Trekking is called hiking in American English.
This site has nothing to do with Star Trek, apart from the fact that it also talks of journeys that become pilgrimages.




Solo.22.Male.
Calicut|Delhi


Traveller, in both body and mind.
   
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IIM K Photoblog

Blank Noise Project

Worth your time:
(Descriptions further down. Order means nothing.)

The Sea Inside -> A Scanner Clearly
Lost Highway
neverendingroad
Mode C
Whirlwings
The Raven's Desk
The Purple Haze
Purple Cow
The Quintessential Q
Bright Sunny Days
Apurv Pandit
Sneha Nagesh
Cogitated Thoughts
Aadisht Khanna
The Pink Files
The Catcher
Bhavya
Me and My Solitude
Looking for LiFe
Blokes A Blogin
My Crazy World
Dream Chase
Not an Essay
Arnab's World
_________
Quint's e-Books
Himalayan Home
Stephen Knapp
Pagal Guy

(These descriptions are only indicative snapshots of the past, may not be applicable now.)

The Sea Inside -> A Scanner Clearly
Arnav ne� Amon. The Highway loses itself into the Sea. (Sea Inside has been deleted, the next one is at A Scanner Clearly.)

Lost Highway
Amon. Whimsical wanderer, chief film critic, walking movie encyclopedia. This blog is now concluded.

neverendingroad
Sumit. Senior of mine here in K. Famed for his bike trips. Go straight to the Sep 23 entry and you'll know.

Mode C
Nitai. Another senior of mine in K. Very good at writing and other creative jazz. Movie freak. Good place to get the dope on whatever's going on in K.

Whirlwings
Refreshingly frank on general life, esp that of a career woman. Healthy, non-fanatic spirituality at times.

The Raven's Desk
TheBoFi. Even longer posts than mine, and much more thought-provoking. Admittedly schizophrenic. Perceptive and sensitive view of life.

The Purple Haze
ZuluBoy. Evocative stories, deep Hindu philosophy; the mini-Tao of Physics.

Purple Cow
Keerthi. Assorted rambles on campus life, and a way with words. Salinger zealot.

the Quintessential Q
QuintEssence. Rock fanatic, poetry lover, SF freak. Well-expressed thoughts, and photo-laced accounts of life at FMS, Delhi.

Bright Sunny Days
Anil. K classmate. Can give Keynes & Friedman a run for their money when he's deconstructing Economics from a 'layman's perspective'.

Apurv Pandit
Travels, journalism, occasionally beautiful photos.

Sneha Nagesh
Under The Spreading Chestnut Tree. The lengthy thoughts continue to cogitate (See below), stronger than ever.

Cogitated Thoughts
Sneha. Reading, guitar. Feelings captured adroitly in long sentences that make me feel inadequate. Blog continues in Spatial Chronicles, above.

Aadisht Khanna,
The life and times of. One of the Eldar bloggers on the circuit. With anecdotes, arguments, humor, and more, his is the quintessential blog.

The Pink Files
The Observer. Much Kafkavian allegory, threads of thought, and an explosion of pink.

The Catcher
Learned discussion of everything creative; occasional humor.

Bhavya
Stories, satire, school to university. And of course, food. Nice writing.

Me and My Solitude
Prateek. Good Hindi poetry; bittersweet account of life at MDI, Gurgaon.

Looking for LiFe
Piya. Young engineer grappling with pressures of a new job, yet trying to maintain the creative streak, while searching for the meaning of happiness.

Blokes A Blogin
Very wide knowledge of Tamizh ('zh' pronounced as retroflex 'l') culture and art. Account of life both American and Indian. Often discusses spirituality and education.

My Crazy World
Ranjitha. Practical jokes in an ad agency. Rather obscure poetry at times. Not for the faint of cerebrum.

Dream Chase
Rashmi. Poetry, 'anatomical' analysis of art, the (successful) struggle for a desired job.

Not an Essay
Scott. Thinks much like I used to in late teenage, and still do, to some extent. Critique of school life, and many thoughts on the lack of intensity in our lives.

Arnab's World
Arnab. Programming guru; one of the guys who made blogsnob.

