end of the road

Modified. Had missed the top portion of the post last time.

The car, moving smoothly until that moment, suddenly swayed and seemed to slip and slide and then stopped dead in it tracks and refused to budge. Cursing his luck he got out of the car knowing what to expect. A flat tyre is not very funny when you have unsettling thought saucers flying across the honeycombs in your mindscape. Well, it is not funny in most other circumstances too, unless you are watching a sketch with a Mr.Bean character trying to fix his flat tyre. The key there is second or third person. A whole lot of things can seem quite amusing and funny when it doesn't happen to you.

He got out the car and its cocoon into the graying reality outside. Though he cursed and fumed, the soup he was in did not do much to wet his feelings. He was getting used to the wrongs in life. Anybody would when the foundation that they perceive their life to be built on shakes and shakes, crumbling and falling apart, unseen but surely felt. The tremors had been felt and duly ignored as passing rumbles.

"Oh yes! I have realized my folly.They weren't mere rumbles, were they? And they sure as hell were not passing. Like all bad things, it's all too late."

The road was deserted. The few unbroken lights threw patches of display window light on the potholes that were the only remarkable features on the otherwise dull tar. He was smiling; at how life had turned out, at change, at the uncertainities that lay ahead. He leaned onto the bonnet of his car and stared at the moon and the emptiness of the night. The night seemed to mimic what he felt of himself - empty and dark and the only moon in his life on its way towards the other end of the world.

The spare tyre was in the back of the car but there was enough time to try and replace the tyre. "What the heck! I might as well take in some of the evening air."

A hundred yards down the road he spotted a small body of water, the leftover reminiscence of a bygone rain. Mother earth holding onto the sweet memories of a wonderful association that had been taken for granted. The memories would fade away with time, helped along by the sunlight that would shadow them into submission.

He saw the moon reflected in the still water. The water only seemed still, for right under its poker face it carried a constant turmoil that ran harsher in its deeper depths. He stepped out of the road and reached the banks of the temporary pool. The ground was dry and he sat down by the edge of the water uncaring about the dirt that stuck to his trousers. It was nothing that a washing machine couldn't handle. His eyes roved and dug into the murky pool trying to fathom the disturbances that unsettled its calm. He caught his face looking out at him. Sunken and refracted like the skulls that marked railway crossings, warning the tresspasser of the fate that would befall him if he dared to take a misguided step onto the tracks.

He sat up into a squat and began to study his reflection. He saw reflected at him a man fatigued with trying to keep himself together and his life hooked into the society that existed around him. "Happy and well-settled. Isn't that what you are? Isn't that what everyone thinks you are?"
He could see his facade even now when he was in the middle of nothingness with nobody that would notice a scar in his otherwise perfect cover. That was what he was. An actor. The true representative of Shakespeare's staged world. Yes he was an actor, an actor who never took a break from the life that was his act. Why would people want to know the real him? Of what use would his nakedness be to the people around him? He hid his life underneath an elaborate Victorian costume with all the trimmings and nobody noticed that it looked out of place.

He had agreed to marry her when she posed the question to him three years and eleven months before. "I know that you love me a lot. I know you do. I know you want to ask me to marry you. So why don't you do it. Why don't you ask me to marry you?"

He had been astonished. All he could mutter was, "Because I love you too much.. I know it doesn't make sense but it does."

"It doesn't. Can we not give it a try?" "Well, okay! So will you marry me?"

"Yes, I will. Though you will have to ask me again and not in a corridor like this."

They had married two months after. Three years and nine months of marriage. Such a long time, an eternity ticked off by the seconds on the world's timepiece. Everything had been magical then. They loved each other a lot and they were both adapted to the small imperfections that they noticed in the other. It was perfect. Well almost. She had readily come into his arms and he had opened up to her like never before. That was his undoing, though he had no clue about it then. He built his life around her love.

He was paranoid. About everything. He had been like that from the time he could remember. Worrying himself over things that would've otherwise seemed trivial and insignificant. He had seen his parents break apart without a reason that he understood. They had been perfectly happy with each other or so he had thought. Things began to change with a rapidity that surprised him. Where they had cuddled each other, they now argued. They argued in louder and louder tones.

"I hate you. Why did you do this to me?"

"I didn't mean to hurt you. I don't know how this happened. I can't change it now, can I?"

"What about our son? Do you even know how he will take this? Is he ours at all?"

"Please... don't say such hurtful things."

"Ah! So you are hurt now, are you? After all that you have done."

His mom had sobbed and his dad had pleaded. He had only been a kid then and couldn't yet comprehend words like adultery. Such words and others, mouthed by his parents hadn't brought home to him the seriousness of their fights.

In a matter of two weeks, his parents had separated and left him wrecked. The actual day of separation had been too undramatic to register in anybody's mind. He had watched his dad sitting on a chair, his face cradled in his palms. A dishevelled little man whose world had crumbled around him and yet refused to accept the truth. He watched his mom come out of the room with just a duffel bag. She walked towards his father and stood in front of him. His father did not look at her and his mother's hands stretched towards him but stopped short. No words were exchanged and no goodbyes said. His mother kissed him on his forehead before walking out the front door. He later learnt what had happened. His mother had taken a fancy for another man. He couldn't understand how that could've happened when his mother had loved his dad such a lot. But that was the truth and his disbelief didn't change it. His back had been broken and he never got rid of his distrust towards everybody and everything, especially relationships. He had lost faith. He didn't make any friends for a long time until she had come along. She had forced her friendship upon him and he had bowed.

She was the cement that held together the fragmented bricks that was him. In any construction the cement merely holds the bricks and hides the fragmentation that continues to subsist and grow into cracks that don't bother you with their baby cries or any warning until one fine day a gust of wind brings down the whole structure. On further analysis, the cracks, the always there but indiscernible cracks would plead guilty. But by then the damage was already done and nothing can put the same set of bricks back together.

She had been super-strong hold cement. That was true. She had held him in her arms with amazing strength and made him better with time. Yet all her love and all her comfort could not prevent his breaking apart. It seemed like a very natural phenomenon, something that you never get a hold on.

He knew that he depended on her a lot. Enough to make him addicted to her. His life outside of her had ceased to exist; not that he had much before anyway. But it made him feel insecure.
"Does she really love me? What if this is a game she has chosen to play with me." Maybe she was merely setting him up for a big dramatic final dumping, a throwing into the lowest pits of existence. It troubled him a lot. These fears screamed at him in his dreams trying to grab his attentions. They did get his attention hooked but he did not see the hidden meanings to them. He took his fears to face value and attempted to put them aside as fears. Just another sandman under his bed. He missed the whole point of the thing. The wrong variable in the equation was his detachment and he did not recognise it. It was himself. It was he that was pretending to be in love. He was not in love and he did not notice it. His failing had hidden itself in a play. A play within a play. An actor acting out to an actor.

He changed everything about him to make himself fit her, as they say, like a glove. Yet his facade, his poker face always remained with him. Even though she owned him in all possible ways and knew evey heartbeat that kept his cells nourished, she never could see through his veil. She remained largely unaware of the increasingly turbulent current within him. She was infact waiting for him at home as he pondered at the secrets that his face revealed to him under the dark cover of the night.

In his deepest self he did not grasp the concept of love. What was it about love that convinced people to tied themselves down? Mind you it never lasts forever. One thinks one is tied down for eternity and then the first glitch rears its head. The first doubt, the first questioning smirk makes your mind waver. Once that happens you feel let down by the whole constitution of love. What had earlier seemed like an indelible truth mastered over centuries now shows its true face. Love is nonsense. It is a buzz word that has remained in vogue for too long; just one of those fads that forgot to leave the stage on cue.

He wondered if she had ever stopped to listen to her heart and find why, if it really did, it digged him. You could learn so many things about yourself if you took the time to try. There are a million feelings that you have never felt or realised that you feel them. He was grateful to her keeping his spirits at a higher place yet he was as detached from her as he was with everything else. He liked the vantage point of looking from outside of the frame. He did not consider questioning things, he just took it for granted that whatever he felt was the truth. He did not try to find if he loved her. He just assumed he didn't.

He was sometimes proud of his mother. She had chosen to fall off the conveyor belt that most of the world was sliding upon. It must have taken a whole lot of courage. Ofcourse she had hurt many, but if they made a study of it the ones that felt hurt would see the great benefit she had made available. She had, through her act of perceived selfishness, liberated some souls to where they actually belonged, free from the shackles that binds them. Though he could've done without the ruckus, he felt that his mother had awakened him to the play that society staged. A play that is easy to live by. A play that in all its goodness hid the truth as if it were a disgrace.

For his father, he didn't feel anything, not even pity. The man had wallowed in self-pity and died trying to figure the disillusionment he felt.

He knew that if he continued the way he was now, their life would soon be at blows. He had tried hard to correct himself. He had tried it thinking of her. He had succeeded a little but not enough to make any significant change.

What would she do if he told her that he didn't think that he loved her, not then, not before? In all certainity she would have looked at him with a certain smile. "No darling. You are mistaken", she would have said. She believed in love and other undefinable things as fate. She considered their being together as the truth. The truth, as she thought, that love was indispensable and that they had an abundance of it between the two. The bliss of ignorance.

He got up and went back to his car. A wind had picked up by then and rattled an empty can of coke towards its journey through the drain. He jacked up the car and changed the flat tyre. He wondered if he could do the same with his life. Change a tyre and make a fresh start. He laughed at his ignorance. It was not a mere flat tyre that he suffered from, it was a complete breakdown of everything. Every single thing. There was no way to mend it. No matter how adept a mechanic he could find. "Life is not a broken car. Who am I trying to kid?", he laughed.

