Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jump to Lko now

It was Delhi 5 days back.
Then Nainital (KQ/G).
Lucknow now. Distances remain the same but travel times have increased, thanks to the perpetual blanket of fog that wraps cities by the evening. The hills are doing better in this sense - bright sunshine through the day and cold yet clear nights; it's almost like the nature trying to maintain an equilibrium.
Lucknow is pretty normal today on the New Year's eve. Things don't change much - the same irritating weather, same irritating traffic snarls and the same irritating assholes roaming about orally ejaculating tobacco right next to your feet. Shouldn't expect much anyways. Chowk was an exception; it was alive - the lights, the variety of sweets, the controlled chaos and the evening cackle of the birds. I wonder why my friends didn't choose this for our usual hangout. The food here is amazing, and the variety...just startling. Chowk beats the other markets and those overpriced, snobby malls anyday, it gives that warm feeling.

On a personal level, it was a day well spent meeting and beating up nephews, and more of that still remains. The makhan malai wallah seems to have deserted me, for its been a second day in running that he's been absent; the longing remains. It was fun chasing away the monkeys, monitoring their progress from every direction.

rightnow: nothing. waiting to face an organised assault from my nephews, missing gems, missing dark chocolate, missing the hills again, being called downstairs.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A slice of Corbett country, now online

Finally put the image gallery to a recent trip to parts of Kumaon that you might never hear about online. If not for procrastination, this would've come earlier.
It should be worth more when I'll add some route descriptions and maps as resources. Hard to give a title to this post, but Jim Corbett can be reasonably assumed a binding factor behind the places (and jungles in general). The most obvious binding factor seems Nainital, duh, or Kumaon.

Jo bhi hai, I hope it expresses those 4 meticulously planned, pulse-racing days nicely.

Wsup nthnmch

What is so fascinating about a person admitting to being idle? What is the need to make him feel worth? What is the need to dig into their lives to 'really' find out what they are upto? Why do we turn into investigators? Why does an idle person attract attention; is it such an aberration? Do the circuits flip when you give back an unusual reply? Do we take the reply as a hint towards malfunction and set to repair it?

If you thought one had to say something really smart or dastardly to get into a conversation, you been wrong. Even a 'Pretty much nothing' seems startling enough to fill people with some sort of anxiety that makes them ask lots of questions unless the statement is contradicted; the longer they've known you, the more insistent they'll be. And this is something at our very core; there's no distinction between those who obsess over our lives - family, friends, teachers, aunti-jees.

Our society is built on factors of cooperation and reciprocity. I guess its unsettling for somebody to find me playing a zero-worth game - it leads to conclusion that either they end up the same, or they involuntarily end up being 'karmic'. So when I claim being redundant, people take measures: they will try to make my living feel worthwhile; or if my state of idleness poses them a threat they'll try uprooting me. Or maybe people do so because they try to establish that their lives are different and rather more dynamic. Or maybe they want to confirm that my definition of 'nothing' doesn't define their everyday lives.

It becomes difficult to realise when somebody is actually admitting to 'nothingness'. There rise fakers, since it has grown into a fad for the great conversational strategy it is. These fakers generally start with similar catch phrases, because:
# it ensures that their image can't be debased further
# so that it would be necessary to have a long conversation with them, and
# they will stage a revelation to hold you in awe of their latent grandeur.

To my kind of 'nothings' this tendency is purposefully asocial. But in the case of fakers, to the contrary, it shows the greatest desire towards being social. One can't really put their desperation to being inseparable from the society in any lighter and terse fashion. It is similar to an expression that a cog in the spring mechanism of a clock would use: without the other components of the clock its function is of little relevance and it is 'nthn mch'; it becomes worth only in a greater context. Similarly, those who make it their tagline are making a plea for greater involvement towards the common body of society. This is almost like asking for a mandatory communist setup.

One has to express a void to have somebody do the filling, the sociable creatures we are. Hello Sartre, Ridley.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

-1 year

O' blog I'm here again; for a while it felt I wasn't worth you.

Things are complex for the moment - to the extent that I'm thinking about things, but there is no single emotion that is apt - so I end up seemingly profound. Perhaps I can backtrack an year in the past if I'm looking for sedation. Reset. This time the previous year was spectacular, both for the things that I was going through and ones that revealed themselves later. It was different air back then. Being consumed by new events which had an immediate cause/effect cycle; being forced to find time between things; shifting bases - Delhi to Rishikesh to Delhi to Lucknow to Delhi to Nainital to Delhi. I hope its not nostalgia, but rather an attempt to scoop an exciting slice from my past life and fit it somewhere in the near future, without the hints towards a yashraj banner production.

I do get back on the road again, the very same locales, but that does nothing to ensure everything else. Or maybe travel would eventually take my mind off all this thought.

rightnow: a cosco ball, boiling water and gems to give me company.

Monday, December 15, 2008


I've had this tab on my browser open for the past day, its a ghastly sight. Our rapacious tendencies at full display; we've claimed everything on the planet and spread like pests - and very selfish ways at that. This is a proof of our treachery; for all that we took from nature, we gave back nothing - toxins, at best. I had to write about it before the tab goes into oblivion.

Have a look on the google maps: The partition line is the Pusta Road. This road is a riot between the hours of 8AM to 7PM, when most set out to illogically travel long distances to earn mere subsistence money. To the left are the watershed plains of River Yamuna, some farmland and forests, where live the Nilgai (Blue Bull); to the right: us. Our concrete paradise, is it?
Zoom out, and that patch of virgin land reminds of that timid girl surrounded by filthy, greedy goons - a cliché from the bollywood movies of the 80s.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Reasonably happy over things :

* Delhi's rickshaw-wallahs.
* Prevailing national solidarity.
* Shiela Dixit staying in power.
* Restrained cold/fog.
* Delhi's food - yesterday was an exception.
* Installation art.
* Meeting with friends.
* Finding lost stuff in pockets.
* Lower-end power supplies.
* My room.
* Ego connecting to the id.
* This cup of coffee.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Terrorists terrorise Government terrorise People

The Mumbai siege doesn't make terrorism to me, or anybody around - we still dress the same, walk and talk the same, act and laugh the same. It was more of a feeling of helplessness that crept into the nation, and they tried overcoming it by being scholarly and 'proactive': talking about it as much as they can, throwing facts and making cute inferences, trying to mimic the investigation agencies, taking out candlelight marches, signing shit online petitions that only sound smart, putting it all on Pakistan, etc. Now that they've "made a difference", they can focus on having peanuts, which are hot in this season (remember - Jaipur peanuts are better than the Raipur ones).

And as far as that feeling brought about by terrorism - terror - goes, I was unfamiliar to it until I met with the ways of the government. Not the terrorists, but the state bullied me to feel intimidated and unsafe. On a day at CP in CP
#1: All entrances to Central Park have been blocked except for one. They frisk you, then review each item in your luggage. Large queues at the entrance, great potential for massacre. Way to go. As a side effect, there are lesser crowds, and couples have gone bolder, and scenes of kissing and fondling are the norm inside.
#2: The Z++++ security is pointless when people are jumping over the other gates - huge 3ft high structures that can only keep the cows out - without reservations. The Mujahids would find this very convenient.
#3: Food items banned inside. This kills the joy. But there were some food vendors inside, dressed in normal clothing. Fishy.
#4: Laptop usage is banned inside. This goes beyond all reason; I guess the Indian intelligence supposes that the terrorists would want to sit comfortably on the lush grass inside this park to coordinate a massive attack. Is our intelligence not aware of other technological offerings, mainly that called "mobile phone" and its evolution, the "PDA"? That aside, I was made aware of the fact an hour after I'd been leisurely using my laptop inside.

Somebody ought to challenge their policy, make an RTI.
Just because the terrorists used a laptop to run their command center doesn't mean laptops are evil. Just like you don't ban the jackets or shoes they were wearing.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Another expert analysis over the Mumbai seige

Relaxed Ways of our Ancestors
The entire Indian blogosphere is going nuts over the Mumbai siege. Everybody has emotions, and naturally needs to iterate how sad/bad/mad this is; the nod that passed our attention in the group finds 15 lines of prose here. If I were the president today, I'd filter out every conversation over the incident on the net, and headbutt those doing the same on the streets. I have seen the junta react here in Delhi, and there is ZERO concern, its rather a scholarly exercise. It's almost a leisure activity where one would state a gruesome fact and others' awestruck faces and the agreeing nod would give something to remember about, the 'awakening' of the the people and the 'patriotic' feeling. And it's not just Delhi that has this construed reaction, even the city of Mumbai that mourns has little concern - which is why they were dancing on the streets when it had just been assured over 3 days how impotent their country is, how easy it is to reduce it to anarchy.

Our plight is that there is nothing we can do; my infuriation slowly turns to empathy for the bystander. They can weep, they can panic, they can dance, they can analyse, they can joke, all without reservations - like the newspapers described: it's a "reality show". The whole drama had been so long drawn out that after the initial disgust at our national security, followed by rounds of trauma over those inside, there was no other 'emergency' emotion left, then we tied our banal lives to a public show of sympathy - just like the generic ideal citizen would. Conformity. Right now they are attending the funeral of some of our top cops for the same reason.

At least its been learnt that sympathy is induced by a shocking change of circumstances - shocking, as in, that one second you are sipping soda and the next you are in bits, like that in a blast, not like in a gun chase. I remember seeing a greater sympathy among the people of Delhi when the Mumbai blasts took place; even my neighbour almost seemed touched. I leave out those with the best of friends or blood relatives getting entangled in this incident, they do remain genuine in their emotions and tears.
Sympathy can also be derived by forcing oneself to consider living the moment that others had been through, like when you harmlessly try choking yourself after a friend commits suicide. I bet half the people forced themselves to think being a hostage trapped in a burning building, to finally send me-too-sympathises messages across. "Yes, we understand their situation now. We just initiated our own neurosis by imagining the same." It's quite a leisure when you can do that and have a good sleep after that.
The process of evoking sympathy is almost a fraud; a psychosis.