_________
Quint's e-Books
Just what it says. Large collection, though with the proliferation of broadband, most of you might have most of them.

Himalayan Home
Karamjeet Singh. Encyclopedic info on the Himalaya. An itinerant life which is the stuff of dreams.

Stephen Knapp
Indophile traveller. Great photos and perceptive analysis of India from a foreigner's viewpoint.

Pagal Guy
MBA discussion forums. Much more than that for hundreds of addicts. Meeting place of many intelligent people. My nickname is Gwaihir.

Animalia:Chordata:Vertebrata:
Mammalia (Eutheria):
Primata (Arthropoidea):
Hominidae:Homo:
Sapiens -> Vishal Bondwal.
Leo, ascendant Sagittarius.




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Thursday, January 12, 2006
Azaan

View from my room balcony on Eid dusk

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This conveys little of the experience though, since you can't listen to the sound of birds as they return home, and the distant call of azaan by the muezzin in a mosque downhill. This azaan has become an indicator of my schedule here, since he also calls at around 5:10 am (Should be about to call now). Whenever I stay up till late due to some work/entertainment, the azaan reminds me that dawn is about to come. Around 20 minutes after the muezzin's call to the faithful is over, Venkatesha Suprabhatam starts in a temple downhill, which must be somewhere near the mosque. I've never seen that mosque, nor the temple, hidden as they are behind thick canopies of trees, but their residents connect to me in a very direct way. They make me keep track of time, and lull away my will to stay awake further, as I crash to a (generally short) sleep. When I don't heed their call and pull an all-nighter, I'm generally rewarded with breathtaking mist-wisped sunrises and a magnificent views of distant hills that are lost in the vapor haze later in the day. It's a mixed blessing. Of course, you can say that if I sleep early, I'll be able to have a full night's sleep, and watch the sunrise. But you say so since you haven't attended midnight birthday parties, 2 am owl-rescues (May come in a later post), your neighbor playing full-volume bhangra at 3 am, philosophical discussions on the practical utility of creativity at 4 am, or parties till 5 am. Sleeping early (After your ears have become immune to loud music) has its benefits, but what you lose you may not get later.

Almost half the campus is away to Bangalore, for the IIMK-IIMB sports meet, there being only two people on my floor. Most classes have been rescheduled due to the meet, so many people are having an easy time here. Those who have not committed to any Backwaters-related, or other extracurric work have gone off to Mahe, Periyar, Wayanad and elsewhere. That's one of the best things I like about this campus. It allows me practicable access to a lot of places that I wouldn't have thought of going to had I stayed in the north. People from the campus have been to Munnar, Periyar, Wayanad, Kovalam, Goa, Mahe, Pondicherry, Kochi, Alleppey (Backwaters), Kanyakumari, Lakshadweep, Ooty, Kodaikanal, Coorg and a remarkable number and variety of places. I've been to a few of them too, but lots of places to see still. Let's see where wanderlust leads us.


The guy in the next room to me (Not the bhangra-player, he's on the other side) is married, and usually stays downhill in a rented home (His wife has taken a job). She's a PhD in literature. My neighbor mentioned that liberal arts graduates in general, and his wife in particular, have an  acute ability to gauge people and their backgrounds from very limited interactions. I ho-hummed this view of his, till one day he suddenly asked me, "Does your father work for some govt agency?" I said yes. He said "Oh, f***." Turns out his wife had told him that. She also correctly identified the backgrounds of some other people on campus. Till that point of time, she had spent less than 2 hours talking to me, spread over several weeks, and even less time with the other people. I later asked her to explain how she did it, but she couldn't. She said it's an innate ability, "You just know." Till that point, I'd thought liberal arts people would be more skilled than your average engineer in literature or history or some such domain, but nothing more. Now, it seems, that atleast in those who are serious about their chosen field, a sensitivity develops towards fine stimuli that is inaccessible to more analytically-minded persons. [the Azaan has begun, I take a break to follow its lyrics. Clock says 5:27. He seems to be late today, or maybe is some lunar funda.] But I know plenty of people who enjoy maths problems as much as they do Tolkien. Still, I haven't met any who had the almost clairvoyant-like ability of this lady. Makes you think about what the purpose of education is, to understand machines or people?

