Friday, 30 October 2009

papad john paul II

an old old man used to deliver papads to our house when i was a kid. he's one of those characters from childhood that you remember. he had a face like pope john paul II, and was a stooped, weather-beaten old fella who seemed like he could barely walk. yet he would walk kilometres barefoot selling papad. he spoke very little, and what little he did speak was unintelligible, and i used to wonder why. maybe he was from a different place? we would buy hundreds of homemade papads from him at a time, to stock up till his next visit. i'd always suspected that mom shared my thoughts in wondering if we'll see him again. yet we did, from the time we built our house to the time i started driving a scooter. he would always politely decline a lift and flash his radiant smile with missing teeth (i used to think of the gaps in his teeth as sunspots on the sun) if i met him on the way, choosing to walk carrying his heavy bag full of different types of papad. and looking at him walk barefoot, i always used to wonder whether there were more cracks on his feet than there are wrinkles on his face. and watching his stooped thin frame walk away in a manner that seemed to defy odds, id always be left with mixed thoughts in mind.

the funny thing is, i remembered him yesterday after ages. i was on a chai break where a couple of colleagues were discussing socio-technical aspects of a user interface for monitoring a refinery supply chain, and pop comes the papad man to my mind. how in the name of all good things on god's green earth did that thought get triggered by listening to that conversation, i would dearly love to know.

story of a story of a..

I was writing a story. I still am writing it, in fact. Fleshing it out, so to speak. It started out as a script for a short film since a friend was bugging me to write one for him, but once we discussed it over, it turned out that this was gonna be too long for a short film, but i decided to go ahead and write it anyway, since it's been a while since i tried my hand at stories. the idea had been kicking around in my head since i saw the movie Ghost Rider, but it hadn't quite taken shape until recently, when the aforementioned friend bugged me.
The story is about a guy who, for reasons undisclosed (which means i still have to write a credible backstory for him), decides to die. he decides life isn't worth living, and it made no sense to him to fight all the meaningless battles he had to in every waking hour of every living day of his self-titled miserable life. so he decides to quit battling, quit life. being a coward, he decides suicide isnt for him. so he figured another way. he was going to walk on the lips of death, seeing if they'll open sometime and take him in. so he starts pushing the envelope, so to speak.

since i've already mentioned ghost rider, and since i'm a bike lover myself, you probably guessed that he is going to push the limits on his bike. and since iv already labelled him a coward, there were enough possibilities to play around with the physical courage vs mental courage angle, since it does take courage to stunt on a bike. so our hero starts with simple stuff that was scary to him before, and soon finds himself increasing the danger quotient. pushing the proverbial limit millimetres at a time, he finds himself emerge successful each time, so he pushes it some more. the cycle continues until one day he realizes that he has become good at this one thing in life, possibly the best one earth, evel knievel league. and this all important realization comes to him in the middle of the stunt that will kill him.

as soon as this idea had started taking form in my head, i tried to create this protagonist guy, and it kept falling apart. things weren't fitting where they were supposed to,and i wasn't too thrilled with the road my story was taking. it soon was eating my mind in my spare time, and i had to fix the story somehow. it so happened that one day, on my commute back from office on my bike, i was riding with my mind on autopilot and the story popped up in my head again. stories are good things to ruminate when you're coasting along at 80 kmph.

I am a fast driver, but i am also one to take safety seriously. i mean, i'm not above jumping a red light, but many of those who've ridden with me would vouch for me if i say that i dont like taking unnecessary risks. a crazy though seized me, and i found myself in the mind of my story's hero. so, what would he do?
soon enough, caution was gone with the wind that was washing over me, and i watched the needle climb upwards of 110, in peak evening traffic. i overtook vehicles with narrow clearances, shooting through red lights at crazy speeds, slaloming across a line of cars.. there was a curve on the way home, with a bump at its apex, and experience told me 40 was the speed there. today, it was going to be 70. the roads were damp from an afternoon shower, and my mind was blank as i was briefly airborne, still blank as i watched the bike slide to the curb and miss a car by an inch or so, all in slow motion. the thought that i may have taken this too far did occur for a flash, but somehow the thought of backing out didn't follow it. shooting through a red light, a cop jumped into the middle of the road to stop me, and i played chicken with him, trusting in his cowardice to get him out of my way. one violent turn of the bike was made to ensure he didnt catch the registration.

the madness ended on the lane home, where my cousin met me and we were to figure out where to have dinner. once that was done, i hopped on the bike and started it, only to realize that i had a flat tyre. it had by then been apparent to me that my prior misadventure was a bit much, but now i realized exactly how much. ten minutes earlier, and that flat wouldve been catastrophic. the moment that followed wasnt one of realization, but one of fear and deflation.

maybe stories are better told, not lived.

POSTSCRIPT : the facts.. i am writing a story, i do drive fast, i did get a flat tyre. the rest have been stringed together from incidents that happened to me/were witnessed by me over the week preceding my writing this. yes, this is fictional, just another late night attempt at an idea to get a short film out of my original story idea, but one that might not work considering this isnt easy to film either. nor am i happy with it. and no, do NOT comment on my driving.

an old futile attempt..

A story I'd written for an ultra short story competition back in 2006. I think it had to contain the word message or manoeuvre or something, dont remember now. Found this, and a lot of other writing by chance yesterday. Thought i'd post, considering it's utter crap anyway.. :P
No, i didn't win any sort of prize.

Ever the practical guy, I had a plan. I looked at it again and again and again; it was foolproof. All the elaborate manoeuvres I had devised to pass her the message seemed to work like swiss clockwork in my mind. I could do no wrong. But you see the trouble was, I was convinced of my own genius. I failed to see that the genius itself was the flaw of my plan. And I failed to see the chasm between genius and reality. So, I fucked up.

As usual, detractors might add.

All my elaborate courtship manoeuvres were wasted, falling pitifully short of conveying what was in my heart. Now she thinks I've lost my marbles. Oh well, can't be helped.

I guess its much cooler to be a flawed genius anyway.

