Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hampi-ty dampi-ty, what a damp squib...

Ah, well, it had to happen...

Till now all the trips that we've been on in and around Bangalore, whether it's the friendly neighbourhood Nandi hill or the distant dungeon of debauchery Goa (ok, ok I just had to make an alliteration there, so shoot me) have gone very well. I mean,yes, there have been problems that every traveller faces, but never anything that would really be an impediment to enjoy the trip. whether we made it to the summit of our destination or enjoyed the vistas on the way, we never came back with a feeling of dissatisfaction, ever.

We decided to go to Hampi ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hampi ), a quaint historical town nestling softly on the banks of the river Tungabhadrain North Karnataka. The place is beautiful. Well laid out temple complexes, sunken ruins, underground Shiv temples. The reverberations from the past made even us, the self-proclaimed anti-ruins/temples/tombs/ museums adventurers into a bunch of hushed, reverential admirers of the beauty of the place. Ah, but i'm outpacing my tale.

We were seven people (isn't that supposed to be a lucky number?) distributed in two Ikons. We started of from Bangalore in the early light of Saturday 28th July 2007. RB, Punit and I in RBs car, and Jibi, Ashish, AB and AT in Jibi's.

All was well, the drive was picturesque. Though I really wouldn't know, I'd been awake all night and was asleep with my trusty eye mask for the first two hours. We managed to get a good hearty breakfast. Clearly, till then there was no sign of impeniding discomforts.

Now i'll have to fast forward a bit or this'll take all night. :)

So as we were nearing Hospet, some 20 kilometres from our planned destination we got a call from the Jibi's car. They had driven over a rock which some nincompoop must've left on the road. The rock disintegrated when it hit the chassis but unfortunately a piece dislodged itself only after it had punched palm-size hole in the engine casing. Now this casing is full of engine oil and is the playground where the power generating pistons transfer power to the cam shaft which in turn makes the car move. A hole here meant that the oil did not leak out, it spurted and gushed out. The car was rendered motionless some 50 kilometres from any kind of proper town. Its a surprise that cell phone signals were still there, thank God.

So now the next hour or so went in trying to find a means of getting the car fixed. It lead to a few hilarious situations as well. I was callin up to find a Ford service station in the vicinity. After a number of calls to Ford dealers we finally zeroed in on a breakdown service in Bellary, 50 km from the site where the car was stranded, only to be told very confidentally by the lady manning Ford customer service that there is NO service station in Bellary.

Anyway, eventually we got through to the service station and we were promised a rescue mission to beat all rescue missions.

So by this time we got some food packed for the stranded friends and turned our nose back to go to them. We reached and after examining the car a bit (and having a hasty lunch on the boots of the two cars.)

Hark! Whats that on the horizon? Ah, it is but our knight in shining armour, an old yet sturdy looking (little were we to know!) Mahindra jeep. The "experts" came and after a cursory examination gave us the bad news. It would have to be towed to Bellary. Well, there wasn't much we could do, the car was tied to the jeep and the towing was about to start. And then, we should've got a hint of worse things to come, when the jeep refused to start and had to be pushed to get the engine up and running.

Oh, oh, I forgot two things, it had started raining by now, and RBs car had got a puncture. Well minor issues, and we were on our way.

Obviously, we passed the towing vehicle and were well on our way to Bellary when we generally called the other car to see how they were doing. Turns out that their woes had not ended, but rather had been accentutated by the said Knight in shining armour. The ancient jeep stopped because it was out of diesel first. And when that was rectified it broke down due to some mechanical fault a bit later. Dreadful, dreadful rainy night wasn't helping either.

Anyway, we managed to find a good hotel in Bellary [After Punit and I waded through 3-4 inches of slush for a kilometre or so (yeah, yeah, the sacrifices I make...I tell you they should anoint me a saint)]

Well we had a nice loll around in the open air restaurant they had there (BTW the hotel was called "Pola Paradise" :D - but a nice place) till the others joined us after leaving the car at the service centre.