Azaan lyrics  here . Next time you hear one, follow it more closely. Also read the part after the lyrics, on how almost at every moment, azaan is being called on some longitude of the globe.

The temple seems to have dispensed with Suprabhatam tonight, err.. morning, is playing some bhajan. Maybe will play that later. I take your leave now, to crash to sleep. 

Posted at 05:06 am by Solo
4 Fellow Travellers  

Thursday, January 05, 2006
Metro

A (too short) term break is over. Over the past 17 days, I've travelled across 17 degrees of latitude, about the same degrees of temperature, and back again. I've started to love the romance of long train journeys, as opposed to the rushed, storyless experience of local air travel. On rails, you get to meet so many interesting people, see so many shades of India, and get the chance for unbridled sleep and novel reading, both of which have become rare commodities lately.

You also get to discover varied facets of your fellow travellers, which you hadn't noticed while studying with them. A floormate of mine proved to be a mine of info about Hindi novels and poetry, and I had an amazing time as he recounted stanzas from poems that I used to love as a schoolboy, but had forgotten, lost in the dreary sand of our creativity-stifling education system. Line upon evocative line came rushing out of a dim past as the train trundled on through the mustard fields of UP. Subhadra Kumari Chauhan (चमक उठी सन सत्तावन में, वह तलवार पुरानी थी/बुंदेले हरबोलों के मुँह हमने सुनी कहानी थी/खूब लड़ी मर्दानी वह तो झाँसी वाली रानी थी।), Makhanlal Chaturvedi, Gopaldas 'Neeraj' (उम्र के चढ़ाव का उतार देखते रहे/कारवाँ गुज़र गया, गुबार देखते रहे।), Dinkar, Niraala, Bachchan, so many giants talked to us through sentences written long ago. As so often, I again realized how it's only much later that we appreciate what we studied as kids, since they were burdensome 'subjects' at that time, not founts of knowledge. Earlier in the journey Super Commando Dhruv, Nagraj, Manoj Comics' BhootPretJaaduTona comics were the subject of animated discussion, as we passed through the Konkan coast. Some Cochin Univ students in our compartment looked on with amused expressions, probably thinking the workload had made us go crazy. Apart from the classmates of IIMK, there were other Sputniks, some till the next halt, some for the long haul. There were armymen, students and policemen, there were drunks, beggars and peddlers, there were revellers who pulled the chain to disembark and attend a village festival, and the curious mix of humanity that is unique to Indian Railways. After cultivating a certain detached outlook, it's a very entertaining and informative experience to see how people all over the country live and behave.

 But I spend too much time on rails. Let's derail to terra firma; cut to the home, the same content in a new context (Hope I don't sound like an MBA.) Every spring we're generally saddled with a kitten who's so unbearably cute that it seems heartless to ignore it. As it grows to cathood, aided by generous doses of rotis and milk, it starts to develop martial tendencies, and around December, we find its predatory instincts developed enough to stalk unsuspecting sparrows near the birds' water bowl that is placed in our small garden. One winter morning will find the telltale signs of strewn feathers and paws, and then the cat is exiled. My otherwise accommodating family members become stone-hearted as every precaution is taken to keep the cat out of the house's perimeter. "The poor bird" is eulogized, and the thankless nature of cats commented upon. Of course, by that time the cat is old enough to fend for itself, so it's only fitting that it overcome its dependence on us. This story has been repeating for the last three years, almost like a rite of passage, primarily for the cat, and also for the observer in me who notices how things never change fundamentally.

 After the perpetual summer of Kerala, lazing in the Sun of northern winter made me realize how much we take things for granted. Sleeping in _razaais_ with no deadline to wake up to, eating home-cooked food; yet there was the feeling of time slipping through my fingers, like a fistful of sand. There were so many people to meet, so much to do, before the holidays ended. There was the street dog, scratching whose back (for sometimes half-an-hour at a time) gives me (and hopefully him) a feeling of unhurried peace that seems to belong to another age.

