Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Weird or Coincidence?

Yo! Writing a post here after a long time :)

I wanted to do this post for a long time now. Better late than never. I present few of my experiences here which are unrelated but with a common theme.



Image Courtesy: Link

Incident 1:
Cannot recollect the exact period, but probably 10-14 years back. Our school was on Kangayam road (Tirupur), and everyday on the way to school, we used to look with awe at Velan hotel (a popular hotel, where film shooting has also taken place). How we longed to go inside! One day (night I should say) I got a dream of visiting Velan hotel. The only thing I remembered after waking up was a wooden model of a ship with glossy finish. Sometime later, I got a chance to actually go inside the hotel! It so happened that one of my father's friend was blessed with a boy and Velan hotel was chosen for treat. Man, I was so excited. And guess what, there was a wooden ship model with glossy finish!

Incident 2:
This happened in college. Coming out of exam hall, I was quickly moving towards my department to check score of India's cricket match. I remember moving pretty fast as I wanted to check the scores and rush home to prepare for next day's exam. Suddenly I felt as if someone was calling me and turned back. I remember that I pointedly looked in a particular direction. It happened to be my classmates who were discussing about me (or perhaps trying to get my attention) and I distinctly remember I used my thumb to question what it was! The distance between us was large enough that I couldn't have heard their call with all the chatter from students coming out of the exam hall. Later when we met, the classmates were perplexed as well as to how I turned towards them.

Incident 3:
On an industrial visit in train. We were playing dumbsharads. After many rounds, I had been thinking on a difficult movie name. I stuck on one and had in mind to be asked. The opponent team had given one and one of our team mate was about to act it out. Wonder what prompted me, before any acting was done I guessed the right movie name. And it was the same I had in my mind. For the record, the movie name was 'Billa'.

Incident 4:
In my workplace this time. I had gone to my supervisor's cabin to discuss something. He wasn't there and I started walking back. My supervisor at that time was coming from pantry. He saw me and wanted to draw my attention. My back was turned to him and he hadn't voiced out my name. I felt as if he was waving his hands (though I didn't ask him later if he did wave his hands) and turned to acknowledge him. At the time I turned to him, he was definitely looking in my direction and hence the assumption that he was trying to draw my attention.

Incident 5:
I was going through the meaning of Gayatri Mantra one day. I was very intrigued by its wordings and different interpretations prevalent. This scientific explanation caught my attention the most. It says that 'Om' is the sound produced because of the rotation of planets, solar systems, galaxies etc. That night I had a dream where I 'felt' the rotating sensation.

Edit - Incident 6:
Happened during first year of college. There was an assignment for a programming language (C or C++, don't remember which) - it consisted of writing many short programs to solve given problems (and may be some spot errors and the like). I tried to solve many (perhaps full assignment, can't be sure after nearly 10 years gone). That night though, I had a dream which pointed out an error in one of the programs - which turned out to be true the next day I checked!

What to conclude from these incidents? That we have some powers buried deep inside which arise in little incidents and pass almost unnoticed? A couple of books I have read ('God is not Dead' by Amit Goswami and 'The Intention Experiment' by Lynne McTaggart) provide answers for all of the above.

These books bring to light about scientific experiments conducted and verified by different researchers around the globe. I am presenting below a gist of some the interesting ones. (Details may not be exactly correct, as am writing off my memory)

  • We can anticipate future incidents, or atleast our mind prepares to forth-coming event. There is something called random event generator which uses electro-magnetic noise. Its output has high degree of randomness. When the 2001 twin tower tragedy happened, this device reading ceased to be random two hours prior the tragedy and continued to be so for around 2 more days. There is a more fool-proof evidence that time as we know isn't one-way.
  • A random event generator is set so as to produce either a '0' or a '1'. A computer logs them all and produces a final result of % of '0' and '1'. They are printed, sealed and kept locked, without 'anyone' having the knowledge of the result. A group of people are then asked to meditate, focusing on trying to bias the already generated result of the computer to one of the values, say '1'. Now the sealed print-outs are opened and checked to see if they biased to the number tried. And it was! This experiment has been repeated many times to rule out coincidences.
  • We know that brain activity can be measured as it involves electrical signals. Two people (with close relation) are seated in different rooms with electro-magnetic noise shield so as to record only the brain activity. One of them is asked to 'send' a thought to the other person in his mind. The other person was given some random activity and had no idea when the first person would send the 'thought'. When the thought was sent, similar looking brain patterns were registered instantaneously for both. And this was the case even when the two of them were separated by half the world distance.


To believe that the above experiments are true is left to us. 'The Lost Symbol' by Dan Brown also has reference to some of these experiments, though I believe he has exaggerated some of them. To me, they are fascinating. More so, as I could correlate them with my experiences. As Amit Goswami argues, can we bind 'consciousness' to materialistic body? The true extend of ability of our brain may never be found. And perhaps, that is not relevant. Because, there is so much that we do not know, or perhaps we know nothing at all, as to why we exist.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Those four years...

I joined PSG college of Technology instead of Anna University for two main reasons: I could avoid hostel (with its not-so-good-food) and believing many who said faculties would be better in PSG (which I can say is true to an extent from what I heard from my friends who went to Anna Univ). Now, the first reason held true, but with an added hardship. The distance between college and home was a small matter of around 55kms.
Image Courtesy: Link

Well of course, my elder brother was himself studying in PSG and day-scholar too. So, it wasn't a tough decision to up-down everyday. There were two options for commuting: train and bus. Like my brother, I settled for a mix of it. From Tirupur to Coimbatore, it was by train. But to railway station being 3-4kms from home, we had to first use town bus :P. And not always, on reaching Coimbatore could we get down at Peelamedu, the local station from where we could walk to college in 15mins.

Classes for first year in college started at 9:30am and 8:30am from 2nd year onwards. My bro being in 3rd year when I was in 1st year, had to catch the first available train - 1013 (Kurla Express) whose arrival time at Tirupur station was 5:40am. First few days I accompanied him in that train. That meant waking up at around 4:30am, getting ready by 5:10am. It being an express train, it had no stoppage at Peelamedu, but due to single line connection, there used to be frequent crossings at local station. And many times it would be at Peelamedu. Sometimes, if the train stopped after Peelamedu, we would catch another passenger train going towards Peelamedu! But on occasions, we had no option but get down at Coimbatore junction and catch a bus to College. There was another train around 8am (Erode to Coimbatore passenger train). So, for most part of 1st year, I used the passenger one. And it had stopping at Peelamedu, but the risk was if it reached beyond 9:15am, I would be late for the first hour. But thankfully, it was rare and I kept 100% attendance for the 1st year :)


Return from college was again via the same passenger train. For 2nd year, I had no option but to catch the 5:40am Kurla in the morning. Ofcourse, I couldn't get ready always to reach in time and those rare cases I resorted to using bus to Coimbatore. But, it being Indian railway, mostly train would arrive after 6am. So, even if I was late, I would first confirm the departure of train instead of directly using bus. It so happened a handful of occasions that I would reach the station in time, but train would be late and when I reached the station late, the train would have left on time :D. But, thankfully, for the whole of my college, I never missed the return train from Peelamedu to Tirupur. If I had missed, it would have meant a painful 15min walk back to catch a bus service. During 3rd year, railways dept. conspired against us! They changed the timing of Kurla to 5am! That was too much and morning travel was mostly by bus.


The train travel meant I had ample free time. I would mostly read text/story books and even write lab observation/record in train. And very rarely (like after some festival holidays) did I not find a sitting place in train. I especially used to like climbing to the top berth and situation often warranted it. And believe me, this set-up of up-down everyday was what enabled me to work hard.


Now, why am I relating all this? Well, think about traveling for 4 years in train in India. Don't you think I would have met with an accident? Well thankfully, I never did. But there were close misses.


Incident #1:
Cheran express plying from Chennai to Coimbatore. It's time was around 1 hour before the Kurla express. One coach (general compartment, at the back-end of train, which is where I used to sit in Kurla) of it burned when someone committed suicide. It could easily have happened in Kurla too. That day, I was traveling in Kurla as usual when it had to stop midway at a local station. I then reached college by bus, but to think of it...

Incident #2:

Happened this time in Kurla on Tirupur station itself. Apparently, a woman slipped after the train had started moving and came under the wheels. I didn't see as I was at the back and this happened in front. As soon as I got the word, I fled from the station, not being able to digest it.