The car was on its way in less than 15 minutes. His hands were still greasy when he opened the door to the house. He knew she would be sitting in her chair, a magazine in hand. The television would be tuned into one of the soap operas that were the rage of the season. She wouldn't be watching it though. She wouldn't really be reading the magazine too. She would be waiting for him.

He knew he had to do it. Not for himself for he was beyond any hope of reclaim. He had to do it for her sake. He would yet again change his life for her. As he walked in, she put her magazine down and smiled. That irresistible smile of hers. Before she could ask him anything, before she had a chance to say anything, before she broke his resolve with her smile, he knelt down before her. The same way she had made him do those many years ago. Then he had whispered to her the question in his own clumsy way - "errr... will u marry me?" Now he whispered to her his goodbye. "I am leaving". She, innocent and unaware, asked him, "Where to, baby?" "Away from your life. To save you from myself". Before she had a chance to recover, he left in her hands a long note that threw his veil away and left through the door that he had left open.

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Sameer's Golden Rules

Productivity and Time Angle

A quick guide for a manager. I wonder when Managers in India will ever learn these golden rules.
Sameer, gr8 work dude.

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more timepass

He was caught deep
In her callous net
Yet he felt no grief.

His mind was not his
A swirl around her
But felt nothing amiss.

Drops of her smile
Dew'd upon reality
Yet he heard no chide.

Lost in the world
Unowned by himself
Like goods once sold.

And he felt no grief.

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Software lives

Crosspost from sameer.

IT Survivors - Staying Alive In A Software Job - JAVA J2EE PORTAL

This is what the software world in India is. Inspite of the head honchos claiming employee satisfaction I can't, for a second, concede that any software company in India really does look after its employees. Yes, these powerhouses have made a huge impact on where India is today but at the cost of many unnoticed lives. An appreciation or an award cannot put these lives back on track. They are mere band-aids that will won't last a single day.

I agree I am in a slightly better position. I learnt by burning my fingers. And fortunately, I am not fleeced by my managers and I am not forced to spend every living moment hunched before a computer.

IMHO, the core problem in is that the managers never stand up for their team. A manager shouldn't manage just his project or margins. His primary responsibility is the team who are anyway the ones that can make or India break his project. But somehow, I don't think managers in India realise that.

The employee himself/herself is not clean of any blame, though. They don't stand up for themselves too. Show me one employee who can say "No" and I'll show you a happier-than-average software professional. I haven't gotten around to that completely yet, but I do say "No" when in need. Well, most of the time.

Ofcourse, some of my opinions are based on what I see around me here in the UK. I can confirm that the work culture is infinitely more employee-friendly than what we have back at home.

Sorry state of affairs and it doesn't look like this is going away in a hurry.

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resolutions - 2006

Chells tagged me so..

I stand by the cliched line, "Resolutions are meant to be broken." So I don't usually make any resolutions for new year. Infact I don't even consider a new year worth celebrating. Most of the time, all that I do on New Year's night is watch some movie on tv. The hour-hand and minute-hand meeting at midnight does not excite me much too. Anyway as usual I dont have any "resolutions" per se, but there are things I would like to do and might not get to do. Not doing it is not a problem cos they r not resolutions :-) Enough of the blahdy-blah. Here's what I want to do:

1) Get back to my reading habit
2) Get back to my guitar lessons
3) Radically change and improve my social life and expand my social circle (I've no idea how I'm going to do that given that I am so lazy and closed to people)
4) Get back on the biking trail (I miss being on the road)
5) Possibly a new bike (depends on the new bikes that will be out in India)

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timepass four

Like the lone gunslinger
Marching across the desert of strife
You arrive at the end of a dream
The beginning of another day.

There have been battles to fight,
And there were pleasures won.
There have been people you spite,
And those that were yours.

Lessons learnt long before
are the weapons for the tired soul -
Every struggle and each hurdle you cross
will cement in you the resolve to go.

It is an unknown out there
An unknown - terribler than the known
But let not any fear
Lodge in you - buried or sown.

For there is always a way
A door leading faraway
Where there is no worry
Just bliss yet to be fathomed.

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Me (explained)

DD is pretty close with two points:

"your mind is a closed green door that opens with a golden key..."
"you are guided by rational thinking signified by the full moon"

raks, u too with the point:

"the key is there but still u cant open it."

VJ, almost there with:

"He is just waiting for somebody to get those answers - one who can find that key and open the door!"

anu almost there:

"questioning your risk taking capabilities"

pree, u too, again almost there:

"the moon that's gonna show u the path"

I don't mean that this is the exact interpretation. There never is an exact interpretation. But these are the things that it can be taken to signify.

The door: I am a closed person. not just closed but locked in. The door represents that significant characteristic of mine. I am sure most of you that know me agree with this.

The significance of the key: The key is not for me for the door obviously is mine and I not only have no need to open it; but probably can't possibly out of fear of being revealed. The key tied to the pole is a simplistic representation of the fact that the key is not easily available. There is time and effort involved and there is no guarantee that somebody will get to it at all. So whoever does get to the key and manages to open has access to me; me unprotected by the door; me open to the winds of life.

The question marks are nothing but the confused state that I think I am almost always in. Yes, all of you are correct about that - unanswered question == uncleared confusions. They don't necessarily cause any disruptions; they are merely present dotting the landscape like lone twigs floating on a lake. They pop up every often to make my mind chew on them. The number of question marks is of no significance; though coincidentally my birth date is the 10th.

The moon - it represents a lot of things and includes within it such nocturnal objects as stars and comets and the cooling breeze. The night sky has always fascinated me; always. I can spend long hours staring at the stars wondering where their beauty is made. The way the stars and the moon light up an otherwise dark sky with shades of silver has always fascinated me. To me the day cannot be half as pretty or as mysterious. These are also symbols representing enlightenment (rational thinking, if u like that). The enlightenment is not all-compassing but nevertheless breaks the monotony of the unknown(the darkness).

The road beyond the door. Life after all is a journey. A journey that has no real beginning and no real end. You take what the road throws at you and try and carry on. Whoever opens the door can read the journey but cannot necessarily know the way it has been and the way it will be. The door only opens to the present tense. The now of the journey.

The large number of symbolism means only that I am not entirely sure of what I have been or what I am or what I want to be.

What all of you missed was this - I have an absolutely horrible sense of colour!! :-))

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Me (Tag)

Tagged by VJ. The idea is to upload an image that I think represents myself. Here goes:

Meaning open to interpretation by my readers. I'll post what I think it means, later.

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off to india

for a week. Flying out tonight from Heathrow. Can't wait to get there.. No, no, not because I am homesick or anything. It's because my shiny new iPod is being safely protected by my friend skely, who, just for the record, happens to be a really great guy. Everybody should have friends like him. :-) And I haven't even seen my iPod yet.

Ofcourse, I am scared about the rains that are the news in India now. I don't want to be rained in through the week. Oh rain god(s), please show some mercy! I do love the rains but not now, just not now.

So though I have another post waiting to be posted, I am not posting it until I get back. See you folks later. tata and have fun. ta rum pum pum rum pum pum tum dum...

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timepass three

It's untied; it's crude; well I aint so prude.

For fifty years and more,
They were inseparable twins,
Walking from sea to shore,
Hand in hand; sharing their grins.
The grins were now toothless,
The faces stretched;and eyes dim,
Yet never, for a moment, loveless,
Love grinned like sun-beam.

He walked her, as every sun set
Her hand his prize;she his all.
Of his love, she wasn't a test,
Wholly belonged in his stroll.
It was a sight for his eyes,
Those few stray golden strands.
Light that jewelled her gray curls
With many little shiny beads.

Her memory was a faded gray
Like pictures from eons before,
She knew not the night from day
Yet loved his face without a name.
She could never look back
And he willed not to either.
Until the day all went black,
They would live forever.

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he and she

He stood in the warm sunlight, his body exuding the unhurried stance of a man with all the time in the world. He did have all the time in the world for a day almost every day. He never believed in hurrying through life like insignificant pollen blown away before they had their chance to make a difference. What better way to live than to enjoy and cherish every swirl of life's glass of wine?

The clouds were huffing and puffing across the sky shephered by the wind, a nanny walking a bunch of unrelenting and indifferent kids to another day at school. The wind was cold and washed away most of the warmth that the sun's rays anointed his skin with. Yet he felt fresh and wonderful, an unlikely thing for a cold autumn day. The leaves were past their browns and in their early yellows. An awful lot of them were now part of the carpet that autumn had sewn for the concrete pavements and where available the earth.

He stared across the town square, at nothing in particular. People were walking all along the streets, shopping for the coming week and taking in as much of the sunshine as they could gather. A saturday was always welcome and especially without the clouds pouring down upon them. As his eyes washed over the streets, he noticed a bright pink fluff in the crowds. It was the brightest colour in the whole scene. She seemed to float by people, almost untouched by the air around them. It seemed as if people parted away to let her pass.

He was amazed by the beauty of her face and the way her skin glowed in the golden light. She was not slim but carried about an unexplicable grace. It was accentuated by the bouncy brown hair that framed her cool blue eyes. Her eyebrows were sharp arches that stood guard over those undoubting, innocent eyes and her lips were painted in a light brown that humbly hid their lusciousness. The clickety-clack of her shoes seemed like music to his ears, the beat of the heel against rain-soaked concrete. As she walked past him, her hair playing with the wind, he caught a whiff of her subdued perfume. He could smell a hundred exotic scents in that single whiff. He greedily drew in his breath to lavish his lungs with the sweetness of her scent.

