Sunday, November 12, 2006

On stuff I keep forgetting to write down... the startling revelation I had about transcendental numbers the other day. I don't remember what it exactly was, but at least I now know that it's not about root canals. Which reminds me, I need to get that premolar looked at.

But, first things first.

Really sorry - again. This does seem like a rather dry year for me, overall. Can't think of anything to write most of the time. Sometimes I do think of things to write, but then I forget what they were. Rather difficult to remember details and fight a hangover at the same time. On top of it all, I am as geographically unsettled as that metal shot from the ball-bearing you put into the do-it-yourself jumping bean (which never jumps, I wonder why they called it that. They should've called it 'tumblebean' or something). Anyways, like the shot, I go to Pune, and by the time I finish unpacking, it's time to go to Haridwar again, and vice versa, or the other way round.

Anyways, I have grown slightly older since the last post, see? So perhaps, instead of telling you about the strange things that happened to me (which would fill a small book, if only I can remember all of them), I shall share the wisdom I have gained over the past few months. Oh, well, what the heck - I'll make it 'over the course of my life'. Not much of a difference, anyway. This is why you should keep writing these things down.

So. There you go, a few nuggets. Don't spend it all in one place.

1. That transcendental number thingie. Though I don't remember the exact detail that made me go 'hey, I didn't know this!'

2. Buy black-and-white film whenever you find it, and expiry dates be damned.

3. If you are getting introduced to a cute-ish girl by a friend, and you have this official name, and this friend introduces you by your nickname, and the girl gets confused and asks you what she should call you, NEVER, repeat, NEVER say "you can call me anything you like". Nope. NOT smooth. Unless you're Brad Pitt, in which case you can even say "Me Tarzan" and get away with it.

4. Never crack jokes to mum about doing anything remotely insane with your career.

5. If your bike does not like you wearing khakis, and gives you a hint by dumping you on the gravel unceremoniously, listen to it. Do not buy another pair of khakis to replace the ones you just tore. Guess what will happen if you do.

6. Never spray-polish your motorcycle seat. It looks all nice and shiny, but hit the brakes, and you'll immediately know why it was a mistake. Especially if you're a guy.

7. When, in Haridwar, you find yourself griping to your friendly-neighbourhood ENT surgeon about the unavailability of alcohol in the city, and the doctor, in a gesture that, on judgement day when trumpets sound, will firmly ensure his passing through the pearly gates, offers to get you a bottle of whisky using his ex-serviceman clout, forget about being decent and take him up on the offer. Especially if you're stuck in a hotel room for a real long time.

8. The probability that you will run into an important client is directly proportional to the combined length of all the tears on your worn-out pair of jeans.

9. The whole 'round number' thing is overrated. Unless I can come up with two more nuggets. Meanwhile, remember what I said, especially about the black-and-white film.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

While I'm still thinking of what to write...

... I decided to throw in a few more snaps of Ladakh.

The first one is a shot taken in the More plains , a 40 km stretch of, er, plains, right in the middle of the mountains. Once again, I had a sensory overload of sorts, having never seen so much space in one sitting. As soon my hands could hold a camera without shaking the lens free from its mount, I snapped off a shot.

The second one is a slightly weird sort of place, Tanglangla pass, which proclaims itself to be the second highest motorable pass in the world. It was rather cold, but the sun blazed down, bounced off the snow, hurt our eyes, and caused the distracting bokeh on the photograph. And yes, the teensy spot on the lower left corner is Kakkar's bullet.

This pass was deserted except for this old man who was manning a tea shop. I decided to go and make some conversation.

"So... you stay up here all alone?"

"Why? What would you do if I said yes? Why do you want to know? Who are you people? Give me your vehicle numbers! What do you mean by that question?"

This was not the sort of response I expected, but we travelling engineers are quick on our feet. I laughed a light, dismissive laugh, and attempted to make amends.

"Heh, I think you misunderstood me..."

"I understand everything! You think I'm all alone out here? What can you possibly do to me? Give me your vehicle numbers! Wait, I'll note them down myself!"

Tea at Tanglangla pass thus had to wait till our return trip, when we found the shop manned by a ladakhi lady and her daughter, who were much more friendly and generous with their tea.