Had a nice party in the room, though it was rather short where everyone seemed to be in a bit of a hurry.

Anyway, we went to Hampi the next day, really nice place, but were too 'not-in-the-mood' by then to really explore. Of course the Mango tree restaurant is a must see there, though the food isn't all that great.

Anyway, we finally reached Bangalore on Sunday night, and I for one was glad to be back in the familiar environs of my home.

Have you had a trip that just didn't seem to go right at all?

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Of Clairvoyant 'College Queen' Presidents and MCP husbands...

A couple of days back we got ourselve a shiny brand new President of India, Ms. Pratibha Patil (or is it Dr? Seriously with the kind of things she's done, I wouldn't put it past her). A lot of people have been bad-mouthing her, but I just can't seem to understand why? I mean, don't go by the downcast eyes, the shuffling walk, the nervous and needy way in which she seeks shelter under Ms. Gandhi's wing; the lady is obviously a woman of steel. Have a look at what Wikipedia says about our new leader -

During her college days, she excelled in table tennis, winning various inter-college tournaments. In 1962, Pratibha Patil was voted "College Queen" of M.J. College.

There, the mere fact that we are getting a "college queen", no less, as a President should be enough to convince the nay-sayers about her candidature. Afterall she has experience in being a figure head! Plus, a crowned royal personage who excels at commoners' sports like table tennis, sigh, we SOO needed a President with those qualifications.

AND one who gets divine visions in the form of dead people talking to her:

Patil claims to have spoken to the spirit of the deceased leader (Baba Lekhraj) of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University at their headquarters in Mount Abu, Rajasthan.

"Dadiji ke shareer mein Baba aye ... Maine unse baat ki (Baba entered Devi’s body and he communicated to me through her)," she said on TV camera.[62] Reporters began to report on the message she received of a “divine indication“ of great responsibility coming her way.

Patil claims to have received the mediumistic message during the last season in which the spirits they call "Bapdada" communicated with the faithful of the Brahma Kumaris sect. She had gone to seek the blessings of Hirday Mohini, also known as Dadi Gulzar or Dadiji

Now THAT's what the Doctor ordered for leading India towards becoming a global economic and social super power in the 21st century - a clairvoyant President!!

My flatmate R and I have been trying and trying ever since her name started bouncing around in the Presidential elections arena to hear her speak anything at all in the media. In this day and age of media juggernauts it would obviously take a very athletic person with an inborn "college queen-ly" haughty veneer to avoid and discourage the baying journos. Ms. Patil has successfully managed to resist all attempts by media persons to get the much sought after sound byte, and must be congratulated for managing this.

However, this has also confused us, the public of the country, about what kind of spineless person we may be getting as our leader. I mean, if she can't come out and defend herself against all the charges flying around at her, and has to resort to Ms. Gandhi and the Prime Minister giving her clean chits in all cases, then the possibility of her being a neutral, mutually respected leader for both the government and the opposition, much less the international community seems to be really bleak.

Jokes and sarcasm apart, she HAS done some things which are worth emulating. She didn't take her husband's surname at the time when it was automatically assumed that she would. She's a trained lawyer. She got into politics at an early age. She's also the first woman Governor of Rajasthan. My rant has nothing to do with her past achievements. She is a distinguished lady who may, for all I know, make a great President. Its her behaviour during the pre-election days thats getting my goat.

Somehow, her reluctance to face the media and talk about the numerous allegations floating around (that could be a smear campaign, I really don't have enough material to judge) has sort of taken the halo away from the President's office. And she seems more like a force-fit rather than the genuine thing.

Related to this, newspaper stories claim that when her huband 'educator' Devisingh Ransingh Shekhawat got the news of her success in the Presidential race, he joked - "Hehe..guffaw.. now she will be the head of the family...hehe...it'll become a matriachal family..guffaws "

WTF, so? Ever heard of equality of sexes? And why the hell are you laughing like a moron for? What the hell is so wrong with a matriachal family? She's the President of the largest true democracy in the world, what do you expect her to do...cook you food and tie your shoelaces because you're a man? Jeez...

