Pissing, and the Associated Memories...

'Are you pissing?'

That particular sentence from 'Life of Pi' brings back memories. They are the 'not-so-worthwhile' snippets and clippings from our mutual lives that I have decided to keep. And now that they have resurfaced, I'm going to force them upon you guys. You see before I start writing something, I think of you. And then I desperately try to bring out the essence of a memory that has left me, or is leaving me in a slow, painful process. The feeling is akin to be retiring to an armchair in old age, and staring out of the window overlooking the misty garden in winter. It is a soothing feeling and a grievous one too, both at the same time.

Once I begin to write about it, it occurs to me that this is going to be a rare post. In a way that it is partly gender-specific. Men may appreciate some aspects of it more, while the ladies will have to do a little bit of guesswork and bank on their imagination out there.

But it is in no way, a sexist post. Just read on, okay?

This is the story about urinating (v.) 'the act of eliminating urine - the warm, yellow clear liquid from one's body, via processes differing at the level of sex/gender, while providing a similarly palliative feeling of relief upon it's execution.' PS. It also maybe a taboo to talk about in public, something I'm willingly letting go today.

...

Peeing is a boring thing to do. Albeit one of the most beatific acts around, but still it is boring. Don't you agree? I mean, come on, Ijaz targets and jets down bugs in the bin. Then, how me and Rahul competed, while standing atop a hill and looking down upon the valley, to see whose 'projectile' goes the farthest, and we even had an involuntary judge for the event! I also know people who try to write their names in cursive writing.

That way, I'd probably reach only halfway before I run out of resources to finish my last name.

...

There's this movie hall in a certain town, which basically looks like a warehouse from outside and is never quite full. Yes, the one I described in this particular post - Kahaani - Part Review, Part Experience. It so happens that once me and a friend of mine went to see this movie. Quite uncharacteristically, we both feel the shorter call of nature and decide to go about answering it at the backside of the hall, at interval. After much 'shifting and re-placing' ourselves in the inept seatings, we finally get up and find ourselves the toilet.

The sign, that was chalked out on the tin gate read 'TOILATE' and comprised of just a wall to pee upon. But, that's no bother! We needed to get this thing going, sooner than it was too late. (Wasn't that, what the misspelt sign signified?) Calls of nature are not be trifled with, so we rush to the wall, stand side-by-side, unzip our pants and let go of everything that was held back.

And as we drew a parabolic curve on the wall, we suddenly realize the exposed actuality of it all. There was absolutely no barrier between me and the other guy. The wall that we were drawing the bell-shaped curve upon (perhaps to demonstrate the homogeneous situation of ours) was only as high as our waist. So, basically we had unzipped our manhood for the entire world to gaze at. And if not the entire world, there certainly was a two storied building right in front of us. On top of which, as our luck would have it, stood a South Indian family in their entirety, staring quite amusingly at us. Not eye-to-eye, no sir! They eyed us somewhere below the belt.

What followed was regrettably comical. We tried to turn, but we ran the risk of peeing on one another. Then we tried to sit down, but only guys will understand how difficult that is, while in the process. So we just stood there. Proud of ourselves. Putting our hand on the waist like Superman, we gleamed back at the family. And they, at us.

...

Moving on, when the new hostel was being built in the first year of our college, few of us went exploring about it. Still under-construction that most of it was, the first floor was otherwise completed. And so were the washrooms. With new bath and plumbing accessories, the bathroom looked tempting. And I think it was Thakur, who decided that we must inaugurate the washroom, by peeing in the toilets.

And so we all peed into the milky-white toilets. As Thakur and the same friend I mentioned earlier went to pee side-by-side, they had a marble barrier this time. The barrier however, was too polished and it was only a while later that the ill-fated guy realized that he was musing about the dimensions of his own instrument, and not that of Thakur's.

Quite a hullaballoo followed after that. Boys will be boys, eh?

...

And after writing about something as kitsch as 'urination', I certainly hope it'll do good as my GRE practice to write something absolutely irrelevant and nonsensical, under a time limit. Ciao friends, spread the word, I, maybe am not going to be able to write for quite sometime now. Getting a little bit busy nowadays. So you guys take care, go watch the onscreen adaption of Yann Martel's Man Booker winning book 'Life of Pi' and in case you wet your pants when you see a roaring Richard Parker, remember me!

'Mango People, Banana Republic..'

So, apparently I'm at risk.

Not just me, all you 20 something youth of the second most populous democratic constitution in the world. You are at risk. All you twitter addicts, facebook fans, the blogger junta - everyone is after all, at risk. But why are we at risk? Well, the great constitution that boasts of (wait, lets take a deep breath here; and begin) Sovereignty, Secularism, Liberal democracy and Republicanism, is kind of turning onto itself, more often nowadays. Why, is the pressure of a billion people's antagonistic mindset, too much to handle for the government we elected?

Following the twitter ticker nowadays really shows how many people out there are actually aware of the contemporary situation in the country. They are the other kind of people I guess, the ones who won't have to look up into the dictionary to get the precise meaning of the 'strong' words I mentioned above. Most people, I believe, would ignorantly flash their wrongly-spelled voter identity cards on your face and say 'I am a democracy person, I get to vote.'

And may I ask, you vote for whom?

Well ours is truly a model democratic system, with distinct political parties and competitive elections to promote them, time and again. We do get to choose from a long-long list of the extremists, the fundamentalists, the megalomaniacs, the regionalists, the separatists and the oblivious!

