December 28, 2005

the reader guards the leader

a dry and humourless individual of indeterminate age and gender sits in a darkened room with fingers steepled, perusing my blog, and raising the occasional sceptical eyebrow.

that's how i picture my blog reader, while i write. the d. and h. indiv is never impressed, often snorts at my flights of fancy and is gunrally quite grumpy.

it's a seymour's fat lady type situation.

you other bloggers reading this, what is your imaginary reader like? do tell..

December 21, 2005

sakleshpura - the definitive post

took my fust train journey as an 18-day old. shrieked piercingly all the way from pune to mount abu, apparently. but a train freak was born (18 days ago).

and trekking has been a staple activity for years.

so imagine my giddy excitement, my delirious swooning when i heard of the sakleshpur-kukke trek. its a trek along the railway track, with waterfalls, tunnels and bridges galore.

am i interesting you strangely, yet?

so this is what it is: there used to be a metre gauge railway track between SAKL* and KKK, near the bengaluru- mengaluru highway. it was abandoned (loose! debauched!) for years, but bridges over chasms and nearby waterfalls made it a great trek route.
now they're relaying the track as broad gauge, so hurry up and go there before bengaluru- mengaluru trains start plying.

warning- it's fairly dangerous. i'd give it 4 leeches in arduousness.
no leeches along the track, though i got one while walking through the forest approaching the track.
it has been brought home and is awaiting guests, hungrily.

but i digress.

another tip: get off the beng-meng bus at donigal. this happens at 2 am, so you might miss it. don't get off at gundya cross. at which point you will have to trek 9km along a stream, and then uphill through a forest.that was where i encountered leechy poo. this is the temple at which we turned right and began the uphill- mit backpacks- through forest routine.

on reaching the track we enter our first tunnel. these things are SCARY! you enter, there's a little light, which gradually peters out. water drips onto the tracks. and what is that smell? and that screeching sound? BAATTTTSSSS!
they buzzed me!

post tunnel discoveries:
bats are scary
batman was extremely weird
light at the end of the tunnel means that the light can be seen, but you have to goo step** a whole long way before you can actually reach it.

tip #2 - take a good torch along.

and then there were the bridges. the pictures should explain everything.

and what lies beneath:

and another tip: don't try to do this in a day. torchless through the batcaves is bad enough. but torchless over the bridge is downright dangerous. specially the bridges with crumbly wooden sleepers.

in all, we covered about 35 km along the track.

and then came the rather huge suprise of the day:
dusk was falling and we were still a good 10k away from a point where we could get off the track. i began to cross the longest bridge, with a MASSIVE waterfall below. when i heard from a tunnel at the end of the bridge:


i frozessimo.
the track was under construction, but a few trolleys were plying on it, to carry labour and materials.
decided that if the trolley came rattling along, my only option would be to hang under the bridge. so instead, thought of turning and retracing my way, but the others (in between an unseemly fit of the giggles) told me i was closer to the end than the start. so i leaped, goatlike over sleepers, while the chasm yawned and the horn sounded repeatedly.

reached the other end, sat down and waited for the trolley to appear.
but there was no trolley, just this:

look closely and you will discern the outlines of a MASSIVE (insert expletive here) diesel engine. the big daddy of train engines!

gunral hallelujahing all round after which we happily clambered onto the engine and sat there for five hours as they did some testing and dropped us to sakleshpura at midnight.

yes, you heard me. i sat in the engine!!! i'm not going to pretend they let me drive it - was actually told sharply to touch nothing- but i still was there. spent some time sitting outside with legs dangling and misty wreaths encircling. we never went faster than 10 k an hour.
about the speed i get to drive in beng'u.

just in case anyone's missed the point of this entire post- I RODE IN A DIESEL ENGINE!

pics courtesy AC and AD

* all right. ALL RIGHT! i don't know the official railway code.

** on the entire trek, one has to step from one sleeper onto another in a goo-step manner. the annoying part is that one can never look around while walking.

December 20, 2005

run harpishcord run!

the weekend had a good mix of music and running.
first the baroque concert by les ambassadeurs at the alliance francaise. a mezzo soprano, a counter tenor, a cellist and a theorbe player played and sang italian arias by monteverdi, handel, scarlatti among others.

had never watched a cellist perform before, or even heard of a theorbe, this is what it looks like..

much fun was had watching them give explanatory comments on the music and the harpishcord. being an enthucutlet, i sat in the first row and did some matrix style dodging of spitdrops (visible with the arc lights) as the counter tenor sang about jealousy.

and then on sunday there was the bengaluru (might as well start getting used to it) half marathon. interestingly enough, bangalore (oh come on, i still call it bombay) either lacks celebrities or just doesn't care about them.
the last pune marathon i attended had mahesh bhupathi and anju jobby borge as the sporty types. the all-bombay-can-spare celebs were represented by kader khan and aditya panscholi.

the hyd half m had the CM, sania, salmon khan and airforce paratroopers!
bangalore had ... charu sharma. imported from hyderabad. who, at the end of the half-m speechified about how he drove all night but couldnt make it here on time for the start.

for some reason, they last-minutedly changed the route. this happened at the last run too. is this like changing the kweschun papers the night before the exam, so that all the cheaters get left high and dry?

the run was fun, great running weather. the hebbal flyover gave one a very northern virginia feeling, not sure why. a few cops handed out water, and on the return trip, some waved one on impatiently cos traffic was waiting. umm, if i could run faster after 15k, i probably would be doing it already, innit?

one's timing was 2hrs 28 mince.

December 16, 2005

the end is near!

movies watched this week that had the world end:
dr. strangelove or how i learned to stop worrying and love the bomb

hitch hikers guide to the galaxy

books read this week that had the world end:
cat's cradle

movies watched this week that made me wish the world had ended before they were made:
hitch hikers guide to the galaxy

book read that didnt make me wish the world had ended exactly, but
and i thought fanny from mansfield park was the most irritating, sanctimonious and generally holier than thou austen heroine around.

eschew on this:
the hitchiker's guide has "don't panic" written on it in large friendly letters

the title page of the first book of bokonon says "Don't be a fool! Close this book at once! It is nothing but foma!"

would things have been better if mr darcy had entered persuasion and mansfield park (and northanger abbey and the h2g2 movie and saans bahu serialdom)?

December 09, 2005

international PJ week continues

what's a kannada lament?
coulda.. shoulda.. woulda...
(please throw stale idlis at nippon nipun)

vogon: resistance is futile!
ohm: er.. actually, according to my law..
(brickbats to paleface)

mark and bob- twin brothers- get separated the kumbh melee'.
and never the twains shall meet.
(this one's mine)
ouch! real bricks!

November 29, 2005

bangalore bikes!

shameless plug for arun's "bangalore walks" outfit.

shameless because:
1) commercialisation! free advertisement! hands upflung in horror!
2) i was on a test-run, so went free. and it's still taken me months to get around to writing it up. ingrate! leech! free rider!

the set up:
the horsemen and horsewomen of the light cavalry meet arun his 2-i-c at barton centre and proceed to cubbon park where our trusty steeds await us. being metallic (BSAs) and not equine, there is less snorting, hoof-stamping and horse-pooing than usual.

we ride through broad leafy glades that the brits had laid out. and the narrow twisty formerly plague ridden areas reserved for the natives, one of them called "blackpalli".

after doing the rounds of churches, sappers, lakes and statues*, we return to the park, surrender our hosses and waddle over to 13th floor at barton centre for beer, mocktails and sandwiches. we and the vidhan souda are all lit up and the sunset is lovely.

good thing the raj is over, cos we would've otherwise gone straight from evening to pitch darkness. the sun never sets on the british empire, in'it?

* item 1- queen victoria, empress of india in cubbon. rather large and hideous, i say, what?

item 2- near ulsoor lake is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, where
riddle= statue of tiruvalluvar, the tamil poet
mystery= sheets of black polythene
enigma= overgrown trees and shrubs

churchill, madi!

why do birds..

suddenly appear
you are near?

just like me
they are silly

why do stars
fall down from the sky
you walk by

just like me
they didnt study
enough physics

on the day that you were born
the engels and marxes got together
and decided to create a dream come true
so they sprinkled stardust in your hair
and other filmy magazines coochiepoo

that is why
all the girls in town
follow you
all around

just like me
they long to be
crazy stalker chicky

November 21, 2005

the new name..

is Orcaella brevirostris
just like die Nadel, it has a link to my real name.
but that's not going to make me run around stabbing people..