Friday, 16 October 2009

where is the ♥ ?

so here i am again, at 2 30 in the night, with loads of free time, and not enough sleep. those of you who may have been reading the stuff over here for a long time might be dreading another post along the lines of the great circle mapper post, and yep you're right.
this time i was playing around with alt codes, and you will be surprised to find what boredom sometimes drives people into. i started googling the alt-codes, one by one. and i only had to reach as far as alt+3, before i was kicked. please to be sharing the kick.

well to be honest pretty much every symbol in the alt codes list throws up similar results, and iv tested them under different conditions (blame it on continued boredom), but in case anyone finds different, gimme a shout.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

notes from the road..

ill be honest with you, when it comes to roadtrips, im a little superstitious. i stop at places i think are lucky, i consider some things to be omens, etc.. all because of the total uncertainty that comes with hopping on a bike and just taking off. its kinda scary, ill admit. so, when a trip is preceded by a series of unfortunate events that under normal circumstances i would consider bad omens, its kinda amazing the trip happened at all. it was supposed to be a ride to ladakh, but due to lack of preparation i pushed it by a week, only to receive news that the lahaul-spiti valley route that i was planning to take was closed due to unseasonal snowfall and that the army were airlifting people out of there. so i decided it was a good idea that i was going to leave only a week late, only to find out that my laptop blew something and needed expensive repairs. which took a hit on my budget, and left me with too little money to do the trip to ladakh. so i decided on rajasthan instead. all this while poeple who said they'd want to ride along or ride pillion were dropping out of the plan, so along with everything else, i had to consider the fact that i had to ride alone, which is not something iv done except for a coupla chennai pondicherry trips. and in the meantime there was the whole circus of providing excuses and justifications to people who expressed concern about this undertaking, as well as the usual elaborate set of lies to cover my tracks from my parents :P so all things considered, there were enough reasons not to go.

so why did it happen, why did i go? well, have you ever gotten tired of planning something, dreaming of something, talking about something, but never actually doing it? tired of doubts, both from within and from others, tired of being scared of the unknown, and what it'll bring? well i have. at some point the sheer curiosity of what this experience would be like got the better of all the concerns, worries, superstitions, doubts etc.. so i literally said to myself on saturday the 26th, sometime in the afternoon, fuck all this, ive gotta go. so i hastily borrowed 5k, hopped on the bike without the usual bunch of spares, oil and stuff, and was off on sunday. and, on the night of the sixth, reached bangalore safely after about 3700 kms on the road.

so these are the notes from the adventure.. be warned, they are kinda random, copied from my book.
stats :

distance: 3700 + kilometres (speedo cable was out for most of the way to ahmedabad, and thanks to durga pooja, no mechanic was open all the way :| )
fastest stretch : belgaum kolhapur, average speed 100kmph
slowest stretch : 30 km post satara, average speed 30kmph, heavy rain, took an excruciating hour
chai stops : 15 (chitradurga, hubli, kolhapur, pune, andheri, kharod, ahmedabad, baroda, surat, asgani, kankavli, morjim) for a grand total of 37 cups of tea :D
punctures : 1
accidents : 1
birdhits : 1 (hit and killed a crow that was just taking off. couldnt be helped. if i'd managed to avoid it, i couldve added a 'no animals were harmed in the making of this trip' tag to mine.)
fuel cost : rs 4265 wonlee

most drivers i know hate trucks. mostly because these fuckers are scary on the road. and for the most part i agree. but there are reasons why i like trucks too. the vast majority of them, mostly the longhaul truckers and not those insane ones on eichers and smaller trucks, are professionals. they use the low beam at night, they move right over if you honk before and overtake, and on a slightly evil note, they make good obstacles for any cars you might wanna race :D they also have the most amusing things written behind them. i thought all trucks had the usual Horn OK Please and We Two Ours Two lines written behind, but having seen enough trucks now,im happy to report that some have absolute gems behind them. i read off 'naseeb apna apna' (which kinda struck me considering luck does play a good part in these roadtrips), 'hai bombay chellam' (on a tamilnadu truck, guess he was kicked about doing bombay runs), 'A zara hatke' (which made me chuckle), etc etc. even the simple 'awaaz do' instead of horn please, painted in styles that would make WordArt proud, was refreshing to see. yes, you do get bored on the road, this is one of the many ways i keep myself amused, especially when there isnt much of a spectacular view around.

also, i play this game. the taufeeq vs siyad game. when i was maybe three, i used to categorize the flat fronted lorries as siyad, and the snouty ones as taufeeq, ostensibly since i must've seen examples of the two lorry types bearing those names. so i count how many taufeeqs and siyads i see. siyad usually wins, but then i start trying to give statistical weights to taufeeq sightings, and try and equalize them in my head, by when i realize that im out on a trip to have fun, and not crunch numbers, so my mind drifts on to less tedious matters.

i hereby state that i hold in high regard every vehicle with a volvo badge on it. especially the buses. pretty much whatever i can do on the bike in terms of speed and manoeuvrability, they can do it too. and that is very, very scary.

when i had planned the ladakh trip, i wanted to keep a puncture repair kit with me in case i got a flat in the middle of nowhere. but when i started this trip on impulse, i didnt bother to get one. but i did get a flat, and it so happened that it was right in front of four puncture shops. i didnt know whether to put it down to fate or to the possibility that these same shop guys might have planted nails in the road there. either way, i needed a new tube, and pintu (the mechanic i woke up with great difficulty from his post dussehra revlery slumber) and i did a 1.5 kilometer trek to the tube shop. i say trek because it was a tough walk, negotiating between deep potholes on the side of the road as well as the garbage piled besides them. the tube guy was again woken with great difficulty, and in his drunken slumber he sold me a tube worth 350 for a mere 200. pintu mentioned this fact to me only after we left the tube shop, saying 'woh chutiya ban gaya, aap ka tube 350 ka tha'. to celebrate, i bought him tea n snakes at a restaurant that was open on our way back. it is a different matter though that pintu did a piss-poor job of fitting the tube and i had to stop 17 kms later to get it fixed properly.

police escort
ahmedabad is a very confusing city to drive into, and i lost my way almost immediately. the irony wasnt lost on me, after having navigated bombay and pune without a map. i stopped to ask a two policemen on a bike, who were talking to two other chaps on another bike. they noticed the KL registration on my bike and asked me where i was coming from. once they heard my answer, and once it sunk in, they insisted on driving with me to show me the way to paldi. on the way, we stopped for tea, and i was only too grateful and glad to answer their questions about my ride. one of the guys on the other bike, pravinbhai, was a building contractor, and wanted to know if his hero honda splendour would make it to delhi. i told him yes, i dont know why. and he wistfully said, yeah i guess the rider has to be strong, not the ride. the cops turned off before the paldi bridge, denying me the childish glee of riding into nid as part of a motorcade :P

i saw the cutest stray puppy ever on the road to khed. the little guy nearly ran into my path, but this time i was slow enough to stop, unlike with the crow. i wanted to bring him with me to bangalore, and actually pondered the possibility with midhun, my cousin who was riding with me part of the way, but decided against it. i was worried he'd get run over out there, and sure enough there was a dead puppy a few kilometres later. felt kinda sad. and ironically, today i spoke to marion and she told me they are looking for a puppy, and i felt like kicking myself for not having brought him with me. i hope he's ok.

