Wednesday, December 31, 2008


The year's drawing to a close, and it's about time I write my last post of the year. All in all, this wasn't half as bad a year for me as the previous one. The world as whole, though, will share a different story. The story will be well documented by the press, looking back at the year that's gone, so I won't go into it. All in all, I hope (against anything common sense will tell me) that tonight is curtains for loads of things in my life and for the world at large. Some of my cynical friends believe tomorrow's just a day like any other, and I believe they're right. What I don't believe though, is that not pretending like there's going to be someone new in our pajamas tomorrow morning is going to get us anywhere. Therefore, we might as well believe in anglicized humbug if it makes us lead fuller and happier lives. So have fun tonight, watch out for the thullaas, delete those old entries and prepare a list of things to do next year. On a personal note, I was just told that those buggers at Cafe Morrison are imposing couple entry tonight, and I determine that next New Years Eve, that will not be an issue! I don't know what course of action I might take up. As of now, it seems that taking up the cause of single people seems to be the easiest!
Hope there's more sense in the world next year, and we, at the very least can start killing the planet at a slower pace, stop recessing and establish atleast a semblance of peace with our neighbours.

Hippie New Year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Matrix

I was recently watching 'The Matrix' for what must have been the zillionth time, and I happened to notice something that I should have spotted a long time back. I don't know if I'm re-inventing the wheel, or whether this has already been stated, or for that matter (and I'm not talking about Keanu Reeves being the lousiest damn actor alive), but this seems to be an observation I must share.

So then, watching 'The Matrix' for the zillionth time, I spotted the fact that it is, in fact, a techno version of the Torah (the Jewish holy book for the grossly unenlightened, shame on you). "How?", you ask? This is how, I answer:

  1. First up, notice how the last surviving human city is named 'Zion'? Quite obvious that one, I think, unless Wachowski (who is Jewish) thought it was a cool name for the city.
  2. This is what Morpheus says to Neo when he is explaining the Matrix and Neo's special role in society: "There was one person in the beginning who could see the Matrix as it was and change anything he wanted to. He was the one who saved the first of us. After he died, it was prophesized that The One would return and end the war." Anyone heard of The Messiah?

Zionism in the Matrix. Don't know if I was the first one who noticed it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Out of Exile - Part II

