Tuesday, November 20, 2007

movie review: cars

I would like to share my review on an animation called Cars. It leaves far behind my other all time favourites like Finding Nemo, Ice Age and Atlantis. I have never written a movie review so one has to bear with me.

Here's the story. A racing car called Lightning Mcqueen which is a strong contender for the revered Piston Cup, suddenly finds himself lost in a lesser known town called Radiator Spring. There he finds friends and a mentor in the three times Piston Cup winner, the Hudson Hornet. He is intrigued by the way Hudson hides from the world that considers him a legend. He finds various truths enroute and goes back to the race for the Piston Cup with an entirely new perspective towards life.

A few meters before the finishing line, Mcqueen gives up his dream only to save a fellow competitor from a disaster and wins millions of hearts instead. He is offered a contract by the leading car company which he turns down. All this happens with cars as living characters.

The one dialogue "There's a whole lot more to racing than just winning" describes the theme of the movie. I have seen this movie again and again (atleast 5 times) and still end up with goosebumps. A brilliant imagination with fantastic animation makes this movie an all time favourite.

Friday, November 16, 2007

the protocol that wasn't there

The service sector offers a job to be done in only two ways. Either you are told or you seek approval. In both the cases, the concept of "naukar" or servant is prevalent. If we consider this as true, even a CEO is a "naukar". For him/her the boss is Board of Directors.

If you are a "naukar", the one person that virtually sits in your mind is your boss. Majority of your conversations would be on one topic - boss. You talk with your collegue, you chatter with your boyfriend/husband/wife, you decide your course of action of the day - everything is driven by one person. Knowingly or unknowingly, desirably or undesirably we tend to give more and more importance to this one person - boss.

It doesn't matter if you like him/her. You may keep repeating in your mind that your boss is still alive because it is illegal to kill someone. The truth remains same.

My first boss, Sreekumar Nair, was such a simple person that I never realized that a competency is needed to handle a boss. He had acquired a great administrative acumen while staying in operations for several years. He never told me what to do and how to do it. He only believed in me.

Now when I am asked about protocols, I remember that we achieved excellence those days because the only protocol was to get things done as boss expected.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the common man

What is common between a manufacturing unit, a specialized consultancy and an IT enabled offshoring service provider. ME.

I am the common man of India.

Whatever activities I do, represents the general trend in India. You would need an explanation before getting convinced. The very first thing is that I started blogging a year ago which means the blogging as a culture has gained foot in the Indian masses.

Even though I aspire a lot for my future, I am happy with what I have today, much like a typical Indian. I am growing fat which means India is on its path of prosperity. My salary is more than five times what it was two years ago which means average Indian is getting more and more for his/her efforts. I love junk food which means Indian youth has not yet been acquainted with health and fitness.

I have been to official trips abroad which means more and more Indians are getting foreign exposure. I am connected to internet 24 X 7 which means ISPs are having a ball of a time here. I invest heavily on shares which means the number of demat account has really soared in recent months.

I feel a huge gap between the thinking of me and my parents which means the generation gap is widening day by day in India. I tend to wear branded products which means the market of such products is growing exponentially.

Gosh. MNCs should line up to study me instead of the Indian markets.

Sunday, September 2, 2007


There is nothing called 0 BC. 1 AD comes after 1 BC. I believe that when the modern calender was conceptualised, the Indians were not involved.

While the great greeks were still confused that "how can nothing be something", Indians had already assigned a symbol to zero in 5th Century BC. Pingala is the mathematician referred with the symbol known as 'shunya'. Before the world could comprehend the importance of zero, Aryabhatta had already proposed the decimel system in 4th Century AD.

The thought process that inspired me to write this blog came from my bhaiya. He was referring to a skit he played where the first lines spoken were the part of following song.

जब जीरो दिया मेरे भारत ने,

भारत ने मेरे भारत ने, दुनिया को तब गिनती आयी,
तारों कि भाषा भारत ने, दुनिया को पहले सिखलायी ,
देता ना दशमलव भारत तो, यूं चांद पे जाना मुश्किल था,
धरती और चांद कि दूरी का, अंदाजा लगाना मुश्किल था,

सभ्यता यहाँ पहले आयी,

सभ्यता जहाँ पहले आयी, पहले जन्मी है जहाँ पे कला,
अपना भारत वोह भारत है, जिसके पीछे संसार चला,
संसार चला और आगे बढ़ा, आगे बढ़ा बढ़ता ही गया,
भगवान् करे ये और बढ़े, बढ़ता ही रहे और फूले फले.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

the productive genius

There are actually only three kind of people in this world. Those who make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who say "What happened?" Lets talk about the first two and leave other on their fate.

Those who make things happen have one thing in common - boldness. It takes courage to reach for the unknown or sometimes even the unknowable. These few people create what we call history. As Winston Churchill once said - "History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."