..or is it?

November 14, 2005

the naming gnome

favourite new names:
minty auchterlonie

evergreen favourites:
curtly ambrose
cho ramamswamy (cho wassup?)
gangubai hangal

hard to take a stand on:

November 04, 2005

À la recherche du temps perdu

remember the leeches in coorg?
here are some from god's own country.
this time there were no tears or anger. ruthlessly, i peeled them off and flicked them into the lilyponds. in a few generations the fish will mutate into god's own pirahnas.

À l'ombre des jeunes filles en fleurs
remember the charming lil uns in the train to pune? this time round, a 4 year old asked me my name and then loudly whispered to her mum "kiti funny naav aahe!" well your boat's kinda weird too, i muttered.
round two went to her too, i had the headphones on, so pretended i couldn't hear the comments about about me. but the ears turned deep pink.
she finished her dinner before the railways gave me mine and did a little victory dance, cos she was first and i was last. that was when i opened my orange pudding and slowly spooned it in. *she* hadn't had any pudding. and here i was, toying with a whole bowlfull of orange glutinous stuff under her very nose.
the battle ended right there. she tottered away and i slept in peace.
i grow more like mr bean every day.

apocalpsye now: redux
i love the smell of barood in the mornings.

spent diwali night as a conscientous objector. wouldn't stop anyone from bursting crackers, but wouldn't join in either. dodged rockets, helicopters, snakes, atom bums, anars, chakras and chaklis.

Du Côté de chez Swann
actually, make that schezwan. hold the garlic, garçon!

October 27, 2005

what did akshay khanna say ..

..when raveena was not where she should have been?

who moved my cheez?

Eight simple rules ..

1. thou shalt not take the name of the Lord in vain
2. He is not sachya to you. and definitely not tendlya
3. boost IS the secret of His energy. ditto visa, adidas and MRF
4. slap yourself silly, if you have the urge to say He's not a team player. repeat slapping till sanity returns
5. the timbre, pitch and dynamics of His voice are not your concern
6. so there.

not really 8 rules after all.
whatchew gonna do about it?
complain to the captain?
it might be like talking to a wall, yknow.

October 03, 2005

djobi! djoba!

a belated gypsy kings concert rave.

actually, the band performing was called "chico and the gypsies". am still not quite sure what relation this group had to the original nicolas reyes band. and how much of their music was authentically gypsy. but i already have favourite book and film gypsies. and anyone who's sat in my car has probably survived my driving only by concentrating on the best of gypsy kings album. (in my defence, the traffic here sucks. so it's not all my fault.)

the whole concert was kept very lowkey. so the huge palace grounds were empty. a few of us stood forlornly in the last section. in the emptiness and bright lights, moths the size of birds in chettinad cuisine floated about.

the stage filled up and the band began to play. they sang the power of love, in spanish (or romany?) - so am not sure whether the chubby guy actually sang "cos i'm your lady, and you are my man".

turned around after a while and found the section empty. the music had been pretty good so far, so i couldnt understand how EVERYONE had decided to leave. then saw an organiser wave us over. he was inviting us to the foremost section of the crowd.

dizzy with excitement (exaggeration alert) we headed to the front- where some poor sods had paid 1500 to be.

and then the best concert of my life began (not exaggerating). the band was so close, they could hear us scream! and so we did! and the crowd was small, but packed together, with the right amount of energy, so those who wanted to dance could. and those who wanted to shout ole! at the end of each song could too.

ole! i would cry. also ola! and opa!

the youngest chappie played some beautiful guitar solos. the band of gypsy brethren -all plump and in black, strummed flamenco and manuelo sang sad songs in spanish. didnt understand a word, but got the general drift when he'd point at the crowd, his heart and look sad.

and then there were the fast songs. ole! lots of baila! baila! baila! was sung. figured out the next day that they were asking us to dance, not be bullish.

someone in the crowd kept asking for un amor, except he called it un amore, and a spanish speaker would keep yelling back, "its un amor, estupido!" so when another chappie started requesting la bamba, i had to yell, "that's los lobos, tonto!"

nothing like live music and correcting other people, eh?

the following weekend, bangalore was treated to those danes still trying to learn to rock. i wanted to be at the entry point and slap everyone who'd want to listen to someone whining about not even having his own car, but didn't appreciate the kings singing a mi manera.

not quite sinatra, but they did it their way.

September 27, 2005

what the world needs now..

is love, sweet love

'ang on a minute! sorry ducky, need to change the lyrics a bit.

what the world really needs now, is sweets, love sweets

and i'm not referring to ladoos. or even pedhas.
oh stop gasping, i'm not outlawing them.

i'm referring to childhood's sweeties, golis and toffees (taufeeq umar emerges uncertainly).

remember poppins? those multi coloured round sweets that emerged from the silver and striped cylinder, suggesting that horn, except that it seemed to always be full of poppins, rather than refilling fruit and flowers. so not all that much like the horn after all.

and boiled sweets! i always hated that name- boiled sweets evokes a hideous image of sweets clinging by their wrappers to the edge of a large cauldron, begging not to be boiled. the ones made by ravalgaon were my favourite. for me, ravalgaon was a real place. somewhere in UP. (i frequently used it while playing names-of-towns-antakshari)
happiness is the crinkly sound of opening a maroon ravalgaon boiled sweet. during a meeting.

lollipops, now they're a different kettle of sweets. never took to them too much, specially after seeing how i absent-mindedly chewed at the plastic straw.

cadburys chocolate eclairs- now there was a treat! before they changed the colour scheme and they were chocolate and orangely wrapped. but eclairs were a bit of a gamble- you could get those gnarled ones, rock hard and sticking-to-the-roof-of-your-mouth.

honourable mentions
jujubes for the discerning palates
rol-a-cola for the future pepke (crapsi?) drinkers.
and pan pasand (bleargh) for the lil pan-eater inside us all.
and white pepperminty sticks with a glowing red end for those puffer-to-bes.

i know some of you are baiting your breath in anticipation of mention of
fusen gum.

yes. well. ta, then.

September 20, 2005

55-word story. now stop tagging me!

trouble was brewing in the building. enthralled by post-modernisism, the newer sections mocked the traditional pilasters and reactionary arches. a section of the roof with Doric triglyphs was the butt of all jokes, specially after a donkey had been painted on it. Hearing it begin its daily prayer, the newbies taunted "chant, gadha-dhari beam, chant!"

tagged by 'im.

September 19, 2005

musical joke part deux

among the many movies on western classical music i haven't seen are Amadeus and Farinelli.

amadeus means god's love, very apt name for the man. although his name was actually Johann Chrysostom Wolfgang Theophilus (Gottlieb, Amadeus) Mozart. there's so much to say about him- how he grew up in salzburg, where you can now get the famous mozart kugeln, mozart ham und kaese brot and mozart omlette.
and how he composed his first symphony at the age of eight.
fry says it best "aww lil wibbly wobbly amipoopot mozart.. aww have you got music for the nice people, have you?.. have you? oh, its a full symphony? right. in, er four movements? good. full orchestra. well, let's hear it then? clever little sod."

you are now expecting me to comment on mozart's musical joke - ein musicalischer spass. but having lulled you into a false sense of security i spring on you..

(cue evil laughter)

or to give the man his full name: farinelli the castrato.
you do see where i'm going with this, don't you?
they needed sopranos, didnt they? and they wouldn't allow women to sing, would they? so that's what they got then.

musical joke

man hears beethoven's 9th symphony being played backwards. goes closer and finds it's beethoven's grave. the great man is decomposing.

September 12, 2005

Guilty pleasures

fry, stephen and heyer, georgette
georgette crepe saris
sare jahan se acchaa
hoo let the dogs out?
outer ring road half marathons
karrot cake with cream cheese icing
i sing with john, paul, george and wotsisname
naming the capital of burundi
hrundi bakshi type silly comedies
dies light fluffy chitale bandhu's sakhar perlele pedhe
dher i forget the bakarwadis, so golden and deep fried
fry, stephen

*the moment after a sneeze is rather pleasurable, in'it? for a brief second, your nasal passages are shining pathways of light. feel like god.

yes. quite. that will be all then.
(replaces straitjacket on patient and padding on cell walls)

September 07, 2005

no hay banda!

when you step on an aircraft the first time, and it's night (an unearthly hour if flying from india) you are in a daze with all the bright lights and announcements. and then in a line, you sleepwalk through covered passages and are magically entering the plane being greeted by the captain. the mist clears for a bit while you shove and elbow to get to your seat and stow your bag, but as the plane takes off, you are pushed back into your seat and all you can see are fairy lights.. and then nothing.

the first time i flew in the day, i could SEE the passage accordion tube thingy connect to the plane. and once, since the plane was v small, we actually walked down onto the tarmac and climbed into the plane. i even saw baggage handlers handle baggage, proving that there wasn't some mysterious narnia-type place your bags were shoved only to be spit out onto the correct revolving belt.

this happened today while swimming. finished my regulation 15 laps (its a hanky sized pool) and floated a bit. but since it's the colony pool and it was 8:30 am, i could SEE the office monkeys with their briefcases going about their business.

does anyone else feel the need for the illusion to be maintained? the magician shouldn't be allowed to take off his hat, plaster his hat hair down with water and mull about the stupidity of pigeons in holland..