When we woke up next morning, we were glad to find that the weather had cleared up. The sun was out. What's better, is the fact that while it rained in Dalhousie, it had snowed in the higher mountains and we were presented with the majestic Pir Panjal in all their snowy, sun-bathed glory.
(Above : From top to bottom: The Pir Panjal, Atop Dainkund(2), Khajjiar)
We headed out to Dainkund, the best view point, at an altitude of about 10,000 feet, some 15 kms outside town, the last four of which must be covered on foot, up the hillside. As one climbs, on the left, lies the small Mata Pauhalani temple set in the background of lofty mountains, and on the right, lies a small air force reconnaissance station. En route the hard trek route up to the temple, we had some great views of the mountains above and the valley below. Even as we puffed and panted our way up the hillside (fitness check, anyone?), Nitin made a very apt complaint about the inaccesibility of very many Hindu shrines. I will paraphrase to avoid feeling of hurt and anguish to either party; "Saale ye mandir in logon ko itna upar hi banana hota hai?!". Also on the way, my friend seem to find a whole array of trees that was rather enamoured with. All said and done, the walk all the way up, is quite worth it when you get there. A few more, stud-boy photographs later, we clambering down the hillside (while loads of middle aged women put us to shame so far as climbing slopes was concerned and one gentleman thought he was a gifted singer and was croaking bhajans on his way up) to go down to Khajjiar at the valley floor, known as the 'Switzerland of Himachal Pradesh' (which is not really saying much, if you compare sizes).
Khajjiar is essentially a meadow in the middle of the coniferous forest of the Kalatope sanctuary. I'm quite spurred to believe that it's origin lies in a meteor crash ages ago. This was my third visit to Khajjiar and I was glad to find that the place, after having thoroughly deteriorated because of tourist activity between the first two times, had shown good improvement between the second and the third. After a good lunch, and a day well spent, we headed back to camp, hoping to catch sunrise next morning.
"Yeah right!", you say again? Wrong, you are. We did manage to drag ourselves out of bed at by around six next morning to go out into the freezing cold to catch the sunrise, and praise the lord, a great sunrise it was. Dodging monkeys and langurs (which the locals seemed to be at peace with) for two hours while trying to photograph the snow clad mountains gaining their color from the sunlight had left us tired. We had left our wallets back at the hotel and headed to the local tea stall (which we had visited quite often) to ask for some credit, when the most remarkable feature about the people of Dalhousie came forth. This incident needs a mention. A very kind taxi driver actually offered to pay for us for our early morning tea! This wasn't the first time we'd been witness to such warmth and hospitality on part of the people of the hills. Thankfully, though, we found just enough money in the inner depths of our pajamas (no, not our souls) to pay off the tea stall, but this gesture will stay with us for a long time. (Right: Sunrise)
After having readied ourselves in a hurry, we began our journey back home. On the way back, the second tragedy struck. I was trying to free space for some additional photographs on the camera (now, the only one left), when accidentally, all the pictures got deleted. Every single one of the most amazing shots captured over the last three days went poof in a matter of seconds. I could've killed myself right there. At this point, I want to thank everyone working in the data recovery industry, whose great efforts helped us recover most of the photographs next morning after we got back.
Having boarded our train to Delhi, we found ourselves in unfortunate position of being in the same coach as the Jammu and Kashmir Under-14 cricket team and their coaches (who didn't behave like they were much older). This lot of fifteen was probably the noisies bunch of teenagers I've ever seen. What's worse is that when you're twelve, your voice always takes the worst pitch possible ("bandar waali awaaz" as I remember one cousin call my voice when I was twelve), and sing, you must not, with this voice. What added to the melie, was this poor Scottish lady, who, for some reason decided to enjoy the 'Indian Experience' in a sleeper coach of the train. She got all the attention she wanted and more from the kids, the uncles, the vendors and the aunties alike, who made regular walks across the cabin, to possibly try and figure out her composition! Anyway, after these(and I borrow from a close friend's vocabulary) unmitigated disasters, we were back home safely on a Monday (I still suffer from date disorientation), and happy with our exile. We were understandably happier next morning after we had recovered most of our pictures.
I draw three conclusions from my exile:
  • There's no one nicer than the people of the mountains.
  • Dalhousie is a great place to visit if you want to get away.
  • Nitin has three favourite questions he must ask every five minutes when he goes to a hill station:

3. "bhaisaab, ye ped kaunsa hai?" - He seems to be enamoured with every new tree he sees.

2. "bhaisaab, kya lagta hai? aaj raat ko baraf giregi??"- This was one regret he carried from the trip, that it didn't snow in Dalhousie.

1. "bhaisaab, yahaan se aur kitna door hai?/ kitna uncha hai?/kitni chadhai hai?" - The award for the Maximum Aversion to Scaling an Acclivity in a Living Being.

Bhaisaab, this was quite an awesome disaster.

Out of Exile - Part I

When I first came to this island

That I called by my own name

I was happy in this fortress

In my exile I remained.

Alright, first things first. My name is not Dalhousie (my parents didn't, and probably don't, hate me so much), but for the sake of poetic pretentions, let us assume for the duration you take to read this post, that my name is, in fact, Dalhousie, which is where I went recently with my childhood friend Nitin. We decided to call it our exile because both of us were tired of our mundane and single-ularly uneventful existences in Delhi and wanted a change. For the sake of completeness, I also wanted to free myself of all the technology that I was dealing with on a day to day basis. So the only piece of electronics I carried on my person were two cameras, one nearly conking off (mine) and one class act (my friend's). I mention this because, as you will find out, these cameras pretty much underlined how it all went.

