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It was a friend who drew my attention to this plant. At first I took it for an ordinary plant bearing red flowers – like numerous others I have clicked before. However, on observing closely I realized that the plant bore flowers of diverse agegroups – from ones right out of flower-buds to ones wilted by age – all of them together!

posted: 25.11.04 | permalink | 2 comments

While walking in the fog
I heard a haunting song
I turned to my left, agog,
and saw you walk along

Then, as if by a queer chance,
the wind howled, the sun shone
and you,like fog of moments ago,
were a distant silhouette; bygone

posted: 23.11.04 | permalink | 4 comments

A visit to Nandi Hills
At a barely ninety minute’s drive away from Bangalore, Nandi hills provide a welcome relief from the taxing urban milieu. On a cold grey Saturday morning, two weeks ago, we made our way to the hills. Traffic, it being just 8:00 in the morning, was sparse and offered us little resistance. After about forty minutes of driving we paused for a quick breakfast at a cozy little roadside joint. To my surprise, they kept a little, beautiful, well maintained kitchen garden – most unusual for a roadside eatery.

By the times we were behind the wheels again, more traffic had hit the road but since we were already past the congested city area our progress was smooth. Shortly we were cruising along on an empty, infinitely long narrow road with endless green on its either side. We stopped outside a building adorned with a giant statue of Ganesh, mistaking it for a temple while (for some inexplicable reasons) it turned out to be a boarding school. A few pictures later we hopped into the car again.

Soon the hills sprang into our view. Their peaks were veiled in a thick mist. As we began our arduous drive uphill, negotiating the serpentine curves of the hill road, we were confronted by dense fog. Every ten minutes or so we would get out of the car, click a few snaps, marvel loudly at nature’s beauty and then clamber back into the car again. On progressing higher the visibility on the road degraded to just a meter or so. The engine of my friend's Maruti 800 could be heard remonstrating as it tackled the difficult terrain. Curves on this road uphill were numbered; the milestones placed near them kept giving conflicting opinions of the distance from the summit.

At last we arrived at a circular mesa which we wrongly took for our final destination. It was a checkpoint for paying the parking toll. On our left were two wooden shacks. In one, sat a gentleman clad in khaki and collected the toll. The other was a make shift shop which stocked groceries and other daily necessities probably for people living at the hill. Water was now precipitating on the leaves of the trees around us and pouring down. The entire place owing to dark skies and a dense fog looked extremely eerie. The crackling sound from All India Radio (Mukesh crooning – ‘कितना हसीं है मौसम, कितना हसीं सफ़र है’ which roughly translates into – how beautiful is the weather, how beautiful the journey) added to the haunted feel. It could have easily been an inspiration for many a stories dealing with ghosts and the occult.

The final leg of the drive to the summit was a steep but short one. The view at the summit was anticlimactic. Three shops – again selling groceries, potato chips etc – played loud music on the radio. Parking was scarce. Rowdy monkeys had made themselves comfortable on rooftops of parked vehicles. A little tea-stall in one corner would only serve machine-made coffee or hot water and tea-bag combo leaving my craving for a properly brewed hot cup of tea unsatiated.

We visited a dilapidated temple on the summit. As expected the high priest rudely insisted on conducting a little prayer ceremony to inveigle money. On coming out we found the entire scene at the hilltop; with people pouring in and the din from the radios getting louder, most disagreeable. Summarily, we began our descent. The fog had cleared up a bit and we stopped again at a couple of spots to reflect upon the serine beauty of the hill and its valley. The journey sometimes is indeed more pleasurable than destination.

P.S. Pictures to follow shortly
posted: 22.11.04 | permalink | 0 comments

Grand Old Tree
While waiting for a friend outside Koshy’s few days ago, I happened to stare away at the road. For the first time I noticed the old tree that shades both lanes of the road. Its grandeur filled me with awe and humility:

There are just 3 such trees on St. Mark’s road – while I have always marveled at the one right outside the Barista, I had somehow failed to notice this one all along.

