Saturday, September 29, 2007

SuperPower Twenty20

Genre: Current Affairs

Once upon a time, in a small town, Chintu, Pintu, Monty, Pappu set out of their houses into the neighbourhood gully wielding a rubber ball and an old wooden bat. Immediately they set up a makeshift stump, the fielders positioned themselves in the nooks and began a game where there was only one rule- hit every ball with as much force as you can (and in the process break a couple of window panes). Soon Pinky and Priya joined in. They would erupt in joy every time a ball went out of sight and express it with a little jig. Ramlal, Raju and Rohitkaka, back from work, also stopped by to watch the game for half an hour or so. Everyone got a chance to show their hitting powers and when that was done, the game was packed up in a couple of hours. This was the daily routine. Then, one day they decided to give it a name, give it international fame... yes, you guessed it right- welcome to the world of Twenty20!

It was the dull period after India's unceremonious exit from the ICC World Cup 2007 when the ICC Twenty20 World Championships was announced and within no time it was discarded by 'experts' back home here as "Underwear Cricket" and was called "2-minute noodle cricket" by a certain female more known for her noodle-straps than her cricketing knowledge. The Big Three of the Indian team- Tendlya, Ganguly and Dravid famously backed out of the tournament dismissing it as "child's play". Before the commecnement of the tournament, Aussie Pointing pointed that the teams from Asian subcontinent would miserably fail due to inexperience in this kind of the game.

But all this was BEFORE the start of the tournament. The moment the tournament actually started, everything changed completely. Crowds thronged the stadiums by the thousands to watch the "child's play", and why not? It had everything that you would want to make your evening- convinient evening time matches, live DJ and music all around, dancing cheerleaders, food, fun and ofcourse high quality cricket. With only 20 overs at their dispersal to showcase their talent, every single player of every team always gave his 100%, a single moment of carelessness can prove fatal when you have only 80 minutes to make or break your day. By the time the tournament was into its second week, the verdict was out and clear- the 2-minute noodle format of cricket is a big hit! The crowds love it, the players love it and the TV audience love it!

As for the teams from the subcontinent, Sri Lanka made the highest ever Twenty20 International score, so-called minnows Bangladesh showed West Indies the way out, India-Pakistan match ended in a tie requiring a thrilling bowl-out to decide the winners, and then came the unthinkable- India's Yuvraj Singh hit England's Stuart Broad for six sixes in an over, and also made the fastest half century in any form of cricket!! And this was just the begining. By the time the Super8 stage matches started, the interest in this tournament had snowballed into madness, the craze was increasing by the minute and as for the Asian teams were concerned, Pakistan thrashed 'World Champion' Australia and the final nail in their coffin was the famous win by India eliminating the kangaroos from the tournament that they were once proudly claiming to win. Pointing had no option but to chew his words.

It was not over yet. The ultimate crown in the tournament was the Dream Final that any cricketer and his every fan can think of- India v/s Pakistan! Though for some strange reason, the Final was kept on a Monday but that hardly mattered. Those three hours, everything stood still, everybody remained glued to their Idiot Boxes like never before. And it was, it really was a Dream Final in every sense of the word. After all who would be able to forget that last hit by Misbah-ul-Haq and the catch by Sreesanth that gave India the most prized trophy- the Twenty20 World Cup! The frenzied celebration that began at The Wanderers culminated with a grand reception for the Boys In Blue at Wankhede back in Mumbai. And by now one thing was clear- the new India had arrived on the world stage- an India that is not afraid to take on the big guns, an India that is not shy to express its feelings openly, an India that is hungry for success and an India that is raring to go and conquer the world!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Mumbaiya Guide to Harry Potter

Sorry my non-Hindi understanding readers. I HAD to write this one in Hindi. It would have been no fun in English.

Aajkal jidhar dekho udhar Harry Potter ka hi naam hai. Samajh me nai aa rahela hai ki yeh much-much kayka hai aur ye Harrybhai hai kaun? Tension nai leneka. Apun bataega.

Harry Potter- Apun ki story ka hero. Iska mummy-daddy jab ye chhota tha tab off ho gayele the. Tab se ye banda Dursleys naam ke shot logo ke saath rehta hai. Aur vo solid jaadugar hai, ekdum jhakaas jaadoo-tona karta hai!

Ron Weasly- Harrybhai ka best friend, lekin saala bahut fattu hai. Uske bapu ka chocolate-biscuit bananeka dhandha hai. Ye, uske 2 bade brother log aur chhoti sister sabke sab jaadugar hai.

Hermoinie Granger- Apun ki story ki heroine. Sab jaadugar bachcha log me sabse scholar. Usko kuch bhi poochneka, sabkuch jaanti hai. Ronbhai is item pe kabhi kabhi line maarta hai lekin abhi tak kuch huela nai hai.

LordVoldemort- Story ka main villain. Sab log aisa bolte hai ki isne Harry ke mummy-pappa ko tapka dalela tha. Vo encounter me Harry ke sir pe ek nishaan pad gayela tha. Aur ye banda ekdum hatke hai- bole to kabhi zinda rehta hai to kabhi marela! Jab bhi ye zinda hota hai tab Harry ko sir ke nishaan me shot lagta hai. Sahi hai!

Melfoy- Bade baap ki bigdi aulaad. Khud ko bahut shaana samajta hai. Uska Harry ke saath 36 ka aankda hai.

Hogwarts- Jaadu-tona seekhne ka school jidhar sab bhari bhari jaadugar log aate hai. Idhar me koi bhi aandu-pandu ko admission nai milta. Khali vo log jinko inka letter milta hai vohi bande idharme jaate hai. Ye school pahuchne ka ek hi raasta hai- vo VT station jaisa bada station se 9 3/4 number ke platform se fast train pakadneka.

Dumbledore- Hogwarts school ka principal. Ekdum buddha aadmi hai lekin usme dum solid hai. Log bolte hai ki vo duniya ka sabse bhaari jaadugar hai.

Azkaban- Jaadugar logo ka lock-up. Jo jaadugar jyada shaanpatti kiya unko ye lockup me andar kar daalte hai. Aur ek baar andar gaya matlab gaya. Saala udhar se bhaagke nikalna mushkil hi nahi, namumkin hai.

Dementors- Azkaban ke jail ke pandu log. Unse panga liya to apunka sab mood off kar daalte hai. Ekdum danger log.

Hagrid- Ekdum body builder type ka aadmi lekin dil ka bahut achcha hai. Hogwarts ki school ka watchman hai ye. Bachcha log ko hamesha help karta hai.

Quidditch- Apna Cricket aur football ko mix karke banaela game. Sab player log jhaadu pe baithke udtaa hai aur ek apne aap udnewala ball ko pakadne ka try karta hai. Ye Jaadugar log ka timepass hai.

Cho Chang- Chinese item. Harry pe line maarti hai aur ek baar to chance maarke usko kiss-viss bhi kar daala. Bahut daring wali hai! Lekin Harry ko saali mamu banaake gayi last me.

Muggles- Aisa public log jinko jaadu tona karneko nahi aata. Bole to apun jaisa log. Aisa logo ko Hogwarts me entry nahi milta.

Sab samajh gaya na? To abhi jaaneka aur picture dekhneka. Aur vo book saala English me likhela hai. Agar English aata hai to bhailog vo book bhi padh daalne ka!

Monday, May 21, 2007

GoldRush In Mumbai

Genre: Current Affairs

Ssshh... this is a well guarded secret and should not be revealed. The BMC (Bombay Municipal Corporation) has probably found out that there is hundreds of tonnes of Gold buried below Mumbai's roads. And they are not going to let this jackpot go waste. See....

Ok you dont believe me? Then tell me what else can explain the logic of BMC of carrying out such a massive excavation drive all over Mumbai city with monsoon just a fortnight away?

Mumbai.. Be Afraid.. Be Very Afraid.. The BMC has set up a Survival Challenge for you! Dare to step out this monsoon and survive these monsters! Good Luck!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Summer Time = Movie Time

Genre: Blabber

Note: This is not a static post, it is dynamic in the sense that as I see more and more movies through the course of the vacation, more reviews will keep on adding to the list!