Now we stand puzzled as to what to do. This is not an earthquake where I can rush with my friends to join some rescue team and save humanity; this is not an isolated bomb blast where I can offer my services at the scene of crime or make donations and save humanity. The only thing I can possibly do is feel a definite hate against those who are responsible for making our national forces what they are today - us. The ATS/IB/NSG delays/goofups were partly because they were lacking training and equipment; and all that comes from the nation's reserves, which itself comes from the taxpayer's money. They are the _only ones_ who can do a thing about this, and they were lacking. Everything that was required over these days had to come from us, and our con game with the government finally got a face now.

ps: perhaps the only concern i could perceive came from a friend calling in early hours of the morning (whom I couldn't comprehend anyways), and another asking me to travel alert and safe.

Thursday, November 27, 2008


I'm net-happy again. After repeated complaints to and assurances from MTNL folks, yet having nobody show up, I took the law duplex wire in my own hand. And now its fixed - working, rather, since I have no clue what sets it right. It has something to do with just going near the little plastic box they've installed and pretending to tighten its screws even when they are already so; do that and it starts working again. Maybe my modem is some narcissistic living organism. My blood boils when even technology comes under the जुगाङू umbrella - the way how everything in India works.

Will now diverge frm what I was gonna say since the gravity of the Mumbai incident is settling in, its beyond imagination. The last I'd checked on it - when Rohit called up from Mumbai to convey that he was alright, there were 'some unknown blasts' in south of Mumbai which had about 10 confirmed dead. Now there are 87 dead (our Anti Terror Squad chief included), 200 injured and 5 star hotels and hospitals being held hostage. Its been over 7 hours since and as the situation becomes more vivid to viewers like us, it gets even gruesome. New blasts, new blood. The country will have bitter fodder as it wakes up. It's sad.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Scalding Hot

Good start to today. Had a bath with scalding hot water - the (masochistic?) sensation is somewhat like being pierced with needles and gives my sensory nerves something to do after hours of nothingness. This was something diametrically opposite to having bath with freezing cold water at Kedarnath (where I had the distinction of being the only one not squealing - as if being violated - upon pouring the first mug of water). If nothing, hot water gives good blog ideas. Too bad that the human body doesn't expand upon application of heat the way Kerala papads and corn do, or half the world's spam email problem would've gone away.
After bath came a cup of tea, after which a bi-monthly shaving routine followed. The tea just got over. The shave was a long affair which, again, required warm water. Also on display were the greatest standards of दरिद्रता as it has been eons that I last switched razors, mainly because I can't foresee a shave until right when I'd feel like it. As a result of this ignorance, the process that generally takes those Gillette men the length of an ad-film requires sitting through a soap opera in my case. But am quite sure I'll be equipped with a new one in another 6 months time. Positive.

There isn't much to complain, since its an early start, but for the fact that it's 1AM in the morning, and that I'm trailing by about 18 hours. The day that went by saw my great contributions in haggling with Dell over a replacement battery, fixing up the telephone line, tanning one half of myself by sitting at the threshold line of the room sideways, making lumpy chocolate sauce (later combining it into something awesome), tinkering with some javascript code, and - not to forget - sleep accompanied with vague dreams. Delhi isn't cold, but people say so; I'll assume it is since I can generate fog with my breath now.

Had a talk with a friend, to whom the latest "whats up" is being in the fringes of a relationship with a ballerina instructor. The talk then led to the fact that everybody is upto nothing. People are holed up inside their homes with the same eat-watch-sleep routine for months now. In objective ways we all are on the same field, feeling deserted by the companies who filled us with great promises; maybe we can play football that we're there.

ps: a dedication to the cute mongrel standing against my friend's car window, attracted by the smell of meat, oblivious to my presence inside. a dedication to the friend as well, since it was his birthday that we were celebrating then.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Be more discrete

Just when I was having a hunch that everything I see and come across are in a way expression of what is going on inside of me, or at least with me having a role to play, I had to come across a psychological term "Projection" where " attributes one’s own unacceptable or unwanted thoughts or/and emotions to others". Now I sit with a sullen face, since my 'conscious' now sees my 'subconscious' as being perverted and obsessing about relationships. I knew I had it coming, a moment when the rubber arrows (रबड़ ती्र रूपी सोच) I sent off into space would deflect back and lodge into my nostrils (नासिका छिद्र). I shouldn't have thought too much in the first place.

So now I'll feel guilty for no reason, just like when any of my landlady's questioning makes me feel like I'm hiding nuclear material or running a porn empire from my room...Wait, is that even a valid analogy?

Read the wikipedia article, thats pretty much it. Now I'll live with a realisation that everything and everyone I rant about - even Paris Hilton - or feel is wrong, attribute to my own insecurities.. I blew it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Accompanied a friend to Nehru Place, _the_ computer hub of Delhi, today, in consideration that he'd been so kind as to remind me that it was his birthday as well as throw me (and others) a treat at Pizza Hut (the pizzas are still mediocre). He's got a good contact in NP with whom he always deals with - and who seems to be in awe of him, and that's where we headed to. To much irritation, him and the shopkeeper guy started discussing marriage. This was after my friend had found a doodle that could duplicate SIM cards (which is illegal), and went mad over the powers it would give him. It was unbelievable - a geek moment followed by a bland, trite human one! Are things right? Did every elder I know get like this at some stage, or just that such repressed-manner girl talk the new fad born from those Arjun Rampal and Ritesh Deshmukh movies?

So they continue talking about how marriage suffocates and how it suddenly throws 'responsibilities' that are difficult to manage. I guess that's why they remain - and should remain - unmarried, since they can't possibly imagine such a contingency and since they treat women like objects to be dragged along 'for the rest of their lives'. Asses. My friend invented an ex-girlfriend right there to add flavour, as well as made clear his inclination towards arranged marriage. The shopkeeper had apparently been to a bachelor's party the previous night, which is why the topic was so 'hot' for him to push into discussion. After much effort I was able to push my friend back into the SIM card doodle madness. But another day collecting evidence of how badly some people want to cuddle up and have babies by this age/stage.

Not really justifying why I continue staying in Delhi. Not for this, surely.

ps: bachelor's party in India basically means having lots of alcohol at a friend's place or a bar (if can be afforded) or somewhere outside with the car parked on a lonely stretch, and alongside freaking out over how things would change soon, when in fact they won't.

rightnow: doing nothing. still irritated over net disconnections, have temporarily resorted to a data card. irritated over having wasted 2 hours of my life watching "Get Smart". bruised my left trying to rip apart one half of a coconut - did succeed. contemplating dinner and music. the water must've turned cold, had planned a bath.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Hey boy Hey girl

Much of the times I've been out with friends lately, talks have descended towards girls/relationships. I guess that's a part of the growing up - relationships talks become the new sedation. Earlier it used to be cricket, physics and computers when in school; then football, computers, movies, pornography and travel when in college. It seems everybody just reached a state of nothingness - no college, no books, no expansive (male) friends circuit, no dramatic cricket matches, no fads - and had time to think about this stuff. They must be growing addicted to it, for they like to discuss it scholarly - like a science phenomenon, endless conjectures and corollaries. Earlier we used to wind out dissecting Tendulkar's scoring record, only now its shifted to dissecting girls' behavioral characteristics - things whose understanding might help one score. We have finally come to being boys, if not men, right?

Now our group has people that bring experience to the table - one with a violent break-up, only to see a growing friction lately, one who ended things for no reason and still remains befuddled, one who has come to HATE the loner breed of girls, one who has everything in him but for the acceptance of a single girl (among the several he's approached), one with a much amusing marriage proposal to credit, and one thankful that chocolate exists and can be easily had, unlike a relationship. My basic role here is either providing with purely factual information, or going hysteric over their wild generalisations and countering them - 'breeding rationality' is how I think of it. Its quite fun to break into debates over our models of the female side based from such personal experiences. And its scary to see how people are shaped by malicious generalisations, and distinctions between 'man'/'woman' behavior. I, probably, don't contribute much for the same reason - have got no such delusional models, yet am pulled in coz of a swashbuckling recent history.
I hope some of us would catch hold of their hormones and save them for the actual moment. Will try introducing something even more sedate, maybe job talk or food or ontology? Why don't I know anybody that wants to get into finding out the meaning of life and such?

ps: post title dedicated to "The Chemical Brothers"
rightnow: finished a cup of coffee - first time that bru was palatable, listening to chemical brothers now that I used their song title for my blog post, the net is frequently disconnecting and I'm highly irritated at that, nothing much to look at or think about except for bipasha's circuitry and possibly my debut bribe tomorrow.

Still OK

Well, its been a long time since the last I posted. That post left on a dangerous note, but I'm still alive; the next two days that followed unfolded with perfection, and had its share of moments; both panic and serenity. It was the coolest thank-god-that-ended-alright adventure besides Leh. The amusing part comes when I try to share the experience: those villages - Padampuri, Guniyalekh, Chyurigaad, Kalagarhi, Babiyaar, Bhodia, Tilwadi, Lugar - are on such unknown tracts that nobody can create a mental map, hence they can't figure out a thing, like what kind of lands we were on or what history lies behind these, hence the anecdotes/photos fail to build much interest.

