Saturday, June 30, 2007

I live today, to die another day!

This Saturday, an interesting trekking extravaganza awaited, in the form of the "Savandurga". The hill is believed to be among the largest monolith hills in the world. The hill rises to 1226 m above mean sea level and forms a part of the Deccan plateau.

Around 80 kms from Bangalore, it is located between the picturesque locales of Magadi & Ramanagaram. There are two routes to reach there - one through Magadi, and the other through Ramanagaram - the latter having better roads, though a bit longer.

A friend of mine & I reached the foothills of Savandurga by 10a and started climbing. Only information we had with us was the 'ten minute' research, right before leaving in the morning. And taking this little info as being more than enough, we declined the guide out there - and for the first half hour, we felt this was the biggest mistake we made. Unknown to the turf, and excited at the opportunity of trekking, I went ahead and started with the steep ascent area of the hill (later when I asked professional rock climbers about how that area should be ascended, they said it "should not be tried at all"!)














So I had started with the steep ascent, and after climbing for about 100 metres, I realized that the way down is IMPOSSIBLE (being so steep) - I felt a chill go through my spine when I tried to look down, and I knew I can not go down - the ascent ahead was almost vertical, and there I was, stranded. My hands were trying to cling onto anything, even thin air, and my feet were starting to fail me - the only way out was to take a parallel climb to reach the normal gradient (if it is parallel, can I call it a climb? But it was a climb only, because I was still on all fours, with my hands acting as my feet as well, trying to cling onto the hill). My feet started shivering, but I could see the target I had to reach. 20 minutes hence, and I could join my friend on the normal route. Hmmffff..


Can you locate someone on this pic!

Anyhow, going on - it is easy to climb, if you don't turn back & look for where you are. Thighs & ankles soon begin paining. It takes about two hours for amateurs to reach the top. Experts later told us that they took about forty minutes. We took one hundred minutes.


This pic was taken ten minutes into our pursuit - notice the target in the background.


There are such moments too, where you have to give your bit ;-)


The road less travelled!


And the view from the top.


While we reached summit, and were taking a good look at the surroundings, a few guys came up as well (and they have been experienced climbers). We took lots of cues and pointers from them, and have a few plans for trekking with their expert groups in coming weeks.


And while coming back, it took not more than 30 minutes, and that too, with intermittent chats of here and there with the expert kids we had met.


Well well, we did it - here we are, after out descent - relaxed now. Mission Accomplished!


Net net, an awesome experience. Rest of the pictures, I'll put on my itasveer account. If things go well, I guess more of such trips will be on the cards, in the coming times. And updates here, as always.

Friday, June 29, 2007

eColve Up & Running

Yes, this is publicity!





Click on eColve, and go to the homepage, and register there - take my word for it (yes it does carry some weight) and be a part of the initiative we all have been running away from, for a long long time.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Sorry

And this post is to give special credit to P's "Sorry", which has been there, time and again, without fail.

To elaborate, P has this habit (I know it's a good one, rather call it etiquettes) of spilling out "sorry" every now & then - and not that she does it on purpose - it just got into her system - and it was obvious that she was trying hard to refrain herself from not-uttering-the-holy-words as she got conscious of it on repeated pointing. I know Charles Osgood has said, “Being Politically Correct means always having to say you're sorry” - but that doesn't mean making in part and parcel, to carry along?!

I rather like what Bruce Willis quotes, “My wife heard me say I love you a thousand times, but she never once heard me say sorry” That's like it!

I hope it doesn't bother her much, because she'll always get conscious (from now on), whenever she'll hear or utter the golden word "sorry".

And you know what, I am not "sorry" for this post!