old boyhood notions never die, they just transform. i used to think as a kid that spectacles with wipers would be kickass cool, now i think helmets with wipers would be kickass cool.

rain ride
as much as i hate riding in the rain in the city, id always wanted to do a long trip in the rain. well, i got my wish this time, except i was least prepared for it. of the 3700 kilometres, 500+ were done in pouring rain. if i count wet roads too, i could add another hundred odd kilometres to that. and it was hell, to say the least. the rain was so strong on approach to pune that i couldnt see a thing except the tail lamp of the car in front of me. it took me an hour to do 30 kilometres, stopping multiple times on the way. not that the stopping helped, there was usually no place to shelter, and i just stood by the side of the road looking like an idiot while people in cars which were warm inside passed by. i had to remind myself multiple times that i asked for this adventure, and iv gotta take what i get. my phone and camera died, and my clothes, even the ones inside my allegedly waterproof bag, were soaked.

but to be honest, if it werent for the rain, the experience wouldve been much less exciting. there were random moments, like when i sheltered in a shed in the middle of a sugarcane farm with some 20 odd people, and waited out the storm wondering if the shed would hold, while someone passed around masala peanuts. no one spoke a word, but the gratitude was visible on everyones faces.

riding from bombay to khed on NH17, i realized i may have found a motoring heaven in india. it was a beautiful twisting mountain road, treacherous due to the pouring rain. we hit this stretch towards sunset, and the lack of light compounded problems. and then we ran into fog. visibility was reduced to a few metres at best, and i was honestly wondering whether im gonna be one of the first guys in history to die after reaching heaven, as opposed to the other way round, which im told is more conventional. after a few minutes of literally stumbling around on the mountain road, a jeep came along and i decided to follow his tail lamp. god bless the guy who thought of tail lamps. if this jeep was gonna drive off a cliff, i didnt care, i was gonna follow that tail lamp.

the only time we had to succumb to the rain was at chiplun. after 270 kilometres in continuous pouring rain, we were dampened both spiritually and physically. my eyes were red from the raindrops hitting it at high speed (helmet visor down meant poor visibility), all clothes were soaked, the bike which had so far been misfiring like a north korean missile upped the ante a bit and was now misfiring like a pakistani copy of a north korean missile, and i was shivering too bad to even be able to hold the cup of chai i had in my hand. my cousin midhun, who had joined me for part of the ride, was rubbing his palms against the chai cup for warmth. i made some kinda lame joke asking him to rub it on the cigarette for more warmth, and he had this incredulous expression on his face before he asked me how on earth is it that the bad jokes section of my brain is still intact after all the beating we'd just taken. i guess this news would worry a lot of people :D

bad jokes
bad jokes are a good way of killing time on the boring stretches. you could thank the stars that i dont even remember half the ones i came up with, though the folks over at the daily punnedits page wouldve appreciated it. place names along the way are a good source for generating these jokes. for instance, theres a place called Kim on the way from bombay to ahmedabad. so if you take your car and make a dash for Kim, you could be Kim Car-dashian. its terrible, but i was chuckling for miles after i passed the board that said 'Kim' :P
oh and on the hill roads outside bombay i came up with this one.. which town exists merely to inconvenience you? khed in maharashtra. asuvidha ke liye khed hai. :D
other funny place names for which i had made up jokes but forgot them include watre, gangwali, aani, garag, kundi and unn. next time i should somehow attach a dictaphone to my helmet :D

but all things aside, humour is a good way to keep going especially when you're tired after riding hundreds of kilometers, but would have to do a hundred more to get to where you want to go.

one astronomical unit, or AU, is equal to the mean distance between the earth and the sun. similarly i made up the BCU and the BHU. the BCU stands for Bangalore Chennai Unit, and BHU for Bangalore Hosur Unit. they are roughly equal to 340km and 40 km respectively. they serve no practical purpose except to boost my morale. when i've ridden 400 kms, and i have another 350 to go, i tell myself, hey thats just one BCU away. and bangalore chennai is a route i've driven 8 or 9 times. and even though the road im on would be hell compared to the beautiful highway to chennai, the fact that im only as far away as chennai from bangalore would lift my spirits a little, and keep me going. BHU is used similarly, during that last phases of rides, when you're getting into a city and have to put up with tons of traffic after having done such a long smooth ride. so i remind myself i take an hour to get to hosur, and that is far worse than what im facing right now.

push the mind, the body will follow
while im loath to give a moral of the story, i will admit that each of these roadtrips have given me little nuggets of learning. on the morning of friday the 2nd in ahmedabad, i woke up with a fever. i had to ride to bombay and then onwards to goa that day, and the plan was to do over a thousand km that day. i didnt tell anyone of the fever, and made excuses for not leaving in the morning while i slept all day to see if the fever will subside. it didnt. im the evening i decided to leave anyway. and i was amazed for the next twelve odd hours. once i made the decision to leave, the fever disappeared. there was no more body ache. the ride to bombay was smooth, and i halted at bhartiyas house for three hours of rest before heading to goa. three hours of sleep later, things were still fine. then i got the news that goa, along with pretty much most of southern india, was flooded and that i wouldnt be able to ride. and once that realization hit me, the fever and aches returned in half an hour and i was popping crocins. that sorta thing has never happened to me before. i was genuinely amazed that it happened, though i make no claims of being able to repeat it. but, at the cost of sounding like one of those pesky self help book authors whom you see on shopping channels, ill say that if you push the mind, the body will follow.

since this has been a random assortment of trip notes, i dont quite have an end piece for this. but considering all the experiences, only about a third of which ive written about here, ill say the same thing i told my friend nithin on the phone.. i got out looking for a kilo of adventure, ended up with a ton instead.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

the end minus five minutes..

