Sunday, September 29, 2013

India Physicist Stamps

It's a lesser known fact, but India has honored its celebrated physicists through postage stamps. One could guess the obvious of its contemporary physicists:
H.J. Bhabha
Sir C.V. Raman
Meghnad Saha

Despite having produced a small number of great physicists, Indian currency notes still boast a number of great faces. Around the 70s, Indian postage stamps carried profiles of some of the greatest inventors in world history - Graham Bell, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Marconi, and Roentgen.

Here's some from the neighbors, Pakistan.
Go Marconi!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Thought of thought

My biggest obsession during these days has been my thought. I'm acting a bit narcissistic that ways. I don't think that is the accurate word for my 'ways' that are in a smaller subset of ways we choose. But blah, forget that.

Thought is what the thought should be focused on. I'm generally exceptionally well in lucidity of thought, so pardon my deviation. So, on the thought about my thoughts, I came to a flattering conclusion that i'm colourful. Usually life doesn't come this way. By deduction, then.. That colour is, however, in some different saturation from the people around me, who, together, paint a deeply saturated picture. Its like wandering through the Nilgiris on a bug hunt.

This evening, after gruelling work on the front (bazinga!), and getting my hands bloody (and myself implicit) from preparing venison in the kitchen, I am in rest mode. I have left all thought behind. I will, gentleman, sit and watch pictures of kittens over the internet.

It is hard, though. Breaking neural pathways, are you kidding me! I'm just like everybody else.. hardwired to be one dimensional. If i'm not being me, then i'm just being worse. I'll think over that later.

The random of today

1. Decimated cockroaches today. An entire colony of Germans. The force was on my side.

2. Enjoyed the foreboding clouds over Uttarkashi that appeared near sunset. Thin tufts of great clouds. Things in silhouettes. All were stimulating.

3. Found this frame on the same silhouetted walk. One rarely comes across dashing Pomeranians, as this one. [Friends have asked why I didn't steal it]

4. "Easy": This is a low-cost rural solution to female sanitation needs. Plenty of stock in the relief supplies. Good initiative!

5. Canines make for great friends, or great fellow animals to play with.

6. What's this? 
Turns out these are Japanese heat pads. Shaurya has explained it so many times, that I was got really curious; to finally see a pack of one is a kick. He explains it best: "In Japan, even during winters, girls come out on the streets in short clothes. I was, like, ****, I'm cold inside a jacket, and you're fine without one. Then I got to know that they apply a head pad under their skirt which keeps their legs warm. Each head pad works for a few hours."

7. "Ghodey ki naal!"

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Fighting boredom (with acrylic paint)

My happiest tees are the ones that sell in bulk at Shopper's Stop, since they give a blank canvas, to allow expression. After a long hiatus, I did these. The process was primitive and unsophisticated, but who cares. Cutting out the stencils was the hardest part. The designs aren't mine, but drawing them myself saved me $$, which is fitting for my third-world identity.

Both look fab, and inappropriate for plenty of occasions. Perfect!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Love me again like it's Monday

The roads, they call me home
When home is where I thought I am
The gold in the evening sun
points a long finger to the roads beyond
and goads me out
from my gluttony, my thought,
my alarm, and my pining.
A meek farewell and a
tender few moments in a brief window
but the physical expression
came, came right, and
came to steal the cake.
Monday is that day of the week
when the groove got on
far and beyond
what two lovers thought
they could be, and beyond.
Love me again
like it's Monday.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

A day at Thattekere Lake

"Guys, is that a crocodile?"
"Fark, yes!"
"Out of the water!!"
That'll do enough to sum up the adventure that I was a part of, on a regular Sunday with friends - a week in the past from now, when I sit and tap into memories of it.
The incident conveys much about the day, but neither the slower-paced moments that gave space to mull and ponder, nor the abandon that I enjoyed - to the the extent of finding meself detached from the group for a while.

The team was 6 (humans) - Kap, Av, Kru, M1, M2, me - plus 3 (dogs) - Zeb, Alba, Laika.