Three Walls

Yes, that's the name of a 'movie' - a good one I must say - I saw the casting, and I knew I wanted to watch it. And when I asked S, he confirmed the genre of the movie, and thus it went on.
Strong screenplay, brilliant direction.
Ishaan (Naseeruddin Shah), Jaggu (Jackie Shroff), and Nagya (Nagesh Kukunoor) are three murder convicts on death row. A struggling documentary filmmaker Chandrika (Juhi Chawla) arrives at the prison to capture the lives of these three convicts. Between this day and the 26th of January, the lives of these four people will turn like they would never have imagined. Inspired by a documentary he had viewed earlier and a tinge of Shawshank Redemption, Kukunoor takes this premise and weaves a chilling web interconnecting his characters through some brilliant writing. And a nice climax!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Water?

Water water everywhere - not a drop to drink!

All right, a bad start..but at least it is a start. The essence still saying the same - a water logging incident at our place! :(

I think I had read a similar post in someone's blog long time back, when their living room became a pond, and I guess couple of gadgets were floating around too. Similar, or infact much worse could have been the case with us, if I had (just out of the blues, for no reason what-so-ever) not picked up my other laptop in the morning, and placed in the closet. I can't recollect a single day in last 3 months when my laptop had not been lying on the floor (because we keep mattresses in our living room, and laptops are best put on the ground) when none of us were at home. Just plain chance I would call it, that I picked up the laptop in the morning, switched it off (we have a tradition of switching off the laptop at least once a month) after a period of 20 days of activity.

I used to leave behind my keys to the apartment for the maid & the cook to come in and do the honors when I am not around, and it paid off this time around. As I hear from S, the incident goes like - one of the taps was left open in the morning, and it cleaned whole of our apartment in the daytime. When the overspilled water started coming out of our apartment, neighbors noticed it and called our maid (who thankfully stays right next to our apartment), who somehow did some damage control. Then S came back, and I guess he had a rough day too.

When S called me up and told me about this incident at our place, the first thing that I could think of was the time when I was a part of such an incident in Delhi - a couple of months ago - let me check when it was - oh yeah, I think it was November 19 (you're wondering how I could check it? Actually if I remember correctly, though I have a much-proclaimed short-term-memory-loss, I took a couple of snaps through my phone camera on that day, and I just checked the date on those snaps again. See, simple!). So, November 19 it was. And we had to frantically run around the apartment and clear all the water from the floor. It was friends' place, and everyone was running around, trying to keep a check on the overflowing water. The thing that amazes me now is that at that moment, we were sitting in the next room, and even then, we did not come to know about the water logging till the water level was a couple of inches deep! Conversations, huh! Keeping one engaged.

Good times those were. Using the mop and cleaning it up with friends - nice yaar. As they call it, priceless. 'Priceless' se yaad aaya, a friend had sent a forward, which was a bit senti, but highly unlike me, I saved it in my mailbox. I'll reproduce it here (You can skip this section if you wish):

Celebration means......

A winter evening.
Four friends.
One barsaat.
Four glasses of chai.

Celebration means......
Hundred bucks of petrol.
A rusty old bike.
And an open road.

Celebration means......
Maggi noodles
Your friends
A hostel room.
4.25 a.m.

Celebration means......
3 old friends.
3 separate cities.
3 coffee mugs.
1 internet messenger.

Celebration means......
Rain on a hot tin roof.
Pakoras deep-frying.
Neighbours dropping in.
A party.

Celebration means......
You and mom.
A summer night.
A bottle of coconut oil.
A head massage.
Gossiping about absent family members.

You can spend
Thousands on birthdays,
Lakhs on festivals,
Crores on weddings,

But to celebrate
All you have to do is spend your Time with your loved ones.

Coming back to my apartments's water logging incident - On the other end of the city, I too was going through not-the-best-of-the-days. Some corporate politics kept me back, and eventually I ended up doing some work.

P had also come down from Mumbai for a day, for some official work. She's as smart as a swan (Swans? Intelligent? Where is this coming from?), when it comes to technical stuff (technical stuff for me would amount to financial modeling et al). Today itself she told me that she works in currency market! Now Currency market! What is that!

