Thursday, August 25, 2005

On my way..

Four stamp-size photos, a hastily filled application, a search operation(to get my hands at my degree/marksheets etc), two
cheque leaves and a 5km bike ride later, Mr. Mariappan of Southern college (Mysore univ, contact centre) had one look
at the stack i gave him and said "This is spot admission, you'll get your admit-card in 10 days".
While this is, in every way, unlike spotting your registration number on JEE results published (pretty much anyone with a degree
and 15k on him will be admitted!), i did allow myself to let out a silent 'yippie':).

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Finally finally...

I've been toying with the idea of studying something related to earth sciences like geography/geology for quite a while. The idea is this...4 yrs down the line i should be
in a position to leave this indusry and go to the edges of the world on expeditions on work!!...Tall ask, i know...but things ought to start somewhere (a liberal dose of expedition-watching on 'Adventure one', and confounded expressions on my face when i go on treks with learned guys who talk about the flora and fauna around the trail when i am thinking 'this grass is so green and that flower is pretty', might've triggered this).

Anyways, went to the Mysore univ distance education study centre today...wasnt a good outing...was not eligible to apply for geography or geology (both needed corresponding bachelors' degrees). The only thing i could apply for (closest related to wat i want to do) was Geoinformatics. The syllubus included interestng words like Digital cartography, Mapping, photogrammetry, Remote sensing and the just went ahead and bought the application...would be applying this week (there's no test or anything...i dont think they reject applications for distance education, considering that they charge 15k per annum - i paid 3k per annum for my engineering degree!!)...

Am looking forward to being in a classroom, and having things like lab-exercises after a 6 year gap. This may not take me to the Arctic, but might get me closer to being on the crew of 'A1's' India diaries!!...

Monday, August 15, 2005

The boy who asked for more

This was the title of a non-detail lesson we had in English (in 6th grade i think). It was an excerpt from 'Oliver twist', about the part where Oliver asks for more porridge.

I dont know why i had to think of this. Just that i created two more blogs...
Parallell worlds - A record of my favourite movies, books and offerings from the tube. I'll try and maintain its currency as much as possible.
Foot prints - My travel diary.

I am realizing that blogging is a time killer. I used to play a lot of carroms in the week days and do lotsof work in the weekend. Now, i play a lot of carroms in the weekdays and read/write blogs during the weekend. This is not going to work. Got to do some damage control...

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Rain rain come again

Chennai received showers yesterday...and the sun is reluctant to come out today as well.
Went off to the beach the moment it started raining...and swam for more than an hour...sea was rough, water was cold, and it was raining, that is a near perfect setting for a swim(for me). One of the guys in the beach wanted to join me...i was a little hesitant...cos, while i know enough swimming to save myself even if the sea gets mighty rough (that's what i'd keep thinking till i perish some day in the seas:), i was not too sure if i can pull an adult along if things go wrong. Anyways there are no rules, he tagged along..i warned him that the sea was rougher than normal...thankfully there were lotsof shallow spots...after going a little inside, fear (and sense) got the better of him and he wanted to head back...getting back to the shore is normally the much tougher part, swimming in is fairly simple. Sea, like women, draws people in quite easily, the difficult part is to get back to where you started, unscathed and intact!!..After some drama, he did make it to the shore. (not drama really, u just need to get used to the fact that the big waves will get the better of you often, and u just need to give in, not panic, and you'd resurface).
He said he'd join me next weekend as well. Lets sea...

Friday, August 12, 2005


A list of movies that i thoroughly enjoyed, or atleast remember having enjoyed...
i keep updating this list whenever i see a good movie or whenever the names of amazing movies
seen in the past pop up in my mind...