So much for that, I'll still upload the photos on the gallery. Have already created a reference, yet to make the gallery public.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Straight from the Scene of Adventure

Writing this sitting in the village of Guniyalekh, 12000ft up in the air, and 30km away from an equipped civilization. Village scenes bring up a romantic image; but this doesn't fall for any of those adjectives. Here it isn't rustic or idyllic, it is WILD. Right now there are at least two man-eating tigers operating in the Kumaon region, and their territory can range over a large area, especially these - both the villages of Padampuri and Kala Agar/Kalagarhi that lie on either side of us accounted for kills in the times of Jim Corbett. It is after dark that I'm writing this; there are only sleeping forests of pine and oak to give company; the stretch of road down the sight lies empty, except for the odd farmer or two awaiting the arrival of a mini-truck to carry their farm produce to the lower regions of Haldwani. We - me and my baby brother - reached here just a little while ago, trekking up our hill in the pale light of tonight's moon; it was great luck that we managed to reach here after setting out as late as 1700 from Bhowali.

It is darker now. Cold out here but not the kind that freezes your bones. It is a rare moment that the heavenly lights - the stars - outnumber the terrestrial ones; here it is so. A mere 6 household lights on this hill and 8 on the hill facing ours put a dull challenge to the millions of stars above; dim lights of Dhari in far distance are optimistic, yet a detachment. The night sky is as clear as can be and drapes around the landscape like a fabric; only in Lansdowne have I seen better. I just caught my first meteor (that I can vividly recall) - a renegade in the form of a white ball streaking through the blackness at almost my eye level. People immediately follow up with fancy wishes, I followed up with the thought of why anybody would do so upon the annihilation of an object that has traveled millions of miles through the space and holds many secrets for the sciences.

Standing outside on the porch was unsettling. The thought of a carnivore lurking in the vicinity eats your head. It's not the scare for me, it's the anticipation that does it, followed by heroic tales spun in the mind while staring into the blackness. Fact remains that this region has dense forests and there is a certified population of carnivore, but a good number of shikaar (ghoral, kakar, wild fowl etc) to keep them disciplined.

The lightbulb count has further reduced to 4. I'll also take to the bed and await sleep after and exhausting day packed with adventure.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Diwali and Your Panties, 2008-10-28 :: Archival Entry

Diwali brings lots of special images and moments to mind. This one was even more special to me. Besides the eternal image of my cousins engineering how to start the ignition of a 10-shot after they'd accidentally set fire to it in the wrong places, I have the other of a beefy woman in white panties. After you're done making your share of perverted associations, pls continue to the next paragraph.

The image really was eternal, for it had been put onto paper - that of a box of huge rockets. I'd accompanied a friend to his firecracker shopping on the eve of Deepawali, and that's where I came across 'it' - that beefy girl in an illogical heavy white gown that extended only to her waist; I chuckled hard, and brought it to my friend's attention; we mutually pondered over it's relation to a religious festival and ended up only more amused. And then, as if the clouds parted, the visions became very clear - there were hordes of these sultry babes hugging large cylinder-shaped objects everywhere, and joining them was an international array of movie stars: there was a 7-star with Kareena Kapoor alongside John Cena, another one with Priyanka Chopra alongside the entire cast of X-Men (whatever that suggests), Ayesha Takia on a rocket carton and the characters of "The Matrix" - the twins and trinity - on a large box of something very explosive, and one with some character of Final Fantasy holding a sword, from which a mist emerged that gave rise to the smiling face of Kareena Kapoor.

While my friend was busy bargaining for a measly amount of firecrackers ("I only need some for shagun"), I obsessed myself with the evident country-wide obsession of juice - so much that I'm starting with a new paragraph. Plump south Indian actresses seem to gaining grounds when it comes to selling explosives. Yes, sex sells even in this domain. Gone are the days of happy children on the cover, today has to do with the 'mamathas' of our cheesy film industry down under. Besides the panties girl, there was another in red underthings, and another one with short skirt and lots of popping cleavage gawking at a "Cock" brand rocket. Besides these girls that suggest romp, there was a breed of those homely and prim girls as well - dressed up all traditional, looking tamely yet inviting. Much of this firecracker industry is based in the south, and going by this, there's a whole bunch of perverted designers sitting there trying to market everything with titillating imagery. They also assume that the Indian women will stay indoors and only the men would have anything to do with these boxes of crackers - which is why they stick with hot semi-nekked ladies. In a progressive nation where even the women are gaining the right to step out into the public, the right to light a fuse, and starting to like other women, and men liking other men, and children growing even more horny at even younger ages, they would need to re-strategise soon.

We are bringing softcore indian porn to our doors instead of Goddess Laxmi these days. Truly, Kalyug approacheth.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Too Good to Beat

These deals en-route Lucknow by bus, just the day before...
  • Comb Set of 10, consisting of combs of all shapes and sizes, even those lice-plucking ones. Rs. 10
  • Childrens' learning book that covers almost every subject for a toddler, laminated throughout (no accidental wear and tear!). Rs. 10
  • A set of 3 magazines, including one featuring desi erotic tales (politely titled "Manohar Kahaniyaan") Rs. 10
  • Toothbrush - a set of 3. Rs. 10
  • Handkerchiefs, of size that can literally serve a cushion when folded. Rs. 10
  • A set of 2 gold-plated chains and 2 gold-plated rings (one for each of the sex). Rs. 10
  • 10 ripe Bananas for Rs. 10
  • Watches - Quoted price of Rs. 300 going for Rs. 80 on a good bargain
Such controlled prices almost make it feel like the Soviet Era!
These people obviously have something going right. Also hints at mass margins in apparel. Might also hint at oppression and at the labour being paid peanuts.

Lucknow by Bus

Never travel to Lucknow by bus. The previous statement can be counted a maxim, for what is an overnight journey by train turned out an 18hr neck-straining bummer for me by the bus. 18 hours is time in which I could've set out from Lucknow to Delhi by the Mail and back by Shatabdi, still with another couple of hours which I'd have devoted to visiting the Lucknow Zoo and having kababs. Theoretically it should've been no more than 14 hours, but the tire blowing up midway and another couple of hours spent at the railway crossing delayed things. There are rare times when a journey becomes a drag and this was one of them; even the epic 3-day Leh-Delhi rickety bus ride the previous year was better. UP roads are inferior to any other state I've been to, and there's a severe scarcity of road sense.
I was traveling by the bus because I proved too slow to fetch a train reservation - even the Tatkals were filled up within 15 minutes of their availability, Diwali being the sole reason. There were others with similar tales to recall - who'd have traveled by the AC coach on a train if not for the unavailability; their collective presence upped the general standard of the bus crowd. (I hope there were other bloggers amongst them as well, we all curse our road transport in unison that way.)
Learnt that truckers' halts are the best place to have tea, and had a live example of scare mongering; not much else to tell about...oh and that Michaelganj/Maikalganj reaffirms its position as the best food halt along the route.

This is one case where 'The end justify the means' falls flat in its logical validity. The next time I'm traveling to Lucknow on a bus is either when they make a super-express highway where the most rickety of buses can manage a steady 100kmph, or when I'm required to be follow some KGB agent out on an espionage mission.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oh, another day and tangible experiences

Some days are surprisingly hectic. I guess today was one among them. Bum-breaker, if that means anything. Cycling, walking, cycling, walking - Delhi is too big when you're a man on a mission (with conservative attitude towards transport). There were only two chunks of spare time: the morning - which was spent gearing up for the day - and the briefest of pit stops around 1630, when I returned back only to refuel for the evening that lay ahead. Things didn't change the world order, were quite mundane, almost everything to do with me own social circles.

The day started off with me almost suffering cerebral damage; a high-velocity projectile missed my head by a margin: as it was, I was in the process of making myself a cup of cappuccino, and while the milk was on the stove I had the urge to crane my neck out of the balcony and smell the rewarding morning air. The balcony is like every other in this neighbourhood - a grilled defense, for the fear of theft; mine has a window of about 5x4 ft. And my head is a bounding box of about 1.2x1 sq ft. No sooner had I approached the balcony, in the process of a deep breath, that something whizzed past my left ear, hit the balcony grill with a twang and deflect back outside. After the momentary stun, I looked down to find the newspaper boy in his second attempt to deliver the papers through the little opening in my balcony. I was lucky that his initial strike missed today.

Received a call from an anonymous number in the morning. The voice on the other side seemed to affirm our familiarity, so I went along with the conversation. It ended with us deciding to meet up in the evening; I had no idea of who it was; "some friend" was what I added him as on my cellphone. I was severely receptive to the fact that it could be anybody and yet be received with no greater or lower enthusiasm. Anonymity is a great equaliser. "some friend" called again later to confirm his arrival at the Metro Station. Last efforts to remember that voice failed. I approached with guilt hanging over my head - what if I don't recognize him? It was a pleasant surprise to find Aditya waiting...a good year and a quarter after which we were seeing each other. A very long year and a quarter, I was amused at how we could stay so ignorant over our long-due meeting. I'd like that to happen again, ANYBODY - even those with whom I'm mutually unacquainted.

Did something goofy today; it wasn't cheap; but I'd decided not to let money spoil the kick; then spent my next few hours frequently going over the thought if it was worth it. And then got a call from a guy who wanted to give me money!
The task executed was something whose very point lies in being pointless, but with the most purest geekiest of intentions - no material pursuits for own self, though. Because the thought had been conceived a few days back and almost on the fringes of execution, I crossed lines, even though I was required to be very specific with my day's spendings.
Then the call from my ex-employer/client in the afternoon - He's a pilot, so not among the ones I'd expect being affected from the recent Kingfisher-Jet deal and its aftermath. But as it turns out: he was trained on the 440 very recently and now they've decided to do away with 440s (or something close) and fly only with 420s. So he's quite irritated over that fact - He was in town, and wanted to strike off the pending payments. That was surprising; the money itself knocking back. A few more of such occasions and I'll be drawing maxims.

