Friday, December 30, 2005
This is how it happened.
The tectonic plates that were sitting still for millions of years decide to scratch their back a little, how would they know that by then millions would be dead and billions lost. Few hurricanes and cyclones tired of monotony chose to play, little did they knew this would leave mega cities inundated, and render millions homeless.
Starting from 26th December 2004, India has witnessed over seven natural calamities and 2005 became a year of largest financial loss as a result of weather-related disasters.
The loss is estimated to be over Rs. 87,500 crore during this year with some of the industrialized states getting the hardest blow.
The Mumbai floods, that created history for receiving the most down pour in a single day (944 m) combined with the ONGC’s Bombay High disaster caused a loss of 30,000 crore. Tsunami and the recent floods in Tamil Nadu cost a cumulative 44,000 crore. That’s not all, the Karnataka floods cost 7500 crore, the Gujarat floods 4500 Crore and the Himachal floods 3,000 crore. If there were floods all over here, there were other parts that were drying in drought. Of course, let’s not exclude the earthquake in Kashmir.
We are not alone in this issue, the December’s Tsunami created havoc from the coasts of Australia all the way to Somalia, destroying everything in its way. There were earth quakes in Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan and POK. China faced severe floods.
Who can forget what Wilma and Katrina (not the models but the Hurricanes) did to US? Wilma (Miss Universe) was the strongest Hurricane ever while Katrina (Miss World) was the costliest Hurricane ever with a price tag of over $125 bn.
Across the globe, weather-related disasters led to an estimated $200 bn loss in ’05 compared to $145 bn in ’04.
Are we testing the limits of ecological balance? Is this Mother Nature’s way of teaching her children to respect her?
As the most intelligent and the single most dominant species of a world that’s shared by billions of different species, it’s our duty to conserve nature.
Act now or there won’t be a tomorrow.
Read more here
Friday, December 23, 2005
“Funny! World Cup is in 2007, and morevoer this is end of December 2005 and I didn’t see any World cup happening this year, and that too nine countries, you must be out of your mind.” If this is what you are thinking, continue reading.
Ganguly was dropped from the team and the impact rocked the Parliament. If Sachin injures his left leg little finger, it’ll be on the main page of the Daily new paper and if some one plays for one match, he’ll be the next target for the billion dollar advertising company. Most of all, if the Indian team is going to the world cup next year, the entire country gears up to watch it already. From customized music albums, to constantly recurring motivational advertisements to even offering special poojas at temples, every player is in the spotlight.
But when a team of proud Indians play cricket against teams from eight other countries and win the World Cup, it won’t even get a single line mention in papers leave alone the media only because they are all Deaf?
Visit the Deaf Cricket International Federation.
Read more about the Second World Cup for Deaf.
Read about the Final Match when India beat England to take the cup.
Monday, December 19, 2005
The city wakes up early, and by 8AM people are already on the move. More people mean more activities. This city has a lot of activities and entertainment all through the year, including seasonal carnivals, ethnic fests, theater plays, night clubs and fanatic sports activities. Toronto may appear happening and industrious during the day, but past 7 PM, most of downtown will become deserted and turn cold in silence!
Toronto homes the CN Tower, the tallest man made structure built till date baring only the KVLY-TV mast, which is a TV tower in North Dakota, USA. See Also
So, why is Toronto in my blog today?
Is it because, it’s not in the top 20 cities in population, or not in the top 20 cities in economy or just because it has the tallest concrete structure in the world?
Toronto is a geographically challenged city. The city has two wonderful seasons like spring and fall but faces the wroth of the summer and winter in between them. If the summer bulls the mercury to 40 degree C, the winter can bear it to -40!
So, if this city’s weather is so unforgiving, why is it still so happening?
It’s because of the best use of the exorbitant 15% tax levied on every merchandise bought, apart from the 30% levied on income.
Toronto has one of the best public movement systems in the world. Apart from the busses, trains, street cars (trams) that are cost effective and cover the cross sections of the city, Toronto has something the world should admire.
It has the PATH. Whether going for work, visiting a client, shopping for a gift, catching the subway train, or just lazing around, the PATH is the right medium for you!
PATH is downtown Toronto's temperature controlled underground walkway linking 27 kilometers of shopping, services and entertainment. Follow PATH and you'll reach your downtown destination easily in weatherproof comfort. It has over 4 million square feet of retail space running for 16 miles and connecting over 50 important buildings in downtown. See more for details on the PATH
A snap of the PATH
That’s not all; if you think you know all about energy saving, have a second thought.
Toronto is one of the pioneer cities pledging to reduce the citywide emissions by a whooping 20% in 1990. It has well exceeded this goal in its own corporate facilities and operations, reducing these emissions by about one million tonnes or 42% from 1990 levels.
And what’s next? Its new Deep Lake Water Cooling project will draw cold water from the bottom of Lake Ontario to provide air conditioning for a number of large buildings in downtown Toronto. It will use 75-90% less electricity than traditional air-conditioning.
Read more here
Guess, now you accept this city is worth a mention. This city, Will never stop.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
I have been in a major cooking spree, and I prepared some delicious Pasta for dinner.
Incase case you wonder how I did?
First take adequate quantity of Pasta, add a pinch of salt, three times water and boil till the pasta is really soft. Drain the remaining water and keep it aside.
Take some vegetables like Capsicum, Carrot and Broccolis (or anything you feel fit). Chop them finely and microwave for 2 to 3 minutes to make them soft. If you don’t use microwave, boil them on a vessel for a short while.
Heat a dry pan, add some vegetable oil (or any edible oil you can lay your hands on), add a cup of tomato puree and cook till fresh smell is off, add the half baked vegetables and fry for a short while. Add a cup of milk, let it boil. Add salt and spicing ingredients. Stir continuously. Add the drained pasta and stir/cook for a while. Add butter or fresh cream and take it out of the pan. Garnish with the greens and your pasta is ready.
Additional tip: Spread some grated cheese and microwave it for 2 minutes to have some melting cheese pasta.
Now a treat for all the waiting eyes..
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
How will it be when you only have the upper half of your body and you have to live with a father who suffers from Alzheimer's and dementia and a brother who is mentally challenged?
Rosemarie (Rose) Siggins was born with a disorder known as Sacral Agenesis. Meet her here to know more about this Extra-ordinary lady and her fight for the right to live a normal life.
I saw a program on TLC channel about her when she said (something similar to) “I am not handicapped, one who cannot do something is handicapped, I can do them, may be differently”.
My hats are off to respect her.
Saturday, November 26, 2005
I was 10,000 miles away, but thanks to technology, we can do everything except touch, smell and taste.
I decided to make a cake, and cut it for him...
With overwhelming response for my first cake, and from the lessons I leant, I attempted a more mature cake this time.
I called it, Karthik's Choco-chocochip Apple cake... hm.. no prizes for guessing the ingredients here :)
And here it is,
It was much better in looks and taste and really hard to resist, but with 24 hrs still to go for my dad's bday, I kept my hands and mouth tightly shut.
Right on time, I got the cake, and cut it for my dad who was watching it live from the beautiful Far East.
Soon after, the cake didn’t last 15 minutes.
Monday, November 14, 2005
I tried my hands on making a cake and this is how I did it.
Cake mix - 500 gms
Flavored whipped cream - as needed
water - 250ml
Butter or Vegetable oil 75gms
This is an egg-less cake, but eggs can be added (recommended qty: 3).
First mix the power, water and butter and beat them for up to 4 mins (add eggs if being used).
Just to prove I am preparing the cake :) (sadly I was my own camera man)
Take a vessel, preferably a nonstick one, and grease the sides with butter or oil.
And evenly pour the mix into the vassal.
Bake the mix for about 30 mins, in a preheated oven at 325 degree C.
The cake base is ready
Take the whipped Cream,
And apply over the cake, till its fully covered..
And Hurray!!! My CAKE is Ready..