Anyhow, she was here for a day, and B called me over to Brigade for dinner. I was planning to not talk to B for a few days (just like those 14 year old kids, who wait for their friends to come and pacify them), because he had ditched me on a bungee jumping event the previous day. But because of this dinner, I had to forgive B (kind me!). We had a good dinner - It's really fun and interesting to catch up and meet with friends who you haven't met for long. Uhh!

And the dinner was fruitful (pun un-intended?), as P is going to supply me with D's details. ;) Let's see!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Flowers!

June 16, 2007 - 1930 hours - Rangashankara. I am at the right place, at the right time, after performing everything in an apt manner. And then it goes...

The one-person dramatic monologue by Girish Karnad, is enacted by Rajit Kapur (Remember Vyomkesh Bakshi!). It’s about a priest whose life has become a balancing act between his passionate love for God and equally passionate love for his courtesan and is caught off his guard as one day they collide.

Like all one-line descriptions, this too is vastly inadequate. ‘Love’ hardly describes the priest’s four equally demanding relationships, which include his loyalty to the local chieftain.

With Shiva, the priest’s devotion is obsessively ritualistic, finding expression in new ways to adorn the lingam with flowers. For the courtesan Chandravathi, he suffers obsessive lust. Having heard of his great artistry with flowers, she asks for her naked body to be similarly adorned. He obeys, wordlessly attending to her every seductive curve. This too becomes a daily ritual, metaphorically playing out the concept of the union of male-female energies inherent in Shiva bhakti. The priest has earlier described the lingam as a phallus erect in the vulva, deliberately returning the icon to its material origins.

The life of the spirit and the life of the body thus come together, both distanced from the life of the community. God resides above the community by his own rules; the courtesan outside it, beyond its rules. Between the two ends lie lesser values like loyalty to the chieftain and duty to the wife. The wife is not so much woman, as mother. Her physicality contrasts sharply with Chandravathi’s. Unfortunately, he chooses to couch the contrast in a time-worn clich√© of male desire, robbing it of its potential significance. Chandravathi is described as possessing a deep cleavage with an inviting mole on one breast while the wife is thin with no breasts to speak of. Chandravathi’s sexuality invites lust, which the priest describes with another clich√© as “the fire raging in my loins”. The wife’s sexuality invites compassion followed by rejection.

The ultimate question that Flowers poses, however, is not about the priest’s social-sexual dilemma, but about how he sees god, and himself in relation to god. One fateful night, a series of unusual circumstances compels him to decorate the lingam with flowers hurriedly taken off the courtesan’s body. The sacrilege horrifies the wife, the chieftain and the community. But god shows by a miraculous sign that he is on his bhakta’s side. The priest achieves instant sainthood in the eyes of the credulous community. But god’s grace under such circumstances is unacceptable to the priest. Why have you blessed me despite my transgressions, he asks, forgetting that man cannot ask god to explain himself. Rational questions shatter faith, which is the very centre of the man-god relationship as envisaged by man. Without faith, there’s no hope.

'Flowers' underlines and intensifies the priest’s internal conflict by confining the priest to a narrow platform high above the stage. Only minimal movements are possible here. Down below stands a broad vessel of water representing the temple tank. Lighting isolates the platform, the man and the vessel. The rest of the stage is cloaked in hazy darkness. The rippling reflections in the blue-lit water are the only bright spots. But their brightness makes the dark even darker.

The stunningly dramatic set and lighting are offset by the neutral tone of Rajit Kapur’s narration. The decision to undercut drama in the monologue is faultless. It adds an extra edge to the riskiness of the actor’s positioning on the platform, since a neutral narration can easily slip into flatness. Yet, the priest compels total attention through the entire 70-minute length of the monologue. It is an impressive feat.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Wheels!

I was doing some research on how we invent - and what's the "mother of inventions!" - here is what I found:

THE DAWN OF MAN Began eleven thousand years ago. (I think it was a Thursday.) This is interesting for many reasons, but one specific factoid has always amazed me: The wheel was not invented until 5000 B.C., probably by the Mesopotamians. This means that for roughly four thousand years, people were just dragging stuff around. Now, I realize folks were a little less forward thinking in those days, and they probably directed most of their creative energy toward raping and killing each other. But didn't anybody notice that decapitated skulls rolled downhill? The British didn't start using the wheel until 500 B.C. Somehow, they needed 8,500 years to come up with the wheel but only 10,980 years to come up with Def Leppard. These are curious priorities.

