Thursday, December 20, 2007

the kite runner

Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is the most heart-wrenching, appealing tale I have read in recent times.

It has mixed emotions in it, in every sense. It has the innocence of childhood, real sorrows of the world, there are relationships, a lots of them, strong ones and weak ones.

I liked the vivid imagery it pictures about the happy-life at Kabul pre-Taliban. I could get the picture more clearly as I have lived in Iran, and those Persian phrases which pop-up in the book were familiar because of the Persian I had learnt back in Iran.

This book has some amazing twists in the story. And they are handled wonderfully well. It also has strong characterizations, even the smallest of character is shaped well, they sure are going to live in your head for long time even after you put down the book.

Well, it's a sad book. Because world isn't fair to all people.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

toastmasters speech - 4

I did my fourth speech at Toastmasters club last Sunday. Speech objectives and guidelines for this speech is titled 'working with words', which means the speech should use good, simple, easy-to-follow language; it should also use literary devices like similes, metaphors, alliterations, and dyads and triads.

Keeping all this in mind, writing this speech is quite tough, specially for me as I am a technical writer; I am always expected to write in simple language and avoid flowery words.

So, I came up with this over-the-top and exaggerated type of subject for this speech, which gave me scope to achieve the speech objectives. In my speech I tell my audience how I fail to come up with a speech.

* * * *

1, 2, 3... Full stop!

It was a nightmarish nightmare. It was like desiring to see John Abraham in your dreams and dreadingly getting Shakti Kapoor instead. It was like finding a desert all of a sudden amidst western ghat's evergreen rain forests. It was like getting to know that there won’t be masala dosas served in Bangalore’s darshini outlets anymore.

I was dejected, disgusted, and devastated. I had fallen short and failed, no matter how fervently I tried. The news gave me bigger shock than the one Rahul Dravid would’ve got when he got to know that he was dropped from the one-day series against Pakistan! No matter how hard I tried to hide the fact, it kept popping up in my mind… just like Amitabh Bachchan’s ads pop-up in every other TV channel no matter how hard and quick you press buttons of your remote control.

Toastmasters, the fact is... I am... a 3-speech toastmaster. I couldn't come up with one more speech! I just couldn't write a speech no matter how hard I tried! It looked like I could anything else... I could look as good as Deepika Padukone; I could make more news than Rakhi Sawant; I could even grow taller than Husna Ayesha[1], but... I couldn’t come up with one more speech! I was, I am, and I will be a 3-speech toastmaster! I could even bear a 21-day fast, but not this tormenting truth!

It was tough to take terms with the truth! All the fun and frolic in my life faded away. The otherwise-evergreen factors in my life - enjoyment, excitement, entertainment – their existence evaporated. Whenever I went, whatever I did... this fact that I'm a 3-speech toastmaster hit me on my face all the time, like Himesh Reshammiya's voice. I started feeling more miserable than 'Sanjay Saawariya Bhansali'! I no longer could enjoy pan-fried noodles at mainland china – the tempting tasty thing I love more than my life.

Even coffee didn't give any kick! My days were as miserable as days in office when the vending machine was out-of-order! Roar of a tiger I heard at midnight during a trek didn’t interest me either, it only indicated that even an animal could get more vocal than me. In the menu cards of restaurants I kept searching for words to use in my speech. Even a movie at gloriously grand gold class didn’t bring down my grimace.

Well, you might want to know what I did to overcome this problem. Ask me what not I did! At times I took a crystal clean white sheet, wrote the title of my speech on top... underlined it, made a flowery box around it, overwrote it using another color pen... and I wrote the lyrics of ‘dard-e-disco’ underneath!

Some times I would come up with a great opening, write it enthusiastically... but then my mind would go as blank as Rani Mukerji's world in the movie Black. It felt like Sehwag, hitting fours and sixes in the first over, and then getting out cheaply at gully in the second!

Someone once told me ‘you can get a speech topic everywhere, even in a casual conversation with your friends’. So, I started watching for words when my friends spoke to me. Soon my friends started avoiding me; they said I was worse than an irritating LIC agent!

I searched for ideas in every nook and corner of my world. I started looking for one-liners and anecdotes in the hoardings instead of enjoying a Milind Soman or a Kunal Kapoor picture! I suspected my own sanity when I realized that I was looking for vocabulary even in a Shahrukh Khan interview in TV! Newspapers, magazines, movies, and even Ekta Kapoor serials... I desperately searched everywhere for inspiration... in vain!

Friends, I have to live rest of my life with this fact that I'm a 3-speech toastmaster, just like Salman Khan and Vivek Oberoi live with an Aishwarya Rai... sorry, Bachchan dump. They say ‘failure is the stepping stone for success’. But for me, this failure is like an elevator stuck midway while I’m in it. I can only take heart to say that this horrendous truth is a humbling experience. On the face of this earth, I am going to remain a 3-speech toastmaster.

* * * *
[1] Husna Ayesha is a tall girl among the audience.

* * * *

Speech was very well received. People appreciated the references and examples I used from the world of cinema, cricket, and food.

My mentor had warned me that this speech doesn't have a 'message' or a 'take-home value', but I argued with him saying I want the speech to be fully entertaining, not preachy at all. My friend Smitha rightly points out that 'message of this speech is that every speech need not have a message'. And I so agree with her :)

Monday, November 26, 2007


ScienceWoman has promised that she will send a gift for me. I'm pretty fascinated about this; with the idea that someone I haven't even met is going to send a gift for me all the way from the US.

You can get a gift too. here's is how:

Within 3 months, I will send a tangible, physical gift to each of the first five people to comment here. The catch? Each person must make the same offer on her/his blog.
I feel this is very interesting chain. Hope you find it interesting too.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

greenish encounter

I am lazy to write another trekologue, but here are few pictures from my weekend trek at BR Hills.

This one is my favorite, the lonely tree.

Dew drops on web..

This is where we stayed.

Shot this from behind the window mesh of the house, i feel it's a cool picture.

