Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Not good.
Not one bit good at all.
Not liking it.
It is not ok, though it's the third day.

Yes this is cryptic, I made it so.
That is why I demand a time machine.
Or at least.... something.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Coffee and Hating Technology

I hate technology, that is certain now. Though I am well aware that it is with technology that I am reaching you all. I hate technology because of how dependent it has made me. So last week, I am trying to write something, day dreaming, staring at the walls and then bending my head to let my fingers type away and suddenly, the damn things doesn't even give me a warning (!), my laptop hangs. I say ok, not a big problem and I switch it off and switch on again. And there is nothing. A dark black screen stares back at me. I stare harder, hoping it will relent. But no, I have never been able to get the better of damn technology and I blink first.

Some frantic calls later, I end up in the service centre in the other side of this polluted world I now live in and more running around later, I walk home with a lighter bag. A long, frustrating week later, I get the system back today, finally! And technology is still going ha-ha at me. All of the data is there, I paid a mini bomb to get it restored, but I can't find anything! I don't know where my files are, where the favourites bar is (so so many important websites), I can't even find the bloody MS Word!!! Talk about frustration. Plus the recycle bin lands up in all corners of the screen, the screensaver won't stay, I can't get Word! I mean, is that the heights of an argh! moment or what!!!

I hate technology, in case you still didn't get it from the rant above. I managed to get internet working, though Chrome won't show up on the desktop and I have to click some million folders to get to it. And so I could rant. And no, I don't feel better. Oh, I forget, my laptop says hello in Chinese when I switch it on now!!! Talk about salt on the wound!!

Someone told me I should go back to using pen and paper. Gladly, I tell you, gladly. Just that the damn world won't follow, will it?
I will get it working, I think. And emerge all the more wiser. (You see, I have to tell myself that) Till then, let me continue cringing and going argh!

Oh, plus, coffee makes me feel horrible in the stomach now! Kind of a bad bad feeling that almost forces me to think twice about that second cup. And this is not even my usual strong coffee, mind you! I never thought I would live to say this! My once-addiction, my source of solace from the world, the coffee! Ma tells me its a good sign that I am being healthy. Well, booo to that. Am I not allowed to have even that one vice of choice? Well, argh to that as well!!! :-(

Saturday, June 05, 2010

These I Liked....and Related a Bit to...

The answer cannot be simple; it is compounded of such elements as the great beauty of clear cold air, of colors beyond the ordinary, of the lure of unknown regions beyond the rim of experience. The pleasure of physical fitness, the pride of conquering a steep and difficult rock pitch, the thrill of danger -- but danger controlled by skill -- are also there.
How can I phrase what seems to me the most important reason of all? It is the chance to be briefly free of the small concerns of our common lives, to strip off the nonessentials, to come down to the core of life itself.

-- from K2: The Savage Mountain by Charles S Houston

“I am greedy. puritans scold me for running breathlessly over life’s table of contents and for wishing and longing for everything.”

-- Nina Cassian

"It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves."

-- Sir Edmund Hillary

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Five Years. And Not Out of Work!

Would you care to know what I did yesterday? Let me tell you anyways. Last evening, it rained very heavily in the city, the lashing winds, blowing rain sorts that I am terribly familiar with in Madikeri. So much that the electricity went off and made it all the more a home experience. I made myself that now rare cup of hot, sugarless, very strong coffee, dragged my heavy wooden chair towards the door and sipped my coffee, even as little droplets of water sprayed on to my face. It rained for nearly an hour and I pretty much stared at it for that entire duration. And then I was duly inspired to write something.

Then the other day I took a long walk around the park and breathed in some air. Then I began reading a book by Margaret Atwood, falling promptly in love with the way she writes. I have been meeting interesting people, watching plays, talking, I mean really talking to my parents, talking to people, writing, traveling, breathing in and breathing out--slowly, not ever looking at a watch, or a calendar, cooking like ma does, watching movies, listening to music, doing yoga and learning to be an instructor, trying to teach, writing for children, learning Spanish…. And making my money too, mind you. Now where in the scheme of these things do I sound like I am wasting my life and “out of job”, I wonder!

Yes, this is a part-venom post. I couldn’t help it when things got so bad as they are. If I were to be asked to condense life’s truth in one sentence, it would be that people talk. Period. No matter what you do. No matter how you live your life. No matter how much care you take. I have also learnt that they don’t matter, not the people who talk. But.