Here comes a first-hand account of movies that I had to bear so far this summer-


Your Friendly Neighbourhood Superhero gets emotional, sentimental, frustrated, vulnerable and as expected overcomes all this to emerge victorious! A visual delight with some of the best special effects that I have encountered so far. But it ends at that. The story (was there any?) sucks and Spidey blabbers too much throughout the movie rather than showing off his skills. And yes, he gets a much needed new set of clothes- not red and blue but black for a change! All in all, this one just makes it to "worth your money" category.
PS: I still think I should have gone for the Bhojpuri version.

Rating: * * *
Laboratory: Fame Adlabs
Investment: Rs. 170 (Although, I got for free!)


Ambitions.. Loneliness.. Desperation.. Life In a Metro where everyone wants to reach the top and some would not mind going any distance. A completely contemparory topic dealt gracefully and without unnecessary fuss, this is one hard hitting movie. And when you have a starcast like Irrfan Khan, Konkona SenSharma and KayKay Menon, its cinema at its best! And the best part about this movie is the way in which all locations only within Mumbai city has been used creativiely to create all different kinds of moods. This one was worth the money, though I would have loved if the irritating trio of some unknown band wouldnt keep poking their nose by appearing in every song!

Rating: * * * *
Laboratory: Starcity
Investment: Rs. 40


No. This has got nothing to do with any kind of liquor as the title may suggest. This one is all about fast cars, adrenaline filled races, and being a Hindi movie, liberal dose of sentimental stuff thrown in. NASCAR Championships.. New York Speedway circuit.. Manhattan.. the desi Schumacher is here in the form of Saif Ali Khan! And as always, Rani is hot, adorable and sweet at the same time! The showstealer- Javed Jaffery as a Gujju taxi driver cum race team manager! (yeah.. unbelievable, but then this is a YashRaj film!). Not bad at all I must say. And if you cant sit through 3 hours of high speed races, pack up in Interval. The first half rocks while second one is just OK anyways!

Rating: * * *
Laboratory: StarCity
Investment: Rs. 100


Heights of fooling the crowd with misleading titles. Lets get the facts straight- this movie has no connection to 1.40 Last Local or any local or train or railways for that matter. A typical forgettable B grade goons n police story with nothing to write home about. And just to justify the title, two minutes of a fake railway station and fake train with fake sounding announcements are added at the begining and end of the movie! Go see this only if you miss the 1.40 Last local and have nothing to do for the next 3 hours!

Rating: *
Laboratory: 24Karat
Investment: Rs. 70


"Ae Ganpat.. chal daru laa!" was my first reaction coming out of the theatre! You really need to de-stress yourself after 90 minutes of hard hitting gory violence thrown in your face. A very true depiction of the gangster menace that had Mumbai in its holds in the early 90s, this is probably the first neutral movie I have seen in years- a movie wherein you cannot decide whether the gangsters were bad or the police, or both. Though some scenes are directly lifted from famous Hollywood blockbusters and two songs are completely useless but overall a well made movie with power packed performance from Sanjay Dutt. And yea, Vivek Oberoi as the dreaded Maya Dolas was amazing! Just one hitch though- why was Dawood (referred to as only 'Bhai' through the movie) so confused looking?!? This one is worth a watch but ofcourse not the movie if you are taking your girlfriend for a date!

Rating: ***
Laboratory: MovieStar
Investment: Rs. 80


India's probably first mainstream mature comdey, with brilliant performances by Amitabh Bachchan and Tabu, this one has some really uhilarious spicy moments like the one where AB goes to a chemist asking for condoms and the shopkeeper refers him as "chacha" or the phone talk between AB and his toddler neighbour. Though for the first time Paresh Rawal fails to make his impact but his void is superbly filled with Zohra Sehgal as the 93 year old granny who loves seeing Sex And The City and ofcourse how can I forget the most amazing surprise package- the 6 year old neighbour of AB who is,for some strange reason, named 'Sexy'( who delivers some of the best parts of the movie! This one is definitely worth a one time watch and the first half can be preserved on dvd for repeat viewings!

Rating: ***
Laboratory: Eros
Investment: Rs. 60

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

For Sale

"Would you like to have it for Fourty Five?"

"Sorry. I am not interested. And anyways, Fourty Five is too high a rate for that."

"We can negotiate on that."

"No thanks."

After a week,

"Sir, we can give you that for Thrity-Five"

"Sorry. I already got one. I do not need yours anymore."

"But sir, this one is better. And seeing your past record, we can even give it to you for Twenty-Five."

"I said NO. I am NOT Interested. Thank you."

If you thought this was a conversation at your local vegetable market, sorry! Think Again! This was a so-called 'Career Counseller' trying to sell me a seat of Electronics Engineering course in AA College owned by none other than our Honourable Deputy Chief Minister Mr CB.

This is a regular feature every year after the results of Engineering/ Medical Entrance exams are out. These fly-by-night engineering colleges, most of them owned by our Monkeys-in-Power or their wives, brothers, sisters, buffaloes, etc. literally come out with a Menu Card of courses with fixed 'donation' rates according to the demand of a particular seat that year. And the criteria for admission- only one- Show Me The Money!

If that was shocking, sample this- a certain RR Medical College on the outskirts of the city is giving admissions to any student who is willing to pay 11 lakh rupees in cash. And wait, this is today, when the Entrance Exams results are not yet out! Wait! Forget the results, the damn exam itself is scheduled for next Sunday! So all you guys and girls who are preparing for the test, you know how 'bright' chances you have of admission!

The seats that are going for 1.1 million bucks apiece are from the hordes of vacancies that remain every year in the SC/ST/OBC category seats, reserved to achieve 'Social Equality', which make up a mammoth 50% of the total seats with hardly any takers! And before you jump on me saying that there are many SC/ST?OBC students who also study, well my dear friend, these hard working 'reserved' students eat into the General category seats (alas! thats the 'rule') leaving all the reserved seats to the college trust to make big big bucks! Whoever said "Education cannot be sold" probably never saw this day!

Yes sir, this is present-day India, a country where, under the name of 'Social Equality', everything is up For Sale, even Your Future! So What's your rate, mate?

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Its An Ad-Mad World

Genre : Humour

Presenting a list of some television commercials from the last year that left an impact on my mind for various reasons. Some were genuinely good, some irritating, some humorous while some outrightly bizzare...


AirTel : 'Apne Baap ko Rulaega Kya?'

Here, there is simply no competiton. This ad with a youngster going to his village to meet his grandpa and connecting his AirTel to his dad back in the city to let the grandpa talk was supposed to touch emotional chords. But, for some reason, the grandpa getting sentimental and telling his son "Apne Baap ko Rulaega Kya?" misfired completely and this ended up being the most irritating ad, especially when aired after every alternate over throughout the World Cup.

And yeah, the AirTel ad previous to this one, with that middle aged man bringing his cellphone into a couple's car to record "Julieee" for his wife also comes pretty close in winning this 'honour'.


' UP me hai dum, kyunki yahaan zurm hai kam!'

Oh really? Who are you kidding, boss? is the question I feel like asking everytime Big B comes up on the idiot box walking along the shore of Ganga, promoting Uttar Pradesh for his 'bhaiya' Amr Singhji. This one is taking friendship a bit too far!


Pepsi: 'Mera Naam Sourav Ganguly hai...'

This one certainly takes the cake when it comes to originality of idea. After all, come on, how many times have we seen an international sportsman cribbing about his career on national television? Every time I see this one, I feel like telling the poor guy- Come on dude.. get a life! Go get out, take a bat and a ball and get onto the streets of Kolkata, smash some window panes of those pre-historic trams with your shots, run up and down the Howrah Bridge, stay fit and you will be back in the team. Dont waste your time crying here and drinking that black drink. And yes, Get off that stupid roller that you sitting on!

Click Here for Video of this Ad


Hutch: 'Mere paas ek doggy hai.. uska naam Tommy hai...'