We left post-9AM. I started a bit disoriented, citing lack of sleep. The planning was Kap's. He had read about this close getaway, which we readily agreed to.

The dogs were a surprise, since neither of us actually owned them. They were from Kap's office, which itself isn't a typical "office" but a bungalow-turned-into-professional-space in a posh residential area in Kormangala, where the dogs reside with the caretaker. Zeb and Alba are Golden Labs, while Laika seemed a mix (Lab and Spaniel). Zeb was the youngest, at a year and a half; he is a ball of energy, always seen running about, but never an iota tired. Alba was the oldest, at ~7.

In two cars - a Honda Jazz and a Honda Brio - we distributed the humans and the dogs.
Jazz: Kap, Av, Kru, Alba, Laika, moi
Brio: M1, M2, Zeb

Exit from Bangalore was messy. We lost synch a coupla times, and that had us doing some silly driving inside city limits. Av was behind the steering in ours, very diligently managing the horrible and mannerless traffic. It became okay once we exit the city to join the big highway, paying a toll. Thereafter, we were cruising at 100+ amidst the thin traffic and behaved heavy vehicles.
The good part of the ride lasted a mere half hour, until we took an exit - same one as for "The Art of Farting" (helmed by Sri Sri Sri Sri Sri Sri -something). The road lost its dividers and other garnishments. Another half hour, and we took another left - after some hesitation that made us 'those assholes who started the jam' - into a smaller road. This one had negligible traffic, which was an incentive to accelerate, if not for the patchy nature of the road, often surprising Av to make it a coordinated affair between the accelerator and the breaks. Honda Jazz has a low clearance, so Av had to be super careful on the speed breakers, which are in plenty, as if they fell off an overloaded truck.

We were now driving through Bannerghatta N.P., with thick forest on either side. There were boards reminding us of the presence of elephants, deer, and even tigers, in this region. By Kap's guess, we had to take into a kutcha road to our right, but that was found barricaded. We went ahead, and took into the next right. Some original music followed, as the car's dorsal side came in frequent contact with the loose boulders and depressions. We ended up at a village, where the friendly villagers helped us with the directions. "Keri" means a lake, and that was enough to get the right directions. Apparently we had to take the same barricaded road, needing to lift the barrier. That we did, and descended down, making more music, to be finally welcomed by our destination.

The lake was bigger than my expectation. It was empty, too. If not for the monkeys - and later a tempo traveler that had come for a wash - we'd have an eerie silence. The lake had many small arms cutting into the landmass. Out came our picnic basket, cameras, mats, and bags. The dogs were let loose - they relieved themselves, and Zeb crashed straight into the lake and came out cheery and soaked.

Soon thereafter, we were in waters as well, having made a shady Eucalyptus patch to the left as our camping spot. For a rare time, I was in warm waters (the last lake I was in, at 5700m, required me to break through the ice sheet). The nature of such waters is fascinating, especially the dipping temperature gradient, which meant an increasingly cooler sensation with each step towards the depths. The lake bed was a civilized and gradual descent, which was awesome for a nonswimmer like moi. It was also flat and comfortable, unlike the boulder-strewn ones that I've generally been in.

The dogs were a delight. Zeb, the superdog, was going crazy, playing fetch in the waters. Laika was the surprise package - she was cared of the water, but once Kap led her into the lake, like a parent, that fat girl fell in love with the waters. She kept jumping in, paddling the best she could until her lungs blew out, then recover by the lakeside, and repeat. Alba was timidly trying to do a Laika, and enjoying it, despite being the oldest. Dogs are effective at not only adding the fun element, but also at diverting all attention, to come to aid of the reclusives or people who'd prefer to muse in silence.

Then there was the croc incident. While in the waters, Av spotted something strange floating, about 30 feet from me, who made for the left-most boundary of the group. Being closest to the 'thing', I got to take a hard look, and confirm her suspicion. We freaked, and dashed out onto the land. Feeling safe, we scanned the lake, to see another crocodile closing in from the opposite direction! So it goes.