There is always a ‘but’ in there, isn’t it? But once in a while, it gets so bad that what people say matters too. One of those million hurtful, nasty things travels along various ears and mouths and ends up picking at exactly the spot where the heart is most sore. The pain then, the sense of helplessness, that of anger and betrayal and hurt, is incredulous. I admit that I am not that thick skinned, at least not yet, to never let it hurt. And that hurt makes me do stupid things, like hurt other people. I don’t like myself then, but hurt clouds it all so much that the mirror in front only shows a different person and I think, maybe it is good, in the long term. That’s the defense mechanism kicking in. I hate it. I hate those people who started it. I used to think hate is too strong a word; my opinion will perhaps be reinstated when I am less angry and hurt but for now I hate.

As of now, life is not exactly the way I want it to be, but then, it never is. I make my peace with that, usually. Neither am I content, I never wish to be, contentment leading to complacency would be the death of my creative being. Life will never be the way I direct it to be, but that’s ok too. What is not ok is this “out of job” business. I have full days, running around, trying to live my life quietly, trying my mistakes out. And I am being brave in my beautiful mistakes (a friend’s line). The only people I now allow to worry whether I make money or not are my parents. Remnants of the flower power age that they seem to be, they are not too worried, as long as I know what I am doing, as long as I am responsible for my insanity here. Period. All others may please stop those hurtful things that you do.

And I mean you. For the last time, leave me alone. Better still, shut up. Thank you very much.

Sorry, there was too much venom I had to spit out. I hated doing that.
I am done now.

Also, I complete five years of blogging to this day. It has been a therapeutic journey, making it all ok during the days when I needed to vent out the most. This space has been with me through the worst and the best, like some people. To them, to this, I am most thankful. I only wish it was a more cheerful post today. But then, I did not have to pretend, least of all here.

Today is Ajji’s 80th birthday. She is much better these days, thank goodness for that. I went to see her today and many years after, we talked. It was nice. :-) Love you Ajji.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

No Thread Could Carry the Kites Along

There is only so much I am going to say about the really depressing movie that BK and I ended up at this afternoon. Depressing because it was such a waste of Hrithik Roshan in a movie that had the potential of being quite good.

Kites was only him, for me. He looks nothing short of divine, a Greek God, bronzed, chiseled and oh-soooo-damn-hot that it is cruel to see that such men are not made even in hundreds. How can someone be so perfect? I am drooling here, sigh…..(long pause)…. still reeling under the effect… Sigh! He looks like a hot Mexican himself. There is nothing much else to the movie. Barbara Mori looked better in the promos. In the movie she looks older than him, though I absolutely loved her smile in some scenes. There is no plot, only mindless car chasing and a lot of noise.

The villain is ugh! The handsome Kabir Bedi is wasted. Hrithik Roshan, the good actor that he is (and make women-kind weak in the knees gorgeous, I must add again!) tries hard to save the movie but after a while, even sighing over his perfection doesn't help you get excited about the next scene. There is some cute Spanish, one language I have always wanted to learn (I love the way it rolls off the tongue; also to be able to read Marquez in the original). There are a few glimpses of sweetness in some scenes, a smile here, a line there. One incredible dance by Hrithik. Some good chemistry between the two. The song 'Zindagi Do Pal Ki'. Some great shots of the desert. But that’s it. The rest of the film is purely a test of patience to sit through.

I suggest you download stills from the movie and stare at Hrithik instead. For long hours. Between deep sighs.


Junga Junkies, a Trekking Story in Deccan Herald

If you have not had enough of all of us ranting about our great trip yet, read this, the official, sobered down version! Published in Deccan Herald's Sunday Herald supplement. Loved it that they retained the title! :-)

Eons ago, for cavemen and clans, the practice of undertaking a long journey was apparently necessary, usually, to learn the art of survival, meet new people and things and become more a 'man', quite like a rite of passage.

Not quite so loft, but it was with something similar on our minds that four of us friends set out on what we assumed would be a trip of a lifetime. The might of the Himalayas suitably humbled us, wiped more sense and sent us back with many more lessons than what we perhaps had expected to learn. The destination was Sandakphu — the highest peak in West Bengal. What caught our fancy was the fact that it was perhaps one of the easiest trekking routes in the Himalayas. Mountain obsessed that we were, plus the supposed easiness of the route, it seemed the best option for a short trekking expedition.