Incident #3:

This one while going in passenger train in the morning. The train had halted two stations before Peelamedu as usual. But then there came an alert that someone had cut the train-track at some point ahead! We had to walk some 2km to catch bus to college.

Incident #4:

Again passenger train, this time while returning in the evening. The train was nearing a local station, when we heard a loud metal clang and immediately the driver brought the train to a halt. Some metal-rod like part near the wheel had come-off. I didn't wait to gather the details. As we were near the station, I could walk some 1-2km to catch bus.

I am not able to think of any other unwanted incident. Sure there were many other interesting incidents in those four years of travel, but perhaps another day I will pen them down :)

Monday, August 23, 2010

This day...

Long back, when I was still learning maths tables (among few that I didn't mug-up), I tried my hand in writing a story. First in my mother tongue hindi and then in english feeling it would be more comfortable (we had the rule of speaking only english in school). It was utter disappointment. I even tried to just translate a story from Champak (remember anyone? It is still among the popular kid's magazine in hindi.) to english. Which left me with more displeasure and depressed.

Now, I feel satisfied. Immensely. Not just one, I could write SIX. To me that is a HUGE achievement. And none of it would have been possible without you. Yes 'you'. Its not just the customary thanks but a truly heartfelt one. I keep coming across articles that say that most (if not everyone) of us are in constant longing for praise. Someone who genuinely appreciates our work. Its true for sure in my case. Most of what we do is taken for granted and we are left with no one to recognize the hard-work we put in. When I started blogging, I got all the appreciation in various forms. Some left a comment, some pinged me and some said it when they met me. I was initially sad that the response was slow and insufficient but when I thought about it on the whole, I realized that many did visit my blog and came back which I ascertained from carefully noting the visitor counter. And that, to me was very essential in keeping up with blogging.


I started blogging as I couldn't resist sharing the wonderful first trek with my colleagues. It was meant to be a launch pad for me to start the blog. I had a vague idea of sharing some of the interesting happenings in my life. And also, it meant I could cherish those moments again & again whenever I wanted in greater detail. I started visiting other blogs to improve my blogging skills. It was a great learning curve, as well as got to be friends with some of them.

And inevitably, it was suggested by many that I write a story. It took some time to convince myself that I could write one. And one fine day last November, I got a theme, which I felt good enough for a short story. But for a lazy guy like me, it would take nearly four months to complete and publish on my blog. And in large parts thanks to Karthik & Srini for their inputs on the story. I would spend many a hours contemplating on the characters of the story and events to move forward the story. But when I would sit in front of my lappy to write it down, words would conspire against me to put down as I would like it. Worse, it would take so much thinking to get the right word I wanted. I can assure you that had I written all that I thought of, it would have amounted to no less than 20-30 pages. And even before I could finish the first one, I struck upon themes for next story and many a small ideas which lie tucked in some draft in my gmail account. Thinking about the next story would draw more attention than finishing the first one. I even got good ideas for the second one when I had gone to Rajasthan in February. But as I published that trip events, I got into good writing mood and finished the first story soon after. And lo! What a relief it was. I believe it would remain the one story where I put so much effort.

As rightly said, "the first step is so important". It fills us up with confidence of having done it before to do it again. Writing on a different theme for every new story has kept me going thus far. While that results in some not-so-good ones, it atleast gives me the satisfaction of having tried it and learned from its outcome.

I hope I haven't bored you with my emotions. I owed a post on this. And what better date than today, August 23, when I started with my first post last year. I love writing, but without you to read and appreciate/criticize I wouldn't be able to convince myself to write. So, until I see a rise in visitor counter every time I write a post, I hope to continue it :)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

This and That

Entertainment is always welcome, especially so when one is weary on a Friday evening in office. And so it happened that yesterday at 5pm, we left our cubicles to congregate at the pantry. The fun club (as I call it :D) at our office had organized for some interesting one-minute games. We stood roughly about in a circle, a ball (the size of a football) was to be passed around and whoever had the ball in hand when the music being played stopped is chosen to participate in the game that followed.
Against my best of hopes, I was to play the first game. The game was thus: In one minute, myself and my opponent had to bring one balloon at a time (kept at the other end of the pantry), sit on it to burst it and repeat the max. no. of times! Easy though it sounds, the balloon kept slipping from umm... underneath. Initially I had the lead, then a fumble had my opponent take an unassailable lead. I said myself to just go through the motion when I heard a loud cheer from my team (read project team). My opponent's balloon had slipped to cause considerable delay and I won! :) In all I succeeded seven times, winning by fraction of a second.

The other games that followed were:
  • Plate filled with flour and coins hidden inside. One had to use his mouth to search and place it aside as many coins as possible.
  • This one had four players. Two girls and two guys forming two pairs. The guy in each team had to apply nail-polish as fast as possible! It so happened, one guy was married and the other was bachelor. No prizes for guessing who won :D
  • Again four, but all guys. Two teams. One had to lift the legs of his teammate such that he could use only his hands to move forward.
  • Back to girl-guy team. Have to bring one straw at a time from other end of the room and insert in the girl's hair!
  • Final one with two players. Squeeze cut lemons into a cup.

So, in the end I was only too happy having played the first one and not the ones that followed :D. And a Cadbury-temptation for my 'efforts' was just as pleasing :D.

Tempted?

While it was fun alright, my weekend has just got shorter. This week, after two-and-a-half month wait, BITS finally announced the short-listed candidates for MS course in Micro-electronics. Specially designed for corporate world, the course is normal four-semester one with classes held on either a Saturday or Sunday for 16 weeks a semester. I didn't care if I would be selected or not, but now that I am short-listed, I am not sure if it was a good-idea to have applied :D.

But I do hope these questions below will now leave me for a while :D

Click on the image to see an enlarged version

I am sure many of you would have asked at one point or the other, but they keep pounding my head very often :(
Lemme finish this 'short' post by,