In almost all the movies i've watched, there comes a point just before the end where i think, it would be so much more beautiful if the movie ended right here. this is usually because i either already know how its gonna end, or wish it would end a certain way, and i'd rather imagine it than have them show me how it's actually going to end. its different with books, though. i might have figured the ending of a book long before i even picked it up but would still read on, devouring every word, including an afterword if there's one. but in movies, i cant help but think that it would be so much better if they left the ending to you and me, and our imaginations.

but then, again, i'm well aware of the possibility of a mind blowing twist or change lurking at the very end so i keep watching anyway, reservations notwithstanding. and that's how i discovered the absolute nuggets of joy hidden at the end of pretty much every mr. bean movie, long after the credits are done rolling :)

this post was triggered by watching the movie, 'the red baron', btw..

Saturday, 19 September 2009

On Flight..

I was watching a program on the History channel the other day, about the life and work of Burt Rutan, one of my personal heroes. This triggered another trip down the lanes of aircraft history, and I started reading up on the net, yet again, about various airplanes and their makers and their stories. And I realized that they were people who fascinated and inspired entire generations in their quest to make flight safer and accessible for all of us. They put their lives and fortunes on the line to prove to the rest of the world that what it thought was impossible was merely difficult for these guys. And ironically, all their adventures and risks went to making aviation that much more safer an commonplace for us, that chances are that a kid today wont give much thought to it when he looks up in the sky and sees and airplane leave a contrail across it.

I sometimes like to think, naively or not i leave it to you, that I'm a part of a dwindling group of people still fascinated enough by the whole idea of flight that we decided to go and do something about it. But ironically again, my meagre efforts too would go towards making flight a little bit more commonplace, a little bit less fascinating. oh well..

Sunday, 26 July 2009


get me that bottle from the fridge, amma would say. and i knew which one, the one that was on the top rack right under the freezer, inaccessible in a corner despite the fact that it was used daily. and i'd duly walk back to the kitchen with it, and she would carefully remove the top layer of cream off the curd she'd left to form overnight, and put it into the bottle in my hand. i'd stand there wishing there was a bit more, since seeing the bottle get filled was a pastime for me. id watch the white line of the top of the cream creep up all the way to the lid, day after agonizing day. sometimes i'd be asked to do the chore of transferring the cream, and i'd deliberately put in a little curd as well, just to push it up a few millimetres.

a bottle would get filled, but it wouldnt end there, another would get added. the agonizing process would repeat itself, then another bottle would be added. depending on the size of the bottles available, this would happen three to four times. and every day in the two or three months that it would take to reach this milestone, i'd watch the lines creep up with obvious impatience, look at the filled bottles with a certain satisfaction, and await the future. and finally, the day would come, usually a weekend or a holiday, when i would be asked to bring all the bottles at once.

and i would move at previously unknown speeds to the fridge, try and grab them all at once, and race to the kitchen; there was no time to waste. i knew what was next, the run to the store room to get the wooden thing that i still dont know the name of. followed by the big aluminium pot. when all was in place, amma would start. when we were younger, she would tell us the story of how devas and asuras churned the seas for amrit, or the story of how lord krishna used to steal butter as a kid, as she churned the cream for butter. which would soon start making an appearance as a big lump in centre of the pot, and she would take it out as one big ball and place it aside. i hated the butter, it was a mere obstacle to be crossed before the destination. id wait patiently while lump after lump of butter was placed aside. and look with concern at the bottles, which i would have to help with washing and drying, despite the fact that they served me well in my objective thus far.

now the good part would begin. the lumps were put into a large frying pan, and heated till they melt, while i sat on the stool in the kitchen and watched with equal measures of impatience and fascination. the aroma would soon fill the kichen, then the house, and soon you could catch a whiff from the gate outside. i suppose i did get a bit high on the smell, i wouldnt know. id just sit there till, at last, the golden ghee would be poured out into umpteen smaller bottles. when each of their lids were closed, and when each was safely stored away, i'd reach what i was waiting for. rice would go into the pan, mixed around in the residue with all the heart disease producing black bits, and i'd have the world's best ghee rice for lunch. and the months would seem worth every second.

good things happen to those who wait.. :)

Thursday, 9 July 2009

How to kill a baby bulbul..

Since I mentioned the funny story in my last post, a few people asked me to reveal one where i was the culprit. I dont normally do these public demand thingies, but since this one was hilarious in retrospect, and since it's popped up despite my best efforts to hide it, i thought i might as well relent :P

Once upon a time, long before i expanded the list of animal species i had eaten to thirteen (counting the fish kingdom as one, else i wouldnt have a number to put up here), i used to be an animal lover. not that i was vegetarian (far from it, i was one of the few who could go to the chicken shop, pick out the chicken, watch it get killed and still eat it), but our house used to constantly have its share of injured pigeons, kingfishers, tortoises, crows, hummingbirds, squirrels and finally, the protagonist, bulbuls. most were unsuccessful hunting attempts by the neighbourhood cats, some were picked up from the roadside and from school.

bulbuls used to nest at our house every year. in fact they're so comfortable with the house, and amma is so adjusting that we regularly have these guys making nests on lamps inside the house. which usually means that we sit in semi darkness to accommodate the bird, and achan has to interrupt his shaving so that our tenant can leave via the open window near the wash basin. so as kids, we naturally considered these our pets, and everyone knew how many bulbuls we had at home.

so naturally, when an abandoned baby bulbul that hadn't even molted yet was found at school, i was called first to take a look at it. not that i knew much about the birds, despite having lived in close quarters with so many of them. but you know how it is as kids.. saw the bird, took pity, and had to do something about it. the first step was to get it to a safe location, which meant home. the most important hurdle was our PT teacher mr charlie, who had this amazing ability to muddle up any animal related situation. in fact, any situation, come to think of it. so it was smuggled out in the school bag, with important books left back at the desk to make room for the bird. that the bird produced an improbable amount of shit during the ride in the van and ruined the remaining books in the bag didnt matter one bit; we were on a mission.

i had a collection of abandoned nests of different birds, and i picked out one that i knew was a bulbul nest, and proceeded to make the little bird home in it. but there ended my knowledge, i had no idea what to do next. and we didnt tell amma since we'd figured she'd disapprove since the bird was too young. well as kids you dont tell amma anything anyway, especially if you have even the vaguest indication you could get into trouble. but maybe i should have. we kept the bird away from sight, and kept checking on it everytime we could get away. finally it was dawning on us that we would have to feed it something. and though i knew that birds ate worms, in the panic of the moment i forgot that perhaps, and decided to call in an expert.

