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!