Wishing you all a Happy Friendship Day :)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Jab They Met

~~~ Every Love story has an interesting beginning ~~~

****************************

Hi, am Vignesh aka Vicky. Am in a bus excited to be going to my friend's place. And as with each of last seven days, like a song playing in infinite loop, I look back to the fateful day.
That evening's happenings are fresh as though it was only yesterday. The more I play it in my mind again and again, the more I am convinced of an enigmatic feel to it. There I was with my luggage and Maaza in hand, trying to find a place to sit on platform no. 3. Thankfully, a passenger left the rectangular seating arrangement around a pillar I was nearing. I placed my travel bag on the dirty platform and sat closer to the male crowd. To my left was a girl in blue churidhar, talking on the cell oblivious to my presence. She turned a little when I placed the Maaza bottle beside her. Acting as if I wasn't interested in her, I dialed my friend's number, only to find it busy.
As always, Kanyakumari express had not left until five minutes past its departure time 9:45pm. It would be another 10-15min for Kurla express to arrive. So I started looking around. I saw a boy and a girl talking happily, their hands brushing each other. I wished. I wished I too had someone to care for, to shower my love and to be loved. I dialed again. Busy again. The blue-churidhar girl was still talking. I noticed a movement and felt indecisiveness to do it myself or inform her. I settled for the latter. I was building up courage to call her when her hand moved to her right sleeve. I thought she had found out herself. But her fingers stopped before reaching the target. I stood up, moved closer to her and called out - 'Excuse me miss, there's a big insect near your right slee.. shoulder...'

****************************

I pride in maintaining my daily-diary notes. For the past week, I keep visiting to the entry dated Friday, March 12 - 2010. It was an eventful night journey. So much so that perhaps it will be the longest account in my diary. And without actually intending, it took a story form.

Internship finally got over and I eagerly was looking to meet Sameer the next day. He had promised to take me to a nice location as well! Though my train was supposed to leave at 10:10pm, I reach the #3 platform by 9pm, not risking on the Bangalore traffic. I had loads of music on mobile and a book to read. But I couldn't have known that talking to Sameer would last more than an hour. Another train was already standing and stinking toilet smell irked my nostrils. I spray copiously from the scent bottle I always carry to be able to sit and talk in peace.


Though immersed in the conversation, I look around every now and then. Writing habit generates a desire - to observe anything interesting. I see a guy with IBM bag accompanied with a gal in black dress chattering away past me. I am sure they were more interested in accidentally hitting against the each-others fingers. Sameer & I laugh our heart out. So much so that I had to adjust my sleeves. And then suddenly, the guy sitting nearby speaks to me.


****************************

She turned, looked at me as if I had committed a sin speaking to her. I repeated the words and it took a while for her to register what I meant. I half-expected her to freak out. But she calmly brushed off the bug and resumed talking on the phone!

****************************

I am shocked not that the guy spoke to me, but that he seemed familiar and I couldn't place him either. He repeats that there is a bug on my right shoulder, I register the meaning, my hands take the appropriate action and I confusedly relate it to Sameer. I had even forgotten to say a courtesy thanks. A while later my intern friends arrive and I persuade Sameer to end the call.

***************************

I was wondering if I should have even bothered with it. The bug was probably harmless as well. Whoever said we should try to help others. I couldn't shake off the look she gave me. Presently the 'insect' girl went off with her friends. As well she should for my sake, I thought. I took another sip of Maaza and put-on the music gear. Nothing soothes like melodious songs.
I felt an offensive smell. And undoubtedly it was coming from the restroom opposite the platform. Perhaps that is why she went off? And I could detect a faint trace of perfume where she had been sitting.
It was 10pm by then and train no. 1013 arrived. Finishing the last drops of Maaza, I took my baggage, found a dust-bin to dispose the bottle and leisurely walked to coach marked S9. I knew pretty well that it would be atleast 30-45min before the train departed, so why bother rushing through the crowd of passengers trying to walk past the aggregated ones near the door? It took around five minutes for the crowd to clear. Whom do I see when I reach my seat? Yup, you guessed it. The insect girl! I double checked my seat no. It did not change from 29 and she was sitting on the opposite side. Someone tapped on my shoulder and informed that the middle seat was his. I thought perhaps I had come to the wrong coach when the insect girl spoke!

***************************

We had coffee and talked about how our internship was over so soon. I tell them the bug-incident. Reeta said I should have apologized and Renu said the guy had no business watching her shoulder in first place. Sameer had said whatever the case, the guy was trying to help and I should have acknowledged that. I half thought of going back to that place when I heard the train arriving. As we walked past that place, I find him missing and give the matter a rest. Reeta and Renu had their seats in S11 and mine in S9. They were being accompanied by their boy-friends, so I bade them good-night and reached my seat #28. I take my headset to bide time, when I see that guy walking past the window facing the platform. I rise and then sit back. I couldn't leave the luggage and go. I needn't have. He comes to my compartment! He seemed to verify his seat no., looked at the three aluminum plates with numbers 28,29,30 printed on them and sat down. He had obviously seen me. I look away, debating if I should apologize. Then I hear someone telling the guy that he was on the wrong seat. He looked at the ticket again and I seize the opportunity to speak to him. I said, "The numbers printed are wrong. These are the right ones" and pointed to the numbers written with a marker near the windows.

***************************

It didn't take long for me to realize that she was right. Sometime back, a middle berth was added to the side berths too making it 9 berths in a compartment. Public pressure made the railways remove the berth, but the numbers stayed put. And my bad luck, no. 29 means a middle berth in either case.
The insect girl had pointed that out. Saying 'thanks', I continued sitting opposite her as the no. 26 guy had left to meet someone. She was sitting near the window which meant she had lower berth and mine the middle one above her. On the side berths were two more girls, their mouths exercising rapidly.
I took out my cell to resume listening songs and I remembered that I hadn't spoken to my friend yet. He picked it this time and before I could shout at him, he apologized saying he had been busy. He seemed pretty happy and enthusiastic. I asked him just to be sure if he was indeed coming to my hometown tomorrow. He assured me and said to expect a surprise, but he would be coming only by evening. I said fine and bade him good-night, assuming the happiness was related to the surprise in store.
The ticket inspector came by. Looking up his record as well as the tickets, he called out the girl's names loudly as if to confirm. So without asking, I knew that the insect-girl's name was Nisha.

***************************

I expected him to strike some conversation so that I can apologize for the earlier incident. But no, he purposely looks away and gets busy with his mobile phone. To my surprise, the TTR came even before the train starts. He is well past 50, but such a flirt! He reads my name aloud while checking but not the guy's one! Wonder what pleasure did he get from such a ritual.
Now my curiosity rose to know his name, but he is head bent-down seemingly enjoying music to the core. A black kid came by sweeping the floor. I didn't have change and perhaps neither the other two girls.

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When a sweeper boy came, none of the girls offered money and I found it strange. The boy looked pitiful and I gave him a two rupee coin. I looked up the time to find it was 10:30pm and the train firmly at Bangalore yet. Another girl now came, looked at the numbers on aluminum plates and placed her bag on top berth. I presumed she too was mistaken (for seat no. 30) and informed her the same. Nisha confirmed it too and she changed to the top berth on the opposite side.
I felt Nisha wanted to apologize about the earlier incident and funnily I felt I should deny her the chance. As if that would have offended her. It looks idiotic now, but my ego wouldn't make sense at that time. I continued to droop, my right hand on cheek and sat inclined to the side berth. The train finally moved and after about five minutes I turned towards Nisha.

***************************

I feel happy that the guy helped the poor kid. After what seemed an eternity, the train started its journey. I wait for the other girl on my seat to climb to her upper berth. Shortly, she stands, bends down to remove her slippers and pushes them below the seat. At the same time, the guy on the opposite seat lifts his head and turns towards me. He wanted to sleep. And so, finally around 11pm after the middle berth was lifted and secured in its place above my berth, I stretch my legs to sleep. I make a mental note to offer my apologies the next day, if at all he too comes to Coimbatore.

***************************

Normally I find it difficult to sleep while traveling. But not that day, I was tired and fell asleep almost immediately. But fate was conspiring against me. I had a dream. And for no reason it was the insect girl Nisha in it! I was on the beautiful landscape of Ooty, chasing her with enthusiasm! And then suddenly we found ourselves at some cliff edge. To top it all, she slipped and I rushed to the edge for help.