This one is as sweet as ads can get! The three cute little girls, describing their pet dogs with different levels of precision is just too cute! Especially worth recalling is the third girl's statements "...vo pooch bhi hilaa sakta hai... vo ud bhi sakta hai..." So innocent! Awww!!

Click Here For Video of this Ad


AirTel: 'The Power Of Human Expression'

"Two Words.. Can Bring Down An Empire...
One Raised Finger... Can break A Billion Hearts... ...
One Act Of Defiance.. can Spark A Revolution..
One Hundred Thousand Candles Can End A War.
This Is The Power Of Human Expression. "

I am sure this one will remain a favourite of lot of people for years to come. A true masterpiece, this one touched my heart the first time I saw it, and continues to do so even now every time I see it. Truely, my AD OF THE YEAR.

Click Here For Video of this Ad.

PS: If you are wondering that while generally all "XYZ Of The Year" lists come out in late December/ January, why this comes in the middle of May, it is because the only calender I follow is my college's academic time table, and according to that logic, its 'Year Ending' for me right now.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shootout At IIT Bombay

Genre: Fiction


Mumbai, 25th June, 2008

In a grim reminder of the shootout at Virginia Tech in USA last year, an undergraduate student at IIT Bombay opened fire at the campus killing the Central Human Resource Development Minister, Mr. Arjun Singh and 28 others, mostly students, yesterday morning.

According to details available, the incident occured at the Convocation Hall of IIT Powai where a function was organised with Mr. Arjun Singh as its Chief Guest. The shooter, Alok Sharma, a third year Mechanical Engineering student made his motive clear before going on the rampage. In a dramatic turn of events, Alok ran upto the stage where Mr. Singh was addressing the crowd, snatched the microphone from him and gave a short but firebrand speech before opening fire at the Minister with his .7mm pistol killing him on the spot. He later turned to a group of around 30 students present on the dias and isdiscrimantely opened fire killing 25 of them before he was shot by one of the Security guards ending the bloodbath. In the entire chaos, one Security Guard was also killed.

Before going on the rampage, Alok in his confessional speech asked the crowd, "How can you justify a process in which most of the students have to slog for more than two years and appear for one of the most difficult examinations in the World in order to secure a seat in this prestigious institution while some other students get to walk in bypassing the whole mental torture just because they have a paper declaring that their forefathers belonged to a certain caste called OBC?" As the stunned crowd sat in silence, he continued, "And the person responsible for this unjust process is here amidst us and I would like to give him what he deserves..." before shooting 3 bullets into his forehead at point blank range leaving him in a pool of blood.

Meanwhile, initial reports suggest that all the other victims were freshman students belonging to the OBC category who were called up on the dias by the Minister to allot them their admissions under the newly implemented OBC quota. This incident has sent shockwaves across the nation and fuelled large scale protests asking the Government to do a serious rethink about its Caste-based reservation policies and demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister and dissolution of the Parliament. The Prime Minister has said that it is too early to comment on the whole issue and announced a compensation of Rs 5 Lakh each for the kins of the dead students.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

This Is Where It All Begins..

Genre: Science And Technology

A few years back, I had read a leading sicence magazine saying that the Greatest Invention of The 20th Century is the Transistor and had always wondered why. Now I know the answer and I have every reason to agree to what they said. And after going throught this, you will also be equally convinced.

To straightaway emphasise the importance of this little known tiny device, let me just say this- If the Transistor would have not been discovered, there would be No FM radio, No TV Channels, No Desktop Computers, No Laptops, No Mobile phones, No iPods, No Discmans , no DVD players, no XBox360s and PS2s, no Digicams... well I guess this much itself is enough to send jitters down the spines of any normal human being!

I am sure, by now you must be wondering what is the connection between all these gadgets which are as different from each other as chalk and cheese with a tiny little heard componet called a Transistor? Lets see..

All these gadgets listed above have only two things at the heart of them- RWM (Read Write Memory) and ROM(Read Only Memory), or to be more specific- SRWM and DRWM (Static and Dynamic RWM) and EPROM (Erasable Programmable ROM). In simple words, RWM is where all the working of the gadget takes place while ROM serves as the storage for the data. Apart from the fact that one is rewritable while other is not, the construction of both is very much essentially the same.

RWM and ROM are both nothing but stacks of hundreds and thousands of units called 'Registers' each of which store 8 bits (in some cases 16 bits) of data where every 'bit' is nothing but a 0 or a 1. And to store these 8 bits, every Register has 8 units called 'Flip-Flops' (not the ones you wear to bathroom). And going even more inside, what are these Flip Flops made of? Each Flip Flop is made up of 4 to 6 NAND Gates or NOR Gates (not related to Bill Gates).

If how are these Gates made? By a process called Transistor-Transistor Logic (TTL), every gate is manufactured as a circuit of 5 to 6 transistors each! Aah finally! We have ultimately reached to the very heart of everything! And one final question remains to be answered- what is this 'Transistor' after all? Well, nothing but Silica or in simple words- SAND! Yes, you heard that right. The simple sand albeit in very pure form with a little bit of Aluminium Oxide and dopings of Phosphorous and Boron and here it is ready- A Metal Oxide Semiconductor Field Effect Transistor or MOSFET (or stick to just Transistor if all this is too difficult to comprehend!)

Pen And The Pen Drive: The Magic of VLSI allows this tiny device to hold a mammoth 2 billion bytes of data!

And how many of these Transistors do you think are packed into our devices? Ladies and Gentlemen, Hold your breath.. Thanks to a path-breaking technology called Very Large Scale Integrated Circuit (VLSIC) as many as 18 billion of these teeny weeny creatures are packed inside the little 64 MB memory card of your Digicam! Yes, you heard that right- 18 thousand million of them! At this rate, I have neither the time nor the inclination to find out the number for my 80 GB Hard Drive!

So here we are- everything from our PC and cellphone and iPods to Digicam is nothing but humble sand! Isn't it surprising how tiny insignificant things which we never bother about sometimes play such a significant role in our lives!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

India Towards Superpower!

Genre: Current Affairs

Some of the really pathbreaking and memorable decisions proposed by the highly intelligent and smart honourable ministers ruling India to supposedly make India a highly developed futuristic superpower-

  • Introduce caste based reservations in Institutes of Engineering and Management in order to keep aside seats for students belonging to certain castes (called OBC) who have possibly inherited extraordinary genetic traits from their forefathers which justify them skipping the tough entrance exams and walk into the IITs and IIMs where even the brightest students from other genetically deprived castes struggle to make through.
  • Ban sex education in schools so that the teenagers can learn about the birds and the bees from porn sites on the Net rather than learning the same from professional counsellers at school since this is against Indian culture.
  • Arrest and fine young couples spending some quiet moments with each other at gardens and beaches and call the entire exercise as "Moral policing" since Expression of Love is against Indian culture. (Er.. in which country is Khajuraho?)
  • Ban AXN, Star Movies, HBO and save India from obscenity since the adults in India are themselves not mature enough to know what is right and what is not. And also, ban Blogspot since blogging breeds Terrorism.
  • Treat bright engineering and medical students on par with hardcore criminals and ask the police to mercilessly bash them up (even the girls) when they approach the Governor asking for Equality in the country.
  • Declare that Mr Narayana Murthy is a traitor (for God-knows-what reasons) and deport him out of India and shut down Infosys. (After all India is agricultural country. Who needs indigenious IT companies?)
  • Year after year, keep on adding Taxes on everything that has an M of money related with it even in the slightest manner and is used by the Middle Class Indians right from Education (Whoever told Knowledge is not sold on streets?) and Doctors to Electricity and Petroleum. Very soon I am sure, I will be taxed for the number of times I go to the loo!

This is NOT an exhausitve list and will go on getting longer as more and more pathbreaking decisions are taken by the Progressive Government of India.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Incredible India-2 : The Punjabi Tadka

Genre: Travel

The Punjabi Tadka: The Jalandhar-Katra bus ride!

