Monday, October 26, 2009

Canon photo marathon 2009

We were given 3 themes one by one. We had 1hr 30 mins to click a photo on each theme. It started at 8:30 am and went on till 3:30 pm.... The themes were "On the job", "Freedom" and "Stand out".

"On the Job"
Clicked this at the old age home we go to.

Freedom means diff things to diff people who lead diff types of lives...
tried to capture that..
and sometimes freedom comes at a cost..

"Stand Out"
Felt real bad when the kid to the right innocently told me, "but I can't read"...
used the harry potter books so that it stands out more..

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Eurotrip thoughts

We were planning on planning a long trip someplace... just take off from work but the plan was just not falling in place. A meeting was coming up for Margaret in Antwerp and so we suddenly got into planning mode. The lonelyplanet, eurorail was hit on from all angles and after a lot of permutations and combinations the itinerary took shape.

Started with london. Margaret's brother Edward is there who gave us a good feel of the city. One must do is the live theatre scene out there. From london we headed by rail to belgium.. went around Brussels and a beautiful place called Brugges (watch the movie "in bruges").. Bruges is out of this world... like out of a fairytale stuck in time.. it was a trade center like venice but then silt accumulated in the waterways and cut trade.. ppl left the city then returned a few centuries back and rebuilt the place.. the architecture is stuck in medieval times.. very quaint and untouched... cobblestone roads still cover most of the city.. the horses are massive... waterways and canals run thru the city..

when margaret was working I went around Antwerp (diamond capital of the world), Gent, made a second trip to Bruges and then Rotterdam.. Antwerp is quite a nice city with a lot to see. They were celebrating the completion of the rail station with the release of a book which was written in 5 days and was based around the station.. Each day some famous author would sit in the station and continue where the previous one left off. They setup a makeshift printing press in the same location for the release of the book.

In Gent they were shooting a film at the station.. Belgium is known for its award winning intellectual films. I found the people to be very warm and polished in Belgium. They seems to go into details which shows in their intricate knitwork, their showpieces. When I as leaving the station they were completing the final scene of the film.

after Margaret's meeting we went to Amsterdam.. walked thru Anne Frank's place where she wrote her dairy. It was quite an experience.. toured Van Gogh's museum.. at first I was wondering how a looney guy with not much painting skills got so famous.. I mean if you compare his stuff to Rembrant's visually appealing skills you start to wonder... but then slowly it grows on you... the strokes, the style, the abstractness, his thoughts and if I think of it now his ones were the most abstract but are also the ones which have a very strong visual picture in my mind.. you can probably compare him to Frank Kafka who didn't have a real good writing style but his concepts, humanity and _depth_ of thinking comes out thru his writing... it almost like he painted for himself first...

we then took the train from Antwerp to Paris where we spent a couple of days... paris was grand... had a different charm to it unlike Bruges. It is pretty in all its grandeur, Notre Dame, Champs Elysee, Arc de Triumph, Eiffel tour, the Louvre, the art work... the mona lisa was tiny though :) We picked up a B&W painting there and margaret added some red to it back in bangalore.. its come out quite well...

went overnight by train to venice after running from station to station in paris and nearly missing the train :) its in situations like these when you feel that you need to know the local language to survive.. but I guess the travel was going too smoothly till then and we needly that adrenalin rush.. this was our only overnight trip and the station at venice was easier to follow... some of the paintings there were mouth watering.. picked one from there.. the glass work is freaking pretty and intricate.. the grand canal is nice but the narrow canal ways are not maintained that well.. a bit of a let down after seeing bruges :)

rome came after that where we stayed at a hostel run by nuns. There was this very sweet nun who was trying hard to converse with us and find out our relationship before allowing us to stay in the same room :) rome has a lot of history but again we felt it could be maintained better. ppl are a bit lazy in general..
we saw the pope and attended mass at st peter's basilica.. the basilica has michaelangelo's Pieta.. pure genius... The sistine chapel is wonderful.. you need to know its relevance to appreciate it.. from a pure skill point of view, i liked his marble sculpture (pieta and some at the louvre) better than his paintings in the sistine chapel... but the concepts and thoughts to bring that all together in the sistine chapel is genius..