While at home - exhausted - for that pit stop, I turned the fan to the max. Seconds later I realised that my room was lacking that feature! There was a hole where the fan should've been, like it was sucked up by somebody on the roof. The landlady had taken it away for repairs, I'd asked her earlier. She'd been to my room in my absence and had leisurely run her eyes around every detail, and had found it unkempt, citing the spider webs for example. I politely replied "Frankly, I like them, won't like to disturb their active season of aphid-snacking." She was bewildered and gave me a short stare, followed by that understanding nod which is only a conditioned response that people use to their defense when they conversate with the least botheration; mere noise from the other person would pacify them. Reminds me of the scene in "The Darjeeling Limited" where Adrien Brody, holding a baby, is sitting alongside a villager, both of whom seem to making a conversation.

A day of excess in cycling.
A day of excess in walking.
A day of excess in eating.
A day of excess in spending (and withdrawls).
A day of excess in socialising.
Also learned a process and a fact.

At least something real and possible to write about.
Take that, previous blogpost.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Moments of searching for an expression

TASK: Give "your side on you".

[stares blankly at the laptop screen]
[pizza on the sofa; reminds of yesterday's lunch]
[a cup of coffee. was nice.]
[cigarettes butts. have to stop smoking - them, not me.]
[back to staring at the laptop screen. no emotional ejaculate in hand. no success.]

It's hard to turn inwards. I wonder what I've been doing all this time. I do remember reading and essay "The Yogi and the Commissar" (by Arthur Koestler) a few days ago and identifying myself with the Yogi who sees 'inwards'. But where did that inward vision go? I'm having a very hard time digging up my latest in thoughts; can't even detail a state of mind. I think I just failed at answering the question my friend put forward; this is particularly embarrassing.
Maybe it was because right now I'm away from my room, everything that forms my memory and evokes out that intangible something - maybe intense - is at a distance. That hints at how good an image of imperfection I'll be if I ever fall in love, haha.

It's dawn, as my clock suggests and I'm still awake. Would sleep be a cure? Or nostalgia? Or creating something fictional, then destroying it upon conception, then feeling a longing for it?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Between Bhowali and Kathgodam, 2008-10-06 :: Archival Diary Entry

The shorter road from Bhowali to Kathgodam - one that goes via Bhimtal - is a route I have traveled little on, but it generally sees 10 times the traffic than what the other road (via Gethia and Jeolikote) gets. The nature of the road doesn't suit me. Past Bhimtal, it feels like spiraling into a tangle, with all the sections piled on top of each other, conveniently tied together by the U-bends. That also has the effect of intertwining the vehicular exhaust across the entire strech into a single mesh that settles down by the evening and eventually dissipates up into the atmosphere by the dawn that follows. The hills throughout are very steep and composed of loose rock, where civilization can only be ascribed to the audacity of the city planners who proposed to carve a road through this mountain face. I don't like journeys that make me think and curse and twitch, all at the same time. Covering this stretch is a nauseating feeling - more so listening to the accounts of those who do so daily. I might have sympathy for them.

Today I'm at it - quite unwillingly - for I've to be at Kathgodam to catch a train. My sympathies boomerang to hit me on the face and I pocket them without fuss. The journey has just started; I'm in a shared taxi, but at least it would be less of a discomfort now that I managed to occupy the front seat. The hill folk have already considered retiring and markets seem empty, though it hasn't been long since the last of the sunrays retreated. Or maybe they quit early to catch the Ramlila, Dussehra is only a few days away; I'd like to see a Kumaoni version of the Ramlila sometime again; it is amusing. The taxi groans along the gentler hills whose shapes can be traced by connecting the household lights scattered all across; only that one would have difficulty in considering them in order. The taxi driver is on his last round for the day. It is comforting that he's driving slow, but it suddenly grows that it's too slow to be normal. Turns out that he is repentant over an incident earlier in the day, when he was forced to make a mad dash in the lure of money and cover the 32km distance in about half an hour (which translates to 'suicide' had I tried to do the same). I'm still split if he was genuine or drunk.

Past Bhimtal, and the unfriendly stretch begins. Once beyond the hills that cradle the lake, the climate changes course. There is dense fog which is rather surprising in October; my irritation doesn't measure upto that of the taxi driver's who will have to swipe off the fog precipitate from his windshield from the outside at regular intervals. Broken roads and detritus consuming half of those roads at places reinforce the verity of my earlier description and invites more cussing from the driver. But even in the moment of communal irritation we remain divergent entities. The fog that is supposed to clip vision gives me more to see tonight. I give a hard stare to the hills on my left and fail to decipher any contours. It is as if the entire chain of hills merges together into a monolith that has no boundaries. It might be possible tonight. Then it comes to realisation that it is the fog that subdues all definition. The fog thins out higher up in the sky and I can see the crescent shape of the moon partially shielded by the fog. The moon borrows light from a star, and the fog borrows this light from the moon to veil it tonight. I think it can read into this surreal streak of mine and makes an effort to keep me away from reading more into the beauty of the goddess that dwells up there in that crescent. Anyways, the moon feels so close tonight, like I can take a detour to land there. And then the feeling that one is floating through space in a tin can; the wheels rolling on an imaginary strip that extends as far as the headlights can reach. Stars, planets, moon. Tiny village settlements arrive, discretely, to the right, like tiny isolated islands floating in space. Here the life and flora came into being by some magic - there might be another space traveler alike me responsible. My spaceship leaves them behind. And then, past these isolated islands, one can spot the bowl of a mighty civilization identified as a collective of thousands of flickering lightbulbs. These are the lights of Ranibagh, or Kathgodam, or a night vista of the entire piedmont plains, I'm not too sure which one. I will switch my spaceships - to a much more spacious and oblong one - under one of these lights down there.

Besides the repentant driver and dreamy me, there are those in a hurry to reach back to their homes and families. They tell the driver that his speed was too slow for comfort and ask him to pick it up. He obliges and gets back to being the same maniac on road - as all in his fraternity are - to everybody's relief. Any more dreamy stuff that materialises hereon gets splashed and scattered around owing to the hard bumps, sweeping bends and the abrupt breaking.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

To Kill a Mockingbird

Didn't intend to do that, but I did. I spoiled a movie experience - for me own self, that too for a movie that the American Film Institute (AFI), in 2006, voted the 2nd Most Inspirational Movie of All Times; one that sits at #47 on IMDB list of the greatest movies of all time. A big honour, na.

Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mockingbird" has remained somewhat restrained in terms of popularity, but those who know about it know the modern legend it is. That Harper Lee never wrote another book in her life, and never pushed the book beyond its initial years might have contributed to that. Firstly, debut novels often begin their journeys with little efforts from the publishers or promotion teams. The hype only starts from #2, at which Mrs Lee made no attempts at. Secondly, some bibliophiles might scoff at an author with 1 book in their oeuvre - they need a new God to worship. Hence the book remains an esoteric masterpiece.

The book came in 1960. A movie adaptation followed in 1962; the perspective and details in the book itself made it easy to turn it into one. It won 3 Oscars, and another couple of nominations. But having read the book, I can only complain at how loosely tied the movie adaptation was - I bet everybody would - after all there are people who will perceive the book better, esp. the Americans to whom the events would bear a familiarity from their perspective. Events were muddled up to keep things linear. Introductions and discoveries were pruned off. Time frames were messed around. Characters stayed generic and under-developed: Scout felt a pesky helpless runt, Jem's coming-of-age seemed trivial and Atticus was a shadow of what he was in words. The trial seemed a frivolous affair, so did Boo-Radley. Was I asking too much?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Michael Clayton - the opening scene

Michael Clayton, the 2007 movie, starts off with the most potent of dialogue and voice acting - Tom Wilkinson's act sucks the audience in (and again in later scenes).

Here's the text to the audio. If I were a director, this is what I'd hand out during my auditions.

Michael. Dear Michael. Of course it's you. Who else could they send? Who else could be trusted? And I know it's a long way and you're ready to go to work. All I'm saying is wait, just wait, just...Just please hear me out. Because this is not an episode, relapse, fuckup. I'm begging you, Michael, I'm begging you. Try and make believe this is not just madness because this is not just madness.
Two weeks ago, I came out of the building, okay? I'm running across 6th Avenue, there's a car waiting. I got exactly 38 minutes to get to the airport, and I'm dictating. There's this panicked associate sprinting along beside me scribbling in a notepad, and suddenly she starts screaming. And I realize we're standing in the middle of the street the light's changed and there's this wall of traffic... serious traffic speeding towards us.
And I freeze. I can't move. I'm suddenly consumed with the overwhelming sensation that I'm covered with some sort of film. And it's in my hair, in my face. And it's like a glaze, like a coating. And at first I thought, "Oh my God, I know what this is. This is some sort of amniotic, embryonic fluid. I'm drenched in afterbirth. I've breached the chrysalis. I've been reborn." But then, the traffic, the stampede, the cars, the trucks, the horns...
...this poor woman screaming, and I'm thinking, "No. This is not rebirth. This is some kind of giddy illusion of renewal that happens in the final moment before death."
And then I realise "No, no, no, this is completely wrong" because I looked back at the building and I had the most stunning moment of clarity. I realized, Michael ... that I had emerged, not through the doors of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen ... not through the portals of our vast and powerful law firm but from the asshole of an organism whose sole function is to excrete the poison, the ammo, the defoliant necessary for other larger more powerful organisms to destroy the miracle of humanity. And that I had been coated in this patina of shit for the best part of my life. And the stench of it, the stain of it would take the rest of my life to undo. And you know what I did? I took a deep, cleansing breath and I set that notion aside. I tabled it. I said to myself, "As clear as this may be, as potent a feeling as this is as true a thing as I believe that I have witnessed today, it must wait. It must stand the test of time."
And, Michael, the time is now.