She looked at him from the corners of her eyes. Or did she? He believed she did. She did not give him a second glance though. Or maybe he did not she her tilting her head ever so slightly to catch a second glimpse of the tramp standing by the railing and with a look on his face and a stance on his body that seemed to tell people that he owned the world and they were mere pawns in the game of chess he played when he was bored. He looked on as she turned the corner and the last glimpse he had was of her coat's pink trail.

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pix from oxford

Oxford - another university town. We went there on a day when students matriculated. Now matriculation is a funny thing. You would expect it to be some kind of passing-out thing. But no, it isn't. It is the signing event when students register for courses. They are dressed up in robes and suits and carry an air of formal elegance about them, until the parties start in the evening.

We didn't get to do much though cos we took a city sight-seeing tour to have ourselves frozen on the open upper deck of the bus. It was cold. Leave it at that.

Anyway here are the pictures: http://www.imagestation.com/album/index.html?id=2118924272&mode=invite

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untitled too - the old man

Foreword: I don't find this a continuation of this. Yet in some way it is!

Five years had passed by, unsung and unthought about. The day he realised the loss of the one true friend he had, Vish had given up on life the way people lived it. Without a thought, Vish had gotten down from the bus in the middle of nowhere. The sleeping bag did just fine.

That night began his journey through unknown villages and towns. The nights were mostly spent away from civilisation, alone in his sleeping bag. The stars were his friends, the moon his guide. Rains were kept at bay with makeshift tents made out of polythene bags. He had become a nomad; one among the thousands that inhabited the nooks and crannies of the towns. Unsurprisingly, he was unlike the others. He was not disgusted by his ways nor would anyone have been. Inspite of all his hatred for society and everything to do with it, Vish made sure he did not offend the senses of people around him. His makeshift tent and his ever-changing homes always carried a remarkable dignity. It was a home!

During the day Vish worked on odd jobs. Enough to keep him well fed and clean. He would have loved to be a true nomad, a child of the earth eating out of what the earth had to offer. He was as much practical as he was idealistic and knew that such a life was not impossible but took more effort than was necessary. He was a subdued man. Though the ideals still lurked around in him, they assumed a state of indifference.

Vish met a lot of people in the five years. Each person impressed by the unexposed depth that they could feel in Vish. More than one person was concerned that such a good man was wasting away his life. Vish knew that it wasn't him that was wasting his life. He didn't, however, express this opinion to anyone.

"What are you watching, son?", the old man's trembling voice tore through the silence. Vish turned around to look at the old man. Slow enough to bring his thoughts together to the present. The old man was one of Vish's acquaintances in his then current location. He stood beneath the rock that Vish stood upon. It was his favourite place - Vish's. He liked to stand up on the slightly big rock at night and stare across the plains, across the lights at something only he seemed to perceive. He saw his life being played upon the dark canvas of the sky.

"Nothing, sir! I was merely lost in the calmness of the night, in the beauty of the sleeping town". The old man smiled his two-toothed smile. "I know, son. I know how it feels to see your past from a third person perspective." Vish was not surprised that the man had known his thoughts and he did not even attempt to hide them. Vish knew there was something about the old man that set him apart from the rest. His name was Karma and was one of the regular vagabonds - shabby and unkempt as they were expected to be. But he surely was different. Vish could feel it everytime he spoke to the man.

They were about 20 men and women, who lived in the open ground a few kilometres away from the town's boundary. The place had once upon a time borne lush green fields, not anymore. It was now no man's land; a refuge for temporary residents like Karma and Vish. Karma had lived there for five months. That was the longest time he had stayed in a single place. He had been tempted a few times to move on. Something had stopped him everytime he packed his bag. Vish had joined him only a month back and Karma had immediately taken a liking for the young man. He seemed to bear the same idealistic attitude that Karma had unsuccessfully tried to make people accept.

In his younger days, Karma had believed in his ideals and thought he could change the world through them. He had been bitterly diasppointed and disillusioned when people not only disagreed with him but also cast him out like a disease. He had joined the ranks of the vagabonds, who he thought shared some of his ideals of an ungreedy world. He was, ofcourse, incorrect in his assumption and resigned to the fact that the world was beyond salvage. Karma chose to continue living as an outcast; an outcast among the outcasts.

"Do you think it is not right to dwell upon the past, sir?", asked Vish.

"Son. I cannot answer a question of right or wrong. Nobody can. What I think is right will be wrong for another."

Vish smiled at the answer. "Do you think about your past when you are alone and have nothing else to do?"

Karma did think about his past often. He remembered the passions that he had carried on his back. "I remember the roads I traversed. I don't analyze my past, I only read through its pages. Sometimes it amazes me with the wonderful things that have happened to me. The world is not a bad place. It is our sense of good and bad that makes it appear either way. I did not realise this until it was too late. I lived with my ideals. I am not sure if I'll die with them."

The two sat down upon the rock looking across the town lights. The old, fragile looking man in his rags and the young man in a more presentable form. Two individuals that looked as different as a home from a pigsty, yet there was an invisible connection that they shared. They had been through similar experiences. They had turned out the same but in different ways. They had become what they chose to be. It was the choice that had differed. They looked upon the sleeping world and smiled at the ignorant bliss the world lived in.

Vish thought to himself, "I have found myself a new friend. A friend that is almost like me."

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random updates

Autumn's here! The leaves left on the trees are turning a lovely brown or a bright yellow. The autumn colours must be the most beautiful of them all. I do like the greens, but there is something melancholic and poetic about the colours that autumn has on show. This is the time of the year when nature gives up its past to rebuild itself. Leaves float down to the earth creating a carpet across the pavements and roads. The world looks dressed up in full evening dress.

The cold is here too. Some days are particularly so. The cold wind clings to you sending shivers from head to toe. The locals of course are used to the weather and go about their ways with nonchalance.

My evening walks had been shelved in fear of the cold weather. This sunday though, with nothing better to do, I decided to take a walk. To catch a breath of fresh air and to air my mind a bit. Left the hotel a little about 6 in evening to return at 7. I couldn't smell the fresh air though, because it was too cool for my nose to open up.

It's so much fun to walk aimlessly for an hour with no place to reach and no hurry. Yeah, you could do it in India too but definitely not for more than a few minutes. You either run out of safe pedestrian paths or will have had enough of the jostling traffic. Oh and here it is kind of hard to get completely lost. I didn't, inspite of the fact that I randomly chose turns.

It was cold. But with so much effort put into the walking you tend not to notice. It was dusk and there was this dull warm light lighting up the autumn colours. The soothing sounds of bird calls kept my mind from thinking things. The crunch of the dry leaves under my foot never seemed so much fun before. It was like one of the things you did as a kid tapping on the floor or hopping on the stairs to hear the sound it make. I also got to discover a few more viewpoints overlooking the town. The town center is situated in this sort of a valley bounded by hills (they are more mounds than hills though). These areas are mostly residential. I got up to one side of the hilly side and there was this beautiful view of the town laid out in lights with the setting sun creating a pretty canvas over it. On one side of the sky, a big half moon was still undecided about whether it was time to come out.

So although this weekend was in inactive mode, it was not a complete waste.

Pix from Leeds: http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2119331056&mode=invite

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I had been to Leeds over the weekend. Why? Cos Denny - a friend from college lives there. The last time I met Denny was 2+ years ago during the convocation in college. We might have exchanged a few mails after that. In effect we were out of touch. Thanks to John, I got hold of Denny's phone number and called him. He obviously couldn't recognise my voice and when I told him "This is Bijesh", he was flabbergasted.

When Denny suggested that I visit him during the weekend, I immediately set the process rolling. Booked tickets and changed check-out date in hotel. The night before leaving I was in the room browsing my photos. I didn't have too many photos from college but what few I had flew me back to those wonderful memories. Life in college itself had been far from exciting. With too many rules and loads of regulations, my college was not the best place to unwind. Inspite of all that, I treasure my life in college. This is solely because of the people I met there. The people who made the best out of everything and the people that had fun even within those pale walls.

The photos played out my college experiences in vivid colour. I can still remember how we freaked out during the "college day" - the one day that rules were relaxed. Lunch in the college mess where even the crappiest food was eaten amidst laughter. The "industrial visits" which always turned into an impromptu picnic with singing and dancing and laughter again. The weird things we did to make our class "cool". Greeting signals. Class songs. Department mags. Farewell party. Scrapbooks.. All those images flooded me with a sense of joy. The happiness in knowing that the time in college was a lot more fun than I gave it credit.

I haven't kept in touch with most of the people from college. That's just my nature. But it was nice to know that I was not forgotten and I had not forgotten the myriad of faces.

When I was getting down from the bus in Leeds, I saw Denny waiting for me. His hair had grown long, very long. He looked a lot different without the trademark short hair but I spotted him in a moment. Unsurprisingly he recognised me too. To meet somebody after two years gives rise to a heightened sense of welcomeness. It did.

The weekend was sprinkled with anecdotes from college, remembering the antics of people in college and catching up on what they were upto. I wish that somebody all (almost all) of the class from college get together for a day. A day when we could look back upon those wonderful years. To share our experiences with those fellow humans that took, alongside us, the steps towards how our lives shaped.