We walked a lot in rome, the colosseum at night was lovely.. The piazzas were quite lively with art of all forms... Jazz on the street is something.. the way those guys improvise and communicate... they were enjoying themselves.. extremely talented to have to earn a living on the street.. picked some water colour paintings in rome... oh and then you had these nice roley poley gladiators charming tourists..
it seems the locals can easily point a pickpocketer from amongst the crowd.. managed not to get pick-pocketed in rome inspite of the dead give-away. big camera around the neck, map in one hand, travel bag, fake italian accent :)

from there we headed back to london and were treated to some of edward's culinary skills and then to bengalore where I watch "Nigella bites" under the pretense of learning how to cook :)

A select few are present here
The complete albums are here

Friday, October 23, 2009

I miss the dreams

Random writing on a friday night on scraps of paper.

"I miss the dreams… is it maturity that kills the dreams… for the life of me I can’t figure it out… the dreams were always big though- me as a jazz concert pianist, me as a world famous painter, me as a sports hero… strange that I could still be any of those things… I miss the simplicity of youth.. the silly problems and thoughts that had me all worried for nothing… indeed everything is relative… I long to connect… it happens so rarely though.. I never thought myself to be a people person… but yet, I yearn for the connections… everyone is so caught up in a whirlwind of the present though, and don’t really have the time or inclination for real conversations… the ones without the crap and façade… ah to be free- to write without caution… a real conversation albeit with a piece of paper.. still feels good… is that what we have been reduced to… conversations and connections- the real ones- with inanimate matter and masks with the people. my brain is riddled with thought unexpressed in consciousness… that’s probably why I love to sleep… that’s when we possibly truly dream… I don’t think we laugh enough either… at ourselves, at our lives, at our silliness and obsession with everything… we also don’t let go… we carry this nonsensical baggage everywhere and then complain life is tough… I have no idea where all this is going… and it feels great J no beginning, no end… just the journey" - Anonymous

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Simple H1N1 preventive measures

Got this as a forward and found it to be quite logical and useful. Contains a simple explanation of the stages before you get infected by H1N1 virus. It also suggests simple preventive measures.

Some tips for prevention from an AIMS doctor


Thanks to media hype about H1N1, several people who trust me have either approached or called me to advice. The hype in media about the utility of face masks and N95 respirators as a tool for general protection against H1N1 can't be deplored enough. Yesterday, a friend who listened wanted me to write down briefly what I advised so that he could tell others in similar words. Hence this short email to friends whom I have advised recently (and others whom I haven't yet). Please realize that this is not an official advice, especially the one about face masks or N95.

Most N95 respirators are designed to filter 95% particulates of 0.3µ, while the size of H1N1 virus is about 0.1µ. Hence, dependence on N95 to protect against H1N1 is like protecting against rain with an umbrella made of mosquito net.

Tamiflu does not kill but prevents H1N1 from further proliferation till the virus limits itself in about 1-2 weeks (its natural cycle). H1N1, like other Influenza A viruses, only infects the upper
respiratory tract and proliferates (only) there. The only portals of entry are the nostrils and mouth/ throat. In a global epidemic of this nature, it's almost impossible not coming into contact with H1N1 in spite of all precautions. Contact with H1N1 is not so much of a problem as proliferation is.

While you are still healthy and not showing any symptoms of H1N1 infection, in order to prevent proliferation, aggravation of symptoms and development of secondary infections, some very simple steps - not fully highlighted in most official communications - can be practiced (instead of focusing on how to stock N95 or Tamiflu):

1. Frequent hand-washing (well highlighted in all official communications).

2. "Hands-off-the-face" approach. Resist all temptations to touch any part of face (unless you want to eat, bathe or slap).