Those who watch things happen are the easiest of the lot. They do what they are told to do. Konosuke Matshushita, the father of Japanese management, had a firm belief that if you trust someone with a job, the person would execute it for the sake of the fact that someone believes in him.

In India, the number of people who make things happen is huge. From the panwaala to the founder of a retail chain, each one is an entrepreneur. It can all be attributed to the lack of education system. Education is supposed to create the second level. I think that is the reason that even in west the most productive genius are college dropouts.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

10 places I wish to visit - India

1. Chikmagalur Hills
I was reading some article on Kudremukh Iron Ore Company which is carrying out mining activities near this place. The writer found such an activity outrageous since after visiting the place he was convinced it would ruin the heavenly beauty of Chikmagalur. I could percieve that whatever he wrote, was coming from his heart.

2. Banjar
50 Km short of Kullu, there is this place which hardly attracts any tourists. Yogi said 'its in the middle of nowhere' - a phrase which means its a must visit.

3. Kalimpong
Part of the rich and unspoilt Sikkim natural heritage, its a delightful place. The famous Tshongu lake is along the way. I don't remember who inspired me to put this in the list but a collegue, Neeta, confirmed that its a beauty.

4. Yercaud
14 Km from the industrial city of Salem, this place is another secluded heaven for nature lovers. I was at Salem last May and still regret the fact that I didn't have time to move on.

5. Auli
While passing through Joshimath, on our way to Badrinath, we came to know that this place is 12 Km away. One of the longest ropeways in the world, 3.9 Km long, takes 25 min to take visitors to the top. I am told that the view from Auli is unmatched.

6. Valley of Flower
Looks like Joshimath is a strategic location. You can go to Badrinath, Auli and Valley of flowers from here. And who hasn't heard of the Valley of Flowers.

7. Patal Bhubaneshwar
I remember Ruchi told us about this place with natural beauty and some kind of unique structure in a temple while we were in Mukteshwar. Pithoragarh, the host city, has a historical significance.

8. Kottayam
In the god's own country, one would certainly wish to go to the capital first. This place is forerunner in the list of beautiful beaches in Kerala. Varun, an old friend, told me about the beauty of this place.

9. Kaziranga
It is famous for the Rhinoceros. And if I am not wrongly informed, there is a better chance to see the wildlife at this place than looking for tiger at Corbett or lion at Gir.

10. Pangong Lake
The scenic beauty of this lake is awesome even in photographs. I remember Hardy first referring to this place after he came back from the *ss numbing trip of Ladakh.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

the winnning strategy

The movie Finding Forrester has many memorable moments. I quote a dialogue by Sean Connery to Rob Brown when Rob is not clear how to win the heart of the girl he likes. Sean says:

"The key to a woman's heart is an unexpected gift at an unexpected time."

When I heard this line for the first time, the first thing that struck me was the confidence with which these lines were delivered. Nobody can be so sure about women. I mean it could have been a conversation or a discussion or a suggestion. It was a statement.

Surprise has an element of fascination that charms men and women alike. What may possibly set women apart is the alacrity to accept gifts and the penchant for adventure.

So next time when you have to win a heart, remember these two things. Unexpected gift. Unexpected time.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Autobiography: Entry 2

I moved to APJ, Noida in 1998 to complete my high school. I was already missing my childhood friends. There were two people who made my life easy at APJ. One of them was Piyush. I remember him as a witty boy with a childish smile and a big heart. The other one was a plain faced, quiet, fair girl with specs.

I never tried to appear well at school. I looked shabby and ungainly. Some classmates used to comment that I don't look like a student. I had a ferocious competitiveness and the soul aim of my life those days was to get into IIT. Everything else was a minor affair.

I was in biology section because the principal refused to give me admission in the engineering section. I guess I proved him wrong by being the only person from my batch to actually get into a prestigious engineering college. He had a funny accent. His idea of a long morning assembly never suited me and even prompted me to leave the school bus so that I reach school when the class started. Tiwari Sir, our Class Head and Biology teacher, always had a biased opinion towards me and used to show his generosity now and then.

All my good friends from APJ, except Piyush, became friends after I left school. The reason was simple-I never talked. I used to do well in my class although I can never forget that my English teacher failed me seven times and I still hold a grudge against her.

My classmates at APJ remember me as a strange yet good person - something that suits me well.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

ware is the place?

I never told anybody but I didn't sleep on 3rd August. You may say that who the f**k is anyway interested in knowing. Still I will tell because its my blog. I can write anything here and it is this independence that drives me to write one blog after another.

So I never slept on 3rd August. I started early morning on 4th from Rotherham taking a 5.41 AM train to London. I kept reminding myself that this was a stupid idea until I reached a place called Ware to meet an old school friend. I had come to meet him because I really like this guy. Ware sounds like warehouse and somehow I could not relate a beautiful place with this name. Of course I was wrong.