Trust me, its tasty tasty.. yum..yummy yum…
Saturday, November 12, 2005
I got a new (relatively) optical mouse for my laptop, I had the drivers installed and fit the mouse to its slot, but it wouldn’t work. I knew it work earlier but couldn’t quite get why it didn’t respond. After (re)searching the control panel and the physical socket in all dimensions, BANG, the gyan came in, my laptop and the mouse were rested on a glass table and the light from the mouse happily passed thru w/o reflecting and that means no net displacement. I was wondering for a long time why did man invent a mouse pad, today I acknowledge that invention.
I was in the Bangalore International Airport at 2 AM crossing the final check before boarding the flight.
A lady employees of the Airlines had her made up smiley face and was wishing “Bye”, and I said “Bye”, the other lady said “Thank you” and I said the same thing, and the security guy said “Have a nice flight”, and I spontaneously said “You too”…DING.. I found I was sleeping already.
You may share your funny incident if you wish to.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
Diwali is logically the beginning of a new year for most business people throughout India. Hindus and Jains alike pray to the goddess Lakshmi to bless them with progress and prosperity.
Despite heavy rainfalls flooding most parts of Chennai, causing huge loss to people and property, the sprit of Diwali as always was seen lit up.
Wondering if the below picture was taken in the Times Square, or a busy shopping arcade in Dubai or Singapore? Well you need to look again.
This is how Purasawalkam, the area I stay looks for weeks during the Diwali season. This 300 meter long shopping paradise in North Central Chennai attracts Lakhs of people from all walks of life every day during festival times. From road-side shops to retail outlets, there is something for everyone. The year 2005 saw an unprecedented level of security and traffic regulatory arrangements that helped maintain law and order throughout the season.
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
This was how Bangalore was paralyzed after a rain that lasted just for 5 hours. Water was logged everywhere and normal life went in for big spin.
On my way to from Chennai to Bangalore, the bus took close to 5 hr and 30 minutes to cover the 350 odd KMs and an extra 2 hrs just to pass a 5 km stretch on Hosur Road.
If this city gets to such shapes with rain, trust me, it would have been out of the world map if it got any close to what Mumbai received.
This city has been crying for basic infrastructure and now it’s evident. It’s sad to see that despite all these, politicians are busy fighting petty power battles with the definite visionaries of this city. I’ve already described the plight of Bangalore in earlier blog (The BIG BANG(ALORE)).
Here are few snaps to know I really meant what I said.
Few snaps are from my friend Kaushik, will the rest are from a forward…
Wipro office - Under water Adventure i guess :)
Call Superman... HURRY!!!
This is no hovercraft.
Hum honge kaamiyab...
Hm, was the wall built on Ambuja cement ??
And for the best (i mean worst)...
Water water everywhere.. not a drop to drink.
5 or 7 years back things were much simpler, where parents called their children with some fancy god’s names prefixing or suffixing with their ancestor’s names. I still remember my Andhra friends whose names extended something like “Satyasai seelamanjula satyabaskara venkatakalyana Rajendra Prasad Reddy”. Despite being long and virtually impossible to fit in a passport, it was an easy task for the parents whose only work was to respect all their family deities.
But those days are over, man may have even gone to the moon on a joy ride but god knows where did we Indians pickup this sudden craze for nameology (MsWord give a red underline for this word). Parents run haywire just to keep a name to their new born. Sometimes these names are so weird with many fragments that they would lack any sense when kept together.
The kid had barely opened its eyes, by then the grand father had already checked the birth-star using the time of birth and downed on the syllables the name should start. It was “Mo” “Da” or “Du”. South Indian names hardly start with “Da” (as in Darling) or “Du” (as in Duplicate) and leaving the kid’s fate at the mercy of the syllable “Mo”. “Mo” is not a very flamboyant syllable and has very little to offer namely the 1980s fame “Mohan” probably with some suffix. After searching the cross sections of the internet we could hardly boil down to 4 not so interesting names like “Mohit”, “Mohin”, and two more in the same flavor.
The kid's father now has a new taste, he wanted his son’s name to be purely in Tamil, of course the “Mo” restriction still holds good. We went back to the internet to find refuge. Again not many names to choose from, except for names like “Mokkachamy”, reminds me of this popular Tamil Vadivelu comedy “Mayannae vandhurukkaha, Maapla Mokkachamy vandhurukkaha… Vaamaa Minnal…”
With half mind we chose “Mohit” as the only name that sounds somewhat fine, by then the grandfather came with a different game plan called “Numerology”. Every English alphabet is given a value and we need to derive at a total value that’s right for the child. What’s right is decided by experts in that field and our new born and still anonymous got his number as 41.
The number calculation goes like:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
A B C D E U O F
I K G M H V Z P
J R L T N W - -
Q - S - X - - -
Y - - - - - - -
Using information technology’s advantage, somewhere close to 3000 names were extracted from the internet and values calculated for all of them.
Scanning through all of them we finally got one good name “Harshavardhan”, name of a famous and fierce Indian King of the medieval times. The father was happy with this name and when he conveyed this to his father, and got another bombshell, the name’s calculations are to be done with the initials as well. The initial added 4 more to the name “Harshavardhan” and value changes to 45. Flop again.
We were so rigid on this name that we decided to tweak it a bit instead of finding a new one.
Out goes the middle “h” and now value is 40. We need to and a one. That is, A, I, J, Q or Y should be added. And so the final draft has been made and he’ll now be named “Harshavardana”
It’s easier said, but only we know the scanning we did across thousands of names to get here. My aim here was to euphemistically convey the hardships we undergo by not taking any chances and putting our best to make sure the kid’s life is great, keeping aside the argument of how valid this concept truely is.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
When Ms. Debbie Delgado-Vega, a committed floor broker of Walls Street was first diagnosed with Chronic Active Autoimmune Hepatitis(a fatal progressive inflammation of the liver), she was told it would prove critical if she doesn’t get it transplanted soon. After a long, patient and yet a desperate wait in the queue for 2 ½ years, she finally got her Liver transplanted, donated by a family who’s inmate just committed suicide.
This new liver no doubt gave her a new sense of rejuvenation, but also gave her some new traits, foreign memories, their personal preferences and unexplained emerging talents. She had a new found flair for kick-boxing and eating peanuts.
With no proper explanation to this recent change in interest, she researched to find out that the donor of the liver has liking for kick-boxing and eating peanuts.
In TRANSPLANTING MEMORIES, prominent medical experts attempt to explain why some organ recipients adopt these memories and emotions, also known as "cellular memories". While a handful of scientists are skeptical dismissing this strange phenomena as post-surgery stress or reaction to anti-organ rejection drugs -- they are also countered by a growing number of experts who believe cellular memories are indeed transplanted with organs. Dr. Candace Pert, a pharmacologist and professor at Georgetown University believes the mind is not just in the brain, but also throughout the body. This school of thought could explain such strange transplant experiences. "The mind and body communicate with each other through chemicals known as peptides", says Dr. Pert. "These peptides are found in the brain as well as in the stomach, muscles and all of our major organs. I believe that memory can be accessed anywhere in the peptide/receptor network. For instance, a memory associated with food may be linked to the pancreas or liver and such associations can be transplanted from one person to another".
Hm! Looks like nature knew the art of paging memory much before we thought of it.
In future, there will be a day when donors can sell their organs containing some talents; you can shop for your aspired talent from them.
To know more.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
I just got this forward, and couldn't resist posting:
Mumbai Vs New Orleans
Inches of rain in New Orleans due to hurricane Katrina: 18
Inches of rain in Mumbai (July 27th): 37.1
Population of New Orleans: 484,674
Population of Mumbai: 12,622,500
Deaths in New Orleans within 48 hours of Katrina: 100
Deaths in Mumbai within 48hours of rain: 37
Number of people to be evacuated in New Orleans: entire city… wooh!!
Number of people evacuated in Mumbai: 10,000
Cases of shooting and violence in New Orleans: Countless
Cases of shooting and violence in Mumbai: NONE]
Time taken for US army to reach New Orleans: 48hours
Time taken for Indian army and navy to reach Mumbai: 12hours
Status 48hours later: New Orleans is still waiting for relief, army and electricity
Status 48hours later: Mumbai is back on its feet and is business is as usual
USA: World's most developed nation
India: third world country...