Few days back a 20 year old girl got arrested in Mumbai over a facebook status, and her friend for liking it. JUST FRIGG'N LIKING IT! She had decided to voice her sentiments online, that were apparently provocative and disrespectful. So the police decided to handcuff her and lock her up in their holding cells.


Wow.

'Freedom of Speech - was it always, but a hollow speech?!'


Initially when I heard of it, I kind of supported it for I had misinterpreted it as protective custody. Which is what, I believe, it should have been in those conditions. But no, it was a part of the usual nonsense after all. This is a country where certain members of the system believe they're above law. Legal system is for the common people - mango people of a banana republic. And god forbid, if a commoner finger is raised at them!

...

As an important political leader passed away recently, I got involved in a debate with a friend of mine. He was rejoicing, strictly in support of his idealistic viewpoint as I was mildly amused at his sudden interest in politics, which was not known to me earlier.

'I don't support fundamentalism in politics, its as simple as that.' declared he.
I clearly shocked him when I replied that 'I believe in it.' I said, 'I believe in a healthy practice of fundamentalism.'

'Healthy practice of fundamentalism, is an oxymoron' said he, displeased at me, quite obviously.
'I also am against fundamentalism, in theory. But I admittedly support a healthy practice of it. Of course, there should be an underlying clause of restraint, understanding and plenty of room for intellectual intervention. Fundamentalism would have been among the better philosophies, had there been a separation of Jingoistic and Chauvinistic attitude from it' explained I.

'You see, its the same principle as the Indian army. Are we, a war mongering country? Certainly not. But we still have an excellent army, an impressive air-force, and a decent navy. Akin to their reason for existence being defensive purposes, I believe intelligent fundamentalist outfits should exist in a place like India. A country where there are ample opportunities and life-improving policies like reservation selectively for the minor communities, while the others are made to look tolerant. When those supposed minor communities decide to stand on the shoulders of others and look tall, the latter is expected to be tolerant. When the minority takes upon arms and bayonet the ambitions of others, why is the latter still expected to be tolerant?'

'But no one is above law, remember?' reminded my friend.
'No, of course not. But I also don't believe in passively surrendering to the ambitious wishes of the other co-existing communities. I rather think that if you've established a country with states divided on the hint of regionalism and language, there's definitely a vindicated sense in mildly wishing well for one's own community, isn't it? If that weren't the case, then the world would be an ideal place to live in my friend.'

And I'm a Bengali guy, if anyone wants to know. I find Thackeray's pro-Marathi sentiments, Karunanidhi's pro-Tamil sentiments vindicated. I didn't say it's right, I just said vindicated. You are still liable to a punishment, in case you stand up for violent persecution of another community. 'So is it not better, the world being an ideal place to live in?' asked my friend.

'Then you're talking about a Utopian society. And utopia is but, fiction. And its on the same lines as what the Nazi tried to do with their eugenic experiments. It is neither fair, nor is it feasible.'

When I start thinking about the prospective ways of governance in a huge country like India, my mind begins to reel. And every time I come to halt at the notion that the only thing that may work in this nation, is a secularized autocratic ruling. If the ruler is a despot, a tyrant, a failure, someone somewhere will rebel and bring him down. If he turns out to be a boon, he takes the nation to the heights of economy, education, development and global power. At least there's equal odds on both the sides!

For what I see in this current situation of our country, the odds are heavily on the bent side of affairs. As long as we have choices like the ones we have now, we'll elect our candidates based on who's distributing free colour TVs, cheap tablets and subsidized prices of gas. And we'll keep appointing ministers who believe that global warming is but a hoax, birth control can be prevented through late night TV screenings, and that rapes can be prevented by denying a girl of cellphone and people, of the luxury of chowmein.

My Travel Diaries - Pench National Park


I had never been to Nagpur before, so when Divya asked (read demanded) us to come visit the Orange city of India over the period of Diwali holidays, I was the first one to accept (read succumb). Now obviously, there wasn’t much in Nagpur to attract. There were some strings attached of course! First, we all love to travel and have at least been to each other’s hometowns: Rahul’s Calicut, Noelle’s Margao, Reshu’s Kharagpur, Mine and Rupsa’s Kolkata; and the only place left on our list was that of Divya’s.


Secondly this was, predictably, the last major trip that we made together, before leaving the university. Thus big words like ‘sentiment’ was cited quite frequently. The emotions attached to this clause, could perpetually be read between the lines throughout the grandly scripted trip to the Orange city.

...

We celebrated Divya’s birthday on 10th midnight. We stayed up till late, more because we were watching Gregory Peck’s vintage classic GUNS OF NAVARONE on the home theatre system. And Divya’s dad being from the IAF, loves watching war movies and to talk about battles, military strategy, missions, drills and his personal experiences. He, himself being a great story-teller, kept it funny and us, engrossed. And at midnight, we all gathered to wish her and unravel the gift. Oh, the last part totally needs another paragraph.

We had ordered online, collector’s edition of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series of novels. It was ordered from Flipkart and was supposed to be received as a gift package with a card inside. What actually happened was this. The gift had arrived 3 days before the birthday. They had called up Divya 4 days ago and asked for a confirmation about one such gift pack that her friends are sending her. This is how, they successfully had torpedoed 86.75% of our joy in seeing her surprised and obviously pleased face, even before all of it surfaced. So she herself brought our gift on the table and cut it open. The content was yet unknown to her and so, we got the final satisfaction of seeing her overjoyed.