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timepass two

This is my first ever attempt to write about something "common". i don't exactly know how to define it - common is the closest I could come up with. Anyway that's how it is and what I've written might sound a lot jittery.

It was a long time
Since he last laughed.
He hadn't seen a dime
Nor did he have work.

The fiver was his ticket.
A ticket to a pretend heaven.
Old and haggard he hobbled
Into the first bar in sight.

He downed a glass of whisky,
Followed by another.
He shot himself a tequila
Seasoned with many others.

The five was long gone,
Heaven was still away.
He was still not done
Looking for his grave.

His shadow grew long;
The voice louder.
His mind was numb,
The tongue went wayward.

Out he got thrown
Thrown out by a bushy bouncer.
He flew into the street,
With his busy coat flapping.
Heaven was still away,
So was his mind.

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Started off as something, ended up being what it is. Like it, hate it, hate it, like it. That's rubbish!! Here goes the bonkeritis...It is set in the alpharunic misplaised dumbotic metre. Guffaw!!

Face shining like the moon,
She waited for her love.
He had promised her the stars,
And all that made her swoon.

The night was misty and cold,
Goosebumping her lovely skin.
Yet her shivers paled
In his remembered warmth.

All the birds were back,
Folding into their nests.
The horses had trotted away,
Taking masters to warm beds.

Her face drooped into a dream,
The soft eyelids a canvas.
Scenes from their time gleamed
Within the silent play she staged.

His warm hands brushed
The hair off her forehead.
From her dreams she rushed
And swooned into his hug.

She didn't need the stars,
Nor had for the moon any want
He had with him to give
All love she could have.

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Weekend Visits in England

Time to write about the places I visited in England in the last few weeks. I have managed to visit a place every weekend. Let me try and put into words what I felt about the places I saw.

Weekend 1: Knebworth House and Gardens

England has a large number of houses from the age of kings and queens. Most of these houses (palaces given their size) are now opened to tourists, for a price though :-) It should take an enormous amount of money to maintain these places, tourism probably helps pay for this. Anyway, the Knebworth house is set in sprawling grounds. When I say sprawling I mean big, really really big. You can't even see the boundaries of the place even if you strained. An amazing green carpet across the earth. I wish I had seen the place from the skies, it sure would have been a sight to see.

Three-fourths of the house had been taken down by one of the owners. The quarter left was huge enough to be called a palace on its own accord. We took a tour of the house and its history. I amn't into history, heck I was positively bad at it in school. So it didn't make much of an impression. What could have been great would've been a picnic in the grounds. Yep, the grounds are open too and there were number of groups picnicing there. Oh, the Knewbworth grounds apparently play host to huge rock concerts as well. The house also featured in a number of movies including Batman Begins.

Weekend 2: London

London did not attract me much. I am not a fan of sight-seeing and that's the only thing we could do in London. There must be another way of experiencing London.

We visited the major sights of London - Westminister, Buckingham palace, The Tower Bridge, Madame Tussaud's, Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square. We caught a glimpse of the changing of the guard at Buckingham. It was way too crowded to see anything clearly. The only thing I liked was Madame Tussaud's. It cost us a steep 22 pounds, but I think it just about managed to make up for it. The wax statues were good, but the scare show was the best. You walk into this room were live actors dressed up like psychos jump out at you and scare the hell out of you. Interesting and not for the weak-hearted.

And the tube. Good god, you could get lost in the maze that is down there. The best advice I can give is this - Get the tube map, check it everytime you want to get from point A to B. The tube is divided into a number of "Lines" with names like Picadilly, Circle, District and others. You might have to change lines to get from A to B, if they are not directly connected by a single line. All stations have signs marking the way to the different lines. It could take a bit of walking when changing lines, quite a bit of walking indeed.

Weekend 3: St. Alban's

Typical English town. Very pretty and neat. It has a really beautiful cathedral. The cathedral has a lake within its compounds and neatly maintained lawns. We entered through one entrance and when we got out of the other we were on the other side of the town. We walked through a lot of the town and I loved every moment of the walk. To top it all was the excellent Italian lunch that we gorged upon; I had two servings of dessert.

Weekend 4: Cambridge (http://www.imagestation.com/album/pictures.html?id=2120192245&mode=invite)

The best visit for me. What a beautiful city! It exemplifies the words - romantic and idyllic in all possible ways. It is quite a wonder to see how the antiquity and the history remains intact in the midst of modern convenience. The city carries a look of age and beauty. Cambridge is filled with colleges, colleges and more colleges. A must is to take a punt ride - preferably the self-hires if you can handle the effort. We took the chaffuered punt tour. 45 minutes through the River Cam which streams past the college 'backs'. The views were definitely breath-taking and at the risk of repetition - romantic.

We also walked around the city for a while taking in the beauty that was on offer. Beautiful! A definite must visit in England. I am totally in love with Cambridge. It must be so cool to be studying in one of the colleges in Cambridge.

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Was tagged

by Anupama. So here goes the list. yeah, no particular order if you please. Cheers!

Seven things you plan (wish I could) to do before you die

1) Drive or be driven in a ferrari on the Auto-Bahn
2) Ride through the Himalayas
3) Build myself a house beside a stream surrounded by a lot of trees
4) Go on a European tour
5) Build a garden of white roses
6) Spend a month cut-off from the world - except for supplies ;-)
7) Learn to play the guitar

Seven things you can do

I can..

1) eat chocolate
2) love those that I care for
3) listen to that special someone forever even if it is just yabba-dabba-doo
4) watch the rain for hours
5) listen to all kinds of music (exc. new filmi masala)
6) laze around doing nothing and not get bored even when there is nothing to do
7) ride my bike through the day

Seven things you say/write the most

I say..

1) Yeah (variation: yep)
2) Cool
3) Alright
4) Hmmmm/watever
5) Sweets
6) Wassup
7) Sorry

Seven things you can't do

I can't..

1) watch the soaps on tv
2) go without an afternoon nap on the weekends
3) stand a crowd
4) stand guys that make lewd remarks about girls walking by
5) spend time matching my shirts and trousers or even press my clothes
6) sleep without a blanket and a second pillow
7) stop cribbing

Seven things that attract you to the opposite sex

1) Eyes
2) Smile
3) A modern outlook, not over-the-top though
4) Innocence
5) Dimples
6) Independence
7) Opinionated

Seven celebrity crushes

1) Preity Zinta
2) Madhuri Dixit
3) Drew Barrymore
4) Allison Mack
5) Julia Roberts
6) Salma Hayek
7) Jennifer Aniston

And I now tag

Anu, Pree, Raku, Shankari, VJ

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Pix from Luton: (++ London Weekend Pix)

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Live from Luton, UK

I am writing from England, the land of the Queen's English. Before I begin, I should express my love for the quaint accent that the English speak with. There is something very unique about it and American English can never match the inflections and phonetics of the Queen's English. I was given small doses of the accent even in the airplane.

Alrighty then. I am in a small town called Luton, 35 miles north-something of London.

We (yeah there were 3 of us) landed in Heathrow around 7:30 and the sun was still up :-o. The sun is up until about 8:00 or later. That's why they have daylight savings (slap on the forehead).

First impressions were about the roads. I think we took the M1 (that would be a highway or maybe an expressway) and well what do we have here. It was a busy road, but the road discipline was so very apparent. Cars were always separated by a safe distance on road. People stuck to their lanes and moved lanes after checking their rear-views and switching on their turn indicators. If only we could get the people in India to behave on the road. Wishes!

Got to the hotel after losing our way a few times inside Luton town. Righty ho! Now for a more serious analysis of things English :-))

The People

I was shocked by the friendliness and cheerfulness of the people. People walking down the road would wish us and ask us how we were. Given our Indian roots, we obviously thought these people wanted something from us :-)) They were just being polite. Ofcourse there are the bad lot here too, but it is so great to see people being so cheerful and uninhibited and so polite. Awesome!!!! I am still getting used to the corridor or road hellos. I am getting there.

One unfortunate thing that I noticed is that there is a large proportion of overweight people here. It must be because of the food that they have. More on that below.

I have a Scottish colleague at work and he talks, talks and talks some more. You are always entertained when he is around. He would often move around to different topics in the course of the conversation, always managing to get back on track. I hear all Scottish are like that. Interesting. Alas, he will be leaving the project in a few days. We are sure to be bored without him around.

The Food

Food is usually non-veggie here with chips ('french' fries in Indian parlance) and carbonated drinks and beer or other alcoholic drinks. In other words, you have all the ingredients to put on a lot of weight. Water is at a premium, sometimes more expensive than Coke or Pepsi. Infact, they don't have a water jug in the hotel room. When I asked room service to get me some *plain* water, I ended up paying 3.5 Pounds for a litre. :-o

Potatoes, potatoes, potatoes. Potato chips, potato wedges, masjed potatoes, jacket potatoes, new potatoes and meat potatoes (kidding...)

We have been trying all kinds of food. Indian, fish and chips, Thai, brugers, sandwiches, Portuguese (I think it is). I don't have a problem with food. Infact I like it a little less spicy unlike my fellow Indians. Or very very bland. LOL.

People seem to be drinking (not water) around the clock.

Luton - the town

Small, very so. Everytime we take a walk, we end up where we started in less than 45 minutes (of an ambling pace). The roads are pretty good. Very little traffic around the place we stay. Oh yeah, our hotel is right in the town center adjoining the Arndale shopping center, which is a big mall. The mall is clean, airy and not congested. There are benches everywhere to sit down. Hurray!