3. Gargle twice a day with warm salt water (use Listerine if you don't trust salt). H1N1 takes 2-3 days after initial infection in the throat/ nasal cavity to proliferate and show characteristic symptoms. Simple gargling prevents proliferation. In a way, gargling with salt water has the same effect on a healthy individual that Tamiflu has on an infected one. Don't underestimate this simple, inexpensive and powerful preventative method.

4. Similar to 3 above, clean your nostrils at least once every day with warm salt water. Not everybody may be good at Jala Neti or Sutra Neti (very good Yoga asanas to clean nasal cavities), but blowing the nose hard once a day and swabbing both nostrils with cotton buds
dipped in warm salt water is very effective in bringing down viral population.

5. Boost your natural immunity with foods that are rich in Vitamin C (Amla and other citrus fruits). If you have to supplement with Vitamin C tablets, make sure that it also has Zinc to boost absorption.

6. Drink as much of warm liquids as you can. Drinking warm liquids has the same effect as gargling, but in the reverse direction. They wash off proliferating viruses from the throat into the stomach where they cannot survive, proliferate or do any harm.

All these are simple ways to prevent, within means of most households, and certainly much less painful than to wait in long queues outside public hospitals.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The 12 disciples

We attended mass at the Home for the Aged
That bright and beautiful Sunday morning
We entered the holy sanctuary and waited
The organ played a soulful melody
They sat in the front pews, 12 children under 3 feet tall
The celebrant began the Eucharist
I braced myself for distractions, noise and annoyance
I was indeed distracted with the children before me,
with awe though, rather than annoyance
The 12 children uttered prayers clearly, and slowly, all in unison
Their heads were bowed, their hands joined before them in prayer
They never turned right or left, their eyes never left the altar
They didn’t speak to each other, or murmur or giggle
Their knew every part of the mass and what it required of them
Their hearts were focused only on His Majesty
Those 12 children drowned the rest of us 500 gathered there
With their praise and worship of the Lord
I was humbled during that Eucharistic celebration
By voices and hearts much smaller and yet so much larger than mine
I learn't a lesson that beautiful Sunday morning in that Old aged home
Indeed, one has to be like those little children,
in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven

--- Margaret Desouza

Thursday, August 06, 2009


But like our obsessions our dreams do reappear, fueled by chance and circumstance, like the essentials of Spontaneous Prose, that are captured in random words and abstract pictures. Finally he wakes up in a dream to pen down his thoughts; white noise follows streams of consciousness, groping in the darkness, retracing Freud, forming patterns out of randomness. His heartbeat screeches to a halt but the world around chugs forward in constant motion. Words give way to snapshots as he identifies the background, the repetitive sunrise to sunset, that drives the focal length to infinity, the elements in constant motion; working together, widening the depth of focus. He identifies the background and then waits for the subject to find its place; those random words and abstract pictures which in continuum form a poem. And it’s always poetry that begets poetry. There is no other way.

But people say that the poetry never lasts, and they are right. Except of course it does.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Discover Sikkim

Sikkim is nicely tucked into the Eastern Himalayas. A trip to Sikkim is not complete without breathing in the views of North Sikkim (Lachen and Lachung). A short trip to Pelling is also recommended which offers upclose and intimate conversations with Mount Kanchenenjunga, the world's third tallest peak. Gangtok is the access point for North Sikkim so you could spend 2 days exploring Tsongo lake, Nathula Pass, Baba Mandir and Rumtek monastery from there.

Gangtok siteseeing:
1) Rumtek monastery which is 1 hour drive from gangtok…
2) Tsongo lake (25 kms from gangtok), 
3) nathula pass/ baba mandir (50+ kms from gangtok, 25kms from tsongo lake)
4) within gangtok city --- MG marg (shopping center), 
5) 7 points in gangtok (you can skip this)…

Our driver was a nice person. Talk to him about siteseeing around gangtok.. 
Driver name: Karma – 9609851237

Gangtok is 140 km from Bagdogra Airport. You can take a vehicle from the airport to gangtok. No need of booking anything in advance.