Anyway, the next day we went to the Pench Tiger Reserve, some 70-80 kilometers away from the city of Nagpur. Since Pench was closed temporarily till 2:30, we roamed about the nearer places like Ramtek and had an amazing picnic lunch at a parking space, beside the highway, between two cars and a massive tree for shade. We were told by everyone that nothing is usually seen in Pench, while the officials maintained that there were 13 tigers and about a dozen more leopards in there, so we might just get lucky! We’ve never been that lucky anyways.

But then this was the forest. Rudyard Kipling had used this particular forest as the original setting of his Jungle Book!

We saw plentiful  hordes of the spotted deer Chital and the big yet elusive deer Sambar, and a variety of monkeys Macaque and Langur. Also, we caught a few playful wild dogs Dhole (which in Bengali, quite hilariously, is known as Ram-kukur!) and some peacocks here, there and again. Even though we had our own car - a Chevy, we had a forest-guard with us. His explanations and the sudden moments of thrilling anticipation following a sound we heard outside the vehicle close-by, were reeking of experience. I also managed to spot a few animals myself (like the backside of a departing antelope, Nilgai) and the success rate of the entire experience, tended upwards.

The final icing on the cake, however, were two.

One, to put it short and to-the-point, we saw a tiger. The sun had set and night-time was swiftly taking over as the beast came to drink water on a stream, just beyond which, were our mortal selves guarded by the metal-fiber body of the Chevy. Now I know how much Rajeev would like to have said ‘Mujhe jungli billiyan bahut pasand hai..’ like the don that SRK was, but it’s a scary prospect to attract a wild cat in its home ground.

The second layer of icing was even better than a tiger! We passed through a region in the forest known as the Bamboo cathedral. It was basically a bamboo forest. Now add to it, a group of grazing deer, their fawns, green grass in contrast with white towering bamboos, a doomed craziness arising of insect-cries and bird-calls and a Conan Doyle mist. Oh and also, a thrilling anticipation of catching a glimpse of one particular tiger that has recently marked the bamboo forest as its backyard territory. The 3 minute ride through it was like passing the make-belief forests of Narnia in winter!

...

And that was just the first 3 days. The rest went in watching movies, shopping, eating exotic food both in and out of the house, some prospective financial & life-planning gyan from uncle, the Linda Goodman-related late-night discussions (read commotions), a table-tennis game at midnight and Diwali.

I shopped for my mum. She demanded five sarees and aired an absolute disregard for how packed my luggage already was. We watched and loved ‘Skyfall’ while I was the only one left exasperated after watching ‘Jab Tak Hai Jaan’ in the movie hall. We bought a reasonable amount of crackers as I managed to morally outbid Rajeev on his demand of 100 noise-making bombs, with my modest demand of 50, and perhaps some non-sonic ones along with it.

The whole trip was way more than what we expected, as our semester-end exams are approaching. And having fun with absolutely no preparation for the exam seems rightfully sinful! So, I guess I'll have to sleep less, eat more, chug in more caffeine and study my arse off now.. No blogging for a couple of days, hopefully! I'm posting some photos from this trip, below.

These grasses, beside the water body, attract the wild cats frequently

a Chital or Spotted deer, near our car

Just before Sunset, Pench National Park

A photographer is born, Divya!

Myself and a little-too-jubilant Rajeev

Controversial shot of a tiger (we claim its a leopard!)

An elusive Sambar deer


Lending a helping hand to Rupsa, for the Diwali decorations

Making the Right Career Choice..


This sudden loss of faith is new to me. I think this past one week did it!

I’ve been busy. And annoyed that I am by the incompetence of the word ‘busy’, I think they must develop a new term that signifies a far greater level of busyness that can drive people towards killer psychosis! And if such a word does exist and I don’t know about it yet, I’m totally failing my GRE test, due this December.

God! As the final days of my graduate studies came to an end, I ended up with 3 project reviews – all theoretical, with lots of marks at stake. One may think designing a project in theory is easier than an actual wet lab project, you’re so wrong man! It poses different kind of problems: first, the subject of nanobiotechnology was absolutely new to me. Second, how do I know the expected results or parameters that may affect the system, without actually doing it? Anyway, as I successfully nailed that coffin yesterday, I finished all the reviews before the end of time. Next, 2 assignments and 2 project reports – minimum 15 pages! And among all the chaos, there were still the trivial chores that needed some attention.

Sleeping at 3 in the night, waking up at 6 in the morning and running to profs after that, was all I did this last one week. And in months, I had the dream last night. It was a recollection/reconstruction of last summer, when I worked as a surgical intern in the Neurological Diseases department at one of the top hospitals in Kolkata. I don’t remember, but the dream had something to do with that.

If there is any regret that I have regarding my choice of career, it’ll be my choice of choosing medical research over medical practice. But at that time, I didn’t have much exposure to be able to decide that all by myself. So I chose a life of medical research over actual practice. I think, I might’ve chosen surgery otherwise.

'Sorry ma'am, I'm still poking your insides. Go back to sleep!'

Would I have made a good surgeon?