Oops! Did I get the last fact wrong???
Friday, August 19, 2005
Although I neither have the time nor patience nor the substance to write much, I make sure I post at least one article a month even if it calls for a battle with thoughts to make sure I don’t get rotten eggs flying from the other side. From travel-logs to sports, from political perceptions to film review and from sports to finally a Story telling, I tried them all. I even fiddled a bit with my native language given to say that I never formally learnt it.
Thanks a lot folks, for patiently reading all that I’ve scribbled here.
After hours of battle with templates and divs, I finally settled with this new look to celebrate the Birthday of my blog.
New Blog Release:
I am releasing a new blog site herewith.
http://krazykars.blogspot.com (CrazyCars flavored with my obvious obsession for “K”)
In this blog-site, I’ll be posting my personal reviews and a fair idea about cars running in India and abroad based on my personal experience in them, initially with a frequency of one a month.
Suggestion, Comments, Questions and Good Jokes appriciated.
Keep reading and encouraging me.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
With English being a language of popularity and choice in the Urban and Semi-Urban population, it was matter of time before it fuses with the local languages and have its own local flavor. In fact, Hinglish has become so much a part of us, that we fail realize that we are actually talking something butler-ish.
For Instance “Mai Office Jar raha hun” has become more common than replacing Office with say “Dafhar”.
Again, “Abi TV may kaya programme hai?” sounds far easy that to replace their Hindi equivalents.
The new edition of Oxford Dictionary of English includes several common words of Hindi origin like bindaas, tamasha, mehndi, desi, lehnga and of course, Hinglish. Few words of Indian English like agitation, off-shoring, tom-tom are also making appearances.
With Hinglish makings its presence felt, the other native equivalents will soon join this race. May this infiltration last!
>>To read more
>>To see the full list
Friday, July 29, 2005
“As of Bangalore, it’s a boring city. Life here starts really late and ends quite early, and the climate makes people really lazy.
The roads are too small but people are damn rich. So there are too many self driven huge cars congesting the already chocked roads.
Each traffic signal can stop you for a minimum of 100 seconds and thus to travel 8 kms it takes close to 30 mins... (By bike you can travel 25Km in 45 mins in Chennai).
Bus network is not applauding and totally undependable... No where else can we see bus conductors stopping busses for adding natural manures to the soil... (So much for the garden city) ”
And after a year, I find my observations haven’t changed much, I am still sticking to my point that Bangalore is not up to the mark.
Bangalore’s best asset is its chill weather; the temperature strives hard to reach early thirties for most part of the year. This is what attracts people from all parts of the country and the globe. Still sometimes it could make our lives a misery. People who frequently travel in and out of the city would know the ear-cracking chillness early in the morning.
Bangalore is truly cosmopolitan, even a fruit vendor can talk a minimum of four languages and language is never a barrier for survival. Sharp eyes would have noticed that vehicles from other states (with their respective state registrations) equal the number of vehicles from Karnataka, and of course this has led to less road space and motorized vehicle not even sparing the pedestrian pavements.
The once retired man’s paradise suddenly woke up late to discover its population gushing beyond the threshold and yet the infrastructure remained the same since times immemorial. Traffic snails the whole day and it takes 45 minutes for bikes to commute 10 KM, I leave it to the reader to guess the plight of the car commuters.
I have to point out that a flyover at Domlur, the heart of a busy junction on Airport Road that was in-progress for 2 years then, recently celebrated its third year of dormancy. The issue was that the contractor (UP State Bridge Constriction Company) and the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA) had some issues on project commitments. The BDA terminated the contract and the contractor dragged BDA to the court. After some lull the court commented that “Contracts are not shirts to keep changing often” and ordered the contractor to resume work but the BDA has decided take it to a higher court. What about public nuisances caused due to that? The BDA is still having its Eyes Wide Shut.
One of the most affected is the aviation industry, with frequent delays and ‘no show’ cases triggered due to heavily inching traffic. Since they are unable to persuade the government to get it resolved, they inevitably delay the fights and also they advice the passengers to leave early.
Real Estate values have soured up multifold in the last few years. A two bed room apartment in city limits, that was rented for anywhere within 3 to 5 thousand two years back is now rented for 10 to 12 thousand. The IT industry that attracts people with un-realistically high salary increases paying power of this small section of the public and thereby forcing the local urban middle-class to move out of the city. The owners of these houses have a policy “You earn more so pay more”.
There was an interesting incident when the Finance Minister of India recently visited Bangalore and looking at the plight of the infrastructure, advised the Government to take necessary actions. The government cleverly put the ball back on his count demanding for more funds and the FM shot back by offering some finance classes to the government on handling the situation with the available funds.
Bangalore has a pet of its own, none other than man’s best friends the canine mutts. Every inhabited locality in Bangalore has a comparable mutt population. And they consider the night times as their own and consider man walking during the nights as an intrusion to their privacy.
And the worst is yet to come, if Government and bureaucracy haunt Bangalore from within, security issues have shook the living hell out of the city. From petty thieves to terrorist, from mobile phone theft to the threat of mobility destruction, Bangalore has it all. If we have thieves who go up to stripping you naked to steal all you possess, we also get news that if London was a victim to these blasts, Bangalore is not far behind.
Will the authorities act before this city explodes? Will the projects like the New International Airport and Metro Rail that is still on papers ever become reality ? Will Bangalore be safe for human movement? Only time has the answer.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
It was around 6:30PM that warm Thursday, Ramya and Sandhya were still waiting for Kishore at Lipton, a fast-food joint at AirPort Road, Bangalore. Kishore had promised to treat them since India beat arch rivals Pakistan in the Pepsi series One-Day cricket match. Having arrived at sharp 6, after a kilometer and half walk, Ramya and Sandhya in their best efforts to kill time exhausted every topic they could possibly talk over. It was a long wait and the hour’s needle was now pointing 7, while the patience needle was gradually edging towards the red area. Just then a waiter neared their table, handed over a chit to them and left the scene.
On the face it was
Are you still waiting for me?
On the first unfold,
You know what day its today?
And the final unfold,
HAPPY FOOL’S DAY,
Signed - Kishore
It was the 1st of April 2004.
Extremely annoyed by this, they lashed the shores of Kishore’s house like a colossal tsunami triggered due to a massive tremor on the ocean bed. After an hour of continuous upbeat, the sea finally began to recede as Sandhya let it pass by, but Ramya was no chicken, the thought of being hoodwinked still lurked in her cerebrum.
“Beginner’s luck, Try to out-smart me next year” she yelled.
“I am in” countered Kishore, “but wouldn’t waste my time fooling you for nothing, wanna bet?”
On mutual consensus they arrived at the looser treating the winner at a 5 star hotel.
“Deal” assured Ramya, “But no monkey tricks that play with health and life” “I will definitely budge even if I strongly believe you are prancing at me”.
The bet was on, with Sundar as the witness. The plans for the next fooling kicked off without a break, but for most of its tenure lodged in one tiny corner of Kishore’s mind.
Kishore, Ramya, Sandhya and Sundar were all batch-mates in a Post Graduate Diploma course specializing in Information Technology at Bangalore. They went on to pursue their IT career in Bangalore itself. Kishore and Sundar shared the same apartment.
Five months had passed in no hurry, every day like the one before, and Kishore enjoyed his workplace almost being paid for doing nothing. Fortunes changed, and he was now part of an assignment called CVM, rated one of the technically advanced, most challenging projects. CVM, is a product owned by an American Multi-National, and as a part of outsourcing, it was off-shored to India. At offshore Balaji led the team and his only team member - Kishore.
CVM had a lot of learning to do and the team had to travel onshore to get some hands on experience. The trip was finalized and they were scheduled to fly on the first of October 2004 to Malvern, a small town in West Chester County, Pennsylvania.
The business trip was for three months and Kishore had a lot of packing to do to sustain through the haunting fall and the ruthless winter. Ramya was closely involved, from groceries to garments, and from stuffing them to sendoff, she made sure his trip had everything in place.
