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.