1. Scent of a woman (Al Pacino, Chris O Donell)
2. As good as it gets (Jack Nicholson, Helen Hunt)
3. Six degrees of separation (Will Smith)
4. Remains of the day (Anthony Hopkins)
5. Dead poets' society (Robin Williams)
6. Gia (Angelina Jolie)
7. Before sunrise (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy)
8. Reality bites (Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder)
9. Girl interrupted (Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie)
10. Gattacca (Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman)
11.Legends of the fall (Anthony hopkins, Bradd Pitt, Aidan Quinn, Julia Ormand)
12. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind (Jim Carey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst)
13. The truman show (Jim Carey)
14. Little women (Susan sarandon, Winona ryder)
15. Ghost world.
16. When harry met sally (Meg ryan, Billy crystal)
17. Vanilla sky (Tom Cruise, Penelope Cruz, Camerone diaz, Curt Russel)
18. Chocolat (Johnny Depp)
19. Life is beautiful (Roberto Benigni)
20. Indecent proposal (Demi Moore)
21. At first sight (Val Kilmer)
22. Life of David Gail. (Kevin Spacey, Kate Winslet)
23. Pay it forward. (Kevin Spacey, Helen hunt)
24. The Shawshunk redemption. (Morgan Freeman)
25.. The negotiator. (Kevin Spacey, Samuel Jackson)
26. A few good men. (Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Kevin Bacon)
27. Top gun. (Tom Cruise, ValKilmer)
28. Enemy at the gates (Jude Law, Ed Harris, Rachel Weisz)
29. The perfect storm. (George Clooney)
30. This boy's Life (Leonardo Decaprio - as a kid).
31. Meet Joe Black (Anthony Hopkins, Brad Pitt).
32. Fools rush in (Mathew Perry, Salma Hayek)
33. Vertical limit. (Chris O Donell) (set in K2, one of the most notorious mountains in the world)
34. Blue crush. (an amazing surf video at the least!)
35. Cocktail (Tom Cruise)
36. Troy (Brad Pitt)
37. The Lion King.
38. Bug's life.
39. One fine day (George clooney, Michelle pfeiffer)
40. Bend it like Beckham.
41. Jerry Mcguire (Tom Cruise, Renee Zelweger, Cuba Gooding Jr)
42. Notting hill (Hu Grant, Julia Roberts)
43. The Last Castle (James Gondolfini, Robert Redford)
44. Sweet home Alabama (Reese Witherspoon).
45. The castaway (Tom Hanks, Helen Hunt).
46. E.T (Drew Barrymore - as kid).
47. Chicago (Richard Gere, Renee Zelwegar, Catherene Zeta Jones)
48. Mystic river (Sean Penn, Tim Robbins, Kevin Bacon).
49. Breaking up (Russell Crowe, Salma Hayek)
50. The cider house rules (Toby Mcguire)
51. Joan of Arc
52. Music from another room (Jude Law, Gretchen Mol)
53. Talented Mr.Ripley (Matt Daemon)
54. Philadelphia (Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington)
55. Proof of life (Russel Crowe, Meg Ryan)
56. Anna and the King (Chow Yun Fat, Jodie Foster)
57. Rainman (Tom Cruise, Dustin Hoffman)
58. Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks)
59. Avalon (Aidan Quinn, Elizabeth Perkins)
60. Before Sunset (Ethan Hawke, Julie Delpy)
61. Gone with the wind. (Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh)
62. Under the Tuscan Sun (Diane Lane)
63. Life stinks

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Art and Anguish:

Saw 'Salangai oli' today. I've seen it once as a kid, did'nt find it interesting then cos it did not have any action sequences! I kept saying it was a great movie back then just so that i was not left out.

Seeing it as a grown up was ofcourse an altogether different experience. It traces the life of an extremely gifted and passionate dancer-Balakrishnan(played brilliantly by 'Kamal Hasan'), who dreams of learning all indian dance forms and evolve a collaborativedance form. It is a story of unfulfilled love, shattered dreams, lofty ambitions broughtdown to earth and drowned in alcohol. It ends with Bala getting some solace. He passes on his art-baton to the daughter of the love of his life and seeks his redemption. Jayapradha as 'Madhavi', the love of 'Bala's' life and his redeemer, looked ethereal, and acted amazingly well.While there were certain aspects of the movie i could not relate to, it had me totally involved.

Now, in a movie with a similar setting, if Bala had achieved whatever he set out to achieve in Dance, and also found Madhavi's love, the movie would'nt have been half as moving, and no one would be talking about it 22 years after its release.

Anguish, pain, sadness and suffering offer themselves to art in a way happiness and fulfilment can never dream of. They are simply much more potent realms of expression. A happy story about simple simon cannot create the kindof impact that a 'Of human bondage' or a 'Golden gate' would. A painter born in a rich aristocratic family cannot generate the kindof curiosity and interest that a penniless painter, who painted a self-portrait with a ear cut off(Vincent Van Gogh), can.

I've tried to remain a happiness-seeking optimist most of my life (re-forged at some points, thanks to influences from 'Atlas shrugged', 'Fountain head' and 'We, the living'), but, to be honest, grief is a much stronger and more persistent emotion than happiness-which is sporadic and almost always fleeting. If you aggree with this, then this is probably why art-expressions tempered with anguish seep in more easily and impact people in a very telling way. I dont say that this is universal, but i guess this would apply to a sizeable populace.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Thanneer thanneer (Water water) - A Trek gone wrong..

('Thanneer thanneer' is a tamil movie about a village that runs out of potable water and how it's people deal with it...some flee, some, like the female lead 'saritha' hang on and fight it out).