September 06, 2005

bow down mister

since childhood, i have been subject to mengelesque experiments.

from "hong kong" to "shue lin"'s door
all the people know the score
if you want it botched some more
please say hair eh! hair eh!

steps,'shroom cuts, no holds bar
look like diana from afar
closer up its mithunda, ringo starr
please say hair eh hair eh!

these days i'm sporting the 80s aussie serial look. after all, everyone needs good nigh burrs.

the aftermath! you walk out pretending life is not over. your hair has been fried with a drier that leaves you with a bouffant and half the city with no electricity. friends, relatives and bumbling puppies that embarrass easily avoid looking you in the eye. strong men wince and hide their valuables. some try to brazen it out by asking breezily, "oh, did you have a haircut?" you snarl at them, they run away, being careful not to trip over their own gorgeous tresses. and there's the primitive tribes that ritually greet you by slapping you hard on the back of the head and yelling "judi-arse!" dame dench appears on the scene and in arctic accents asks what their bluddy problem is.

what is a fit punishment for a hairdresser who ruins your hair? should she be hoist by her own petard, figuratively speaking? "gimme those scissors, the brush and those hundreds of clever clips. i'll give you a blunt like you'll never forget"
(maniacal laughter in the background)

and please, let's drop that whole chinese illusion once and for all. she is as chinese as gobi manchurian. call the place may shue, provide patrons with taiwanese magazines featuring hairdos incredibly innappropriate for indian hair and xie ha min's your uncle.

i would rant more, but jason and kylie are waiting..

August 25, 2005

one flu over the cuckoo's nest

stage 1 of the f'lu (yes, i know the abrobriate location of the abostrophe, thag you bery mud)
pounding headague ad burning eyes
can't sleep
lose appetite
feel pathetic but look hale ad heardy, so get zero symbathy

stage 1.2 subtibes sgibbed
feverish, hot and confused
general feeling of moonlit fiends, albatrosses and glittering eyes

stage 2
sleep hurrah!
nose flows unabated
voice acquires rita hayworth type husky undertones that nobudy abbreciates (although rita's voice was dubbed when she sang)

stage 3
rasping cough brings tears to the eyes
voice reduced to a croak
other people in the office fall ill and the finger of suspicion is pointed at one
strained atmosphere
sick of toast and lemongrass tea, the sufferer flings herself bodily onto a pile of samosas

event horizon approaches

August 17, 2005

the daily bugle

i don't know what the latest starlets are wearing. i don't even know who the latest starlets are. i am klueless about kidman and kruise. and i have no idea which country bangalore fashion consultants have carried pot to. (but don't they have bathrooms in dubai? oh, not *that* kind of pot)

and why is that, you ask, in your discerning way. surely i read the newspaper everyday! i should, yknow. (fingers wagged in my general direction)

elementary, dear w., as sherlock didnt say, cos it was merely meretricious (which he did say).

i don't subscribe to the rag any more. i get a real newspaper! they dumbed down the content further and lower, until i finally left pune, moved to bangalore and started reading the hindu, which seems to skip from page 2 to page 4, without a break.

things i like about the hindu-
not knowing about stuff (see 1st para)
no radio mirchi style english
they maintain the sanctity of the byline (ma said)
3 pages are not devoted to cricket
good listing of local events
lots of local and state news
broad selection of literary, theatre and music reviews
plenty of quirky-whimsical type writers
general air of having a warm tightly knit community of readers

there's probably a little too much of southern (including sri lankan) politics.. but then, am always surprised when they say "dharam singh, karnataka CM" and i do a double-take*. shouldnt he be the CM of haryana?
which shows how much i know of the politics of karnataka and haryana.

*i cant really do a double take.

August 08, 2005

heard at the end of a half marathon

electraljunkie: did you hit the wall?
carboloader: naah, dravid's not all bad..

just read a good article on bonking
no, its not what you think, pervy perverson.
it's the mutiny of the whole body!
there's the muscle-glycogen bonk, where the brain works fine but the legs up and quit. Then there's the blood-glucose bonk, where the legs work fine but the brain up and quits. Let's not forget the everything bonk, a sorry stewpot of dehydration, training errors, gastric problems, and nutrition gaffes. And then there's the little-purple-men bonk... more here

no more hitting the wall jokes from me, am suitably chastened by the gravity of it all (and sort of looking forward to the lil purple men)

August 03, 2005

annona squamosa

making sitaphal milkshake could be a metaphor for our times.

first, a brief description:
you take a ripe sitaphal and try to cut it. if raw, you can curse the fruitman, but curse you never so shrewdly, the fruit will refuse to be cut.
if ripe to the correct extent, it collapses squashily in your hand. then you pick out the skin. a lot of the fleshy stuff is stuck to the skin, so you ooze it out. then comes the real test of character- separating the flesh from the large seeds. you could sit there tediously getting lil bits of the flesh. or, as the shastras suggest, you pop the whole thing into a particle accelarator and get centrifugal forces to separate the wheat from the chaff, as it were.

but the particle accelerator (ok, its a blender) breaks down from chopping too many seeds and you return to manually oozing. 17 back breaking hours later, you are donne, but find that most of the good stuff is splattered across your hands. some judicious mopping and licking (why waste?) later, you are left with a few grams of sitaphal essense. by this time, the milk has long curdled, you have lost your appetite and your mind.

it says a lot about the lack of free will, doesn't it? nobody asked you to make it. you prefer chikoo milkshake anyway. so then why? sheer bloodymindedness?
or ... a suprasitaphalmilkshakeauthority? a pied piper of sitaphamelin? that gets hold of you and won't let you go till you make it?

from mina harker's journal, 4:00 pm
the blogger was found in a state of gibbering rage and taken away for further observation. the only hint of what could have brought about such madness, was the shards of a mug, belonging to the office juice bar. the liquid splashed around the area suggested milkshake. juicebarman confirmed selling it to the blogger's colleague for rs. 10, shortly before the attack.
we will need all our strength and garlic to fight this demon.

July 27, 2005

what lies beneath?

While doling out some cereal this morning, i noticed the box had a sticker on it, with the word syrup, so that "invert syrup" was listed as an ingredient.

curiosity roused i quickwatson,thegame'safoot-ed. removed the sticker, while noting that the paper used was ordinary, and i didn't know the source. (i am not writing a monograph on the subject).

but what terrible word lay below the sticker, that it had to be censored from the tender minds of muesli eaters?

the word was sugar!so it was invert sugar and not invert syrup in my muesli!

apparently, invert sugar is created by combining a sugar syrup with a small amount of acid (such as cream of tartar or lemon juice) and heating. This inverts, or breaks down, the sucrose into its two components, glucose and fructose, thereby reducing the size of the sugar crystals. Because of its fine crystal structure, invert sugar produces a smooth product.
Now invert syrup, my notes tell me, is made by boiling equal parts of granulated sugar and water-and add a pinch of cream of tartar.

so invert syrup is the same as invert sugar!

i'm not going to stop eating muesli because it has sugar. i just wish theyd say so without all the mystery.
or sweeten it with HONEY (Highfructosecornsyrup ON EverYthing)

July 26, 2005

gnu toys!

acquired this week:

item 1- dvd player
item 2- boomerang
item 3- "down to earth" and "Economist" magazine subsciptions

finally i shall be a well-rounded personality- huntin and readin, just like hemingway!
can't wait to practice flinging the dvd player in lalbagh and watching it curve lazily back, with my dinner in tow.
although (fingers steepled together) if the dvd player hits something, its not going to come back, is it? i'll actually have to *walk* there and pick up the carcass and *walk* back to my cave, dragging it behind.

a goat's leap... of faith?