Here's the link to the audio, again at the end of this post.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Unrestrained Worlds Inside

Living my days in alcoholic desolation, yet I'm seeing friends all the time. Like it was just yesterday. No, today. I'm 50 miles away from them, a million miles away from some, yet they were around. How concerned and caring of them. Hmh, some will obviously infer that its the magic of internet and gifts of technology I'll be talking about. No. It's something that exists since the primeval, a technology too complex for current worlds, something created by evolution and being understood by us mortals (with the ultimately purpose to take them over).
I opened my eyes
And my world was lost,
The subconscious works in baffling ways. Dreams, some say, is how our head processes inconsistent thoughts, our actual experiences. And so I end up dreaming - besides the goofy, the epic, the paranormal and the sensual - about people and friends. The highs of a dream are difficult to match, as long as you can remember it vividly. I guess everybody's dreams always include a dash of the surreal, so are matchless in the real world - or what seems 'real'. Dreams defy the dimension of time: I met 4 of my friends across the state in a single hour of sleep. What a beauty, a great way to manage precious time! Unless their lives were pacing with uncertainty, there is no reason why a dream can't replace a generic chat.
They say an idle mind is a devil's workshop, but the body in its greatest state of idleness is forming us into what no real world thought chains can. It is the most real perception of the world, since it comes from what one subconsciously registers - a gazillion times more than what can be framed in words. Effectively, I'm analysing and knowing people while 'consumed' in myself. All in my free time. No money, no appointments, no conversations, no travel. They just happen and you wake up with a fresh memory and fresh perspective (of a person or thing), and a concern that stems not from propriety but our honest individual will. The concern is REAL.
My dreams, in a sense, have been a great equaliser. When I'm left to see inwards, I can't possibly follow the external hierarchy, the facade. I've never dreamt about the hand that feeds me or the hand that leads me; not necessarily. Dreams relate to the ones who make an impression deep inside and the 'contact', even if silently. My true celebrity cloud. If there are people that you always wanted to know, and you're kinda introvert like me, you'll know them better even before you've spoken a word to them.

"You think we know each other for a few months, but I've known you for years". Even me throwing something this trite holds credence. You know why.

Because there are worlds inside our heads that only we can understand and justify, my stress on individuality is ever so more. Each mind thrives with genuine humanity, only that we cover it up to merge with the society. The struggle to survive with the dogs breeds the evil inside us. Can we ever have a society that can be as pure and caring as we are in our abandon? Can we ever make dreams communal?

Getting Physical

Everybody in India has an obsession with grease. The more you carry, the more your affluence. It's like saying that we don't work - we have lots of slaves for that. We only stack the lard and the cash. Bloating up your children is okay; one can never say whats enough when they are in early stages of development. The science still needs to work more on the single pill that will be enough for your child for a day. But when that habit continues to adolescence and then then into adulthood, it's a grim realisation. CANT THEY SEE HOW THE NEEDLESS CONSUMPTION IS ONLY HELPING THEM TO THEIR GRAVES AS WELL AS CREATING A VACUUM WHERE THE RESOURCES ARE REALLY NEEDED! SHIT ARISTOCRACY AND ITS SURVIVING TRACES.

Sorry, that is not where I intended to start from. Just making my resentment public. I did want to speak about myself this time. Not philosophy but a me that is the meat and the mass. What got me writing this was an honest observation:
"Are you this thin because you cycle?" she asked.
It was our first meeting and I was _naturally_ looking reduced. Not reduced in terms of what I used to be at the peak of my lardage. Not reduced compared to the times I walk out after a good dinner. Somebody I'm speaking to the first time, and they think I'm waning.
"What! I'm not", I said.
"You are. You must not be loving food or must be dieting or something".
I flared up, "Stop saying that. I'm a foodie, a real one. This is like an insult to me". Then I continued with making accusations at my 'opposition', like when people direct their anger at the mongrels alongside the road when they are flustered about their own car breaking down.

I did give it a serious thought later. This wasn't the first time my health was mentioned in the past week.
"You look _VERY_ thin", said A.
"You're difficult to identify now that you mix with the lean crowd", said Aa.
"Bhaiya aap to kaafi patle ho gaye", said K.
"Tu kaafi kam ho gaya hai", said S(R)K.
And then there were the mindless accusations from the family everytime I'd visited Lucknow. Yes, mindless. Because the comments have stayed consistent for the past many years, no matter how consistent I've been with my dimensions and weight. They will always speak about how I "used" to look healthier and if I'd been sick lately.
"NO, I haven't been sick. The fact that I haven't had a single medicine since I've been managing things by myself stands a testament to that. And in the meantime 3 of my friends fell to jaundice. Some had virals. And Delhi had Dengue, even a guy living two doors away perished. NO, I haven't been weak. I've undertaken quite grueling activities and been into sports and into cycling and trekking...and this is just to start with. And then the chemicals are circulating fine as well; I'm thinking alright and more dense than before. When you actually see me feeling unwell, tell me. All you do now is set my 2003's 87kg peak as the benchmark and judge me 'weak' by that.

That 87 reduced down to 85. The days where the mass used to move up and down in an almost jubilant fashion when stick fighting or jumping around the fire with friends - have that on tape. Then I entered college and soon I was living through my days of 75; for a long time - the kind where you are disgusting to look at only when taped secretly from the side bedding a girl in some hotel room (c'mon we're all aware of the days of fruition of voyeurism in India). No fire dances, only treks and really cool photos in the meanwhile (ps: no *** tapes - I was just giving an example). And then I started living by myself and the 75 naturally came to 67, measured just a couple of weeks ago, when people started making that obvious observation. 67. Something where I might feel alarmed. Not because it impairs my daily routine, it doesn't - Delhi can be lived through on just biscuits for the weekdays with a nice treat out with friends on the weekend. It was alarming because it means I'm less of a survivor when out with nature. And to make amends I was back to 70 in a week. A week at 70, Then 73. Now. Whoo. Yes, reasonably happy. More so because it's all on a diet of good carbs and good fat (no trans-). No bun tikkis at junk McDonalds. And the best part is, it doesn't show. "Where'd it go?"
It is a leisure to stuff oneself up :)

One thing that doesn't have to do much with the physical proportions is hair. They are dandy and disease-free, unlike a friend whose eyebrows are enough of a terror when you come close - they shed dandruff.
Mr J's first reaction - seeing me after a long break - was to mention that my disheveled look (hair and all) was " John Mayer or something". Mr K - seeing me after a similar gap - equated that to Himesh Reshammiya's. Don't smile...laugh at that comparison. I myself did. But does trigger a thought if John Mayer and Himesh Brother stand on the same rung of the ladder in their music circles. Yes. Both start off with a bang. Both are the new cash-making machines. Both drive masses mad. Their initial albums and their debut year sees great success. Only that Reshammiya is a 10-year jump to Mayer. Think about it - Mayer sings about lying in bed with her chick in 'Your Body is a Wonderland', and Reshammiya is already lamenting about the break-up in 'Aashiq Banaya Aapne'. Mayer then misses the corridors of his high school in 'No Such Thing' in a defeated desperation while Reshammiya is already pacing into summoning those days back in 'Aaja Aaja'. If Mayer is the prelude, Reshammiya the finale.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Pale Moon will Shine on the Twining of our Hearts

Corner of the eye, the purple, a sweep, another, svelte, distraction, focus, battery, distraction, statis, boredom, a roll, the visage, a seed, a thought, the thought, recall, cant, recall, title, yes, go ahead, cannot hurt, or kill, conscience, approval, approaching, recall, termination, move, follow, out, close, hesitant, coward, again, recall, close, coward, pace, out, behind, close, inappropriate, pace, fiddle, wait, approaching, eyes, close, coward, almost, give up, no, if, yes, definitely, rehearse, recall, ok, approaching, now, no, left, no, fail, coward, guilt.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lost Fragments

Her love gave tongue to my silence,
and it took away frm field its fence.
I'll wait for the breeze to kiss your eyes,
and they rise,
As the world timidly bids for a glance;
The morning dawn and your smile.

I sip my bland plight.
whenever I see your sight,
Haunting nights hold me hostage,
and in your captivity I lie -
deserted frm hope and frm sympathy,
As pain rains down on me.

I know I've waited for too long,
to let your touch fill me up.
Desolation swallows my bare soul,
for pearl I vainly search in mines of coal.
With a hollow soul and tear-stained pleas,
Enveloped in love and sealed with a kiss.

I dare not gaze upon her face,
Memories are a sweet souvenir of the chase.
As faint as shed flowers,
And as attenuated as this dream.
Is the hope you'll return to me,
As we truly were ment to be.

Dreaming of you
I bled,
and froze,
and met my end,
But eternity never seemed so close.

(Written early 2008 in a state of non-being)

Living is a Selfish Act

The full moon, a silver cinder illuminating this night for frothy madmen and me, casting its cold shadows which add a touch of warmth to a night that suddenly doesn't feel that lonely anymore. I stumble between my thoughts, too incoherent to elaborate upon. Like a fish out from the waters - struggling, restless and listless - only difference being that living is not the supreme guiding reason.
Living is a selfish act. No, I must not desire to live. That desire crushes the thinker, it gives me reasons to compromise; breaking my ocean of a mind into tiny channels each directed to a purpose whose ultimate goal is to let you live. Killing the impulse. Almost masochistic. Afflicting great pains and calling that pleasure. More like deceit.