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Hmmppff...Hectic...Harry Potter...

First of all, my sincere apologies for not posting for such a long time. I think this has been the longest dry spells since I began this blog. My heart melts and tears dribble down my cheeks when I think of hundreds and hundreds of you innocent readers jumping out of bed every morning, an expectant twinkle in your eyes, reaching out with nervous fingers for your computers in a hope, oh a deep hope, that there would be an updation on my blog and your lives would have a spark of joy as before.

ok, about that, I DO check my visitor logs you know. Everyday two - three people checked to see if i've updated my blog. Is this the behaviour die hard fans should have? If JK Rowling stops writing the seventh Harry Potter would this be the reaction she'd get? People would be camping outside her house, with banners and candles and would beg her to start writing again. Ok, I wasn't looking for this kind of over the top response to my blog-non-updation - I'm more of a private person than Joanne - but two people? Just two people, thats really bad you know, and you should be ashamed of yourself. I find solace in the fact that maybe most of my regular readers probably saw my gtalk/orkut status message - I put up the name of my latest post/update there, sort of like flagging people to go read if there has been an updation - and seeing no change there did not bother to go to the main blog.

Anyway, the reason for ignoring cyber space for so long has been the one I promised would never affect my blog - work. I've been living a really hectic life since last to last Friday (Intelligent frequent visitors would calculate that the last post I did dates back to circa Thursday, a day before the Friday I refer to here). I've been in meetings that start at 9 and go on till 10:30 at night, I've been working on short deadlines with ambiguous expectations, I've been through quarterly reviews and am still to give a progress report presentation on another project today (Ideally I should be working on that presentation right now, but I just couldn't stop myself from writing something for MY sake rather than for work).

But I still managed to catch "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" this Sunday. Those who know me, know that I am a huge Potter fan. I have stolen the Potter books to read them, I have had those same books stolen from me in the hostel. I've read them so many times that I can speak along with characters whenever I watch the movies and can anticipate dialogues and actions whenever I watch the movies- much to the irritation of people watching the movie with me.

About this movie - Big let down. As the Potter books have started growing thicker, its becoming more and more difficult for the director to capture the essence of the books on celluloid in a mere two hours. Infinite budgets and resources are beaten by the two hour deadline. The movie is not even a speck on the book with thousands of nuances being missed. I know its really easy to disparage something, so I'll not dwell on this. The director had a really difficult job and he's tried valiantly to get the magic on screen, but its just too much to do. Fortunately my favourite scene in the book, when Fred and George make a break for freedom,in a blaze of glory, from the evil shadow of Dolores Umbridge , has come out really well.

My suggestion for the last movie- Don't put a time limit. Make it a 7 hour opus if need be. But stay true to the book. Don't worry about getting audiences for the last movie, you'll get enough people who'd be willing to spend 7 hours watching the movie - I know I will!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Domestic conversations...

So R and I were talking the other day and came to a horrendous conclusion. Our conversations are getting domesticated. Ergo - WE are getting domesticated.

OK, a brief introduction is in order for those who don't know too much about R and my domestic situation in Bangalore.

We'll start with R. He was my classmate in 1st year college, 1999. After the first six month long semester we were in different classes but we remained good friends throughout our college days, then through our respective MBAs, and then through our jobs. So when he was shifting to Bangalore for his new company, it was a foregone conclusion that he'd be putting up with me. Things also conspired to make this come true because PS was just returning to Delhi and I needed to get a new flatmate in order to continue to stay in the picturesque house I currently stay in. So like a smoothly executed tag in the midst of a tag-team championship match, PS moved to greener pastures in Delhi and R settled effortlessly into a bachelor-pad life in Bangalore.