A batchmate from IIMK got married in Delhi, which was a reminder of how I'm growing older. Though most of the people on campus have work-experience, so I'm among the youngest here, but time still flies for all of us. This guy met his wife-to-be (A nuclear chemist) on a train journey from Bombay to Delhi. One night of conversation was enough to get them close. There are lots of such interesting relationships on campus, an indicator of the broad-mindedness of people here (And their other halves'). The marriage was enlivened even more by the surprise appearance of two of the exchange students we had on campus. The term at IIMK of these French girls had ended, and they were in Delhi for a coupla days, which serendipitously coincided with the wedding day, before they would go on a whirlwind tour of Rajasthan and other areas of north India, before returning to Paris. They were goggle-eyed at all the pomp that accompanies Indian marriages (Though this was a relatively sober affair), and were happy to have had another 'exotic' experience of Inde.

I got the chance to travel on the Delhi Metro, whose unexpected efficiency reminded me of Australia, and made me feel as if I truly was in a capital city. The metro led to DU, and a nostalgic walk through times past. Then I went to Chandni Chowk and Nai Sarak, hunting for a Hindi novel that had been recommended by the poetic friend mentioned above. The hubbub of Chandni Chowk completed the Delhi experience, almost making me feel I was in (undergrad) college again. Having seen the clean, ordered beauty of Australia, I now appreciate contrast, seeing how beauty can also thrive in chaos, if only one goes with the flow. I remember reading in some travel guide some years ago, "India is an assault on the senses." That is quite apt, but one can learn to parry the assault and turn it in an embrace. All it needs is some habituation, and much sensitivity. There was Ram Dulare, operating a _pyau_ at the entrance to Nai Sarak, offering water to thirsty travellers, as he has been doing for the last 32 years, without asking for money. I remember drinking my fill even 3 years earlier, when I used to go there with friends to buy college books.

The particular book that I was searching for this time is called Mrityunjaya. It's an account of the Mahabharata, from the viewpoint of Karna. The original was written in Marathi by Shivaji Savant in 1974. I got the Hindi translation, published by Bharatiya Jnanpith. This novel has won many literary prizes and much critical acclaim, having been translated widely. Most versions of the Mahabharata are generally biased in favor of one character or another. Even here, there's an anti-Pandav bias. But it's largely tempered by Savant's style of writing, which is in the form of several narratives, by Karna himself, Kunti, and Krishna. The language is very powerful, with liberal use of effective metaphors. For anyone who is comfortable reading Hindi, and likes epic stories, or monomyths, the novel is highly recommended; or otherwise you can get its various translations.

A new term begins, and the sleep is already getting shorter. IIMK would have its annual fest, Backwaters, on 21-22 Jan. The link to the website is at left. This year's theme is aggression. The snafu is that the fest name, which brings to mind idyllic surroundings, doesn't agree too well with the theme. But much effort is being put into it, and it should be quite an experience.
If you would like to explore Hindi poetry, try Kaavyaalaya.

Captions, if any, precede photos:

A stairway at my grandparents' home in Delhi. That's a (very dirty) skylight at the top.

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Chandni Chowk, with the Red Fort in foggy distance.

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The Lahori Gate of the Red Fort, up closer.

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Probably the best place in Delhi to get Hindi classics and spiritual literature.

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The metro station at Delhi University.

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The old building of the Arts Faculty at DU, with a statue of Swami Vivekananda in the foreground. Those who did my degree at DU (BIT/BIS) should immediately recognize this place of congregation and much else.

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No, not the side door of some old temple or forgotten palace. Is one of the many unused doors in the old building of Arts Faculty at DU. If I'm not mistaken, this was built sometime in the early 30s. The new building of Arts Fac is spanking hi-tech though.

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This is from my last trip to Delhi, in the break after the first term. Was taken on the return flight from Delhi to Bangalore (From where Calicut is an overnight bus ride.) Though beautiful, after a few trips, there's nothing new to see from the plane, and things are too rushed. This was to accompany a blog entry that was written in the mind but not on the keyboard, like so many others since I've come here.

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This is from that same break, while going to Delhi. Note the Sundog at bottom (Reflection of Sun off cloud)

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Same trip; went to Connaught Place in Delhi. I like the feeling of space, flanked by buildings.

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CP again. The pigeons were in a jubilant mood. The lamppost with the birds clung to it looks almost like a Shamanic device.