enter VK, hero of the earlier story, who was the biggest animal lover and rescuer around, someone i genuinely trusted on these matters. it was he who figured that tortoises liked to eat mom's hedges (called khufia or something). with that kind of a formidable resume, it was inevitable that i'd call him. so i called, explained the bird situation, and asked him what do these things eat. he said they'd eat anything. i had no idea that he was talking from his experience with parrots or something, who apparently would eat a lot of human food. and he im guessing didnt understand the gravity of the situation, especially how young the bird was. "anything?" slightly incredulous question. "anything." assured answer. so i asked him a more specific suggestion, and he asked what i was having for dinner. chapatis, i said. so it was settled then, little birdie was having dinner with us.

so i slyly made off with the first chapati mom cooked under the pretext of not being able to wait since i was too hungry, and went straight to the nest. and started feeding the bird tiny tiny pieces of chapati. now this led to a second phone call situation. VK was called again, to ask how much i should feed it. he confidently told me that as long as the bird opened its mouth and did that thing little birds do asking mommy to feed them, i should feed it. disaster.

even though kids break a lot of rules, there are times when u stick to the book like it were the bible. this was one such unfortunate occasion. the bird had downed about one and a half chapatis before i realized maybe i should stop feeding it. it did keep opening its mouth the moment i went near its nest, but then considering that i ate only four chapatis for dinner, it didnt somehow seem right that a bird the size of my palm would eat one and a half, and still ask for more. i have heard various theories on this in later life, including that its a reflex for baby birds to open their mouth when they sense movement near their nest, so that their mother would feed them. i also heard a theory that birds dont eat chapatis, period.

sad to say, the bird was in bird heaven by morning, and i was devastated. and knowing the trouble we'd get into for this, the body was disposed of with enough discretion to make the KGB proud of us. i dont remember how exactly the story got out, but then soon i was laughing stock, and that doesnt trade well on stock exchanges. the story did die a natural death until strange alcohol related processes in one of my friends' head brought it back to life, and my laughing stock is trading higher these days. i have done no further rescues since then, except once make a call to pfa in ahmedabad to let the experts take care of a cow. it's one of the things i really regret and would give anything to reverse, but then again, in a strange dark and maybe even gerald durrell-ish sense, its also one of the funnier stories from childhood.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Travel notes, mostly useless

shouldve typed this up long ago, but now that the papers i wrote it on are getting worn out from lying around in the depths of my bag, i think its finally due

McLeod Ganj - i swear to god we were received at the bus stand by lionel messi. well, the resemblance was uncanny to say the least. though it must be said that it took me at least five minutes to link the guide's face to lionel messi, and as a hardcore messi fan, i'll never be forgiven for that. Reluctantly, we didnt take Messi's hotel. It was dank and pylee swore there were suspicious stains on the sheets. So we went to the Tibetan Ashoka Guest House instead. For fifty bucks a head, i can tell you honestly that you will not find cosier accommodation elsewhere in the country, probably the planet. I'm usually averse to tourist guide books, but I have to grudgingly thank Lonely Planet for this find, and Amrita for lending it to us.

Monks - the most chilled out people on earth. Maybe these are the superficial observations of a casual visitor, but i think i can see why people from all over the world are attracted to their culture. They seem to have this ability to take everything in their stride. I couldnt sense, for instance, the ego and stubbornness i had seen in sadhus from my brief experience with members of that breed. the monks here seemed happy, had a polite smile for you anytime, and had embraced things that life threw at them. email, bikes, sneakers and crocs to name a few.

Thukpa - I've always had the opinion that this is the king of all tibetan food, filling in every sense of the word. rarely have i gone to a tibetan food joint without tryin the thukpa there. the ability to show off my mad chop-stick skills is an added attraction, of course. But i think, no im pretty sure, that i have had the best thukpa i'v ever had (or ever will) in my life so far at the Aroma beer bar in Mcleod. If i go ahead and try to describe it, there's a good chance i'll fail miserably, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

HRTC Bus Ride - According my esteemed co-traveller manu a.k.a. Mathew a.k.a. SI Mathappan, all buses on earth are crewed by two people : conductor Rajappan (pronounced rayappan in true blue mallu style) and driver Dasappan. (extra driver would be affectionately called spare Dasappan). we were taken from Dharamsala to Manali by none other than Lewis Dasappan, who was HRTCs driver in F1 before they left the sport to focus on public transport in himachal. But Lewis seemed stuck in F1 mode, since he seemed to find no difference between his bus and a McLaren F1 car, especially on the winding hill roads. The sound of bus tyres squealing is something i had never expected to hear except on BBC's Top Gear maybe, and I am deeply indebted to him for this new auditory experience. Few drivers scare me, and he was one of them. Coming from me, that's saying a lot.

"We should've fuckin' gone to a beach" - ever seen the movie snatch? remember the repeated refrain of "i fuckin hate pikeys"? the aforementioned line was my refrain for this trip. each time we ran into any sort of adversity, this was said. It must've been an overdose of goa trips, cos each time we were too cold, or too tired, or too broke, this phrase was uttered, accompanied by visions in my head of little cocktail glasses with plastic umbrellas in them. And i fuckin hate cocktails.

Film Photography - I have a film SLR. when i needed a camera, digital SLRs were useless and ridiculously expensive. so I went for a then state-of-the-art Nikon F-80. When every tom dick and harry around me had a digi SLR a coupla years down the line, I half heartedly extolled the virtues of old fashioned film photography. But now, Im sorta full hearted. I like the uncertainty of it. I'll never know how the shot turned out until I go to a GK Vale in bangalore. Maybe iv loaded the film wrong and the entire damn reel might be blank. But then again, good things happen to those who wait, so maybe the reel will be brilliant. My fingers will be crossed till i pay Mr Vale for his services and pick up the envelope from his shop. Its also an uphill battle for film photography. Even in touristy locations like Manali, film is hard to come by. To compound things, i decided at nine in the night that i have to have to have to photograph the hills silhouetted by the lightning, so i went out for film. And i had to search eleven shops (and a cyber cafe as a last ditch effort) spread over two kilometres before i found two overpriced rolls of ISO 400 film. I climbed back up the hill to our guest house vowing that I'll hold out even when shooting on film becomes much more of a hassle than it already is.

Signage and Hoardings - Sometimes when i see badly photoshopped shop and advertisement hoardings, as well as signage boards with poor english, i get this quixotic urge to arm myself with a laptop and vinyl printer and three horseloads of vinyl sheets and go about correcting those. Then i realize we would lose the charm of these places and would all turn into some boring place like germany. So, Child Bear it shall remain.