In the initial days of of our co-habitation (er..this doesn't sound inappropriate, does it?), we had a very basic bachelor pad. No maid, no cook, hell no fridge either. Our conversations used to centre around friends, girls, jobs, girls, booze, girls, weekend plans, girls, new pubs, girls, cricket, girls, expanding girth, girls, DCE, girls, beer, girls, maggi, girls, Delhi, girls...you get the drift. Regular GUY conversations.

And since both our parents came and visited we slowly started getting these luxuries together. Now we have a smoothly functioning household where we have a refrigerator to keep our beer cold food items preserved, a cook who comes in the morning, picks up the keys and cooks our breakfast, then comes again in the evening to cook dinner, a maid who cleans up dishes, the house & clothes. All in all a smooth, carefree existence.

We should be perfectly content with this arrangement, right?

WRONG!! Look at some of the conversations we've had in the recent past.


R(Calls up): SB, yaar, ghar ke liye kuchh khareedna hai? Main office se nikal raha hun (SB do we have to buy anything for the house? i'm leaving the office.)

SB: (Now in normal GUY conditions, I would rush to the fridge check if the beer is there, check the shelf to see if all kinds of fried snacks and giant packs of Maggi/ Top Ramen are there, and maybe, will also see the water level in the 20 ltr water can we use - this would've been my plan of action just 3 months ago)

And the answer would've been (in a macho drawl) more beer, some chips - make it the sour cream ones which go well with Vodka...

AND WHAT DID I ACTUALLY DO? Read and mourn the death of the macho, free guy in me...

I quickly rush to the fridge, open the door and without even glancing inside the freezer where we keep our beer check out the vegetable tray, note that the beans are over, cottage cheese is over, tomatoes are running low and maybe we could do with some more cabbage, then I rush to the shelves ignoring the snack and Maggi shelf with a sneer I bend low to see if the potatoes will last till the weekend. I then stand on my toes and reach into the top shelf, yes, we still have rice, sugar is fine and all the pulses we eat will last for a couple of weeks atleast.

And I answer: "Dude, more beans, paneer, cabbage and tomatoes. And yeah the maid was asking for Harpic and a new broom!!" [Harpic and a broom!! For heavens sake, God send your emissary, I want to die!!]


SB:(calls up) R, yaar there's a bit of matar paneer (peas and cottage cheese curry) left from the afternoon. I'm asking him to just add a bit more matar and paneer and make it adequate for both of us. You ok with eating the same stuff again for dinner, we really have to stop wasting food like we do.

R: (Sitting in a conference room in his office, surrounded by his COO, a couple of VPs and some trainees who report into him) Nahin yaar, phirse?? usko bol usmein kuchh aur bhi daal de. Aalu ya beans ya kuchh aisa hi...(looks around, the entire room is staring at him)...er...accha chhod yaar, khaa loonga, uske saath juice pi lenge. (No man, again? Ask him to put something else in it too..potatoes or beans or something ...(looks around, the entire room is staring at him)...er..forget it, I'll eat it, we'll have some juice with it!)

Arrrggghhh we've been domesticated!!! :(

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Ae Ganpat...

So sometimes a song, a word, a phrase, a look seems to get associated with a particular incident/event/ trip.

Such is the case with my weeknd sojourn to Yercaud and Hogenakkal falls near Bangalore. Some basic facts before we get to the meat of this post.

Saturday morning we left for Yercaud, a nice idyllic hill station located 230 kilometres from Bangalore. The team comprised of RB, RG, AB and me. On the way back we also took a small detour to Hogenekkal falls (No idea, how it is spelt. In case this spelling is wrong,..er..well..too bad)

Right, got your pea-sized brains around this? Now to the main thing.

