Sunday, June 28, 2009

By The Way.

There are days when you come across news that fascinates you beyond rhyme and reason. This, my friends, would be a novel instance.
"Bovine burps are the cause of 3/4th of the world's net methane emission." (Source : Reuters)

Methane, as in, the extremely potent greenhouse gas.
I am amazed. I have no words left at all. Screw the Kyoto Protocol, all we need are genetically modified cows that burp less. Yey!

The Week That Was.

Delhi is melting.
No mincing words here. With temperatures shooting to 45.3 degrees C and still rising, with no hope of respite on the horizon, things look pretty grim. It's HOT! To top it all, the city is also experiencing unprecedented levels of load shedding. And what does the BSES attribute a 25% difference in demand and supply of power? Delayed monsoons. No hydroelectricity. Burn baby burn.

So, drawing an outline here. The country that lauds itself as the next superpower, as an emerging center of economic and infrastructural development and one that is supposedly on the fast-track to absolute excellence and glory and blah blah blah.. is unable to meet one-fourth of the power requirement in its CAPITAL! Because, apparently we still depend on seasonal rainfall to keep the country up and running. That's world class technological development for you.

That's not all. Water supply is also down and out. People are getting murdered over disputes centered entirely on a bucketful of water. Rare, exotic animals in wildlife reserves are dying of dehydration, because there is just no water at all.

India. The country with such immense geographical diversity, with every possible variety of terrain, with all these rivers, a relatively significant forest cover, astounding reserves of natural resources and minerals. With a population that, with adequate planning, can be harnessed as a vast pool of cheap and efficient labor. Sheer luck and random chance has been more than favorable to the county. And yet.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sawasdee Ka!

Flashback to Thailand

March 2008

I had all of two days to explore the city that blinds your senses with color and curry. Also known as "Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit ". Ha! That's the full ceremonial name of the city. And here Pingu(BFF) thought her hometown of Tiruchirapalli was albatross-y. ;)

Well, this is how my checklist ran :

1. Visited the many Wats(temples) in the city, each flaunting ornate sculpturing and thoroughly unpronouncable names. Example : Wat Benchamabophit.

2. Bravely tried the local cuisine. (Which includes more types of arachnids and insects than I knew existed.) Suffice to say, I developed a passionate love for Thai food since that very day.

3. Shopped for trashy souvenirs and beautiful wooden candle stands at the Night Bazaar. (Which is so unimaginably huge and labyrinth-like, I could be lost there forever and never run out of things to gawk at.)

4. Rode a Tuk-Tuk. (Refer to picture)

5. Toured the city along the Chao Phraya river, in a boat steered by a drunk Thai.

6. Haggled about a set of handcrafted chopsticks with a woman who spoke absolutely no English, at the floating market on the river. Also, after providing for the amusement of the waiters at a posh restaurant for about half an hour, I managed to master their use. I now use them to eat Maggi noodles at home, and pooh-pooh at forks..

7. Squeezed into a traditional Thai silk dress. The pretty black thing now adorns my wardrobe to up its exotica quotient. Right next to the GAP hot pants that never got out of the same Alcatraz. ;)

8. Last, but definitely not the least, explored the highly infamous Patpong market, which, unbeknownst to me, was flanked on both sides by strip clubs. No, make that two unending parallel lines of supernumerary strip clubs, one next to the other, catering to all tastes and *cough* orientations. Crossdressers are all the rage, apparently.And yes, we landed up there as innocent wanderers, with no clue as to what we were about to see. My eyes found more reasons than one to turn into saucers every now and then. Memorable, in a hilarious sort of way.

And you've got to love a matriarchal society. Not like Thailand has much of a choice in the matter. Men hardly exist. That might be a slight exaggeration, but the sex-ratio there is majorly skewed. So essentially, it's a society dominated by women. For women. The only congregation of the male specie I saw, was a group of farmers on strike(doing nothing at all) . That's a study in contrasts for someone born and brought up in India.