Objectivity, oh I rule those grounds! I remember how excited I was to see the scalp being cut open, the cranium being drilled through to reach the squishy little pink-coloured brain. How big the tumor was, that looked like the inards of an oyster. How apt Beethoven sounded inside the OT, and how it was not even halfway, and 3 containers of blood was already drained out of the patient with new supplies. I had scrubbed up, and was intensely watched the entire 7 hour procedure as I had followed the case since the very day, the 32-years old female was diagnosed of brain tumor.

Well, the actual procedure hardly took an hour, it was the drilling-in and stitching-out that took most of the time. By that time, I had it all in my head. How the anesthesia worked, how the health-monitors worked and how the surgeons worked without disturbing the brain. Speaking of disturbing the brain, there was a moment in the surgery, when the brain stem was slightly pressed. The heart-rate and BP shot up to horrific levels, and everybody waited in tense attention, staring at the monitors for a about 2 minutes waiting for it all to come down. And after it did come down to normalcy, the anesthesiologist had joked to me ‘That was your lucky moment, son!’

My objectivity was also tested when I observed the surgery on a 5 year old kid, and an elderly patient whose quality of life after the successful surgery was questionable to some extent.

I loved those two months, and loved the hospital. Well it was a different story that I was getting special treatment among all other interns (and that ‘we hate you’ look from the resident doctors) as I had managed to impress the HOD of the neurological diseases department with my try-outs in diagnosis. He had remarked ‘You'd have been a bad-ass doctor, boy’ and as everyone told me it was a positive thing to say, that remark was inscribed in my head forever. That will perhaps need a craniotomy to get it out!

Okay, yes I was bragging and I occasionally love it..

...

Anyway, so I’m looking forward for my project dissertation work in IIT Bombay to change my mind about it! I’ve always loved teaching and doing that little thing called poking the insides of dead lizards or frogs and see ‘what is there!’ Hence, my equal inclination towards research is leavened. And I’ve always enjoyed a bit of nerdy discussions among peers. Those discussions, sometimes totally, promote me oath-bound for research work.

Okay then, enough being a megalomaniac. Time to say, tata! And have a safe, happy Diwali people!

It's the time to say - Au Revoir!!

Well this is awkward.


Come fall, I’d be graduating from my university, unemployed, and suddenly without any sense of direction. Till this point in my life, I always knew or at least had a sense of what I was going to be doing next. After middle school, there was high school. After high school, there was college. At college, after Bachelors there was Masters, something that we bypassed. And now that I’m graduating, I suddenly find myself standing at crossroads.

Yes, I know I’d rather be going for a doctorate in biological research. For me, its going to be a matter of intellectual and personal satisfaction. But it’ll also mean a sudden headfirst entry into the world of ‘Publish or Perish!’ Am I competent enough? I’d better be.

...

Anyway, I'm more concerned with saying my fond farewells to the people I've met here over the past 5 years. Graduation, in reality, was such a pain in the arse. My body despises me for what I've been putting it through everyday. My lower back feels like I've been sleeping on concrete for years. And I get nauseous at the thought of double cappuccinos. It happens to everyone - Ijaz has a cough that won't escape him ever. I could go on and on and bitch and moan about graduating, which was what I had planned on doing, but here I changed my mind.

The reason I'm upset so early about farewell, is because quite suddenly I've got myself a project dissertation work at IIT Mumbai, for which I’ll have to leave this place for the last semester. That gives me just about a month of reviving the fond memories and to be among the people here, who I'm going to miss. Therefore, this is for all of you who made these 5 years so amazing. Think of it as signing all of your yearbooks at one time.

This is one of those moments when I can’t decide whether to feel happy about the promising opportunity I’m looking forward to, or to feel sad about the missed time of 6 months with you guys. Indeed I’m feeling wretched, uncontrollably. This is perhaps also because (something I've come to realize over a long period of time) I've been living in a single bedded room for quite a while now. You see, single bedded rooms are but empathetic organisms. No matter how much you poster-up the ugly white-washed walls of the room, they peek-a-boo their way into your head and manage to pull out the most untimely pensive and contemplative thoughts.

...

5 years.

I guess, that one extra year in there made all the difference. And the most memorable semester would be the very last one, hands down. That one trip to the queen of hill-stations did it, didn't it? And exactly one month later, we’re at the crossroads, saying our formal goodbyes. Dressed to kill, with an air of superiority on us, standing next to the loveliest ladies we've come to know, love and respect in these past years, there was a general feeling of impending nostalgia among us that day.

Now among everyone there that day, there are a few still who’re very close to me. Yeah, too close for comfort, in some senses. You know it, when I address you guys like this, so here goes. You, girl-in-curls, you're gonna be just hours away from my place. So if you don’t show up for weekends when I call, I’m going to break your leg and wreck your lab results. Motu, for us its going to be whatzapp FTW! Box, long distant relationships suck anyways, so keep your gym time aside, grab a coke and chips (a combo, I've asked you to get rid of repeatedly!) and come on Skype for a chat. No I won’t attempt to cajole you into getting married again.

My irritating Rakhi-sister, talking with you is not that difficult at all. One call to you, and I know that all my balance will be drained. God you can talk for hours, even though all I have to do to reciprocate, is to mumble my way through it! Aggy and Sam, if not a message and call, Facebook does it for us jobless people, doesn't it? Then, for The-one-who-must-not-be-named. I love you lots, and it goes without saying that we’ll find our ways.