Wonder if animals (excluding us) can remenisce or dream. They sure register those of their clan and their progeny, but can their brain harbour memories as well? Can they feel a longing as intense and vivid as us or is it just their transitory chemical imbalances that give NatGeo a good script? What gets me there is that in the process of being conscious and selfish about our present and 'living' in the context of a future and a past, we are only drawing ourselves towards the wretched. Think about it: one huge way in which we differ from other species is that we are capable of moving in either direction of time (with ease). We can manipulate what we perceive, can live in the past or the future. No, not the present. The present is the most transitory fragment that we can possibly worry about. It's only a conversion stage that processes future and converts it into the past. Future exists before the past does; if there were no future at the beginning of time, there would be no past.

Like a computer game where our gameplay dictates what experience lies next - the stage is set, the lines already drawn, we only have to step in. Much akin, we have our future shaped by our thoughts and actions.
So how can living a life of a drone, conforming to the stale ways of the propriety and give us bliss? Then we glorify, apotheosize and lie to give the sham a credible form. Things went wrong somewhere.

Friday, September 12, 2008

2008-09-09/17:35 :: Archival Diary Entry

I KNOW you have to follow the protocol.
But you aren't a machine.
You're a human.
You can show consideration.
And that is why I'm asking you to make an exception.

Protocols to bitter my day. To snatch my meals away.
3 for today, within the span of an hour. The ones that don't matter or cost much I got through, the one that cost immoderate amounts and meant the world (literally!) got me. There were no means of escape. I shall come back prepared.

Friday, August 15, 2008

2008-08-11/23:45, On-board the Ranikhet Express :: Archival Diary Entry

Wind. Want to feel the gale. Want to see the flower petals synchronously flapping on one of such days. Flowers with yellow, long petals make it all the more lovely - when they turn on their pale face and flex sideways on a strong gust, then flip back again as if to catch breath. Like they whisper me secrets and run away.
Kind of introspective, because the mind seldom throws epiphanies and leaves you at the cusp of where you can start to build on a theory - only that you're all the more confused now.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

minor twaddle

We are great pressimists at heart. The pessimism is hard to evoke, though.
We are great pessimists to things we feel make us. When we look inside ourselves, there is a premonition of loss. That is the fear that drives us to latch onto something even more, even if it would mean working harder to keep it. To the audience, that makes us an 'optimist' - opti.mist: A mist of optimism. True optimism is when somebody can be in complete abandon and still feel that everything will be in order. In a way it leads to having an affirmation in others; in their faculties which will work alongside without hurting yours. It facilitates collaboration.
Pessimism leads to great men. Optimism leads to great societies.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sleep-Wake. Wake-Sleep.

Inverting the second half of my already-inverted daily cycle gave positive results. It essentially involves sleeping before being up for long hours, rather than being up for long hours before sleep. The whole event takes place nocturnally, the habit of which comes naturally to two people: today's youth who compensate for the banality of day, and the classic geek who scorns at the 'evil star' (sun) and prefers to spend time indoors and asleep.
The inversion was a surprise discovery, thanks to greater consumption of rajmah /beans (mediocre in preparation, but heavy nonetheless) and 'langda' variety of mangoes. The heaviness that arose was akin to a time warp. Details of the previous night remain sketchy - all I can recall is barely managing to store the leftovers in the fridge, and dumping myself on the bed to feel the agony of contention. I was watching something alongside my dinner, which I have lost track of. I was listening to Goldfrapp, no impression of which survives.

Waking up was a psychedelic experience. As my eyes struggled to open sometime in the night, I could see a glow emanating from where I lay, straight up. The ceiling is a featureless surface, so that faintest of lights gave my room the dimensions of space. I locked my eyes in a stare until it receded and involuntarily went back to sleep, only to wake up and find it there - again. The sleep took retreat slowly, and so did the dimensions of space. Turned out that glow was the backlight of my iPod. What tripped it repeatedly was my belly rubbing against the player as I rolled around.

And the slumber got me to blog after some gap. Good.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Distinguishing between Pines, Fir and Spruce

What is the difference between pine, fir, spruce? Here's a condensed way to see it (in theory). Try to register and link things at some pace.

At the beginning of time
Everything with pointy, evergreen leaves was labeled "Fir".
Prussia (that historical region in Central Europe that now stands divided) was famous for its fir. It was called "Prussian Fir".
"Pruce" became a contemporary term for Prussia. "Spruce" came as an alternative form of Pruce.
"Prussian Fir" now came to be referred to "Spruce Fir", or "Spruce" in short. Just a kind of fir from Northern Europe.

"Pinus" was a Latin term for the fir trees of their region.
The English who got a hard-on from Latin adopted Pinus (as "Pine"). So now there was a distinction between fir (rugged, northern kind) and pines (thin, but more solid kind).

And then...
Then came scientific classification, and everything was taken under the "Conifer" umbrella. It included cypress, firs, pines, spruces among others. Basically anything with needle-like leaves and a resinous wood.
Scientific classification further included conifers, alongwith larches, hemlocks, cedars under the "Pinaceae" umbrella.

Now, the original pines are the genus 'pinus' species in the Pinaceae family. Clustered needles that have a sort of cuticle or “sheath” at the base.
The firs, which initially included everything, now came under the genus 'Abies'. Needles are flat, do not come in bunches and grow straight out of the branch without a stem.
Spruce came under genus 'Picea'. They were differentiated from the regular firs (Abies), in that their needles have a rectangular cross-section.

Pinaceae >> Conifer > Pines (Pinus) && Firs (Abies) && Spruce (Picea)

Yesss, brain dead!

Monday, July 07, 2008

Grandeur of Kedarnath, now visible to all

The Kedarnath (and Hardwar and Rishikesh) trip image galleries are out there! Me and my college classmates undertook this trip in May of 2008, right after our exams were wrapped up with. Hardwar and Rishikesh came first on our map, then Shivpuri for adventure camp + rafting, then to Gaurikund and finally trekking up to the Kedar. The days didn't go without adventure (and stomach upsets). Some left midway, some joined midway and we thinned out from 7 in Rishikesh (6 in Hardwar) to 4 in Kedarnath (Anikesh, Deepanjan, Piyush, me).

Here is some link fodder:
* Kedarnath-Rishikesh-Hardwar :: trip briefing
* Moi Image Gallery
* Anikesh's Image Gallery

Spent some time adding a file module (to the website) to share any useful resources like docs, links, maps, pdf, etc. Expect some activity in that corner soon (even for the Leh and, maybe, Gethia).

Washed away

The Yamuna, that nullah that i last remember it as, is back to being a river now. It's as odd as the resurgence of hair on a bald person. The pontoon bridges lie reduntant. Any businesses near its banks - like the juice vendors and farmers - have displaced. The banks lie desolate, but beautiful. Now that the water levels have risen and the banks are closer, I walk upto the edge, right where the land ends. I assume that the edge won't erode and continue to act sophisticated. An odd fisherman or two are the only population around, if you ignore counting in the migratory cranes that decided to break their journey for a couple of days. The water is muddy brown - which is a welcome change from the earlier shade of evil black. Countless eddies churn the waters, but to no effect. For the first time it seems that the river has the potential to support life. And I also come across things that suggests the river's affiliations to the end of life. There are tiny earthen pots lying around, which MUST be containing ashes of the dead. It is confirmed when I spot hollowed, brittle bones around one of the pots that lies smashed. The rest must have been washed away in the agressive currents The water levels are conspicuously higher.
She flows with great intensity, thanks to the torrential showers. The monsoons haven't arrived yet, I'm told. If that is so, then I can foresee the great Delhi floods of '08.

Once the rain clouds go away, Yamuna would be back to 'black greasy smelly chemicals' mode it was earlier in. I shouldn't mind - the pontoon bridge would be up again, and the sugarcane juice vendors would come back to its banks and ring cute little bells to attract their customer for another glass of refreshing juice. Blue bulls - currently living deep in the forests nearby - would move outwards, where I can see them grazing once again. But the greatest delight once it's back to being so is that I get to reminisce; reminisce over each and every artefact that ties to my memories.
The scenes today would make for reminiscence the next year. Fruition period.

Friday, July 04, 2008

days of insignificance

Have forgot the spelling of 'address'. I always end up spelling it 'Adress' then end up wondering as to why. And the i's are turning up as y's. Maybe I'm looking for shortcuts. So 'happiness' is now 'hapynes' and 'feel' is 'fel' - don't fel much hapynes over anythyng, its boryng these days. Am I descending 400 years back into archaic english?

Stuck in a mental block over exg. Now that I've begun with it, I don't feel like working on anything else. Adding new things, fixing up stuff and revamping it altogether occupy premium thought space. I did put my Kedarnath trip online, but waiting for Anikesh to contribute his pics, so that people have more to see this time. Will announce it when that's done. Hopefully today itself.

Busy weaving a cocoon I shall soon recede into, unless there's some collaborative action around.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008


retailmenot is the best thing I've come across online this year in terms of making visible something that was always there. We all want bargains wherever available, and its generally something you discover yourselves or through a well-wishing friend. People feel very smart when they get more from a deal than the ignorant joe next door. Picking on that concept, the company behind bypass registrations - bugmenot - came up with the idea for retialmenot: aggregate the bargains at a single destination and build communities that share more and add to the website. The consumer should be able to squeeze out the most from the market juice.