Plastic -At all the places i travelled to, i couldnt help but notice that the air was clean, and for all practical considerations, unpolluted. the ground was another matter though. plastic and garbage greeted us everywhere we went, including at supposedly secluded places like the tse chok ling monastery and gulaba enroute rohtang. i cringed and cribbed each time i saw plastic, almost reaching boiling point when a bunch of plastic bags ruined what was otherwise a stunning view of a river on the route to rohtang. the cribbing continued till i reached a wine shop and bought booze for the night's party, and realized that thanks to the recent ban on plastic bags, we would have to lug six bottles up the hill to our guest house. then i cribbed for the lack of a solution for this problem. I guess im too used to civilization. And it is an interesting problem, since my attitude is hypocritical in that i was using tons of plastic back in bangalore for my convenience, yet was demanding that the local populace not use any at all so that when i visit their neck in the woods (when i get tired of bangalore), i should have a decent view. dont expect me to become an eco activist overnight, but i'm guessing i'll spend more than a thought in this direction in future.

Tiger Eye Guest House - Even lonely planet didnt catch this one, despite it being in existence for ten years. we stumbled on it by accident thanks to the efforts of mr Piles, and immediately ditched the popular dragon guest house in old manali that we were considering till then. sure, the dragon had a better garden and view, but this was something else. the approaches to this place looked like something out of the movie roja, the terrorist camps to be specific. narrow gullys bordered by old wooden houses, cowsheds and firewood piled high led us to this gem of a place to stay in. the caretaker was a lovely old lady who mothered us to the point that even the normally rambunctious mr Piles was reluctant to party before she went off to sleep, in order to avoid gaining her disapproval.

Man U - Im surrounded by manchester united fans. Im the lone Gunner+Barca Fan in a sea of Man U idiots. two such Man U fans were travelling with me, and kept pointing out others who were wearing Man U merchandise. I've always wanted to pull their mightier-than-thou legs, and looking at my friend nithin's Man U skull cap, i may finally have the answer : man chested uniter.. saying something gay sounding like that should surely ruffle their feathers. Addendum : that backfired worse than a north korean rocket. they were ruffled, but recovered quickly to attack both my clubs, Arse-anal, and B-arse-a. Damn. I should think these things through.

Planning - How much of a trip should be planned? should it be micromanaged to the last detail, or should there be no planning at all? I guess we saw both sides of that in this trip. It was fun that we didnt have any initial plans except to find snow and make a peg of whisky with it, but then it wasn't fun that we couldnt go to the kibber monastery and lahoul-spiti since we forgot to check up on something as elementary as the prevailing weather conditions there before we set off. The lonely planet book was useful, admittedly, but the fun parts of this trip, as well as other trips we're done, were the ones where planning never even entered the picture. it is a bit of a dilemma then, since neither proper planning nor the near complete absence of it can guarantee a successful trip. of course, if it really came down to me, i'd burn the book, hop on my bike and go, most likely having forgotten my repair kit at home.

The rain - sometimes i hate the fuckin rain. sure, it was really really pretty to see the hills bathed in a freezing foggy drizzle interspersed with hailstorms, but on the other hand it ruined my planned paragliding session. Just as we reached the Solang valley for a short and expensive bout of paragliding, everything turned gray and murky and no paragliding happened. even if the rain had nearly killed me by starting after id taken off for paragliding, i wouldnt've held a grudge, id probably have cheered.

Horses - cliche, but beautiful creatures. i felt a bit guilty about having to use them for the trek up to the ski slopes, but since there were no other modes of transport available except for foot and a ridiculously overpriced maruti gypsy combined with the fact that we were four slackers with weak lungs and hardly any exercise, there was no option. we would never have been able to drag the heavy ski equipment up the hills on foot anyway. I had a nice horse whose name i couldnt catch from the incoherent speech of our guide, so i christened him gandalf since he was white and since i had forgotten the name of gandalfs horse anyway. and he liked to eat ice so the convoy stopped at his whim quite a few times much to my amusement and glee. it must also be mentioned here that we had a moment of sheer terror when something (we believe inappropriate advances by its rider, pylee) irked the horse at the end of the convoy and sent him running along with the rest of the horses. we held on for dear life while the guide managed to catch up and slow them down. i may now have a vague idea of the stuff cowboys are made off.

Kids - we had nine of them for company on the train trip to delhi. And ill miss them all. one looked like the kid from little miss sunshine, another like the 'there is no spoon' kid from the matrix. each had enough mischief up their sleeve to terrorize a fair sized town, so nine in a coach was pretty intense. pylee literally had kids trying to hang on to his long hair, and that is only a slight exaggeration. but they made the journey loads of fun, and we played cards, hide and seek and generally engaged in a lot of delirious nonsense that these tiny ones were able to create out of thin air. 36 hours flew by, and at the end we'd all grown kinda attached to each other that a coupla the kids wanted to take us home with them.

The mandatory funny story - each time my school friends and i go on trips like this, one or the other old obscure story gets dug out. this time it wasnt my turn, thankfully, but the story is funny as hell. this was when we were in tenth standard, and tuition on weekend afternoons were the norm. one of our friends, for privacy's sake we'll call him VK, had dialup internet at his house, and it was a novelty then, and it also meant we had access to porn. so the guys would all gather at his house after tuitions and wait patiently while dialup brought up the pictures one pixel at a time. then it was distributed via floppy disks. so one day, another friend was called up by VK. he claimed to have found the ultimate in computer technology, he could erase the clothes off a clothed girls pic. the second friend in question, N, was naturally intrigued and went over to see. and VK opens microsoft picture editor, and using a blur tool of some sort, starts working on a pic of some actress. he started scratching downwards with the mouse starting at her neck.
the folly was realized when they passed the area where her nipples should have been, and the two quickly figured they were merely spreading the colour from her neck. legend has it that VK kept trying until he almost got to her waist, but ill put that down to exaggeration. sitting in the balcony of tiger eye guest house with a few beers at night, this story popped up, and i am happy to report that beer, like milk, can come out your nose.

a few short ones..

skiing - looks easy, deceptively easy. bloody tough. falling is not fun, and getting up is even less fun.
apple cider - try it. try it. try it. beats beer any day. and i'm trying to figure out how to brew it :D
shooting stars - saw two on this trip, as opposed to 7 or 8 on the earlier goa one, and then forgot to wish on the second one. not that its worked so far.
himalayan trout - ranks in my top five fish, along with pearl spot, seer fish, crab and shark. and coming from a mallu for whom fish is vegetarian, you could believe the recommendation.
phones - not really necessary. i hope my boss wont read this on the blog.

this wouldve been longer, but i lost one sheet of paper with my notes on it. oh well, guess u were spared.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

How to conduct a mature aerospace related conversation..