Its an early winter morning in Jalandhar and we set out for our journey to Katra, the base campe for the Vaishnodevi shrine. And this was gonna be one helluva journey since we had decided to take the cheap state transport to get a real feel of the place!

The Jalandhar ST depot. like any other in India, had the typical crowded and dirty look; and even at 7 in the morning, it was abuzz with activity. We got into the Punjab Transport bus to Jammu amidst curious glances from passengers, mostly localPunjabis as to why alien looking tourists are travelling in an ST bus! The condition of the bus is nothing to write about and after a typical rash ST-driver journey along the Grand Trunk Road, we reach Pathankot at around 11am.

As the driver parked his bus inside Pathankot depot, ha calmly announced that since situation in Kashmir is not good, Punjab will not risk sending its bus into J&K lest it gets damaged (as if there was something left to get damaged in this crap-on-wheels anyways!). So here we are! In alien city with nowhere to go! After much waiting, we find a JK transport ST bus which would 'risk' going to Jammu. So, again we get into another equally uncomfortable bus with same reaction from fellow passengers.

The National Highway 1 gave a smooth ride even in this quality of bus and by noon, the driver gave us a 'lunch halt' at a primitive dhaba which was nothing but a mud hut surrounded by lush green fields with a couple of cots laid out in the courtyard. The location? In the middle of nowhere! With no options around, we reluctantly agree to have what later turned out to be the best aloo paratha I have ever had! The dhaba owner was one smart ass. Seeing that there were 'ignorant' tourists (ie we) in the bus, he cooked up a fake story how Jammu was under riots that day and everything would be closed in the city. His idea ofcourse was to make us buy some more food from his dhaba! We outsmarted him and ignored his story!

Crossing the Ravi enroute.

An hour or so along of drive along barren landscape brought us into Jammu city- a far cry from what people think when they first hear "Jammu and Kashmir". Here was a bustling city, crowded and dusty like any other North Indian city and an extra long flyover snaking across the heart of the city a reminder of the progress of the city. Our journey is not over yet. The last leg involves getting transport to Katra from Jammu.

This is a monopolisitc business of local mini bus owners and they follow some kind of a time table that probably has its origin on Mars or Pluto wherein any bus gets ready to depart any time only to be later told that its someone else's turn to go! A lot of confusion and a couple of bus-driver fights later, we manage to get into a bus which would actually depart! This was probably the most comfortable bus of the three we experienced since morning, what with cushioned seats and a TV that was actually functional!

Even before we could start, the dirver showed his 'great' choice by putting up a C grade Mithun movie on the TV and the passengers happily welcomed the move! Also as I was wondering if Katra is actually 3 hour drive to enjoy the complete movie. And even as the movie was not even half over (or was it? I was not even able to comprehend the story so far), we were already at Katra. Finally the culmination of a bus journey that had disintegrated into three journeys but finally brought us to the abode of Mata Vaishnodevi. Just as I disembark, out of curiosity, I asked the driver, "What about the remaining part of the movie?". He looked at me blankly and replied, "The passengers on the return journey to Jammu will see that!"
No comments.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Incredible India-1 : Swaraj At Last

Genre: Travel

    This is first in a series of posts giving a virtual re-tour of numerous amazing journeys I have experienced over the years through the length and breadth of India.

A 1000+ km journey across the length of India had to be special. And it  was. It really was. Right from the moment we boarded the Swaraj Express from Baroda at 1 pm on a fine March afternoon. The three of us- me, mom and dad had booked non AC Sleeper tickets for the long journey and my first disappointmant- no window seat for any of us! But as it had always been  the case on all previous journeys, the fellow passngers are always accomodating and the other 3 passengers, in this case a young couple with a 3 year kiddo decide to part one of their two window seats to us. So, now I am finally happy!

The first few hours were all about appreciating high speed as we pass through arid plains of Gujarat, the ever-in-news Godhra and into Ratlam at dusk. by this time we hav already run out of water and so me and dad get down and search the platform which was unusually deserted for a station as big as ratlam for water and finally manage to get a bottle of wierd tasting water- I guess it was desert groundwater! The journey from here followed some amazingly barren landscrpes till Nagda- the entire area looked like another planet!

At Nagda, again dad gets down to get some foodstuff while I wait inside this time with mom. it was pretty dark with no lights on the station and when the train sounded the starter whistle, dad was not to be seen driving me and mom crazy! But not to worry! He had got into the next compartment and returned soon. By this time, the kiddo with the young couple is geting restless and when his mom told him to remove his shoes and keep it safe, he decides to keep it safe forever- he justs throws them out of the open window of the train blasting through at 90kmph. Gone Forever!

After the typical packed dinner that is a speciality of all train journeys in India, I go to sleep only to be woken up by sounds of "Mathura ka pedhe lo". No, it wasnt Mathura. It was New Delhi. And it was 4 am. This train has a surprising 1 hour halt at New Delhi for God knows what reason. I guess such silly schedules justify presence of 12+ platforms at New Delhi station. But what was most irritating was the pre recorded announcements for the various trains- whether already arrived or expected after 12 hours! After constantly bearing this blabber for one hour, getting sleep again was impossible!

Its early morning of typical Punjab winter. The temperature outside is freezing cold and to add to it, Swaraj is doing more than 100kmph through the beautiful lush green plains of Punjab with a blanket of fog spread over the fields and the golden sun just out from the horizon! You can call it DDLJ Revisited! The only two people 'enjoying' this cold are me and dad, sitting with our two windows open while all other 70 passengers are in blankets with windows tight shut!

And amidst this wonderful weather, we reach Ambala where I was surprised to find piping hot Chhole Bhature being sold on the platform at 7 am. On any other day i would have not even cared about Chhole Bhature but that atmosphere somehow generated a craving for Chhole bhature in me, that too after we had departed from Ambala, so mush so that i was literally throwing tantrums! Finally, when we reached Ludhiana, i satisfied my craving with a Rs. 5 Chhole Puri (No Bhature here!). After another couple of hours through the Punjab countryside, we finally arrive at Jalandhar Cantt Junction, a beautiful British styled building to welcome us, and that brings us to the end of a wonderful journey!

Thursday, March 8, 2007

You are a True Electronics Engineer when...

You are a true Electronics Engineer when...

  •  You actually believe there is also a soccer team called DC Milan like AC Milan 
  • You get more excited on seeing the curves on a CRO than the curves of a girls's body
  • Whenever you hear the words AC, you think of Alternating Current when others think of Air Conditioner
  • You firmly believe that a 'stripper' is just a scissor-like instrument to cut wires and nothing else
  •  You have repaired (or in the pretext of repairing, screwed up) at least one appliance in your home
  • You are more interseted in seeing the interior of your PC CPU - processor, RAM et al, rather than stuff coming on the monitor
  •  Whenever you see any electronic gadget opened, you use words like IC 7432 and BC 147B knowing perfectly well that no one else is interested in knowing the code names of the components inside
  •  You forget to follow dress codes at parties but remember resistor color codes by heart
  •  Whenever you say 'chips', you are referring to Integrated Circuit (ICs) and not potato wafers
  •  Your Favourite Honeymoon Destination would include a trip to Silicon Valley.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Darwin's Theory Of Natural Selection- Simplified@College!

     We have all heard about it and learned it back in school days but here I present- Darwin's theory of Evolution- Simplified at College campus!

The four main points of Darwin's theory are as follows-

1. Over-Population

"In Nature, favourable natural breeding conditions lead to a population explosion of any species."
Meaning, The boys-to-girls ratio in the college is highly skewed with only 30% girls and only 25% of them smart and beautiful. This makes it to around 1 girl for every 5 boys in college.

2. Struggle for existence

"The Over Population leads to inter-specific and intra-specific struggle for survival amongst the individuals of any species"
Simply put, The imbalanced boys:girls ration leads to a competition among the boys to woo and impress the beautiful and smart girls in college. This may occasionally lead to violent brawls in the campus and generates jealousy amongst the boys.