***************************

I was sleeping pretty soundly, when I wake to a shrill baby cry. The train had halted for crossing and the baby must have cried when a speeding express passed on the opposite line. I take my mobile phone to check the time when to my horror a hand appears. It proceeds to tug my bed-sheet. I shake the sheet vigorously and immediately the hand disappears. I am shocked that the guy in the middle berth could try such an outrageous act.

***************************

Gosh, how can I control dreams and my subconscious mind acting on its own? I had dropped flat on my stomach in dream and reached out for Nisha clinging onto a rock just as shown in numerous Indian films. And in reality, my hand had gone to the lower berth and touched Nisha! My conscious mind had somehow woken up and I had retreated the hand. Nisha did not scream out as I expected and so I thought she must have been asleep well. But that was little consolation. It was 3:12AM, and I couldn't sleep for the rest of journey.

***************************

As if on cue, the bug-incident comes back to mind. Renu was right, that guy shouldn't have been watching my back in first place. Bloody-bugger I curse him. And then another thought hits me. Why did he turn exactly when the girl next to me was bending to place her slippers? Must be to take a peep. I grit and curse him again. And that money he gave to the kid must be fake kindness to impress those two girls on the side berth. I become so distraught that I didn't sleep again that morning.

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March 13: Coimbatore Jn.

Sameer heard the announcement of Kurla Express arriving on platform No.1. He swore that the train had to arrive on time at 6AM. As he was climbing up the subway stairs, Nisha greeted him with bleary eyes. Have you been crying, he asked with concern. Lets reach home first, she replied in a grave voice. Seeing she was serious, Sameer picked the luggage and hurried with her to his home.
Vicky hadn't budged until Nisha had left the coach. He didn't want to risk his chances and any explanation wouldn't have helped. And so, when he neared the subway, he stopped seeing that Nisha was waiting. When she left with a guy, he felt relieved. He bought a coffee, finished it leisurely and went downstairs to get the ticket to Palghat. He rued not getting the ticket straight to Palghat on Kanyakumari express.

***************************

I keep silence while Sameer drove to his home. I manage to greet Uncle and Aunty with a smile and went with Sameer to his room. And what do I find? The picture slide-show on his laptop shows Sameer and that guy from train smiling with Sameer's college in the backdrop. I almost scream. And then realize it was indeed Vicky I met. Sameer had praised in heaps and bound about him in the past. I must have been gaping too long. Sameer was saying something which I couldn't register. I stand there confused in all that had happened and what Sameer had said about him. Aunty brought coffee and I gulped it fast. And then I say it all to Sameer.

***************************

I was waiting for the passenger train to leave, listening to music when my friend Sameer called. I was surprised that he was up so early in the morning. The train had moved by then. And giving no warning he cursed me.

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March 19: Coimbatore

Vicky entered Sameer's room. Sameer was about to fling at Vicky but Nisha told him that she had invited Vicky. And went on to describe how Vicky had written an email explain what had actually happened, that she had read and deleted it, called Vicky, apologized and asked to come.
Before Sameer could process the meaning of it all, Vicky embraced him and asked him to forget the past. Nisha, standing behind Sameer, gave Vicky a playful wink.

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Thanks to Srini for his help.

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I am participating in the WeBlog's Sleepy Sunday contest! You may read other participating posts HERE


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Perspective

My first attempt at comic-strip!


Courtesy: http://www.toondoo.com/
My toon on that site: Click here

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Mishap at Makalidurga

Don't get alarmed by the title, I just had a small accident on the trek :D. Unlike my previous trekking posts, I promise to stick to the main details ;)

It was Saturday, June the 12th of 2010, that 20 enthusiasts and two guides from BMC embarked to climb Makalidurga, around 70km from Bangalore. Four of them I knew from the trek to Madhugiri. A cloudy and windy day, most of us were prepared for rain (some like me wished for downpour :D). After an awesome ride via new airport road and beautiful country-side we reached the scarcely populated village of Makalidurga. We chattered away for most of the ride and my customary penchant for enjoying the window-view noted just the one odd - a resort named something like 'Ramanashree - California' Resort!


Makalidurga - 1350m
There is a railway track at the foothills with a station close-by. One could even take a passenger train to reach Makalidurga. Just before we started our ascent, a train passed by and I craved for another train to pass which could be seen from top of the hill. The hill has a large base covered with vegetation and surrounded all-round with other hills. With Sun playing hide and seek with clouds and the relatively easy climb, I enthusiastically clicked away pics of the greenery all around. But pretty soon, the heavy back-pack (rain-coat and umbrella to go with snacks & water bottles) and increasing difficulty in the climb meant I had to slow down and take frequent rest. Had a energy-packed peanut bar and enjoyed viewing the lake which had begun to show.

Large base with greenery and rocky top
Multiple pathways posed a problem initially. And despite the cool weather, perspiration slowed us considerably. Bare, big rocks showed up much to the dismay of first timers. I tried to assure them that this is relatively easier compared to the one I has 2 weeks back. The slope being not so steep, it was like walk in the park. The rocky climb ended with a flat surface and rest of the climb to the top was greener bushy path again. After a rest on the flat surface and taking copious snaps, we started for the final flourish to the summit. And lo! we heard the unmistakable chugging of the train at the foothills. Took videos and snaps and the sight is still etched in memory. :)


Flat rocky surface with a view of railway tracks below
Can you spot the 'Train'?
Suit yourself to name it :)
Willing myself to go on without stoppage, I reached the summit which held a broken fort. The summit was 1350m above sea level, but the climb had been much shorter than Madhugiri. You gotta see to believe the wonderful view of the surrounding landscape dotted with hills, lake and farmland. Tranquility of the surrounding would have been a blessing experience but for the constant honking of the vehicles below. It was around 12pm and too early to have lunch. So, 4-5 of us started to explore the summit. The fencing was tattered a bit, but still strong. There was light drizzle too :). I had initially thought it would be some 10-15min walk. Little did I know the breadth of the fort. It would be some acres! Not that I complained, the summit is pretty flat, and the walk was never tiring. Infact I felt very fresh! And looking back we could see the rain approaching :). A lifetime experience that. One of them had a binocular - we tried to make out the color of shirt worn by the two-wheeler riders :P. We walked along the circular fence with rain starting to get heavier. We tried to find a shady place to have lunch when we saw the temple. The veranda was open space and we couldn't have gone inside the temple to have lunch. So we searched again. Search because, as I said the summit must be in acres . Presently we saw a man-made arrangement of rocks with a small passage. A fellow trekker was already there having lunch and the protected place was too small to hold us all. As we ventured further, we saw the remaining lot perched under a big tree. Rain had ceased a bit, so we resigned to have lunch on the rocks. It was wet but we had no choice, had we? To our dismay, some of us had not got the spoons from the co-ordinators :D.


Much of the fort is just the fence
Lake view from the summit
A different Angle :)
Within few minutes, rain hit back as though angered by our presence. We ran to the rock arrangement, and this time we managed to fit ourselves :D. While we had lunch discussion moved to 'bats' and how it's excreta could be dangerous! All along, rain was incessant but not heavy. On the stone walls that extended beyond the passage, there was a small space like a window. We wondered it's purpose. A tree's branches reached the window and one of us noticed an empty, small bird-nest. It was so well constructed and looked so cute when placed on the palms. The rain had stopped and one of the co-ordinator came searching for us. We were to start our descent in a short-while.

We explored around the fence again from where we had left. At one point, tree's branches blocked about half the path of two-feet wall. I got scared a little, but did not show externally and mustering courage crossed it. It was easier than expected, but I was relieved nonetheless. What lay ahead was something of a surprise, but we should have anticipated it. We had circled a full 360 degrees of the fort! We had agreed to the co-ordinator of coming back to that big tree and climb down all together. Instead, we called them (after two-three tries) to inform our location and waited.

Seemed an eternity before the group arrived and we reached the flat rock base to rest. Rain droplets on the grass blade were beautiful to look at and so were the purple flowers growing between the rocks. As like the Madhugiri trek, there was a photographer amongst us, clicking away the beautiful scenery all around us. I wasn't far behind in clicking and then I caught the sight of a chameleon, all still, head raised on a medium sized rock. Calling the photographer to come ASAP, I hurried to the rock, sighting well its slippery surface. It wasn't the usual rock wet by the recent rain. It was kind of the rock one could spot near a waterfall. I do not remember well enough, but I must have tried to put my right foot to test how much grip I can get. Before one could blink - there I was down, having slipped as I made contact with the slippery rock. Well of course there was flat base below the rock, or I wouldn't have ventured. But as with most uncontrolled falls, my right leg twisted and I landed on it. Within moments, the fellow trekkers were besides me asking have I injured myself. I felt pain, but I was sure it wasn't fracture. I was more interested to the fate of my camera - a small tapering on the cosmetic surrounding the lens which wouldn't allow the lens set to shut properly. With a little push with fingers, I was able to close it properly. And only then did I remove my shoes to inspect the injury. Talk about caring for oneself :(