It was with this state of mind that I reached Ware at noon. Its 35 minutes by train from Liverpool Street. Ketan took me around. It was some experience and since I was not expecting it, the place looked all the more beautiful. The little town had a lot to offer. A sunny day, uncrowded street, numerous pubs and a pleasant walk on the banks of River Lee. All the words like cool, calm, serene, tranquil and peaceful could be related to this one place.

There were overgrown trees under which a pathway went alongside the river for a mile or so. The place had a charming effect. We had our share of eventful afternoon.

I was on plane on my way back to India and hence couldn't sleep on 4th August also. I watched three movies on board. Hence I broke my own record with 52 continuous sleepless hours. And that is something to talk about.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

idol worship

धर्मग्रन्थ सब जला चुकी है, जिसके अंतर की ज्वाला,
मंदिर, मसजिद, गिरिजे, सब को तोड़ चुका जो मतवाला,
पंडित, मोमिन, पादिरयों के फंदों को जो काट चुका,
कर सकती है आज उसी का स्वागत मेरी मधुशाला।।१७।

Can someone tell me the logic behind idol worship? I know the same question has been asked by greater minds since time immemorial. Yet the kind of resource in terms of man-hours and money is engaged in the maintenance of idols across India is mind boggling. The market-size would definitely go in Billion dollars.

I remember our family trip to Gangotri-Yamunotri-Kedarnath-Badrinath. At Badrinath, we faced a 4 hour long queue to the temple. We had letters from some high dignitaries and hence were able to go through the holy place in minutes. I was feeling guilty later. I mean God must have deducted some marks from our expected score of 'Punya' that we were supposed to get from this visit after such manipulations.

And what did I learn from this manipulated holy visit? That few stones have been endowed with the power to command life. I forgot to tell that even we had to wait for an hour along with other people albeit for a genuine reason. The Shankaracharya was visiting the temple and no other soul was allowed to get near the holy stones.

That's what I would definitely call holy shit.

I need you

Time and again life has reminded me that everything is driven by need. It is the engine that rotates the world. Everything and everyone is dispensable except the one that is needed.

I believe that it would have been the most difficult task for God to create various kind of needs. Creating life would have been easy. Engaging them would have been as difficult.

I remember an advertisement where a small girl is not able to put the thread in the hole of the needle. She is innocent enough to take help of her grandmother who has a weak eyesight. Yet the grandmother tries and after few attemps, is successful in putting the thread in the needle. The old lady realizes that she is still needed even though its her little granddaughter.

Try to make your loved ones realize that you need them. It would have a much powerful effect saying I need you instead of I love you.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

trafalger conquered

Raghunath mama decided to take us all around London on his new Volvo. I knew it would be a pleasant trip with my small cousins around. Already the weekend was a hit. I had just returned from mysterious Stonehenge located near Salisbury and now it was mama ji ready to entertain me. It was going to be a perfect Sunday.

The first place we visited was Tower of London. It had the famous Kohinoor diamond in it. London bridge was quite a view across the Tower. We moved to St. Paul's Cathedral which is a huge structure. I had already visited it once with Naveen.

We moved to Trafalger Square. I could see a tall structure towards the end in the direction we were moving. As we moved closer I could hear a familiar musical note. Mama ji parked the car at some distance and we walked closer to the square. When I reached there, I could not believe my eyes.

The place was thriving with a crowd most of whom were Indians. I now realised what I heard earlier was a chorus singing "Hare Rama Hare Krishna". There was a tall structure right at the centre of Trafalger Square which resembled Jagannath Temple of Puri. A stall nearby was distributing Sabji Rice for free. British women in sari were looking hot. Still my mind was in a shock. Am I in the middle of London?

Nana ji used to tell me that Indian polulation is a strong community within UK. I had a clear evidence that it was much more than that. It was not Indians but Britons singing in chorus. It was not Indians but Britons who were dancing to the tunes of the chorus. We had conquered the Trafalger in a true sense that day.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Autobiography: Entry 1

Papa started searching for an auto. We were already late. It was an evening of February, 1989 and dark. We were standing at Digha More. Finally we got an auto and reached the gates of St. Michael's High School. I clearly remember how nervous Papa and Ma were. Papa kept telling us that it does not matter what the results would be. Somehow I knew that it did matter a lot to him.

We walked the distance to the head office in a hurry. There was not a single soul around. Papa went inside the building to see if my name was in the list. St. Michael's had a reputation in Patna and admissions in Grade 1 was very tough. It was equivalent to any enterance exam nowadays since only 150 fortunate children got through each year.

Papa came out smiling. I was there in the list. He told Ma I am there in the list. Ma was happy. I was also happy because both of them decided to go to Hanuman Mandir. I loved those Besan ke Laddu that we used to buy as prasad.