The following conversation ensued when two fanboys clashed over their favourite aircraft manufacturer. It demonstrates the extremely mature, civilized and constructive level of communication that helps drive the aerospace industry forward to newer levels of technological excellence. Constructive competition at its best, I would say, and perhaps even an example of a management school case study.

Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:33 PM]:

when u plannin to start on the ship?

L,B [7:33 PM]:
L,B [7:33 PM]:
me donno.
L,B [7:33 PM]:
as yet.
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:33 PM]:
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:34 PM]:
well if its not gonna be too late, ill join in with the as yet undecided aircraft
L,B [7:34 PM]:
oooooooh! the boeing
L,B [7:35 PM]:
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:35 PM]:
over my dead body
L,B [7:35 PM]:
[ heartbroken smiley]

L,B [7:35 PM]:
[airplane smiley]
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:35 PM]:
[airplane smiley] = airbus
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:36 PM]:
[random pointless smiley] = boeing
L,B [7:36 PM]:
i got it first.
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:36 PM]:
thats cos i was typing more..
L,B [7:36 PM]:
i was thinkin faster
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:36 PM]:
B-) = airbus fans ...
[Nerd Smiley] = boeing fans
L,B(IE10) [7:36 PM]:
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:37 PM]:
L,B [7:37 PM]:
:S=airbus users
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:37 PM]:
[enraged smiley] = boeing users
L,B [7:37 PM]:
:) = boeieng users.
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:37 PM]:
beat u to it..
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:37 PM]:
[party smiley] = airbus users
L,B [7:37 PM]:
[snail smiley] =airbus
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:38 PM]:
[trash can smiley] = boeing
L,B [7:38 PM]:
[wilted rose] airbus
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:38 PM]:
:'( boeing crybabies
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:39 PM]:
we should save this conversation as an example of the mature way in which corporate folks communicate with each other.. could be an IIM case study
L,B [7:39 PM]:
the [sun smiley] never shines on airbus
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:39 PM]:
[lightbulb smiley] at least they have good ideas
L,B [7:39 PM]:
run baby run!!!
L,B [7:40 PM]:
boeing impliments them.
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:40 PM]:
nope. and airbus fans have a better grasp of spelling, too
L,B [7:40 PM]:
tis of no matter.
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:41 PM]:
it does show a higher rate of intelligence amongst the average airbus fans, when compared to boeing fans
L,B [7:42 PM]: from the matter at hand.....boy......!
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:42 PM]:
what was the matter at hand?
L,B [7:43 PM]:
[wilted rose smiley] airbus
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:43 PM]:
[sheep smiley] boeing is the blacksheep of the aerospace industry.. always comin up with useless stuff
L,B [7:45 PM]:
they use their brains.........not the other end...
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:45 PM]:
well they use their brains for pretty much the same function as the other end.. thats the problem
L,B [7:46 PM]:
airbus doesnt even know the difference.....
L,B [7:46 PM]:
between the two ends...
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:47 PM]:
thats cos they're using both ends correctly.. they dont need to know the difference as long as each is doing its function
L,B [7:48 PM]:
which is the same???
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:48 PM]:
in a sense yes.. they beat the crap outta boeing products either way
L,B [7:50 PM]:
oh! you mean they beat the crap out of both ends either way,
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:51 PM]:
yes, with a minor detail. they beat the crap outta boeing
L,B [7:51 PM]:
while boeing has a different game to play!
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:51 PM]:
yeah, the game called lets-build-an-airplane-that-we-cant-even-get-to-fly
L,B [7:52 PM]:
oh u mean the airbus game-price the plane higher then it can fly!
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:53 PM]:
well, people are paying up, so they must be gettin their money's worth..
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:53 PM]:
they sold more planes than your little tin pot airplane company, y'know..
L,B [7:53 PM]:
its a company thats cheating people for all its worth....
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:54 PM]:
yes, boeing is, i know.
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:54 PM]:
on 07/08/07 they rolled out an empty shell and called it a plane :D
Asokan, Aravind (Design Innovation) [7:54 PM]:
that was cheating

oh who am i kidding. things went rapidly downhill.. one of these days, we're gonna solve our differences in a duel to the death. i have visions of a specially modified a340 for carpet bombing duties over a little village in goa.
the identity of the other fanboy has been protected, btw.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

I know I've been around planes too long when..

There's a thread running on about how aviation creeps into the lives of us airplane fanatics..since i qualify for the title of aviation fanatic (in fact, if it were like real education, i'd probably be a triple phd or something on useless airplane facts), i read the thread with what you can imagine to be great glee. People were posting little things that they did in their day to day lives which were a direct effect of their love for aircraft. Like saying roger, when you want to indicate that you understood something. I have a list of my own when it comes to stuff like that, so i thought i might as well write them down.

My biggest offence is to pretend im flying a plane when i ride my bike. To most people, starting up a bike is a reasonably straightforward deal, especially if they have electric start as an option. But for me, it has to be an elaborate affair, as if i were spooling up a jet engine. i turn the key, pull back on the choke, press the starter button, listen to the engine cough to life, imagine its creating a smoke screen behind me like the rolls royce RB211s on a Tristar, wait for the straining sound that the choke makes, pull back on the choke lever pretending its a lever on my cockpit's throttle quadrant, pull the clutch and put it into gear, and then burn through the clutch in the name of feeling the rpms build up, just like it would when a jet spools up. and then im happy.

well not completely happy, cos then i start making estimations for times of arrival, time enroute, alternate routes (since alternate destination like in an airplane is not possible since im gonna be ending up in offce/home at the end of the ride anyway) etc..and when i have to make tight turns or turn around, i hit the throttle just before im aligned straight with the road, just the way i've seen some captains go full thrust a moment before the plane is aligned with the runway centreline. the thrust straightens out the plane as well as the bike, and i get this incredible rush each time it happens, be it on the bike or the plane. oh, and when a im approaching a traffic light that's turning yellow, i mentally call out V1 (the speed beyond which takeoff cannot be rejected) and gun the throttle and zoom through the light, calling 'rotate' once im through.. and when im caught at a red light and if i happen to be right at front, i perform what i call a carrier take off, building up rpms and then letting go, with the tyres skidding and straining to get me up to speed. Oh, and on the rare occasions that i do a wheelie, i call it a high alpha pass.. and then im happy.