* * * *
BR Hills is in the border of Karnataka-Tamilnadu, in Chamarajanagar district. This was Veerappan's core area when he was alive, so this particular trekking route is now called 'Veerappan trail' or 'mystery trail'. This forest has diverse wildlife. This region is famous for Soliga tribes, natives of BR Hills area, and Dr. Sudarshan, who worked for the welfare of Soliga tribes.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

everything "ok"

I am in kinda trance, having watched Om Shanti Om(OSO) on first day. It's sheer magic. Die-hard critics might not be impressed, but who cares. This movie is for people who are enthu about bollywood, people who can enjoy the fun, people who love SRK, people who love drama. In short, it's for people like me and Farah Khan.

This is the biggest movie I've ever seen. It's way too big! It celebrates bollywood, be it 70s, or 2007. Having set the reincarnation theme in backdrop of bollywood, Farah gets every right to pay tribute to, and make fun of bollywood. The beauty of the movie is she does both the things in very very agreeable way. It's star-studded; literally all stars of bollywood are shown on screen, from Manoj Kumar to Vidya Balan. It's a joy-ride, only way to sit thru it is to enjoy it.

I liked the way today's stars made their appearances in the film. The award ceremony sequence in the movie is a definitely a laugh-riot, thanks to Akshay Kumar and Abhishek Bachchan. Akshay's 'Return of the Khiladi' is the most enjoyable part of the movie. Farah doesn’t even spare SRK in her leg-pulling session, his movies are mocked too, watch out for 'Phir bhi dil hai NRI', and 'Main bhi hoon naa'.

The much hyped title song is worth all its hype. 31 stars together in a song, it's feast for a bollywood buff! I wanted to count the number of actors in the song, but lost count half-way thru, entire crowd in the cinema hall was cheering and whistling thru the whole song. I specially liked Shilpa Shetty, Tabu, Sanjay Dutt, Mithun, and Rani Mukerji. Most of the girls are clad in sarees, look stunning.

Coming to performances, Deepika Padukone is one of the great things in OSO. You can’t stop yourself from letting out a 'WOW!!' each time she comes on screen in a new costume. She is gorgeous. But the good news is she acts well too. As a yesteryear superstar, she's all elegance and grace. She doesn’t have much of screen time in the second half of the movie.

Shreyas Talpade is neat. Arjun Rampal is too good-looking to play bad man. Kiron Kher is over-the-top and filmy, but that's intended. 'Maa ka dil kehta hai' sequences between SRK and Kher are way too funny.

Rather than saying that SRK was great, I would say he was super-funny. He's good in both the parts of the movie, playing a junior artist in first half, and playing a superstar in the second. Dard-e-disco is eye-candy, the scene just before the number starts is real fun but! The way today's directors and actors are made fun of, and 'dard bhara item number' are too impressive.

One of the flaws of OSO might be that you take it too lightly, but that’s one of its strengths too. You might not feel much for SRK's pain, and Deeplika's death. But it's done in such a way that Farah doesn’t want you to feel for the story of the film, she just wants you to enjoy it rather.

Real best thing in OSO is Farah. She's too creative about everything in the movie. Her 'main hoon na' was like a masaledaar, rich meal. I was wondering if she'd any juice left in her after such a blockbuster, but she proves me wrong. Her passion for bollywood is clearly seen in the movie, and her audiences love it.

You'll get the pun in the title of this post if you've seen the movie, but anyways I mean it in its plain meaning too. Deewangi of Om Shanti Om is here to stay.

Friday, October 26, 2007

volga - ganga

Though I am tempted to write another post on SRK after watching him on TV at HT Leadership Summit, I'll hold that for a while... and I have something equally interesting!

I read a book called 'Volga Ganga', and I am in hangover of that book ever since. Author of the book, Rahul Sankrityanaya, is 'most widely traveled' scholar, wiki says. And that's good enough reason for me to respect him :)

As the title suggests, the book is about the Euro-Asia region, the area between rivers Volga and Ganga. To put it simply, it's about the so-called evolution of human race in this region. If you wonder why I am getting sarcastic about evolution, that's what the book did to me.

It starts with a leaf of life set in Volga banks at 6000 B.C. Then it covers the times after that, seeing the human race evolved, forming communities, having a ruling system called 'ganatantra'(democracy), discovering gold, forming kingdoms, fighting, introducing the concept called 'God', birth of Hinduism, origin of Vedas & Upanishads, birth of Islam, the commercial development, times of Budhdha, Kalidas, and Ashwagosha, times of Moghals in India, East India Company's rule in India, the freedom struggle in India, and so on.

If that sounds like a plain-boring series of historical info, it's not quite that. This book might change your understanding about all these things, specially your pride about the culturally-rich, ages-old civilisation of ours, and the 'Sanaatana Dharma'. This book throws light on the origin of the concept of God, and why it was done. And also about the caste-system in India, and the reason behind the origin of Vedas.

This book is written in episodical form, taking some fictitious characters of each era in the background of historical developments of that time. I found it extremely interesting.

I read the Kannada translation of the book. I guess it was originally written in Hindi. There must be a English translation too.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

chak de khan!

After long wait, I finally got to watch 'Chak De India' this weekend. While it was irritating that I couldn't lay my hands on movie tickets for 'chak de India' for quite sometime, I was happy that the movie is doing well in box-office. It really deserves to be a hit movie!

I was totally lost in the adrenalin rush 'chak de..' gave me, I expected it in a well-made sports movie. But.. when the rush calmed down, and while thinking about the movie, my satisfied mind thought about Shahrukh 'Kabir' Khan's awesome performance. When I come to think of it now, it was totally his movie.

'Chak de..' isn't a typical hero-oriented movie, it's a team-work just like the effort the hockey team in the movie puts in. Actresses who played hockey players also did a good job. I only know them by the characters they played - Preeti Sabarwal, Komal, Vidya Sharma, et al. It seems it was very difficult task to cast the actors for this movie, as they wanted hockey players who can act.