I realized very late in life that it is a luxury to study in the same school for such a long duration. I was in St. Michael's till Tenth and I still boast of those remarkable school days. I hardly remember the time spent at home but I have distinct memories of school days right from class one. My initial years were very lonely. Kunal Verma was my only friend apart from Tushar who was a family friend. Slowly I became a part of different groups. I found two great friends in Kishore and Ankur. Adi joined us later. When I left St. Michael's in 1998, I had a treasure-full of friends and memories of happy days spent in peace.

Monday, June 25, 2007

is it heaven or hell?

T1: We have the location, Captain.
Captain: Let me have a look. Is it the blue one?
T1: Yes Captain. Looks like Ze himself created it.
Captain: Definitely one man's job. You know what happened to Tazo when three of the architects put their brains together. Its three times bigger than this blue gem and its a mess.
T1: Yes captain. This planet definitely has a theme.
Captain: What is that big mass circling it. If its a satellite, I haven't seen a bigger one.
T1: Yes captain. Its registered name is Mun. The story goes that Se asked Ze to make a Dual System. That was 1.2 billion years ago. Their respective motions have changed with time.
Captain: That just proves women have not changed in a billion years. They ask for anything. Anyways, I believe that's why this Moon thing is white, the colour of peace and love.
T1: Yes Captain. That was the idea. Ze was the best. Legends say that he created the blue planet as an image of heaven. However things went wrong when Se died. Ze made systemic changes to mitiage his trauma. He was the chief architect, after all.
Captain: Have we sent troopers down to see what is the exact situation at this blue planet.
T1: Yes. We tried but this planet has a thick biosphere. There is too much of oxygen in it's lethal form O3. Even if we manage to cross it, the biosphere has got pure oxygen.
Captain: What has Ze created?
T1: He didn't want anyone to find out, it seems.
Captain: Whats on the Sulometer? Any life form?
T1: That's the strangest part. Sulometer readings are remarkable. This planet is accounting for at least 1/200 of total synergy in the entire Milky Way.
Captain: Impossible! That's astronomical for a single planet.
T1: Yes Captain. However, this synergy is distributed in at least a trillion creatures.
Captain: What!!! Does that mean....????
T1: Yes Captain. We have finally found the Hell.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

vat du u vant?

Ze: Vat du u vant Sweethart? Vat vud mak u hapi?
Se: Cn u brng mi dremz tu realiti? Cn u kreate a reflection?
Ze: Of corz mi ladi! Tel mi. Vat kinda reflection?
Se: A reflection of soul n soulmate bound in mass? Is it posibl?
Ze: Soul, soulmate n reflection. It is posibl.
Se: Vil u mak one for mi?
Ze: I vil. A dual planet system. Souls frm one vil luk at the ozer n thy vil se their soulmate.
Se: Cal 'em earz n munz, vil ya?

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

my first night shift

I was working in the Dye Lab those days. One of our night shift Lab Assistants resigned and hence I was asked to replace him. I accepted the task because I had heard a lot about the night shifts in production floor. Ours was a continuous dyeing and finishing plant and extra-ordinary things was expected any time during the night in the absence of resources and HODs. Anyway, that night I took my bike and started from home at 11.10 pm. The night shift started from 12.

Arvind Mills Bottomweights Plant (Trousers Division) is located at Kalol, some 25 km from the Satellite area where I lived. One has to go through a forest area and few small villages to reach the factory. That night I crossed the forests, for the first time, in pitch darkness. It was some experience. My plant looked like a glittering palace from far away.

As I entered my plant and punched my card, some of my collegues welcomed me. They told me that its my 'Suhaagraat' and I should give a party. The 'party' consisted of snacks worth 15-20 rs bought from the vendor who supplied us the 2 am tea.

I took charge from the lab assistant of the second shift and completed my activities within 40 min. Vijay Bhai, my collegue, told me that now I am free to roam or sleep or whatever, till 7 am when we would have to wind-up and hand over the charge to first shift guys. That was a shock since in day shift, one had to improvise work so as to look busy in front of the Boss.

My boss, Smarita, was a strong lady and it amazed me even now that how she managed to remain deplomatically cordial with each of the other department heads. In any production unit, inter-department friction is unavoidable and even necessary. Being the only woman on the production floor, she had the guts to even challenge the operations people.

Coming back to that first night, as I walked to the Pad-batch dyeing area, I found some disturbance. The entire floor was filled with water as some pipe had leaked. The dye incharge assured me this is nothing new and I will get used to such scenes in next few days.

The major events in night shift were the tea at 2 am and 6 am and the relieving exercise at 5 am. We had a small lake at our disposal for this purpose. From 7 to 8 am, we had hectic hours when we prepared reports for the night and kept samples in place.