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A bit late, but a very Happy New Year to all of you.


Posted at 03:19 am by Solo
7 Fellow Travellers  

Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Diwali

Though this year's is long past, the alumni newsletter of our insti was just sent, and I wrote an article on Diwali in it. Is short (Was much longer earlier, but had to fit in the word limit), but the photos should make up for it:

The warm, golden light of diyas replaced, if only for a brief while, the harsh antiseptic tubelights that we have become all too familiar with. You could hear greetings in several languages and dialects, unfathomable, yet mellifluous. Corridors where mornings witness people rushing to class, saw people walking gingerly, to sidestep a beautiful Rangoli. The rate at which people hugged each other was reminiscent of summers or finals.

There was a feeling of peace in the air. After diyas were lit, and the campus gained a new beauty, Diwali puja was held in the mess. People who are usually seen utilizing swear-words as punctuation were seen reciting perfect bhajans. It was followed by a delectable dinner, and a night of crackers. People with redoubtable work-ex became kids again as they spent the night in a dazzling array of light and sound.

The occasion reminded people of home; some had bittersweet looks in their eyes as they remembered Diwalis past, the celebration, the siblings, the camaraderie. An experience that will be cherished by all who were a part of it, Diwali brought an unprecedented feeling of togetherness, despite the diversity of backgrounds. There was a person from almost every part of the country; almost every language of Schedule VIII was spoken. You realized the national character of our institute, the way its a reflection of Indias own culture. A melting pot within, and representative of, one much larger.

***

All these photos were taken on Diwali night. Captions, if any, precede photos.

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My room; tolerably clean at this juncture, and ably camouflaged by dim (But lovely) light:
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A neighboring hostel:
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The balcony of my room. Note the reflections on the horizontal rails.
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A solitary diya in my room, showering warmth that wasn't felt by the skin, but vividly by the mind:
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Diwali puja was held in the mess. A drastic change from late-night parties that the place is a more usual witness to. Delectable prasads replaced alcohol, and the satisfaction from them was longer lasting.
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A rangoli. Didn't use flash on purpose, wanted more character in the pic.
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Light is the most amazing thing in the world.
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Posted at 01:23 am by Solo
2 Fellow Travellers  

Thursday, October 13, 2005
Homelands II [Photo Entry]

Continuation of last post. Every single one of these photos has been taken on the IIM Kozhikode campus, apart from two of the freshers' party, which were taken at the Taj Residency in Calicut. Captions, where they are given, precede photos.

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The day cleared after a monsoon rain. A friend took this from his hostel room.
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Clouds often flow across the campus, bringing fogs of varied density. This was one such light fog. The road connects the campus, located at the hilltop, with the main gate at the bottom.
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Raindrops keep falling almost on my head. The aspect ratio's incorrect, must've been an oversight when I was resampling photos. The height should be 9/8 times of what it is, in case you want to save & correct itImage hosted by Photobucket.com

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This was actually taken from a loo window in my hostel. I feel fortunate at times like this
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Celebrating independence day
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From the freshers' party. The exposure time was reduced
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Again the party. Sustained exposure
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Back to the campus. From my room's balcony, zoomed in
Again the aspect ratio is mismatched. Increase height to 112.5 % (9/8) of what it is
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One of the many felines that inhabit the campus
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Posted at 04:48 am by Solo
5 Fellow Travellers  

Homelands [Photo Entry]

All sorts of photos. All have been mercilessly reduced in size & quality to make them less of a headache to upload. If you really like any, mail me ('Contact Me' at left) for the full pic.

The photos are spread across this post and the next, and there might be still more if I can find the time (Fat chance though of that over the next few days). Some photos have descriptive filenames; I could've given them to all, but time's short. Captions, if any, precede photos.


From my trip home during the term break.

A little squirrel peering through the leaves of a papaya and a guava tree.
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Long exposure.
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The windows at a temple near my home in Faridabad
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From the original train trip in June from Delhi to Kerala, onboard Mangala Express (Some pictures also in an earlier post). Due to being taken from a moving train, some will be blurry.

