Wednesday, April 25, 2007

going to kailash

I am going to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar on a trek/trip. Leaving tomorrow, and will be back on 12th May. This has been one of my dreams for quite long; I'm happy it's getting fulfilled.

Wish me luck.

value of money

While the entire older generation is bragging about how the younger generation doesn't realise the value of money, here is one small guy who knows the value of money.

This is so much unlike Calvin!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

are you safe?

Sometime back I met an NRI, online acquaintance when he was here in India for a short trip. While fixing the meeting time and venue, I noticed that he was using a hired taxi as his transport in Bangalore. My middleclass mind asked him why he wasn’t using auto-rickshaw or something instead of expensive taxi. The answer I got from him was pretty interesting.

He said he didn’t feel safe traveling in ricks in Bangalore, or something to that gist. He felt insecure and unsafe in India. He said, “I am nothing here except for few hundreds or thousands in my pocket”. I remember that sentence very clearly. He didn’t believe rick drivers, and thought they might take him for as ride.

For some strange reason these things I got from an NRI didn’t go off my memory. I could brush it off with other common NRI symptoms, like not drinking normal drinking water, etc but I thought this particular thing was bit strange. There is nothing important in an NRI taking a taxi for all his commute as he can afford it, but getting scared to interact with the common crowd is something else.

When we go to a new place obviously we are bit concerned. But does it happen when you come back home? I felt quite safe even in Iran. This NRI knows India very well; it’s his home. Why he has to feel insecure here? Is it strange of him, or is India really scary?

Somehow, I thought of this guy when I heard about the tragedy at Virginia Tech.

Monday, April 23, 2007

salute to you, the o’hara!

I finished reading ‘Scarlett’, the sequel to ‘Gone with the Wind’. Though I took ages to read it, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Somehow, it looked like I didn’t want to finish reading the book, I didn’t want the story of Scarlett O’Hara to get over! I wanted it to be with me.. forever.

Scarlett O’Hara Hamilton Kennedy Butler – that’s how Scarlett is addressed in the opening paragraph of the book, thanks to her stupid marriages for the long name. But the book ends addressing her The O’Hara!

This is very apt as this book sees Scarlett growing up. This book belongs to Scarlett fully. In ‘Gone with the Wind’ there were so many other things and other people. But this story is hers. Even though it’s set in many places and there are many others who can be called supporting roles, you will only be thinking about amazing narration of Scarlett’s life.

I thought the development of the story from where Margaret Mitchell had stopped was the only right way. In this book Scarlett matures, and most importantly learns to love, to love unconditionally. She’s very adventurous, and goes places... literally!!

When I finished reading 'Gone with the Wind', I said Scarlett was one of best characters I have ever read. But now I say, Scarlett IS the best character I have ever read. Her original traits are carried to this book also, and there’s an added element to her personality in this book. Alexandra Ripley does a great job with the sequel. It’s not easy to write a sequel to a book like ‘Gone with the Wind’, but she pulls it off very well. I liked the way she built the story, specially with four sections which are called ‘Lost in the dark’, ‘High stakes’, ‘New life’, and ‘The tower’. And the ending couldn’t have been better!

I remember a thing Scarlett says, ‘It’s better I spent the rents in frocks instead of guns. Frocks won’t hurt anyone’. This is typical Scarlett way of thinking; yet, it has so much depth.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

my picturesque journey

“I don’t understand what pleasure you get from climbing up mountains just to climb down!” that’s a usual piece of mind I get from many of my friends and acquaintances.

True.. why would you go somewhere when all you can do once you reach there is.. return!!

You might probably be agreeing with my friends. Even I was like you till I read this quote, which said, “The original traveler doesn’t have a destination and is not intent on arriving”.

Since that day, I started another kind of journey. This journey is to go back to where we came from. I mean, going back to nature!!!

And believe me, I have seen the “supreme divine energy”. Because what other people call God, I call it Nature. I have seen snowy mountains, densest forests, roaring shorelines, melodious-sounding stream, wildlife at their own homes, and more beautiful things.

I am talking about my trekking experiences. I have gone on many trekking expeditions.

I began trekking in our very own Karnataka, which offers a good range for trekkers. It has mountains and dense forests; its wildlife variety is ample too. I have encountered many elephant families from very close distance in Bandipur-Nagarahole region. I have trekked in Himachal Pradesh and Goa also; these states offer diverse geographical terrains.