Moving on, the cab driver we hired to show us around turned out to be a riot, in his own right. He was named Dow-Dow, and chuckled like a hyena at the slightest provocation. :) Nice guy, he was. Thai people, from what I observed, are extremely friendly. From the woman in the silk store who welcomed us with "Andar aaiye", and through the course of the next 15 minutes, worked at acquiring as extensive a Hindi vocabulary as we could offer her, to Mr. Dow-Dow himself, who insisted on playing a DVD of Himesh Reshammiya's songs to make us feel right at home. Heh..Little did he know!

So there we were, out on a starry starry night, in a foreign land and cruising in a luxury sedan, with that irritating nasal voice blaring out for the entertainment/horror of all and sundry. It could easily have been a truck in Bihar, with little difference. That was the moment I almost felt a certain respect for Reshammiya. Thankfully, the state of mind didn't last long.

Friday, June 19, 2009

This Might Make You Smile.

The strangest of things happen to me sometimes. A South Park episode got me wondering why I recognized a certain jingle. Which sent me on a treasure hunt through God Google's territory. And THIS is where it landed me.

Owl Jolson. Dating back to the year 1936.
And I duly hummed the whole thing at least a hundred times while attempting an end-term Operating Systems exam. I can be quite tiresome sometimes. Don't know if the invigilator noticed. I look pretty creepy to begin with, so I never know what to attribute the odd stares to.

Anyhow, this made me realize how much changes with time. Even cartoons back then had more to them than they do today. There was a certain quality to them. Now all my little kid cousins watch is that Japanese manga and naruto stuff. Apparently, it's all the rage. That is, of course, when they manage to drag them themselves away from their PSPs.

Oh, how aged and decrepit I sound.

However, as far as cartoons are concerned, some things do stay forever.
* The older ones watched it on those anachronous video cassettes. I watched on TV. The young 'uns now get it on DVD. Yes, Tom and Jerry.

By the way, if anyone remembers the Owl Jolson jingle, do leave a trail of words behind you.

* As was pointed out by Mindfreak many, many years ago through the course of a fairly non-descript conversation.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


If only I owned a machine gun, I would polish and shine it with the diligence of an OCD-stricken gunsmith. Then one day I shall load it and wait for the clock to strike 1:01. I shall wear my brand new boots and walk out on the streets and put five bullets each through every hyperactive clown dressed in neon pants.

No. It's not paranoia this time.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Pictures, As Promised.

The Beach 1 : Harihareshwar.
Pretty, ain't it? :)

The Beach 2 :
Words cannot describe how much fun I had navigating through those rocks.

The OTHER Beach : Diveagar

Footprints in the sand.

And the foot that caused them. ;)

The Gulmohar.

What a tropical forest looks like, up close and personal.

The way to the beach.

Canopy. Of banana trees.

Somewhere, near some lake, near some dam, where they had jack fruits growing all over the place.

On the way. Taken through the window of a moving car.

Also taken on the way.

Yep. This too.

Because no trip is complete without the local cuisine.

My uncle's place. You've got to love the greens.

Perspective. At Pink City.

The Little Kitten in the window. :)

The nest of a baya weaver. Fascinating stuff.

The baya is like a wild sparrow but yellow. It is extremely intelligent, obedient and docile. It will take small coins from the hand and bring them to its master, and will come to a call from a long distance. Its nests are so ingeniously constructed as to defy the rivalry of clever artificers.

Āīn (trans. Jarrett), iii. 122. (ca. 1590) quoted in the Hobson Jobson

Sunday, June 14, 2009

A Comparative Tale of Two Cities.

Being in Pune makes me feel like I'm seated right in the middle of a time-continuum discrepancy. Life in slow motion. None of the bustling rush that is only so characteristic of the capital. Every morning, you're greeted by something that can only measure up to a mere excuse for a newspaper. Apparently, nothing much happens in the city. I cannot express my amusement at finding the Page-3 section featuring a culinary workshop, with a 60-or-so year old chef demonstrating the finer points of a zucchini to a bunch of middle-aged women, all swathed in aprons with spatula in hand. Talk about contrasts! This is usually a good thing as long as you're on vacation. Living in Pune is, of course, an entirely different proposition.