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After a while, started the famed Konkan railway

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One of my favorites. The JPEG compression has reduced the quality a lot, but still nice. If you zoom in a bit on only the lower left part, so the crow is near the top of the image, it looks really evocative.
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Then started Kerala itself, sodden with monsoon
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And then came the destination.
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Not the final destination of course, lots of journeys still.

Posted at 04:28 am by Solo
Walk along & talk awhile  

Tuesday, August 16, 2005
Journeys [Photo entry]

As there's hardly ever enough time to sit down for the exclusive purpose of writing a good blog entry, I decided on a sort of compromise for now. Am posting some photos of the places I've been to recently. I'm afraid that for now, I can't tell the stories of any of these journeys in full. That may come later, depending on availability of time/inclination.

The following is from the train that brought me here. Is Mangala Express (Hazrat Nizamuddin in Delhi to Ernakulam in Kerala). Passes through the famed Konkan coast. This photo was taken when the monsoon was washing over Kerala.


From a trip to Kappad beach in Calicut district a fortnight ago:


The next 2 are  from a short trek I went on today. Chembra is the highest peak in Wayanad district, a region of incredible forests (Even by Kerala standards) and spice plantations. This trek was very satisfying, but tiring, as it's been a while since my last proper trek. Part of the reason why I'm not detailing the trek any further for now.
Chembra

Wayanad

And of course, Happy Independence Day. My celebration was the trek, the first since I've come to Kerala. This was only a few hours long, but after we reached some height, was surprisingly reminiscent of the Himalaya, as is evident from the treeless grassy slopes in the photos, and the cloudy background. As for the gray patch near the left of the photo, that's something my camera has got inside its lens assembly. I can repair the photo, but want to go to sleep ASAP. If not more blog entries, I'll atleast try to post more photos.

Posted at 02:32 am by Solo
3 Fellow Travellers  

Monday, July 25, 2005
Cali 1

One of the reasons why I came here despite FMS, MDI, IIM Indore (Converted waitlist) etc:



The laptop's delayed by 2 weeks; then I'll be more regular. Thanks for your patience.

Arnav's restarted again, his new link's been added. Another revival from hibernation in the offing.

Just in case you're a chance visitor to this blog, the photo above is not of the Himalaya, but of the Western Ghats, on the southwest coast of India. This is taken from a place called IIM Kozhikode, which probably has the most beautiful educational campus in India; in Kerala state. This photo doesn't do justice to the greenery here, will post those when I restart.

Posted at 04:01 am by Solo
11 Fellow Travellers  

Thursday, June 16, 2005
Journeys

Hi everyone! This is more an explanation than a blog entry. I'd gone to Australia for a cousin's wedding. Now I'm going to IIM Kozhikode and should be there in a week's time (Kozhikode is the same as Calicut; la Mumbai and Bombay). A little bit about Oz. Almost the whole of May was spent there. It was a beautiful experience. For the first time, I had a real yardstick with which to compare India. Reading about it in books or watching movies is OK, but getting a first-hand feel of a foreign land gives you a very vivid point of reference. I can talk about it for days together, but time's running short. Right now I'm furiously burning DVDs and am being amazed by the amount of data I've managed to collect as the years went by. I'm also cleaning out my room, and am periodically being faced with (good) ghosts from the past, who remind me of a blessed childhood. Old _Target_ magazines, which I hope to digitize if I can find the time. I've come across the obligatory melted rubber-bands, Reynolds 045 shells, old _Rakhis_, dust-clouds worthy of the Sahara, Tinkle & Nandan issues (Yes, I loved Hindi kids' stories too). The dead and the living past. I can't say when the next blog post would be, and whether it'll be a looong post like some of the earlier ones. Right now there's little time, but this blog's alive for sure. I didn't really plan to write a post tonight, for the DVD-Writer awaits. But I came on this blog after a really long time, found those messages on the tagboard, and felt a wave of affection. I wouldn't have believed it was possible to feel connected to someone only by reading small bits of their writing off and on. But it is. Special greetings to the IIMK guys, to Aekta, Quint, Ranj, Keerthi, Zulu, Prateek, and everyone who cares enough to keep coming to this blog looking for a new post. A heartfelt goodbye to Aekta/Whirlwings and Amon. Those were the first two blogs that I started reading regularly, and played a big role in my deciding to start this one. And just clicking the links on a whim, what do I find? Aekta is back! So a goodbye and welcome in the same para, and in the wrong order. The virtual world is an interesting place. The links to both of them stay, and atleast one is alive, and the other has an illustrious enough past, and enough emotional attachment to retain the top slot. I can, and probably will, write a few posts on Oz alone, but don't know when. It was autumn there turning to winter, and the trees aflame with shades of orange and yellow were like the icing on a delectable cake. I took a bucketload of photos, may update them at some time, but don't know when. On this ambiguous note, I take your leave.

