Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Of adventure, possibilities and more...

“In twenty years you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked.”
The trip to France was a part of this possibility and so will be future endeavors. It was an adventure, a learning experience, an eye opener and an attempt to temporarily satisfy my insatiable appetite for travel.
This space will soon hold everything I can record about this tour. And more.
Coming soon to this blog, a click away.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

10 Worst Evolutionary Designs

From Wired, a website I follow, here is a gem, or ten. See this. Hilarious!
1 Sea mammal blowhole. Any animal that spends appreciable time in the ocean should be able to extract oxygen from water via gills. Enlarging the lungs and moving a nostril to the back of the head is a poor work-around.
2 Hyena clitoris. When engorged, this "pseudopenis," which doubles as the birth canal, becomes so hard it can crush babies to death during exit.
3 Kangaroo teat. In order to nurse, the just-born joey, a frail and squishy jellybean, must clamber up Mom's torso and into her pouch for a nipple.
4 Giraffe birth canal. Mama giraffes stand up while giving birth, so baby's entry into the world is a 5-foot drop. Wheeee! Crack.
5 Goliath bird-eating spider exoskeleton. This giant spider can climb trees to hunt very mobile prey. Yet it has a shell so fragile it practically explodes when it falls? Well, at least it can produce silk to make a sail. Oh, wait — it can't!
6 Shark-fetus teeth. A few shark species have live births (instead of laying eggs). The Jaws juniors grow teeth in the womb. The first sibling or two to mature sometimes eat their siblings in utero. Mmm ... siblings.
7 Human stomach. People can digest a lot — except for cellulose, the primary component of plant matter. Why don't we have commensal bacteria in our guts to do it? They're busy helping termites.
8 Slug genitalia. Some hermaphroditic species breed by wrapping their sex organs around each other. If one of said members gets stuck, the slug simply chews it off. What. The. Hell?
9 Quadrupeds. Let's say you're a four-footed animal. Now let's say you get a wound on your back, or an itch, or a bug wandering up there. Tough luck, kid. You probably can't do much about it. Hope there's a low branch around.
10 Narwhal tusk. The unicorn-like protuberance on a male narwhal's head is actually a tooth that erupts through the front of the jaw and keeps on growing, up to 9 feet. Narwhal: "Doc, I have a toothache." Dentist: "Indeed."
 
 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I read somewhere....

Life is Best for those who want to Live it,
Life is Difficult for those who want to Analyze it,
Life is worst for those who want to Criticize it,
Our Attitude Defines Life...

Enjoy Your Life….
Laugh so Hard That even Sorrow Smiles at You,
Live Life so Well That even Death Loves to see you Alive,
Fight so Hard That even Fate accepts its Defeat...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The crash and the song

There was a tiny temple along a busy street. Every year, around the time the palkhi went to Pandharpur, the temple hosted a ten day festival of religious songs, light and classical music and occasionally, dance. All kinds of artists from the contemporary greats to those not so known descended upon the temple to offer their talents in service to the lord. Audience used to throng the inside the madap and those not so lucky had to stand outside and be satisfied with a peek through the windows. Sometimes it rained and the crowd outside would brave the weather if the performer was particularly good. Everyone who performed were guaranteed and crowd, small or large.

Once a famous yesteryears playback singer was specially invited to present her songs on evening. As expected the crowd started gathering an hour before the concert was due to begin. The street was tiny as the temple that stood on it and parking became a struggle. Since common interests prevailed, people co operated with each other like never before. Cars and two wheelers jostled for space till every inch was finally consumed. Someone with foresight had set aside space for the singer's big car already.

Finally she arrived, the maroon Linea gleaming with the beads of freshly fallen rain. It sparkled in the florescent street lamps and when she emerged from the car a cheer went up among the people standing to get a glimpse. She went in a quickly with her troupe to a big applause.

Everyone settled down in about 30 minutes. She began on a great note with an ode to the lord and the audience was enthralled right away. As one gem of a song after another wafted from the silken voice, the numbers outside the temple swelled. The crown was now virtually blocking the street. Whatever little space was left was claimed by passersby on vehicle who had stopped in their tracks after recognizing the voice. Little children perched on shoulders and vehicles, elders leaning on whatever they could find around, were bewitched by each new song whether they could see her or not. Not a soul stirred as the notes settled gently on everyone's heart.