karnataka does itself very well in the rocks department. from hampi to ramanagaram, large boulders sit amongst rivers and greenery, inviting me to climb them. did a bit of that at mekedatu this weekend. for those of you who don't know- its a 100k drive from bangalore where the arkavathy joins the cauvery and goes through a narrowish gorge that reputedly a goat could leap across.

the road was good enough to make the roads in koramangala gnash their potholes in envy.. and there was a lil series of road signs on a steep patch. the first one read "change gear".. the next one said "you have been warned". we had indeed been warned. a little later i almost fell out of my seat when i read "chat ends". closer inspection proved that the sign said "ghat ends".

the weather was perfect too- cloudy enough to ensure that the rocks didnt get hot. but no rain, so we could bask above the river, eating our jackfruit chips, apples and chikki. it became a bit daytrippy after a while though- far too many people laden with chatais, bagsnbags of food and littleuns running about.

there's a little stretch of the arkavathy that you have to cross, it cant have been fun lugging all that luggage across. i did try to create some artificial excitement by claiming that the water was getting higher, the current stronger.. and (ending in a high-pitched scream) was that a croc edging towards me? but apart from a squeaky couple, nobody else bought it.
sigh. back to the drawing board.

after i got back i heard that a number of people had contracted cerebral malaria after a visit to mekedatu. but my cerebrum, cortex and cerebellum seem to be ticking along or sleeping on the job, as the case may be.
(is mr smart e. pants going to write in comments about the "real" contents of my brain? with links?)

July 20, 2005

tiki (no, not another food post)

Read two books this weekend. One was a classic tale of grit, search for new horizons and had plenty of swashbuckling excitement. the other was a rather dull chronicle.

the second one, as you rightly guessed (what discerning readers i have!) was the new harry potter. shant bother any more about it other than to say that i didn't plonk down rs 800 or whatever, and am glad. glad, dyouhearme?

the first one was "the kon tiki voyage" by thor heyerdahl. those of you who had the gulmohar reader in the 3rd std will remember a small extract from it. the language is simple (hence inclusion in the syllabus for 8 year olds), though thor keeps referring to waves as "seas".. as in "a large sea hit the raft". very endearing.

its about thor's theory that the polynesians got to the islands in the pacific from peru, on rafts. since everyone debunked it, thor got together 4 more norwegians, 1 swede and balsa from equador, put together a raft and sailed off into the pacific. lots of wry humour and shark catching techniques -- they were in a raft, so rather close to the surface of the sea, as well as whales and flying fish.

its a great read, makes you want to get onto a raft with bearded norwegians and solve your own anthropological puzzle.

July 18, 2005

1857- a love story

waddled over to a london-returned colleague's desk today. the usual suspects were wolfing down chocolate. one of them warned me in hushed tones, "boss, there might be beef in some of these.. that's the word on the street.. the nose knows.."
beef in chocolates? beef chocolates?
i doubted it told him that's how rumours start. yknow, the cartridges are lined with beef and pork, rise up and revolt against the revolting brits!
a part of me is enacting biting into the cartridge, when another part of me thinks, "mmm.. beef and pork" and sits down to make a meal out of the cartridges.

July 15, 2005

veggie tales

there's a new book out called "everything i ate: a year in the life of my mouth". the appropriately name tucker takes pictures of every single thing he tucked into in the past 365 days. this includes a bowl of cereal every night, lots of steak and the occasional toe-nibble.

reality-reading? seems voyeuristic and narcissistic, neh? (she asked as she wrote in her web log. point taken)
it's probably a good device to make you appreciate food better, and -if you and everyone else saw pictures of your midnight potato chips and chikki extravaganza-mebbe would make you eat healthier.

right now, my food quest is getting more and more weighty. literally. am up to 5 lil dubbas in a plastic bag. there's the staple lunch box- lime green two layered from westside with 2 polis and a bhaji. a lil dubba with cucumber raita. the carrot for elevenses, two plums for 4 and two fingersized bananas for pre and post gym.
that's the plan anyway, most of this is usually devoured by 11:00 am.

July 08, 2005

vada pao

Just discovered a nice lil place close to the office that serves
vada pao- fresh pao and crisp wadas with enough garlic to send dracula back to pennsly.. translyvania
shrikhand-puri-batatyacha rassa- good stuff!
sabudanyachi khichadi- decent, but not enough dane (peanuts, not natives of denmark)
sabudana wadas- three thumbs up! crisp outside, fluffy inside and served with sweetened dahi
panha- untried, rumoured to be good
kokum sarbat- good, but not like mother makes it
thalipeeth- crisp and served with plenty of butter. very good indeed.
kulfi-not quite the way i like it
aamras puri-untried

its a little place and you have to stand to eat, which offends my sensibilities. there are lil stools for the sensibilityoffended, but if you sat on one o'them, the table would loom above you and everyone else would eat your sabudana wadas while you flailed about helplessly.

very reasonably priced and the lil pink cheeked owner/ manager rode off for an afternoon nap (i presume) on a luna.

in other news, the coffee machine on our floor was announced to also serve us with tomato soup. its been pouring nothing but hot water since i tried. but seeing as how the coffee there tastes like the hotchoc which tastes like the tea which tastes like the badam milk, lack of soup may be a good thing.

reminds me of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation's Nutrimatic Machines...when the 'Drink' button is pressed it makes an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject's metabolism, and then sends tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centres of the subject's brain to see what is likely to be well received. However, no-one knows quite why it does this because it then invariably delivers a cupful of liquid that is almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea.

July 07, 2005

der fliegender finn

the original flying finn was paavo nurmi- the long distance runner- as anyone who ever took part in a quiz and used the bournvita book to prepare knows.

not to be confused with the flying dutchman, who's reknown is based on the legend of captain van der decken, who hit a storm near south africa and proclaimed "I WILL round this Cape even if I have to keep sailing until doomsday!" and apparently, he still is.

but i digress. returning to finland, i suddenly remembered the country because i had a finnish penpal. "ow did 'at 'appen?", you ask in your cockney way.
well, there was an international penpal provider based in suomi, finland. all of us signed up for penpals, listed our hobbies (swimming, reading) and language skills.. everyone asked for correspondents from australia, canada and france. some of us got those, but were generously awarded finnish penpals too.

it used to be such a thrill to get a thick envelope with finnish stamps.. the letter (always in pencil and without the letters joint) would talk about pets, family, occasional photos and how iveforgottenhernamehowcouldisoilljustcallher katrikki's sister had watched the mahabharat.

wonder if kids still have penpals. not with all this emailing about, i suppose.

endnote: a brother who shall remain nameless once wanted a russian penfriend. so he addressed a polite letter asking for one. to mikhail gorbachev, president USSR, kremlin, moscow.
and he got a penpal!
from chernobyl!

July 01, 2005


had a pleasant electricity paying experience yesterday. there are BESCOM centres all over town, popped into the nearest one during lunch. the office was closed. no problemo i said, strolled up to the ATM machine there. a helpful employee took my bill and scanned it. then took my money, smoothened it so that the machine was forced to accept it. it credited my account with the extra i paid cos i didnt have change. spat out a receipt and sent me on my way. just like that.
pretty soon, the roomate and i are going to fight over who gets to go to pay the bill.
(sniffily) yes, we do have lives, thankyouverrymuch.

dont know how easy paying other bills is. paying the cell phone bill is easy (sort of), a gas cylinder is obtained by dialing gasman. having a nugatory bank balance means i don't have to juggle premia and investments. and as always rent is delivered in a sealed envelope with a symbolic supari under a stone near a bridge while whistling "lorelei".