On October 2nd, they reached Malvern, after a thirty three mile drive from Philadelphia. Here is where Kishore first acquainted with Kamal, one of Balaji’s long time colleagues, who went on to share Kishore’s apartment on his return to Bangalore. Kamal was already in Malvern for a different assignment and similarly returned prior to the rest.
Balaji was to return to India on the first day of the New Year 2005, while Kishore’s term stretched longer, as his I94 stamping permitted and his project demanded him to stay longer.
The occasional yet periodic bubble bloated again; What if I am here till April 1st, how can I win this bet. May be, an idea stuck, what if I inform her I am returning on the 1stof April! She will definitely come to receive me, only to find hundreds of other passengers but for me. Let me see, it's still too early to think off.
Kishore’s anxiety bubble cracked, and he returned to India on the 12th of Jan’05, and as expected, Ramya was there to receive him.
Latitudes changed but their attitudes didn’t. The CVM team was ever sincere in implementing all they had learnt to meet their stringent Feb14th deadline, sidelining this `bet` to the farthest corner of Kishore’s mind. Still, Due to technical problems the deadline was postponed to a later date in March.
Ramya, working for a different organization probably knew more about CVM than anyone but the core team, merely being a good listener to Kishore’s daily narrations, technical and otherwise. Though she felt sad that her good friend had barely anytime to breathe in this throat choking schedule, there was this wicked happiness deep inside that Kishore had totally forgotten about the bet.
It was early March and Kishore still sandwiched in his tasks hardly did any home work on the bet. Time was running short as he was desperately gasping for an idea.
March 12, Kishore was on his routine weekend trip home to Hosur, an hour’s drive from Bangalore. Ramya called him on a usual casual note. Just to drag this conversation a little longer, she impromptu inquired
“So, when are you going to US again?”
Kishore took a brief moment, thought of an answer, and faked unhurriedly “mmm…month-end… mostly”
“What? Why didn’t you tell this to me earlier?”
With a subtle smile Kishore said “It’s still not confirmed, I didn’t want to tell even my conscious before it was certain”.
Wow, this sounds like a great work, I can tell her I am going to US, and since she raised it, its all the more natural. End of March will begin with the 1st of April, the day I’ll be leaving to the US. There was a sly smile, as he set the foundation for this bet.
The following week again passed with no pause, work was blinding the whole world behind. And finally it was a well anticipated weekend. Kishore, Ramya and few of their friends were traveling to Chennai to attend a wedding. In the train he caught up with Swarna, a colleague who was soon taking a trip to Malvern and was having a long chat on the Visa, travel, accommodation and about his chances of going back, subtly impressing the clue of his travel to Ramya. To his luck she started to believe him more than ever, or at least pretended to.
It was back to Monday blues, hot pursuits and burning mid night oil. Despite all his interest, Kishore’s thoughts barely deviated from his tasks. And it was not till that following Saturday that he thought about the bet. Having lunch at home in Hosur, he was discussing about the bet and the idea he had. His parents were more than ready to help. His mom went a step further, and suggested that she would give a “Missing my son” stunt to Ramya to earn her vote.
“That won’t be needed mom, just be sure, if she ever calls up enquiring, you’ll are sure to affirm on the same”.
The week started in a relaxed note. Kishore had some time to breathe fresh air since his deadline was now postponed to a future date.
March 29th, around evening, Ramya calls him up
“Hey what’s up with your trip? How far is it up to?”
“Still tentative” said Kishore.
“How long will it be?”
“You are going alone?”
“No, Balaji too is coming”
“Ok, Well, I need a Zoom lens for my Canon SLR camera, buy one for me.”
“I don’t have time to investigate, give me exact information of what you want”
“Ok, I’ll check the Internet and get back to you.”
March 30th, 8 PM, they met at Lipton,
“Are you done with your purchases?” questioned Ramya
“No time for that”, I’ve been busy all week with my work.”
“Deadline and departure are discrete” he punned.
“Stop this nonsense”, “You have just one day left, and you are joking”
“Don’t worry. I’ll take care. It’s just for a month, nothing much to buy”
“Are your tickets ready?” “No, Not yet”
“You still haven’t got them? Why?”
“This was a sudden plan; the travel desk is fighting hard to get us in. It will take time”
“When did you apply for the Visa?”
“The Visa that was stamped earlier is valid for one year”
“Fine, why are you guys flying on Friday?”
Because that is April fool’s day “So that we can have a comfortable journey reaching Malvern by Saturday night, and take a day’s rest before beginning work”
“Let’s not talk about my trip” said Kishore in a slow unexciting voice, giving her sight clues that he wasn’t too keen in going.
“As you wish, ok, here is the list of the lens available for my camera” she gave him a 20 pages document containing specifications and pictures of all possible zoom lens the world manufactures for her camera downloaded from the internet.
What a criminal waste of effort, time and resource Guilt rocked Kishore. “Hey, I don’t have any clue about them, you choose one of them, and I’ll buy that”
They went on to have a long chat, with Kishore mostly on the receiving end. Ramya repeated her advises that he knew since childhood.
March 31st, 9 AM.
I can’t drag this any longer. I have to tell Ramya about my travel. And Bingo! An idea stuck, Swarna was leaving to Malvern that Sunday, I could take her travel itinerary and modify the dates to make my very own. He got into action; since Swarna was leaving from Chennai, he changed the source and even the flight number.
AI 137 03 APR MAA BOM 0330 now read
9W 442 01 APR BLR BOM 2055,
He put his name and sent it for a proof reading to Sandhya and Gokul. Gokul was one more of Kishore’s batch mates. “Proof Reading done, its good to go” replied Sandhya, who too had her part in helping Kishore win this bet.
Ramya received a mail that looked like a forward of an itinerary mail from the Travel-desk to Kishore. Kishore added Gokul and Sandhya in the TO list to make it look natural.
It was less than 120 seconds when he got a reply from Ramya.
“Hey you are leaving from Bangalore, but why are you returning to Chennai?”
He realized he forgot to change the return details of his fabricated itinerary; but what perplexed him was the intent of Ramya’s care for his travel and the way he was exploiting it.
“I noticed it and I spoke to the travel desk. They will make the necessary changes in the booking and intimate me. Anyway it’s for my return, a long way from now” he lied relentlessly.
March 31st 8 PM, they while having a walk on Airport Road,
“Tomorrow evening you are leaving, aren’t you?” She asked this for the sake of asking a question. He was one of her closest friends and she had already begun to miss him.
“Kishore, I am held in an important assignment and cannot help you like the last time. I may not come to the airport even” Ramya made reason to warp her unwillingness to send him off tomorrow.
“That’s ok!” Opps! Where the hell will the climax be then! He thought. His dreams of giving her an April-Fool wish over the Public addressing system flopped.
“When are you going to pack?”
“Tomorrow I’ll finish my travel formalities and leave office by 10-10:30 AM, and start packing there after”. Kishore couldn’t believe his mind bring out these answers in a whisker.
“Okay, Good luck; I’ll call you before you leave”.
Kishore came back home, and had a long chat with his room-mates. “Ramya seems to be close to believing me in full, but I am still apprehensive” he said, “What if she was playing her part to counter-fool me?” He alight his huge suitcase from the loft. This might come in handy. Incase she comes home, I’ll fill this with some junk, take it till the airport before I shock her.
April 1st, as usual he and Kamal reached office at 8 AM,
8:15 AM – first call, “Hey you are in office? What happened?”
“I am clearing my desk”.
9:15 AM – second call, “You are still there?”
“Yes, will get through soon”
“What about Balaji?”
“He too is with me…”
He suddenly thought What if she calls Balaji? He turned his head towards Balaji in the next seat
“Balaji, incase you get a call from Ramya, you know what to do!”
“You’ve already left office, we have our flight at 8 PM” Balaji recited his written dialog that Kishore gave him.
He left to Kamal’s seat, “Kamal, most likely Ramya will call you, please...” Kamal interrupted “Don’t worry, I can handle that”
He had called up everyone he knew to keep them alerted except Johnsy, one of his other room-mate who couldn’t be contacted.
9:45 AM – third call – Kishore cut it.