Right then, so on one Thursday night last week (I'm on a month long vacation, and quite dangerously, have lost track of dates), we moved from Delhi to Pathankot by bus and took another one to Dalhousie upon arrival in Pathankot. With the result, we landed up in Dalhousie at around 10, on what seemed to be a damp and soddy friday morning. Since, in India, we seem to blame everything distruptive on the West, let us also blame this lack of sunshine on my shoulders on the Western disturbance. After having found ourselves a crib to stay in, we decided to explore town and go to this place called Subhash Baouli (apparently Subhash Chandra Bose loved this place). Now, Nitin and I are both fans of the talk, with one critical difference, I love the walk, and he's quite averse to it, if there exists a logical alternative like a taxi. Therefore, to goad him to walk about 4 kms of hillside, he needs great incentive. It is little surprise then, that I was showered with an eclectic mix of abuse when we landed at the old S.B and found that it was nothing but a small gazebo on the hillside with old S.C.B's (apologies to my Bong brothers) bust on it. There was some solace though. Nitin gets quite happy when he sees snow-capped mountains (as do I) and the clouds parted briefly to allow us our first glimpse of the Pir Panjal range. A few pretentious photographs where we pretended to be studs who didn't really care about the pics that were being taken (as self-shots), where we were looking in random directions, and a long walk later, we were back at our hotel room, where it got sinfully cold. Nitin was then taught the finer nuances of Texas-Holdem poker (my corruption to which, has been well documented in my series of posts on my Leh trip).

We'd planned to wake up early on the second day and take a 10km long trek. "yeah right!", you say? Right, you are. We woke up at noon to a rainy afternoon. (Right: Damp morning)Thankfully, the rain stopped by afternoon and we were left with the most majestic scene in front of us. Damp and foggy, yet amazingly beautiful hill-slopes. We decided to walk another 5 kms to a place called Panchpulla, which sounded very inviting on the tourist info booklet we were carrying. But as Nitin's luck would have it, we landed up at a measly martyr memorial. All the water that was supposed to flow under the Paanch Pul (five bridges) had been siphoned off to meet the city's water needs. The walk, however, was quite fantastic with a view of the sun setting behind clouds. Having had enough of the walk, we took a cab back to our hotel room and upon arrival, we realised that one of the cameras(mine) was missing. We spent an extra 200 quid to go back to the same place to hunt for the camera, but it was gone. And that's how I lost my old, conking off, beloved camera, with all of the first day's pics on it. (Right: Walking to Panchpulla)

Thankfully, though, we had the other camera to get us by.

With nothing to do, but to rue the loss of the beloved camera, we piled on loads of good cheap food (of which, you need a lot, to keep the fire running), and retired for the night, hoping for a bright day the next morning.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Primeval Chaos

In most of the religions of the world, forward movement is seen as a move from disorder to order, from the horrors of a world in which everything is stochastic to a more deterministic society. In the religions of Abraham for example, God creates the world, separates light and darkness etc. from a primeval disorder. In early pagan religions, the same event was seen as the victory of Baal over the disorder sea-monster (pagan analog of Leviathan). Surprising as it is, the world doesn't really seem to be moving that way. For one, as far as physics is concerned, the arrow of time points in the direction of increasing disorder. This seems to me to be the more accurate description from what I observed the other day.
I began my day with the sight, I've become so familiar with now. I was coolly driving in my lane, and out of the blue, I saw cars turning around in my own lane, to infiltrate the space otherwise occupied by speedy oncoming traffic. Further inspection confirms one's suspicion of the presence of a long line of vehicles in a jam further up the road. More signs of chaos followed as the day proceeded and I really began to wonder if there exists a communal common sense amongst people. Another thing that really struck a chord with me, is that this city somehow functions, seemingly alright, in the midst of this full blown chaos.
It's either the triumph of human adaptibility, or the defeat of human ignorance that we can survive in the middle of this chaos that seems so endemic to us!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Brain Curry