In the evenings there are a lot of drunk people loitering around which makes it a bit scary. We haven't had any trouble so far, but we take extra care to avoid groups of people hanging on the road.

There appears to be a lot of crime. Police cars are sirening around quite often. My theory is that we don't notice the crimes in India cos the police never bother to break up small fist-fights like they do here. Yeah just remembered. My team lead in the project had his Merc broken into on Friday. Somebody had broken the passenger side window. Nothing stolen, fortunately!

That's all I have to say about that, yeah. There are few snaps from around Luton here -> Luton Pictures. Take a look at them, yeah.

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Foreword: From the time I was a kid, I had this itch to write. Ofcourse I knew I wasn't good at it; yet the literary world held a strange fascination. What if I could churn out a book like the authors I so adored? What if people would actually read a book that I wrote? Childhood fantasies, I guess. I did make attempts to write. Everything begun but never finished. Heck, none moved beyond 10 pages of hand-written material. When Itried to analyze my writing, one thing was clear - anything I wrote was too concise to become a story. I would narrate the entire story in a single paragraph. That was a big handicap, but it was my greatest asset in English class - I could write gists of stories that covered every nook and cranny yet did not exceed the word limit. Ofcourse I did fancy becoming an essayist, but I was lost for a subject to write about. Irony!
Here's one of my recent attempts. Once again begun but might never go anywhere...

He watched the moon shining placidly down upon the earth. The bus rumbled on, swaying through the undulations of the road, rocking the passengers to sleep. It was a pleasant night, not too cold, just right. His mind was unravelling a thousand different thoughts, each fighting to break out of the surface. The silent night cajoled him to pick, look at and admire the streaks that his mind held encased. It was not a night for soul-searching beacuse he did not believe that he had any need for searching. He knew his soul as well as he needed to and he had no inspiration to want to delve deeper into the mysteries of life, thoughts and the universe.

Vish merely wished to bring out and inspect his soul, the way a child would take his toys out of the box and line them up on the floor for inspection. It did not serve any significant purpose, it never would and that suited his line of belief.He never had understood life or what it served. He did not believe in the framework that society sought to establish. The concepts of ambition, career, money and relationships were as alien to him as anything could be. As a child, he did not have too many questions. He did what was expected of him, but never believed in the need for those actions.

Vish was not a disturbed child. He knew happiness. He knew how to laugh and he knew how to cry. His parents adored him and so did everyone that knew him. His grades were above average, but he never stood out. He chose not to stand out. Even when he was merely a ten year old boy, such competition held no fancy. Though nobody had the chance to notice it, Vish was a very silent child. He did not speak unless there was a real need for words.

Now at the age of twenty, he had a degree in engineering and a fancy job awaiting him in Bangalore. Everything had fallen into place and the bus was speeding him on his way to becoming another sacrifice at the altar society had created. He would soon be lost in the masses - irrelevant, one of many fighting for a foot-hold. Vish did not make an attempt to fight the current because he did not see the purpose in it. He did not want to stand-out as a rebel.

Vish had a constant companion in Arya. She listened to everything Vish had to say and Vish always felt at ease talking to Arya about the things that he thought. Thoughts that nobody knew could exist within such a calm and unassuming soul. Arya never pretended to understand the line of thought that Vish had nurtured through his life. She did not pretend to accept what Vish had to say. She would always tell him,"Vish, I don't know if you are right, but I know ideals are not for me. I don't think it can mean anything to anybody". He had immense respect for her because of this and it helped him open up to her.

The two spent hours together, doing nothing in particular. They fit each other like perfectly cut gloves. This was not affected by the truth that the duo were very different from each other. Arya, unlike Vish, was completely earthy and did not carry any of Vish's idealistic outlook. She liked to have her share of fun. To her there was no point in changing the way the world was. It sometimes surprised them that they were such close friends.

Arya was in love with a young man she knew from college. She met him through the cultural club at college. David, like Arya, loved to have fun and the two came across each other at many a party. As time passed by, they began seeing each other and soon enough they fell for each other. It was a perfect pair both fun-loving, both party animals. "We groove together", Arya liked to say.

David respected Vish's friendship with Arya and never made a fuss. This was all that Vish wanted. He couldn't have borne to lose his only friend and the only person that accepted the real him. They were never great pals, but they were at ease. Everything was well in this part of the world.

But now as he twisted and turned through the tunnels that his mind held, there was an apparent kink. A small jigsaw piece that did not belong to the puzzle, for it seemed to have no place at all. Vish did not understand the sense of hollowness that he felt within. The piece had to have a place somewhere, though he could not determine how or where. It had Arya's face etched onto it, her face turned up towards the breeze as they sat on the water tank talking. She was listening to him and nodding her head. She shone underneath the moon-light with a radiance that made his heart stop for just a moment. That moment held the key to his current thoughts, that moment was the root to the pain he now experienced growing in his heart.

A chill gust of wind washed the truth across his face. The only person he could think of as a friend would be miles away from him. "It is not just the distance. Time has a way of changing things. She would be married to David soon and things will never be the same between us. I've just lost my friend", Vish thought to himself. The finality of that thought frightened him. Arya was the only worldly thing that Vish ever cherished and she would now be lost to him. With nothing connecting him from his abode of ideals to society and its underlying foundations, there was no purpose in allowing himself to be driven through the undulating terrain that society imposed.

He suddenly stood up from his seat and walked towards the front of the bus. He did not notice the sleeping passengers. He was not bothered by the baggage strewn across the floor. He knew he had to do what he was about to do and he would do it.

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The blues

Monsoon is here (I think it is). Anyway the weather is blue.. err.. actually dark gray. It's moody, it's chilled out and it's awesome. It drizzles every few hours. Sometimes it pours down like a waterfall. Rains are never far away in Bangalore, yet it is only now that the weather has taken on a true rainy hue. Dark clouds float lazily throughout the day, hiding the white clouds and the blue sky behind their rain laden mass. There is a certain dampness all around, that gives you a pleasant caress whenever you step out from the dumpy interiors.

The whole world looks lazy. The day invites you to shed all your work, relax and enjoy the freshness that the world has to offer. The greens of the trees stand out in vivid detail against the stark clouded sky. The sun peeps out once in a while, as if to supervise the earth underneath. Those few sunlit moments of warmth can feel like heaven when standing within the cold draft.

Though the mood is moody, the wind and the chill call you out to have some fun. You can watch the raindrops drip from all possible structures - from roofs to tree leaves. You can wait for the breeze to bring to you a mist of fresh raindrops. You can merely sit there staring and lost to the world.

The weather is perfect for a ride through curvy country roads with the wind now whispering and now howling at you. Alternately if you like to laze around, there is nothing that beats this balmy weather with a cup of tea and music to keep you cuddled on the bean bag.

Unfortunately I am stuck inside the office. How cruel! And when I do get to leave in the evening, there'll be horrendously serpentine traffic to overcome. Something about rain makes people crazy on the road. Luckily I get to enjoy the loveliness whenever I step out for a coffee. Not completely there, yet a wonderful break from the monotony.

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yet another ride

had been to Horsley Hills yesterday. That's a small hill-station in andhra pradesh, about 170 odd kms from B'Lore. We are 7 bikers..oops... 8, cos Nikhil joined us midway. The roads were bumpy for most of the part but had a good tree cover throughout. On the whole enjoyable if you can resist the urge to gun the throttle throughout. Prashanth (PK for short) had a brief encounter of the road kind when he took a curve too fast and ended up on the wrong side of the road, fortunately away from a bus that had braked just in time. This was on the way to HH. Anyway we continued to the place and had some food there. Checked out a viewpoint and did a bit of rock-riding that took us to the edge of a cliff like place. Later we had fun with a few deliberate skids before turning back towards B'Lore. The other Prashant (PS for short) got a screw screwed into his tyre and thus a puncture. It took us about an hour to find a tyrewallah and get the puncture fixed. We were in B'Lore by about 6:00 or so. Luckily the rain gods decided to spare us from a lashing. Somewhere within the city it threatened to drench me with huge drops. But luckily I got home 90% dry.

Had fun. Had a good night's sleep. Now back in office.

P.S: This is a thought I have had for long. I have decided that I wont take *anyone* (friend,girlfriend, wife, brother, anyone else) pillion on long rides. Well, it is too risky and things have a way of happening unannounced.

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mindless entertainment

When you have nothing to do and when you don't want to do anything. That is when you need some mindless entertainment. What better way to do absolutely nothing than to catch some stuff on tv? And what better form of mindless entertainment than the new breed of not-quite-crossover;trying-to-be-trendy Indian movies and (hold your breath here) serials?

I do that every now and then. Especially with Star Movies running a movie marathon called "Colours of India". What amazing movies! They take the simplest of things and make a movie out of it. A guy brushing his teeth can fascinate you for a good 15 minutes. A girl cleaning her American home for a good half an hour. Oh and those wonderful cinematic tricks that are aimed at giving you a trendy hip feel!

You don't have to think about the plot (there usually is none). You need to merely allow your eyes to keep wandering across the screens. Scenes flick by on and on. You don't even have to correlate between two scenes. That's the absolute beauty of these. Your mind has nothing to do and can soon attain a meditative state if you so wish.

Most of these movies are the American-Desi aloo parathas. A desi guy/gal, first time in the US, almost always looking for a job. An US-born desi, a cool dude, lots of girlfriends and swear-words, always ends up learning civility and "Indianness" from the desi guy who would usually be a relative or a friend's relative. Thrown in some hip always partying girls and some bewildered parents. That's it. You are done making the perfect aloo paratha... err I meant movie.