Just then…CRASH!!! Every head turned in the direction of the sound. A car which was attempting to reverse had crashed headlong into another parked car in a perpendicular direction. Everyone with the exception of those inside the temple surged towards the scene of the crash as the driver of the offending car quickly righted it and parked in an even worse position that before. The owner of the car that was badly smashed was nowhere to be seen, so it became the moral responsibility of those on the scene to trace him down and inform him if the damages. Several cell phone were immediately pressed into service. After all the owner might be a friend of a friend's friend who lived on that street. Meanwhile, some others had cornered the driver of the other car and were giving him an earful.

Suddenly the crowd parted to give way to a more authorative figure - the Linea driver. He gave the impression of a man who had seen it all and knew exactly what to do. He walked up purposefully to the terrified driver and …slapped him hard. The crowd gave a collective gasp. He spoke making sure the crowd was hanging on to every word. Till that point, he was just the Linea driver, but now everyone knew he drove THE Linea.

There were two groups now active on the crash site. One group took it upon themselves to scrutinize every inch of the car for damages so that the owner would have a detailed report should he turn up. That he would also know how the car fared on the non damaged side was a bonus, whether he wanted to hear it or not. The fact that the car was parked parallel to a wall where the street light's glow did not reach was overlooked. Another set was making sure the offending driver stayed put and other people who were not lucky enough to have examined the car or witnessed the crash and post crash incidents first hand, knew every thing there was to know. The melodious voice now faced competition from the car in terms to bringing everyone to a standstill. The more interesting happenings and the activities of the self appointed groups pulled many from the audience towards the accident scene. Some were seen battling an internal dilemma. Being true blue Punekars, both prospects were equally interesting. With one ear to the music and other to the discussions, they could not partake the joy of either. Some finally succumbed to the charms of a full blown public street discussion and moved away.

Several curious ladies had by this time joined in as onlookers. Naturally, there was now a need for explaining the whole thing start to finish in a manner that they would understand. The most vocal members from the groups took over this responsibility and also threw in a tour of the affected car.

The owner was still missing and nobody had thought of calling in the Police.

The groups grew larger with time and like the ball of flames attracted every metallic thing towards itself in Spiderman 2 , the groups gained mass by drawing away the listeners.

The author of this episode, the hapless driver, was a mute spectator to everything. He was spoken to, pointed towards, summoned here and there, as the crowd juiced the situation for whatever it was worth.

The singer and her songs faded into the background of the minds of those present on the street that night. The crowd dynamics dominated the show till the last note.

Finally as the closing notes of the pasayadan, the final song, floated away in the air, silence descended upon a tumultuous night.

Friday, May 08, 2009

In the driver's seat

Notice how you can tell a lot about someone from the way they drive a vehicle? The over confident types will zoom ahead from the left only to be stopped in their tracks by a lone cyclist that they failed to notice or a parked car that suddenly materialized. The insane ones will overtake from the left at even more insane speeds and carry on regardless of any cyclist or pedestrian. They’ll just manage to save lives – their own and that of the hapless live obstacle, by the skin of their teeth. These types are in for a crash landing sooner than later. The driving-for-solace from – fill in the blank with any of the following; nagging spouse, time to kill, no hurry to reach, procrastinating – will keep the same speed on any kind of road but will irritate everyone equally. The righteous ones will insist on following every rule in the book and invite glares from others. The funniest types are those who talk to themselves as they drive – day dreamers obviously, thrashing out that dream deal with the client or making the winning point in an argument. And then there are some who sing or whistle on the go. Lucky chaps!

Over these years of driving every possible make of vehicle, except perhaps a truck, I have learnt that your driving style says a lot about how you are as a person. DJ drives like a king – calm, in control, steady and really aware. AJ is the kind of driver you’d think is the reason passenger insurance was invented for, but I admire her confidence at fast speeds. AW can drive as the situation demands which most of the time is needed-to-get-yesterday types. CS is an extremely alert driver and can drive hours in the morning without a wink of sleep the previous night. His alertness also extends to noticing a road toll booth with a distracted cash collector and passing through it without paying a penny. I have not had the privilege to ride with RW as driver, but I am sure she drives more to commute that to drive-drive, know what I mean? Much like her nature, she must be a very composed driver. Your truly tries to be technically perfect with – not cutting corners while turning, keeping to road lanes and reversing with the least amount of back n forth. And doing some chepa-chepi once in a while! :)

There is another thing interesting phenomenon I have started to notice these days. Especially since, I take all possible alternative routes while driving to and from work. Your temperament for that day will largely depend on the routes/roads you are driving your vehicle on and the experiences therein.