9:46 AM – 4th call, cut again.
9:47 AM – 5th call, this time he picked, “Hey why didn’t you pickup the previous calls?”
“I was having a chat with my manager, he was giving some last minute details” he said in extempore,
“Oh; you are done with your work?”
“Almost, Should be leaving office anytime”.
He decided not to pick her calls anymore.
6th, 7th, 8th…12th call, Kishore still wouldn’t pickup.
She called up Gokul, “You know where Kishore is?” “No, he left office but” “Oh, thanks”
6 PM: She called up Sundar, “You are sure where Kishore is?” Sundar didn’t know what to say “I don’t know, may be he’s gone home to Hosur to pickup some important documents”
“May be, Thanks!”
13th, 14th, 15th call and still it was negative response.
It was 6:15 in the evening when Kishore left office with Gokul and was on his way back home.
6:30 PM, she called up Kamal,
“Hey you know where Kishore is? I’ve been trying to reach him all day!”
“No idea, he left office early”
“Ok! You are not going to send him off?” she asked
“He’s not a kid” riposted Kamal “Besides I have a lot of work to do”
“Same here, I had an important assignment and thought I wouldn’t make it” and suddenly she yelled “Johnsy……”
“Who’s that” asked Kamal,
“It’s Johnsy, he’s on the other side of the road”
“Ok, I’ll talk to you later, bye”
If Ramya saw Johnsy, she must be on Airport Road and probably heading towards Kishore’s house. Oh my God!
Immediately Kamal made a call to Kishore, “Where are you?”
“Listen, I was just talking to Ramya when she screamed ‘Johnsy’, she just saw him, meaning she’s somewhere on Airport Road and close to home. Be really careful”.
“Kamal, thanks for this info, I was actually heading home” “Sundar must be there, can you call him, and enquire about the situation and update me?”
“Sure, hang up, I’ll call back”
Kamal spoke to Sundar, and found that neither Johnsy nor Ramya were there, he alerted Sundar about the situation. He advised Sundar to switch of all the lights if he still planned to stay home and then updated Kishore.
6:40 PM, Sundar called up Kishore
What if it was Ramya calling from my home? On the safer side Kishore cut the call.
Sundar called up again, and it was cut. Sundar realized the apprehension on Kishore’s mind and messaged him “This is Sundar”, and called him again,
“What’s the update?” asked Kishore,
“Ramya and Johnsy are home” “The lights were off, and Johnsy opened the door, I am talking from the back side room, they don’t know I am here, I’ll update you soon”
Ramya and Johnsy were here in the foyer and Sundar arrived at the scene, she spotted the empty suitcase lying in a corner “Why is it still empty?” she demanded,
“I too was wondering why…” Sundar bought sometime to think of an answer.
“May be he took Kamal’s suitcase since this one was really big” he fumbled, but managed to complete the sentence. Johnsy who has very little idea about the plan felt more like a kid lost in a trade fair.
“Fine, Why didn’t he pickup the phone?”
“I don’t know why…” “Ok, are you not going to the Airport for sendoff?” Sundar changed the topic.
“I want to go, can you tell me how do I reach and what should I do to get in? Will I make it before he gets in?” Sundar asked to both Ramya and Johnsy deliberately trying to sound natural.
Johnsy still blinked while Ramya though irritated gave her bit of brains to Sundar.
6:50 PM, Kishore, now near Airport Road called up Sundar in Gokul’s mobile to avoid any coincidence with Ramya, Sundar picked the call in the backyard,
“Where is she?” Kishore enquired,
Sundar went on to update him about all the happenings,
“Ok, Listen plans changed, Gokul will come there soon, and he’ll take care of the rest”.
Ramya is home, Plan A of fooling her at the airport is written off, and its time of Plan B
“Gokul, here is a plan, go home and meet Ramya, tell here you are coming there straight after dropping me at the airport, force her to come to the airport, instead bring her to Lipton, and we’ll complete her climax there”
“Ok, but I must be ready to face her when she bombards me with questions” worried Gokul,
“hm… Ok, If she asks about the suitcase, tell I took Kamal’s suitcase, she’ll ask about the phone not being picked up…” after a moment “ah! Tell her that I had requested the service provider to discontinue the connection, since I won’t be here for a month”
“And what if she asks why I didn’t call her?” questioned Gokul,
“Hm… tell here your mobile had only one rupee balance and that you couldn’t make any calls” Kishore felt proud of his reasoning ability.
“She won’t ask more, continue the conversation to pull her to the Airport, I mean to Lipton” he winked.
7:10 PM, as planned, Kishore stood at Lipton, and Gokul met Ramya at Kishore’s house, alongside Johnsy and Sundar. “I’m just coming form the Airport, Kishore is waiting there”, he began the conversation, and as expected Ramya asked him the same three questions,
“What about the suitcase?”
“He’ took Kamal’s”
“Why didn’t he pickup the phone?”
“He called up the service providers to temporarily discontinue the connection since he won’t be here for a month”
“Ok, why didn’t you call me?”
“My mobile had just one rupee balance”
Ramya was taken aback by Gokul’s ready answers.
“Ok, come lets go and meet Kishore” Gokul called,
“No, I am not planning to come, please wish him safe journey from my side”
“Why should I? Am I your mouth piece?” Gokul was at the peak of his performance.
“If you want, come along, or else…” he delivered this statement like an annoyed husband tired after a quarrel with his wife.
“Hey don’t get angry Gokul, I too wish I come, but I have my own reasons, Ok, I am going home, if you can, Please wish him.” And she left.
Gokul updated Kishore that Ramya has left, and that she’s not coming to the airport, “Plan B too flopped”.
7:25 PM, Kishore came home, and was hearing to all the updates till 7:45 PM
7:45 PM He the went to a local phone booth and called Ramya on her mobile,
“Hello” “Hello, it’s me, Kishore”
“Hey, where are you, I’ve been trying to reach you all day”
“I am…” “Hello I, Hello….HELLO” and there was an engage tone. Kishore had cut the call emulating a signal problem.
He took a brief moment and called her home and this time Ramya’s mother picked the call
“Aunty, this is Kishore, is Ramya around?”
“Oh yes” and she yelled “RAMYA, Kishore is on the line”
By then something stuck his mind, and he hung up.
8:00 PM He decided to go to her home and shock her himself
8:05 PM, Knock Knock, Ramya opened the door and saw Kishore standing, his face reveling too many details, but she didn’t care for any,
“Hey you still didn’t go?” she asked, without any exclamation
Why is she not even reacting? “No, I had to tell you something”
“What is that?”
“HAPPY FOOL’S DAY”
“Ah! I knew about it all the time, I knew you were trying to fool me” Ramya said with no surprise, no hurry and as if she was waiting for this moment for a long time now.
Kishore’s heart sank like a bearish stock exchange; he sat down without balance, his shoulders drooping, his throat dried up, and all his efforts meant meaningless to him.
“Can I have a glass of water” he whispered
As he took the glass and drank some water, Ramya’s mom showed up.
“Hello Kishore how are you”, “You just now called up right? Ramya came running to pickup and when she found it disconnected she was terribly upset and told me you were calling from the Airport” Kishore‘s shoulders now stood straight, he could feel a sudden sprint in the blood flow,
As her Father continued, “I knew something was wrong and that’s why I enquired her well in advance.” “I asked here about your Visa, and she told me it was multiple entry one, I asked her why the tickets weren’t issued, she blamed your company for the last minute hustles, and when I asked her why you were leaving on the 1st of April, she told me that it was a Friday and you’ll be getting a day’s rest before work” he added, “she was damn sure you were going”
Kishore now felt as though the market recovered to a bullish tone.
Her mother continued, “Even when we were walking this morning, I warned her that today was the 1st of April and to be very careful”
“Oh, so you did get fooled” “You were just trying to get away from me” asked Kishore
“No, I had a slight doubt...”
“Then why didn’t you investigate”
“So, I win, now do you accept?”
“No, I actually…”
“Accept it, come on, be a sport”
“Ok, ok you win”
“Good, you accepted at last”
“Why didn’t you pick up your phone, I was really worried!”