In later months, I worked in other departments and even handled an entire department. Yet the charm of night shift never ended. Sleeping on a comfortable sofa and writing this blog, I can't believe I have spent months of nights in the great school of Arvind Mills Ltd.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

separate circles of trust

I made friends throughout my different stages of life. However, all were part of one friend circle or the other. For example, the St. Michael's group consisted of Ankur, Adi, Kishore and Tushar among others. I am still in touch with most of them. It is as if I picked up the gems and cherished them as a treasure.

Once I thought if it is possible to get different circles together. I tried and the consequences were disastrous. The reason was plainly described by her. Actually, we live different lives in different friend circles. My behaviour and status in my college group would be entirely different from that in high school. An event where friends from different circles come together would lead to ambivalence and hence discomfort.

For most of the people, friends are more important than anything. I believe the reason is the equal platform on which a friend exist, which is not possible for a father or brother. The circle of trust is more firmly created when you share a secret with an equivalent. Again, different friend circles contain a separate set of secrets and emotions. It is wise to keep them separate.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

..devoid of their king..

I would like to recount the visits to Jim Corbett (known for tigers) and Gir Forests (known for lions) since both were equally remarkable.

Jim Corbett

It was my idea to go for a safari at Jim Corbett. Gyanu was working in Kashipur. Ramnagar, the gate town to Jim Corbett, was an hour journey from his place. It was the month of December. Chu, Aman, Dabas and myself started from IIT Hostel for the Old Delhi railway station. We boarded the Jim Corbett Express, although without reservation. When we reached Kashipur at 4.30 am, some of our body parts were numb with cold. We moved to Gyanu's house like five ghosts of the dawn.

Gyanu's was a modest accommodation. We had Maggi for our breakfast. At 8 am we started for Ramnagar. Gyanu informed us that the cine-crazy public of Kashipur rejected Veer-Zara in a week while movies like Sexy 16, Reshma ki Jawani and Ganga Bai were enjoying silver and golden jubilee there.

Ramnagar is at the foothills of the large forest of which, Jim Corbett is a part. We booked a Safari and filled it with ample food and drinks. However, when we reached the forest gates, we were informed that the time for entry is over. Our safari-man told us that he knows another way which goes all the way from the other side of the forest. We had no other option and hence followed his suggestion.

Five friends, a sunny winter day, a safari and prospect of watching a free tiger are enough conditions for an out-and-out gossip. That was all we did because after scavenging the forests for hours, all we could find were deers and elephants.

Gir Forests

It was the last stage of what I remember as a perfect journey. Day before we were in Diu. Manoj, Vandana, Thakur, Pats, Naveen, Su and me. The isolated and calm island of Diu, forces you to feel that you own this world. Its a remarkable blend of old Portugese architecture and modern India. The next day we went to Somnath Temples, one of the twelve jyotirlingas, and enjoyed the huge waves of Veraval coast.

Sasan Gir was a two-and-half hour journey by bus from here. After reaching Sasan, we took a safari and moved inside the jungle. En route, we heard that a family of lions have just moved ahead and we tried to follow their trail. It was a waste of time. After searching the forests for 3 hours we were completely exhausted. So we settled down for the flora of Gir.

We had to come back to Veraval before 8 as we had already booked tickets for Ahmedabad by a sleeping coach. So we left Sasan at 5.30 by a local bus. We had our dinner at one of the stops and were fortunate enough to reach the city of Veraval on time.

I call this as a perfect journey because we started for Diu on Friday night and reached back to Ahmedabad on Monday morning. Every thing fell to its place on its own and hence we managed to have a perfect weekend.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

a night out to remember

It was Jeeves' idea to celebrate my birthday party by going to a disc. Being a clumsy fellow, I love to hate dancing. Hence that evening, when Jeeves asked me to come over to Gurgaon, I had no idea we would be following his original thoughts. So I wore my floaters, clothed a dull t-shirt and started for Gurgaon on my bike.

Heavy rain started pouring as I reached Mehrauli, half way to Gurgaon. When I reached Jeeves' office, I was drenched to my undies. As usual, Jeeves was in a jovial mood and made some light comments on my situation. I asked him which retaurant they have planned for my treat. He said we all are going to Deck, the disc at the top of Sahara Mall. 'No way', I said.

Yet they took me there and made me dance in floaters. We had fun. Even if I did not get a bean bag to sit, it was an ideal birthday party. Everyone paid for their share and celebrated my birthday. Thats what I call ideal friends. At 1 am Yogi joined us and the 'M team' was complete. That was the last time we were together. Vihag, Ruchi, Seemu, Sabiha, Jeeves, Yogi & me.