I also had memorable opportunity of trekking in Iran. I must say Iran is a trekker’s paradise! I have camped at snowy regions, and also seen fantastic colors of the fall season.

Well, now you must have known why people go up a mountain just to climb down! Exploring nature makes you rich in your experiences, and at the same time makes you humble. You get to know that you are really small in front of nature’s enormous face. You will become tough, yet soft. While trekking you often get to learn soft skills that corporate world raves about - leadership skills, crisis management skills, inter-personal skills, resource management, planning, and things like that too!

For me, trekking is like life. I keep walking, and my slogan is ‘one step at a time’. The journey matters, not the destination.

* * * *

For those of you who are bothered about numbers, this is my 50th post.

Monday, April 16, 2007

i've got credit

Finally, I've arrived. I thought I'd arrived when got that credit card, i was wrong. I had to lose it to make it to the distguished lot. My added advantage is that I not only lost the credit card, but also the valet in which it was kept; obviously with hundred other cards, and hundreds of greenbacks.

Now, I too have a story to tell. I'm so happy I can take part in those 'lost-n-not found' conversations. Ah, what bliss!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

happy birthday, school

“God, what’s most silly about human beings?”

God answers, “That they want to grow-up when they are young, and yearn to go back to childhood when they grow-up”.

These lines scrolled in my mind when I stood in front of the primary school where I’d studied. When I was studying in this school, I wanted to get out of it as soon as possible. Does any student ever understand true meaning of saying “student life is golden life”? No.

This visit invoked lots of memories. I still had slight hesitation to go into the room, which had the board ‘Staff Room’! But I had to go in to meet the Headmaster of the school. As I went in-and-out of other classrooms, I noticed that much hadn’t changed for the school. If I’d looked closely, I would’ve probably found one of those great works of mine, which I’d carved on the desk.

I also got reminded of the teachers we had that time. My favorite was the Headmaster of our times, Annappa Rao. He used to teach English. I still have that sweet taste of chocolates in my mouth, which he used to give to us when we got spellings of the all the words he dictated right. I think I remember the grammar rules he taught us with examples. He used to have pieces of coconut and jaggery with him always, which he used to put in our mouths. We used to pull his shirt, and say “kathe hELi sir”… the request he always honored. I hope I get to meet him some day.

The school is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Hope it stands tall for many more years to come, and produces great students like me ;)

Monday, April 09, 2007

you know you're getting old when..

I read this interesting post by fellow Toastmaster Ramya, which gives you a check-list to find out if you're getting old. Those of you who are in mid/late twenties can relate to this a lot.

She writes:

There are a few startling moments when you reckon that you are getting old in the face of this earth..

- when your friends are only talking abt their spouses and
- when 'Economic Times' starts making a lot of sense

Read the complete list here.

While reading this, I made a rather-pleasant(?!) discovery about myself. Economic Times doesn't make any sense to me yet. And I'm not even bothered about home loans, budget, and recipes. This must mean I am young :)

Or am I an over-grown, mentally not-grown kid?

ತೇಜಸ್ಸು ಅನವರತ ಜೀವಂತ

"ಕುವೆಂಪು ಅವರ ಅತ್ಯುತ್ತಮ ಕೃತಿ ಯಾವುದು?" ಅಂತ ಖ್ಯಾತ ಸಾಹಿತಿಯೊಬ್ಬರನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿದಾಗ "ಪೂರ್ಣಚಂದ್ರ ತೇಜಸ್ವಿ" ಅಂತ ಉತ್ತರ ಕೊಟ್ರಂತೆ. ತಮಾಷೆ ಅನ್ಸಿದ್ರೂ ಈ ಉತ್ತರ ಒಪ್ಪಬಹುದಾದ್ದೇ; ಹಾಗಂತ ಎಲ್ಲ ತೇಜಸ್ವಿ ಅಭಿಮಾನಿಗಳಿಗೂ ಅನ್ನಿಸಿರುತ್ತದೆ.