3. Natural Selection

"The Female of any Species naturally selects the Male with maximum Positive traits to ensure generation of a healthy Gene Pool in the next Generation."
In Other words, under this circumstances, the girls are spoilt for choice and they take their own sweet time to check out all possible options and select the most handsome and smart guy as her boyfriend, thereby leaving the other guys stranded. This will in future ensure tha birth of Mr. Handsome or Miss Beautiful to the couple in the future.

4. Survival Of The Fittest

"After Natural Selection, only the Fittest Males survive and pass on their genes to the next generation while the unfit ones slowly get extinct."
That is, The smartest boy gets the most beautiful girl and gets to enjoy spending time and going on dates with her while the other guys slowly disappear out of the college scene, single and dejected.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Five Days In Paradise!

Please note that this trip report is meant to serve as a backup in case my brain's RAM crashes some day. So its pretty long but certainly not boring. Be patient and lets begin....



     The moment for which planning was on from months has finally come! I reach Neeta travels office with mom and dad alongwith me and my first embarrasing moment arrives- all the people who have gathered are the diploma students whom I have never met before. Finally, a sparkling white Volvo pulls in and so do Anita and Nik. We settle down at the best possible seats and after some discussions with the driver about the route and stops, we begin the Goa journey, mom and dad following in car as "Escorts"!

     Thrity minute later, we reach our first pickup point at Centaur hotel, Airport and the first big blunder comes to light! Deepak and Sidd, the two "great" responsible people have reached centaur Hotel, juhu! in the meantime, our two "heroes" finally arrvie with Sidd's mom accompanying them. We begin for our main pickup point-Sion.

     By this time, the crowd at Sion had gone restless, and rightly so since we were a good one and a half hours late! Unfortunately, A fake frantic call to Pratik Shah, telling him that we are still at Parle, however did not bring out his usual "Shot mat de re!" The excitement on seeing the huge crowd gathered at Sion "woke" up some of the people. Within 2 minutes, as one by one, everyone climbed in, the bus was packed to its capacity.finally seeing Ishi also coming was a pleasent surprise! Aah! Now its finally looking like a proper Wizards Trip! As promised by me a few days back,. Most of the Sion people didnt know that the front half of the bus had more reclining and comfortable seats and so according to our norm, the last seats were filled first. Anyways, who cares for the comfort yaar!

   As we reached Vashi, we stop for answering Nature's Call (only the guys, ofcourse!) and Pranay comes up with a crazy idea of photographing people "in the act".
In two hours,  now we are at a small roadside dhaba near Pen for our Dinner break. the looks of the dhaba has already turned off some of the people but there is no choice na!

We settle down and enthusiastically order a variety of dishes but to our surprise, everything from Paneer makhanwala to Veg Korma is the same gravy! The only variety was home made noodles that Deepak has. bad luck for him that little is gonna remain for him to eat with everyone's eyes on it, especially Ishi. The noodles are gone in couple of minutes and Deepak now settles for other food! Pranay, who is already irritated by Antakshari settle with me in the middle rows with Sidd and Yogi behind us for a long night ahead. The bus driver decides to show us the movie "Golmaal". I ask him, "Why cant u play the movies we have brought with us?"

His reply was "Kya kare sahab, koi koi bus wale raat ko 'vo' wale movies lagaate hai na, ab aapke saath me ladki log bhi hai, ab kya batau... sahab samajh gaye checking bahut strict hai!",

Meanwhile, Anoop comes up with the idea of having a question answer session. Yogi comes up with the first one- "Arre Pranay, tere Yahoo ke display pic me bhi ye broken heart wala pic hai aur tere mobile me bhi same pic hai. Iska reason kya hai?"

"Uske paas USB cable hai!", was Anoop's spontaneous reply sending everyone of us rolling in laughter!

As night deepens, one by one peole start gettin sleepy. The 'No sleeping in bus' policy now begins to go down the drain. Sidd is the first one to begin a nap. I start feeling sleepy too but continue with listening to music and gazing out at the star filled night sky as the bus runs through the Konkan villages. Deepak, sitting first is busy singing and Pranay records Deepak version of "Boulevard of Broken Dreams". After around 12 midnight, almost everyone is asleep except for me, Pranay, Yogi and the singers at the back. We keep ourselves busy appreciating the driver manouvering the ghats as the date changes.....

By around an hour past midnight, Nik is now desperate to answer nature's call but the driver is refusing to stop enroute. Nik's frustration is making him walk up and down the length of the bus, even shouting to the driver, "Arre tu insaan nahi hai kya??!!" Finally, relief comes at Chiplun at 2 am. As soon as the driver stops, all the guys are out on the street, which is empty n chilly, relaxing themselves! back in the bus, its damn chilly now and the blankets provided are proving to be insufficient!



Its 5 am and everyone is feeling the cold now. Almost everyone is pretending to sleep but the temperature is not favourable! And help arrived at 5.15 am when the driver stopped at a tiny dhaba somewhere in the middle of nowhere! the piping hot tea in the middle of the chilly night is nothing short of a heavenly feeling!

Its Daybreak and we are around Sawantwadi. Panaji is now only 55 km away but the dampener is... rain in November! Finally at around 10 am, Its Goa finally! But not the end of journey yet. One more hour of sightseeing from the bus and we are finally at Colva! The Beautiful blue sea is looking inviting! And the Hotel- Colmar Beach Resort is bang on the beach!

The first room allotted- Room No 48 on 1st floor was immediately snapped up by us- Pranay, Sidd, Yogi, Rohit and myself! Immediately, even before the others get their rooms, Pranay has thrown his clothes around, got his Mickey Mouse towel and he is off to the pool straightaway! Yogi follows suit soon and within no time, almost all Wizards are in the pool! The non-swimmers like me tried and tried to learn swimming but to no avail! After an hour in the pool, and a couple of photographs later, we are back to the room, and Pranay, Yogi and Rohit go for shower together!

For Lunch, we are all at Hare Krishna restaurant where population of flies can easily surpass the entire human population fo Goa! And the food comes really really slow, best part being Nik gets his soup in dessert after lunch is done! The food isnt anything to write home about. The restaurant manager puts an offer which is hard to resist-
"If you have all your meals here and not at Pasta Hut nearby, I will arrange for a free dance party and a campfire on beachside for you!"
Inspite of the flies, we reluctantly agree! Greedy guys!!
We end up the evening with just a photo session on Colva beach. But I didnt know that there is a lot to come.....

     Its getting dark and we settle down on the cool and calm beach for a casual chat We walk back tired to the hotel, not ready to hit the dance floor for once! But the music did the trick I guess and we settle for around half an hour of junglee dance, we have dinner consisting of Chinese stuff by the beachside. Post dinner, we set out again for the beach. Now the atmosphere was pure heavenly! Moon shimmering brightly over the sea, the waves crashing against the shore, light music from the beachside bar and cool breeze! What more can one ask for! Maybe it was this atmosphere that made someone suggest that we should talk "bhoot stories"!

Rajendra comes up with the first bhoot story which is not very frightening but very much hilarious! One by one, the stories start cropping up and everyone's in the "bhoot" mood now! Its Milo leading the way with one story after the other, some believable, others not. We dont even realise its 1 am and reluctantly decide to return to the hotel. Everyone goes to sleep giving me the responsibility to open the door when Rohit returns....



I open my eyes to find Yogi missing from the room. i wake up Pranay and ask him, "Raat ko Rohit ko andar aane ke liye door kaun khola tha?"
Pranay is shocked to hear this and says,"Abe, tu khud hi to khola tha!!"
I am too embarrassed to even reply to that! I mean, if "I" opened the door for Rohit, how is it possible that I dont remember it!

This is our first "encounter" with the breakfast at Hare krishna. We have rubbery parathas and sugar syrup as Tea served for us. After getting enough 'fuel' for the day, its time to get set to explore Goa. The bus that hotel has provided is of capacity 37, so 7 people have to tour separately for which a Tavera is arranged. Pranay, Yogi, Binu, Pratik Pawar, Ashish, Shrikant, Anita, Rohit, opt for "separation" from the group while the others settle into the mini-bus.