There are lots of things to talk about that night out. And there were lots of things I cannot talk about. Cutting a long story short, we ended the fun by going to Genpact at 5 in the morning and having a stomach full of food (can't say it was dinner or breakfast).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

in search of golden cage

Some of us had already decided last night that Yogesh will be called Yogi hence forth. The contenders for his name were Yogi and Yo. Such arguments must have happened in the beginning when Yogi was first called by this name. Hence he was not amused with our debate. He interrupted us to give our discussion a more philosophical note. He introduced the theory of Golden Cage.

He said we are not happy with our jobs because we keep looking for a better opportunity. He argued that all we are searching for is not better opportunities but better cages. Our dream is the golden cage. A cage from where we are incapable to fly but are assured that we will get our daily supplies to survive.

I could relate his comments with my earlier thoughts on life being full of constraints. I believe that life is hinged with chains from all directions. Some chains are long, some short. You can wake up at 9 am if your office is from 10. You are constrained to wake on or before 9 am.

One day when I was chatting with Jeeves, he told me he wakes up only when he likes to. He is happy to claim this. Why? Because he is not constrained to wake up before a stipulated time. Take another example. Its a hot day and the fountain in front of you is inviting with its cool showers of water oozing out and spreading in thin air. You can't dip yourself in the fountain. Why? You are hinged by the etiquettes that the society has imposed on you. A freedom to dip and have a cool bath would have made you happier.

Life exists between the two phenomenas of Constraint and Freedom. Some things are hinged, some are free. Some people are more hinged, others are freer. Freedom brings happiness. Hinges bring limitations. Freedom is risky. Being hinged is being secure. Freedom is a hungry flight. Hinge is a golden cage. What would you choose?

A life less hinged is what I crave for.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

the 'M - 2 Team' in Nainital

It should have been the 'M Team' but two of us went away and subsequently got married (few months later). However, that is another fairy tale. Here, I will recount what exactly happened to the rest five of us who actually ventured to enter Nainital on that fateful day.

'Mukteshwar' is one word that would bring a broad smile on at least seven faces on this earth, me included. We were coming back from a lovely vacation at this place when we decided to spend a day at Nainital.

It was a picturesque journey from Mukteshwar to Nainital. The month of August and colourful surroundings made it a perfect start for the day. However, as we closed by Nainital, the weather deteriorated and it was quite foggy when we reached there. The Naini Lake was not completely visible. We parked our Innova near the lake and after having a breakfast cum lunch, decided that its time to go into the middle of the lake. A deal was finalised and all five of us - jeeves, seemu, yogi, sabiha n me (all on the same boat) started. Exactly at the middle of lake, we were informed that we should shelter ourselves because the rain is coming. The boatman even showed us the showers at the right side, some hundred meters away. Seemu, by that time, had decided to row the boat by himself. Rest of us found tarpaulins to cover ourselves and left seemu wet and rowing. Seemu was, of course, furious later and declared that 'maine tum jaise kamine dost nahi dekhe.'

Jeeves started a row of discussion when he divulged that 'meri to panty geeli ho gayi'. Situation was later cleared by jeeves himself although with tremendous difficulty since we had already accepted his earlier statement.

We started to look for the ropeway since we wanted to have an arial view of this hill station. The ropeway man told us that the last one went up half an hour ago. So we asked him where to go for ice-skating. He said that even that option is over since it is at the hill top only. That was a double whammy, according to seemu.

Finally we decided to go for the hill top on our Innova and it proved to be a good decision. We spent time at our own ease and then started for Haldwani where Vihag and Ruchi were waiting for us. We received a warm welcome at Ruchi's home and then started for an overnight journey back to Delhi.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Witty quotes

I have always admired Mark Twain and George Bernard Shaw for giving the wittiest of quotes. Here are some witty ones from them among others.
  1. The world owns you nothing. It was here first. - Mark Twain
  2. One man who has a mind and knows he can, always beats ten who haven't and don't. - George Bernard Shaw
  3. I know not with what weapon World War III will be fought but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones. - Albert Einstein
  4. Sex is a bad thing because it crumples the clothes. - Jackie Onassis
  5. Never let your sense of morals prevent you from doing what is right. - Isaac
  6. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.
  7. It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought
    without accepting it. - Aristotle
  8. You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club. -Jack
  9. Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others. - Groucho Marx
  10. Plan for the future because that is where you are going to spend the rest of
    your life. -Mark Twain

Friday, May 18, 2007

Dalhousie to Kalatop

We started early because a lot was to be covered before noon. Kalatop was not friendly after 4 pm. We were briefed last evening that people should move in groups. Wild animals were seen now and then near our prepared camp there.

We came out of Dalhousie town and marched right into thick forests. I recorded many moments on my handycam. For the first hour, the trek was smooth. Then suddenly we were told to start climbing a huge mountain in front of us.