Now I'm sorry if I don't speak out your name here. But you're included too of course! Aarushi: we have Ooty and other photos to remember us by, do pick up my calls and call back on my missed call attempts; Anshu, Honey, Harsha: expect my calls and I will do the same; Swathi: Smile. No one'll harass or assault you in class anymore; Ady: Hehe, since you'll be there nearby, where to first - Fashion street or Marine Drive? Arpita: come online, time and again! Nikunj, Rahul, Sam, Kuntal, Anish: Baby, one call to one of you would be enough to be in touch with all of you; Naidu: and WTF are you doing, I honestly have no idea; Arjun: will miss you in the night, if you know what I mean; Akhil, Akay: Call, text, FB; Ijaz: Will miss you badly, do go low on caffeine!

For the people staying back in Vellore, you lucky buggers! See you immediately in coming June, and time-to-time perhaps in marriages after that. If I call and one of you don’t pick up, I’ll mobilize my forces to see you being graveled. As for those who’re not staying, we’re on the same page here.

...

This does kind of suck. Here are some photos of my most favorite people from the farewell day, who in some way or another, have shaped me the way I turned out to be - WHICH I presume, is quite okay. So, May the force be with us.. Always!














"There isn’t a child who hasn’t gone out into the brave new world who eventually doesn’t return to the old homestead carrying a bundle of dirty clothes."


My Travel Diaries - Nilgiris: Part 2

(Continued from an earlier, equally happening post, named 'My Travel Diaries - Nilgiris: Part 1')

It was dark. Very dark, by the time we declared ourselves the unconquered champions of Frisbee! We even did a 'samba' to prove a point and were soon joined happily, by the losing team.

After I joined the rest of them again in the garden, now pretty cold after an hour, they had started 'Dumb-charades' on movies - girls vs boys! The girls gave old movies to enact, hoping that we won't know. And we were ahead for two reasons precisely - one, me, as I'm the biggest movie buff in the gang! And two, we had the biggest nautankis (if there is a male version of drama-queens) among us. However, we couldn't get the better of them, as some of our girlfriends joined the opposing team to successfully guess the most insane movies we have told them about. 'Caligula' and 'Prometheus' were heavily regretted.

At the camp fire


The camp-fire was lit on the other side of the villa and we were asked to join everyone there. Most of us played 'Passing the parcel' there and followed it by dinner. After the dinner, few of us sat down closer to the rekindled fire. And by the time everyone retired back to their rooms, me, Madhu, Pinto and a few others huddled down in the cold, quiet ground, very close to the dying fire and started telling real ghost stories..

Somewhere in the dark, we were informed that a wild pig had come out from the wild and was roaming in the grounds. The manager of the villa went to investigate further as I formed a mental image of us, chasing away the boar!

...

As I headed upstairs, I found the entire gang there in one room. I was half asleep by the time I joined them for a session of some uncensored truth or dare. Here's only a part of what I can tell you from that night. My girlfriend seemed keen to sell me off to anyone willing for that one night. Then, although there were ample amounts of soft drinks lying around to adulterate the sinful ones, I was seemingly the only one to sip at them. And that it was airing 'Baby's Day Out' on Star Movies that night, quite ironically!

As I had already dozed off, waiting for the bottle to turn my way, my eyes opened up a bit on their own. They caught a glimpse of Aarushi, and her unflattering gaze down at me, 'If you want to sleep, you can go to the next room (spoilsport!)' I obliged, more out of fear. Ijaz also followed me into the room on the other side of the corridor and we passed out quick.

...

The next day, when everyone was sober, (there were obvious exceptions to this) we went up the Dodabetta peak, highest of the Nilgiris, at 2637m. A very picturesque place, we however, breached the security and ventured into the wild as we had an hour more to kill. We stepped on an aslant forest floor and a number of rocks to prevent ourselves from tumbling down thousands of yards, further into the clouds. We clicked photos and I had the first of my 'never gonna happen again' moment there, as I looked on at my crazy best friends.

Here, we took a souvenir for all of us - a Polaroid group photo! They all came wonderfully, and the photographer earned heavily enough from the whole gang. Lucky guy, caught us at our weak point..


Me, hanging from the branch, bums up, like a leopard!























Next, we went to Pykara, but not before having a fantastic lunch at Ooty for a change. We dished out a couple of grand on all the non-veg items mentioned in the menu. Our home-grown PETA workers, Aarushi and Arpita probably hate us for that. At Pykara, which was higher than Ooty, we first encountered bone-chilling cold and the macho in me, who had decided to just put up a half jacket on top of two t-shirts was regretting the whole time. However, I got some piece of extra clothing from Anshu and Madhu to get along.

After a long hike on the muddy, hilly track, we reached the water-less Pykara Falls. We were informed by the woman sitting at the forest dept. owned barricade that because there was no water, we won't be charged the 2 rupees entry fee.. Okay, THANK GOD!

Mildly disappointed to hear about the purposeless nature of what lay ahead, we welcomed the full blown explosion of green and grey as we reached the falls! In the center lay flat rocks, with fast flowing water akin to that of a rapid, but a lot less in volume. To the right side was a dense, tall pine forest and on the other side was a coniferous forest denser than the other. We were informed that there are leopards in these forests so we should remain huddled together all the time and should not cross on to the other side.

But I guess the philosophy that we were following was that it would be an icing on the cake if a leopard shows up and grabs one or two among us away. Shubh-shubh bol, beta!