Somehow I couldn't bring myself to ask them if they were there all day all by themselves.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

To err is French; to aar, English

One of the advantages of traveling a lot is that you get a lot of plane/train/automobile time to catch up on your reading. And in the past few weeks, I had managed to do just that, reading some sci-fi and some non-sci-fi books, and consciously avoiding Wodehouse, the way a chap who has drunk too much every day of the week consciously avoids the pubs on Sunday. There is one thing such as too much of a good thing.

But the chap, avoiding the bottle for a good three hours into the evening comes upon a store that shouts out loud: "Happy hour!", or possibly, "Cobra beer available here!" finds his resolution breaking down, and thus last evening I walked out of the Airport bookshop in Bangalore clutching "The Luck of the Bodkins".

The flight was nice, once people who looked up in alarm at my chuckling by myself every five minutes or so decided that I was a harmless geek trapped in the body of a harmless geek, and diverted their attentions elsewhere, like the extremely cute flight attendants. I would have given them more attention, and possibly even talked to them, but then I came upon a passage that put an end to the chuckling. This is that passage, read very carefully:

(But first - a bit of background: Monty Bodkin, who is, at the time, in France, is writing a letter to his fiancee, and wants to enquire about her father, who is suffering from sciatica. At which point, he realizes that he does not know how to spell 'sciatica'. Read on.)

...he had first consulted his friend the waiter, and the waiter had proved a broken reed. Beginning by affecting not to believe that there was such a word, he had suddenly uttered a cry, struck his forehead and exclaimed:

"Ah! La sciatique!"

He had then gone on to make the following perfectly asinine speech:

"Comme ça, m'sieur. Like zis, boy. Wit' a ess, wit' a say, wit' a ee, wit' a arr, wit' a tay, wit' a ee, wit' a ku, wit' a uh, wit' a ay. V'la! Sciatique!"

Upon which Monty, who was in no mood for this sort of thing, had very properly motioned him away with a gesture and gone off to get a second opinion.

Not funny. Not funny at all. Those of you who did find it funny evidently have not tried spelling bees with a Frenchman. I was forced to learn the language at a weak period in my life - it was shortly after I had shaved off my moustache, and as any man who has shaved off his moustache would tell you, it leaves your upper lip exposed and for a long time, till you get used to the air on your upper lip (as opposed to the 'air that was on it, ha, ha) you have this feeling that suddenly everyone is looking at your upper lip and secretly laughing at it. "Look at that chap's upper lip! Hahahahaha!", their smiles seem to say. If you're not able to find an ex-mustached chap to confirm this, think Samson's hair. Karna's armour. Scorcese's eyebrows. See?

Anyways, as I was learning french, I realized that they were a little confused about a few things, namely the alphabet. They pronounce "i" as "e", "e" as "a", and "q" as "k". But they write "i" as "i", "e" as "e", and "q" as "q". There are a few more pronunciations I remember being puzzled about, but the memory is hazy - this was about three years ago. In any case, I did remember a smattering of french, and on my trip to Ladakh, I thought I saw a golden opportunity to use it.

Kakkar, Gina, and I were on our way back to Leh from Nubra valley (where we saw bactrian camels, but more on that later), and we had stopped for a bit of lunch at this small village called Khalsar. We were sitting back after a satisfying meal, when I heard a voice off-stage.

"Exxcuze me, way-ar I find a Enfield mecanique?"

I turned around, and saw a young european chap in full riding leathers. His name, he told us later, was François, and he was on his way back to Leh, and that his riding companion, an Englishman, had had an accident, and the army had eventually airlifted him to a hospital in Leh. So now our man was riding back to Leh alone, and it looked like his Enfield Electra was out of lube oil. We apprised him of the situation, which was that no, there was no mechanic nearby, and that the nearest place he would get oil would involve a forty km ride. His bike was in no condition for the trip. Kakkar's clutch cable was doing a good job of acting out the "to be or not to be" sequence in Hamlet, while Kakkar wanted it to firmly stay in the "to be" zone. Thus, I found myself taking a longish ride in search of oil, with François riding pillion. We made good time, stopping only once to pick up the chain guard of my bike, which had fallen off laughing when François made a remark about my bike being smooth.