One summer morning, happy to escape the Bangalore heat this year, we set out, first to fly, then take a train, then a cycle rickshaw, then a taxi, then a beat-up old thing that once used to be a jeep, all to start walking, all for that view of the mountains — a sight that we had decided would be surreal and overwhelming in superlative degrees. From the sticky, unbearable heat of Kolkata to New Jalpaigudi (NJP), a place that can easily be called the gateway to the entire north-east of the country, is an overnight journey. We board the train from Sealdah and thankfully, as the night progresses, the air cools down. The vast Ganga is replaced by endless miles of green fields, tiny hamlets, farmers tilling their land by 5 am and quieter roads.

Sherpa tribe
There is nothing to do or see at NJP. The only distinction that the town has to its credit is that it is a stopover to every place else; no one stops there, except to catch the next bus or shared cab. That apart, there is just a tall bronze coloured statue of Tenzin Norgay, the Sherpa who made that tribe famous for their mountaineering expeditions. Be prepared to be met with blank looks from most taxi drivers from here on. A lot of the villages along the famous route to Sandakphu are in Nepal and most NJPians would not have heard of these places. In fact, all along the way, the India-Nepal border is so indistinguishable that you would never know which foot of yours is in which country!

The longer trekking route is to hire a tax or take a shared cab to the village of Dhotrey and then start the trek, through villages with adorable names like Tumbling and others. We instead hire a taxi and drive up over five hours to a quaint little town called Maneybhanjang, passing by restaurants that sell fantastic momos, and towns of Kurseong, Sonada, Ghoom and Sukhiapokri.

At Maneybhanjang, we get the first inkling of how cold it will get higher up. The next morning, a land rover, barely held together with a few nuts and bolts, takes us on a very back breaking trip to Gairibas, from where we are to start the trek to Sandakphu. Anil, our guide, barely out of his teens, accompanies us. It is mandatory to hire a guide for the trek; they cost Rs 350 per day and are trained to point out trees, birds and plants to the awed outsider. Some, like Anil, will chatter away happily and tell you their life story. 

Most of the trek will be through the Singalila National Park, for which you need to buy a ticket. Trying to hold our backs together, we see our first white magnolias and the blushing pink rhododendrons. From Gairibas, the distance of some 13 kms does not seem much. But one and a half minutes into the trek, we are ready to almost give up. Egging each other on, motivated by Anil’s amused looks, we soon get into the momentum. Once the pain settles in, the route is sheer joy, for, along the way are hundreds of rhododendrons, in full bloom, in different hues, for as far as the eye can see through the mist.

Mighty peaks

Trudging on, we reach Sandakphu several hours later, passing by Kalapokhri in Nepal and miniscule villages with local chang bars. It is at an altitude of 3636 metres. Cold is not the word for what is happening there, though it is supposed to be summer; the altitude makes every breath a pain. We are horribly ill-prepared and the wind-throw, as villagers there call it, lets us know very soon just how ill-equipped we are. There is no running water, hardly any electricity and just three layers of blankets to try and keep warm. We spend a day and a half leaving agnostic ideals and cynicism aside and praying for the clouds to lift.

We try to keep warm with rhododendron wine and chang, the rather nice local wine served in tall bamboo glasses or mugs called tongba with millets, on which you pour hot water and sip through tall straws. The morning that we have to leave, someone up there shows kindness and the sun breaks through. We run up a hill and there is Kanchenjunga! Sitting beside a Buddhist prayer place, with coloured prayer flags, fast winds and hands that are fast turning a dangerous blue, we seek to understand the magic of Junga. It is all we had expected the sight would be — overwhelming and surreal. Sandakphu is one of the best places in the region to see the entire formidable Himalayan range, if luck shines. Mount Everest is there for one second, hidden the next. Only Junga obliges, along with her surrounding consorts.

The trek back through the forests, along Gurdum, to Shri Kola, the most picturesque hamlet by the river, then to Rimbik is harder. But hope of sighting the red panda and the rhododendrons all along, the memory of Junga and plans of being back in another season, another time, makes us still smile through the pain of putting one foot after the other. A friend brings up the phrase ‘Junga Junkies’. And that is exactly what we have all turned into by then.