Following in the footsteps of their luminous big screen cousins, a host of small-screen bonanzas are also available for the discerning users. These serials seem to have captured the imagination (or whatever is left of it) of a huge tv audience. The roster includes such luminaires as Remix, Kitni Mast Hai Zindagi. I must make special mention of Remix. This is such a hilarous comedy. The humour is not evident, but every action of the characters makes me ROTFL. I am sure these "young" actors will turn out to be the crowning jewels of Indian cinema. I deeply appreciate their humour.

Without these amazing creations of the intellectual film-makers, my evenings would get a drab boring. Who needs meaningful cinema, who needs food-for-thought, when you have the luzury of doiong "nothing"?!

P.S.: Don't bullshit me with "So, you watch these serials?" comment. Yeah I do, but like I said "mindlessly" :-)

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can i?

Last night, I was watching the Live 8 concert on vh1. As it always does, the visuals of children in various parts of Africa tugged at my heart. I have never really done anything to help people. I haven't given my time to any voluntary work, except for the annual volunteering day in my company. I don't necessarily feel ashamed about it though at the back of my mind there has always been a lingering thought. The thought that I am not incapable of helping, just that I don't do what I can. I am bound by my own introvert nature that makes me stay away from people. I have never been able to go up to a stranger and chat casually; not even a child. I know I can break out of this bondage. I know it is all in my mind. But I just don't do what I can.

I am bound by the norms laid down by society. I am bound to the notions of career and money and affluence. I sometimes wonder if it could've been different if I hadn't been born in India. A culture where independence is the norm. A society where a person is not questioned about what he wants to do with his life. I wish I could quit my job and spend a year or two helping people. In India or outside. I know I can, but I just don't do what I can. And then there is the thought about the people that depend on me. How can I forsake them? It's not that I don't do other things for myself, things that make me feel good. But this seems too huge. Or is it?

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then you could be confused about whether what happened is good. It could appear to be good but you shouldn't judge the book by its cover, should u? You could get lost in this enternal tussle of indecision. Is it good or is it bad? Is this what I want or is it the other? Red or blue? You don't really control anything. Not even yourself. But that doesn't stop you from contemplating and worrying about what could've happened and what should've happened.

It is so bleeding easy to say that you dont care about the world or what the world thinks. I do too. The truth ofcourse is quite confusing. Even if you do actually not care, the world cares about you. Atleast a part of the world. That makes it an uneasy unidirectional relationship. It doesn't really matter anymore that you don't care about the world. It loses it relevance. Anything and everything you do changes something in the world. And what happens in the world around definitely changes things within you. You don't really control anything. Not even yourself. But that doesn't stop you from assuming (wrongly) that you are your own master, commander and slave. You are nobody's master and you are nobody's slave. You are everybody's master and you are everybody's slave. That's how the world works. And it is complicated.

I wont make much sense now. What I said is gooey at best. But the truth does not change. It does change, but the sense that truth tries to make does not. Truth is gooey at best. And it does change. Truth is not an object, truth is not a feeling, truth is nothing, truth can be everything. Truth can be an illusion, truth can be the truth. You don't really control anything. Not even yourself. But that doesn't stop you from thinking that you know the truth.

I don't have much leisure. I don't do anything that I think is useful. How can something I do be useful? How do you define usefulness? Useful as in I satisfied myself by doing it? Is that ever possible. Feeling satisfied and elated about something that you did. You might feel a moment of elation, but is it useful enough to keep you there. What is the whole point of things? Where does everything lead us to? Back to dust. Where exactly is the point of doing things? Nothing you do is going to make anything change. Change happens by itself and is an ongoing process. You don't really control anything. Not even yourself. But that doesn't stop you from feeling a sense of having caused some change.

(holy crap! What have I done to myself?)

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.. u lose something to gain something. Not everything will happen always. What has not happened is not important! What is important is what has happened! What is also important is that what has not happened now can happen later! That way both or all of the things you wanted/wished for will happen, albeit at different points in time.

(that's the gandhi influence. gandhi of the vijay type.)

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music favs

I am a music lover. I may not understand the maths of music. I am not even a bathroom singer. But I love music. All kinds of music - from rock to western classical to ghazals to jazz to ... everthing except boybandish, britneyisk and bollylike music. So it is not surprising that I want to make a list of my fav music numbers. I am not quite sure of how to organize my fav list. Genre is moot! So I'll probably do it my way.

The first list is a collection of those mellow, yummy and oftentimes romantic songs (power ballads inclusive). Ofcourse there are way lot more that I like than what's listed here.

1. Topping the list is "Love will keep us alive" as performed by "The Eagles" (as of this past saturday it has a special meaning to me)

2. "Romeo and Juliet" by "Dire Straits". This has some awesome guitar solos on it.

3. "Making love out of nothing at all" by "Air Supply". I love a whole lot of other Air Supply songs too.

4. "Now and Forever", "Angel's Lullaby" and "Right here waiting" by Richard Marx

5. "Every breath you take" by The Police

6. "Drops of Jupiter" by Train. Train is an awesome band. Not very known I guess but they produce some great unique music.

7. "Wonderful Tonight" by Eric Clapton for that twangy guitar.

8. "I believe I can fly" by R Kelly

9. "Wonderwall" by Oasis. Okie this is not exactly mellow but it is kinda to me.

10. "Please forgive me" by Bryan Adams.

Coming Soon: Other lists including favourite Indian music, Rock, etc.

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US Grand Prix - Indianapolis (contd.)

In case you did not see this, here is wat FIA had to say - http://f1.racing-live.com/en/headlines/news/detail/050620160231.shtml


...and among other suggestions offered to help them by monitoring
speeds and penalising any excess.

However the Michelin teams refused to agree unless the Bridgestone
runners were slowed by the same amount. They suggested a chicane. The
Michelin teams seemed unable to understand that this would have been
grossly unfair as well as contrary to the rules. The Bridgestone teams
had suitable tyres. They did not need to slow down.

The Michelin teams' lack of speed through turn 13 would have been a
direct result of inferior equipment, as often happens in Formula One.

Michelin's failure to supply its teams with safe and durable tyres came less than two weeks after it was warned by the FIA not to sacrifice safety for performance.

Do you still think FIA was wrong? Why couldn't the Michelin teams agree to limit their speed and their speed alone into turn 13? So, this wasn't just about safety after all, was it? This is what is a if-i-dont-win-nobody-should attitude.

The more I look and read about this, the more I blame Michelin and the Michelin-shod teams. They were stubborn and totally remorseless. Michelin was incompetent, that's the bottom line. What's even more ridiculous is that none of these teams have anything to say about Michelin's mistake?

Unbelievable. Just because 7(or watever) teams did this together, does not make the wrong right.

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US Grand Prix - Indianapolis

Yesterday's grand prix was a strange one. Michelin-shod cars refused to race when they were alerted by the tyre-maker of a safety issue with the tyres they had delivered. Only the six Bridgestone-clad cars raced, after a proposal for a chicane to slow down a fast corner was turned down. As usual everybody's screaming murder at Ferrari.

I am not on anybody's side. But there are a few questions that are not being asked.

1) How did Michelin miss out on "a specific we had not calculated" as Michelin's director said?

2) Would the chicane really have helped? Mike hinted at a driver who had said the chicane wouldn't have helped.

3) Would all the drivers have been capable of handling a change in the track layout? The practice session is not for the drivers to have fun, you know?

4) Why did the teams put their cars on the grid when they didn't want to race? a gimmick?

5) Why isn't anybody blaming Michelin for delivering substandard tyres? They are paid to deliver tyres that work, aren't they?

I know everybody hates Ferrari for having been so dominant last year - an emotion I fail to understand. The fuel was added by the "team-orders" incident. Well team orders have existed in F1 for a long time. Again Ferrari was booed - I think because of their dominance. I don't know if Ferrari should have agreed to the chicane, but we should remember that the F1 officials themselves did not support the chicane-idea too.

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sea change. or is it?

The latest news making its rounds in India - Advani. L.K. Advani, a stuanch Hindutva leader, calls Jinnah a secularist. More surprising he claims to repent for the Babri Masjid demolition.

Now, for the background. Advani belongs to the BJP, a political party that I have always considered a non-secular, separatist and religionistic party. They do make claims of secularism but the party is hand-in-glove with such Hindu organizations like the VHP and the RSS. These organizations are as religionistic as anything can get. In December,1992 a huge group of activists including leaders of the BJP, VHP, RSS and many other similar groups descended upon the Babri Masjid. The mosque was demolished entirely by this group. The reason is almost laughable - Ayodhya, the location of the mosque, is said to be the birth-place of Ram - of the Ramayana fame. So they wanted to erect a Ram temple in place of the mosque. The funny thing is that we don't know for sure if Ram was anything but a fictional character from the epic. (I am pretty I would be touching some raw nerves with this statement).

Anyway, Advani and the BJP have been so very "hindutva" that I cannot begin to describe the hatred I have for them. Oh not just hindutva, but about anything that they think has a link to Hinduism. A Hindu king, a hindu ritual, a hindu saying or a Hindu cow, sheep or goat. To these people Pakistan is the biggest enemy of all. Not just because they are a Muslim nation but because of other factors like Kashmir and what not. After Pakistan, the next enemy on their list seem to Indian Muslims. The Godhra incident, I believe, was entirely fueled by these Hindutva groups. I am sure I cannot convince of the complexity of the problem through a hundred pages.