The other day, I was driving on the new directioned Main Street in Camp. The vehicles around me seemed to breeze past when the sundry cows, vendors and double parked cars looked like roadblocks to me. Their pace was impatient, flashy. Honking to warn as they overtook me did not seem like a nice thing to do, so they just counted on my alertness and zoomed ahead. You will find this happening typically on main roads that allow one-way traffic. Take the example of the road in front of Saras Baug that leads to Abhinav college chowk, or Bajirao road. This experience can unsettle folks and leave them excessively alert in everything they had planned for that morning.

As I reached deeper into Rasta Peth, the roads grew thinner due to the many encroachments. The traffic was heavy but slow, motorist honked without the intent to get ahead. They just honked to see if it widened the road any more than it was, I think. The occasional bus that navigates this narrow route takes sadistic pleasure in letting motorists trail behind, like a comet’s tail, without giving them the opportunity to get ahead. The folks in the tail would surly be grinding their teeth over this and may turn out having an irritable day. In all this, an enterprising fellow can spot an opening and zip ahead in the blink of an eye, narrowly missing an on coming vehicle and have his moment of glory.

Occasionally, one has a good day where one is able to miss the maximum pot holes, overtake a rickie who is floating along looking for passengers with minimum risk involved, and manage to get past a signal that just turned red leaving the rest behind. On better days one can decisively score over speed-n-screech kind of drivers who, in my observation, invariably drive smoky Yamahas. These types maintain a speed of 80 Kmph between obstacles which are 5 meters apart and they love to burn rubber so very often. These are days of mixed emotions, tiny victories and negligible losses.

On the best days though, which occurs once in several light years, there are rickshaw strikes, the roads are laid out like a dream, hope floats, and you wish you had that Hayabusa instead of your fuel efficient bike. The day passes in a haze of bliss nevertheless.

Expressways are a different ball game. The upmarket vehicals disappear in a blur in the right most lane, while the Indigos, Taveras and Omni’s zip along in the middle lanes. You can either be content where you are or chew your brains in frustration at the BMW that just went by. Or better convince yourself how fast you car travels compared to the huge trailers in the last lane. You meet some nuts sometimes, in Indicas or i10s, tiny cars who roar by in the fastest lane. The roar is more due to the overload that the engine is taking at such high speeds than the roar of pride at achieving it. You can only chuckle at such folks and find solace in you much safer driving practice.

The typical highways all over India are in mountainous terrain and by that virtue are very narrow. 
I have yet to see a more disciplined lot than the army truck drivers in Leh and the bus drivers in the Gadhwal Kumaon region as well as in Skikkm. It takes immense patience, skill and a vicarious selflessness to drive like that. Not a honk or a squeak can be heard from those souls as they wait for several long minutes to let heavy vehicles pass or give priority to Army convoys. 

Or for hours while a landslide or a layer of 6 feet thick snow gets cleared.

From Pune to Leh to Sikkim, each to his own I guess!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

See, I told you....

If you read about Mr. Sikh journalist doing a boot chuck, this blog was the first to predict it! You read it here first!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shoe story

Before my first trip to the US, I was at the receiving end of a lot of ‘legends’ about public safety and rules there. I was told, in an appropriately hushed voice, that in the US, wearing expensive shoes in a not-so-nice part of town was sure to invite the attentions of a mugger. So if I happened to wear a branded pair of shoes, I’d be wise to keep to lit and crowded places. (Or go bare foot instead?) I, on my part, was so eager to test this out and make a beeline for the rough part of a city I did not know much about, wishing I’d get to meet a ‘real’ mugger that I was ready to sacrifice my 2 year old well worn but branded Reeboks for this once-in-a-lifetime chance. 

Now, this was long before the world discovered the “Bootchuck” mechanism. Shoes, branded or otherwise, leather or suede - are no longer safe. Muggers now have acute competition from a new tribe. Members of this tribe are found in huge roving droves (I like the way these 2 last words roll off the tongue, don’ you?) at events called “Protest marches”, “Press conferences”. The tribe claims that it has its origins in Iraq and its members are propagating their practices all over the globe. Latest reports in from Thailand note the trendsetting ways of this tribe. Read here.

The Shoe Sena, here in India, has vehemently denied this claim and wants to invite the tribesmen to India in order to experience the bootchuck first hand. The Sena says that the “bootchuck” was an Indian invention and ancient India’s gift to the world. Much like Aryabhatta’s Zero. They have put together a video of parliamentary proceedings (for anyone interested in watching it) that shows without a doubt that when short of furniture, mikes, speaker notes and other bodies, the “bootchuck” is the most popular alternative used by the people’s representatives. Now with their representatives actively setting such a trend, the people are sure to follow, is the Sena’s line of reasoning.