Coming back to SRK, he truly rocks the show. It was typical SRK style, yet very different. This stubb-bearing, strong-looking, yet vulnerable look of Khan really really made him look believable as hockey team coach.

At the end of the movie, there is a moment where SRK does 'meri taraf dekho Vidya' act, while the goalee Vidya is about to face the penalty corner stroke of the opposite team. Somehow it reminded me of 'palatke dekh Simran' act of DDLJ.

I just got glimpses of 'dard-e-disco' six-pack Khan! lllove it.. all the way SRK! Waiting for Om Shanti Om.

Monday, August 20, 2007

toastmasters speech - 3

I did third speech at Toastmasters club yesterday. The project guidelines are - to speak with sincerity and conviction, and to inform/inspire the audience. I took the speech title from my blog name!

* * * *

Silly little things

“Hey, you are looking very happy today. Did you win million dollars in the casino last night?” Pulitzer Prize winner humor columnist Dave Barry’s friend asked him one day. For which Dave replied, “No, I saw a beautiful painting of a butterfly this morning, and guess what… when I was seeing the painting a real butterfly came flying over and sat on that painting of the butterfly! It was a million dollar sight; I don’t think I’ll ever get to see such sight again. That’s why I am happy.”

Friends, Could I ask you to close your eyes for a moment and picture that scene of a butterfly sitting on a butterfly painting? Does it make you happy?

Well, it made me happy too. There are quite a few things which make me happy. Like listening to a Gulzaar song, a walk in the drizzling rain, fragrance of flowers, glimpse of a cute kid in a passing car… the list goes on and on. I am a big fan of Oscar Wilde, who said “I adore simple pleasures. They are the last refuge of the complex.”

One of my friends says I get a glow in my face when I see food!! I accept that I’m a sinner when it comes to food, but if it’s food that makes me happy… so be it! If you ask me to name the most divine thing on earth, I might just say - rum-n-raisins ice-cream at corner house!

As the famous credit card ad goes, ‘there are some things money can’t buy’. How true!! I remember this one particular incident wherein I’d got set of metallic glittering-color gel pens. My flatmate liked them so much that the whole day she sat writing using those pens like a kindergarten kid, trying one color after the other! It was such good a sight that it’s stuck in my heart forever!

Talking about my friend turning into a kid, I got reminded of kids. Have you ever fed a kid? While eating they insist on seeing things like kaaka, doggie, and most favorite of all… chandamaama, the moon!! Funny, we forget to enjoy these things when we grow up!!

Because we think that we have to be serious, and not silly!! Try doing some thing silly at times. Live life unconventionally! Let rules not rule our lives. 'Consistency is the only refuge of unimaginative', I quote my guru Oscar Wilde again. Take an off on a Monday and go for a movie, go for unplanned trips, try glass noodles in the Chinese restaurant instead of that regular fried rice next time!!

Small things… small things hurt too. My friend built a big house by taking massive home loans, and paying EMI till the end of the world! I said fine… as long as it makes you happy it should be ok. But my friend was rather gloomy on the evening of the grihapravesh day. I asked why, she said 16 guests told her the house wasn’t according to the vaastu, and 27 of them didn’t like the color of the paint of the house! Simple thing... but it hurts!

In fact small things hurt more than big things. Don’t believe me? Try sitting on a mountain peak and then try sitting on a needle held upwards, and tell me which one hurts the most!

Well, while talking about small things and big things which hurt, I should share with you my philosophy for life! I know it doesn’t go well with my image to have a loaded thing life philosophy for life but still..

I believe... “Whatever happens in life, happens for good”. My belief only got reinforced when I read an article about the survivors of the 9/11 tragedy. As we all the know blasts at twin towers happened early in the morning, at around 8.45 am. All those people who had silly errands to finish and thus got late to work that day were the one who were saved that day!

A CEO survived because his wife refused to drive their son to the kindergarten, and he had to drive kid to school. Another guy is alive because he had gone out to get donuts. One woman was late because her alarm clock didn’t work that day. One spilled coffee on her clothes so had to go back home to change. One’s kid threw tantrums on the breakfast table. One’s car wouldn’t start, one missed the bus, one didn’t get taxi. The best of all… one was wearing new pair of shoes that day, and developed a blister on his foot. He stopped at the drugstore to buy a band-aid. And… that’s why he is alive today!

Imagine… all these things are little annoying things otherwise. We get irrigated when we get struck at traffic, when the children take long to get ready, when we can’t find the car keys… next time when you get frustrated on such reason, just think… it could be a life-saving reason!! I would rather live with a blister on my foot all thru my life than dying!!!

'Angels are able to fly because they take themselves lightly', said someone. Some people have this heavy thought that they are important... as if the whole world is on their shoulders! I have even seen people who think that “being busy” is a status symbol! Life’s all about stopping for a while and smelling the roses, they say. But I like this poet who said “I have never read a poem lovely as a tree”!!! Aren’t trees as beautiful as roses?

When you get stuck at traffic you might talk about poor governance, infrastructure development failure, lack of fundamental facilities, corrupt system, urban pollution, and demerits of living in IT city. But I prefer to listen to my favorite RJ Vasanthi Hariprakash every morning when the auto rickshaw moves at snail's pace. I enjoy listening to her soooo much that I have started loving traffic jams!

* * * *

In spite of being called 'good speech', my speech didn't meet the guidelines fully. This part is quite tricky. I will have to redo the speech.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

my wishlist

Saw a wishlist on someone's orkut profile the other day. That got me thinking of my own wishlist, so here goes a pictorious one :)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

small things

Great things come in small packages, they say. I do agree with that when I see bonsai plants. They look very cute; I feel they are one of the best craft works.

I'm in love with these tiny beauties for quite sometime now. They even figure in my dream-home. When I read about a bonsai garden in some ashram in Mysore while searching for info and planning Mysore tour, I insisted we go there. We did go there, and I loved it.