One had fast-relief, which I applied all around. Somehow managed to put on the socks and shoes back again. I realised that I would have to keep going without rest if I had to reach the foothill. The co-ordinator now came with his spray. This time around it was even more difficult removing the shoes. There was a small-apple sized swell big enough to cover the Calcaneus bone. After applying the spray, the co-ordinator rightly suggested to put on the shoe without the sock and tie the laces tightly. Even now I wonder how was I able to put my leg into the shoe!

Everyone had gathered by now on the flat rock and time for group-photo. After what seemed an eternity, it was taken and we started to move. Only for the photographer to discover that the settings were not right! So again we stood for the pose, myself seething with pain. As we started the descent again, they offered to carry the back-pack for me. But that being a non-issue, I politely refused. They offered bodily support too. While that was generous of them, I knew that they would feel very difficult to support my weight. Yes, although am very lean, the pressure we put for supporting the body is not easy to manage. I wasn't that bad in a position to be not able to walk. I could place my right foot and apply as much pressure needed to lift my left leg and move forward. But, it being a descent through the rocks, I resorted to crawling most of the way, using my hands to place on the side rocks for support. It was Madhugiri revisited, but for all the wrong reasons :D. Where necessary, I used the generous hand supports. One thing I realized later is, at no point did anyone talk about my carelessness. And am largely thankful to them for it.

Slowly and steadily I reached (or rather, crawled to) the large base of the hill, from which it was more of a walk than climbing down. The rain Gods seemed to have waited for me to reach this point, as the rain returned and this time, it was outright downpour. Cannot imagine if it had occurred right after I had slipped, or for that matter, if it had been a fracture. Gives me the creeps thinking about it.


Rain in the air :)
It was half an hour or so, that we walked through the streams guiding us to reach the cab. My wish for rain had been granted, but I paid a price for it :D. Although I had put on my raincoat and my back-pack water-proof, I was drenched and water had found its way through the tiny gaps of zipped fabric. As I entered the cab, they asked me how did I feel. And I replied, 'Great'.

Thus ended another unforgettable trekking experience, for all the good and bad reasons. What followed was my visit to doctor (aided by my room-mate and his friend), plastering and realizing how uncomfortable one would be even though the swell in itself wasn't that painful. And oh, by the way, I did honestly think I would be doing much shorter post before the keyboard led my fingers to...

PS: Last Friday, i.e. 25th June, myself and some of my company colleagues had gone to a school-kit distribution near Bypanahalli, organized by YFS (http://youthforseva.org/) . I experienced the 'Joy of Giving' :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Eagle luck

A tea-time casual talk with my colleagues on Eagles took me back to those days in school which are etched forever in memory. One led to the other and particularly the events of 4th standard stood out. The exact happenings are hard to recall 14 years on, hence I have attempted to weave out a story based on whatever I could.

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Mithun had finished 3rd standard in the primary school and was thrilled to be going to the main branch. Big grounds & more sections meant more fun. His family too shifted their sweet shop near the school for his convenience. The very first day was eventful. Mithun saw fellow boys running hither-thither clad in khaki shorts, half-sleeve white shirt, black belt, navy tie with 'JMHS' printed slantingly in bold yellow at the bottom, black shoes with navy socks & knees looking white-washed. Of-course the dress code varied from 6th standard onwards, lets stick to 4th standard throughout the story. Running here and there, playing, shouting, I now wonder how the teachers bore the noise of us all which amounted no less than 2-3 thousand students or perhaps more. Reaching the class was a herculean task. One had to trod through the big auditorium surrounded by classes 7-12, then through open cemented veranda surrounded by classes 5-8 along with some of the kindergarten classes. Then came the canteen & toilets. The open space ended with hostel in center and paths to classes on the left and the big play-ground on the right. Backside of the hostel was a smaller open space with few trees & surrounded by more classes. The 4th standard classes started left of the hostel. 'A' and 'B' sections were to the left of the pathway leading to other sections behind the hostel. The pathway being roofed, the two classes felt like dungeon.

Mithun was just about to enter the class, when he was joined by his friend Ramanujam Iyer. They joined two boys in a four-seater bench. Deepak and Vikraman had been shuffled from other sections to 'B'. In a matter of seconds, the four became friends and got engrossed in exchanging pleasantries. And within minutes they vowed to be always together, like a gang. Vikraman became the undisputed leader after he showed the biggest nails and most dirt than the others. But that afternoon, Ramanuja left the gang. The gang had gone to the big playground for lunch under one of the many trees. Vikraman had brought an egg for lunch and Ramanujam being a Brahmin found it intolerable. But Mithun would not leave the gang saying he couldn't imagine leaving such wonderful company. In a spur of moment, Vikraman teased Ramanujam as 'Rama, the Brahma'. From that day, Brahma stuck as Ramanujam's nickname and he hardly ever spoke to Vikraman again. In course of time, Vikraman assigned nicknames for others too, notably for the gang: Deepak was christened Dubukku (as Deepak frequently called others 'stupid fellow' whenever he got angry :D), Mithun as Lalakada Halwa (as he brought sweets from his father's shop). And chose Vicks (after the Vicks product) for himself.

All three living near the school, the gang used to assemble about an hour before classes started and almost always first to reach the class, even before the hostel students. Dubukku and Vicks considered themselves lucky to have been shuffled to 'B' section. The rule was that all hindi students (which is only around 10-12 students) were assigned the 'B' section. Mithun would be pestered with questions on the hindi girls. All three would write their 'favorite' girl's name on back page of textbooks. Am here not gonna describe what they further used to discuss apart from writing the names :P. Vicks re-instated his leadership when one fine day he impressed the class-leader and topper hindi girl Nikita. I forgot how the trick was done, but using fingers, some kinda scratching brought blood on tongue without pain!. The trick spread like fire throughout the 4th standard including Nikita. As ill-luck would have it, a teacher found out and the entire 4th 'B' bore punishment. But that only increased Vicks' image.

Being a christian school, there used to mass every Friday. As entire school couldn't assemble in the church, there would be turns standard wise. And the rest would be in their classes listening through speakers, head bent-down in almost a sleeping posture on the benches. Many a student would sleep soundly. The unfortunates who got caught would get beatings in stick/wooden-scale or have to kneel down the entire day on the floor (or sand for the other sections) outside the class. Vicks got intrigued by the church. There were different statues along the walls with candles burning. The sight of crucified Jesus gave him an idea that again won him reputation as the leader. The idea was to make a cross on the left palm using molten wax. He explained it as a means to get God's grace by experiencing pain. However, they kept the idea within the gang to prevent others from sharing God's grace!

A favorite and most dangerous past time of the gang was to play Raja-Rani game while the teacher took class. To much surprise of everyone, they had never been caught yet. They limited the characters to four - Raja, Rani, Police and Thief. The fourth player was a dummy which was always kept for Brahma. If the 'police' thought that thief was the chit kept for Brahma, he would point it out showing three fingers as sign for the Nammam. In teacher's absence, they would blurt it out - Braaaahmaaaaaa in chorus with Raaamaaaa. Nikita always found it hard keeping the class quiet. She would cite Brahma as the ideal student who would read or do some exercise questions. Not that Brahma was lonely now, but very afraid of getting sticks. The gang would mock saying something was between the two or sing the then very popular song 'mukkala muqabla'. The entire class would laugh, sometimes leading to punishment from the teacher taking class in the neighboring 'A' section.

It was march and summer was already approaching. Mornings became a torture for the students. Most teachers would not allow fan during morning sessions and the morning interval was the sole solace. Especially the first period would be difficult as students would have been playing Masa-Masa (game where one having ball would hit the others) or cricket or just running. A new craze started among the students during lunch hour - to 'catch' the shadow of eagles. It was believed that eagles brought luck while the crows bad-luck. While most students tried it, our gang were adamant in not following others. They would say they have a more powerful source for luck and refused to follow the mob.