The water-less Pykara Falls

Arpita, being a toad!

At Pykara; do you see the Pine forest I told you about?
























By evening, we decided to head back to the commercial centre of Nilgiris, that is Ooty, to chill out, maybe get some shopping done and perhaps finish off dinner. A few of us discovered a Cafe Coffee Day, whose existence I had no idea about last time we came here, four years ago. Irish coffee, some hot chocolate, an american chocolate muffin warmed us from inside, as it was nightfall and very chilly outside. The rest of us, I think, went to a Dominoes Pizza, which was also a new addition to the hill-town, for me.

After CCD, we ventured out and went shopping to all the places I remembered from four years back. Bought home-made chocolates from the same shops, a cowboy hat for Naidu from where the girls had bargained heavily four years ago. It was all coming back to me. There, another of those moments. Rupsa bought a t-shirt from a hippie shop and Rahul, who incidentally grows backwards, bought a toy laser-guided gun with small yellow pellets! We had such a nice laugh about it the whole time after that.

...

At night, I found myself sleepless suddenly and went to the room with all the action, in the previous night. There were a bunch of people playing the card game 'Bluff' with obvious addition of some new rules laid down by our very own Nikunj Daga. I barged into the mattress shared by my favorite couple and ex-roommate, and was half watching the movie Salaam Namaste, and half following their game with two of my drowsy eyes. As they would have it, Nikunj's rules were twisted such, that no one could finish that game. Everyone was left with one card in the end and from the brink of winning, they were thrown back to a downhill of never-ending card campaign. Everyone, but Akhil though. That clever fellow and a 'bada waala chhupa-rustum' calculated his game and brought it down to two cards and a game over in the end.

Unlike the previous night, this night was an end result of everyone either being tired or hungover, or feeling lightheaded due to the quick climbing down the hill and the resultant pressure drop. Good night it was, after that.

...

The next day itself, was the pack-up day. Sad. Those moments flashing by every now and then. Maybe, that's why few of us, including me, missed the early morning trek into the forest. The trekkers, seemingly found porcupine spines along the trees, birds of different colours and wild elephant calls from far. We woke up aaram se, taking our own sweet time, and started packing up, after a hot water bath.


Arpita, Aarushi, Akay, me, Arjun and Ady

Me and Rupsa, at the CCD in Ooty


By the time we checked out of the villa, it had started drizzling, something we were afraid of throughout our stay. Good to see that we were spared of it until the very end! We started our downhill climb and everyone remained bogged down for sometime after that. But it wasn't the end as we decided to stop at one more place before heading back home. After lunch at another non-veg heaven (which we barged in just because we heard some veggie-heads say 'that the place even smells of chicken!'), we visited the Bhavani Sagar, a hydro-electricity generating dam.

However, none of us had any interest in the dam and all of us decided to go down the memory lane and play games we used to play when we were kids. Games such as lock and key, followed swiftly by kabaddi. In kabaddi, Spoorthi  humiliated 5 of us guys, including me, by literally dragging herself to the line as we hung on to her, and took ourselves out along with herself! Something, our team captain Naidu will regret forever. We got scratches, cuts, bleeds and Rahul tore off his shorts in a not-so-comfortable-in-front-of-girls way. But he pulled it off pretty easily, thanks to his colourful boxers.

The bus wasn't really quiet after that and everybody wanted to end the trip on a high. So back to what we do best, we danced to Bollywood item numbers crazily, again! All started sweating and panting for we were no more in the high lands and it was now pretty humid. We stopped to have dinner at Adyar Anand Bhavan, near Dharmapuri and dozed off soon after that..

...

We reached our respective hostels at about 3:15am and plunged into a deep sleep soon afterwards, dreaming about the places we visited, songs we danced at and the friendships we strengthened. It was difficult getting oneself out of the 'mode' we had set ourselves into. Kind of like the last few scenes of the movie Swades. Shahrukh Khan was seeing the flashbacks of his Indian hometown and the Indian-ness around him, while we were seeing the hills, the smiles and the fun-clad lawlessness!

God, farewell is going to be a painful heartache now..

My Travel Diaries - Nilgiris: Part 1

This was bound to be the most nostalgic one, obviously! But not as intense as it actually turned out to be. God, we're going to miss each and every aspect of the trip and the bums involved..

After the awesome experience and preliminary bonding in the trip to Ooty, in the October of 2008, our first year, that place was set in deeply in all our hearts. We always wanted to visit it all over again, but the opportunity never showed itself up. So after a few other minor attempts like the trips to Pondicherry and Yercaud, we ultimately managed it in our final academic year.

Our actual destination was the tea-garden-on-one-side and forest-on-the-other hilly, green town of Kotagiri, some 30km from Ooty and another so from Coonoor. Weather was perfect, it was cold yet no need for sweaters. Only a simple fashionable jacket would suffice. The trip was made in two buses - one large and one small. The latter, having just about 14 seats, was conquered by just us, a gang of about, say.. 25? No wonder the bus driver was so grumpy! The place we'd stay at was BelAir Villa at the Club House Road - old British housings, with wooden furnishings and huge washrooms and it would be doing them wrong not to mention the veranda connecting the washroom that opened our towel-clad selves out to the world, for reasons unknown!