Two hours later, we topped up his oil and invited him to ride with us. Safety in numbers and all that sort of thing. And all was going well, when, on the climb to Khardungla pass, I saw François, Gina, and Kakkar stop and gesticulate wildly. Fearing an avalanche, I looked over my shoulder in the general direction they were pointing, and saw a furry brown animal the size of a mutant rabbit run off into the rocks.

"It's a Himalayan Ferret!"

My knowledge with respect to Himalayan fauna was limited, so I accepted this. Ferret. Now if only I could have seen what it looked like.

"'Ow you spell Fehrret?" François wanted to know.

If you had ever studied physics in school, you'd know that some teachers always have pet questions that they would love to have you ask them. So they start by telling you about luminiferous ether, and how it was omnipresent, like God, and very dense, perhaps like God again, but I wouldn't want to speculate on it, and leading us on, till one of us put up our tiny little hands and asked, "But why don't we feel it if it is dense?", and a slow smile would spread across his face, and a twinkle would appear in his eye. He then would say, "A-ha! That is exactly what Michelson and Morley wondered!" and then go on to explain the experiment. Right up to that moment, if you had asked me if I knew why these teachers were so happy to be asked such non-challenging questions by kids, I'd have looked you in the eye and shaken my head. Very difficult to do, looking someone in the eye while shaking the head, but I'd have done it. But not anymore. François' question had the effect of pouring oil on my rusty french, and I rose to the occasion. Ah, the poor man, how he must have suffered trying to convert english phonetic spellings into French. Fortunately for him, I was just what the doctor ordered. A slow smile spread across my face, and a twinkle appeared in my eye.

"Ef-ay-err-err-ay-tay. Ferret."

François seemed to consider this.

"F-a-l-l-a-tay. Fallat?"

I heard a few ugly snickers, which threatened to, and eventually did, burst into gales of laughter. The only people who did not find the goings-on funny were François and yours truly. And that was probably all that François had going for him at the moment. What did he mean, I remember thinking, by claiming to be French when he could spell perfectly well in English? What about the famous French pride? Gah! And thoughts to this effect. Still, I had made an effort, and if I had to tattoo the spelling of 'Ferret' into his skull, I would. I continued doggedly:

"Non, non - I was spelling it in French for you..."

More laughter from the direction of the snow. François merely looked puzzled.

"F-e...hahahahahahah...r-r-...oh, God...-e-t. Ferret", Gina finally gasped.

"Aah, Fehrret!" A broad smile lit up François' face. "I weel remember!"

And what with all the howling and guffawing, the Ferret never did resurface, and I had to later satisfy my curiosity with a photograph displayed on one of the curio shops.

To top it all, the damn thing was a Himalayan Marmot, not a Ferret. Not that I'd ever know the difference, but perhaps a Marmot would have gone down better in spelling.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Don't get up, I'm just tagging along...

One cannot resume blogging after a long break without finding out that someone has tagged him. Just the way you can't leave your bike out in the parking lot for about a month and go off to Haridwar, and expect to find the battery still nestling in its place when you return. It's a law of nature.

So, before I go further, and before more accusations of "you still owe me a tag!" are hurled at me, I present to you my latest tag. Not unlike one of those "complete the following sentences with phrases of your own" series of exercises we did back in our language classes. Yes, the ones we looked forward to as much as we look forward to a date with the dentist with root canal work on the menu.

Like the dentist says, let's make this a quick and painless job.

Here are my responses.