Then we sat down to enjoy bread, biscuits, chips, nutella, and Av's wonderful homemade Hummus. A few curious village boys, there for cricket but drawn in our direction coz of the crocs, started a conversation. Happy and simple bunch this was, compared to the mischeivous and sometimes-malintentioned boys up North, where hostility seems to linger in the air when city dwellers connect with the rural country; feeling like you could be in a Sam Peckinpah movie at any moment.  The peskiest of intruders - an old villager - was also pacified with a biscuit. (If that villager finds my missing iPod, I hope he'll be listening to The Conet Project right now).

Sleep wasn't an option, or I'd have dozed off for the rest of the day, in that comfortable shade. So I put my chappals back and stepped out for another recce. This time, I went far, about 10-15 minutes of vigorous walk, till a cluster of dramatic trees right at the edge of the lake. The dogs tailed me, Zeb, of course, being the keenest of the three. For a brief while it felt being in a future I'd always envisioned. I wish some visions would be set permanent in the coming months. Later, Zeb and I raced back to the arms of our respective owners.

Before we left, the last minutes were spent collecting artefacts - in the form of those dried Eucalyptus pods with 4-or-5-pointed-star patterns. There was also this fascinating mushroom species, the village kids demonstrated us a more fun application by smashing it on the ground, to make a greenish-yellow gas cloud, much suited to a magician's arsenal.

I took to the steering on the drive back, and got to sample the roads first-hand. The traffic of Karnataka still fares better than U.P. and Haryana. We got back by 1530, and then went to Thulp's for a big bite.

Back here, with new taste

For the whole of last month, I was in alien environments - but mostly comfortable, since this time I kept myself to the Indian cities of Bombay and Bangalore.

The first thing I did upon touching base was what I - being a Delhiite - had been desperately missing. Me and my Dilli-wallah dost P, share some things in common, this being one. With gang-rape being Delhi's favorite team sport, somebody might deduce that I'm talking about something degenerate.  Not really, unless you count fat-laden food as something degenerate. I had a plate of Chhole-Bhature to mark my arrival back home. The way it is programmed into the parietal lobe, Chhole Bhature could be the shock therapy to Delhi expats to restore their sanity.

Since this log has normally segued into food, let me do a quick best-of over the past month:

* Berry Pulao (@ Britannia)
* Amrakhand
* Strawberry Yogurt
* Crab [in black pepper]
* Mutton Biryani {thanks NM}
* Cheese Tortillas (@ Shiv Sagar, Pune)
* Stuffed Capsicum
* Tahri

* Steaks (@ The Only Place)
* Steaks (@ Thulp)
* Traditional kannada(?) chicken {thanks Mahesh}
* Dosa and filter coffee combo (all over the city)

I was also offered some delicious Hyderabadi food during my journey back. I don't know names of either of the two dishes, but one was something egg and the other was a variant of lemon rice. Both were worth gorging on, although the spicy overtones successfully corrupted my tummy (as anticipated).

Friday, September 06, 2013

Presenting: The Wolf Spider

(Jun 20, 2013): This spider hanging around where I'm presently seated. About the size of the mouth of a Gatorade bottle.

Update: Well, it was fortuitous to bump into this famous species, the Wolf Spider. FYI, it is one of the top 10 most dangerous spiders (not venomous, though) on the planet. If it wasn't for Kru's observation, I'd have not even tried to identify that fuzzy design on its back, which later turned to be tiny spider babies clinging on to its mother's abdomen. The gray-colored species is rarer, as a quick google search proves.

On further fact-finding, what's awesome about a Wolf Spider is:
  • It lives and hunts alone; never in packs. It goes against the intuitive naming as "wolf".
  • It doesn't spin a web. It goes out in the night and hunts its prey in realtime, like a true predator.
  • Since it doesn't spin any web, a mother is either found carrying its egg-sac under its abdomen, or having buried it in a tunnel.
  • It has beautiful 8 eyes in the pattern of 4-2-2. The central ones are prominently large.
  • It can run fast, climb, and swim. Like a boss.
  • It has a good vision, unlike the other spider species.