I'm getting ahead of myself. I do that a lot, don't I? Anyway, before I start describing this trip, I'd have to tell you that I'm exposing perhaps just 40% of the whole, for the other stuffs that we did are just for ourselves to muse about later. And no, we didn't mass make-out. Let me start with the overnight bus ride.

...

'Ab Toh Forever', 'Munni Badnam Hui', 'Jhoom Barabar Jhoom', 'Tu Mera Hero', 'Boro Boro, Bure Bure', 'Bhool Bhulaiya', 'Rum, Whiskey' - were a few hit Bollywood songs among many, to which we shook our legs (legs, hands, waist, head, hair, the entire self rather). And to think of it, we normally discard these willingly from our playlists! Anshu and Arjun deserve a special mention here. One being the daddy of prop-dancing and the other being innumerable latkas and jhatkas ki maa! (Sorry about the language, no other way exists to describe it!) It definitely got the most stubborn non-dancers like a few of us, to do the thumkas - here's what Aarushi had to say about it on Facebook..

'Must be a fantabulous trip if it made Rahul Shivakumar, Karthikeyan Naidu, Deeptiman Chatterjee and Arpita Bisht dance to ekdum dhinchak wale Bollywood songs! Ah here's to the besure tunes we hummed, to the bruises and bumps, to the crazy poses, to the booze doses!!'

Even the ride after our stop at some omelette-making shack near Krishnagiri was fabulous. The topics we discussed, the plans we made of the next 3 days, the conspiracy theories and sitting next to our loved ones, in a speeding bus, on a lonely, dark, winding road on a rainy night. And how did I forget to add to that statement, the empty, midnight roadsides we peed at! Oh, but you didn't want know that, did you?

...

We reached Mettupalayam at 6 and Nikunj came from the other bus, with his bus-conductor voice, shouting and banging, 'Ooty, Ooty, Ooty, Ooty..!' As the bus stopped to get filled up with anti-freeze fuel, me, Rahul and Aarushi went out to look for tea and ended up drinking coconut water. Such was the uncharacteristic start to our morning. The next 3 hours, however, was quiet as we ascended through numerous hair-pin bends and steep hilly turns and that was when the few night owls among us, including me, decided to take a nap.

After we reached the cottages, the guys took the first floor rooms as the girls took the ground floor rooms - soon to be mixed and jumbled, as no one would ever know where they slept last night. The bathrooms had geysers, thankfully. But they being gas-lit geysers, Nikunj freaked out thinking he blew one up as he turned one on and flames lit up.


Arjun, Nikunj and Jaggu - on the bus

The BelAir Villa - as we just reached

We had almost converted the 'Industrial Visit' into a picnic, as we played badminton. Anshu learnt quick and from teaching the girls to hit properly, it became a nice and fun game when Naidu and me teamed up. We had breakfast of Idly (which I gleefully ignored) and had 22 pooris instead. Something that no one, including the professor, forget to tease me about!

We visited a tea estate. A tea-processing unit, to be accurate, where an uber-impressed Nikunj Daga tried to get himself adopted, if you know what I mean. It wasn't a total waste. I've never seen such an industry before, and it was a good source of information. Could have been better if the guy explaining it to us, stopped using the word 'fermentation' for it was not! From there we went to the Kodanadu view point, where I repeatedly pointed out the geography to disturb everyone's levelheadedness.

...

We had a south Indian lunch in Kotagiri, nothing to brag about at all. After we returned to the cottage, we rested awhile and later took on a game of Frisbee. The game that started casually, took on the look of an international friendly. A small space to play, low-light conditions of the impending nightfall, inception of new rules and the fact that we were leading from the front made it more interesting! However, after a team swap on the other side, it became difficult to maintain the lead and we were level headed at deuce (thanks to the new rules, we were treating it akin to a hard-court tennis match)!

By the time it came down to deuce for the tenth time, we took on an advantage. If we make them drop it, we win! Just before I threw, Nikunj called me from behind (I was like the center-forward and him, the goalkeeper! Ady the right-winger - yes we had girls playing with us - and Akay the left-out, Jaggu, Rahul the defenders! Here's to laughing out loud..) Nikunj kind of huddled and said, 'Bhai, jeetne ka hai isi round pe, light nahi hai zyada! Isi round pe g#@nd maarna hai!' His emphasis on winning this round was perhaps more, due to the taunts we were facing from Kuntal and his teammates on the other side.

We won that round. No sorry, we absolutely killed it!

...

My, this is turning out to be a huge one to write about. So consider this, the first half of the trip and I'll soon complete it out with a second part. There's so much more, the night! Aah.. Hang on for 'My Travel Diaries - Nilgiris: Part 2!'

After an Unhappy Day..

There are friends, then there are enemies,
then there are the allies-turned-foes.

And surviving that military-ish school,
wasn’t it the best thing that went down the hose?


Yet I find myself looking forward,
looking around for another.

For, as it turns out, the saddest day is-
when you’re abandoned,
and glory comes to a brother.


I maybe, am a little intoxicated,
I’m not going to deny.
But I’m being subjugated to face a rough one here,
-right at the end of the line!


If there should be a dark yellow light,
run away to which, I certainly would.
For I’ve heard, it leads to a land with no guilt,
or yearning – and if only I just could..


‘Know I’m there for you’ said the one who should.
But how does it matter, when you’re running different ways?
He will wrest the chance offered to him,
while for me its sunset, and someone already stole my hays.