“Sorry about that, Business is Business”
“Ok, Fine you win; I hope no one knows about it!”
Kishore stood there smiling,
“Does Sundar know about it?”
“How dare, they were acting as if they were having no clue, I’ll deal with them”
“How about Gokul?”
“He dropped me at the airport, don’t you remember”
‘Grrr... and Kamal?”
“It was Kamal who informed me that you were coming home, or else my plans would have been in soup”
“That’s atrocious; he was acting as if he was really busy”
“Ok, how about Sandhya?”
“She only proof read my itinerary”
“Wait till I get my hands on them!”
“It took all of their effort to fool you, it only goes to say you are one cleaver woman”, Kishore did the putty work to patch things up.
“Well Kishore, you did it this time, try to fool me the next time!”
Will Kishore make it three in a row or will Ramya break the jinx, I'm going to wait and watch.
------------------------------------------- X ---------------------------------------------------
Disclaimer: All characters in this are fictitious; any connection to reality would be simply co-incidental.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Schumacher takes hope from Liverpool, Wednesday's Champions League final, with underdogs Liverpool overturning a 3-0 half-time deficit against AC Milan to win on penalties in one of European soccer's greatest comebacks, reinforced that point.
It is still possible, difficult but there are still 13 races to go and so many things can happen. If you take two Grands Prix wins back 2 back things will change. Everything was focused on Alonso till Raikkonen won the last two Grand Prix and immediately things have changed.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
By winning the final ODI against India, Pakistan avenged for its loss at home a year back. Any game has a winner and a looser but every player who enters the field prays and plays to win, their commitment and the determination to fight till the last has flipped fates of many matches.
The First Test match between India and Pak is one great example where India entered the fourth day of play with the over confidence of crushing the 6 down and dying Pak team and seal a victory, but Pak’s crave for sheer survival slowly stole victory from India. The match ended in a draw. India paid the penalty of napping during play.
Conversely, the third test match showed how passive planning and negativity could bundle you out. Pak was the better side of that match, and being the final day, all India had to do was to bat it out to draw the match and win the series. India opted a defensive strategy to dot each ball till the end of the day. This cynical approach not only made legends like Sachin face 91 balls for his 19 runs but also forced players to be too defensive causing unforeseen errors and costing the match. India impotently lost!
Test matches bygone, it was ODI’s turn. After winning the first two matches in style, India did prove that it had the substance to achieve any limits. That’s when over-confidence stuck again. Each ODI after that was like – “Pakistan played a better game today and India has to JUST improve in FEW areas like batting, bowling and fielding.”
The Historically, Politically, technically and strategically high rated final ODI at Delhi was typically one sided. The Pakistani President came to India on a peace mission sighting this match as an excuse. The pitch was brand new, the match was witnessed by our Prime Minister ManMohan Singh, the Pakistani President Musharaf, our Union Railway Minister Laloo Yadav, and the DCB Head and BJP leader Arun Jaitley. India already down 2 to 3 had to either DO to tie or DIE. Still there was nothing tangible. Pakistan, for the third consequent time secured over 300 runs and in return India put up a spineless effort and crumbled for 144. The show was that bad, it made the two big heads cancel their plan of returning to watch the thrilling climax. The match ended before their talks :( . There was one consolation, Indians were together, and their disastrous loss was nothing less than a team effort. Their coach Wright couldn’t have asked for a better farewell gift.
Why blame just Ganguly when the whole team lacked commitment? Team’s performance was comparatively worse without him. Their governing body, the BCCI that works like a public sector Institution needs total refurbishment. It’s sad that this Multi million dollar organization doesn’t have even on MBA graduate to manage their issues. It’s high time these old rats be replaced with young, enthusiastic and educated masses.
I wonder if we give awards the Hollywood way, where not just the best movies, director, actors get recognized, but the worst ones too, things might get more streamlined. Just like a “Man of the Match”, we could also have an award called “Missing in the Match” for those whose contributions were literally missing.
Final words: There is one similarity and one big difference between successful and unsuccessful teams. The similarity is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.
Monday, April 11, 2005
---- Eureka! Eureka! It’s finally proved.
Hm… How I wished my inadvertent experiment failed.
Monday, April 04, 2005
The movie is all about Prashant, who’s from a family haunted by 2 lakhs. On the same day Prashant gets a job in London and needs 2 lakhs security deposit, his younger brother gets an Engineering seat and requires 2 lakhs as donation, his sister gets a good alliance and the wedding cost would be close to 2 lakhs, his Mom is a heart patient, and for her operation needs 2 lakhs and finally his elder sister is back home as a “vaazha-vetti” and to get back to her in-laws place needs 2 lakhs. Uff… Is it 2 plus 2 plus 2 plus 2 plus 2 as in tuttuduttudu :). Prashant goes to London after mortgaging his house for 2 lakhs and promises to satisfy the rest of his family soon.
In London, like all other Tamil movies, Prashant keeps his luggage (with the cash) over a standing car and is seriously enquiring for an address only to see his luggage moving along with the car and never to return, I don’t quite know if he kept is common sense in the bank locker. Deprived of his luggage and money, Prashant is still seen in verity of cloths, god knows how he managed to get them. He meets upon Pandiyarajan, after he saved the later from a gang with a fierce Matrix like fight, and gets into a gang headed by Manivannan that plans to burgle the ****** bank (the name part was muted). Mumtaz is Manivannan’s friend, philosopher and misguide. Mumtaz gets Manivannan caught behind bars for the burglary and puts the blame on the Prashant-Pandi duo. By then Manivannan cleverly transfer the stolen amount to a different place keeping only Vadivelu aware of it. Vadivelu is a “Dubakur” Lawyer and Periya-paapa Nalini is his wife.
Vijayakumar and Srividhya pair is rich, old and accidentally blind, living alone in London for 25 years, even without a telephone connection. Staying lifeless for this long they suddenly feel a new zeal when they get the news of their grandson Saravanan (from America) visiting them shortly. Vadivelu is their family Lawyer too, and Pandiyarajan is his PA. Their family doctor, one fine day accidentally meets Pandiyarajan on the way and passes a message to inform Vijayakumar that his grandson won’t be coming for 6 more months. Pandiyarajan takes advantage and along with Prashant enter Vijayakumar’s house as their grandson Saravanan. Prashant first opens his mouth but Pandiyarajan gets accidentally hugged by Vijayakumar. The blind couple has a sharp sense of voice and physical recognition, So Saravanan is now a mix of Pandi’s body and Prashant’s voice. Some how, these oldies sadly stay ignorant of the distance and direction of the incoming voice and remain unaware all the time of two entities staying in their house and that Saravanan’s proximity is not matched by his voice. The only person aware of this is Vijayakumar’s mostly suspended “ever” drunk manager Delhi Ganesh, who tries deliriously to prove this to his master and his efforts though obvious, is still in vein.
The whole story revolves around, Manivannan who’s behind bars, now is the hospital with a “usually political” sick stunt. Pandiyarajan also in the hospital, again with a sick stunt to avoid talking when Saravanan’s mouth piece is missing. Vadivelu in hospital badly beaten by Prashant or Nalini. Mumtaz behind Vadivelu for the secret of the stolen money. Delhi Ganesh behind Prashant and Pandi to get them caught. Manivannan and Mayilsamy behind Delhi Ganesh since he was the only witness of the burglary. Vadivelu behind Pandiyarajan for cheating his clients. Vijayakumar’s distinct relatives coming home to squander the last penny with him and the two ignorant oldies still believing that the two men are indeed one.
There were few cost cutting measures done in this movie, few of the out-door scenes containing few co-stars were taken in India, needless to say about the indoor ones. Those scenes were very obvious with the Indianized buildings, with the only cars in vicinity being Ikons, Accents, old imported cars and tempo travelers.
Over all - LONDON - the bridge is down.
Monday, March 21, 2005
Well, not quite.
I seriously believe this is blown out of proportion. Agreed Godhra was disheartening, and Modi being the CM then holds responsibility for that. But what relationship has it got with his visit to the US? We don’t care if he goes to Gandhi nagar or to Delhi or to his bedroom, why are we suddenly fussing over his interest to visit US? Is US some kinda pilgrimage that only the purest of people can visit??