I am thinking about – tags and how they spread from blogger to blogger like a virus.
I said – I'm thinking about tags and how they spread from blogger to blogger like a virus.
I want to – know who thinks of these tags, really. And I also want to meet him/her. If it's a him, I'd like to meet him over some duelling pistols, and if it's a her... how about a coffee? I know this really nice place...
I wish – it would turn out to be a her.
I miss - very frequently, so just in case it's a him, I'll need a bit of practice.
I hear – duelling pistols don't come very cheap, these days.
I wonder – how much of my hard-earned money will go into them pistols. Coffee would be much cheaper, wouldn't it? Please let it be a her.
I regret – not putting in enough practice - both in duelling and in asking girls out for coffee.
I am – bloody lazy that way.
I dance – pretty bad, which I think is also linked to my 'bad-at-asking-girls-out-for-coffee' trait...
I sing – pretty bad, too. Strike three.
I cry – in your dreams, pal. Hah. Me macho, see? Even if me underweight. (Hang on while I scratch myself and spit out the side of my mouth).
I am not always - macho... I'm not so used to duelling pistols, see?
I make with my hands - pretty good coffee, though. Filter coffee. The problem is the availability of a decent filter.
I write – when I'm not working, riding my bike, taking photographs, watching movies, duelling, or summoning up courage to ask girls out for a coffee.
I confuse – love and war, sometimes... who was I supposed to be duelling?
I need – some coffee. All this talk of coffee this late in the night, what did you expect?
I should try – and see if the kitchen in this hotel is still open.
I finish – with a benevolent smile directed at fellow bloggers, and say the four magic words - "the tag stops here".

There, me man. I hope you're satisfied. It wasn't quick, it wasn't painless, but that's how nice a guy I am.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Who cares how the crow flies?

Okkkkay, so that's not an original line - It was part of a print ad for the Yamaha R1 that I once came across (the print ad, not the Yamaha R1, though I wouldn't mind coming across that, either), and the accompanying photograph showed a nice, winding mountain road with hairpin bends and stuff that bikers dream of. And that's how you feel when you go beyond the Rohtang pass, and into the barren, sparsely-populated, winding road that loops and stretches for over 400 kms over mountains and plains, leading to Leh.

Aaanyways, all you people who've been under the impression that I've been bumming it out in Leh all this while, nopes, so you can stop turning green. We left sometime around mid-june, and returned early in the first week of July. Since then it's just been backlog, backlog, and backlog, which, when combined with general laziness, results in no new posts on the blog. So, those of you who do visit this blog after all this time, really sorry, folks, and thanks for returning.

Now, I'm not much for writing travelogues, but I do have a few stories to tell, and hopefully I will get off my lazy behind and put up some of them here. In the meantime, I thought I'd dust off the cobwebs from this page, and give you people a taste of the place.

But first, a shot of my trusty steed, which has been my sole companion for the past five years, including this bone-jarring ride:

Yep, that is masking tape on the tank. Apart from that, and apart from the chain guard falling off, and the engine stalling right in the middle of an ice-cold puddle on the return trip, it was fine. Really.

Now, some of the general scenery there, which was, to put it mildly, breathtaking. For two reasons:
(a) There was too much to handle - deep blue skies, stark, rugged mountains, a river/gorge/desert suddenly springing up around the bend... a man can only take so much, y'know.
(b) We hit altitudes of upto 18,000 feet, and the oxygen content gets a little low.

I took this snap at Tikse Gompha. Gompha, I believe, stands for Monastery. The first time I went there, I almost had a whaddyoucallit sort of encounter. Bachha and I were climbing the stairs, cursing the thin air under whatever breath we had left, when an old lama, coming from the other direction looked at me and exclaimed, "You! I see you before!"

I was amazed. I'm not very good with faces, but I believe I would remember my first encounter with a lama. This guy is going to tell me I was a fellow-lama in my previous life, I thought. No wonder I've always wanted to stay in a monastery. That explains my shaolin temple fixation, too! Now it all makes sense. And the-

"I see you at Yak-Tail hotel this afternoon!"

And my semi-spiritual experience came to a grinding halt.

The monk in the snap is not the old monk (oh, ha, ha, you alcoholics), but another monk, another day, when I went back to Tikse.

Right-ho. Now that I've broken the block, I shall be back more frequently, with more photos. I go sleep now, yes please.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'm off, folks!

Once again, many apologies, boys and girls, I had to finish off a lot of work and drink up all the beer in my fridge - I'm travelling again, and this time, strictly for pleasure. Going to Ladakh, on two wheels and lots of prayers... if I survive, we shall meet. At Philippi or elsewhere.

Till then, be good.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Cooling my heels...