Notes to self:: Don't count trees while looking up at the sky - the dense, fused, spread-out canopies of old trees can easily introduce grave errors in your final figure. Tree count usually equals trunk count. A count of all the portly trunks at St. Mark's road reveals that the road is lined with ten trees and not with just three (as observed earlier). Live and learn...
posted: 21.11.04 | permalink | 4 comments

I moved to Bangalore with very few books. When I found a place to live, I was delighted by presence of a little wooden plank; barely five inches wide, nailed to the wall at a height of about 5 feet in my bedroom. This purported mantelpiece was to be my purported bookshelf for coming few days. As I settled into a steady routine I found myself with ample time to read and thus the stack of books grew taller with each passing month. Within a year I had about 25 odd books weighing down upon the wooden platform. During the routine exercise of dusting them, I realized that placing another book on the mantelpiece would be the end of my stack and the mantelpiece. (It dawned on me that the flimsy piece of carpentry was never intended to sustain such heavy loads – collective load of a wallet, a keychain, a cellphone may be, but not a pile of books) Without testing the sturdiness of the mantelpiece any further, I ferried the books into my closet. There are still some books left on the mantelpiece – mostly ones that I am yet to read.

This weekend as I was moving my books around, a thought occurred to me – what would it take for me to have my own library. Now a personal library would only have books that I have read or want to read. At my current pace, I finish about 4 books a month (of roughly 250 pages). By a very conservative estimate – without taking into account advances the medical science will make in coming years – I’ll probably live another 40 years. That means I will add roughly ~2000 (40 x 4 x 12) books to this library in my remaining lifetime. Taking into account 300 or so books that I will probably want to re-read I should stock this library of mine with just about 1700 books. Not a big number for a library. In fact, 1700 is such a disappointingly puny number that an average human lifespan suddenly seems short! Call it a convoluted case of deductive reasoning but it does have potential to exert a pronounced effect on my reading habits – when you have just 1700 books to finish, you better pick each book diligently! (so friends, spare me the Sidney Sheldons and Dan Browns of the world!)
posted: 18.11.04 | permalink | 4 comments

On a clear sunny day
The old and the new

and a sea of blue

posted: 17.11.04 | permalink | 2 comments

For many people in Bangalore, Koshy’s restaurant at St. Mark’s road is not just a restaurant, it’s an institution. And any place which attains that grand a stature, comes with its own set of quirks.

Your first visit to the place will probably conclude in disappointment. Let’s start with the menus. On last count, my table was stacked with 4 of them (drinks menu, sea food menu, main course menu, breakfast menu?). It will take you a while to iterate through almost random list of dishes and place your order - which is once you have decided which menu to pick in the first place. The menu at the air-conditioned section is better (notice the use of singular – menu). While flipping through it, you’ll come across a few pages that chronicle the history of the restaurant and its illustrious visitors (Nehru being of them). The food is mediocre (I speak only of the vegetarian dishes) and by my humble fiscal standing – a little on the steep side. The waiters, liveried in white, might treat you with disregard bordering on scorn. Though, as I’ve found out, once you are a regular, they can surprise you with their felicity. Until recently, especially if you happened to drop by in the evening, you would gag and choke in the cigarette smoke that would hang lazily in mid-air. Now that the smoking is prohibited (I’ve seen a lot of bohemian old timers vanish since the edict) the ambience is deprived of the drear haze.

So what gets me to Koshy’s? The place has a quaint charm which very few places in Bangalore can match. It reminds me of an era long gone past. Life inside the restaurant moves at its own sweet pace – heedless to the urban delirium just inches outside. Koshy’s reminds me of my salad days at the college cafeteria. Like a lot of other things at college our college cafeteria was an institution too. (Any outside calling it “canteen” would soon find himself an undesirable subject of supercilious looks – not an enviable position to land oneself into). It is the only place that I know of in Bangalore which plays good music (‘good music’ is a statement imbued with personal bias) – mostly jazz. I am surprised (and aghast) at how little most restaurants think about music they play (and why should they – most people I know, couldn’t care lesser about ‘sonic ambience’ at an eating joint).

To conclude, let me make a little known gastronomical revelation. Koshy’s serves wonderful Appams and Stew on Sunday mornings (and as far as I know on Sunday mornings only!). Now I could start another little essay here that eulogizes the merits of their preparation (and with my flourish I risk landing a job as a copywriter for an ad agency hired by Koshy’s to do a colored brochure for them) so as a magnanimous gesture of self-preservation, I’d rather have you pay them a visit!

P.S. In my experience, I’ve found 9:30 in the morning as the best time to visit Koshy’s on Sundays; it gets crowded soon thereafter.
posted: 16.11.04 | permalink | 2 comments

Canine Quartet
I met these adorable mutts on one of my regular early morning walks to office. While the three on the left were peacefully lost in their morning meditation the one on the right (let’s call him ‘Malfiend’) licked and scratched itself merrily in unmentionable of places. I wanted to get a tad closer for this shot, but Mr. Malfiend kept casting furtive, truculent glances towards me which checked my advances at a safe distance. A canine cavalry charge – even by a small group of four – is a slightly frightening thought. I sedulously composed the frame, took a deep breath and tremulously pressed the shutter release. My camera finally played its pre-recorded “click” sound (a cheap imitation of a SLR’s shutter release that it makes after completion of each shot to congratulate itself on its momentous achievement), heralding the end of my meek, meager adventure.