Not to be left far behind the world, the country (at that time) led by The Former President, has blazed its own track in responding to this upcoming trend. They have proudly unveiled the “Bootduck” mechanism from their arsenal for the world to see. While the accuracy of “Bootchuck” is still to be perfected, the “Bootduck” has evolved quite rapidly considering they just got a split second to come up with an appropriate reaction. “Bootduck” is already on its way to become a popular custom for heads of state, press secretaries and anyone else who has to face the roving droves often.
May the tribes increase!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

#26

moonlight carves a shadow
my dreams take wing
the wind whispers once more
the heart can sing

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

99 things

Things you’ve already done: bold = 34

Things you want to do: italicize = 39

Things you haven’t done and don’t want to - leave in plain font = 26


1. Started your own blog.

2. Slept under the stars. (And shivered!)

3. Played in a band. (Yes, it was a band, honest!)

4. Visited Hawaii.

5. Watched a meteor shower.

6. Given more than you can afford to charity. (Now why would anyone do that? But let me try.)

7. Been to Disneyland/world. (I've been to all sorts of lands and am kinda tired of them. I'll try slumberland any day though :) )

8. Climbed a mountain. (Love to do that a lot.)

9. Held a praying mantis. (Yes, in those days I did not know what it was that I was holding, ugh!)

10. Sang a solo. (Yeah,its always solo in the bath, isn't it?)

11. Bungee jumped.

12. Visited Paris. (Oooh! I so want to be there.)

13. Watched a lightning storm at sea. (But not be in the middle of one for sure.)

14. Taught yourself an art from scratch. (Collage)

15. Adopted a child. (Nice idea, but I am not sure I'll pass. One child cannot adopt another.)

16. Had food poisoning. (Not a nice idea.)

17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty. (and do what??)

18. Grown your own vegetables.

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France. (Yes, when I go to Paris.)

20. Slept on an overnight train. (All the time. You do that often in this part of the world.)

21. Had a pillow fight. (Plenty, and got a hiding afterwards from folks.)

22. Hitch hiked. (Worth considering!)

23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill. (Tee hee!)

24. Built a snow fort.(Sounds fun!)

25. Held a lamb. (Yes, and I've a pict to prove it.)

26. Gone skinny dipping. (No way!)

27. Run a marathon. (Yes and plan to run more.)

28. Ridden a gondola in Venice. (With someone special.)

29. Seen a total eclipse. (YES!!!)

30. Watched a sunrise or sunset. (Of course, everyone has.)

31. Hit a home run. (I'm Indian, we hit sixes and fours, not home runs.)

32. Been on a cruise. (Hmmm, I can't wait)

33. Seen Niagara Falls in person. (What lovely falls but what a crappy town!)

34. Visited the birthplace of your ancestors. (I'm sitting on it.)

35. Seen an Amish community. (Wouldn't know where to look, but let me try.)

36. Taught yourself a new language. (I presume my school and college French counts.)

37.Had enough money to be truly satisfied. (Can I italicize that twice over?)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person.

39. Gone rock climbing. (Several times and can't wait for the next opportunity.)

40. Seen Michelangelo’s David in person. (What big hands you have David, said Little Red Riding hood)

41. Sung Karaoke. (Eh!)

42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt. (Huh?)

43. Bought a stranger a meal in a restaurant. (Hope someone on their list of 99 does that for this stranger too)

44. Visited Africa. (Closest I've got is Mauritius, plan to go further)

45. Walked on a beach by moonlight. (With a littoral area as big as India's I'm sure everyone will do this once in their lifetime.)

46. Been transported in an ambulance. (Yes, but never as the patient and I want to keep it that way)

47. Had your portrait painted. (Don't like to be photographed therefore no sketching either.)

48. Gone deep sea fishing. (Hmm.. sounds interesting, and then cook the fresh catch?)

49. Seen the Sistine chapel in person. (Yes, there will be this big art appreciation trip which will take me to Italy, France and England)

50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.(During that aforementioned trip)

51. Gone scuba diving or snorkelling. (Neither, but have done a sea walk with a upside down belljar like thingy on my head and it weighed a ton!)

52. Kissed in the rain. (So that the wet kiss is wetter still??)

53. Played in the mud. (Heaps, both mud and played :P)

54. Gone to a drive-in theater.

55. Been in a movie. (Assorted videos yes, many times, but not a proper movie. Let's just say that I am meant to be on the other side of the camera :) )

56. Visited the Great Wall of China. (A must do!)

57. Started a business. (ON my mind).

58. Taken a martial arts class. (You are talking to a Red belt in Judo, careful there)

59. Visited Russia. St Petersberg.( And also the Kremlin)

60. Served at a soup kitchen. (Langar is the Indian equivalent of a ...faint chance)

61. Sold Girl Scout cookies. (I am better at polishing them off)

62. Gone whale watching. (I've done penguins, dolphins...want to add sharks)

63. Gotten flowers for no reason. (Choo Chweet...some one out there listening?)

64. Donated blood. (A whole 1.5 liters of it over several occasions)

65. Gone sky diving. (Came really close to doing it in Chicago....waiting for the next opportunity)

66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp. (Intend to do this.)