Posted at 01:37 am by Solo
4 Fellow Travellers  

Saturday, April 09, 2005
Samvat 2062

Today is the first day of the Hindu New Year. This is the month of Chaitra, and the waxing phase of the moon begins, heralding a new Samvat, year 2062 of the Vikrami calendar. In Sanskrit, this date is called Chaitra Shukla Pratipada.

Today is also the beginning of Navratri, the nine days of worshipping Shakti, the female creative force.

According to legend, among other things, on this day Lord Rama was coronated as the King of Ayodhya; Vikramaditya* was coronated as the Emperor of India; and King Yudhisthira became the just ruler after the war of Mahabharata.

May the day bring a new creative energy in all you do henceforth.

[*The most famous king given the title of Vikramaditya was Chandragupta II, c. 400 AD, of the Gupta dynasty. But many claim that the Vikrami calendar starts from the day of Vikramaditya's coronation. As far as I know, this is not borne by historical facts, since there was no famous king named thus in 57 BC, from when the calendar starts. There was also a famous Chalukya king named Vikramaditya, but he was in the 11th century, so can't be the one from whose time the calendar begins.]

Posted at 08:12 pm by Solo
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Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Interlude III + Jest II

Ok, many posts are due, including, but not limited to, a trek tale, the second part of Haryana, and atleast one interview story. They're already written, more or less, in my mind, but articulating them needs effort that I'm not ready to expend as of now. Many novels await, you see. So I'll write a normal blog entry that'll hopefully interest & entertain you.

I went to a cousin's home a few days ago. Now my cousin's father, who is a vet, is very fond of gardening. Outdoors, indoors, on the roof, wherever you go in their home, you have to weave your way among potted plants. More on this later.
In the night, I watched the DVD of a movie titled "Everest". This was originally made as an IMax movie, but 7-storey screens being unavailable, I had to see it on a 29" TV. And very good movie it is too. It is the story of an expedition on Everest in the summer of 1996. The highlight of this summit attempt was its primary purpose, filming the whole climb with an IMax camera. IMax cameras have a resolution over 10 times that of standard 35 mm film, thus they can be projected on huge screens without loss of quality. IMax theatres are being developed in some southern metros in India, but I'm not aware of any such project in the Delhi region. The standard IMax camera weighs 100 pounds (45 kilos), and so could not be taken atop the mountain. The IMax engineers made a special camera weighing 42 lbs (19 kilos) for the purpose of this expedition. Another important feature of this trip was the diversity of the group that made the attempt. There were women from Spain, Japan, and the US. Plus there were highly-experienced climbers from many other nations. The Spanish woman, Aracelli Segarra, became the first Spanish woman to climb Everest. The most important participant, for the purpose of this discussion, was Jamling Tenzing Norgay, who's the son of the original Norgay. The 1996 season was special in many ways for Everest climbers. There was one stormy period when 8 people died or went missing in a single day. This was primarily due to highly-irresponsible advice given by their "tour guides". Climbing on Everest has become almost a business, with many experienced climbers opening some sort of travel agency, which takes rich people on a summit attempt, for a hefty fee. In this season, there were tragedies, some of them well-deserved, and daring rescue attempts. I won't talk more about it, watch the movie for that, or better still. Jamling Norgay wrote a book about this trip. It's part-travelogue, and part-autobiography. He also tells a lot about his father, and the bittersweet relationship he had with Tenzing. For those interested in adventure tales, and those who want a heady dose of Buddhist philosophy, this is a very good book. When I started to watch the DVD, I wasn't sure if it was the same movie whose book I'd read, but it turned out to be that one, so it was a deeply-enriching experience. The book is titled "Touching My Father's Soul", it's published by Ebury Books, which is an imprint of Random House. The author, as already told, is Jamling Tenzing Norgay. More reviews of both the book and the movie should easily be available online.