When a statesman with such a track record visits Pakistan, that's news. The bigger news however is when he goes on record stating that the founder of Pakistan, Jinnah, espoused a secular Pakistan and that he was a great man. That statement broke the back for BJP in India. BJP's foundations - the VHP and RSS - were agitated by such a blasphemous statement from the BJP leader. Further indignation was caused when Advani said that he repented the Babri masjid demolition. Advani did not take back his words, he resigned from the BJP leadership.

If he meant every word that he said, if he really did feel sorry for what he did in 1992 he has gained my respect. I have hated everything to do with religions. I believe that though they might have been designed with the best interest, religions are nothing more than a hindrance to human life. Religion has become a blood-sucking monster that kills and preys. If this man, Advani, has indeed managed to escape the clutches of what-has-become-of-religion he is a great man.

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On groupism

It's all around us. It permeates the entire human social fabric and is not structured - heirarchical or otherwise. We have managed to divide ourselves into millions of small groups, most of them overlapping and contradicting each other. Religion, language, nationality, colour, state, caste, creed, gender and a zillion other groups and sub-groups. We continue to divide ourselves to more and more minute differences almost to the point that every man becomes a group of one.

Grouping ourselves wouldn't have been too bad, if the groups didn't go to war with each other. Hatred seems to be the unseen motive of division here. Agreed that people differ in their opinions, physique, colour, beliefs, life and many other things. However this does not mean that one set of people is better than the other. An important problem is that we do not stop dividing further. The social structure acts like one of those lower organisms that divide and multiply into huge numbers.

Imagine an India-Pakistan cricket match. Every Indian worth his salt joins in the general Pakistan-bashing. Discussions don't stop at cricket. They talk about the kashmir issue going back upto the partition and why that shouldn't have happened. One thing I have noticed is that when the talk turns to partition, someone or the other is bound to blame and curse M. Gandhi for all our troubles. I don't know if Gandhi was the sole reason for India's independence, but I do believe that the role he played was(is) too big to be swept under the floor.

Coming back to the topic. While the match lasts, everybody (everybody Indian) is equal. Patriotism and national pride are the buzzwords. Once the match ends, national pride is bid goodbye. Somebody (from North India ofcourse) would think that South Indians are pretty messed up in their heads. Boom! Every South Indian would be ready to take up the cudgel to defend his region. References to history and aryans would be drawn to prove the point that India belonged to South Indians.

Meanwhile somebody would start comparing different cities. Which city is cosmopolitan? Which one is more modern than the other? Which city fuels India's economy? Which one is the best? When that conversation appears to peter out, another very important question would arise. We agree that city X is pretty good, but who contributes to its status. Is it the "migrants" (as if they are from a completely different dimension) or is it the "natives"? The so-called Migrants would
claim that they are the cause for the wealth of the city and all the comforts that have come into it. The natives would oppose with a snide - "You destroyed the city. You cause the traffic jams and the security issues".

Do we ever stop? Nope. Never. We have so much time on our hands and so many classification methods to cover. After all, a person's native language can script his attitude and his social status can determine his virtuosness.

1) Notice that I have used "his" in many places. Another example of the groupism embedded into us and our language. :-)

2) It is not hard to believe that the rigid social differentiation we have followed for millions of years has thrown Darwin's "Natural Selection" askew. We have allowed these differences to be the foundation for marriage and other social interaction. In effect we might have prevented nature from mixing and matching the gene pool to create naturally stronger humans. On the other hand, the closed groups would have spread defective and weak genes thoughout the group, thus preventing nature from filtering out the weed. So when the human species withers away, we know one of the culprits to blame.

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that phase of life

I guess I am at that phase in life where you question the need and/or the purpose of things. Questions ranging from the mundane to the unanswerable circle through my head every night. They create such a racket that it takes me a very long time to shut each of them off and be able to sleep. If I chose to ignore a question, it comes back and hits from every possible direction. Every thought ends up sinking into that question. So i don't ignore them. I examine the question, turn it around and look at it in all possible ways. Most of the time I don't get an answer, but the question is satiated by the attention and goes away.

< i have no idea what I just wrote >

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Survival Training @ work

The company gets assignments in remote and almost inaccessible areas especially in the African region. The conditions and dangers prevalent in these areas require assets to be in peak order. Assets would have to negotiate all kinds of confrontations when on a mission. Some of the main problems that an asset can face include rude people, bad or inedible food and climatic changes. The company trains and seasons each asset to become almost immune to such adverse conditions.

The first and most important tactical survival training takes on weather. During the course of their routine work (read non-field assignments), assets are exposed to heat and cold in indeterminate alternation. This is achieved through the central air conditioning unit which is turned on to extreme cold and then turned off to extreme heat in sporadic intervals.

Survival training number two prepares us for the worst possible food scenarios. The food served to the assets are tasteless, cold and in the worst of conditions. Sometimes the food is also filled with foreign agents like insects. This helps the assets to condition their stomach to bear worst-case scenarios and their tongues to become unreactive to taste, good or bad.

In addition to these two primary approaches, there are training surprises on the agenda too. Examples include serving tea with spoiled milk, elevators that can test patience and roofs that suddenly leak during rains.

The trainings are so organized that the assets are prepared both physically and mentally to take on what would be the worst nightmares for an untrained person.

Kudos to the administration department that has taken up this herculean task of making our assets attuned to hazardous living. "Survival of the fittest" derives new meaning here.

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Ref: Ten Most Amazing Things (No.2)

Thanks to my friend Vijay, I now know the word for the earthy rain smell - "Petrichor".
Found a couple of interesting links on this.



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Garden paths

Ever heard of them? I hadn't too, until I saw a post on our newsgroup.

Take a look at this page first http://www.site.uottawa.ca/~kbarker/garden-path.html. Doesn't make sense, does it?

These notes posted on the web rock. (that was my lame attempt at a garden path sentence).

Read these articles to know what garden path sentences are:



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some more pix

These are left-overs from the trip to Madikeri


And these are the intial batch from the Kundapura trip last month


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mumble rumble

Have you ever wondered what in the world you are doing with life? Have you ever wanted to just give up and do something wacky and unconventional in life?

At every stage in life, we would look ahead at the next stage and think - "Ha, that's when I'll be happy and free. Free from the worries that I carry around, free from the life that I so dislike." Later when we do get there, reality strikes. There is the past that was so much better than the present. There is also the future that lures us on with promises of a life better than the present and the past.

When in school, final exams and assignments would be the dreaded things. Every day a drag in a crazy attempt to finish the homework and study for the upcoming exam. Every progress report an open invite for "parent" talk. College-life, with its impressively cool image, would appear to be the cure-all for all this. Fast-forward to college and exams aren't that important but the myths of the job market take their toll. Questions about what life might have in store and whether we can ever achieve anything take precedence. Dreams about a richly satisfying job and a fabulously independent life carry us through.

Finally, we do end up with a job that pays well. But where is the time to use the money? Delivery schedules and other pressures take the fun out of life. You lead a zombie-ish life. Deadbeat during the week and too lethargic to do anything on the weekends. Visions of a laid-back retired life in scenic surroundings fill our dreams and we march on like ants hoarding for the winter. By the time we make enough money to guarantee a trouble free rest-of-the-life, we would be old and shaken by the trauma of work pressure.

What we, however, do not notice are the moments of unhindered happiness that occurs to every one of us. The laughs we share with our friends and the dinners we shared with people. The beautiful sunsets that we are awed by. The cool water under a waterfall. There are a zillion and odd things that have made us smile and laugh.

There have been undeniably good times in our lives and they usually do balance out the bad days. But we never allow ourselves to be convinced that life is neutral. That the good balances the evil, the joys balance the sorrows. Ofcourse the happiness may be in short bursts - a few days or even a few seconds sometimes. The challange is to string these pieces together to look at them as a whole. Once we learn how to do that, our lives should be better.

P.S: I have no idea what got over me today!!

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the ten most amazing things

Everyone of us loves some things. Things that might seem silly to others, but is incredibly precious to us. They bring upon a smile even under the toughest situations. They bring to us a peace which is unarguably pleasant, however short-lived it might be.

I attempt to list the 10 things that I think are the most amazing to me. The top 10, with the number 1 missing for obvious reasons. :)

2) The wonderful earth-smell when it rains.
3) A long winding road passing through fields, with no traffic
4) Chocolates - not dark chocolate though
5) Beautiful fluffy clouds that seem to melt into shapes.
6) A good book, a hot tea, some music and my beanbag on a rainy day
7) Moonlight.
8) Getting goosebumps
9) Lazing around on a monday morning.
10)Sunset and sunrise.

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One of my friends in his absent-mindedness (he was thinking of his girlfriend presumably. the reason for leave prove this beyond doubt), sent this leave request to our manager

"Owing to personal reasons I will not to come to able to attend to office work on Monday, the 2nd of May. Please oblige."

We laughed and laughed and laughed over this for a while. He noticed this after he sent the mail and went "Holy $#@!^&"

:) A little laugh soothes all the madness the day brought with it, doesn't it?

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they are back

Did you watch the San Marino Grand Prix? You didn't? :-( You missed what must be Michael's best ever race.

Ferrari is back and so is Michael. Starting at 13th place on the grid, with what seemed a fully loaded fuel tank, Michael finished 2nd. It was not just strategy at work, it was the magic of Schumi.