Here are few pictures.

Can you see sapota fruits in this tree?

Big banyan tree :)

What's more beautiful? Flowers or the tree?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

ಶಿವ ಶಿವಾ

ಇಷ್ಟು ದಿನ ಮುಂಗಾರು ಮಳೆಯ ಹನಿಗಳ ಲೀಲೆಗೆ ಮರುಳಾಗಿ, ಅನಿಸುತಿದೆ ಯಾಕೋ ಇಂದು ಅಂತ ಗುನುಗಿಕೊಂಡು, ಜಯಂತ್‌ಗೆ ದಿನಕ್ಕೊಂದು ಸಲ ಮನಸ್ಸಲ್ಲೇ ಥ್ಯಾಂಕ್ಸ್ ಹೇಳ್ಕೊಂಡು ಇದ್ದೆ. ಇವತ್ತು ಈ ಹಾಡು ಕಿವಿಗೆ ಬಿತ್ತು:

"heart ಅನ್ನೋ ಅಡ್ಡಾದಲ್ಲಿ love ಅನ್ನೊ longಉ ಹಿಡಿದು
ನನ್ನ attack ಮಾಡೋ ಶಿವಾ ಶಿವಾ..

longಉ bangಉ wrongಉ ನೀ ಬಿಡೋ ಶಿವಾ
songಉ singಉ ... ಬಾ ಶುರು ಶಿವಾ

heart ಅನ್ನೋ ಜೈಲಿನಲ್ಲಿ love ಅನ್ನೋ ಬೇಡಿ ಹಾಕಿ
ನನ್ನನ್ನು trapಉ ಮಾಡೊ ಶಿವ ಶಿವಾ"

* * * *
ನಿಜಕ್ಕೂ.. ಶಿವ ಶಿವಾ!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

thinking with a box

Shot this at Nepal-Tibet border, beside a busy market road. The boy was actually sleeping inside that cardboard box, by the time I took my cam out and shot the picture, he was getting out.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

the boss

Only Rajni could do that! Look at the kind of hype and excitement the movie created all over India (or should I say ‘all over world’?). All the leading news channels ran main stories about Rajni and the movie on the day it got released.

You know what to expect from Sivaji, if you know Rajni brand. All Sivaji has got is Rajni, Rajni, and more Rajni. Be it his ever-famous one-liners, or his style.. he makes sure his audience is kept entertained thru the movie. He uses chewing gum though this time, replacing his signature style with cigarettes.

Add Shankar’s against-corrupt-system theme, Shriya’s beauty and notable screen presence, Vivek’s outstanding comedy, Rahman’s catchy tunes, and quite a lot of special effects - all this with Rajni brand, and that’s Sivaji for you.

It’s a let-your-hair-down-n-enjoy kind of movie. Expect lots of whistles and shouting in the theater, and be part of it to have more fun. To quote the actor himself, the movie is “cooooool”!

* * * * *
One of my rather-ignorant colleagues asked me over lunch, “ what’s it in Rajni which makes the crowd go mad?” What could I tell him?

Thursday, June 28, 2007


While I was glancing through the huge database of pictures of my treks, I found this picture and I thought it looks pretty interesting. I shot this picture at Savanadurga, which is one of my most adventurous treks so far.

Doesn't he look like a superhero who's just landed with a mighty jump? I bet he would look like Krrish if he had that mask on. It looks as if he's on top of the world. Look at the ground below, it looks so far below. And I love the cloudy sky.

* * * *
Actually this is my friend Harsha, just monkeying around on top of Savanadurga.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

feline ways

Cats.. I love them. This wonderful creature never fails to amaze me. There is a saying, which goes, 'Cats are intended to teach us that not everything in nature has a function'. Cats are lazy and arrogant. They seem to have major attitude, and they can get away with it.

Have you ever watched a cat getting out of house? That's worth a sight. It always walks with it's head high, moves as if it's on an important mission, detests any human being it encounters on the way.

I can go on and on about cats, I am thoroughly fascinated with them. But I will keep it for some other day. I shot this picture in Iran, outside the flat I used to stay. This cat was a regular visitor to us. It's a Persian cat, which is very famous and expensive in India, but this one is a stray cat. In Iran, only stray animals you get to see are cats. They live on garbage, and they look well-fed.

Monday, June 25, 2007

web design

Another object of my cam's affection. My friend Smitha thinks it's very creative of me to come up with caption like 'web design' for this picture.

I shot this at forests of Goa, while trekking there earlier this year.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

holy flags

I took this picture near a Stupa in Kathmandu.

These colorful flags are seen around Tibetans religious places; they might be having some auspicious importance. I saw these flags in deserted mountains of Tibet too. You will also see these flags in Byluguppe, a Tibetan settlement near Mysore.

My cam is thoroughly fascinated with these colorful objects. Why not.. they make good photographs.

Add-on: You can find more info about these flags here, says Smitha.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

sir.. on the backboard

On my way to office everyday, on Old Madras road I see lots of private buses coming from KGF, Kolar, Malur, and other places. I don't particularly like them, as they are generally driven rash, and emit lots of black smoke right on my face while the rick I'm in snails by their side. These buses look gaudy with lots of colourful paint. They typically have picture of Aish Rai(sorry, Bachchan) on the back glass. Sometimes the privilege goes to Tamil actresses Sneha and Trisha.

Few days back I saw the picture of Pres. Kalam on a bus! I was so surprised, I nearly fell off from the rick. When I came back to my senses, I took the cam out and clicked this rare sight. Imagine, Kalam sir in competition with Aish, Trisha, and Sneha in the popularity department!