The other day, thanks to the pre-monsoon showers, Shrik and I felt that primal urge that neanderthals probably felt whenever there were pre-monsoon showers, to go to Mulshi and sit around, doing nothing. So, we went. I lugged my camera along, too, and took off a few snaps of the, um, brown water and the brown earth, and the slightly-brown-tinged blue skies. I guess it would take a while before the area becomes green and irritates Anurag, who prefers different shades of different colours in the scenery. After taking a few snaps last monsoon of green trees not standing out against the green grass and the green moss, I agree with him. Not that I have anything against greenpeace or any of the environmental activists, but too much of green, though easy on the eye, is tough to photograph well. Anyways, there you are.

Canon EOS 66
Film: Kodak Max 400
Lens: Canon 28-80mm

And what was Shrik doing when I was taking pictures? Believe it or not - this.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006



I'd taken this pic sometime in January, when I was visiting Kerala. Kottayam, to be exact. Like all small towns I visit, I was amazed at the blue skies, clean air, and the absence of a Barista around the corner. Nice place, except that if you want to go into a temple, you need to strip to the waist. Never figured that one out... anyways, I was walking around at noon over there, trying to find some subjects to shoot, and this one came out quite well. I was showing this to Anurag yesterday, and he suggested I invert it, and he was right, it does look more interesting this way.

For the people who have already seen the right-side-up pic in my flickr album, sorry, I shall hopefully be posting something soon, but the days, they are a-crazy. For example, I crashed KP's brand-new bike... with KP on it, but more on that later. Yes, he's fine. No, the bike is not, so don't rub it in. And I'm fine, too, thanks for asking.

However, they should do something about that "healing" spray that the nurses liberally hosed me with. After they'd pulled me back down from the ceiling and cleared away the bits of plaster that I'd knocked loose, I realized that I now had a neat waterproof coating on all my bruises. All very nice, but not a vey pleasant process. You guys, next time you have a fall, try this spray out. And watch out for that ceiling.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sitting and staring...

...was what I did. A lot. In the last few weeks, on the windowsill of this amazingly high building I was staying in at Kandivili. Yep, I know, I know, I have already mentioned this to all and sundry, but I can't get over it. And I recently found out that it was not the 27th floor, but the 29th floor, since p1 and p2 were for parking! And the view at night is amazing, and I had my camera handy, and voila tout:


Please click here for a larger version. Please? Pretty please?

And is that a shooting star on the top right, or a scratch on the negative? I guess it's going to be an unsolved mystery... that, and the Bermuda triangle.

Camera: Canon EOS 66
Lens: Canon 28-80 mm
Film: Fuji Pro 100
Focal length: 28 mm
Aperture: f/16
Exposure: 30 sec

Saturday, April 08, 2006

I'm back! Big as life and twice as tagged.

Hell-O, PEOPLE! How have we all been?

I'm awfully sorry for the rather long absence from the scene, but travel and work had taken their toll, and I did not want to put up too many photographs - I was already doing that too often. Anyways, here we are again, and thank you all for visiting that long-dead post and asking for more. Unfortunately, though I have a few strange incidents to narrate, I have a backlog of tags to take care of. I know, I know, a poor way to make up for a long absence, but I have been tagged by these ladies, and I would not be the preux chevalier if I were to not comply. Very sorry, and I promise more stuff in the very near future.

Okkkay, then, here we go:

Tag #1: Shruti has demanded that I reveal my music taste to all and sundry, so here I am. Shrutz, I'm not really much of a music person, more of a movie person. In fact, I'll start a movies tag and circulate it around, and you definitely will be it. Ha. Anyways, the music stuff:

Total volume of music on my computer: 4.3 GB. And a lot of it has been dumped in by Shrik and Kakkar. Like I said, I'm not too much into music.

Title & Artist that I last bought: "Rang De Basanti". Three days ago. I know, I know, what was I doing all these months, eh? These things happen. You may shake your head, mutter "old man, old man", and let it go at that.

Song I am playing right now: "Maybe Tomorrow" by Stereophonics, which, incidentally, is also the song that plays during the closing credits of "Crash". Lovely song.

Five+ Songs that I like/have been hooked onto:

American Pie (Don MacLean - American Pie): I continue to be floored by the clarity of Don MacLean's voice. Every time I listen to this song, I'm transported to Goa, where, in the winter of 2001, we rode rented bikes all over the city sometime past midnight, mildly under the influence, singing - yelling, actually - the song out to the sleepy public. No, we did not get arrested. Goa, remember?