We pass through the beautiful South Goa countryside (though hardly anyone is looking out) and reach traditional Goan museum called Bigfoot. the general mood of the crowd is to skip this point and continue to "more interesting" points. So, off we go again and in the midst of Antakshari and singing, we reach Shanta Durga temple.

This place seems unique. the temple is actually a cross between a temple and a Church. Interesting architecture! We start with the first of the many photo sessions for the day, and luckily we get the first proper group pic here with 33 Wizards together! Cool! Next destination, Mangeshi temple.

We are told in some superbly humourous Goan Hindi with typical English accent that this temple is "kul-devta" of Mangeshkar family and it is a "jagrut devsthan" meaning every wish made here comes true! This is the first place outside Mumbai, where I fond a person who has heard of VJTI! What a pleasent surprise! What we find interesting is a huge chariot lying in the courtyard which we try to (unsuccessfully) pull, providing more photo-ops.Its getting scorching hot now and cool frsh fruits and ice cream here is like heaven! this was going to be a long run upto Panaji, since we had refused to have lunch at a roadside dhaba near Mangeshi.

But before lunch, we reach Old Goa and decide to check out the famous Bom Jesus Basilica, a monument that features prominently on every tourist's list. We check out famous body of some great Saint preserved in the church for more than 300 years. The surroundings look straight out of a European country and so we settle for some extensive photography rounds, in the process even roping in a couple of foreign babes to click our pics and pose with us, which they happily oblige!

Its lunch time and we are in Panaji now. The non-veg eaters finally find a place that serves their kind of food! We veggies settle separately. And its one tiny humble cockroach that scared the shit out of Nikunj! It was a sight to see!

Post lunch, Planning a prank, Ankur comes with a red rose (which is slit from the middle of its stem) and offers to Mona who picks it up from its stem, as a result getting only the stem while the rose remains with Ankur! If that was hilarious, more was yet to come! Deepak, also with a slitted rose, goes upto Ishi and offers her the rose with all sincerity. If it was the smartness or reflex of Ishi, we dont know, but she picks up the rose from the top, thus getting the rose while the stem remains with Deepak!! Now, that's the ultimate misfired prank!

Finally, we manage to reach the first beach on our agenda- Miramar, passing the colorful IFFI Celebration Street enroute. By sunset, we are off to the last destination for the day- the romantic Dona Paula. By the time we reach Dona Paula, its almost dusk. Someone asks whats for dinner tonight at which Kartik comes up with a nice one- "We will have Lesbian Chicken and it will inherit its properties to everyone eating it!" Mona is surely not gonna forget this one as it haunts her throughout the trip! Some night photographs, more requests to Deepak to propose the girl-that-never-existed, a walk on the dangerously dilipidated jetty and we begin the journey back to the hotel, but not before Mundu getting into his crazy elements and offering to remove his Pink shirt which Mona was not liking, and more crazy antics!

Dinner is again the not-so-great stuff at Hare Krishna's. We try to enjoy
the meal in the open air restaurant in the silver sands of Colva beach and post dinner its heading to the beach! Tonight after the regular big group meet, its just a few of us left at the beach. We decide to lie down on the cool silver sand and gaze at the millions of beautiful stars in the clear Goa sky. All this time, the bar on the beach is playing some really soulful music and we dont realise how time flies by and its 1 am. Probably the most amazing and unforgettable hour or two of the trip so far! Heavenly! After some pointless discussions, we retire for the day.


We get up pretty early and decide to have a stroll on the beach before getting ready for an exciting day ahead.
By now, Pranay had made bigtime enmity with the uncle at Hare Krishna and it ensured in one more fight between the two over poor quality of breakfast. And for once, I believe Pranay is right this time!

Finally post breakfast we settle in the same bus as previous day and the so-called "rebels" depart for some unknown locations separately in the car they had managed to get. Our first destination was to be Fort Aguada, a good hour long drive from Colva.At the fort, we scatter around to explore the remnants as if we are on an archeological mission to find lost treasure. The view from the top is simply mesmerising and no need to say it resulted in a long photo session with no possible permutation-combination of people and no possible corner of Fort Aguada remaining untouched! Next destination- Anjuna beach, again a long drive away.

We reach Anjuna in the blazing afternoon sun making it very uninteresting to venture out too much. Finally we depart for Calangute beach stopping for lunch enroute. The bus driver stopped at some restaurnat in the middle of nowhere for lunch. The lunch was quite managable but it took ages to come. The high point ofcourse being the World's Smallest Masala papads served- 3 of them sitting comfortably side by side in a small plate with some place still left! Post lunch, the guys are quite excited since everyone has heard that Calangute is the place to go firang babe-spotting!

One look at Calangute and it was no different from Juhu beach on a Sunday evening- clogged choc-a-block with tourists of all kinds- from the desi families to firang babes and hippies. We decide to have a stroll down the beach for some "bird-watching" and have a game of beach volley ball before departing for boat cruise at Panaji.

At Panaji, We board an oversize 3-deck 'cruise' boat and take up seats on the open top deck. Meanwhile, someone spots some dolphins in the river and within a few seconds, the entire crowd is jostling for space at the edge of the deck to see the dolphins. There were 4 of them, gracefully swimming in the quiet waters of the Mandovi. The onboard 'performance' was one of a kind with a Goan dude singing (or rather screwing up) Hindi hits in a heavy Goan accent! This is followed by a so-called Russian dance by some very Indian looking babe. What followed next was simply unbearable- a lavani or something similar! And so we all head for the AC discotheque on the lower deck and shake some legs for around an hour till the end of the cruise.

Post cruise, its time to return to the hotel. We board our bus, one passenger extra (Pingu) and start the hourlong journey back to Colva. we head for dinner, where else- our very own Hare Krishna! Today, the dinner is much better, the gravies tasty and the rotis softer or maybe we are just too hungry! Post dinner, we head for the beach as usual.


After some frantic efforts, We manage to light a bonfire out of waste coconut leaves and wood provided by the hotel and have some tribal dance around the fire. Somehow, Mundu gets really wild and does an unforgettable tribal dance cameo leaving the entire group speechless! However, the bonfire didnt last too long and it was all over before we could even think of sitting around it and doing something. But the festivities were not over. Pooja and some girls alongwith Pratik Shah had managed to bring two cakes- one for someone's birthday falling today and the other- for the Three Semesters Of Unity Of VJ Wizards! We cut the cake amidst shouts of "Three Cheers for VJ Wizards" on the beach itself and the crowd soon dispersed into smaller groups.

It is around midnight and me and Sidd join the Diploma gang- Anoop, Ashwin, Ronald, Binu etc for a walk down the beach and decide to go for ice cream at 1 am to a 24 hour ice-cream parlour just outside the Colva beach bus stand. A bunch of guys having Chilled ice cream at 1 am! It was amazing experience!

Not willing to sleep, we decide to start some pranks. First, we go to the room on Ground Floor where Hambar is sleeping alone with Pranay covering himself with white bedsheet pretending to be a ghost (he anyways looks like a ghost but that is a different matter altogether!) but Sidd shouted "Bhoot!" a bit too early thus the prank misfiring. We rush to Pratik Shah's room on 2nd Floor and barge in shouting that the Watchman is pissed with us leaving the inmates of the room in momentary shock! As we repeat the same prank and barge into Ankur's room similarly, the Watchman actually appears and Pranay decides to confront him.
The Watchman asked, "Kya kar rahe ho?"
Pranay replied, "Baatein kar rahe hai."
"Kis baare me?"
"Andar aake aap bhi suno!"
Now, The Watchman shouted, "Jitna aawaz karna hai beech me jaake karo"
Pranay, pretending to be innocent," beech me kahaa?????..... Oh Ok!! BEACH pe???" leaving the watchman mumbling something but he finally left us alone.