June 27, 2005


two for the price of one...

coral island; lord of the flies
who can forget j m ballantyne's coral island, where ralph, peterkin and splendid leonine jack are marooned on a deserted island in the south pacific?
a twisted version of this got william golding his nobel. (lord of the flies- beelzebub) lots of little kids are marooned on an island, and even as they plan to organize things, they begin to go over to the dark side..

candide; decline and fall
my favourite twofer.
i read decline and fall first and was isntantly charmed by waugh. instantly! what can you say about a book that has the school porter saying "I expect you'll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir. That's what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour."
paul pennyfeather mirrors the troubles that voltaire's candide goes through. memorable for its scathing indictment (or so i thought anyway) of pangloss's "It is proved that things cannot be other than they are, for since everything is made for a purpose, it follows that everything is made for the best purpose."

more tenously linked:

dirk gently's holistic detective agency; the rime of the ancient mariner
make sure you read coleridge's rime and kubla khan, then read doug adams' masterpiece, then read coleridge again. and so on. until you too understand the fundamental interconnectedness of all things. and then please explain the end of dirk g to me, i still don't get it.

bridget jones's diary; pride and prejudice
bridget jones is prejudiced, mr darcy is proud, as are elizabeth and mr darcy. most importantly, colin firth plays both darcys, in the televised/filmed versions of both books. he's a natural darcy. stern, saucy and smouldering.

tchach! returning to the booklist, anyone have any ideas?

the coorgi moorgi returns!

alt title- leechy keen

went on one of those treks that are great to talk about, after you've actually completed 30 hour bus rides, leech attacks and biting cold rain.

yes, it was biting cold in the evening on the windswept slopes near the bramhagiri range. did a quick sweep of the irupu falls. nice, but after a mintute of gazing at gushing water and oohing, i'm usually ready to move on.

coorg was very green and monsoony. the sun rarely peeped out. it felt very familiar, as gaurav put it "almost entirely but not quite unlike mahabaleshwar". but without all the tourists. and with lots of coffee, pepper and arecanut plantations. there was even a sports club in a village we drove through, and i could almost swear it had a squash court. the famed kodava women were absent, and with the way it was raining, who could blame them?

unfortunately, larger forms of wildlife were absent too- we were really close to waynad and saw lots of elephant dung (scat/potty/ poo?) but the animals that were out in full strength were the leeches.

leeches to the left of us
leeches to the right of us
into the valley of death walked the brave six hundred

i shall now launch into a leech-filled post. the slippery lil guys would sneak up ones shoes and stick onto the shin, unbeknown to the shinnee. we werent carrying salt, but a form of perfumed tobacco to get them to loosen their grip and be flicked off. unfortunately, some of the leeches mustve been habitual smokers and were unmoved, even when i made them snort the baccy and rub-a-dubbed it into their skin. a whole lot of the trek was spent examining feet and ankles. my theory that leeches prefer certain blood types could not stand up to the smallest statistical sample and was discarded. my theory (and boast) that i was miraculously leech free came up short when i ended the trek and found huge rusty patches (blood) on my jeans.

(weak stomachs, exeunt stage from left. there's more gore)

some of the fellow trekkers took the whole thing very personally. would mutter "bastards!" in american accents as they threw the lil chaps off and tried to pound them to death. alarmed by their anger, i pointed out that leeches formed a part of the ecosystem and.. shut up because i got the same look the leech had.

it was strange to watch these slim creatures clamber up the shoe, attach itself, commence bloodsucking.. and then swell up mightily and roll off. the fullbellied leeches just lay on their backs, chillin'..

further leech tips from those who know:
wear leech guards
slice off leeches as they suck on you.. the blood apparently gushes out in a pretty fountain.
maharashtrian leech recipe- with sazuk tup (ghee) and all!

read up a bit on leeches in medicine- they were used for bloodletting as a remedy to most ailments from Hippocrates time to the 19th century, but the practise was discontinued when it was found to have small to negative effect on patients. but its now being used post surgery, as leeches thin the blood even after they drop off.

there's maggot therapy as well- to liquefy dead tissue and kill bacteria.

have you hugged a leech today?

(if yes, its probably still attached to your neck. go to a corner and bleed quietly)

June 22, 2005

crime and punishment

this has been the week of unprovoked attacks

was called a camel
speculation was rife as to whether i was a genetic mutation or not
and there's a rumour that i drove my car into an office vehicle

mee lard, yeh sarasar jhooth hai!
pandemonium in court.
old man in scratchy wig: aarder aarder!
chashmadeed gavahon ke bayaan ko sunkar yeh adaalat faisla kartee hai ki mulzim f.y. cannibal ko baizzat bali bheja jai.

as sting almost sang- you'll remember me, when the west wind moves, upon the fields of bali

since i'm in the dock, i confess that i am guilty of assuming that madonna sang
"last night i dreamt of some beggar", in la isla bonita.
got quite hot and bothered about that.
not objecting to her singing about the beggar, but at least dignify him by caling him "the" beggar, or "my" beggar.
careful relistening proved that apparently she was dreaming of san pedro.

off to push the arab outta his tent.

June 21, 2005

if the world all spoke esperanto..

would we have
philippine's cardinal jaime sin?
thailand's former miss universe porntip "bui" nakhirunkanok simon?
bui is not where i would put the inverted commas

June 17, 2005

cowed down

dok c spricht mit pizzash
dharmendra quotes ogden nash
but arty of bee ilk
knows not enough about milk
........................and how
to get it from the end of a cow

(see comments on previous posts to make some, but not much sense of this)

while on the bovine theme, i've noticed the streetcows in bangalore are of a different breed from the ones in pune. they look rather jersey. plump. not emaciated and unable to star in the opening shots of a foreign news channels reporting on india. i'd herd they were importing and crossbreeding, but to what extent? i've hardly seen the desi zebu at all. and they're known for their hardiness. what happens to in situ conservation of local genetic resources?

just read up a bit to clarify the difference between zebu, brahman and chicago bulls. my (possibly innacurate internet based) sources tell me that the zebu was crossbred in the u.s. to get the brahman variety. thereafter it was crossbred vigorously to get us
brahman + angus = brangus
brahman + shorthorn + hereford= beefmaster
brahman + shorthorn = Santa Gertrudis

beefmaster meets santa gertrudis in madison square garden tonight
but i'd rather watch some udder stuff.

June 15, 2005

slime on, you crazy diamonds

why are gay men called gay while the women are called lesbians? is that we see and expect to see witty, funny, smiley, gay, gaymen? while your average lesbian is always portrayed as a grim prison warden type?

i allus expect hippys to be happy. hippos too. and hoopoes.

the first in a series of random comments is below. no context or editorial comment, just verbatim what i genuinely hear on the street or sometimes think of myself and wouldnt it have been brilliant if someone had actually said it.

"an investor is like a hungry baby"

June 13, 2005

the butler did it!

on rainy afternoons, i am seized by the urge to sit in bed with a soft blanket, a bowl of chips (preferably budhani's cheese flavoured) and read a murder mystery.

i enjoy detective fiction, without pretending that its anything other than comfort-reading. one cannot always mortify the flesh with kafka, can one?
agatha christie frinstance, has so many prejudices, cliches and stereotypes thrown in, that i absorb without a murmur of protest.
but when i see that kind of schtuff ("ineffable twaddle!", as watson once remarked) on stage, i feel angry and cheated.

i just saw a play that i thought was terrible- i'd rather be poked in the eye while listening to britney spears terrible. the acting was poor. and the enunciation vos werry baad. and the chappie's attempt to seem mysterious and evil was for some reason expressed as an irritating snivel. if i was closer to the stage, i'd have thrown a hanky at him- blow your nose man, and continue! and (one last whine) they adapted the upper westside type lines and set the play in jayanagar. but forgot to tell the chap that noone wears suspenders in bangalore! again, if i was closer, i might just have snapped em.

but meelard, as they said in those 70s courtroom dramas, i've watched well acted and produced thriller type plays too (including the mousetrap), and not really enjoyed them.

does one need a movie or a book to suspend disbelief long enough to develop what is essentially an anachronistic, highly stylised genre?

ooh, beeg beeg words.
but i stand by my thesis.

June 07, 2005

playing with food

one should not, of course. but no harm getting a lil innocent pleasure while cooking, is there?

i have discovered that making egg curry is an auditory delight. you boil the eggs, make the masala, drink some marsala and pop the eggs into the onion and masala paste. as you flip the egg halves about, the squeaky noises begin. press the egg a bit firmly with wooden spatula and it squeaks even louder, kinda like a pet being tickled. (i dont own a pet, hence the innacuracy)
i would describe the sound as a "squinch", which'd never steal christmas.

today, mushrooms made the same sound. so either its the consistency of these spongy food items (though tofu was never so undignified and squeaky) or its my new pink booties.

let's just carry on then, shall we?