Ok, so while we were starting off from bangalore we had the radio playing obscure songs. AND it started blaring this song "Ae Ganpat..chal daaru daal" from the rather sinister yet good movie - 'Shootout at Lokhandwala'. Read about it here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0811066/

(You really expect me to write about it?? Sheesh, I'm lazy, get it? Even this blog wouldn't exist if I could find someone willing to tap into my thoughts and articulate them for me. What I need is a pensieve to store all these thoughts till I can get a proper interpreter and presenter of these thoughts.) [You don't know what a pensieve is?? DIE ...its from the Harry Potter series... read about it here - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pensieve#Pensieve] {WHAT?? if I wrote about it I'd be contradicting myself, Jeez, guys think, use those noodles a bit...}

Anyway, the crux is that this song just got stuck on my tongue and it spread like a virulent disease over the others as well. And by the end of this trip we were asking each other to "ae ganpat...chal window khol" ; "ae ganpat...chal paani de"...and of course "ae ganpat...chal daaru daal" on Saturday evening while we set up our mehfil on the valley facing balcony. (It was beautiful. Our cottage overlooked the valley, mist and clouds swirled over the peaks surrounding the valley. And as the night progressed it was brilliantly awesome to see the grey-white clouds race across the silver disc of the moon.)

So this triggered a thought process in my mind. From my childhood onwards, can I associate one thing (song, phrase, item of clothing, incident) to each of my trips/vacations. I'll list a few and will add more as I think of them.

Warning: Following list is primarily for my use. Not many people will know about the things in the list. So you can skip the following if you're so inclined, I won't get mad at you.

Family vacations:

1. Ooty 1991 or 92 - the red shorts my Mom made me wear in the freezing climate, I'm told I was turning blue on Dodda bedda peak (Tallest peak in Ooty)

2. Mysore 1991 or 92 - Barefoot on the hot marble floor of Tipu Sultan's palace

3. Goa - Weird looking palm tree in the resort we were staying at (yeah, I was with family, so not many interesting memories of Goa, those'll come later :) )

4. Jaipur - Jhoole jhoole lal, dam mast kalandar (Don't ask...pls don't ask)

5. Shimla - Nope nothing

6. Andaman and Nicobar Islands - View of the different coloured currents from atop the lighthouse.

more later, as memory unfolds

With friends:

1. Manali 2000 - Rock climbing, Snow Shiv ling, long long slide on snow leading to almost frost bitten fingers (So? Should I have sacrificed my derriere??...I think not)

2. Dehradun Survey camp - Lost our way and got trapped on the mountain face with night approaching...fast. I've written about this before, will link to that post

3. Dehradun - Forest Reserve Institute vs DCE. I took four wickets :). (1 caught behind [AGC took a brilliant catch diving to his right], 1 caught by R {current roomie} in covers, 1 caught by Sishir - fine leg I think, 1 lbw. And my slower one worked brilliantly that day)

4. IIT Kanpur for Udghosh 2003 - The return journey where we, or rather Mohit Chahar, commandeered one entire 3rd class bogey for our contingent. We travelled like kings, Awesome.

5. Manali 2003 - THE most awesome trip ever. Have dedicated two posts to it. Most interesting memory - easily the SP-drunken-crying-calling-AD-in-Delhi-fit. He shall always remember it - I'll make sure of that !!

After College:

1. Chandigarh : Bhopu bringing the car to a dead stop in the middle of the highway...gulp

2. Bihari wedding: We were "happy" in the train. Brilliant.

3. Rishikesh - The first crash of water into my face while river rafting at Shivpuri

4. Auli - The magical, violet hued coniferous trees from the ski lift. The first flakes of snow floating in the air.

Near Bangalore:

1. Goa 2006 - Kicked out of Mambo's without even letting us complete our sentence. The dreadful banana ride. The exhileration as the para-sailing took off.

2. Pondicherry - Nothing

3. Nandi hills - AK, RB and me, A bottle of exquisite white wine. Nostalgia.

4. Bhimeshwari - Getting on NK's nerves so much that the normally mild-mannered Nikhil turned on me "Pehle tu bata tune kya kya kiya hai?". The look on his face - Priceless!

Wow, I HAVE been living an interesting life. I'll add more as I remember.

In the mean time you can goto the link on the right and rate my blog a perfect 10 :)

Bye kids.