The site looks slick and the homepage makes one feel rewarded to have discovered it. To build their community and keep it in the forwards direction, there are incentives to those who contribute.
Just searched techcrunch, and found this about retailmenot. Seems that they were pulling big numbers/cash back in March, so I can only double that, considering the rate at which it has been growing.

Sad thing is that the concept is lacking in India - that of referrals and coupon savings. I'll have to wait.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Catching on some Uzbek culture

There was some Uzbekistani troupe performing at Ravindralaya theatre in Lucknow today. I've never been close to either the cultural scene in Lucknow or any foriegn dance troupe performances, so it was going to be a new - maybe alien - experience to me. Ravindralaya theatre is one of the oldest and most well known theatres of Lucknow, situated right opposite to the Lucknow Rly Stn. I've seldom read about events and performances taking place in the newspapers over there. I was lucky to have a new acquaintance in Nitin - whose father is a theater director himself. Nitin gets all the free passes. And nobody can say no to such invitations.

After an hour and half of performances, I left the theatre in quite an uplifted mood. The dances were brilliant, the dresses dazzling. Choreography, particularly, was top-notch. Its nice to learn that such art and culture thrive in some of the lesser gifted parts of the world (Uzbekistan is 'doubly' landlocked, isnt it).
I haven't been cultured too much, so there was the initial kick of the music and faces having resemblance to those in Borat. But I did get out of it, and soon grew in awe of their dances. Everything was upbeat, sometimes even funny. And fast. The girl performances were in groups of 4 or more - except for one - while the boys performed a couple of solo dances, which I felt odd about. It was easy to generalise how they perceive the sexes - girls had rythmic, flowing movements while the boys were jerky and slightly crude.

I left with a taste of traditional dance and music, to start thinking over how bollywood has totally bastardised the artform. India arguably has the largest number of dance forms, and today we know very little about them. The era of grace and finesse seems gone with the commercialisation. While watching the performances, I could only imagine how rubbish this would seem when translated to the jeans crowd, and the likes that get labeled a 'dancer' today. I think I need a greater dose of classical music and dance now.

Atul looked mesmerised by the show as well. As he (insensitively) put it: "Alif Laila ki yaad aa gayi, YAAR!". Now don't star drawing conclusions, everybody has their way of expressing things.

UPDATE: Their group photo graced the front page of one of the Hindi dailies the next day.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Bara Meat / बङा का मीट

Bada/Bura (बङा) translates to 'big' in English. Bara meat is a common term here, referring to meat from the larger animals. Goat is considered 'छोटा' (small meat). If you're smart enough, you can decipher, then, that 'Bara Kabab' (बङा कबाब)or 'Bare ke Kabab' (बङे के कबाब) refer to kabab preparation using these animals - beef to be more specific. Its buffaloes mostly, at least in this part of the country.
In the Hindu world, beef is a strict no-no; while in the Muslim world pork has the same reservations. The Christian world can go for anything they like. Being Hindu-dominated, India does not glorify cow meat, same goes for its availability. But it IS sold and prepared, often right under your nose! This far, by word of mouth, I had only known about the beef business in and around Old Delhi, a place which I've frequented in the past few years. There is a strong Muslim population to consume it, so it makes sense. I approached my friend Osama once, and he confirmed that fact, alongwith revealing that even camel meat is available on the days of Id. He went on to explain of other animals that go under the butcher's knife. The bigger the animal he names, the greater the astonishment.

I've never cared about that while in Lucknow. I've been visiting some of the oldest of mughlai joints, and they serve out the most delicious of kababs that people from all regions and religions savour. I assume its chicken. I learn that it's not, it's mutton. Okay.
My day began late today. But began happily, joining some friends for football. After the game we headed to Mahanagar to have some kababs. Me and my oldest of friends, Shashank, on his scooter. We turn right from the roundabout and take the road parallel to the flyover. After about 100 meteres, Shashank brakes and asks me to get down. I look around, and after getting over the absence of hygiene, I notice the absence of any restaurants as well. I wonder if Shashank has one of those meagre eateries in mind. He does. Rains have formed puddles, and we have to watch our step to reach inside that place. There is no way to define it, as the only thing that would assuredly be there in the next hour is the wall to our right, which belongs to some shop or house on the other side. Rest is just thatch and bamboo. The place looks even more dilapidated than before - demolition drive, we're told. Meat preparations are stacked at the entrance, and a long row of wooden benches and tables follows. There's a seating for 6 on each table, 5 or 6 tables in all. A small boy sleeps at one of the cleaner of the tables and we ask him to move away. He, apparently, is a waiter and takes our order alongside getting back to his senses. He informs another boy and the boy lights up the stove and starts with our order. Everything is pre-cooked, just needs to be warmed up. The whole place is being run by kids as they are the only working staff around. In a few minutes our order is served - a couple of plates of kababs and roti. Three kababs per plate, deep cooked in an oil of dubious origins. I leave behind these questions of health and hygiene to luck, prepared to die for a plate of kababs. As we start with the kababs, a few more customers walk in and occupy the tables around.

One person, in particular seems an interesting character. He is a close replica of the Parliament minster Shahnawaz Hussain, sans the moustache. He embodies the classical Lucknowi look - a spotless white kurta pyjama, last remains of a paan dribbling out from his mouth, a wide smile that reminds me of a bollywood character, and a natural 'tehzeeb' visible in his manners. He is joined by another man. The all-kids eatery is finally taken over by a man. I stop looking around and get back to the kababs.
I finish first, its delicious. Shashank also does through, but with his share of rotis. He seems more of a roti/bread-eater and me the meat-eater. We ask for more, but, alas, there is just one more kabab left. We finish up fast and head out. Shashank washes his hands with a jug of supposedly drinking water, while I ask for the bill. By the time the man at the counter is done with calculating our plunder, Shashank is done with washing his hands and replace me at the counter while I wash mine. Shashank pays out of his pockets and still looks a happy man. This is an aberration from the typical character of a friends' group. I wonder why.

I've heard of my friends debating over their meat-eating habits when they leave India. Some have come to learn of their brothers or college seniors ignoring the restrictions in their respective religions, to go all out and try every kind of meat they come across. A few of my friends have disclosed that they won't shy away either, same as with their experiments in the bed (once out there) - the foriegn lands are a no-barrier, no-conscience zone to them. They seem naive. And they await visas. A few others are happy with their favorite animals and would not like to venture further. They won't feel like having something for which they never developed a taste for in the first place. There is a friend who will be stubborn about having chicken, and a cousin who will scoff if anything other than a lamb preparation is produced before him. I don't long for any particular meat. And I surely want to expand my taste radius by trying out new varieties of meat - but strictly those which are reared for their meat and hide. Odd sensibilities, you might suppose, but I'm far from having a permanent stance on this as no matter how much I move about, I'll always come across chicken or mutton in this country. About beef, I will have reservations. Cattle gives us so much more besides. And they function much more besides, compared to the chicken (which would be the same with or without a head) or the goat (which only evokes emotion when young or with a man-beard). Moreover, beef would have to be consumed in secrecy, with me coming from a Hindu family where everybody grew up perfectly fine without it. Beef would have to be a greater secret than my craving for alcohol or cigarette (if I ever develop either). I'm heading towards ill health if I'm on cigarettes, but towards my peril and total damnation if (they find out) I'm on beef.

While leaving the hygenically-retard eatery, I curiously ask the man at the tawa/hotplate, who is in the middle of preparing another lot of kababs from raw mincemenat - "बकरे के हैं?" ("Is this goat/lamb?"). He nods his head in negation. That can only mean one thing. I hasten to Shashank to ask about the bill. Rs.18, he says emphatically. 18! Did he mean that the two of us got done with this quantity of kabas (and rotis) for the price of a single plate of Chhole-Bhature? This is not 1980. I just had beef, surely. Only beef sells this cheap. And the texture, the texture was different from any mutton I've had. It was softer, with visibly greater amount of lard. And being more tender/crumbly it was smaller in size.

Being clandestine is no way out. And I announce it to my family upon arrival. Chaos and heated arguments ensue. I'm told that I was born in a Hindu family, and should follow its inherent rules. I declare that rubbish, and talk of converting to Islam to play into the argument. "Go ahead, I'm told". Seeing that I'm stubborn to the religious angle, I'm given a list of health issues associated with red meat - some unique diseases that one can only contract through red meat. This seems more appropriate to deter me. But I don't see entire populations of beef eaters fallin dead anywhere. But they've had enough of my arguments. Play back the religion card, and turn a deaf ear to what this boy has to say - there is no reaching a logical conclusion now.
Schizer. Ma had got me chocolate donuts, which suddenly don't taste all that well - being in the middle of being condemned.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dying just like that

Over the pas couple of days, there have been a couple of very unfortunate accidents. People and newspapers have plenty to talk about. But this time there seems real emotion in the air because the fashion of death was very horrible, the body count was great, and that they could've happened to anyone.
Last evening, a car was crushed underneath a huge boulder. 4 dead and 2 in hospital. An entire family wiped out. The dead had to be brought out by sawing the car, such bad was the impact when the rock fell on the moving car.
This morning, around 0800, a bus fell into a ditch, with just a few or no survivors at all. The incident was close to where I'd gone for my morning adventure, but took place while I was returning back. I was first told of it by the neighbourhood kids. The entire village, apparently, was there for the day, helping bring the bodies up.

Life is so unpredictable; and it's so confusing when the your sources are differnt from the others, or your context is missing. Now, my day was exactly opposite to the glum and tension that stayed in the air for the day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

11th of June, 2008: The much-feared mail from Accenture arrives, explaining that they have started with their recruiting process in batches; I can be summoned anytime soon. My highs are broken for a brief while; but being the self-healing personality that I am, I do something twisted - in front of an enamored audience consisting of my sis and bro - to soothe my ego and laugh over matters.