On the fateful March 14 - 1996, the gang were playing cricket and surprisingly, Brahma had joined the play. But not surprisingly, he was in the opponent team. It was last ball of the match with one to win and Vicks on strike. Brahma was fielding in the square leg region and saw Vicks eying the empty mid-wicket region. And so after Vicks had turned to face the bowler, Brahma moved to the short mid-wicket region and lo! the ball came straight to his hands. He spilled it, but picked the ball quickly and threw it at the non-strikers end. The ball bounced before going over the stone seeming to have hit it. Vicks was ruled run-out and match declared tie, but to this date, one cannot confirm if that ball hit the stone-stumps!

Brahma vented out his venom for Vicks, describing the run-out at every opportunity that morning. Vicks could bear no more during the interval and challenged that he knew better cricket than him. Brahma was in some flow that day, unusual to his quietness in the class. So he said, "Oh yeah, I bet that today WI will beat AUS in the semis of cricket WC" Vicks was also supporting WI but he had no choice than to accept the challenge and put money on AUS. They settled on betting all of 50p.

That afternoon, Vicks and his loyal followers went to the church and used the 'cross-with-molten-wax' for praying an AUS win. Brahma took to the eagles for his luck. He had a great time by 'catching' two eagle shadows and avoiding any of the many crows. Just when he started leaving for the classes, his eyes fell on a glittering object. He stooped down quickly to pick. When Brahma reached the class he looked too pleased. The gang though looked a bit uncomfortable, having applied more than usual wax for the cross. The cricket match was a day-night affair and the entire class were eager to know the result. Few others including the girls too started betting on the outcome using 'fake' currency notes.

As you might know, AUS prevailed in a low scoring encounter. The gang were ecstatic and were planning how to use it. They decided on 'thaen-mittaaye' (rose-colored honey-made sweet which then used to sell for 5p I think). Brahma came just at the stroke of first bell looking pleased as if he had conquered the world. The first hour was 'science' and it was a combined one for 'A' & 'B' held in the pathway outside the class. The gang, still savoring the win, played Raja-Rani. As usual, one chit was kept for Brahma. The teacher suddenly caught Dubukku looking down and not listening. She shouted and threw the wooden scale at him. Caught in a fear, Dubukku blurted out Brahma (Dubukku was the police and guessed that Brahma had the thief chit). She gave him a nice thrashing, asked him to kneel outside for the entire day and inquired who Brahma was. Ramanujam stood up and said that he did not do anything, shaking all over. The teacher scolded him nonetheless.

At he stroke of the morning interval, Brahma went straight to Vicks, gave him the 50p for the bet and congratulated him on his victory. The entire class were astounded. All the fun was lost anticipating a verbal duel. They got their answer that evening. While the gang were purchasing their 'thaen-mittaaye', our pleased kid Brahma took out the remaining Rs1.50 and got the envied eatery of them all - the 'coconut+groundnut' mixed ice-cream bar.

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PS: I know about the 'cross-with-molten-wax' as I was part of the gang!
PPS: It is a fictional story as I mentioned at the start.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Madhugiri Trekking Trip

It was only last August that I embarked on my first trekking trip to Antaragange. Seems long ago and no wonder am so pleased to have had another - Madhugiri on 29th May. And for that, I thank wholeheartedly to BMC (http://www.bmcindia.org/). Click on the images below for larger view.

I will try to keep the narration short, but my penchant for writing mundane details might prevent doing so. Let me begin with how to register for an event with BMC. My office being near to BMC office, I called them up and Krishna (guide for this trekking trip) obliged by collecting the fare at my office premises itself. Isn't that convenient? And then they sent a confirmation email.

Friday evening and I was really thrilled thinking about the trip. With much enthusiasm I brought snacks and water bottle, much needed for a trekking trip. Curbing my liking to read about the place, I took to dusting off the bag to carry the needful. And thankfully I recharged my camera batteries. I watched a movie and cooked too. Yes you read it right, I 'cooked' :).

I tried to sleep early as reporting was 6:45AM sharp at Domlur. But believe me, the excitement meant an intermittent sleep. I groaned each time I woke up to see that 5:10AM was still far-off. And when it finally was time to wake up, power-cut greeted me. That did not deter me getting ready by 6am. Had a cup of tea (to prevent headache) and reached Domlur by 6:25AM! I saw a buddy there, in jeans and t-shirt with a backpack. My guess was right that he (Rajendran) too was coming for the trek. And lo! I wasn't the only one coming all alone. Presently a group - an elderly man and woman with daughter, arrived there. They were joined by a foreign lady shortly. Rajendran observed that BMC must be very popular indeed.

Starting at 6AM

Right on 6:45AM (ok, 6:46 to be precise) the cab arrived. Krishna ticked-off the people assembled and to my surprise, the elderly couple were coming too! The next pick-up was at Lifestyle (7AM) and here we waited about 5 mins for others to arrive. I engaged myself observing the vehicles passing by and was amazed to see so many at this hour on a Saturday morning. At one point it looked to be all white - cars, jeeps and buses alike and immediately came a procession of varied colored ones! By this time the last of the 12 member party came. So that made 'unlucky' 13 including the guide Krishna, but I would say 14 to include the driver, who had a good part to play in our very pleasing experience.

Bangalore is really very big and traffic flow is tedious just about everywhere! After evading through the morning traffic, we reached 'New Agarwal Bhavan' on the Tumkur road around 8:10AM for breakfast and packing lunch. We bought water bottles and cold-drinks too. Soon we left the highway behind and villages started to show up. The narrow 2-lane road was good enough for a smooth ride. Like I always do, I was sitting near window seat and enjoying the view outside. Among various interesting things I saw, two stood out. Near a police-station in one of the villages, there were lot of trucks and vans and autos dumped for good covered largely with ivy. The other being a 'BSNL OFC' stone-mark surrounded by barren land.

Other vehicles passing was so infrequent, making me wonder where they got petrol/diesel from and however they coped with breakdowns! The roads started deteriorating and large number of hillocks became visible. Many of them had temple on the top. Or some scribblings in large white fonts. They were just too many of them that it seems by chance was this space available for road connectivity. Around 10:30AM we were nearing Madhugiri. I saw a very steep hill, higher than the surrounding ones and started taking pictures. I wondered if anyone can climb this one. Little did I know that it was the very hill we were headed too. And indeed, the climb was from the other side which is not so steep as the side I had seen.

Krishna assembled us in a circle and we introduced ourselves. Our elite party consisted of an ex-army, his wife (the elderly couple) and their daughter, a photographer (from the equipment he carried), a foreigner and other enthusiasts like me :P. We were to climb 3930 ft (perhaps lesser, as the height base from sea level is not known) which is more than Tirupathi and approx. half the height of Ooty.

And so, we started our ascent around 10:45AM. The fort entrance and wall-fencing were still in good shape. Initially it was all steps and easy to climb. On big rocks, small steps were carved out for convenience. The fort is centered near the base of the hill and circular towers few hundred feet above. A large flat surface below the towers was well fenced and a pool built which was completely dry. After these towers, it was all bare mountain with few resting places in between.

A bit scary for first-timers

Having fun ;)

The ascent was quite easy for most part except for the hot sun. Continuous breeze dried our sweat leaving crystallized salt on face and neck. We had to frequently rest, drink water and continue. About two-third of the hill upward comes the most dangerous climb. Iron poles were rooted along the path which were around knee level and not much of use. For inexperienced trekkers like me, one had to lean on the hot-rock with bare hands to feel a bit safe. The heavy back-pack made it worse. Thankfully they had built a fence near the steepest portion above to reach an entrance. I felt very very relieved to have make it. Taking a break there, the climb was resumed. Now it all seemed easier after the steep climb, but exhaustion meant more frequent stops. We did not mind sitting on the hot rock for it was nigh impossible to move on more than 2-5 min at a stretch. Ofcourse, there were large rocks here and there providing cool shade.

Very relieved to have climbed up the steep slope (fence and entrance can be seen)

After what seemed an eternity, the summit came in view. I say 'came' as I never felt like reaching the top. Ruined temple greeted us with scattered vegetation. Beyond the temple, one could go down to reach large rocks strewn on relatively flat surface. We chose a big rock providing shade all around to camp and have lunch. Grass, flowery plants and trees had somehow found their way to grow there. Whats more, we could see clear signs of goats having come there.

The veg-biryani from 'New Agarwal Bhavan' was very spicy but to our growling stomachs, it tasted sweet. After lunch, the ex-army gentleman shared his experiences in Infantry, 1971 war, snow-blindness, beauty of Ladakh, exported apples and so on. The foreign lady too enthusiastically shared hers. And to my surprise, the mobile signal strength was very good there!

Lunch time :) :)