ನಾನು ಓದಿದ ಮೊದಲ ತೇಜಸ್ವಿ ಕೃತಿ ’ಪರಿಸರದ ಕತೆ’, ಅದೂ ತುಂಬಾ ಹಿಂದೆ, ಪ್ರೈಮರಿ ಸ್ಕೂಲಿನಲ್ಲಿದ್ದಾಗ. ಆದರೂ ಸುಸ್ಮಿತ ಮತ್ತು ಹಕ್ಕಿಮರಿ, ಕಿವಿ, ಮಾನೀಟರ್, ಶ್ರೀರಾಮ್.. ಎಲ್ಲಾ ನಿನ್ನೆ ತಾನೇ ಪರಿಚಯವಾದವ್ರ ಹಾಗೆ ನೆನಪಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಉಳಿದಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಮುಂದೆ ಒಂದೊಂದಾಗಿ ಅವರ ಎಲ್ಲಾ ಪುಸ್ತಕಗಳನ್ನು ಓದುತ್ತಾ ಹೋದಹಾಗೆ ತೇಜಸ್ವಿ ಒಂದು ಹೊಸಾ ಲೋಕವನ್ನೆ ನನ್ನ ಮುಂದೆ ತೆರೆದಿಟ್ಟಿದ್ದರು. ಪರಿಸರ, ಪ್ರಕೃತಿ, ಮತ್ತು ಕನ್ನಡ ಓದು ಇಷ್ಟವಾಗುವ ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ತೇಜಸ್ವಿ ಇಷ್ಟವಾಗಿಯೇ ಇರುತ್ತಾರೆ.

ತೇಜಸ್ವಿ ತಮ್ಮ ಬರಹಗಳಷ್ಟೇ interesting ಮನುಷ್ಯ. ನಿನ್ನೆ ಪತ್ರಿಕೆಯೊಂದರ ಪುರವಣಿ ಲೇಖನದಲ್ಲಿ ಒಬ್ಬರು ಬರೆದಿದ್ದರು, ಅವರು ತೇಜಸ್ವಿಯವರನ್ನು ಭೇಟಿ ಮಾಡಿದಾಗ ’ಏನು ಬರೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದೀರಿ?’ ಅಂತ ಕೇಳಿದರಂತೆ. ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ತೇಜಸ್ವಿ ’ಯಾವಾಗಲೂ ಯಾಕಯ್ಯಾ ಬರೀತಾ ಇರ್ಬೇಕು?’ ಅಂತ ಮರುಪ್ರಶ್ನೆ ಹಾಕಿದ್ರಂತೆ. He lived by his own rules.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

toastmasters speech - 2

This is the second speech I did at Toastmasters club. Though my speech didn't strictly adhere to the guidelines which said 'Organise your speech', it was quite well-received.

* * * *
A hiss in the neighborhood

Picture this. Early September day in a village where the monsoon was just over and the lush green paddy fields are swaying to the soft breeze. A small lil’ girl is running amidst those fields. How does it sound? Beautiful right? But this picture doesn’t remain beautiful for long. The shadow of death was looming large over this beautiful picture.

The girl, obviously unaware, steps into the territory of a creature, which was also a resident of that beautiful place. She sets her foot on or near a deadly cobra, which was passing by, and gets bitten.

That bite.. I cannot forget it! Well, I’m still alive!! I was the fortunate one to stare death in its eyes, say hi, and come back... of course with little help from doctors and the ventilator for 2 days.

Well, ‘once bitten by snake, one is scared at mere sight of a rope all his life’ – goes a Chinese proverb. But I was, and I am an exception to that saying. I somehow developed interest in snakes, and started learning more about them.

But, many… are not like me. They have a fear for snakes. Many of us are scared, by just the thought of snakes.

Why? Why are we scared of snakes? .. The fear is rooted in lack of accurate information. Once we are equipped with a little knowledge and understanding of these beautiful, interesting, and inoffensive creatures we will find that there is nothing left to fear.

Snakes are the most modern of reptiles; they are believed to exist during the time of dinosaurs. Snakes are the finest examples of theory of evolution. Their anatomy is such that they can swim at seas, climb trees, crawl in land, and tunnel beneath dirt and sand. They have an important role to play in our ecosystems. They have evolved a great deal to survive - be it adjusting their anatomy, developing infrared heat sensors to find prey, or developing venom to defend themselves from their prey. In short, snakes are incredibly successful, unique and remarkable animals, well deserving of our respect and admiration.