Things to book in advance
- hotel in gangtok
- north sikkim tour

Pelling siteseeing:
Visit Pelling which is about 4-5 hrs from gangtok. You could stay at Mt Pandim (Elgin group hotel). The view of Mount Kanchenjunga from the hotel is just amazing.

Pelling is 150 km from Bagdogra Airport and 135 Km from Gangtok.

North Sikkim Trip
North sikkim can be done only thru tour operators. They charge for the complete package including travel from/to gangtok, hotel stay/food/permits in north sikkim.

I would suggest you keep a day in gangtok before heading to north sikkim cause you would need to acclimatize. You can do the local site seeing in gangtok on the first day.

Day 1 
Drive from Gangtok to Lachen village in North Sikkim. Lunch on the way. Sight seeing of waterfalls and places. (5 hrs. drive). Stay at Lachen.

Day 2
Drive to Gurudongmar lake at 17500 ft. Its about 2:30 hrs -3:00 hrs one way. Ideally leave early so that you reach Gurudongmar at around 10:00 AM. Remain there for 1 -1:30 hr and then return. You can see tibet along the way. Gurudongmar is accesible only to Indian citizens. You would find army bunkers along the way to the lake.

Lunch back at Lachen. Drive from Lachen to Lachung in about 2 hours.

Day 3 
After breakfast an excursion to Yumgthang valley and Shingbha Rhododendron sanctuary and Hot spring. Return to Lachung for Lunch. After Lunch drive from Lachung to Gangtok. Its a 4-4:30 hour drive. Sight seeing and lunch on the way. Tour ends with a drop to Gangtok.

You would require passport size photographs and photocopies of your Identity card/passports as the same is required for the permit.

We did not plan to cover Zero point. You coud ask the Tour operators about it. Zero point would have to be covered from Lachung as a base. i.e. on Day 3.

IMP NOTE: Our driver was a nice chap… talk to him first and see if he can organize your north sikkim trip. i.e. don’t go thru the tour operators but thru him since it will cost less. The tour operators anyway would ask someone like him to organize your trip.

Driver name: karma/denzing – 9474649411

Lachung (North Sikkim) is
116 Km from Gangtok
48 Km from Lachen
24 Km from Yumthang
38 Km from Donkiala (Zero point)
33 Km from Yumosomdong
26 Km from Katau
Lachen (North Sikkim) is
122 Km from Gangtok
48 Km from Lachung
28 Km from Thangu
60 Km from Gorudongmar
27 Km from Chungthang

Tour operators for North Sikkim: we went thru yak and yeti tours…
1) yak and yeti travels -,,, 

cost: Rs. 14,200- ( traveling in group of  two persons).  Inclusive or all meals, hotel stay, travelling, permits etc.
Satish Bardewa, Tel:+919434117418/+919933008822,

2) Prabir Sen travels.. Costs a bit less than yak and yeti but yak and yeti is better…
Prabir Sen --
e-mail address:

3) Marco Polo travels.

Hotel information:
1) The Nor-Khill, Gangtok
Telephone : 91-3592-205637, 200170, 200171, 220064
Fax : 91-3592-205639
email :
They are heritage hotels. 

2) Mayfair
 Phone  +91 359 2250009
   Fax  +91 359 2250009

3) Tashi Delek
M G Marg,
Gangtok 737 101,
Sikkim, India
Phone: (+91 3592) 202991, 202038, 204156 / 57 / 58
Fax: (+91 3592) 202362
e-mail :

4) Denzong Inn 
Denzong Cinema Chowk, Lall Bazaar Road,
Gangtok 737 101
Sikkim, India
Phone: (+91 3592) 202692
Fax: (+91 3592) 202362 
e-mail :

5) orange village resort
Direct Line : +91-3592-251442 / 251443. Mobile: +91-94342-35565. Fax: +91-3592-251518.

