of Being.


"Aren't y'all feeling any pressure. When do we go ?", rhetoric found its way of repeating itself. "Well its not a social event you know!", rational found its way of repeating rhetoric. And so hours passed as rational followed rhetoric only to be overwhelmed by steep inclines, thick forests, dangerous ridges, tricky 45-60 degree inclined flat rock faces, torn pants and altered egos. Armed with food rations, energy drinks, tents, sleeping bags, we bravely stood the test of time as we marched ahead with our heads intact. As we sat down for lunch just above one of the many flat rock faces, we reminisced about our exploits as someone exclaimed, "Life haat me aah gayi thi!". Just then you heard the cacophony of little children as they swarmed the rock face and ran up. The altered egos look at each other and proclaim, "Children!", which taking into consideration the angle of tilt and the orientation of the stars would mean, 'Children!', which taking into consideration altered egos would mean, 'If we were their age and as light as them we would have done the same'. But alas, to rub salt into our injuries, two ladies appeared; the teachers of those little children, dressed in salwar kameez. Bare foot, they climbed it with such easy so as to make someone exclaim, "Aren't y'all feeling any pressure. When do we go ?". And so rational followed rhetoric only to be overwhelmed by steep inclines, thick forests, dangerous ridges, tricky 45-60 degree inclined flat rock faces and so on.

People became overtly courteous on the way up as each one carried atleast 5-6 liters of water. Some were duped into carrying 8 liters! "Please allow me to share my water with you. Please drink from my bottle". "No, No, please allow me". Loads were redistributed though shrewd marketing gimmicks and pompous talk.

After reaching the top in 5-6 hours, we set up our tents and savored a well deserved nap only to wake up around 4:30-5:00 PM to find that our visibility extended till about 4-5 feet. And then it happened; rhetoric found its true calling. Proclamations were made, directions were pointed to and legs were set in motion. And so our lone ranger walked the walk, as he disappeared into the clouds. They say life goes round circle, as he headed out north of the camp, pre-empted that move, urged by a dramatic paradigm shift taking the clouds into account. Well either that urge or that other dramatic urge to purge. Time passed the way time usually passes and then all of a sudden the northern winds blew a bit harder and carried away the clouds with them; visibility being restored to the refractions over the horizon. And there he was to the south, perched on a rock, with very few bushes around, just 25-30 feet away from our tents! A 100 meters dash in squatting position will not win you a gold at the olympics, but after all its not all about winning or losing but about how well you play the game.

After a wholesome supper, the chilly winds drove us inside our tents and we slept like logs. I awoke in yet another pre-dawn as the canvas in front of me started to take form. I sat on a rock as random thoughts began to form patterns as I set out on my path to attain nirvana. Seconds turned to minutes as chilly winds tried to carve my body, mind and soul. Realizations took shape as I learn't that I had packed shaving cream instead of toothpaste! And then finally it happened; that calling from beyond, that calling from nature; like a baby that has made up its mind; when you have to go, you have to go. And so finally I had to go; the essentials in hand, I walked the walk as my silhouette vaporised into the clouds. I found a spot and began proceedings. Its weird how you notice nature and your surroundings as you make acquaintances with a little red beetle, all in the quest for that eternal lightness of being. The conversation however is short lived, as you realize that you are running out of resources. Out there in the wilderness there is no tech support to solve your issue du jour and so you stare at the bottle and wonder if its half full or half empty; setting out on yet another philosophical journey and with the residual air in your lungs you exhale, "oh shit!".

And legend has it that almost everyone attained that eternal lightness of being in their own way.













Jab hum winner honge!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Reading and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

"A book is like an axe to break the frozen sea within us", like Kafka on the rocks, armed with a book in hand you drift between rationality and mysticism as the clouds encompass you. Seated at the mountaintop, the characters and events of the literature form and vaporize through the fluidity of your imagination. The winds blow with little resistance, stroking the canvas, painting pictures with vapor, to their finest details only to vaporise again.

And like Kafka on the rocks, armed with a book in hand you drift between rationality and mysticism as the waves touch your feet and retreat in rhetoric. Seated on the rocks at the farthest point on the beach, away from everything, the waves rock you back and forth and although you are on steady ground you feel like you are on a raft being tossed with the words that you read, the sounds taking shape.

And within all that magic realism the art of motorcycle maintenance rephrases its rationality; as the frozen sea reveals tips of icebergs that are in need of maintenance. And maybe if some mechanic can work on that magic realism, poetry can be turned into prose.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

On Black Mondays, Super Tuesdays and Ash Wednesdays

Like silent whispers they come, with a consciousness of their own, slowly creeping like ghosts over still waters, fogging ahead, encompassing all. Momentum loses its inertia as you weigh options against options. But the bears just bring you down and its effects propagate reality in a different hue.


But hope lives eternal as man is not made for defeat. He can be clobbered but not defeated. And so options are weighed against options, debates run their fluid routes and the votes are cast. It may just be the primaries but in this marathon campaign every dash seems a sprint as the results are split and its effects propagate clarity in a different saturation.


"Dust thou arth and to dust thou shall return", those words repeat themselves like echoes in rhetoric; groping in the darkness, piercing the subconscious. 'Our place in the sun is just a handful of dust', you wonder; reality and clarity taking on different hues and chromas, as options are weighed against options, and its effects propagate perception in a different lightness.

As you look back you realize how colorful life is.
And if you look real hard you might even see the colors of a rainbow.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Climbing mountains spreadsheet estyle

So you've heard of climbing mountains 'Alpine style' or 'British expedition style'. Many consider Alpine style to be the purest form of mountaineering. But then again there is yet another style of climbing mountains, its called spreadsheet estyle.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Who moved my cubicle ?

Thats a simple one..... I did.

But then again, who moved my cheese ?. Well ask me those questions and I'll tell you those lies; the kind of lies that turn themselves into the rules of the world. Well I know that cheese is being moved constantly but nobody moved my cheese. Maybe its just that I'm fighting to give into my taste buds, wrestling with the known and the unknown, trying to bridge the gap between avocations and vocations. Hopefully somewhere down the line I'll be smiling and saying cheese :-)