Time (Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon): I was introduced to Floyd sometime in the first year of college, and have been hooked ever since. I know, the music is a little outlandish, about as spaced-out as the artists... but I love it. "Time" starts with a gazillion clocks hitting their alarm bells all at once, and I've used the effect to advantage on many a sleepy visitor at my hostel room. But seriously, this is one of the most amazing songs ever. There is a sence of urgency, despair and resignation in it that makes you sit up and pay attention, especially all of us procrastinators.

November Rain (Guns and Roses - Use your Illusion I) : I know, I know. Groans all around, I'll bet. I used to love November rain back when I was a student, and unfortunately it's not managed to survive the test of time. BUT. The guitar solo by Slash. Is. Awesome. Mr.Satan, if you're reading this, I would really like to sell my soul so I can play the guitar like him. Please?

Learning to fly (Pink Floyd - Momentary Lapse of Reason): Yep, another Floyd track. Into the distance, a ribbon of black stretched to the point of no turning back. A flight of fancy on a windswept field; standing alone, my senses reeled. Yep, mine, too. Very strong imagery, and with all the Floyd darkness thrown in.

Take it to the limit (The Eagles): I was introduced to the Eagles when I flicked their 'Best of, 1971-75' collection from my dad. That was about ten years ago, and I still haven't returned the cassette... sorry, appa. But more about my childhood antisocial behaviour later. I've loved almost all their songs, with Take it to the Limit, Take it easy, Desperado, Tequila Sunrise, Hotel C, and Life in the fast lane topping my list.

Susie Q (Creedence Clearwater Revival): Catchy. No other way to describe it. If you listen closely, they really don't have much to say in this particular song, but catchy. Very catchy.

Elevation (U2 - All that you can't leave behind): Another of those catchy numbers. And you do feel what the song promises. Elevation, without miosis or other side-effects.

The sound of silence (Simon and Garfunkel, Sounds of Silence): They had me at "hello darkness, my old friend". Hello back to you guys with knobs on.

Extreme Ways (Moby) : I came across this song when I was watching "The Bourne Identity". I'd loved the music throughout the movie - the staccato beats, and the edgy, disoriented feel throughout the movie was achieved very well. And then this song in the end credits. It was the perfect song for the movie.

Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries": By now an overused and often-spoofed track, I guess. But I'll never forget the overwhelming feeling of watching the helicopters flying in from the sea, with this song blaring on their speakers, scaring the hell out of the villagers in "Apocalypse Now". The madness of it all hits you like a sledgehammer. Not that I've been hit with a sledgehammer, but one can imagine. On an aside, I have almost been hit by a sledgehammer, when the head of one got detached from the handle held by an over-enthusiastic labmate and described a graceful trajectory across the smithy, missing my face by inches. I was in my first year of college, and it put me off shop class for a while. That, and carpentry.

The End (The Doors, Best of): Again, one of my favourite groups. Jim Morrison. What-a-voice. Gives me goosebumps. Once again, movie association: This is the song that "Apocalypse Now" begins with, and it sets the mood perfectly for the movie. All the children are insane.

Tag #2: This one was from Vaish. Now I am to arrange for a party of sorts, exclusively for bloggers, and have to invite six bloggers to it. Now, before I could balk at the idea of anyone actually visiting my apartment and recoiling in horror at the cockroaches and the piles of clothes in the kitchen, the books in the loo, and the motorcycle components in the bedroom, I was assured that this is to be an imaginary party. Thank god. However, right now I am staying at this guest house in Bombay, which, situated on the 27th floor of a Kandivili high-rise, offers an amazing view, and you people are more than welcome to pay me a litte visit. Bring beer. And now for the list;

Vaish: Shibs (a common friend who's motto is "when in doubt, trek") introduced us via e-mail, and we hit it off right away. For some reason, she calls me "Thambi", and refused to drop it even after I gently pointed out that I was two years older than her. One must take these things in one's stride, I guess, and I finally got around to calling her "Akka". Akka writes really well, has an awesome sense of humour, and in spite of having about a gazillion friends, finds time for all of them. I have no idea how. You'll like her.

m.: Another lady I've never met, and would love to. She has very strong opinions - especially on feminism, loves poems and arguments, is very well-read, writes really lucid essays, and has an great sense of humour. And she is surprisingly mature... especially considering her age. There. That's sealed my coffin. We travelling engineers like to live dangerously.