Friday, June 15, 2007


ಆವರಣ ಬಿಡುಗಡೆಯಾದ್ಮೇಲೆ ನಾನು ಭೈರಪ್ಪನವರ ಪರಮ ಭಕ್ತಳು ಅಂತ ಗೊತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಸ್ನೇಹಿತರೆಲ್ಲ ಕೇಳ್ತಾ ಇದ್ರು ’ಆವರಣ ಓದಿದ್ಯಾ,ಹೇಗನ್ನಿಸ್ತು?’ ಅಂತ. ಆದ್ರೆ ನಾನು ಆವರಣ ಓದಿದ್ದು ಕಳೆದ ವಾರ ಅಷ್ಟೇ. ನಾನು ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಓದುವ ಹೊತ್ತಿಗೆ ಅದರ ವಿಮರ್ಶೆ-ಗಿಮರ್ಶೆ, ಕಾದಂಬರಿ ಅಲ್ಲ -ಬರೀ ಚರ್ಚೆ, URA ಹಾರಾಟ, ಹೊಡೆದಾಟ-ಬಡಿದಾಟ, ಪರ-ವಿರುದ್ಧ.. ಎಲ್ಲ ಆಗಿ ವಾತಾವರಣ ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ತಣ್ಣಗಾಗಿತ್ತು. ನಾನು ಥೇಟ್ SLBಯವರ ಹಾಗೇ ಸುಮ್ನೇ ಇದನ್ನೆಲ್ಲಾ ನೋಡ್ತಾ, ಗಲಾಟೆಯನ್ನು ಎಂಜಾಯ್ ಮಾಡ್ಕೊಂಡು.. ಆಮೇಲೆ ಬುಕ್ ಎತ್ಕೊಂಡೆ - ಸುರಿಯುತ್ತಿರುವ ಮಳೆಯನ್ನು ಕಿಟಕಿಯಿಂದ ಕಾಫಿ ಕುಡ್ಕೊಂಡು ಆರಾಮಾಗಿ ನೋಡಿ, ಮಳೆ ನಿಂತಮೇಲೆ ತಣ್ಣಗೆ ಒಂದು ವಾಕ್ ಹೋದ ಹಾಗೆ.

ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಇಷ್ಟ ಆಯ್ತಾ ಅಂತ ಕೇಳ್ಬೇಡಿ, ಮೊದ್ಲೇ ಹೇಳಿದೆ ನಾನು SLB ಕಟ್ಟಾ ಅಭಿಮಾನಿ ಅಂತ. ಆವರಣ ಅವರ ಬೇರೆ ಕಾದಂಬರಿಗಳ ಹಾಗಿಲ್ಲ, ನಿಜ. ’ಆವರಣದ ಉದ್ದೇಶ ರಂಜನೆ ಅಲ್ಲ, ಸತ್ಯಾನ್ವೇಷಣೆ’ ಅಂತ ಅವರೇ ಹೇಳಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಉದ್ದೇಶ ಏನೇ ಇರಲಿ, ಜನ ಇಷ್ಟಪಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ, ಪುಸ್ತಕ ಮರುಮುದ್ರಣದ ಮೇಲೆ ಮರುಮುದ್ರಣ ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿದೆ.

ರಂಜನೆಯ ಅಂಶ ಕಡಿಮೆ ಅಂತ ಬೇಜಾರು ಮಾಡ್ಬೇಕಾಗಿಲ್ಲ - ಜನಗಳಿಗೆ ಬೇಕಾದಷ್ಟು ರಂಜನೆ URA ಕೊಟ್ಟಿದ್ದಾರೆ! Thank you Mr.ಜ್ಞಾನಪೀಠಿ..

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

kailash manasarovar experiences: part 4

Back to Kathmandu

We started our journey back to Kathmandu on the same day after finishing parikrama. It was pretty much same as the onward journey, expect for the fact that we skipped one of the halts, thus reaching Kathmandu early, 2 days earlier than the schedule.

I had a strange health problem; my tongue went thick (like how it happens when you get fever). And because of that I felt puky, and couldn’t eat much. Prahlad was making fun of me saying it was a symptom of rabies.

Each and every one in the group kept telling me that the first thing I should do once we enter Kathmandu is to get rabies shot. As if I didn’t know! I know they were all well-meaning, but it gets to your nerves sometimes.

We took pictures with drivers and Tibetan guide when we almost reached Tibet border.

When we reached the border, we met Meetu. He looked happy to see us. May be he was about to take another group to Kailash-Manasarovar. Subha was wondering how exciting or boring that profession could be.

We crossed the border, got into the bus waiting for us on the Nepal side of the border, and after few hours we were in Kathmandu.

Of course... first thing I did in Kathmandu was getting rabies shot, after 5 days from the day I'd got bitten.

Destination: Mountain

That’s what was printed in the destination column of the boarding pass, which was handed to us by Pushkar, our travel agent. We were to go on Everest sightseeing flight! This is, and will be, the most memorable flight of my life.

This one-hour flight from Kathmandu is operated by Yeti Airlines. They have small, 20-seater aircraft for this flight. We were given handouts, which had information about the mountains we were going to see.

We took off, and in few minutes we were close to the range of mountains. It was sheer majestic view from our windows. Air hostesses were helping us to locate mountains, and we were even allowed to go in to the cockpit to get a better view.

Initially, they looked like small stones emerging from a soft layer of cotton. We were at 25000 ft and the view started becoming clearer. With the help of the information and map on the handout, we could locate mountains. We saw Annapurna, Makalu, Gaurishankar, Kanchenjunga, Ganesh, Mansalu, and few other peaks.

We were deeply satisfied with the wonderful view, but we knew there was something more to come. After few moments, air hostesses started pointing to a peak, which was behind the row of all those mountains I mentioned – it was Everest.

Posing with Everest in the picture is Mt. Lhotse, which stands adjacent to Everest.

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience.

In Kathmandu

We visited three historical places in and around Kathmandu – Bakthapur, Paattan, and old Kathmandu area. These places were capitals of three kingdoms earlier; later on they were merged in to one and was ruled by kings at Kathmandu.

These 3 places have similar looking Durbaar squares; the one in Bakthapur is better than the other two though.

These durbaar squares are typically complexes with temples and palaces.