June 06, 2005

thimphu very much

whats the similarity between me and bhutan?
we've both lifted our tv bans.

no, it's not very witty, but it wasnt supposed to be. i was just pointing out that the dragon kingdom lifted its ban on tv in 1999. and i lifted mine yesterday. they started with local channels, and then included cable tv, as did i.

our reasons for the ban were different. king jigme wanchuk thought tv was a corrupting influence.
i think it converts the brain to pulp.

both of us let in the telly because of outside pressure, but had our reservations. (except he probably got a better table)

i'd love to visit bhutan and watch it as it changes- even now, everyone must wear the national dress, smoking is banned and instead of gdp, they measure gross national happiness. kingy decides the criteria for happiness.
besides, the capital is called thimphu! i'm just going to thimphu for a stroll. dyou know what they're saying on the streets of thimphu?

but if i go to madagascar, i probably wont keep mentioning the name of its capital- antanananrivo. or its president ravalomanana.

when working in DC, the envt minister of madagascar was to speak at a seminar and an "old africa hand" asked me how to pronounce his name. he was quite put out when i didnt know. i'm brown, arent i? then why didnt i know?

June 01, 2005

Summer holidays II: Son of a beach!

The second part of the holidays were spent on the konkan coast at a place called murud. not murud-janjira, but the murud further south, near harnai bandar.
i shall draw a veil over the initial family-run bednbreakfasty place we were supposed to stay at. lets just say searing heat and bathroom horrors and leave it at that.

so we moved to a more salubrious environ, separated from the sea by beach, dunes with some vegetation and casurinas acting as windbreaks. sitting on the oh-so-soft sand and casurina needles, in the afternoon with a book and a lil munchie from budhanis.. ah, that's the life.

another good time to be on the beach was at night- we had the full moon out in all its glory. forget bhaji on the beach, we had pinot grigio on the beach! it may perhaps have been a little better if we couldve cooled it, but even as it was, yumm!
what am i saying?? yumm? nobody says that about a fine italian wine! ok, let me go again. an inquisitive wine. unpretentious. shy, but with a hint of sterness. the kind of wine that would like listening to beatles and beethoven. would read georgette heyers and spinoza..
oh wait, that's not the wine, that's me!

the koli fishermen took tourists out on their boats to see some dolphins. the boat ride in itself was great- we rode the waves like a rollercoaster. knowing that there was no lifejacket or inner tube on board just made it more exciting. once we headed out onto the open sea, the engine was shut off and the only sounds to be heard were the put-putting of fishing boats at a distance and.. the breathing of dolphins! they bounced about at a distance, then came closer, flipped.. and breathed quite audibly. dont' wanna anthromorpho-disneyize them, but what happy animals they seemed to be!
i'll redeem myself with some d adams:

“It is an important and popular fact that things are not always what they seem. For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much -- the wheel, New York, wars and so on -- whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man -- for precisely the same reasons. ”

won't blather on about bodysurfing, fish and crustaceans eating, sol kadhi and kokum juice drinking, ukdiche modak avoiding, miles jogging and sand in all my clothes and shoes -ing.. you get the general idea: beach, family, sun, food, good.

May 31, 2005

Summer holiday 1: Training day

cliff richards sang we are going on a summer holiday in the background as i took the train to pune.

hadn't been in a train for 5 years, so sat at the edge of my familiar blue rexine berth, waiting for the magic to happen.

and it did. age cannot wither it, nor custom stale its infinite variety.
there were people selling dal wadas and chai-chai ing as soon as i got in. even kela bhaji (unless i heard wrong). i went through meera syal's anita and me, and rushdie's fury..

and the naps i took! there's nothing quite as relaxing as napping on the upper berth of an ac compartment, when you know you're going to be away from work for a whole week.. you sleep, you read a little. then the gentle swaying of the train lulls you back to sleep.. perhaps a stroll at the next station and a pre-nap snack?

unfortunately, the return journey had teufelkinder in my compartment. they spilt water, played with the light and fan switches, stepped on everyone's feet, shouted at the tops of their voices, played with their mum's cellphone till midnight and in the morning it turned out that they were both bedwetters.
note to self: do not use railway sheets or blankies in future.

totally blame the parent though- her idea of disciplining the brats was to feed them chips, cuff them on the head or ignore their antics. the train trip was totally wasted on those kids. they didnt once try to walk from one end of the train to the other! or crisscross from one upper berth to another. or even play the railway station name game..

May 16, 2005

best of the best

cheekiest tshirt of the bangalore marathon:
my grandma runs faster than you

sunniest part of the race:
the treeless part near raj bhavan

least helpful comment from an organizer:
you're 1 km away from the end. almost.

most irritating war cry of the race:
go aditi go. go aditi go. this is half an hour before the start. where, pray, does aditi want to go?

moment of pune pride:
the full marathon was won by k.c. ramu from the army sports institute, pune

personal resolution at the end:
pune half marathon at the end of this year. goodbye sweaty masses, hello real running

and a good time was had by all.

May 12, 2005

olive oyl

why is olive oil always drizzled over food?
never smeared or sprayed. decanted or daubed. poured- forgeddaboutitt
drizzled makes it sound so light and healthy, like summer rain

May 10, 2005

the postman always rings twice

a parcel was sent to my old address. went to the hatchet-faced landlady to recover it. she stoutly denied i'd received any mail since leaving. stoutly.
then i cunningly asked "and the parcel?"
she broke down and confessed. there had been a parcel. from amreeka. but the name was wrong. (i stepped on her toes till she admitted that the wrong name was mine) so the postman took it back.

so then i discovered the post office in the area. no place to park, and its located practically under the dairy circle flyover, so stopping there was not an option. i tried not to feel very guilty about parking in the kidwai cancer hospital next door. but i paid and there was plenty of room and there seemed to be a large number of people taking siestas under the raintrees. so i felt better about the parking and worse about the cancer patients.

the postmaster directed me to a postperson who cross questioned me about the parcel. i stuck to my story about a parcel from amreeka. began to get ready to step on his toes, but he scurried away to look in three cupboards for my parcel. like mother hubbard, his cupboards too were bare.
then he explained that the parcel had been returned to sender. just like the elvis song.
so my pore parcel will have travelled quite a bit.

am wondering though, who pays for this? the indian post? but it's not their fault. u.s. post? why should they?
or the sender- sounds most likely. pay for it, or the parcel gets it!!

poor jenn, thats the last time she sends me an easter present.

May 06, 2005

ghosts of marathons past- part deux

the last race i ran was the pune international marathon.. run against aids. describing it makes mme want to start with the love story song "where do i begin, to tell the story?" and at this point the lyrics change dramatically..
the marathon was on in winter- a pleasant time to run in pune, apart from all that lowlying smog. the start was on the garware bridge, leading on towards lakshmi road. i wont quibble about the giant tshirts airtel provided us with. i wasnt planning to run in it anyway, but it would be nice to have it for future runs.
(sometimes it seems like people do things just to get the free tshirts)
so 7 am on garware bridge. we're running the "celebrity run". so we had mahesh bhupathi, anju bobby george and bobby anju george. kader khan appeared but did not run. having seen him, i can tell how michael j will look if he puts on weight and reaches a ripe old age.
a band begins to play. rather pleasing. then a loudspeaker is turned on, with recorded music. the band tries to compete. the loudspeaker wins and the band sulks.
a moment of grotesque horror is introduced by the larger than life size mascots who appear. they are in animal suits- one looks like a tall, emaciated garfield, the other are unrecognizable to me. grotesque because they are lanky instead of being cuddly. they wave an arm occasionally, in an attempt to dance and get the crowd moving. all the animal suits are grubby! makes you wonder what these mascots get up to in their off hours..
i'll skip the bit about shaan singing the aids song.. the wheelchair race is flagged off. meanwhile a few serious marathoners are warming up. a little later, all 20 of them are off too.
then 10,000 school children run (hence the publishitty that 10,020 puneites are running against aids).
all this time we're not allowed to move from our seating area. suddenly we're herded out and suresh kalmadi in a trademark blue suit and white sneakers sends us off, while rati agnihotri smiles and waves. i promptly get separated from my mother who was also running. so i cling to mahesh bhupathi, assuming that if there's a stampede, he's the first one they'll save. a tall white guy who looks like a bouncer gets me out of 'hesh's way. later i learn that he's not a firang bouncer, he's aditya pancholi (panscholi?). that does it, i'm never watching any more of his films.
it's still a lil chilly, but the crowd thins out as the first mad sprinters are already slowing to a hobble. we run up lakshmi road, while children wave and brass bands play. this is the best moment - i dont usually get this reaction when i run.
there's a right turn on the road to go towards nehru stadium, where our 3k odyssey ends. a blue suited chappie with sneakers, cap and whistle (marathon official uniform) tells me to keep going straight. i point, mutter but shrug and keep going.
a jeep passes us with 'hesh, bouncer and 'resh. they wave and smile. apparently the jeep picked them up 100 m from the start.
the legs begin to tire. 3k have never seemed so long before. we run over a slippery area where the 10,000 kids from before have burst water packets.
i see a sign saying kilometre 5.
then i see people turning back.
i too turn back and start walking/ jogging from 7 loves chowk towards nehru stadium. since this isnt part of the marathon route, traffic is all over the place.
everywhere i see the same baffled expression on people's faces: why oh why did we leave our car keys/cellphones/money behind?
it is less amusing to see people running the veteran's marathon- one i met was over 70 and running barefoot. no organizer is around to transport him or some 8 year old kids to the stadium, as the heat rises.
i finally stumble onto nehru stadium, from behind the finish line, an hour after the last of the people who managed to take the correct route.
dad and i then wait for my mum. knowing her, we expect her to finish the 26 miles.. she arrives half an hour later in a rickshaw. she'd run down CDA, main street, ambedkar statue, and to nehru memorial where theyd told her a nehru bus would ferry em back to nehru stadium. the bus was there but without instructions, his hands were tied. as a special treat, boiled eggs had been laid out for tired runners. after running 8k, in the sun, boiled eggs would exactly hit the spot, no?
anyway, we shrug off the whole thing, go off for breakfast. on our way home, we pass the real marathoners nearing the end. loudspeakers blast "karu nahitar maru" ("we will do or die") at them.
ahhh, so was there cunning plan to rid pune of its pesky celebritites?