As we moved higher, it looked the path would never end. There were few places to rest -but only for few people. We came out of the steep trek over a mountain. The cold month of December and a sweating exercise prompted us to take a tea-break and have our lunch. Kalatop was still some 8 km away. Being a part of 44-strong team, most of whom are strangers to each other, is an unusually entertaining and engrossing situation in itself. Bhaiya was capturing the beauty of nature and took some great pictures from his Nikon camera.

The foggy weather added to the charm of hills. We were told that Kalatop is one of the chilly hilltops in the region and we should expect cold feets. Muddy trails and smooth roads criss-crossed our trekking route. We had ample opportunities to rest and move intermittantly. We enjoyed a long stay at Lakkar Mandi. Beyond that, the trek curved through small hillocks to reach Kalatop. It was more of a walking exercise further.

Still, when we approached Kalatop, it was clear that temperature was dropping. Reaching there, we realized the reason. Its an open area. Cold winds from high-rise mountains, visible from Kalatop, struck hard on the bones. We were happy that we need to stay here for a night only.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Udhampur to Jammu

We were nine people, all part of a large family, trudging the beautiful hills of Shivalik range on a not-so-comfortable Sumo. We had just left Patni Top after a sumptuous lunch. The Sumo was moving down on National Highway 1 to an unknown railway station called Udhampur. Pujan kaka reassured all of us that he has taken the right decision in booking the ticket from Udhampur, rather Jammu. Our destination was, of course, Delhi.

We reached the station through a tortuous path. It was a new station. Lots of vegetation were cut down to construct this station as it was surrounded by the lush greenery that is a trademark of Jammu and nearby regions. Where the station ended, there was a sharp dip and one could see the air-force runway far down. Udhampur is an army cantonement.

We waited for our 6.50 PM Uttar S Kranti. It was one of the two trains that used to run from Udhampur on a weekly basis. That would mean that the next train was two days later. I passed my time playing snake on my mobile and broke my own records. I had no clue what was behind those hills through which the train was supposed to pass before it reaches Jammu.

We settled on our respective seats. Being with family means you don't need to go into the details of requirements while traveling. Pujan kaka ensured there was plenty of everything before the train start. I was appetising myself with one such food item when the train started. My younger cousins started crying when they saw that a tunnel is coming. It was a long tunnel and one of the 20 tunnels that were on our way to Jammu.

The most exciting moments were when the train passed on a bridge, only to find a hill, and then it had to go into a tunnel. There were 20 tunnels and more than 150 bridges in total, the longest tunnel being 2.5 KM long. I decided that I will not miss a single second of this interface that existed between nature's beauty and prolific creativity of mankind. Hence, I stood on the gates of the train, despite Ma and Pujan kaka shouting not to. I cannot forget that instant when the train came out of a tunnel and in front of me was a long arched white bridge made over a river.

We stopped at Ramnagar and proceeded to Jammu. However the awe and sense of incredulity didn't stop until the darkness of night encapsulated us. The journey from Udhampur to Jammu, a stretch of 53 KM, was the longest in my life.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Beyond India

Finally I broke the shakles of India-bound life and reached a new dimension. Britain has truly, a new dimension of life - so different from that in India. The first thing that will strike you in the countryside of Britain is the elegance and calmness. A prosperous country at peace. After ruling over a quarter of earth for over two centuries, the country has nothing much to prove. It has absorbed people of all nationalities .

So at the Picadilly Circus you may find a negro drumming on the tunes of Samba, a captivated briton couple and few Indian boys fooling around, apart from other colours of skins in the vast crowd. Kissing and fondling is as natural at Picadilly as walking hand in hand here in CP. Truly a lover's paradise.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

To those who have met love

Collecting quotes is a great hobby. It makes you realise how few words can weigh more than a hundred page doc. Here are best few on love that I collected over years.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Die hard Asimovian

The first science fiction that I read was ' the time machine ' by H G Wells. It was profound in the sense that I hardly grabbed the idea behind the story. The basic concept was that any object has three dimensions - length, width and height. However there is another dimension - duration. One can change any of these dimensions and by changing the dimension of duration, one plays with time. Any way, the concept was too much for me.

Then I came across another sci-fi - ' fantastic voyage 2 ' by someone called Issac Asimov. The book was in my cupboard for at least 3 months before I ventured to read it. As I was thinking it would be a sequal with lots of scintific analogies, I was surprised to find that it was a in fact a thriller. A group of Russian scientists find a breakthrough in miniaturisation technology. Reducing themselves to the size of blood cells, they are injected in the human brain to find the intricacies of mind. I was an instant fan of this Asimov.

I tried to find out more about this guy. Asimov was gifted with a photographic memory. Whatever he read, he could recall. He won the nebula prize for the greatest trilogy for ' the foundation series ' against non other than Mr. J R R Tolkein's ' lord of the rings '.