In Bakthapur, there is a five-storied temple of goddess Kaali.

After spending long time in Bakthapur, we went to see Paattan and Kathmandu durbaar squares, and found that they were much similar to the one at Bakthapur. The square in Kathmandu is very large, with lots and lots of temples. I didn’t have patience to see all of them.

But I was interested in seeing Kumari, the living goddess. I had read a lot about Kumari, so wanted to see her. She lives in a building called 'Kumari Ghar' at Kathmandu durbaar square. We had to wait till 4 pm to see her. There were quite a lot of people waiting there, mostly foreigners, in the open space of the ground floor. She came out and gave a glimpse through windows at third floor.

Kumari is believed to be the form of goddess Taleju and also believed to have healing powers. Nepalis worship her. Though it may sound interesting to be worshipped as goddess, I had read that Kumaris’ life is tough, deprived of normal childhood and education. And also Kumari’s divinity stint ends once she gets menstruated; and after that leading normal life could be tough for them.

We also went to Dakshinkaali temple outside Kathmandu. It is small temple in the open space, many people were doing animal sacrifice there. I didn’t quite like the scene, but liked the drive to the temple from Kathmandu.

Next morning, it was time to leave. In spite of wishing it should have lasted longer, we landed at Bangalore after few hours. Thus… I’m over and out with my story.

* * * *

Many people have been asking me about the trip logistics. So here are few points:

# There are many tour organisers in Kathmandu who operate Kailash-Manasarovar trips. Google for them. I know 3 such firms, I can give reference if you need.

# The trip costs quite a lot of money (at least by Indian standards), and you have to bear expenses of journey to-n-fro your town - Kathmandu. The fee includes your stay at Kathmandu 2 nights before the trip, one night after the trip, and pickup and drop to airport.

# You will have the option of flying from Kathmandu to Manasarovar area if you feel driving for 5 days is tough.

# Season for this trip is from May to October.

* * * *
ps: Photographs are from my camera, the ones that look better are from Subha :)

Friday, June 08, 2007

kailash manasarovar experiences: part 3

Wild encounter

After our stint at Manasarovar, we proceeded further that day early in the evening to Tarchen, the place considered as base camp for parikrama (parikrama is walking around Mt. Kailash in clockwise direction, like a pradakshiNa). This place looks decent, better than other places we had stayed - Subha and me exchanged thoughts once we reached Tarchen. We were supposed to go to a place called Ashtapad to get closer view of Mt. Kailash. We went halfway through and found out that the way is blocked. While returning we saw a nice-looking shrine, and we decided to go exploring in Tarchen.

Back in Tarchen we went on walk, trying to find that shrine we had seen from the top. Finally we found that it was small temple inside a Tibetan medical school. The guy who was around was kind enough to send someone to open the place up for us and we got to have a look.

I had tough time moving up and down, and it made me tired. I was getting worried how I would do parikrama. We started walking back to our campsite.

While we were almost close to the hotel, a big dog suddenly came barking towards me and attacked! Within a moment there was another dog attacking Subha, and we both were down on ground. I can’t tell how scary it was! Men standing close-by came and chased off the dogs; but there was a sharp burning in my left foot. I removed my shoe and checked if I’d got bitten, and I was. I was wearing my trekking shoes, they are very thick and hard; I wonder how the dog managed to plant a tooth in my flesh!

Back in the kitchen tent, sherpas attended to my wound while I suffered more burning because of the antiseptic lotion. Soon the news reached our guide Krishna, and he looked worried about it when he came to see me. Our Tibetan guide tried to find medical facility, but there was none available. By that time uncles and aunties had decided to return to Kathmandu, they didn’t want to do parikrama; Krishna suggested that I too return with them. He also added that generally nothing happens if one doesn’t take rabies shot immediately, and left the decision to me. I told him that I wanted to stay back and do parikrama.

I went thru a bit of mental agony for next few hours. I knew that I was not very fit physically to do parikrama, and now this dog bite thing had drained off my mental energy. Not that I was scared that I might fall sick, but the sudden scare the whole incident gave me was a little too much to bear. It kind of shattered me, I don’t know why. I had seen the dog attacking Subha, and felt very helpless that moment. Thankfully nothing happened to her though.


Other rooms were high on activity that evening. Krishna roped us with the other group, which was managed by Kailash Trek, another tour organizer. He was to return with uncles and aunties; he gave us last-minute instructions. Gambu sherpa was to stay back with us for the rest of the tour.

Meanwhile there were speculations about weather not being too good in the area. Opinion in large was that we might not be able to do parikrama. We had a brief talk with our new groupmates, and decided to try our luck. Later that night Meetu came to us to return my cam, which I’d forgotten in the vehicle that day. We realized that he’s going back with the group next morning, and gifted woolen cap to him. We tried to explain that we won’t be meeting him thereafter as we are going to stay back for the parikrama, and thus we wanted to give him a small gift; I don’t know how much he understood.

Next morning we were allowed to sleep a little longer. Weather was bad; it was raining, or I should call it snowing. Finally at around 9.30 am we left the campsite; vehicles were to take us to a place called Yamadhwaar, which is the starting point of the parikrama trek.


Here is the trek part of my trip, just before my friend Smitha concludes that I didn’t trek there.

Parikrama is walking around Mt. Kailash in clockwise direction; Hindus and Tibetans do it for religious purpose, it is supposed to be very holy. It takes almost two and a half days to complete parikrama.

On first day the distance to be covered was 18 kms; our destination was a place called Derapuk, which is located very close to Kailash. It was mostly plain, without any climbing. Our sherpa Gambu was our porter too. I was apprehensive about me being successful with parikrama; I asked Gambu what he thinks about my chances. He coolly said that I will surely be able to do it, and I should not at all worry about it. He kept on telling me to walk slowly so that I don’t hurt my wounded foot more. He brought back some confidence in me.