But, for centuries, snakes have figured infamously in the religions, customs, and the folklore. To early humans, snakes might have seemed magical and almost supernatural. Anything, which looks different, is scary for us. Added to that snakes could cause sickness or death just with a single bite. A science fiction writer couldn’t have asked for a better model, so it is not surprising that snakes feature in fictions and myths.

Well, I called snakes ‘inoffensive’, you might not agree with that. Because they bite!!! Yes they do, but let’s try to know a bit about it. There are at about 2500 species of snakes in our planet; among them only 450 species are venomous, and among those 450, only 250 species have venom, which can kill human beings. Lighting kills more people per year than snakebites!! And I am not even talking about Bangalore’s roads!!

Why snakes bite? They bite for 2 reasons – 1. To defend themselves from threats. 2. To get food. When a snake bites a human being it’s mostly for the first reason. Snake is as scared as you when you encounter it; they know that man is most dangerous animal!! And let me tell you, SNAKES DON’T CHASE AND BITE. There is no snake, which can move faster than a human being. I know what you are thinking now – about those Nagin movies!! Well, I can only say any work of fiction is only for entertainment! In the world of fiction snakes can recognize people, remember them for years, and they take grudge on them. But the science proves that snakes have very underdeveloped brains, their learning capacity is very low, and all they can think of is their survival.

One fine day a snake decides ‘Husna is my enemy I need to go bite her’. No matter wherever she is – in college, at home, at party, or may be she’s hiding in a toastmaster’s meeting. The sole purpose of that snake’s life is to bite Husna. Well, this is fiction. Reality is Husna may get a snakebite when she ventures out in a snake’s territory unknowingly, and pose thereat to snake’s life; even in that case snake will try to flee at the mere sight of Husna, and it may bite her only at what-it-thinks unavoidable situation.

Well, we are scared by a mere sight of a snake - be it venomous or not. Some say they look very mean. What gives them the mean look? Their eyes and that forked tongue. The eyes of snakes look mean because they don’t have eyelashes. Instead they have a thin skin covering on their permanently open eyes. And the forked tongue is not actually a tongue, it’s sensory organ thru which they can smell the surroundings. Snakes have very bad hearing and vision. They poorly try to make up for it by having a smelling organ and their ability to sense the movement of other creatures thru vibrations of earth. Snake charming, which is popular in India, is actually a fake show put up by the charmer. Snake would definitely listen to brand new album of Shakira instead of that boring instrument if it could listen to music!

India is often called ‘the land of snakes’, true to our fame in the mythological and folklore stories. Snakes often appear as characters in Hindu mythology, and we even have a festival called nagpanchami on which people worship snakes. Well, we are not the only ones to worship snakes. People of Egypt do it too. But in the west, snake is considered as a symbol of evil; in the Bible, devil appears in the form of a snake and tempts Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit. Snake finds its place not only in Chinese mythology but also in Chinese recipes! Yes, in china snake meat is a delicacy; and in some far eastern countries snake meat and snakes blood is believed to have medicinal values!

Well, from temples to food platters, from bollywood’s Nagin to hollywood’s Anaconda... they are everywhere. True, they play devils in the world of fiction, but let’s get to reality and treat them as just fellow beings. A hiss in the neighborhood doesn’t mean that someone is out to get you. So when you see a snake chasing the poor heroine on screen next time, don’t hate the snake; hate the director!!

Monday, April 02, 2007

car car car..

I saw a BMW yesterday while getting back from work. I was thoroughly fascinated to see it, as BMWs are rare sight in Bangalore. I don’t even get to see Mercs too often.

This invoked my memories of Iran; we used to count the number of BMWs and Mercs we got to see during our trips to-n-fro office. I am bit of a car-freak, so I liked Iran’s roads where ample variety of cars was seen everyday. They have all the good models of European market. The main attraction was Toyota’s Land Cruiser model, which is called Prado. It seems only few celebrities in Mumbai have Land Cruisers.

They also have BMW bikes in Iran; they look simply awesome! One of the items in my to-do list there was to get a ride in BWM bike. It didn’t get fulfilled; because only police are authorized to use those bikes, aam junta can’t have high-end bikes there for some law-n-order issues.

* * * *

I'd read somewhere that one of our movie actors (I think it’s sunil shetty) gifted a BMW car to his girlfriend while proposing marriage, and said that BMW meant ‘be my wife’. Now, that’s a decent proposal. Can anyone reject such proposals? ;-)