67. Bounced a check. (3 times actually when the amount in numbers and figures did not match, *sheepish *)

68. Flown in a helicopter.

69. Saved a favorite childhood toy. (Several and they have survived several threats to being disposed off.)

70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial.

71. Eaten Caviar. (Might try it once.)

72. Pieced a quilt. (My mum did it for me and I hope to do it for someone else, at least put together the design that is.)

73. Stood in Times Square. (Want to do it at least once to feel the sheer energy that accumulates in that place.)

74. Toured the Everglades. (And where would they be? England I suppose.)

75. Been fired from a job.

76. Seen the Changing of the Guard in London. (Oh! I must make that trip)

77. Broken a bone. (My little toe and the toe next to it. Still simmers in the winters)

78. Been on a speeding motorcycle. (Have motorcycle, will speed.)

79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person.(Maybe a trip to the Americas is also in order.)

80. Published a book. (It's in the works :P)

81. Visited the Vatican. (When in Italy..)

82. Bought a brand new car. (Yes...on the anvil..wishlist..whatever)

83. Walked in Jerusalem.

84. Had your picture in the newspaper. (Yeah! They put in my pic and my opinion.)

85. Read the entire Bible.

86. Visited the White House. (Not by a mile.)

87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating. (Might try that with crabs.)

88. Had chickenpox. (As a kid, yes.)

89. Saved someone’s life. (Not that I am itching to, but it would be nice. Nicer, if I come out unscathed)

90. Sat on a jury.(No can do here)

91. Met someone famous. (Hmmm..let me see....meanwhile people who have met me please say yes to this one)

92. Joined a book club. (Sounds interesting!)

93. Lost a loved one. (My grandparents)

94. Had a baby. (huh?)

95. Seen the Alamo in person.

96. Swum in the Great Salt Lake. (More like floated in the GSL.)

97. Been involved in a law suit. (Let's keep it that way.)

98. Owned a cell phone. (3 so far and counting.)

99. Been stung by a bee. (Almost, but the fellow went after someone jucier :) )

Monday, January 05, 2009

Saying little...

One month a few years ago, had been particularly taxing. I had been grappling with some work related issues for the past few weeks. A client refused to be held to the scope of a project I was initiating and insisted on a build-as we progress approach. In my attempt to get started well, I refused to proceed without a scope and thus we were locked in a diplomatic war of words. Since apparently no work was getting done, my manager stepped in. Now, this manager then not being the support-and-get-out-of-my-way kinds, made matters worse. I threw cautions to the wind, and I made the mistake of making this a personal matter. So much so that every step I took brought me closer to loosing it. Why was I letting myself be cornered into agreeing to something I knew was flawed right at the outset? All I could do was think of my team who hung on to my every word and was loyal to the core. I could not understand what ailed me...why was I practicing this kind of brinkmanship? This was definitely the riskiest approaches in the scenario, since my worth is entirely driven by how much my team manages to deliver.

Before I could reach a stage where enough was enough, I took a breather. I pushed away everything for a couple of days, went into a no-response mode. I sat in Holmes like concentration running everything through my head, info-byte by info-byte. In that state of mind I actually distanced myself from the situation at the workplace. I had made this too personal, involved my id and ego in it. I had to snip the tethers, let the ship stray from the port. To cut the long story short, I realised that if I am composed enough, I can help how I perceive the most hard nosed and dull headed clients. I can strategise, anticipate and lay traps (wicked, wicked) to make things work my way. During this whole time saying as little as possible helps. The virtues of a meaningful silence can be found in every alternate wave in the sea of self help guides and books. Except for rare life or death situations NOTHING is as important as it first seems except you and your priorities. Deep down I knew I was right in asking for what I was asking and this state of mind helped me be doubly sure:). I am sure there is a name and a discovery attached to this state I had stumbled upon. Its ok, I am not eager to find out.

For no other thing but this, I have that ass of a client and an interfering manager to thank. And for inspiring this this post I have A's post to thank. :)

# 25

.....new year new horizons
autumn leaves fall freely
the dark devils of decline
submit to exuberance meekly........