I beg to scream away from the hollow promises,
the shallow advices and material consolations.
For its that particular cadency in life,
when all around, and everywhere-
everything is a vexation.


And, there’s nothing you could do about it.

...


PS. of all experiments that I have ever carried out, this one too, is spontaneous and sudden. I'm NOT AT ALL a poet and I don't understand poetry that doesn't have a rhyme - they just have to rhyme for me. Lately, not in a great mood for a quick humour, moi. So I'll leave you to these stupid verses of mine, and mark the celebration of 'one year completion' of an extremely successful hobby!

A Finnish Night in Kolkata...

I missed them in IIT Kanpur.

I narrowly missed them in the Oktoberfest, Bangalore last year.

Though I missed being born in Helsinki, in the very first place! Yeah, like they wouldn’t have deported me! Mental asylum cannot be pursued in holy places. Places such as Finland. Holy for precisely two reasons -

NOKIA, world’s most indestructible cellphone, conceived in ancient times, forged from the volcanoes on Mount Doom (surely you have seen the e-memes on Facebook now!) is Finnish. The first thing from Finland that I consider holy. The second is the god-awesome band named Poets of The Fall.

I first heard their music in the year 2007. It would be precisely 2 years after they released their first album Signs of Life. And it was right then that I turned into a HUGE FAN of their music! Not too hard, not too soft. Also, sometimes too hard and sometimes too soft. Exactly the way I like my music. So when they decided to tour India for the promotion of their sixth album Temple of Thought and included Kolkata, I sprang up to cloud nine!

I had exams during which they performed in Hard Rock CafĂ©, Bangalore, the city which would usually be my venue of choice, considering it’s proximity from my University. But as my good luck was to have it, I was homeward-bound and they were going to finish off the tour in Kolkata! I couldn’t help but beg to dad, to get me the tickets for the concert – he yielded. And in some style. VIP TICKETS!!

'Dad, I love you..'

...
“The boys will be doing what they do best with their clothes on”, declared Marko on the stage and that’s almost exactly what they did out there!
...

And on the blessed evening of 28th of August, 2012, the Poets ‘rocked’ Kolkata!

FINALLY! Finally, an international Rock band didn’t avoid the original Rock capital of India. (Though many won’t agree, I personally believe in contemporary times, the Rock capital has shifted it’s base to Chennai, with Kerala standing up for fusion Rock and Goa still being the Indie/Jazz haven) The gates were supposed to open from 4pm and I arrived about half hour late. Suits a VIP, doesn’t it?

I took my seat in the front row with the other VIPs (I won’t stop mentioning it, nope!) and as the numbers grew in the rows behind me, I decided to get to know my neighbors – Arjun, an official from Budweiser who missed the show in Delhi; Nandini, a class 8th kiddo from Kolkata, and a POTF fan (read fanatic!); three others, I forgot their names, were from Bangalore. They had missed the show there, likewise. The hall was almost 3000 strong..

At around 6:30pm, there was a huge uproar outside and before we could dart towards the gates, I saw this hand shoot up in the air, towering way above the crowd. It was a fair-skinned, strong looking arm, with the thumb, middle and index finger curled up inside, while the fore finger and the pinky were uncurled and held straight - \m/ - the symbolism was an omen for the things to come. I suspect it was Olli, the guitar-fingered blonde.

The band came up on the stage one by one, casually. The crowd erupted even before Marko made a bursting appearance with Kamikaze Love, one from their latest album. And the very first performance was proof enough to believe that ‘It is finally happening!’


The ‘Setlist’ for their show in Kolkata included the following songs, and the number being as large as 18 surprised the heck out of me:

1. Kamikaze Love
2. Diamonds for Tears
3. Temple of Thought
4. Roses
5. Cradled in Love
6. Locking Up the Sun
7. War
8. The Lie Eternal
9. Stay
10. Gravity
11. Illusion & Dream
12. Late Goodbye


Encore:
13. Desire (Acoustic)
14. Sorry Go 'Round (Acoustic)
15. Someone Special (Acoustic)
16. Dreaming Wide Awake
17. Carnival of Rust
18. Lift

...

The most catchy moment in the entire thing was when everyone swayed their cellphone lights to the tunes of ‘War’, the amazing, REALLY AMAZING crowd, Marko’s dance moves for 'Sorry Go Round' – the Bossa nova version – and of course the last 2 songs! As Marko interacted more with the crowd, it was just ooh, too much fun for a day.

If you were there, you'd surely remember the moment when the audience sang along 'Carnival of Rust' and the drums came on.. Aah! Nothing possibly could be better than that feeling. And in 'Illusion & Dream' when Marko, Olli, Jani and Captain came forward to literally 'raise their glasses' for us. That was something special, followed by the amazing solo ending for the same song by Olli..

But the icing on the cake came a few moments later when the Poets tweeted:


Kolkata, the most unruly city known to me. I surrender, for you really RULE sometimes! Don't get excited now, I said SOMETIMES! It certainly was a dream come true, and I plan on to see them once in Helsinki itself. Someday.. Someday for sure! And I'll drag a few friends along too - they all know which ones!

...

Blogadda.com named me as a Notable Newbie today!
I'm so flattered, but never too shy to flaunt my laurels, moi.


Haha! Thank you, I'm so glad you all like what I have to show. Uh, my blog posts, I mean.. Caio! Off to dinner!!