The next thing I did was reading his foundaton series. Basically it was a trilogy but Mr. Asimov added 5 more in the series to make it an ' Octology '. Written in different stages of his life, the books lost their coherence. However, individually they are great. In fact ' the second foundation' is the runner up in my list of all time favourite books.

Then I came across his short stories. After reading them I had no choice left - I became a die hard Asimovian. Aliens were experimenting on humans with the sense of humour in ' jokster ' . Death was a parasite in ' hostess '. People went mad at night on the planet of six suns in ' the nightfall ' . Everything was part of the same creature on the strange planet of ' the green patches ' . Thats what one calls prolific writing .

The best of Asimov was yet to come. He had proposed the three laws of robotics in ' i, robot' . A series of books followed criticising, correcting, supporting and even discarding the Three Laws - by Asimov only. His touching novel ' the bicentinnial man ' was made into a film starring Robin Williams. It's about a robot who wants to become a man.

One of the Asimov books that I read was ' the end of eternity' . It's about Eternals who govern the human race. They can move in any time - the headquarter being in 575th century by the name of Allwhen council. A technician, Andrew Harlan, finds the flaw in the system and destroys it. With all due respect to Mr. H G Wells, I can say that this was a much mature effort to put time travel on papers than ' the time machine '.

Isaac Asimov (1920-1992) will live forever in the hearts of true Asimovians.

Monday, January 1, 2007

2006: Year of Travel

This was a year of travel for me. I visited 22new cities let alone in 2006. Here is an account for ppl who want to trudge my path or share my experience. In total, I visited 27 cities this year including revisiting 5 cities.

Delhi-Ahmedabad-Surat-Silvassa-Kolhapur-Delhi (9th March-6th April)
It was an official trip but there was much time to spend around. Surat is a commerical centre and a bad city for travellers. Kolhapur had something to offer in Mahalaxmi mandir. Its said that she is the wife of Balaji whose temple is located in Tirupati and left her husband's abode after a small altercation.

Delhi-Bangalore-Tiruppur-Salem-Chennai-Delhi (14th-23 April)
Again this was an official trip with lots of unofficial twists. I will remember the Banglore visit for the bravery that Varun showed to meet me while the city was under alert over the death of Rajkumar. I will also remember the small reunion with Kishore, Manish, Aditya, Tushar and Nidhi. I was meeting them after 5 years. Tiruppur was a bustling town with polite inhabitants. Salem was a picturesque sight. Its pleasent to watch the hill bound city as you arrive from the straight highway. Spencer's in Chennai with almost double the size of Delhi's Ansal's Plaza was a revelation.

Delhi-Goa-Delhi (5th-8th July)
The outbound trip, sponsored by the company was full of fun. We were lucky to find the drizzles all the time we stayed in the lush confines of The Leela. The hotel itself offered much to explore. We made planned visits to various locations and the 200 strong team had sweet memories. An estimated Rs 35000 was spent by the company on each employee.

Delhi-Mukteshwar-Nainital-Delhi (4th-7th August)
Spectacular. The best trip ever. The seven of us made a great team. Surprisingly, I knew only two of them before we started. I will remember the 7 km long trek to the Mukteshwar temple. I will also remember the kaliedoscopic weather while we were in Nainital. But the time spent among us was something that made this trip memorable. We just clicked as a team. The M Team.

Delhi-Chennai-Pondicherry-Delhi (9th-12th September)
The busy coastal city of Pondicherry was beautiful and Ankur, one of my oldest friends studying in Pondicherry University, helped me visiting some of the locales. The university itself remarkable as we had to travel 2 km on a straight road from the main gate to reach the hostels.

Delhi-Baroda-Bharuch-Wapi-Delhi (22nd-26th November)
The trip was official but finding a weekend, I spent it with friend in Daman. And what a weekend it was. Daman offers lot for the drinkers and travellers with quite coasts and cheap bars.

Delhi-Bhilwara-Chittaurgarh-Delhi (29th November-1st December)
The legendary fort of Chittaurgarh spread in a circumference of 17 km offers rich heritage of Rajasthani royal class. The formidable Vijay Stambh had a passage to go all the way to the top. That was the best part of my visit.

Delhi-Haldwani-Delhi (2nd-4th November)
The trip was special. Vihag and Ruchi got married. I will have to confess that they are the handsomest couple that I have acquainted with. The status may change once I get married. We danced for more than 3 hours. The visits to Bhimtal and Naukuchiyatal were worth a note.

Delhi-Mcloedganj-Dalhousie-Khajjiar-Chamba-Delhi (16th-26th December)
Hadn't it happened, I could never have imagined such a beautiful end to an eventful year. The trip offered so much in terms of new friends, new memories and an entirely new attitude towards life. I hope I will shed some of my scepticism and will trust strangers more than before.