Some quotes from the movie (Not verbatim):
"This talk of defeating the elements, of conquering the mountain is all nonsense. You look for a short window of suitable weather, sneak on the top, and respectfully sneak out." - Ed Viesturs, expedition leader. He's considered one of the best American mountaineers of this generation.

"Getting to the summit is optional. Getting down is mandatory." - David Breashears, the movie's director and expert mountaineer.

Everyone else had gone to sleep and I was alone while watching it, so I could sprawl across a royally-padded sofa, with my feet on a rocking chair. To add to the spoilt-prince effect, there were some potted plants around me too. Then I went to sleep, with a money plant at each foot, and a Christmas tree (Fir) by my head. I must add that this was one of the more refreshing sleeps I've had in recent memory. It may be because of the plants, or probably because I'd gone to sleep in a happy mood. In the morning, at the wash-basin where I brushed my teeth, one has to poke her/his hand through leaves to reach the bar of soap. To complete the junglee picture, there's an aquarium too.

There were anxious moments in the morning, when my relatives had left. With my doc uncle going to some seminar, I had to receive a few phone calls like an impromptu secretary. One worried lady told me her dog had probably eaten a Kachhua Chhaap ('Tortoise brand', mosquito-repellant coil), was not eating anything further, and would I please tell her what could she do to make the furry guy vomit? I, sadly, expressed my inability to help her, advising her instead to talk to another vet. Why the heck did the dog have to eat a mosquito-coil? It's not even tasty (Presumably). As Bertie Wooster would say, dogs are asses. Actually I too had a pet dog till some years ago, before he died of an ear-infection. Though in his antics, he was as asinine as the best of them. To rip off a Churchill quote that I've been using too much lately, dogs are a riddle wrapped in mystery inside an enigma. Atleast they're lovable, furry enigmas.

+-------+

Now for some entertainment. I copied this stuff from the current issue (March 14-27) of Business India magazine, which in turn copied it from the net. This is the 27th anniversary issue, and is a mine of trivia. This is probably the first ribald entry on my blog, but it's too darn funny to miss.

According to a joke on the net, various generic names considered for Viagra include Mycoxafloppin, Mycoxafailin, Mydixadrupin, Mydixarizin, Dixafix and Ibepokin. The real name of the active chemical is the by-now-famous Sildenafil Citrate.

Cadbury's first advertisement appeared in the Birmingham Gazette in 1824, saying, "John Cadbury is desirous of introducing to particular notice 'Cocoa Nibs', prepared by himself, an article affording the most nutritious beverage for breakfast."

A sampler of headlines from the tabloid press:

Headless Body in Topless Bar - New York Post, 1982

Algebra Problem Causes Student's Head to Explode - WWN 2004 (Weekly World News. Look at their site, it's FUNNY.)

Female Bigfoot Breast Fed My Baby - WWN 2003

Man Sues for Custody of Wife's Breast Implants in Bitter Divorce - WWN 2002

Staring at Melons Increases Your Breast Size, Reveals 5-Year Study - WWN 2002

Russian Space Dog Buried Bones On Mars - WWN 2004


And I close with the obligatory George W. Bush quotes:

"Too many good docs are getting out of the business. Too many obstetricians-gynaecologists aren't able to practise their love with women all across this country." - Poplar Bluff, 6 Sep 2004

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." - Washington DC, 5 Aug 2004

"Do you have blacks, too?" - To Brazilian President Fernando Cardoso, Washington DC, 8 Nov 2001

"For every fatal shooting, there were roughly three non-fatal shootings. And, folks, this is unacceptable in America. It's just unacceptable. And we're going to do something about it." - Philadelphia, 14 May 2001

"It is white." - After being asked by a child in Britain what the White House was like, 19 July 2001

Posted at 07:41 pm by Solo
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All that is gold does not glitter, not all who wander are lost                   - - Tolkien. The verse of Aragorn, Lord of the Rings