of course, the list doesn't end there, far from it. setting right aviation related misconceptions and mistakes, even when my services were unwelcome, is another angle to it. this includes vigorously shaking my head and then making an explanation to my friends when i spot a mistake in a movie. that we are in a theatre does not matter in the least, nor does it matter that they couldn't care two hoots about what i consider to be a sacrilegious mistake. I mean, it may have been practical for the director to show a small regional jet from the outside yet use a twin aisle plane for the interior shot cos its roomier, but i will have none of that. nor will i stand for it when torpedoes are dropped on the ground or when other such stupid things are done.

aircraft recognition is another of these little habits. each time a plane flies above me, i have to crane up and recognize it. its a compulsion. seeing alone will not do. the very least requirement is a recognition of the operator, type and subtype. its not enough that i recognize its a 737, i keep straining my neck and increasing my chances of spondilitis till i figure whether its a 737-700 or 737-800. and if i catch the registration, especially on my visits to places close to the airport, then the day becomes significantly brighter. and if i spot a rare type, like for instance the day i spotted an Antonov 124 at IGI delhi, delirium ensues..sure, i do figure that it gets a bit annoying for those around, considering they dont share the interest, but this is something a lot of us plane nuts have in common.

what i have found most interesting about aicraft lovers is the passion that is shared. to me, it seems a lot more intense than most of the other hobbies and hobbyists i know. i have seen total strangers bond over their common love for aviation, in a way i havent seen much before. its not quite the same as a love for cars, bikes or comic books, but then that's just my opinion. all i know is that i spend two thirds of my waking hours doing thinking about planes, or doing something related to aviation. if i hear the drone of an engine, i look up. if i have to travel, i'll take the longest layovers to spend more time at the airport. i'd do the 50km ride to bangalore airport on the bike just to see off a friend, when im actually seeing the planes. its a passion, its one that keeps me going, and its one that i dont care if those around me don't share it with me.

it's my little world, one where im supersonic, flying on a flightplan that has no destination, only waypoints.

Addendum : I suppose its ironic that two days after i posted this, ive been moved into non aero work. damn you, recession.. :(

Monday, 12 January 2009

That thing i did..

When i was in twelfth standard, for our school's inter house western music competition, our house (named sputnik, btw) decided to play the song 'that thing you do', from the movie of the same name, played by the fictional band called the wonders. of course, not being known for my musical prowess (except for singing kpac drama songs really off-key with the aim of gaining amusement by annoying everone in earshot), i was naturally not a part of this desicion, nor was i aware of it. now the trouble with sputnik house was that we weren't a bunch known for being good at anything actually. in our twelfth standard, we had hardly won any competitions except for a few individual sports victories, and there was a definite shortage of people willing to go on stage for a musical performance. adding to this was the nature of the competition, since the rules said that it has to be a group performing the song, preferably with instruments. which had us in a bind, since singers were difficult enough to find. anyways, i was probably playing football, or goofing off or something when the house captain, nithin, who is also one of my closest friends, had suddenly remembered that i used take drum lessons for a year or so.

well, this was true enough, but considering that we had one music teacher in school who taught every damn instrument without knowing how to play them himself, my musical qualifications were suspect at best and a joke at worst. the only times i put my alleged drumming to use was to bang on the desk much to the general annoyance of all in class. so naturally, you can imagine my surprise when, on the eve of the competition, nithin came to me and said 'dude, you have to play the drums for western music'. i wasn't in the least flattered, in fact, i was shit scared. i mean, i've done my share of nonsense on stage while in school, but this was something else. i said no, i havent really learnt drums, it was all a mistake, i couldnt possibly do it, etc. but i supposed i misjudged nithin's desperation, cos i was dragged of to practise despite the colourful objections i came up with. he was the house captain, and he needed someone to play an instrument, period.

from this point on, it might look like one of those cheesy underdog stories, but then thats pretty close to describing what happened. that evening at practise, nothing was happening right, and my drumming was more of a hindrance than assistance, and that was something i expected. it felt really bad when i couldnt keep the simplest of beats going, and the four singers had to stop each time i messed up. frankly, it was embarrassing. but there was no time left, and we all had to leave by five thirty after practise. it was school, after all. i dont know what was going through nithins mind, but as we left, he came up and said something along the lines of dont worry, you can do it, etc, which evolved into an extended inspirational conversation as we walked towards the school gate where we parted ways. anyways, practise resumed next morning, and we had till about ten o'clock before we went onstage. we started at seven, with pretty much the same results, interspersed with further pep talk from nithin. by around nine o'clock i had gained enough confidence to try out a few basic rolls along with the staple beat, for which i got rapped by one of the singers who said i'd probably muck it up on stage. so i shelved the idea.

at ten, we went onstage. my mind had pretty much gone blank, this is the first time ever that i had played any instrument on a stage in front of people. it didnt matter that most of the crowd were juniors i could browbeat into silence even if i did muck up badly on stage. my hands were shaking, etc. the usual stuff. anyways, once the song started, everything came on just perfectly. though i couldt manage a single perfect practise, i was rolling left and right, not missing a beat, and the house captain as well as some assorted friends (arjun comes to mind) were giving me surprised looks from backstage by which i figured i must be doing something right. anyways, long story short, that was my only onstage musical performance, and we won the first prize which was pretty amazing for a bunch of four singers, a wannabe drummer, and someone with one of those jangle thingies to go with the beat. compared to the fact that we won against more accomplished singers in other houses whose victory was almost a given that morning, it turned out to be our most memorable victory ever. even today, the subject pops up after nithin and i are a few (black) beers down.

anyways, my whole reason for telling this story was different. i havent done much drumming after that incident, and on saturday, i finally got behind a drum kit after years. a colleague of mine, benjamin, used to be a drum instructor, and recently bought a pretty expensive kit. and he offered to teach me. now i had mentioned the school story to benjamin once over a few drinks, so after i stumbled along with some five or six songs that were playing on his laptop, he stopped the music and said 'ok, enough with the crap, now is your test'. or something to that effect, cos i was already delirious from the drumming. and he played 'that thing you do' on the comp.. and funnily enough, i played it again, with only one mistake. i have heard the song maybe four or five times in the last seven years. yet, once it started playing, it just came to me, it felt like that day on stage years ago, and my hands freed up, and the beat just flowed.

as soon as i left benjamin's place, i was on the phone with nithin :)

anyways, net result is that im planning to drum more often, learn with benjamin, perhaps get my own kit somewhere down the line..

song attached, btw.