We are all worried about the killing of Muslims in Godhra, which spanned few weeks and by then Modi is a villain. Has anyone thought or worried about the massacre that is continuing for decades in the Kashmir valley against the Hindu pundits?? There is no news, there is no concern; Why do we have this biased ideology?
US unhappy with the human rights records of Modi - Really funny!! Here is a country that destroyed two huge cities of Japan just to see how good their weapons were, and whose effect is still visible; The racial discrimination practiced in US is a well known recurring history, and now they are talking human rights? How better can an Oxymoron be!
What about Musharraff, Arafat or Bush??
Musharraff threw out a democratically elected government, and was responsible for the Kargil war, and he is US’s best friend.
Arafat lead a coup against the Israelis, making battles, bombs and blood sheds a part of daily life. He too is a Hero!
And Bush, he is the best. He went on a war despite disapproval from the UN. His vested interests took the lives of thousands and rendered millions homeless in Iraq and Afghanistan, he gets invitations and Red-carpet reception from all over the world. What kind of hypocrisy is this?
US has different visa policies for different counties, India is their IT backbone, but for Indians, they still want finger prints, retina scans and would even strip the last cloth out. Who can forget the strip-search conducted on our then Defense Minister George Fernandas while still in power. Why are we calling them gods?
I am no advocate for Modi, but with these many criminals at loose, why target only him?
And, The Big Question: The Embassy of US did consult the Ministry of External affairs before deciding on the rejection. Now, who’s responsible for that decision?
Friday, March 11, 2005
The plan started a week before, after feedbacks from one of our friend’s successful venture. Shenandoah encompasses a cavern and a National park, and with the fall season reaching its end, it was a gamble to see if we could salvage the remaining beauty before the park becomes a vast land of haunted trees.
On Friday 29th Oct ‘04, we began counting heads that progressively increased from 5 to 8. Mugil was the only one with driving permit, and we were sure of not hiring a bus :). Shripad, one of our US counterparts wished to join us, and now it was 2 cars and 10 of us (he and his wife). Car renting was done on Friday evening as we planned to leave quite early the next day. Mugil got a Chevy Cavalier, a small fully manual car, and Shripad got a huge and sporty Pontiac Grand prix (Obviously the former was $30 less for the weekend).
The experience of the previous trips hinted us to take our own lunch. So it was going to be a long Friday night. At 9 PM we began preparing lunch for the following day. After deep thoughts we decided on our typical (default) desi types Tomato Rice and Tamarind Rice (better pronounced as Puliyodhari), along with Allo fry and peas masala. Work got over by 12:00 AM and we were anxious about waking up at 5 AM the next day.
Saturday, 30th Oct, 5 AM, I respected my otherwise snoozed alarm and awoke. We were all set at 6 AM. Shripad and his wife were there on dot. Me, Mugil, Balaji, Kishore and Prakash got ourselves packed into our tiny car, while Anand, Rajesh, Joshy joined Shripad and Saritha. Route maps were all ready the previous day and I as always was the navigator for our car, although we were piggy-backing the one in front. Our car was full of noise, either from the FM station or from within, while Shri’s car was relatively silent (well they can’t be boyish when there is a lady in the car). That was the first time I listened Hindi music on US FM stations.
Half past 8, we’d done 100 miles, and had 150 more to go. We halted briefly, finished our breakfast and soon we were on the hot-foot towards Shenandoah Caverns, Virginia. Clocking a maximum of 90 miles (145 Kmph) and an average of 75miles an hour, we reached the caverns around 11 AM.
From left to right, its Anand, Joshy, Shripad, Kishore, Prakash, Balaji, in second row, it’s Mugil, me and Rajesh
The entry fare was an exorbitant $17 per head. But Mr. Brilliant Balaji did his negotiation with the counter striking a deal at $11 per head for 10 people (Pretty good deal uh!!!).
The Caverns was first found in early 20th century by a father and son, who observed stream surfacing out of a small hole on the ground. Inquisitive to know what lied beneath, the duo began to widen the hole and moved inside. After progressing deeper and deeper for about 250 ft, and halted their expedition when rope didn’t suffice. This didn’t deteriorate their fascination for more adventure and they came back. Thought the caverns had few natural opening to give them enough air to breath, the only source of light was the small lamp as powerful as a zero watts bulb fully covered by our fingers. All these were narrated, some times even demonstrated by our 12 yrs old guide (12 is his age not experience).
The cave has so many distinct patterns carved meticulous by the master architect – Water. Mostly constituted of limestone, these caverns have a mixture of Iron, Manganese, Phosphorus, Sulfur and other minerals. There were many other crystalline substances glittering like diamonds falling from a height.
There are primarily three levels in these caves at 200, 250 and 300 meters below ground level. For our security and the cavern's safety only two levels are open to general public.
This limestone cavern is ever growing in all dimensions. An analysis states that the gap between these two formations (below) would ideally be closed in 25 years time (they can’t cheat me, I'll be back to see that).
Out there was a small pond with fresh water lying nearly 10 ft blow the standing level, and the only thing that captured my eyes were the countless ‘one cent’ coins that were inside making that a `wish` well, just proving geography is no barrier to human insanity.
The cavern is completely dark. Lights placed in every corner are switched on, only when we enter each section. This is not just to keep our suspense beats high, but also due to the fact that constant light fall on those formations, results in a white sodium/phosphorus patching over them.
As we moved deeper into the caverns, we found several marvelous patterns that were focused with multicolored lamps giving a spectacular view. With those humungous structures and haunting pathways, the caverns could have easily served as a natural set for all Vittalachariar’s (famous South Indian mythical movie director) movies.
At the second level, we found something really interesting, there was a formation like a three dimensional parabola, covered with glittering crystal, it looked so gorgeous that I wondered if only this was in India, we would call it Swayambu Lingum of Lord Shiva and start our regular pooja.(picture not available right now)
After our captivating tour of the caves, our next stop was the American Parade hall, also owned by the Shenandoah guys. This was a collection of all the huge structures that were built for the parades that take place in US during Independence Day, Thanksgiving Day and New Year.
The specialty is most of these structures were colored/covered using only naturally available materials.
Some notable pieces:
This colossal American flag stage was set for the oath taking ceremony of one US’s presidents.
And a massive Rolles Royes look alike that can actually move at 25 mph can be rented by public for a meager $50,000 a day.
It was time for lunch, to taste (test) what was frantically made last night. To our surprise the food came out really well, and we enjoyed our lunch sitting in a circle on the lawn with a picnic feeler.
We soon began our way back home, through the Shenandoah National park (paying $10 per car as an entry fee), to have last look at the changing colors of the fall season. But we were a little late, the reds, and oranges were gone, only yellows and browns were remaining.
From the left : Me, Mugil, Balaji
On our detour on the Interstate 76, at around 7 pm, we were as usual piggy backing Shripad on the right (slower) lane, when a police patrol car just zoomed by us in the left, Mugil was reflexive in removing the legs off the accelerator voiding chances of any speeding ticket. But the fun just began. Shripad was in the front for a while not too sure which lane to take and the cop was patiently following him (without his Doppler effects lighting). Soon Shripad unaware of this follower moved on to the left (faster) lane. Now to the left was Shripad, right was a huge truck both moving at the same (little more than permissible) speed, and our patient cop was growing otherwise. We were silent spectators to the whole hot (or should I say lukewarm) pursuit. Deliriously waiting for Shripad to recognize this, we were counting odds whether the cop will or will not switch his glow lights on, signaling – “Dai.. Side vanagu”(Step Aside). It was like he will, he wont, he will, he wont, he will he wont, and then it was an unanimous “HE DID”. Shripad had to move his car to the service lane, and our cop began his interrogations. We helplessly moved past them and stopped at the immediate emergency wait area for them to come. That was our first firsthand experience of a pursuit. We worried if he was fined for speeding, but luckily he was just warned not to block the traffic. We were back home by 12:00 AM and the day came to an end.