Last night, I was plagued by a recurrent nightmare that I've been having for the last few months. I'm in the middle of my applications abroad for further study. Needless to say, I'm making a lot of 'aukaat ke baahar' jumps and for the umpteenth time, I had this nightmare again:
The nightmare starts of with me landing up at one world reknowned institute for further study (This time it was MIT, last time it was Stanford University, other times I can't recall). Then I get lost hunting for my room. Lastly, and this by far is the strangest bit, they find my name too complicated to pronounce when taking attendance! Each time, the attendance taker reaches my name and can't pronounce it! Last night I also had the added feature of running away from a terrorist attack right after attendance!

What's in a name, eh?

Saturday, December 13, 2008


When you're as free as I am, your mind has all the time to wander into all the wrong places. This one's one of my 15-minute-compositions that I wrote up recently.


Slowly, he walks away,
And they lie in his wake.
Those pieces of broken baggage,
Little entries in his book that he can’t purge,
Pages in his life that he can’t tear,
Too much left behind to start afresh.

Slowly, he fades away,
Into the silence ahead,
Voices that once belonged to someone else,
They now quarrel in his head.

They lie in wait,
Wherever they are.
They lie in wait,
He couldn’t have gone too far.
They lie in wait,
For their prey.
They lie in wait,
For that day.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Out of Control

I know not why people behave the way they do, or make the decisions they make.
I know not what reasons lie behind the way they act, actions that make my very foundations shake.
I know not why I'm only one factor in a billion, and the rest beyond my control.
I know not what to do when I look into my head and find myself a gaping hole.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Verbal Diarrhoea

Some of us are restrained, others have a filter missing in their heads. Worse still, is the case when the filter at the mouth is missing. Some like me, however, are in the unfortunate position of having lost that filter, either through slow, continuous erosion, or through sudden and painful dismantling procedures. Everytime something slips through the cracks (what normal people might call a "mouth" in everyday parlance), we're left painfully reminiscent of the time when a committee sat down in the head to review what went through and what didn't. Anyway, so much for filters and their absence thereof. Here's a list of things from personal experience that will leave you banging your head on the wall after you've let your tongue have a field day. Alternatively, it could be the person at the receiving end banging your head on the wall.
Disclaimer: This one's not for some of my more refined and literally inclined readers.
You're still reading? Boy, you do have a taste for scandal don't you? Fine then.
In no particular order,
  • You're with a girl you've hit it off nicely with and have intentions for (cruel or otherwise), and she smiles at you and asks, "So what are you doing after this?". NEVER say "Oh, I think I'm going home to sleep" especially when it's 3 in the afternoon. You'll be left with a few self-inflicted scars on your forehead within minutes of letting this slip through.
  • You see two of your friends fighting. You NEVER walk up and say "ladai judai maaf karo, (if some of you have heard the standard Gandhiji ko yaad karo version and are smirking thinking you know where this is going, you couldn't be more wrong), apni t*#ti saaf karo". Guaranteed to get you some juicy smacks around the torso region.
  • A girl looks to make you her agony aunt, and is cribbing about how distraught she is about a recent turn of events (anyone's guess what these turn of events was). I know as a guy this is a very annoying position to be in, but it still doesn't authorize you to say, "You know, one great economist J. M. Keynes said, "In the long run, we're all dead.", so why bother?". It will save you the trouble of being the agony aunt. In hindsight, the cost-benefit analysis on this one ends in the green.
  • Your long estranged friend tries to patch things up and asks you how it's possible to not make the same mistake again. The best way to jeopardize any chance of recovery is to come up with the legendary Siddharth Krishnamoorthy quote, "He who pukes once, knows not his capacity. He who pukes twice, is an idiot.".

I think I'm going to the workshop to get one of 'em filters right now.