Subha and Gambu were walking quite fast; I was in my own pace. They waited for me in a teahouse for lunch. We had our packed lunch there, with lots of Tibetan tea.

I should share a couple of things about the tea served in these countryside teahouses. Tea is not served in the measure of cups here; a whole flask is given to the group. It’s black, not sweet, and sometimes salty. Even in Iran they would give a full teapot, served with sugar cubes and dates. And the practice is to not have one single cup of tea, you must keep on refilling your cup and drink it till you empty the whole pot. It’s fun.

Getting back on parikrama, we started walking after long lunch break. Now I was slower, and getting tired in spite of the path being almost plain. That was because of high altitude. I could see Kailash on my right; it looked beautiful. Finally after so many breaks and slow walking, I started seeing a building-like structure, which was our camp for the day. By that time, Gambu had made arrangements for our stay at Derapuk, and came back looking for me. I finally reached the camp; none of our groupmates had reached except for Subha.

At Derapuk, we got nice view of Kailash.

That night was the coldest; we had to use our sleeping bags. Next day was going to be long and toughest day of our trip, so we slept early.We left Derapuk camp by 5 in the morning, we had to climb up a pass, which was 5900 meters high, and cover 22 kms on whole that day (though I feel it was more than that). Many of our groupmates decided to go back to Tarchen, so we were only 5 girls who were about to finish parikrama. Climb to the pass was tough; the path was full of ice and fresh snow. I was very slow and was logging so much behind our group. Dorje sherpa kept me constant company; he kept offering tea, juice, and water all the time. Finally I reached the pass, which is called Dolma pass, after 5 hours of tough climbing. I was on cloud nine... literally! It was the highest altitude I’d ever been. After having a cup of tea there and resting a bit I was instructed to climb down, as it is not good to stay in high altitude for long time.

Near Dolma pass, there is a small lake called Gaurikund. But it was fully frozen that day.

Gambu sherpa was there with me while climbing down the pass, he said he was happy with my performance. He kept singing Nepali folk songs beautifully. While getting down I met and overtook Savitha Ben and Urvashi Ben, who were our groupmates. Later I got to know that Urvashi Ben wasn’t feeling well; in spite of her bad condition she managed to get up the pass. Soon, Gambu and me reached a teahouse, which was our lunch point.

After lunch we had to walk towards Zuthalpuk, our campsite for the day. It was plain, but boringly long. We were walking very slow as Urvashi Ben’s condition was not good. After quite long we managed to get a pony for her. Savitha Ben and Dorje sherpa started walking beside her pony, leaving me and Prahlad (guide) behind. We were very slow, but steady. This stretch of the day seemed very long, as if it would never end. Finally when we reached the campsite, Subha and others were already comfortably settled in the room. We were relieved, and happy. I just climbed up the bed, went inside the blanket, and wouldn’t budge. Subha wanted to see the cave where saint Milarepa(only one who is supposed have summited Kailash) was said to have meditated. She managed to pull Nimisha with her; they said there was a small Tibetan temple in that cave.

Agenda for next day was to reach Tarchen and finish parikrama. It took only 2 hours from Zuthalpuk; as usual Subha and Nimisha reached first, and I was with Prahlad at the back. When Prahlad showed me the vehicles waiting for us, I was immensely relieved. That was end of parikrama, and we had done it successfully.

We congratulated each other, happily posed for photographs flashing victorious smiles, and then reached our camp in Tarchen.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

kailash manasarovar experiences: part 2

Lake Manasarovar

On the 5th day of drive, Meetu finally announced that we had reached Manasarovar area. The tough drive had taken its toll on us by that time; we were extremely quiet that day, trying to hide fatigue. But we returned to our normal selves once we had first glimpses of Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar. We waited for others in our group to arrive, and then moved on closer to Manasarovar area. We were to drive along the banks of Manasarovar, we learnt. After a while we got close to the lake, and Meetu stopped for a photography break. We eagerly jumped out from our gaadi, and we knew that it was the moment we waited for!

I wouldn’t even try to explain the feeling I got when I touched the ice-cold waters of the Lake. Handouts given to us by our tour organizers read, “Manasarovar is lake of tranquility, serenity, and bliss”. I couldn't explain it better! I only knew that I loved it and wanted to be there forever. Water was crystal clean, and shining in bluish green color. While Subha indulged in photography, I moved away from the crowds and got lost in the charm. That was one soul-filling experience. I must admit I got very emotional there!

At the background was Mt. Kailash, which looked awesome when combined with lake view.

After sometime we started driving again, but we were much close to the lake. I guess we stopped again to have another look. It was as if none of us wanted to move away from this center of attraction. Anyways, it was time to move towards our camp for the day. On the way we saw another lake called Raksha Sthal. It was sunset time when we reached there, and the whole picture looked very beautiful.

We drove upto the Lake next morning again. It was time to take holy dip and offer worship, if one felt like doing it. I was apprehensive about the idea of bath, it was very cold and water was freezing. But in a spur of the moment I decided on having a dip and did it, credit goes to Subha though for making me go for it. Water was bone-numbing cold! Thanks to our guide Krishna’s supply of hot water after the dip in the lake and the changing tent, it was bearable. But felt very good and fresh after the bath. Aunties and uncles started doing pooja after the bath; it took long time. Subha had good time for meditation there, while I wandered and watched the birds. We started feeling hungry as it was quite late in the morning, our sherpa Gambu had supplies of cup noodles but he didn't have hot water, so we had to use hot milk instead of water! Noodles in milk?! Hungry ho to kuch bhi chalta hai :)

Monday, June 04, 2007

sugar free.. yet, very tasty!

Refreshing Romance - that's what the trailer of the movie 'Cheeni kum' had said. And it is true. If you think that it's one of those movies because Tabu is in it, trash that thought!

The whole thing is very high on freshness. It's neither hot (like Nishabd), nor intense.. it's just fresh and crispy - chatpata and hatke!