I must thank Mugil for not only driving us swift and safe but also for taking these wonderful pictures that say a million words themselves.
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
There are still lots of questions that do not have answers in Indian Politics. I wish I get them answered.
First of all, I would like Sonia, Lalu, Mulayam, Paswan, and all the Lefties to revisit their coalition theory.
I never knew that a party proclaimed of supporting the upper class community becomes communal but aligning and vote banking on specific jaaths is secular. Brahmins are communal but Yadhavs or Jhaats are secular. Hinduthva is communal but INML is secular.
There has never been a speech given about the growth and prosperity of the region. Their only motto for these `budbuk` people/parties is to make sure NDA doesn’t come to power, and to provide a secular government. This Pseudo-secularity can be attained even at the cost of development. If DMK is part of NDA, it’s because NDA is democratic, and if is out of NDA, it’s because NDA is communal. Did it take them four and half year to find that out?
No where else can we see a government with heterogeneous composition of people from capitalist, socialist and communist beliefs, all trying to influence the government with their own ideals, and the coalition dharma satisfies everyone resulting in a pull from different directions with net displacement as zero.
I truly wonder if this full-blown democracy is more a bane than a boon. In the pretext of democracy some malicious forces are destroying it's sanctity. The whole system of electing individual representatives to the assembly and they deciding our leaders creates a vacuum in the ruling system. We have no access to choose the decision makers of this country. How else can Mulayam Singh become the Defense Minister of India? Considering the case of 2005 Bihar elections, the NDA won 91 seats, the RJD 78, Paswan’s LJP won only 28 seats, while the Congress, Lefties, smaller parties and Independents shared the rest. With No clear majority, the NDA now ascertains that it is ready to support Paswan from outside (Source NDTV 24X7). That means the Chief Minister of Bihar is a person who could only salvage a merger 28 seats of the 243 strong assembly! i.e Even if 88% of the people don’t want him, he’s still in.
This is not new, For the United Front Government, with more parties that the members knew counting, the PMs were Deva Gouda and I.K Gujlal. I would be surprised if at least 10% of Indians knew both these people before that. Will the Nation survive with this kind of democracy?
If we thought this was crazy, there is something more ridiculous waiting to be discussed. The one man army. Democracy here is redefined as “of the person, by the person and for the person (and his family)”. People know only him, vote for only him and in worst case accuse only him. TN’s Amma is such a one (wo)man army. The only one who can tell at least 2 of her MLAs or ministers is her PA. The same goes with all the bigwigs like Lalu, OmPrakash Chautala, Farroq Abdullah etc. These people are mortals and one day may die, but their influence still stands high. We still know parties begging for votes in Rajiv Gandhi’s, Kamaraj’s name and people still voting for MGR and NTR.
If some are fully baked, and some are still raw, there will be some who are half baked. This is a situation where Independents stand for elections with high aspirations of changing the way things presently look. The election results when announced, either a big party gets overwhelming majority and these Independents become speechless, or when there is a hung assembly, these Independents are bought for a huge ransom, in which case they loose even their identity. End of the fifth year he’s forgotten.
In all these scenarios the only thing common is the money and muscle power that is heavily invested by our representatives to get through to the position they are currently in.
Now, back to the point we stared from, is this full fledged democracy a boon or a bane. Given a chance, I would prefer the US form of elections where the candidates who run for president-ship is made to earn it. People vote for him not his puppets. And the presidential debate is by far the best way to find out the potency of our leaders.
If only Dr. Ambadekar was alive today…
Monday, February 07, 2005
First few days go with at-most sincerity and the card solves the only purpose it was got for, “a show piece”. Things soon changed and the ignorant wallet begins housing the card unaware of the slow yet steady increase in the buying power it had.
Spending got a new dimension. “Going out for shopping” soon became “Going out means shopping”. We don’t have any idea of buying anything until we suddenly like something, it’s time we posses it. The best pass time would be going to huge shopping malls, coffee pubs, Pizza outlets and any other place that would require a heavy wallet if not for its tempting substitute.
Things come to terms only when we get the monthly payment statement. It will have a description of all our unwarranted expenses. Plus some uncalled for insurance, and many other non familiar entries adding bill value. We’ll pay the bill with a resolution not to use that “idiot” card any more… it’s like writing in water.
No one encourages our spending power better than him. The bank guy, impressed with our credit history (how would he know the history behind that payment), waives the fee for life time, and we freak out even more.
The story goes like, a Black trouser: 1500 rupees, a Checked shirt: 1400 rupees, a medium size pizza: 250 rupees, a coffee for 2: 100 rupees.
There are some things money can’t buy (thankfully!), for everything else there is Master Card.
Monday, January 31, 2005
Residing approximately 12 kms from my office, the autos were not a lucrative option; the eventual source was the BMTC busses. These busses, ornamented with hydraulic doors were terribly out of frequency and do not operate to all destinations.
From HAL Post at Airport Road to the commissioner’s office in Infantry Road, it takes me 2 busses and 75 minutes to reach, courtesy ever increasing vehicle traffic and never increasing infrastructure.
So, I decided to bring my bike to Bangalore. Soon, Inquiries began; The ABT guys quoted Rs. 650/- for transportation and Rs. 150 for sundry expenses while the Great Indian Railways Charged a meager 130/-. Like any normal person, I chose the latter option. The (mis)adventure started there.
I had my tour from Chennai to Bangalore that Sunday and intended to take my bike along. I refreshed it and at 3pm I took it to the parcel section of Southern Railway, where I found the so called “Railways recognized agents” in their lungies (designer dhotis) previously sitting in a dirty corner approaching me. He began talking rules as to what I should do, and what he’ll do to get my work done, and of course what he’ll charge for this self proclaimed otherwise difficult service.
Being Sunday, rules say the owner must travel with the vehicle, and wanted my original tickets. I didn’t have them but had a hard-copy of the confirmation email sent by IRCTC while booking the tickets through the net. But it won’t do :(. Aiming to complete my work on that day, I told him I’ll be back with the tickets, in 3 hrs. I took the local to a suburb madipakkam around 20 kms from here. It was 7 pm when I returned.
Work started straight away. First work was packing; Just 2 old gunny bags, a torn cardboard and a little jute rope, these were my vehicle's unparallel armor. And it costs 100 bucks. Next, to get the tickets for my vehicle, with all necessary documents, the ticket fee Rs. 130/- and fee for the counter guy 20 bucks (it’s over the table so, I call it fee). Third, entry of my vehicle into the railway station, despite having my gate pass and RC book, I had to pay 50 bucks to the constable outside. Now the to/from and the train number must be written on the gunny bag covering my bike, cost for writing those three things, 10 bucks. All formalities done, the bike must be loaded on the train, cost for loading 20 bucks and for safe journey of my bike without scrapes 20 more bucks. All done, now for guiding me thru all these (well known) processes, the agent gets 150 bucks, They don’t want money free of cost you see. This totaled to a well rounded to 500 bucks (neat mathematics).
Uff it was 8:20 already, I went home, and came back fresh to board the train leaving at 9:45 PM. The horn blew and the train began to move. In it was a tired yet contented guy happy to take his vroomer to Bangalore. Next morning, 4:45AM, the train reached the Bangalore Majestic station (Majestic is a misnomer). Me and Bhavanesh went on to the luggage compartment. My bike was still in and a porter gets it down, his fee, 50 bucks. To avoid any more squander, I did few things myself. I went to the luggage office to get a gate pass, his fee 10 bucks. Now there is a guy who checks of the number in the gate pass is the same as on the bike, and he charges 10 more. We unwrapped the bike ourselves saving 50 bucks. The total expense that morning 70 bucks. We finally got our bike out in one piece. The total expense Rs. 570/- and 6 hours of running the corridors of the Chennai city and Bangalore station.
My trouble ended here, but I was shocked at another incident at that time. There were 3 more bikes along with mine, and one guy refused to pay money to the porter for alighting his bike. He was literally manhandled and abused in the filthiest language and the only other witness for the incident - an RPF constable.
God Save, NO Re-Format India!!!