Its our last day in Goa and some of the over enthusiastic guys (and girls too) took off on rented bikes to God-knows-where. I set out with Varu to the beach to try para-sailing but as our bad luck would have had it, we are told that para-sailing has been discontinued from today itself due to some problems with the cops. This left us, especially Varu quite disappointed. So, we decide to check out other beaches. The hotel manager informed us about a beach nearby which has para-sailing and to try our luck there, me, Varu and Pingu decide to take an auto-rickshaw to the nearby beach while quite a few people were now ready to take on bicycles and ride all the way to Madgaon.

After a 15-minute autorickshaw ride, We reach a completely deserted beach with the three of us, a couple of local boys and a sole stall owner completing the entire human presence on the beach. Ofcourse, in this situation, para-sailing was out of question and so we decide to take a lone auto-rickshaw out of here to Madgaon lest we are left stranded. We finally meet the cyclist gang at a Madgaon restaurant and as they leave for some shopping, we decide to head back to the hotel. But this time we decide to take the public transport mini-bus to Colva.

The bus that was to take us to Colva was a mini-bus of capacity of around 30 people already packed with 50 people and many more waiting to get in. After literally squeezing in the crowd, the rumbling bus begins its journey, its old speakers blaring out some hip Hindi hits. The crowd keeps on increasing stop after stop and for the first time in my life I realise that Mumbai's local trains in peak hours are not the most crowded things around! This 30 minutes of jammed pack travel in a cramped rash running bus will certainly remain in my memory for a pretty long time!

Meanwhile for the others, the entire afternoon and evening goes in packing stuff and cleaning out the rooms. We stuff all our luggage in one room making it look like a godown and wait for the bus for the homeward journey to begin. Ofcourse, one last visit to the beach, one last look at the silver sands, one last glance at the bar on the sands- our source of free soul stirring music and one last round of photographs before we begin the journey back home...


Its around six in the evening and our bus for the return journey- a white Volvo arrives at the Colva bus stand. With a heavy heart and heavy hands full of luggage we look back at the hotel and the beach against the golden sunset and settle in the bus.

Some enthusiastic folks make an attempt to start with the same sing-n-enjoy sequence that we had done five days ago. In the meantime, the bus driver decides to treat us to Phir Hera Pheri, a movie no one is interested in watching. Nevertheless, we allow it to beam on the TV screen in the front of the bus. But soon after, i dont know if its the effect of the movie, or the tiredness of five days of enjoyment taking its toll, but one by one almost everyone falls asleep only to be woken up abruptly by the driver for dinner break.

Hesitatantly, we slowly get down from the bus for dinner but some like Anita and Rohit are completely oblivious of the break and continue their sleep! The TV in the restaurant was showing a Twenty-20 match between India and South Africa- Live! This suddenly aroused the cricket fan inside all of us and we settle to some hard cheering match watching in this small hotel in the middle of nowhere, only to be reminded by the driver that we have a long way to go!

Post dinner, the mood is unanimously in favour of going to sleep and even the most hardcore non-sleepers are now in deep slumber as our bus races past the Konkan countryside under a black starlit sky. The night passed by pretty fast and before we could realise the driver reminded us that we are at Pen, a mere three hours from Mumbai and we should take a early morning tea break. So we are back to the 'all-gravies-taste-the-same' hotel where we had stopped five days back, but this time only for tea and refreshments.

We decide to spend the last two hours doing what we do best- Singing! We are still so engrossed in singing that nobody realises that we are already at Sion and half the people have to get down. hurriedly we all get down, bidding an almost tearful farewell to those who have to get down at Sion with a few warm hugs exchanged and many hands shaked. We dont feel like separating but unfortunately the driver is not equally emotional and so he speeds off the bus even before we can get in again, only to stop a few hundred metres ahead, forcing some guys to do a morning jog to the bus.

The feeling inside now is of an uneasy calmness. The mind is suddenly blank. The heart is not ready to accept that the wonderful trip has come to an end. As people get down along the way from Bandra to Andheri, the mind feels more and more lonely. Finally, I alongwith Anita and Rohit get down at Malad leaving the bus to the Borivali residents. As we settle into the car for the journey final back home, I am almost on the brink of crying since it has finally dawned on me that now its back to the normal chores after spending Five Days In Paradise!!!!

- - - - - - - - - -


One fine afternoon, Pranay informs me that last evening in the college canteen, a group of around 10 guys have decided to go to Mahabaleshwar after exams and asked me if I wanted to join in. I immediately reply in the affirmative and the same evening, a check with the travel agent, Neeta Travels, springs up a surprise- a tour to Goa would be cheaper than one to Mahabaleshwar! When I conveyed this news to Pranay, he was completely shocked and it was a split second decision to change the destination to
Goa. And as the news was passed on to the class, day after day, the number of people ready to join in increased.

The girls were all mentally prepared, the question now was- who will break the ice first. Finally, Mona was the first one to confirm her presence and this opened the floodgates for the girls. All possible tricks to convince parents were tried and slowly we had 11 girls ready to join in taking the total figure to a mammoth 44!

On the other hand, inspite of program almost confirmed, we decide to ask another tour operator for the same tour and after initial promises he failed to give a decent package, so we decide to go ahead with our Neeta Travels Volvo package. Also, an alternative that creeped out on almost last moment was to go by train- take the Dadar-Madgaon Janshatabdi to madgaon and have an ex-Goa package. After some heated discussions and class split up about train journey, we finally finally decide to go ahead with the original package itself.

On the last day of our exams, post exam, we settle in the middle of the college Quad for money collection and collect Rs 108,000 in cash! But all in all, Five Days In paradise was realised only as a result of this planning and effort and that too all in the middle of the end-semester exams going on! Phew!!

Conquering Lohagad I - For The Common Crowd

Sorry folks! This page is undergoing makeover and will be back in its right place very soon.
Inconvinience caused is deeply regretted!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Why? Why? Why?

-Why dont fashion designers make and display wearable clothes?

-Why dish-cleaning liquids have 'real' lemons while lemon juice we drink has 'artificial flavors'?

-Why does Ekta kapoor make krap serials and millions of ladies sob over it?

-Why people are more excited about Abhishek-Aishwaria wedding than their own marriage?

-Why do some people actually pay to buy Britney Spears' half-eaten sandwich or Tom Cruise's hair?

-Why some maniacs spend their entire life in trying to figure out why ants always fall on their left when they lose balance?

-Why some people spend weeks with hundreds of snakes in glass cages just to get a silly certificate from 'Guiness Book'?

-Why does USA keep 20,000 nuclear bombs ready when they aren't gonna use any?

-Why do Indian students break their heads over choosing between Electronics, Computers, IT, Mechanical, Electrical or Civil Engineering at college when all of them would be eventually taking the same job at some Bangalore based software company?

-Why do we spend billions of dollars to find out if microscopic life exists on Mars when we dont have enough money to feed macroscopic humans back on Earth?

-Why does Shilpa Shetty winning Big Brother make it to front page news but millions of children losing battle against malnutrition doesn't?

-Why do we dream of building The World's Tallest building when we cant even provide a roof to half of the country's population?

-Why do we spend Rs. 30,000 to buy an XBOX360 to play soccer when we can play the same game with a Rs. 100 football?

-Why am I writing this post?

Oh Damn it! Who Cares!!!

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Birth Of A Railfan

Trains- Tell this word to any normal Mumbaikar and the first sight that will come to his mind is of jam packed dirty brown and cream metal boxes that run up and down the city- yes, the Local trains of Mumbai, the Lifeline of Mumbai. But these locals are just a drop in the vast ocean called Indian Railways- an ocean consisting of thousands of trains, stations, bridges, tunnels, and what not. This is the ocean that I am passionate about!

I have no idea when did this passion actually begin because my first memories of love for trains goes back to as far as I remember.. right from the time when i was a little kid, I used to run every evening to the tracks to admire the Rajdhani Express blast at high speed. It used to give me a high! Not just this, every time i went to Valsad, my native, I used to spend evenings at an unused platform on the outskirts of the town, mostly used by people for evening walks, to sit and watch the trains of enormous variety- from the slow packed passengers to fast running Expresses and from heavily puffing mighty long goods and tanker loads to the colorful container rakes pass by. There was something mystical about it, something that cannot be expressed in words that used to bring me back asking for more. But my 'passion' was limited to just that- just seeing and admiring my favourite beasts and going back to normal chores at the end of the day.