AB playing a chef is good as usual, Tabu is as if she has a label on her forehead which reads 'brand new'. Zohra Saigal as AB's mother and the small kid (Sexy) who plays his neighbor are awesome, just loved them!

But for me, hero of this movie is the dialogue writer. It has got such good, witty dialogues that you will never stop laughing. Zohra Saigal trying to send AB to gym, Sexy's sayings about 'A' rated movie DVDs, Paresh Rawal and AB's meetings, etc etc..

It's a total entertainer; no mush, no candy-floss.. much to your relief.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

kailash manasarovar experiences: part 1

Before leaving for the trip, I said it’s been one of my dreams. Actually it’s more of a friend’s dream, I was only happy to share it. I had read a lot about Mt. Kailash. Besides, visiting the ‘roof of the world’ was added attraction!

We decided to do this trip from Nepal side. One can also do it from India side; it takes 28 days if you do it from India side. I might try this sometime later when I manage to get rid of the sword called boss over my head!

Preparations done, things bought, payments made.. and we were set for the trip.

Reaching Kathmandu

Agenda for the day was just to land in Kathmandu. What could’ve been a boring flight day turned out to be extremely unforgettable, thanks to great Indian low budget airlines Air Deccan! We were supposed to take off at 5.50 am, and reach Delhi by 8.30 am. Our flight to Kathmandu from Delhi was at 11.30 am; we were scared that air deccan flight might get delayed (as it keeps happening with them). I had apprehensions about flying Air Deccan, but I was relieved when we got boarding pass in our hands and started moving towards the aircraft. But little did I know to expect the unexpected from air deccan! Then didn’t have APU (auxiliary power unit), which helps start the aircraft and powers air-conditioning the aircraft before it takes off. Captain Simran announced that they were waiting to get it from HAL… and the wait went on for 2 hrs. As there was no air conditioning in the aircraft they asked us to deplane, and all the passengers were waiting in the runway all that time! When the problem got resolved finally and the flight took off at 8.30 am, I was almost sure that we were going to miss our connecting flight from Delhi.

Before proceeding further with my story, I’d like to rant a bit about air deccan. That day, I overheard captain Simran who was saying ‘sometimes you should also understand ya... we take off at time 10 times, and then 11th time something like this happens’. But last three times I flew air deccan, every time flight was either delayed or cancelled. I wouldn't say don’t fly air deccan; but please don’t fly air deccan when you have something like catching an international connecting flight, or some important meeting. It’s always better to pay a bit high price in order to have your peace of mind.

We did miss the flight. Our Delhi-Kathmandu flight was booked with Jet airways (11.30 am), and we landed at domestic terminal by 11. Jet airways had no way of putting us in the flight, but their staff helped us find another flight, and also gave helpful pointers. Jet Airways is my favorite, they know a thing or two about customer care. Finally we managed to get Indian Airlines flight, and were in Kathmandu by 3.45 pm.

Initial impressions – Kathmandu

I liked Kathmandu airport very much, it projects the flavor of Nepal very well in its architecture. My first thought once I saw Kathmandu was, “Green”! The city is very rich culturally. There are many temples; in fact you see them everywhere. We visited quite a few of them – Pashupatinaath, Swayambhunath stupa, and others.

This picture is of Pashupatinath temple entrance, obviously cameras are not allowed inside the temple. One more thing about many temples of Nepal is only Hindus are allowed in. Don’t ask me how they find out what you are!

More about Kathmandu later. Let’s move on to Tibet.

On Tibet roads

We had to travel for 4 days to reach Manasarovar. On the first day we crossed the border, went thru many checks, and finally we were on the ‘roof of the world’! We had to wait a bit at Zangmu, the first Tibetan town we set foot on. We got bored, and went to a small restaurant to have tea. We had great tasting Tibetan tea. For some reason, the guy who was working at the place was very fascinated about us! He took our pictures in his mobile, and tried to explain something in Tibetan. He had fountain-style hairstyle... I don’t know how he manages to do his hair!

Finally the road-permits were done, and we started our drive to Nylam, our destination for the day. We met our driver Meetu, very sweet guy just like his name. You will hear more about him in the rest of the story.

The drive was very scenic, but you need a brave heart to drive there! All green, and lots of streams and falls.

We had a day in Nylam for acclimatization. That day went off very slowly. We spent most of it by looking at the street thru our window, and saw Tibetan way of life.

We were on drive again the next day. Now the terrain was much plainer. The highlights are reaching altitude of 5200+ meters, drove in the core zone of Mt. Shishapangma (8000+ meters high), and seeing the origin of river Brahmaputra. Meetu preferred to call it ‘Bamputai’, in Tibetan language. Our destination for the day was a place called Saaga. When we reached Saaga, I got bad headache, it was a symptom of altitude sickness. I was ok after a Crocine and a nap.

Next two days were also spent on Tibet roads; we were just enjoying the drive, and Meetu’s shortcuts.

More about Meetu

Not only did we find out that he’s good behind the wheels, but also an excellent mechanic - he was the troubleshooter whenever any vehicle in the row broke down. We spoke very little with him (cos of the language barrier), but we shared great rapport. We enjoyed the songs he played; and he enjoyed the fact that we enjoyed those songs! According to Subha, he is my kind of person, that means one who smiles a lot like I do. But making him smile for the camera wasn’t easy, and it’s the same with me too.

He got teased from his fellow driver friends that we were talking to him, but he was the lucky one to drive us where others had to put up with irritating uncles and aunties. He had abundant supplies of smile, songs, and red bull drinks; and he kept on sharing all those with us.
We had to sadly say goodbye to him before our trip ended, as majority of our group wanted to return, deviating from the fixed itinerary. Subha was fancying the idea of giving him a gift, we gave him a purple color woolen cap we had bought in Saaga. Subha kept on wondering if he liked the gift and going to use it; we had no way of finding it out though. She also kept on wondering whether we’ll get to see him again, and for our pleasant surprise we met him at the border while returning back to Nepal, and he said bye to us for one last time!