Around 1:45PM, we started our descent. (But logically, we had to first climb to reach the summit again and begin the descent :P - to quote the ex-army gentlemen). The descent was faster compared to the climb, but one had to walk sideways for better grip. As in my first trekking trip, my legs started shivering, for reasons unknown. And the thighs too started paining. Somehow, I managed to climb down steadily, and sometimes running down small stretches. The steep slope I mentioned during the climb proved too tricky way-down. Mortal fear took control of me that despite good advice from the guide to do it easily, I did not turn my bodily-position. I was leaning on the rocks and nearly crawling along. The rocks were too hot by now. The forceful drag with palms resulted in two burn-like bubbles. Anyone watching me without knowing what went through my mind would have laughed relentlessly. I cannot describe what relief I felt on crossing that dangerous path. And to top it all, the ex-army gentleman just walked freely through the steep section! Of course he had 37 years of experience, but goes to show that perhaps it is only the fear that makes it very dangerous. The shivering and thigh pain increased and I took an extended rest. The rest of the climb was all about pushing myself to go. I kept the pace sedate and talking with the fellow trekkers helped a lot.

Not gonna forget in this lifetime (the ex-army gentleman is too happy to walk casually!)

Apparently, we had finished the trek well ahead. Replenishing with water and cool-drinks, we started around 3:45pm. Some wanted to have another trek, but most including me were not upto it. Here came the driver's role. Apparently he was a local guy and knew the surrounding area pretty well. He suggested to visit 'Sri Yoga lakshmi narasimha swamy' temple on a hill which could be reached via road. We reached there around 4:45pm. The temple closes by 5pm, so a guard placed at a diverging road halfway up the hill was going to stop us. But the driver got us through. The hill is populated with 'wild' monkeys. Lots of hills surround the place and this one had a provision for guest-house too. We had cucumber and tender-coconut and proceeded for the temple. Monkeys were on the lookout to snatch anything. They even 'attacked' the shoe stand near the temple. Some of them showed acrobatic skills hanging by the tail on trees, other monkeys or water taps. One intelligent monkey was peeling off a tender-coconut! And the skin which it tore were in other monkeys' mouth!

Atop the hill to visit the temple

Isn't it beautiful?

It started raining and the mist cover on the surrounding hills was a great sight. We hurried to the tempo, took a group photo with some missing and started our way back to Bangalore. But hold on, we were not done yet. There was another famous place 'Namada Chilume', around 2-3kms from the temple. Here again our driver got us permission to go through. It was light drizzle here and the climate too good with cool breeze. Apparently, during Rama's Vanvas, he visited the place and pierced a hole on a rock to get water. One story goes that Sita was thirsty and according to wiki, Rama needed it for his Thilak which is how the place got the name. Whatever be it, water continuously flows out of it throughout the year. Whats more, we saw for ourselves the water flow increasing when coins were devoted.

Perennial source of water - from a rock!

Finally, we started our way back to bangalore. Rain had picked up here too. Both the path we came for the temple and the one we took to Bangalore is surrounded by thick forest. Wild animals are supposed to be living there, but we did not cross any. After a while, I slept due to sheer exhaustion and when I woke up, we were on the Tumkur road jammed with traffic. It would be around 9pm when I reached home. Took a hot bath and slept peacefully.

What a day it was. Climbing more than a km tall hill, and two bonus visits to beautiful places among the hills with rain in the air.. oh inexplicable pleasure indeed. Antaragange was fun with friends, this was personal satisfaction. I am far-off from becoming a good-trekker, what with my legs giving way to fear. But it is one step forward in right direction. Both in the Antaragange trip and Madhugiri one, I had trouble while descending. And both times, it rained while coming back :D. All in all, another day added to unforgettable ones :)

PS: Some of the photos from Madhugiri posted here courtesy Rajendran :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Five words

A humble request, am just trying something different, it is meant for fun. Hope I succeed :)

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Meet our hero of the story. As always, heroes are different, in this case, very different. Hold on till I try to create some suspense. Curious and intrigued to explore, he now was standing a few meters from a wall. A wall he wished to reach but always held back by the command of his chief, the villain in our story. Today was the ideal opportunity for our hero to satisfy his thirst. It could spell disaster for him. But heroes are meant to risk danger. He looked yearningly at the five-foot compound wall on north side of the house. He scurried like a squirrel through the lawn which was oddly sloped upwards. His heart was pounding as he looked around to see if any one was watching him. (No no, he isn't trying to escape) Assured of no activity, he shaped up to jump instead of climbing (stunt for hero, hehe). He managed to cling on to the top of the wall. And lo! The sight before him was too good to believe that he forgot his footing and fell flat back on the lawn. (To make the story move forward, our hero had to fall.. poor him)

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"He has been showing his churlish side lately" chief said to the only other soul in the room.
"He is behaving like a nerd" his wife opined.
The chief thundered "How many times I have stressed the importance of not letting anyone near the curtilage" (oh, I used 'thundered'.. for effect)
"We should not procrastinate the verdict. He should be given a stern punishment immediately without a chance for disputation" (ooh, harsh words indeed from a female.. will our hero escape?)
Before the chief could announce the verdict, the doctor arrived to announce that the prisoner had regained consciousness. (aa ha, here comes a twist)

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The squirrels had all assembled near the fallen brave. (Yeah, you have read it right - squirrels.. I did mention that our hero 'scurried like a squirrel')
Our hero was delirious. (He had seen a guava tree. And it was not visible from within the curtilage due to the upward slope)

The villain, oops, the chief arrived fumingly. Our hero cannot fight, so he ran to the wall and this time jumped beyond the wall!
"Oh no, he will be drowned" exclaimed the chief and revealed to the assembled for the first time that beyond the curtilage was water all around.
His wife's heart melted for our hero and asked the chief to do something.
"It's over, we cannot help him" said the chief almost in remorse but nevertheless 'climbed' the wall.
He couldn't believe what he saw. Ok no more drama.
Our hero was swimming merrily towards the guava tree surrounded by water.
A small flashback now.
The chief had fallen in this pool when he was young and just managed to climb back without knowing that he could swim too.
That was very short perhaps.
To end our story happily, the chief and other squirrels joined our hero and had a good time eating the guavas.

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PS: Wondering why the odd title? Notice the five words I have italicized in the second part of the story. New words that I learnt this week and thought of sharing it in the form of a story.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Red Herring

Rahul was anxiously drumming on the dinner table of some hotel. His irritated friends asked him to stop the umpteenth time. Rahul looked at the black screen of his cell phone. No SMS or call yet from her. Whatever is taking so long. He did not try to call her as it may show his impatience. They had known each other only the past week. It was as if they were born for each other and both had fallen in love at first sight. Just like the movies. He had never imagined it would happen to him.
And then she arrived. She had an innocent, apologetic look. Before Rahul could say anything, she embraced him in a tight hug. The wait was worth it after all. She gave him a chocolate and said she couldn't come sooner.
Rahul was about to introduce his friends when he felt like falling. Soon the back ached and his eyes opened. He was on the floor. It was a dream and Rahul felt like kicking himself for having fallen down. The hug was still vivid and he couldn't stop himself from calling Sheetal at the wee hour of 2am. He was thinking of twisting the hug part.

He was surprised to hear her clear voice 'Hi sweetie'. What was she doing at this hour?
"Hi She, you know I had a dream just now"
"About me? Tell me all about it" she too had something to say but as always wanted to know his first.
And so, Rahul explained it but changed the hug part to kiss.
"I kissed you? Hmmm... aren't you lying? was it not a hug?"
Rahul couldn't believe his ears. How did she know? Is this a dream again? He pinched himself and he blurted out Ouch
"What happened?" Sheetal asked anxiously.
"Oh nothing She, I wondered if I was dreaming again. How did you know it was a hug?"
Oh it was hug only. "I also know that you are sitting on the floor right now" she said not believing herself.
"Sheeeeeeeeee, you are amazing!" He looked around to see if somehow she was there.
"Huh? did you fall too?"
"What do you mean you too? Don't play with me She, the hug is still floating around my eyes and don't spoil my mood"
"You won't believe it sweetie. I had the same dream and am on the floor. I was about to call when you did" and she applied moov happily cherishing the kiss Rahul gave in her version of the dream.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Story


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I published this story as part of 'Katha Sagar' contest. 71 stories were published and I am happy that my entry could get a place.

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The cell-phone was ringing and showed his favorite picture.

"Hello"
"Is this Mr. Rakesh speaking?". An old-aged woman asked despite recognizing his voice.
"Sister!. What a surprise. How have you been? Put on more weight?"
"You naughty. Ok listen. We are going to have a fund raise next weekend. You can come?"
"You know I cannot refuse"
"Thats my boy" she said with a smile that Rakesh could sense. "Should I send someone to pick you?"
"How can I forget the way?" Rakesh's eyes fell on a toy kept on his TV.
"Its been many years my boy" she said with a sad tone.
"Sister, remember yours words when we last departed?"
"I know I know. But I have been longing since to see my boy again"
"Oh come on Fat lady, I will be there in a week. We'll have our usual sessions. Give a smile now"