I was depressed at the start of the race when I saw that the first Ferrari was 9th on grid. Infact I dozed off during the first 20 laps or so. When I woke up Rubens was out and Schumi was still stuck behind the slow cars. Little did I know that I was gonna watch the most hair-raising race ever.

With a lot more fuel on the car, Schumi made up a lot of places with pitstop strategy. He was at a blistering pace before his first pit-stop. Infact he caught up with Button before Button could make his first stop. With Button out of the way, Schumi put in some insiring laps before getting into the pits. He came out at the 3rd position, but started chipping 2 seconds off Button's lead every lap.

By the time the second round of pit-stops started Schumi was in Button's rear-view mirror. Button stayed out for a little longer before pitting, thus allowing Schumi to overtake him in a excellent show of f1 wizardy. I went berserk when I saw Schumi's maneuver. The master was at work and he nonchalantly put Button behind him in a stunning display of confidence.

Next on the list was Alonso. With 20 laps remaining Schumi caught up with Alonso too. Alonso is every bit as inspired a driver as Schumacher. Alonso's tactic was simple and effective - Slow down and control the pace. Alonso finished 0.2 secs ahead of Schumacher. A great drive and a great show of cool from Alonso. But nothing can take away the fact that Michael showed what he is capable of and why he is undoubtedly the *best* f1 driver today.

Michael is back and with what a bang!!! It was only the second step on the podium but the Tifosi are happy to see Ferrari back in business!

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1050 in 2

Yep, 1050 kms in 2 wonderful riding days.

Day1 (16/APR/2005): Bangalore - Mangalore - Kundapura - Maravanthe (beach) - Kundapura - Maravanthe - Kundapura.

Best part of the day, Maravanthe beach under a silver moon at midnight. Breathtaking beauty. And Shetty's Lunch Home Chicken Ghee Roast. Yummy!

Day 2 (17/APR/2005): Kundapura - Maravanthe - Murudeshwar - Honnavar - Jog Falls - Tumkur - Bangalore.

Jog had very little water, but the cascade made by that little water was awesome. I definitely have to visit Jog when it is in its full glory.

Pictures will follow as soon as they can.

Tired. But a happy tired feeling. :)

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;photos uploaded;

Photos from the Madikeri trip have been uploaded here: Imagestation. I guess I've managed to introduce camera-shake into almost all photographs. Time to get a tripod. There are a few more snaps, but the film-roll is not even half-way through, so that's gonna take sometime.

By the way, have you tried Picasa. It's open-source, it's free and it's a damn good photo organizer. Just take some time to read the help files, lest you overlook or overuse some feature. :) It's from Google.

My collection of photos is growing. I think I will need to beg/borrow/steal a DVD burner to make backups. I dread a HDD crash.

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Are you bored with MTV and Channel V? Do you hate the runs and re-runs of mind-numbing
Bollywood jatkas and remixes? Here is a music channel that you just might like. vh1.

Non-stop international music. Yeah, they play boy-bands too :(. But hey no pain, no gain. No veejays to spoil your mood. Not too many ads to make you go berserk. And definitely no serials (what was MTV thinking?). Infact their celeb-watches are fun to watch too. Yep, the songs get repeated, but that's part of the game.

Things might change later, but until then chillax and rock to some good music.

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Movies and I

(read a lot of movie related blogs in the last few days, hence this one. in case a movie post is mandatory in blogdom)

I am not a movie addict! I watch less than 5 movies in a month, most of them on HBO or Star Movies. So I am not even a regular movie-goer or watcher. Yet, there are a few movies or parts of them that I've liked and wouldn't mind watching over and over again. A few of these are listed here.

Forrest Gump :-

A completely down-to-earth movie. Nothing spectacular but its simplicity enraptured me. Tom Hanks is fantastic in the movie.

Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2 :-

Pulp. Loved the unique narration and cinematography. Fascinating work.

Aladdin :-

Excellent animated movie. Must be the one that made the animation genre mainstream. Great music as well.

Dennis the menace :-

Have been a Dennis fan for long. The movie was an absolute laughalympics. The kid was brilliant and Walter Matthau the perfect grumpy Mr. Wilson.

The Pianist :-

Heart-wrencing true story of a pianist - Wladyslaw Szpilman- caught in the holocaust. Adrien Brody's rendition was inch perfect. Hugely depressing movie, but excellent in all aspects.

E.T. :-

Steven Speilberg. Do you need to say more? Yep, Drew Barrymore. I would watch the movie a hundred times to watch the brilliantly cute li'l Barrymore in the movie. And ofcourse for E.T. , too. "E.T. phone home..."

The Fast and the Furious :-

For the cars, especially Vin Diesel's 9-sec Mustang (was that a Mustang?). And the really cool way the cars were used in the heists. Only for the thrills.

Mission Impossible 2 :-

Only for the final bike chase sequence. Mind blowing, typical John woo.

Broken Arrow :-

Classical John Woo action movie. Ultra-cool Travolta.

The Matrix :-

Confusingly good sci-fi movie. Only for sci-fi buffs.

Shrek :-

Brilliant facial animations. The donkey (eddie murphy) rules. "Are we there yet?"

There must be a few more hidden in the cob-webbed sections of my brain. Will jot them as and when they choose to show themselves.

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eight hundred, seventy five kms : Day 3

I woke up at 05:00 with an overwhelming need to take a leak and found the bathroom occupied. :( Raj was already up and taking a bath. I was ready by 05:45 and woke up the rest of the gang. This time around most of them got up without a fight. Thanks to Vivek's persuasive and determined efforts. ;-)

Everybody was up and running by 06:45. The farmhouse owner too opined that the Somwarpet route was the best and it was. The road was super smooth and full of interesting twisties and awesome views. The morning was cool and it was a pleasure to be on the bike. I was loving every bit of it. Sharan was still shaken by the last day's incident and so we took it real slow. This gave me the opportunity to enjoy the road like never before. We took a few leak stops and photo stops. Though we were not ripping, we made surprisingly good progress. All thanks to the wonderful road. I thanked the policeman for putting us on the right track.

Before 09:00 we had covered a lot of ground and reached a place called Shanivarasanthe. An old man there told us of a place called Bisle Ghat. He said that it had some nice views and a waterfall. The gang was gung-ho when they heard this. This was a deviation from our route and would add an extra 60kms (ended up being more than that). Raj and Sharan were apprehensive about this. I thought - "What the heck! That's a good reason to do some extra riding". The roads were not great but like always not-so-great road meant some wonderful riding.

We ended up riding for a long time without getting to the waterfall and when we did reach the waterfall, we missed it completely. :) The lonely road took us through a forest and it felt great to bike through that place. We decided not to return to Shanivarpet and instead follow that road to the Mangalore-Hassan-Bangalore highway (NH48). I was more than happy to do that.

After a few tens of kms, we got to the road that would take us to NH48. This road was a speed track. Amazingly sticky and very new. We were overjoyed and rode in the 100s. It was mindblowing. We came across a river and the guys wanted to take a dip. Raj, Sharan and I told them to catch up with us in Hassan and continued on. We were on the ghat section of NH48. The road was perfect and beckoning, but unfortunately Sharan's bike was overloaded and we had to take it slow in the 50s and 60s.

Once off the ghat section and into the plains, Sharan's Discover opened up and we were gobbling up the distance in the 100s again. At 14:00 we were at the outskirts of Hassan. We had slowed down and cruising in the 80s when two guys on Royal Enfield Thunderbirds thundered past cruising at 100+ kmph. I was awe-inspired by this and instantly fell a great love for the TBirds. It was nothing to do with the so-called bullet "charm" or its cult image. It was just the way the bike seemed to be nonchalantly crusing at those high speeds. If I don't find the new bikes, that are expected soon, good enough I might end up getting a TBird.

The three of us found a dhaba outside Hassan and pulled in for lunch. The others were nowhere to be seen and their mobiles were not reachable. We waited for a while and finally got a call from them. We were told that Vivek's bike had some problems and he had to get another carburettor job done. We finished our lunch and when the guys had still not arrived we moved on.

It was mid-afternoon and we pushed as hard as we could. Sharan has a problem riding at night and so we had to get to the outskirts of Bangalore by dark. We took rest stops every 40-45 minutes. Raj's bike was still being run-in and needed occasional cooling. We reached Nelamangala before dark. We had initially planned to take a long break there, but with a little more sunlight available we decided to use it. We were within city limits before 19:00. But with city traffic and having to ask for directions it was 20:00 when we got to the Raj's room or rather his ex-room.

The other guys had been ripping real hard and got home by 20:45. It hadn't been Vivek's bike. It had been Santosh and Sandeep who had gotten into some gravel and had a small fall. The bike's crash guard had come off. No damage to either of them. After exchanging small talk, Sharan and I said our goodbyes and keep-in-touches and headed home at around 21:30.

I got home with a take-away dinner. It had been a great three days. The summer was bearing down upon us and this might be the last ride for a long time to come. The memories were still vivid and I went to sleep thinking about the great time I had had. I would get back into the battleground the next day, completely refreshed.

The bike had been excellent on this trip. Thanks to Venkat's Auto Service (esp. Reddy the mechanic) for the excellent work. It did everything that was expected of it and a little more. The bike was at its smoothest and I fell in love with the bike all over again. I will have to give it up to make way for an upgrade. Probably a thunderbird. But I will never forget the wonderful trips we made together, the great roads that we admired together and the adrenaline rush that we felt time and again.

The roads will call again sometime and I am waiting.

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