I noticed the “software” sign on the right once I saw the final results on my computer screen – has the industry gone to the dogs?

Alternative title: Who let the dogs out?
posted: 14.11.04 | permalink | 7 comments

Happy Deepawali
I wish you all a very Happy and Prosperous Deepawali!

(not to mention an environment friendly one)
posted: 9.11.04 | permalink | 6 comments

Anita writes about Sunsets. Couldn't help posting this gorgeous sunset I caught near airport Intermediate Ring Road just days ago:

posted: 9.11.04 | permalink | 3 comments

Short notes on books I’ve finished reading recently:

The Simoquin Prophecies: I would have probably never read this book (being guilty of having judged a book by its cover) had it not been gifted to me by a friend; and what an utterly enjoyable read I would have deprived myself of! The book is choc-o-bloc with witty allusions to mythology (mostly Indian), fairy tales, allegories and all things supernatural. References to some of the renowned works are obvious - “In a hole in the ground there lived a Rabbit”. Some others are a little discreet - “A boy even lost his thumb while trying to spy on Asvin’s archery lessons”. And I am told that I need to be from a certain part of our country (West Bengal) to appreciate a lot of nuances and innuendos, fully.

This debut novel by Samit Basu is not exactly an edifying example of modern Indian English literature, but do pick it up if you are looking to be thoroughly entertained.

A Brave New World: The first half of the twentieth century was more turbulent than the next 55 years that have followed. The world witnessed two of its greatest calamities in the two World Wars. Amidst uncertainty and chaos of the emerging world order, Great Depression, unabated scientific progress and just few years before the Second World War was written Aldous Huxley’s A Brave New World. While Orwell, more than 17 years later, was to allude to the dangers of a communist regime, Huxley draws our attention to dangers of blatant consumerism. Huxley’s society is a Capitalist one. It is a society continually veiled in false utopia. It is a class society, where members of each section of the society are ‘manufactured’ and conditioned in factories, to fulfill their pre-destined roles. Promiscuity is openly encouraged; even preached. Narcotics are regularly prescribed to induce a sense of well-being; to keep worrisome thoughts from nagging people into thinking outside of the governed norms. The institute of family, the fundamental unit of society as we know it, has been purged (I found this aspect, amongst others, starkly similar to 1984). The society of Huxley, therefore, like society imagined by Orwell, is a totalitarian one. Both of them rely on thought control and differ only in the means used for exercising that control.

Huxley, 19 years later, backed A Brave New World with A Brave New World Revisited. In this book he takes stock of the world post the Second World War and argues that how frighteningly close we have come to the morbid fiction that his earlier work was. I am yet to lay my hands on the latter, but the former is highly recommended.

The Double Tongue: was to be William Golding’s last novel. Left in second draft at Golding’s sudden death in 1993, it was published in 1995. This novel takes us to the twilight of the Greek civilization. The protagonist of the novel, an oracle at Delphi, tells us the story of her life right from her childhood days to the day that she was brought to Delphi to succeed the then oracles. In the backdrop is the drama and turmoil of the Greek society. The story sends a chill down your spine ands leaves you with a strange feeling of desolate nothingness.

The book, like other works of Golding that I’ve read, is very well researched. In fact it left me feeling so ignorant (the hallmark of a good book) about the Greek civilization that I have been compelled to pick a translation of works of Herodotus to further my education on the subject!
posted: 8.11.04 | permalink | 0 comments

Magical touch of light
A lot of my pictures are plain fortuities – I just happened to be there at the right place at the right time. Three weeks ago in Hyderabad, outside an ordinary café, the light showers and a dim overcast dusk sky connived to create lightening conditions ill suited to digital photography; forcing me to use the puny flash built into my camera. The final (and in my humble opinion - pleasing) results however, belied the unfavorable ambience – the faint greenish glow (probably the result of the flash) on the fresh budding leaflets grants them a surrealistic, magical touch…

posted: 7.11.04 | permalink | 4 comments

The sun sets, I stand alone - Braving solitude, and impending night's fear

Glad you dropped by - whisperer of sweet nothings into my ears

posted: 3.11.04 | permalink | 5 comments

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