May 03, 2005

Billions of blistering barnacles!

got my official blister for the Bangalore marathon today. high fives all around! dont wanna drive away my straggling readership, so shant ad nauseumate about the blister.
Am compiling bad running songs, the entries so far:

-Gloria Gaynor's I will survive
Ludwig says so. ludwig doesn't get the chick empowerment thing.

- Aaj jane ki zidd na karo from the monsoon wedding soundtrack
can you imagine trying to keep running, when all you wanna do is lie back under the stars surrounded by thumris, jhumkas and sleekh kebobs

-O'bladdy o'bladda
i love the beatles, but this song is not conducive to pacing yourself for the long haul. would make one want to gambol about like a puppy. and anything that reminds one of one's bladder is a definite no-no.

-Fat bottomed girls -Queen
no explanation necessary

May 02, 2005


this blog wasn't started with any definite purpose.. to stop it from being completely useless, here's a request for information:

does anyone knows of a place in bangalore where western classical instruction on the violin is provided? those suggesting the bangalore school of music and the place near the koramangala club, pliss excuse.

April 29, 2005

ghosts of marathons past -I

the bangalore international marathon is on may 15, so get out your running socks!

i'm running the 7k fun run. i refuse to be defensive about running a wimpy distance. 26 miles is not an option.

i was never a huge marathon fan. if you wanna run, just do it, why jostle and pay for the privilege? but having run a few major races i now get that whole group energy, sense of accomplishment thing.

the first time i ran as an adult was the cherry blossom 10 miler in washington DC. no, i didnt run 10 miles, i ran 5k. but it was early in the morning and first the wind picked up off the potomac. then the rain started to fall. i had some winter gear on, but i saw some poor saps in shorts and wicking-off-the-sweat tshirts who got simultaneously dehydrated and hypothermised.

highlight of the race- finished the 5k in about the same time as the first kenyan woman finished the 10 miles.

the legs were a bit wobbly afterwards, but i finished in the top 100 (size of entire group unknown) and stuffed myself with the bananas and muffins laid out in large quantities.

April 22, 2005

south of da borda

have been celebrating international tamil nadu week, ira-style. saturday was spent at hoggenekkal- a picnic spot in tn, 5 hours from bangalore where the kaveri goes through rocks and caves and films are shot on the waterfalls. the coracal (inverted dome shaped boats made of wicker lined with plastic and sealed with tar) boatrides on the river allow you to lie back and relax. or take a dip..
why though, must people (men) put shampoo and soap all over themselves while taking a dip in the river? i absolve localites of blame-if its their bathing spot, bathe away- but the day trippers who unwrap their lifebuoys and scrub away... leaving a foamy trail... why?

while in a line to get our boat under a waterfall, a nearby boatload of girls recognised me as their senior from good ole sms (st. mary's pune, smell my socks, school of a million snobs). we wouldve burst into the school song, but whatever i couldve remembered was pushed out of my mind by the pounding water.

behind the river there are hilly forested slopes that looked like they'd make a nice day's expedition, but we were too soaked from joy riding to explore.

i also made my first trip to chennai this week. word of advice- if you're taking a volvo- rethink. if you cant change plans- carry blankets with you. they provide the ill-equipped with thin lil shawls, and then they blast you with the a/c.
the journey was at night, rather dull, apart from the momentary excitement provided by an angry man who yelled at all the sleeping passengers "this man is drunk! do you people want a drunken lout in your bus"
silence from the disoriented passengers.
"oh, so you're happy to have a drunk on board"
all of us look a bit confused- are we really happy to have a drunk on board? do we care? what is our poilcy towards drunked roistering on the bangalore-chennai bus?
angry man, "oh by the way, he's the driver"
everyone sits bolts upright, angry man departs.

someone should do a comparative study of rickshaws. in chennai, they're very friendly, the rickshawallahs. will cheerfully charge you large amounts for short distances, while the meter serves as an art deco piece. i call them smiling assasins.
bangalore though, specialises in the surlier type of rickdriver. its probably the traffic that gets to them. and maybe they inhale a lot of lpg, since a lot of ricks run on it, and i can always smell it on the road. they whine, sulk and crib.
of course, since its been a while since i've been in a rick in pune, i picture them in starched cottons, driving along smartly, bathed in a halo of light, with a muted altaf raja number playing in the background.

April 13, 2005

i'm not fat..

..i'm big boned
..there's more of me to love
..the trees around me are too thin

and the boston creme doughnut goes to-- i'm not fat, i'm ruebenesque!

if anyone has better chubby put-downers, send em in!

April 12, 2005

career op? maybe not

I read something yesterday about a french company that makes tubes of peanut butter that are marketed to aid agencies only, to be provided to malnourished children. currently its being provided in darfur and has helped a lot of children gain weight quickly. it also does away with powdered products that need to be mixed with clean water.
but the best part is the product name- plumpy nuts.
of course, i immediately wanted to be doing just that- coming up with innovative food ideas that could help malnourished children. food and saving lives- what could give me better job
or maybe not. having spoken to people who've worked in rwanda, i'd probably not sleep too well at night, knowing what was going on outside. i'll just stick to the sheltered life for a little longer then..

April 11, 2005

.. and the lord taketh away

hmph. either my blog is more popular than i thought, or it's all a cosmic coincidence. a day after trilling on about my posh apartment, the landlord landed up there and asked us to move to our eventual destination. notice to do so- 3 hours.
charming, really.
the chap also has a twelve bore rifle amongst his family's belongings. laid out ostentatiously on the divan.
we were going to pay the rent anyway. call off the snipers!

April 08, 2005

ji, mantriji

i'm currently staying in one of the hundreds (exaggeration) of mantri constructions proliferating on banerghatta road. there's mantri pride, elegance, prestige, snob-value.. all expensive places, with very few trees. doorbells play songs and add "krupaya darvaza kholiye". because normally when i hear a doorbell i dive out of the balcony? and the very fancy swimming pools..

what is the redblooded class warrior doing in these plush surroundings, you wonder?

well, my landlord was supposed to move in here. but his pujari told him it would get him years of bad luck. apshakun, apparently. so we moved right in, will spend the month collecting the bad luck for him. and when venus is in the third house from the left, we move right out and into our more humble, income-appropriate surroundings.

April 07, 2005

whineancial times

i've been told that my blog is basically a written version of my daily whining, whingeing and complaining. and to these critics i say, "why pick on me? what have i ever done? it's not fair"
that should be the end of that complaint.

April 06, 2005


the weekend to recharge our batteries turned out to be the weekend for an elephant to charge us, while the jeep battery spluttered.
while a part of me kept clicking pictures, knowing that the jeep driver was just giving us touristy jollies, the other part of me was completely petrified at the sight of the mammoth beast trumpeting and running towards us.

bandipur is 6 hours from bangalore, (4 according to my version of lonely planet). i usually prefer treks to safaris, but this makes a good weekend getaway. the backdrop was perfect- cloudy skies, with a few drops of rain and the nilgiris on the horizon. spotted deer is plentiful, pretty soon you get a bit snobbish and refuse to stop for them. there's lots of elephants too, but what with the charging and the mud bathing, you don't undervalue them. no big cats to be seen, though of course, one had "just been spotted yesterday"..
we also saw langur, a variety of lgbs (lil grey birds) golden backed woodpeckers, peacock, sambhar and dosai.