6) the royal plaza
The Royal Plaza, Upper Syari, Gangtok - 737102, Sikkim.
Tel : +91-3592-280032 /280232; Fax : 03592-281112; 
Email :

7) the royal demazong
The Royal Demazong(A Mountain Resort), GRBA Road, Chongay Tar,P.O. Raj Bhawan,
Gangtok-737103,East Sikkim. Phone: +91-3592-203043/44 Fax: 203045
Mobile:+91-94340 -24070 / 98320 - 87334  / 99330 - 07780(EPBX).,

8) hotel heruka
Hotel Heruka.
Near New Taxi Stand, 
31 A, National Highway, Deorali, Gangtok, Sikkim.
Ph: 03592-280793.
 Mobile: +91-9832544234. 

9) samrasa resort

1) Elgin Mt Pandim

2) norbughang
Norbu Ghang Resort
Pelling - 737113
West Sikkim
Ph: (03595) 250566, 258272, 258245
Fax :  (03592) 258271 

3) tashi gang
Hotel Tashigang,
Yuksom, West District
Ph. No. (03595) 241202 / 241203

1) The Elgin, Darjeeling
Telephone : 91-354-2254082/2257226/27
Fax : 91-354-2254267
email : 

2) Mayfair, Darjeeling
   Phone  +91 354 2256 376
   Fax  +91 354 2252 674

3) windamere

4) the viceroy
V I C E R O Y - Hotel.Restaurant
17, Gandhi Road
Darjeeling-734101, West Bengal, India
Near Clock Towers, The Mall, Darjeeling
+91-354- 22 56165,22 59556
+91-354-22 59556,

5) fortune park
Fortune Resort Central, Darjeeling

Robertson Road,
Darjeeling - 734101
Tel: 0354-2258721/22/23
Fax: 0354-2258720

6) sinclairs
Hotel Sinclairs Darjeeling 
181/1, Gandhi Road 
West Bengal 734 101 
Tel : (+91 0354) 2256431, 2256432, 2256948, 2256949 
Fax : (+91 0354) 2254355

7) cedar inn
Cedar Inn
Jalapahar Road, Darjeeling
West Bengal, India - 734101
Phone: +91-354-2254446/2253598
Fax: +91-354-2256764

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mumble: Happy Feet

And on the 15th day of the seventh month, when the sun was past its bedtime, the smile reappeared. Previous sightings were reported and for that one second time stoppeth; nope the battery didn't run outteth, and the People rejoiced. Then on the tenth second, of the eleventh minute, of the twelth hour of that fateful day a voice was heard and the silence was spoketh.  The reverberations of that mumble spread far and wide and touched the very ball bearings of his soul. The echo resounded as she exerted no resistance; the words were formed from carefully muttered syllables, "Me too". And the People rejoiced.

Time passeth and a lot of water flowed under the bridge; a lot of streams of consciousness too. And they thought to themsleves, 'Lets hooketh and booketh and come upeth with a planeth.' By Jupiter! plan plan not planeth, it started to get confusing!!!!

And the news spread far and wide and people began to appear from the East and from the West to the Land of Confetti (and cake and wine and sorpotel). To prepare himself for the task at hand he scribbled down the flow on a napkin.

And the People rejoiced as he mumbleth

"It seems like we've known each other for a long long time. At the same time it feels almost like yesterday when I managed to mumble something and she mumbled, 'Me too'. And then smiles spread across our faces with a certainty that comes a few times in a life time. I remember this quote I once read, 'Falling in love is not about finding the perfect person. Its about learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.' But thats just falling in love, like the red beginnings of a rose. Love is whats left when the rose dries up. I wish that we are all able to find it in our own way."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Reader

Liked this quote from the movie "The Reader".

I'm not frightened. I'm not frightened of anything. The more I suffer, the more I love. Danger will only increase my love, will sharpen it, will give it spice. I will be the only angel you need. You will leave life even more beautiful than you entered it. Heaven will take you back and look at you and say: "Only one thing can make a soul complete and that thing is love."