"Naughty boy" and she smiled.

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Rakesh was excited. It was very hot here in Bangalore and wondered how would it be in Pollachi. Fan at full speed and windows open, yet it was hot. He was lying on bed but unable to sleep thinking about his childhood days. The moonlight was enough to see fan rotating seemingly without gap between its four blades. Ha! four blades is outta fashion.
He had read in a book that keeping mind blank helped to get sleep. So he now imagined himself surrounded by endless space. Slowly the eye-lids drooped. The four-blade fan started making odd noise as if a blade had become loose and about to fall. His eyes opened, saw the rotating fan. His ears heard the sound and his eyes started to bulge. Breathing became heavy. Unbearable pain shot through his nervous system and a crashing image floated around his eyes. He passed out and then there was peace. Heaven like.

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"I passed out for the first time"
"You sure?"
"Guess so". Rakesh was fiddling with an aircraft toy in his hands.
"Anything else different?"
"Same as usual. I wasn't able to sleep"
"You were remembering you early days?"
"Yes"
"Perhaps you should consult a Psychiatrist"
"You are one"
"Was. I am happy creating unusual problems for fictional characters of my books"
"My fat lady is my best remedy. I am going there this weekend"

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Bus to Coimbatore was at 9pm. But Rakesh started two hours prior to avoid traffic. The bus conductor gave him a daily pass (worth Rs. 32) instead of Rs.10 ticket. A fellow passenger explained matter-of-factly that it is a used daily pass. He went on to explain that conductors sometimes do not issue ticket for a lower fare from the passenger. Rakesh found it interesting and asked if it wasn't unethical.
"Both passengers and the conductor gain from it. Government anyways doesn't spend all for the public." replied the passenger.
After an hour of travel for about 12km distance, Rakesh got down at Majestic. A laborer asked him if he had a pass. Rakesh very happily passed on the "used" pass.

It was very hot and he had tickets for KSRTC's Rajhamsa executive bus service. He wondered what was "executive" in the bus? 2+2 seats (in a row) cramped up the space and a pale bluish light gave an eerie look. Thankfully push-back provision was there. It was 8:30pm and Rakesh couldn't find am empty chair to sit as it seemed a small town was gathered in the Kempagowda bus stand.
But unlike the other private buses, KSRTC buses start bang on time. The conductor came to check if all passengers were in. He found the seat beside Rakesh empty. On questioning, Rakesh answered that his friend could not make it due to an urgent project creeping up. Mumbling that there are many passengers wanting to go, he left as it was time to leave. Rakesh smiled on his triumph.

After an hour of evading through the traffic, the bus hit the outskirts of the city. The full moon was shining brightly and a cool-breeze ruffled the leaves. Rakesh wasn't getting sleep. He wondered how people were supposed to sleep in sitting posture. And though he got a window seat, it was on the right side and not to his preferred left side. He cursed the railway department for not having enough trains on a busy route. A special train for weekends is needed. He consoled himself by realizing that it was an opportunity to enjoy a night ride. No curtains as well in the "executive" bus. He opened the window enough for good view. Some childhood habbits are hard to break. Like watching out of a window seat. Looking out for what lies beyond with an yearning feeling. Be it a lonely shop on the roadside of highway, or a cyclist (most always a villager) carrying on his work in his own unassuming way, or sometimes a car horribly out-of-shape reminding the horrors of accidents. He thought why anyone has to drive so fast? But then it is their choice and their perspective.

Around 1AM Mysore arrived. The Mysore Palace (Wodeyar's Palace, not Tipu Sultan's as is common misconception) was glittering brilliantly. The bus stopped for some time in Mysore. Rakesh was feeling weary. He looked at other passengers who were sound asleep. Perhaps they are accustomed to bus travel. Road work was in progress, but the state of the roads were extremely poor. Such a bumpy ride. Presently the bus began ascent on the mountain road. And Rakesh's mood immediately got better. Oh! How he wished he could go for a climb then and there.
The climb wasn't steep. But the descent was and the hair-pin-bends looked pretty dangerous. Looking down, a sea of lights adorned the valley.
At a hair-pin-bend, lorries were coming from the opposite side and the bus had to stop until they passed. Space was wide to take the turn, but narrows afterward leaving perhaps a metre or two from the edge. The queue was pretty long and it seemed it would take an eternity for them pass. Rakesh sat back and closed his eyes. The trucks seemed to form a big chain and fly and suddenly crash. Rakesh woke up with a start when the bus started its descent again. And now he didn't seem getting sleep.

Looking back at the mountains, Rakesh could see specks of light emanating from the moving vehicles. He looked around again to see if anyone seemed awake. The light inside the bus wasn't good enough to see, but if anyone moved, it would be visible. All seemed to be happily sleeping. Back to sight seeing for Rakesh. The bus was starting to turn right when Rakesh saw a blaze of fire. It seemed like a vehicle burning but it was spreading slowly. It was a large waste garbage dump. A small explosion (perhaps of a battery) triggered Rakesh's phobia. He did not pass out this time but pain was unbearable nonetheless. He was perspiring and the flashing images of a crash kept floating around his eyes. He was happy that the empty seat he booked was useful. The wind slowly dried his sweat and he slowly relaxed and feel asleep at last. Peacefully.

It was 5:30AM and Coimbatore was about 30min away. Rakesh seemed oblivious to the cold wind. Coimbatore arrived and someone tapped on his shoulders to wake him up. Rakesh dreamt that someone huge was lifting him up. He woke up all soaked up when shaken forcefully. He let a wry smile about the dream which surprisingly had come after a long time. Sister Philomena would be happy to hear it.

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He took a town-bus to Ukkadam from where buses to Pollachi start every five minutes or so. Luckily he got a government service bus ready to leave. Private bus would have had those ear deafening music.

Rakesh took to sight seeing again. It was more than 4 years since he had left the orphanage for under-graduate studies.The diverging roads near a lake, traffic at railway crossing and lots of trees gave him a nostalgic feeling. He was waiting for the giant structures to come. And not to forget the ship-shaped marine college. The childhood memories were coming thick and fast. The fights, the pranks, the beatings, the phobia attacks. Why had Sister restricted him to come these four and a half years? Ofcourse he knew the answer.

The giant structures came and inevitably the discussion came flooding back:

"I found it I found it." said an excited Rakesh.
"What you found" asked his fellow 5th standard student Muniyappa who was imagining himself as superstar Rajini.
"I found from where the wind comes!"
"Where?"
"See those huge fans over there"
"Oh ya.. I see..."
"Am gonna tell this to Sister"
"Waitttttttttttttttttttttttt.. Why are some of them rotating slowly and others are stopped?"
"They are taking rest.. You know they rotate faster in night and take rest in day. Few are strong enough to rotate in day time also"
"But why are they...."
Before he could finish the question, Rakesh went upto Sister excitedly to tell his discovery. Sister was dumbfounded on hearing it. She did not know how to explain it to him. She patted on his back and said she will buy him a chocolate in the picnic.

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12 years later, now, Rakesh found it amusing. He wondered why a windmill did not trigger the phobia attack but a ceiling fan did. May be that 'discovery' had something to do with it. He started feeling weary now and slumbered for a while. The sight of dense coconut trees meant Pollachi was about to come. Finally around 7:30am, he touched down on his favourite place in the world. He went to the auto stand and asked for Saranalayam. A young lady who was standing there recognized him. She asked Rakesh to come along with her.
"What's your name and do you work there?"
She stammered "Sangeetha. I teach there."
He asked why she chose to teach at this young age. She said she believed in service, and no better than to be in an orphanage.
She was feeling at ease now and asked him whether it was true what was said about his phobia?
"I suppose you already know all about me."
She nodded and asked how he coped with it.
He answered, "You should know it. Our Sister keeps telling us to be not apprehensive about the future and live in the present. Compare the short time I feel pain to an hour. Or a day. It is very less. It just is difficult during the attack, but there is no physical pain afterward"

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"What a surprise my boy! I thought you are coming tomorrow"
"Oh come on Fat Lady. You told me to come this weekend"
"Saturday is working day for you. isn't it?" quipped Sister Philomena.
"Ya, but you said weekend. So I took leave. I called yesterday night to inform you, but your mobile was switched off?
"I was with God the whole night praying for you my boy"
And on and on they kept talking. Sangeetha, despite herself, was envious.

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It was evening time and all the kids were assembled around Sister, Rakesh and Sangeetha. One of them asked Rakesh about the giant fans. Rakesh couldn't help smiling, but wondered how that came about to the kid's knowledge? Another asked if it was true that Sister came in his dreams often as a giant lifting him up.
Sister was smiling sheepishly. Rakesh took the opportunity to start their usual session. He wanted Sister to start telling a story and promised to tell about his journey last night. The aircraft toy was in his hands. Sister saw it and understood.

She began:
"There was this plane carrying Rakesh & his family that crashed near a mountain...."

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