Brewtus: An old friend of mine, actually. We haven't met for about six years now, so I shall invite him, too. He's neck-deep in research, and is one of those brainy, disciplined, serious, no-nonsense people. At least, that's what we all thought, till in the final year of college, he went on stage and broke a few impressions. That's all I shall offer, you can get the gory details straight from the horse's mouth.

Shruti: Or, Shrutz, as she would have us call her. This kid is well-read, has opinions on everything - what are kids coming to these days, I really don't know - and is wickedly witty. Writes nineteen to the dozen, and is absolutely crazy to boot. Young blood, young blood. Hm.

Anurag: He's a big guy and would come over and strangle me if I did not invite him. All right, so we all hang out on weekends and have weird conversations and weirder arguments over beer, and although he calls everybody around the table schmucks (except for his wife, "who is nice", as he likes to repeat), we like him, and we humour him, because he takes awesome photographs, has a good collection of movies, and is bigger than any of us and would strangle us all if we do not. Oh, and reinforcing his weirdness, the latest conversation we had over the phone:
"Hey, Anurag, what is..."

"My age? 32. I'm five years older than you, you know? The next time we meet, you ought to touch my feet."

"...your plan for wednesday evening?"

Megha: Again, a lady with an amazing sense of humour. Her extensive knowledge of hindi cinema staggers the imagination. Quite the encyclopaedia on the subject, she uses it to maximum advantage in her write-ups. I really like what she's done to her page, and what I like the most about her is the underlying geek tendencies. Not the socially gauche geekiness, but the "Hey! Wow! Look at this code!" geekiness. The force is strong in this one.

Wheeeew. Lookit that. One of my longest posts, I think. Once again, sorry for the long absence, and I shall try to write something a little more readable very soon. But now, the time is gone, the song is over, thought I'd something more to say...

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Weird people I know #2

The phone rang. It was Anurag’s number, so I answered in my customary, bored-late-sunday-afternoon voice.


“Hey, how’re you?”

It was Gina.

“Heyyy! How have you been?” The bored-late-sunday-afternoon voice is reserved only for friends who, without any provocation, send one-line mails telling me - and some other friends - that we are all schmucks. Gina, however, is nice.

“I’m good, oh, and this is Gina here.”

I assured her that I had not mistaken her voice for Anurag’s.

“So,” she went on, “we’re in Narayangaon, and we’re in the middle of a discussion, and wanted your opinion on something.”

I sat up. It’s not every day that people ask me for my opinion, and even if they do, they usually have an ulterior motive, like proving to friends and family that I have no idea what the hell the “India shining” project is. Sorry, was. A little wary, I assured her that she had my complete attention.

“Let’s say you’re stranded on an island with no food, along with me, Anurag, Arjun, Shrik, KP, and Sush. All of us die, and you alone survive. Who would you eat first?”

A year ago, I would have been a little shocked at Gina’s ‘ice-breaking questions’, as we now call them, and I’d have said, “Eh?” but one eventually gets used to these things. This time, I didn’t miss a beat.

“Let me see. That would be the person with the most amount of available flesh, so that I keep the number of people being eaten to a minimum, at least in the beginning”, I replied, proud of my logical, noncommittal answer.

“Come on! You have to come up with a name! Anurag seems to be the favourite here, according to all these guys. And Shrik says that you’d choose Anurag, too, because he would provide you with the maximum amount of protein.”

I explained that since I’d not seen any of them for about a month, it would be difficult for me to come up with an answer just like that. I also added that health food was good, but under such circumstances, one chose the well being of one’s sanity over a high protein intake.

“Okay, the most meat, eh?" she said. "That would be me.”

Now on an aside, before you people get the wrong impression, and before I get tied to a barbed-wire fence and get beaten up, let me add that Gina happens to be a very tall lady. Taller than me, I think, and it’s not every day I admit that, and I happen to be more than an inch taller than the average Indian male. And she has a normal sort of aspect ratio, so she may have a point there.