March 30, 2005

my favourite Bangalorean phrase

no, it's not chill madi. no local says that.

It's petrol bunk. petrol bunk!

common usage: Turn right after the petrol bunk.

try using it in everyday conversation, it makes an expensive trip to the fossil fuel outlet much more exciting. as if you're in the 2nd world war and dodging the luftwaffe to get to the bunker.

does anybody know of the origin of the phrase? is it a linguistic anomaly restricted to bangalore or a widespread phenomenon of the deep south?

March 29, 2005

bangalore- the caramel custard of india?

i'm not pretending when i say i like bangalore, i really do like it. but it's beginning to seem a bit bland. likeable. innocuous. like caramel custard.
the test match was a case in point. clean stadium. comfortable. no police harassment. food easily available and well seasoned. well-behaved crowd. everyone sits in their comfortable plastic chairs and talks about dravid.
where's the buzz, people? younis khan is batting for heaven's sake, can we have a little backchat? maybe heckle ganguly a little? man does not live by bread alone, yknow..

of course, the custard turns wobbly when you apply the analogy to traffic in bangalore, which is anything but bland. specially since i stay on banerghatta "killer" road. (when a road has a middle name, you know you're in trouble) and the landlords provide the town with the element of brooding evil.

March 28, 2005

when doves cry..

.. what about when pigeons poop as a song title, prince? stupid pigeon relieved itself on me while i was watching the match at chinnaswamy. everyone around wagged their heads and said "good luck da". i just felt lucky there wasn't a horse sitting on the rafters.
15 minutes later kamran akmal got out, so should the credit be shared between bhajji and pidgie?

March 24, 2005

Irster bunny!

tomorrow's a holiday- great friday! and sunday's easter! i miss the marzipan eggs marz-o-rin makes. large enough for a marzipan ostrich to have laid em. hard as rock and sweet as only marzipan can be. wrapped up in foil and tied with ribbon to a bright yellow cotton chick. (no, not that kind of.. never mind)
chocolate eggs just aren't the same somehow. had quite a few of them last easter- cadburys made ones that had a realistic-looking yellowish yolk inside.

a little known american easter activity- blowing up peeps
peeps are fat pink and yellow marshmallow "treats" shaped like hens. they're all over US stores before easter.
they taste horrible. practically beg to be blown up.
gather a group of easter revellers. paint eggs. eat egg salad and devilled eggs and lots of candy. then, place a peep or two on a paper plate. gather everyone in the kitchen, switch off the light and place the plate in the microwave. turn it on. watch the peep get larger and larger bathed in the microwave light. it slowly puffs up all over. grotesque? yes. but very funny, specially as it deflates back to a puddle.
(jenn, it was your idea. take a bow)

no animals were harmed in the activity.

March 23, 2005

Pitch doctor

I haven't been in Bangalore long enough to figure out the weather patterns, but i know that it rains randomly. the heat's been building up the past week and today is cloudy. what does it mean for the match tomorrow?

i can't do a pitch report, cos i'm at work. and cos i can't, really. but don't you hate it when shastri goes to the pitch, comments on how dusty and crumbling it is and then using a key widens the cracks in the pitch further?
good job, ravi. what next- show us how uneven the turf is by yanking out a clump of grass?

Vai not?

Heads up for May- Joe Satriani's performing in Mumbai and Bangalore. Of course he comes to Blore on a Tuesday. Knopfler was here on a Monday and U2'll be here on a wednesday. (Made that up, hoping to create a buzz, maybe it'll reach Bono even as he helps write off Africa's debt)

Confession- never listened to Satriani. Nor Steve Vai. only heard of them because the salunke vihar engineers would talk mystically of floyd, vai, satriani and fender stratocasters. i'm such a wannabe.

but here's something i do follow- the cricketers are back in town! the city can have their Wall, i'm to going to chinnaswamy to watch sachin, baba.

no, not sachin-baba. he has his own baba-log now. sigh. he's grown up so fast..

March 22, 2005

valhalla! how are you?

for the tens of you directed here by sabnisancha gaurav, a qvick disclaimer- there's nothing remotely scandinavian about me. so don't go expecting reviews of ibsen and nostalgic tales of a lazy day at the fjords.

Open the door, darling open the door. why are you angry so?

i wish the US could have been lobbied to give modi a visa. before you fling up your hands in secular horror, hear me out. give him a 10 yr visa. and thackeray, weepy singh, laloo, jaya, maya, shiboo.. and ganguly too. surely some of them will take it. and stay there.

March 21, 2005

naach basanti naach!

7 am on the bangalore mysore highway. Am heading for Ramnagar (Ramanagara? Ramanagaram?) to go climbing, with the work gang. Ramnagar is where the Gabbar hideout scenes from sholay were shot, so we're boning up on our sholay trivia. I get confused between basanti and dhanno, and sandeep suggests that I think of Gubbz saying "naach basanti naach!" ergo basanti is hema malini and dhanno is the mare. i am of course picturing a horse doing the salsa while tied-up dharmendra looks very confused.

We stopped for breakfast and i dug into steaming hot set dosas, with a lil bit of coriander at the top. i decided not to care that the cook was cleaning the tava with a broom (Kharata zhaddoo?) we then had the obligatory "pancher" and had a kid wheel away the tyre. meanwhile the obligatory village drunk (at 8 am!!) told us to turn at the arch. repeatedly. turn. at the arch. he followed sandeep around pointing and muttering about the arch. and the turn.

we got the tube replaced, drove back down the highway, turned at the arch and drove on till we reached the end of the road. a 500 step stone staircase led to a temple. on the way, some cave painting beckoned us. by cave paint- i mean chuna and red painted stripes. the caves were great. enjoyed the play of light and shadows and the ol lunge-leap-smash-knee-to-get-grip maneuver..
Pictures to be uploaded once they're developed.

we prowled around a bit, couldnt really make headway from there, returned to the unendliche Treppe. at the top we found the temple, went up the well trodden trail, climbed an iron staircase to the top and enjoyed the view while kites buzzed us. a little later we were back at the temple and trying to scale the really craggy rocks just across. it looked impossible- sheer drops and lots of thorny undergrowth. but two SSLC kids guided us onto a trail that led us straight to the top. they abandoned us halfway because of ursaphobia (dont go looking in the OED for that word). as the going got steeper (and the steep got going?) i kept an eye out for an angry bear or two. saw nothing apart from a few animal droppings which could not possibly have been bearish in nature. (unless it was on one of those starchy diets?)

the last bit was slightly harrowing. the wind picked up and we were tottering on rocks that were teetering on other rocks.. a bee hive was spotted and luckily remained undisturbed. we saw avishek and sandeep sitting in the temple courtyard across the valley and hallooed for a while. "whats the score?" i piped reedily. sandeep duly checked with airtel and relayed us the score. "is laxman retired hurt?" i yelled. after that they decided to maintain radio silence.
we didnt get onto the highest rock- needed ropes for that, but it was a good feeling. accomplishment. yet humbled by nature types.

drove back to bangalore, sleeping most of the way and had lunch at the pongal cafe. i resent being referred to as a north indian (not that there's anything wrong with it) as i think of us all one big happy family south of the vindhyas. or satpuras. but when it comes to mounds of rice, i start in horror and edge away from the banana leaf. good wholesome food, but ah needs mah chapatis!

March 19, 2005

nandini's pedhas- so far away from me

i cant claim to have been in a deep enduring relationship, we first met the day i moved to bangalore. 17th january. i wasnt really impressed at the beginning. i'm from pune, remember? but the fondness grew and soon we were spending every weekend together.

vrinda and lisa knew i was hooked, but other than the occasional raised eyebrow, we didnt really talk about it.

then i got busy with work, started running, discovered the gym at work, started getting to know bangalore and (cliche alert) we began to drift apart.

at the picnic on sunday, i decided that (americanism alert) this wasnt really working for me. i decided to keep a little distance between us.

last night i restlessly roamed about the apartment, thinking of those fat lil nandini's pedhas i'd stored in vrinda and lisa's fridge. v and l reported that the pedhas were depressed and ready to jump off the 6th floor balcony, cos they thought i didnt want them. no more long distance relationships, i vowed. let no expiry date put asunder what god has put together. this weekend, i'm bringing the pedhas home!