The people are better behaved. Nothing like your average ostentatious Delhite. I personally find them to be unusually amicable, without being the prying sort. At least here is a place where people have mastered the art of minding their own business.

Owing to the presence of the Hinjewadi IT park, and the various universities that attract students from all over the country, my layman estimates accredit my predisposed notions of most of the city being a humongous, over-grown campus. In any case, there has got to be a good reason for it being called Oxford of the East (which, even to me, is too much of an exaggeration). The fact that I have friends there back from school days, only adds to my enthusiasm.

What I find strange is that if ever you choose to venture out of the city, and into the many quaint little towns dispersed all over the western ghats and the Konkan belt, it is like being in an entirely different country. Mahabaleshwar, Matheran, Lonawala, Khandala, Panchgani, Malsaaj Ghat, Hari-Hareshwar and Diveagar are the places I have had the opportunity to visit during the course of my stays in Pune and Mumbai, the last two being the most recent. In the more remote of these places, it is not uncommon to find that nothing is ever written in Hindi or English. Navigation can be especially fun when you find that even the people don't really speak anything other than Marathi. I found myself comparing this with my experiences in Guangzhou, China where at least all signboards and text was accompanied by (grammatically absurd) English translations! The extent of cultural diversity to be found in our country, within a matter of a 1000 km or so, is nothing short of astounding. In a good way.

The weather is great. So are the vast expanses of lush greenery. And the never-ending monsoons and thunderstorms. Pune is also the point of confluence of the Mula and Mutha rivers, which have an unusual inclination towards being flooded, in all convenience.

Pune is pretty much the only place where I have been denied entry into a store like Croma, at exactly 9:02 PM. Something of the sort is fairly unimaginable in Delhi, where the shopping begins post office-hours. And as a friendly word of advice, if you ever happen to be in a mall, dining at a restaurant, and decide to leave anytime post 10:00 PM, be prepared to walk out and find the place having been shut down on you. The "stores closed-lights out" sort of shut down. Yes, that happened. :)

And I do have a lot more to say, but I'll let pictures do the talking.
"Sights through a Pentax".
Coming soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Someday. Today.

Somewhere over the rainbow, we will find things undreamt of.
Someday we will wake up to find the sky a little bluer, the leaves a little greener. Because things are not always how they seem to be. And because change happens. It happens to life, sometimes like spring happens to a garden still trapped in winterlude slumber. Someday, we won't watch the rain with our noses pressed wistfully against the window pane. We will remember how it felt to get soaked in it, and we will step out to walk barefoot in the streets.

Someday we will open our eyes, and be awestruck by the beauty of things we created and lived with, but never really noticed. Someday we'll learn to dance our woes away. Because we've all created tiny little worlds around ourselves, where everything is possible, and where very little separates will and intent. A few miles down this road, we'll see a tiny little leaf growing out from a crack on the pavement, and we will smile. Because hope can be done without, only when an insipid existence is part of the deal.

Someday, we will set out on a journey, carrying nothing along. Because there will be so much to collect along the way, and baggage is such an unnecessary botheration. We will learn to let go of it. We won't know where to go. All we would know is that there is as much ahead as that which we are leaving behind, if not more.

Someday, we'll learn to discover things, and not merely observe them. Someday, we'll stop running. We'll stop rushing through life and learn to experience it instead. We will stop to admire the view, because someday we will find enough reasons to do so. Someday, we'll stop telling ourselves that someday is just around the corner. And that is when justice will be done to years and decades of todays.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Au Revoir...

Off to Pune.

The city I've grown to love, for a number of reasons that I will rant endlessly about when I get back. Try and stop me! Yeah.. try.

7 days of the shop-eat-shop-drop-shopsomemore routine.

This will also serve as an experiment. I'm about to find out what effects one week of abstinence from the internet will have on my psychosomatic state-of-being.

The chirpy little cuckoo continues to tap-dance in my head.

And to conclude... Ciao Folks!