However, this put me in an awkward position, as any of you, who while talking on the phone with someone ended up telling him/her that there was a slight chance you might be eating him/her, would know. So I decided to make amends.

“Ah, but because I’m a chivalrous sort, I think I’ll bury you with your dignity intact and cross you off my list of choices.”

Laughter on the other end.

“Why, thank you, Senthil, very gallant of you.”

I graciously replied that she should be thanking my mother because she was the one who taught me manners and chivalry, including the commandment thou shalt not eat women.

We then went down the ladder in fleshiness, and found that the next rung was occupied by Anurag. This, I realized, was payback time. Schmuck, eh? Yep, I’d start gnawing on him for starters. Only under unmitigated circumstances, though - cannibalism does not lend itself naturally to me. We then concluded that Shrik was right after all, albeit for the wrong reasons.

“All right, see you when you get back. We’ll all go to Narayangaon again.” She then rang off.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is yet another proof of how weird my friends are. Haridwar, I am beginning to realize, is not that bad a place after all.

P.S. I have also been Tagged by Shruti and Vaish, and the tags require some thought, so ladies, I am working on them, please don’t hate me.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Uncropped crop?

Long time and all that, eh, people? My apologies. I was on vacation - meeting family after ages and all that, and had to put in some frantic travel and work to make up for it. Anyways, I'm, as they say in Hollywood, back. Big as life and twice as bad, or words to that effect.
I also have taken loads of pics, which I shall be uploading periodically out here, until I feel energetic enough to actually write something.

I took these two pics at Haridwar. I was really bad at botany in school, and my younger sister - who is about eight years younger - was better at identifying the plants in our garden. So when my mum used to ask me to "water the crotans" I used to look up from my Tintin and give her a blank look till she said, "Oh. Go out the back door, take a left, and water the third plant from the corner."

So you'll forgive me if I don't have the slightest idea what these things are. My guess is that they are either blades of exotic grass that somehow grow to be about six feet high, or some sort of crop that people forgot to, heh heh, crop.

Anyways, that is not something that bothers me. It may well be jute for all I care. However, what I want you guys to tell me is: which one of the two pics do you think is the better one? I cannot decide myself, though I have repeatedly been kicking myself for not getting the composition of the first one the way I wanted. So. Plis be to vote? Explanations on why you prefer one over the other are welcome, too.

Pic 1: Title - "ear".

Pic 2: Title - "ears". Heh heh.

A word of thanks to Anurag - I flicked about two rolls of Fuji Velvia transparency film from him, and these are a few of the pics I used the roll for. Oh, and the details, if you care to know:
Camera: Canon EOS66
Lens: Canon 100-300mm USM
Film: Fuji Velvia 50 slide transparency

Friday, January 06, 2006

Swings of the Gods

This time on new year's day, I was alone - stranger in a strange land sort of alone - and decided to spend the day in solitude and instrospection. I thus went to Rishikesh and took some photographs, and learned a valuable lesson: I need to practise taking photographs under harsh lighting conditions. Almost ALL the photographs I took that day came out bleached.

This one is one of the few that came out all right. Rishikesh is beautiful this time of the year, and the colours are really vibrant. This one is one of two suspension bridges across the Ganges, and is named "Ram Jhoola", or the swing of Rama. The other bridge is called "Lakshman Jhoola", after his faithful brother, who followed him into exile, leaving his wife behind. Which makes me wonder about long-distance relationships in ancient India.

Anyways, I digress. I realized that suspension bridges form great subjects for photographs - the sweep of their cables gives you a sense of majesty and grace that no other bridge can. I need to go back there and try out more snaps. Meanwhile, let me know what you think of this one.

I uploaded a slightly larger version of this pic, experimenting on how it looks on the page, and how it affects page loading time, so in case your page takes too long to load, please let me know, and I shall go back to the smaller pics.

Ram Jhoola

Camera: Canon EOS 66
Lens: Canon 28-80 mm
Focal length: 28mm
Film: Fuji Pro 100
Aperture: f/16
Shutter Speed: 1/90 sec