I find myself thinking about the invention of the wheel whenever I send someone a text message. This is not because I own a round cell phone; this is because text messaging represents a certain kind of invention: Texting is Antiwheel Technology. What this means is that the advent of texting is completely antithetical to the advent of the wheel. The wheel was something everyone needed for centuries, and I'm sure that need was conscious. I have no doubt that primitive people were constantly thinking, There must be a better way to haul these rocks. What tool could make this easier? In retrospect, the wheel was an obvious solution to a problem everyone was aware of—yet it still took thousands of years. Text messaging is precisely the opposite: It's the solution to a desire I never even knew I had, and it came into existence long before anyone was demanding it.

When I first bought a cell phone—this was autumn 2001—certain people were already texting each other. My thought at the time was, What a bunch of idiots. Texting didn't seem sensible, because a) it seemed much harder than making a phone call, and b) the only people who seemed to text effectively were under the age of sixteen. The only scenario I could imagine in which texting might be useful would be if I were kidnapped by terrorists and needed to quietly inform loved ones that I was about to be executed by religious zealots. Still, that possibility seemed to warrant buying a phone with texting capability; like I said, this was autumn 2001.

I didn't send a single text message until the summer of 2005, and when I did, it was almost certainly because I was drunk. To my surprise, I discovered that I loved texting. Very often, I (apparently) want to tell people information that is so inane and trivial that it does not even justify making a phone call. Here are five of my most recent text messages:

"I am eating donut."
"That was some quality tickling!"
"Hide the bottles."
"I am shopping for a car."
"Gotcha!"

It would be imprecise to claim that texting has changed the way I communicate, because it didn't replace any existing method of communication in my life. Texting has created a completely new genre of personal expression: the postextraneous sentiment. Sometimes I text sentences I wouldn't waste my time saying aloud, even if the recipient were standing right next to me. I can't text complex thoughts because it's too time-consuming to push the little buttons, and I can't figure out how to generate apostrophes. (I text the way Data talks on Star Trek: The Next Generation —no contractions.) Nonetheless, nobody ever minds getting a text message, regardless of how frivolous the content may be. For some reason, texting feels substantially less intrusive than e-mail; it doesn't have much upside, but it's wholly devoid of downside.

My suspicion is that Antiwheel Technology will become the predominant mode of mechanical innovation, mostly because we're running out of unsolved problems. We've always assumed that necessity is the mother of invention, but what happens when necessity no longer exists? Society has evolved beyond the stage of building a better mousetrap; metaphorically, we now have mousetraps that can kill buffalo. It's becoming harder and harder to think of new everyday things that we want or need, and that creates a completely new paradigm for inventors. It makes the process of invention less practical and more abstract: We now have to come up with solutions to problems that don't exist.

My refrigerator makes things colder and my stove makes thing hotter. But would I like a machine that immediately makes things room temperature? I suppose this can already be accomplished by "the room," but perhaps that process could be expedited. Now, I cannot fathom why I would want to do this, but I also had no idea I wanted to freeze live TV. I had no idea I wanted to tell people I was eating donut. Perhaps this theoretical machine would revolutionize the way I consume semiwarm food.

Would I like to find a way to watch TV faster ? This possibility never occurred to me until just now, but maybe I'd love it. What if there were an iPod that also operated as a small air conditioner? It might be good for camping. Granted, I'm just kind of "blue-skying" here, but this is an unusual problem. It's difficult to predict things in the present that will feel unpredictable in the future.

The wheel is awesome, and the wheel was a long time coming. It was probably worth four millennia of consternation and regret. But I eagerly await the Next Wheel, which will undoubtedly take me by surprise.