Now, moving into context, i had gone to this place called Varadapalayam falls(more popularly
called 'Tada falls') last weekend. This place is some 95 km from chennai, in the mountain ranges
enroute Kalahasthi. Had gone there with three of my collegues. For one of them(Binu), this was the 15th trip to this place. (His urge to find the source of this waterfall borders on being obsession!). I've gone there once before (again, with Binu). The objective of this trip was, as always, to trek to the source of the waterfalls.

Linga temple (our base-camp site) is a 9km trek from the closest motorable point. Doing this
after dark was fairly spooky. We were barked at by a bunch of dogs (i am no fan of dogs, domesticated or otherwise!).We saw a couple of snakes, one dead and harmles, another alive and deadly (it is called 'kattuvarean' in tamil, Krait in English, has rings in it's body and it is told that if it bites you, u die before counting it's rings, which are 21 in number). Every footprint looked like some animal's pug-mark. When u walk in a forest at 11 in the night, u suspect even the breeze!. We reached Linga temple at 11:30 pm. We pitched our tent right next to a clear stream. This forest is home to Bears, Leopards, Foxes and Wild Boars (ok, Wild Boars are really less dangerous than stray dogs). We heard enough sounds at night to suggest that the stream had a big visitor that night.(next time, we would'nt be camping next to a stream).

The objective of camping on Friday night was to start our trek to the source early on Saturday, but that was not to be. We got into the stream, started swimming and lazing around. Finally it took a water-snake (or Mani's imagination of it's existence in that stream) to drive us out. We finally set out at 11:30 am, with 12kg backpacks on our backs and 2 litres of water per head. We were sure of finding the source before running out of our 8 litres' supply (big mistake!).

We met the Linga-temple pujari. He told us we could never reach the source if we follow the stream (that much we knew already, it ends in a vertical unscaleable rock wall!).He suggested an alternative trail we could take to go where we wanted to go. We took that trail (if you can call an extremely rocky terrain with a 70 degree gradient for most parts a 'trail'!!). After a 3 hour toil and a few incidents we reached a man-made wall(which the pujari mentioned, so our spirits soared up a couple of inches). Binu named the trail upto this point the pujari-trail. (the landmarks he has named in Tada include Blue-lagoon, Needle falls, Green mile, Linga temple).
We climbed onto the other side of the wall. The other side was a fairly flat surface leading upto a sheer fall.

It was extremely windy up there.(it was so windy that one of the guys - Ashwani - refused to stand up!).It was fun to face the wind though. The only way to go from there was to turn left and vaguely head to the point where we thought the mountain spring could be. After going a few metres, we met an old man and a lady. He said the man-made wall was built by Britishers and that there was a fort on top. He also showed us a proper trail that started a few metres
from there, and said that the source was a 15 minutes' trek along that trail. He said that there was a pool kindof thing with neck-deep water. We got excited. In our minds we were already there. We started taking longer breaks and much longer sips from our dwindling supply of water. In one of the breaks we even discussed strategy for getting into the pool (cos the pujari had warned us against getting into the pool on top). I would go in first and swim the whole stretch and assess the depth at various points. One of us would always stand guard with a rope ready in case things should go awry.(So much for precaution!!)Also, the point where we met the old man was named 'old-man's point' and the trail 'old man's trail'.

Beyond this, the trek played out into a regular unguided trek. We kept following the trail. After a point there was no trail. We kept heading towards a deep gorge (that looked like the only likely place to house a water-body). And then we got lost, we walked in circles, and worst of all we did not have enough water to camp there for the night. Our plan was to reach the source, camp next to it on Saturday night and head back down on Sunday morning. Our backup plan,
should we not find the source on saturday, was to camp wherever we were at dusk and continue the search on Sunday morning. We had not planned for a scenario where we would run out of water. We needed water to cook and ofcourse to drink, and it was getting late, and we did not want to do that trail back after dark. We decided to turn back. We took a different trail
down, which was fairly more gradual and simple and ofcourse longer. After coming down, we had to do the 9 km walk again to reach the road. We were luckily offered a lift by a civil contractor there, to the nearest village(Varadapalayam). That leg was the most risky think i did that day, i was sitting on a thin steel rod on a tanker attached to a Tractor and was
clinging on to the rod (and to dear life) with my feet on another steel rod connecting the tractor to the tanker. At reachable distances, to my left and right were two huge tractor tyres!!This was a 25km ride, and was fun!!

This was an extremely strenuous, energy sapping trek, unsuccesful at that. I had an amazing time all the same. Next time we would be carrying 4 litres of water per head, and wouldnt indulge in premature celebrations, and maybe we'd actually reach the source! Lessons learnt...