That was until a couple of years ago when while surfing the net I stumbled upon this amazing site called the Indian Railways Fan Club or IRFCA which is essentially a group consisting of more than 6000 members having one thing in common- Love and Passion for anything and everything about trains and railways. Essentially a discussion forum, the site encourages its members to share their railway experiences, pictures and videos of trains and railway journeys which are then seen and appreciated by other crazy nuts! This site provided me a platform to converge two of my biggest passions- trains and photography. And this is what sowed the seeds of the desire to follow and capture trains and railways on camera- an activity that IRFCA calls "Railfanning".

It was only after coming in contact with IRFCA that I began to get more interested in understanding and appreciating the workings, operations, technicalities and other aspects of trains and railways rather than just admiring them as models walking down the ramp! It completely changed my approach towards my favourite trains. A small example will make this point clear. Till recently, like all other normal people even I used to consider railway engines (or 'locos' in technically correct words) as just a 'thing' connected at the begining of a train to pull it but after going through talks and facts at IRFCA, for the first time I realised that there is an amazing variety of locos in India, each having its own specialities, highs and lows, and interesting history associated with them, and also the fact that they are not randomly roaming creatures but well organised beasts very easily identifiable by simple 3 letter codes clearly written on them which reveal everything about them. Slowly and steadily, as I got to know more and more about them, I began falling more and more in love with them! And this is just the Tip of the Iceberg. As time passed, I began to click pictures of trains whenever I got a chance, began to look out for locos specifically and kept a tab on what's happening around, began to actively take part in discussions with other crazy nuts out there... I began to crave for more..
more pictures, more information and trivia, more experiences

And ofcourse, a very significant contribution of IRFCA was that it brought me in contact with people of various age groups-from 15 year old kids to 80 year old veterans, people from as far as bangalore and Thiruvananthpuram to as near as Borivali and Dadar but all with same passion and interest! And thus, after years of nameless wandering, my hobby gave me a new tag, a new identity- "Railfan"! And this is not the end. This is the begining! Begining of an exciting journey into depths of my favourite hobby and I hav miles to go......

And yes, one final point. I am not endorsing IRFCA nor does IRFCA give me any money for writing this article! This can be considered as my acknowledgment to the substantial role played by IRFCA in making me fully involved in pursuing what I love doing!

Sunday, January 28, 2007

A Journey Through FoodieLand

   Someone rightly said that "Way to a Man's Heart Is Through His Stomach". And if you wanna reach my heart, here is a comprehensive list of 'short-cuts'!

   Here I present some of the Best hangout zones for a varied variety of delicacies, each one of them famous (and in some cases, not so famous) for something or the other. While the assortment is enormous, one thing which is constant about all these foodie hotspots is the fact that I have personally tried and loved each and every speciality mentioned.

    So, Lets begin the roller coaster ride into the Foodie World... Here comes the ever-increasing list of hotspots that have captured my heart through my stomach!

In Mumbai...

* Pav Bhaji at SARDAR PAV BHAJI, Nana Chowk, Tardeo, Mumbai.

* Vada Pao and Bhajji Pao outside KIRTI COLLEGE, Off Cadell Road, Shivaji Park, Mumbai.

* Softy and Sundaes in Waffle cones at SEVEN ELEVEN, Maheshwari Udyan, King's Circle.

* Pani Puri at ELCO MARKET, Hill Road, Bandra, Mumbai.

* Pizza and Pasta at PITA WICH, Outside Malad Railway Station, Malad (W), Mumbai.

* Veg Chinese delicacies at NANCY'S, Opp. Milap Cinema, Kandivali (W), Mumbai.

* Punjabi Dishes at HOTEL VISHWA BHARATI, Opp. Mulund Station, Mulund (W), Mumbai.

* Variety of Dosas especially Paneer Chilly Dosa opposite THAKUR CINEMA, Kandivali (E), Mumbai.

* Ice-Cream in Waffle Biscuits at K RUSTOMS, Brabourne Stadium, Churchgate, Mumbai.

* Masala Papad outside INDRAPRASTH SHOPPING CENTRE, S.V.Road, Borivali (W), Mumbai.

* Chocolate Cakes at RIBBONS AND BALLOONS at Maheshwari Udyan, King's Circle, Mumbai.

* Pizzas and Sandwiches at OVENFRESH, Ranade Road, Shivaji Park, Dadar, Mumbai.

* Dosas and Idli with Filter Coffee Opposite SOUTH INDIAN TEMPLE, Matunga (C.R.), Mumbai.

* Malai Gola Opposite Milap Cinema, Kandivali (W), Mumbai.

More to Come later...

Now Let's See Some Out Of Mumbai too...

* Vada Pao at Platform 2-3 of VALSAD Railway Station, Valsad, Gujarat.

* Chhole Bhature at AMBALA Railway Station, Punjab.

* Veg. Puff at Puff Man, Ellora Park, Vadodara, Gujarat.

* Gujarati Kathiyawadi food at HOTEL KRISHNA, On NH-8, Valsad-Dharampur Junction, Gujarat.

* Aloo Poha on Platform 1 at KOTA Railway Station, Rajasthan.

* Cold Cocoa, a unique Chocolate Drink, All Over VADODARA city.

* Traditional Gujarati Food at Hotel MADHULI, Valsad, Gujarat.

Keep Checking This List.. It Only Keeps Getting Longer..........


Saturday, January 6, 2007

The Right Reservation Formula

  Today, India stands divided. On one hand is the Central Government going ahead with implementing caste Based reservations in institutes of Excellence like IIT, IIM etc; a brainchild of the myopic Human Resource Minister, Mr. Arjun Singh. On the other hand stands the student community, the future of India, dreaming of making a Progressive Developed India, united in cause, completely against dividing India on basis of Caste.
But the main question that matters is- Is there a way out? Yes, there is one. And one which both- the Government keen on introducing "Reservation" in any form as well as the students who do not want their hard work to go down the drain with their seats going to 'Reserved' students. Here is the plan in short-

   The Government introduces 50% reservation for Backward Class students in all schools, public as well as the private ones, at entry level ie at standard 1. This will ensure that all students from deprived sections also get equla opportunity to get into the so-called prestigious private schools. After having access to same infrastructure, same teachers and same crowd as the richer students, at the end of ten years when the entire batch clears SSC/ICSE exams, there will be no way to identify which student is 'open' and which is 'reserved'.

   If the Government's argument that for preparing for competitive exams like CET/IIT JEE/CAT, the backward class students dont get access to private tution classes which the 'privileged' students get, the Government should start specialised training classes only for SC/ST/OBC students to prepare them to take on the prestigious entrance exams. This move will certainly cost only a fraction of the cost the Government is doing on increasing seats and the result of this move will be that all students- open or reserved, will have a level playing field to show their strength at the entrance exams. After this, there is absolutely no need to reserve any seat for any category of student as no one is "under-privileged" at this stage. All seats can be filled purely on merit and all those 'reserved' students who have got their basics right will be able to secure a seat for themselves.

   This move will ensure that only the capable 'Reserved' students get into IIT/IIM. This move is about giving the weaker section students the right weapons in their hands and preparing them for the fight and win over the enemy rather than giving them backdoor entry into enemy territory. This will also ensure that the Best Institutes have only the Best students in their campuses thereby creating a positive environment for the teachers as well as the students. Also, it will save the lives of scores of students who get into these high-profile institutes just because they have an easy access available inspite of knowing that they are not ready to face the tough times ahead, get entangled in the stress accompanying the life at prestigious instititutes, lose interest in life and end up committing suicides, thereby ruining their own and their family's lives.

   How we all wish that our Government had the kind of people who could think in a similar fashion and foresee the overall growth and progress of India that is dependent to a great extent on the bright students of India rather than just wasting their time in votebank politics trying to pacify their vote-banks and in the process leading India to an impending disaster!

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My World...My Views by The Blue Indian is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 India License.