I wish you folks would either never call me up, or do so quite late in this year.
Anything about the possibility of that?

Hi Vibhu,
Thank you for the mail.
Please let us know your query as that we can help you.

Warm Regards
Campus Team

What a concerned reply from their side. What formal language do I need to express my displeasure over joining them this early? I don't know what gets it across any better.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Losing Track of Time, Quite Leisurely So

I'm caught in a state of timelessness. Since my arrival here, in Gethia (Nainital), fog has been a constant companion. Fog that obscures the lofty heights and puts the villages that dot the landscape out of existence. The valleys have suddenly come alive, giving birth and shape to those massless white clouds. They spiral and spread, and a clear day can turn into poetry in minutes. One tends to lose their sense of time when there is nothing but a cloak of white at 5 in the morning, and the same at 7 in the evening. And its a leisure living like so. Friends often feel that a whole month of summer vacations is absurd, they seem a different breed at this line of thought.

It is harder to be sensibly jovial to the children than acting mature to the adults. Kids don't get it. They can't see into the faith and honesty in your eyes when you promise them something for later. They have been fed to animated gestures and sign language, unfortunately. With age they - we all - learn that all the cutesy stuff is an aberration from human nature. First lessons in hypocrisy. Something even unfortunate is when even people beyond their youth still act and respond irresponsibly like such children. Something even harder is frequently having to switch between the child-friendly and family-debate mode, literally with the turn of your head.

Its been raining a lot. I never recall a June starting so in the hills. Flowers abound all around, so do the enticing dewdrops on every edge. Birds sit on naked branches and electricity wires. Its strange why some of them won't take shelter. A sparrow has took to making rounds of the drawing room - it finds easy food, more so coz of children and vibhu around.

A friend msgd over my brother's cellphone, asking if I wanted any drugs. My brother received that msg. Wonder what that was.
X: "Psst...Wanna buy some drugs, kid?"
Shiv: "Who is this?"
X: "Puppies?"
X: "Sorry, Shiv the sms was intended for your elder brother. Until the delinquent gets a phone there's no way to contact him. I assumed it was with him."

I replied to it sometime back. Come to think of it now, I should've told him that nature is enough for my highs.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Good to start from the beginning

"Sarath explaining his stomach upset - being as graphic as he can - to derive sadistic pleasure from our contorted faces has been the high point of my trip this far. Rest falls pale. The day hasn't started off good. Our journey is into its 12th hours and there are defeated expressions (which, though, I'm sure a light nap can cure). Our first leg of the journey didn't go without flaws. Of the kind that nobody would've expected, really. We went past Hardwar to reach Rishikesh in the wee hours of the morning. We were expecting to stay awake all through the bus journey, only to fall asleep half an hour before we zipped past Hardwar..."

My recent acquisition of the complete sets of photographs from everybody's cameras marks the culmination of the Hardwar-Rishikesh-Kedarnath trip. Now that the memories are fresh again, I shall make attempts to put it all together.
Also ended up with a fractured journal from the trip, which might be helpful. Missing gloriously on the full moon about which I was looking forward to did plenty to dampen my urge to write when on the move.

The accompanying photo is deceptive, except for my outright blasphemy. This was our only relation to the great Kedar shrine. Neither did we attempt to queue up in the long lines, nor give any offerings. Piyush and I got busy seeing beyond the religious side of Kedarnath - in the spirit of traveling and on the fringes of exploration - while Anikesh and Deepanjan made the most of the room rent by staying indoors.

More chronicles to follow (sooner than you'd contract alzheimer's).

Monday, June 02, 2008

If you didn't care what happened to me,
and I didn't care for you,
we would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain,
occasionally glancing up through the rain,
wondering which of the buggers to blame
and watching for pigs on the wing.

...wiling away time at the Tehri Bus Station, Rishikesh, 20/05/2008

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Camouflage, Naturally

Came across this surprising insect species while out looking for barking deer at dawn. I set out at 0445 towards dense forests beyond Gethia Sanatorium, they call it the "Chinkhua" ravine. After about 3km, I branched off the main road onto a kutcha road that leads to an abandoned Ashram. After another km or so, I went offroad, following the animal tracks through thickets and bushes for a while, before coming across a small clearning. One of the many small white flowers was oddly interesting, until it starting moving and literally made me jump in excitement. These insects were spread over a radius of a few feet. They were about 2-3 cm in length and moved very normally - their walk looking really graceful and princely quite naturally. Never before had I seen anything like this, nor do I expect to see it again anywhere but here.

After gawking for a while, I found time to photograph, film and pet these. Not exactly having the right light and studio setup makes for a narrow ranges of angles, but that doesn't matter. What a stunning example of camouflage. Maybe I'll visit the place again later in the month to see if they are settlers or just itinerants.

PS: As always, any help in identification of this species will be very helpful. Come on, friends!
Shiv talks about sending this to National Geographic, nice.

Nature Tends to Surprise

My favorite girlfriend - nature - doesn't follow the very maxims derived by observing her. Or so I believe because everything we know has been an experience she made us live through. I've been told that being prepared gets you the results. But nature is random. No preparation can make an interaction with her any more or less overwhelming. I can vouch for that from my past experiences; more recently this morning's. I have loosely documented the morning in my previous blogpost.

Being prepared can summon no reaction from nature, she likes to surprise you. She plays games with you and it rarely ends your way, rarely rewarding. Like that Dominique from Fountainhead, with some exceptions. Endless walks in tiger/leopard/bear/ghoral/kakar territory that I can recall ending futile - not even the sight of a single animal to gratify the boy uneasily clambering through some very dense forests. And then there are those who catch these animals while seated in automated boxes (aka cars). They didn't set out with the intentions of finding one, they didn't consult a forest ranger or inspect the faunal density maps. It just happens.
And then I get my share of the surprises sometimes as well. Like my first glimpse of a Kakar (barking deer) that I still fondly recall (that pic accompanying this post). And those couple of forest treks from January last year. Or just the day before, when I came across the most surprising of insect species while out looking for some of the larger mammals in the region. Will blog about it in a while.

Is it just the fauna that surprises? Don't think so. I'm sure the botanists will vouch for coming across some very surprising things from time to time. Theory doesn't help. Neither does practise, it only helps evade that which can cause inconvenience, not ensure the bounties.
God, don't feel very smart ending this for some reason.

A Morning Trek to Kilbury

Last night was a rare one spent in Nainital. It was a good opportunity to explore the forests beyond Nainital - and what a better time than when the first rays of the sun kiss these lands. So with a stomach well fed on Biryani, and a heart dreaming of some luck the next morning, off I went to sleep.

Woke up today, 0540. The plan seemed fading. Not only was it late, but I had morning tea waiting and Shiv was more interested in playing Table Tennis than a walk through the woods. The two of us finally left for table tennis by 0600, but some biting remarks managed to revert Shiv's decision midway. Off, now, we headed towards the slopes of Nainital more populated by Langurs than humans.

I had plans to return back no before we reach Kilbury - a small place beyond the Nainital hills known solely for its floral beauty. Kilbury is about 12km from Nainital (Mallital) by road, the final 9km (starting at Tonk) being void of any human populace (its forests all through). There is a nature trail from Tonk as well, but it promises the same 9km of trek as it goes parallel to the road for a considerable while. The only shortcut that makes a real difference on foot is one which cuts through the town of Nainital to bring you out at Tonk - you save a km or two, but it involves the steepest of climbs I have come across anywhere. Anyways, with promises of a good 20km or so of walk we left. We would go by road, to return back by the nature trail. No baggage; not even water or refreshments.

Once we were past the crowds of Nainital and past Tonk, we were truly in nature's territory. Thick deciduous forests on either side of the road - pine was rare, it was more of Sal. Walking for miles on motorable road without coming across any people sure is something I'd be recalling to my love child(ren). Just langurs and the birds in sight. One could tell how untouched this side of the hill is by their instincts. The Langurs fled away on our approach, huge masses of white/ash hopping between trees. With the urban Langurs, you would expect nothing short of a stand off, where you either end up being chased away or hollering at them, threatening them with any objects within grasp. The sun was out but veiled behind fluffy morning clouds, a mere white dot slowly rising in the sky. After about an hour and forty minutes of walk we reached the Forest Rest House at Kilbury. The place generally doesn't entertain any blokes who show up, but we had a very recent acquaintance in the form of the caretaker of the place. He let us in and offered us some tea as well (prepared on the traditional chulha, not a gas cylinder).

After finishing the tea and a general sortie, we left the place. It was 0800, two hours since we left Nainital. Now we would take the nature trail through dense forest. One - we didn't have any prior idea of the trail, and Two - I had just heard loud barks of a Kakar on the first of the hills that the path would wind through, so was expecting coming across it. The path went parallel to the motor-road for a while, then crossed hills to take its own course. We didn't come across that Kakar, but did come across hill women collecting dry branches in bundles. The path then plunges down, crossing a small stream and then back up. The thick foliage blocks all sunlight and its a rush finding yourself all alone 'out there'. We marched on. No wildlife still, but some very indulgent vistas. The path soon became familiar. The bends and trees and shadows somehow told me I'd been here before. A few minutes into the feeling, and it was confirmed. I did come this far on my previous futile attempt to reach Kilbury on foot, on my (epic) April visit. I could identify the trees and curves now. Soon we joined the trail down from China/Naina Peak and in some time, we were back at Tonk, back to the fringes of Nainital. We finally descended down to Nainital by 0930 - an exhausting outing of three and half hours. Good enough for the day.